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Title: Mysteries and Adventures (1889)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
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eBook No.: 0700991.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: August 2007
Date most recently updated: February 2012

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Production Notes: This ebook was compiled from the separate stories which
  appeared in other short story collections by Doyle. The text for one of
  the stories could not be found, viz.: * The Silver Hatchet

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Title: Mysteries and Adventures (1889)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle


The Gully of Bluemansdyke
The Parson of Jackman's Gulch
My Friend the Murderer
The Silver Hatchet (not included)
The Man from Archangel
That Little Square Box
A Night Among the Nihilists
The American's Tale
Bones. The April Fool of Harvey's Sluice
The Mystery of Sasassa Valley
Our Derby Sweepstakes
Selecting a Ghost

* * * * *


[First published in London Society, Christmas edition, 1881]

Broadhurst's Store was closed, but the little back room looked very
comfortable that night. The fire cast a ruddy glow on ceiling and walls,
reflecting itself cheerily on the polished flasks and shot-guns which
adorned them. Yet a gloom rested on the two men who sat at either side
of the hearth, which neither the fire nor the black bottle upon the
table could alleviate.

"Twelve o'clock," said old Tom, the storeman glancing up at the wooden
timepiece which had come out with him in '42. "It's a queer thing,
George, they haven't come."

"It's a dirty night," said his companion, reaching out his arm for a
plug of tobacco. "The Wawirra's in flood, maybe; or maybe their horses
broke down; or they've put it off, perhaps. Great Lord, how it thunders!
Pass us over a coal, Tom."

He spoke in a tone which was meant to appear easy, but with a painful
thrill in it which was not lost upon his mate. He glanced uneasily at
him from under his grizzled eyebrows.

"You think it's all right, George?" he said, after a pause.

"Think what's all right?"

"Why, that the lads are safe."

"Safe! Of course they're safe. What the devil is to harm them?"

"Oh, nothing; nothing, to be sure," said old Tom. "You see, George,
since the old woman died, Maurice has been all to me; and it makes me
kinder anxious. It's a week since they started from the mine, and you'd
ha' thought they'd be here now. But it's nothing unusual, I s'pose;
nothing at all. Just my darned folly."

"What's to harm them?" repeated George Hutton again, arguing to convince
himself rather than his comrade. "It's a straight road from the diggin's
to Rathurst, and then through the hills past Bluemansdyke, and over the
Wawirra by the ford, and so down to Trafalgar by the bush track. There's
nothin' deadly in all that, is there? My son Allan's as dear to me as
Maurice can be to you, mate," he continued; "but they know the ford
well, and there's no other bad place. They'll be here to-morrow night,

"Please God they may!" said Broadhurst; and the two men lapsed into
silence for some time, moodily staring into the glow of the fire, and
pulling at their short clays.

It was indeed, as Hutton had said, a dirty night. The wind was howling
down through the gorges of the western mountains, and whirling and
eddying among the streets of Trafalgar; whistling through the chinks in
the rough wood cabins, and tearing away the frail shingles which formed
the roofs. The streets were deserted, save for one or two stragglers
from the drinking shanties, who wrapped their cloaks around them and
staggered home through the wind and rain towards their own cabins.

The silence was broken by Broadhurst, who was evidently still ill at

"Say, George," he said, "what's become of Josiah Mapleton?"

"Went to the diggin's."

"Ay; but he sent word he was coming back."

"But he never came."

"An' what's become of Jos Humphrey?" he resumed, after a pause.

"He went diggin', too."

"Well, did he come back?"

"Drop it, Broadhurst; drop it, I say," said Hutton, springing to his
feet and pacing up and down the narrow room. "You've trying to make a
coward of me! You know the men must have gone up country prospectin' or
farmin', maybe. What is it to us where they went? You don't think I have
a register of every man in the colony, as Inspector Burton has of the

"Sit down, George, and listen," said old Tom. "There's something queer
about that road; something I don't understand, and don't like. Maybe you
remember how Maloney, the one-eyed scoundrel, made his money in the
early mining days. He'd a half-way drinking shanty on the main road up
on a kind of bluff, where the Lena comes down from the hills. You've
heard, George, how they found a sort of wooden slide from his little
back room down to the river; an' how it came out that man after man had
had his drink doctored, and been shot down that into eternity, like a
bale of goods. No one will ever know how many were done away with there.
They were all supposed to be farmin' and prospectin', and the like, till
their bodies were picked out of the rapids. It's no use mincing matters,
George; we'll have the troopers along to the diggings if those lads
don't turn up by to-morrow night."

"As you like, Tom," said Hutton.

"By the way, talking of Maloney--it's a strange thing," said
Broadhurst, "that Jack Haldane swears he saw a man as like Maloney wath
ten years added to him as could be. It was in the bush on Monday
morning. Chance, I suppose; but you'd hardly think there could be two
pair of shoulders in the world carrying such villainous mugs on the top
of them."

"Jack Haldane's a fool," growled Hutton, throwing open the door and
peering anxiously out into the darkness, while the wind played with his
long grizzled beard, and sent a train of glowing sparks from his pipe
down the street.

"A terrible night!" he said, as he turned back towards the fire.

Yes, a wild, tempestuous night; a night for birds of darkness and for
beasts of prey. A strange night for seven men to lie out in the gully at
Bluemansdyke, with revolvers in their hands, and the devil in their

The sun was rising after the storm. A thick, heavy steam reeked up from
the saturated ground, and hung like a pall over the flourishing little
town of Trafalgar. A bluish mist lay in wreaths over the wide track of
bushland around, out of which the western mountains loomed like great
islands in a sea of vapour.

Something was wrong in the town. The most casual glance would have
detected that. There was a shouting and a hurrying of feet. Doors were
slammed and rude windows thrown open. A trooper of police came
clattering down with his carbine unslung. It was past the time for Joe
Buchan's saw-mill to commence work, but the great wheel was motionless,
for the hands had not appeared.

There was a surging, pushing crowd in the main street before old Tom
Broadhurst's house, and a mighty clattering of tongues. "What was it?"
demanded the new-comers, panting and breathless. "Broadhurst has shot
his mate." "He has cut his own throat." "He has struck gold in the clay
floor of his kitchen." "No; it was his son Maurice who had come home
rich." "Who had not come back at all." "Whose horse had come back
without him." At last the truth had come out; and there was the old
sorrel horse in question whinnying and rubbing his neck against the
familiar door of the stable, as if entreating entrance; while two
haggard, grey-haired men held him by either bridle, and gazed blankly at
his reeking sides.

"God help me," said old Tom Broadhurst; "it is as I feared!"

"Cheer up, mate," said Hutton, drawing his rough straw hat down over his
brow. "There's hope yet."

A sympathetic and encouraging murmur ran through the crowd.

"Horse ran away, likely."

"Or been stolen."

"Or he's swum the Wawirra an' been washed off," suggested one Job's

"He ain't got no marks of bruising," said another, more hopeful.

"Rider fallen off drunk, maybe," said a bluff old sheep-farmer. "I kin
remember," he continued, "coming into town 'bout this hour myself, with
my head in my holster, an' thinking I was a six-chambered
revolver--mighty drunk I was."

"Maurice had a good seat; he'd never be washed off"

"Not he."

"The horse has a weal on its off fore-quarter," remarked another, more
observant than the rest.

"A blow from a whip, maybe."

"It would be a darned hard one."

"Where's Chicago Bill?" said some one; "he'll know."

Thus invoked, a strange, gaunt figure stepped out in front of the crowd.
He was an extremely tall and powerful man, with the red shirt and high
boots of a miner. The shirt was thrown open, showing the sinewy throat
and massive chest. His face was seamed and scarred with many a conflict,
both with Nature and his brother man; yet beneath his ruffianly exterior
there lay something of the quiet dignity of the gentleman. This man was
a veteran gold-hunter; a real old Californian 'forty-niner, who had left
the fields in disgust when private enterprise began to dwindle before
the formation of huge incorporated companies with their ponderous
machinery. But the red clay with the little shining points had become to
him as the very breath of his nostrils, and he had come halfway round
the world to seek it once again. "Here's Chicago Bill," he said; "what
is it?" Bill was naturally regarded as an oracle, in virtue of his
prowess and varied experience. Every eye was turned on him as Braxton,
the young Irish trooper of constabulary, said, "What do you make of the
horse. Bill?"

The Yankee was in no hurry to commit himself He surveyed the animal for
some time with his shrewd little grey eye. He bent and examined the
girths; then he felt the mane carefully. He stooped once more and
examined the hoofs and then the quarters. His eye rested on the blue
wheal already mentioned. This seemed to put him on a scent, for he gave
a long, low whistle, and proceeded at once to examine the hair on either
side of the saddle. He saw something conclusive apparently, for, with a
sidelong glance under his shaggy eyebrows at the two old men beside him,
he turned and fell back among the crowd.

"Well, what d'ye think?" cried a dozen voices.

"A job for you," said Bill, looking up at the young Irish trooper.

"Why, what is it? What's become of young Broadhurst?"

"He's done what better men has done afore. He has sunk a shaft for gold
and panned out a coffin."

"Speak out, man! what have you seen?" cried a husky voice.

"I've seen the graze of a bushranger's bullet on the horse's quarter,
an' I've seen a drop of the rider's blood on the edge of the
saddle--Here, hold the old man up, boys; don't let him drop. Give
him a swig of brandy an' lead him inside. Say," he continued, in a
whisper, gripping the trooper by the wrist, "mind, I'm in it. You an' I
play this hand together. I'm dead on sich varmin. We'll do as they do in
Nevada, strike while the iron is hot. Get any men you can together. I
s'pose you're game to come yourself?"

"Yes, I'll come," said young Braxton, with a quiet smile.

The American looked at him approvingly. He had learned in his wanderings
that an Irishman who grows quieter when deeply stirred is a very
dangerous specimen of the genus homo.

"Good lad!" he muttered; and the two went down the street together
towards the station-house, followed by half-a-dozen of the more resolute
of the crowd.

One word before we proceed with our story, or our chronicle rather, as
every word of it is based upon fact. The colonial trooper of fifteen or
twenty years ago was a very different man from his representative of
to-day. Not that I would imply any slur upon the courage of the latter;
but for reckless dare-devilry and knight-errantry the old constabulary
has never been equalled. The reason is a simple one. Men of gentle
blood, younger sons and wild rakes who had outrun the constable, were
sent off to Australia with some wild idea of making their fortunes. On
arriving they found Melbourne by no means the El Dorado they expected;
they were unfit for any employment, their money was soon dissipated, and
they unerringly gravitated into the mounted police. Thus a sort of
colonial "Maison Rouge" became formed, where the lowest private had as
much pride of birth and education as his officers. They were men who
might have swayed the fate of empires, yet who squandered away their
Hves in many a lone wild fight with native and bushranger, where nothing
but a mouldering blue-ragged skeleton was left to tell the tale.

It was a glorious sunset. The whole western sky was a blaze of flame,
throwing a purple tint upon the mountains, and gilding the sombre edges
of the great forest which spreads between Trafalgar and the river
Wawirra. It stretched out, a primeval, unbroken wilderness, save at the
one point where a rough track had been formed by the miners and their
numerous camp-followers. This wound amid the great trunks in a zigzag
direction, occasionally making a long detour to avoid some marshy hollow
or especially dense clump of vegetation. Often it could be hardly
discerned from the ground around save by the scattered hoof-marks and an
occasional rut.

About fifteen miles from Trafalgar there stands a little knoll, well
sheltered and overlooking the road. On this knoll a man was lying as the
sun went down that Friday evening. He appeared to shun observation, for
he had chosen that part in which the foliage was thickest; yet he seemed
decidedly at his ease, as he lolled upon his back with his pipe between
his teeth, and a broad hat down over his face. It was a face that it was
well to cover in the presence of so peaceful a scene--a face pitted
with the scars of an immaterial smallpox. The forehead was broad and
low; one eye had apparently been gouged out, leaving a ghastly cavity;
the other was deep-set, cunning, and vindictive. The mouth was hard and
cruel; a rough beard covered the chin. It was the cut of face which,
seen in a lonely street, would instinctively make one shift the grasp of
one's stick from the knob end to the ferrule--the face of a bold
and unscrupulous man.

Some unpleasing thought seemed to occur to him, for he rose with a curse
and knocked the ashes out of his pipe. "A darned fine thing," he
muttered, "that I should have to lie out like this! It was Barrett's
fault the job wasn't a clean one, an' now he picks me out to get the
swamp-fever. If he'd shot the horse as I did the man, we wouldn't need a
watch on this side of the Wawirra. He always was a poor white-livered
cuss. Well," he continued, picking up a gun which lay in the grass
behind him, "there's no use my waiting longer; they wouldn't start
during the night. Maybe the horse never got home, maybe they gave them
up as drowned; anyhow it's another man's turn to-morrow, so I'll just
give them five minutes and then make tracks." He sat down on the stump
of a tree as he spoke and hummed the verse of a song. A sudden thought
seemed to strike him, for he plunged his hand into his pocket, and after
some searching extracted a pack of playing cards wrapped in a piece of
dirty brown paper. He gazed earnestly at their greasy faces for some
time. Then he took a pin from his sleeve and pricked a small hole in the
corner of each ace and knave. He chuckled as he shuffled them up, and
replaced them in his pocket. "I'll have my share of the swag," he
growled. "They're sharp, but they'll not spot that when the liquor is in
them. By the Lord, here they are!"

He had sprung to his feet and was bending to the ground, holding his
breath as he listened. To the unpractised ear all was as still as before
--the hum of a passing insect, the chirp of a bird, the rustle of
the leaves; but the bushranger rose with the air of a man who has
satisfied himself. "Good-bye to Bluemansdyke," said he; "I reckon it
will be too hot to hold us for a time. That thundering idiot! he's
spoilt as nice a lay as ever was, an' risked our necks into the bargain.
I'll see their number an' who they are, though," he continued; and,
choosing a point where a rough thicket formed an effectual screen, he
coiled himself up, and lay like some venomous snake, occasionally
raising his head and peering between the trunks at the reddish streak
which marked the Trafalgar Road.

There could be no question now as to the approach of a body of horsemen.
By the time our friend was fairly ensconced in his hiding-place the
sound of voices and the clatter of hoofs was distinctly audible, and in
another moment a troop of mounted men came sweeping round the curve of
the road. They were eleven all told, armed to the teeth, and evidently
well on the alert. Two rode in front with rifles unslung, leisurely
scanning every bush which might shelter an enemy. The main body kept
about fifty yards behind them, while a solitary horseman brought up the
rear. The ranger scanned them narrowly as they passed. He seemed to
recognise most of them. Some were his natural enemies the troopers; the
majority were miners who had volunteered to get rid of an evil which
affected their interests so closely. They were a fine bronzed set of
men, with a deliberate air about them, as if they had come for a purpose
and meant to attain it. As the last rider passed before his hiding-place
the solitary watcher started and growled a curse in his beard. "I know
his darned face," he said; "it's Bill Hanker, the man who got the drop
on Long Nat Smeaton in Silver City in '53; what the thunder brought him
here? I must be off by the back track, though, an' let the boys know."
So saying, he picked up his gun, and with a scowl after the distant
party, he crouched down and passed rapidly and silently out of sight
into the very thickest part of the bush.

The expedition had started from Trafalgar on the afternoon of the same
day that Maurice Broadhurst's horse, foam-flecked and frightened, had
galloped up to the old stable-door. Burton, the inspector of
constabulary, an energetic and able man, as all who knew him can
testify, was in command. He had detached Braxton, the young Irishman,
and Thompson, another trooper, as a vanguard. He himself rode with the
main body, grey-whiskered and lean, but as straight in the back as when
he and I built a shanty in '39 in what is now Burke Street, Melbourne.
With him were McGillivray, Foley, and Anson of the Trafalgar force,
Hartley the sheep-farmer, Murdoch and Summerville, who had made their
pile at the mines, and Dan Murphy, who was cleaned out when the clay of
the "Orient" turned to gravel, and had been yearning for a solid square
fight ever since. Chicago Bill formed the rearguard, and the whole party
presented an appearance which, though far from military, was decidedly

They camped out that night seventeen miles from Trafalgar, and next day
pushed on as far as where the Stirling Road runs across. The third
morning brought them to the northern bank of the Wawirra, which they
forded. Here a council of war was held, for they were entering what they
regarded as enemy's country. The bush track, though wild, was
occasionally traversed both by shepherds and sportsmen. It would hardly
be the home of a gang of desperate bushrangers. But beyond the Wawirra
the great rugged range of the Tapu mountains towered up to the clouds,
and across a wild spur of these the mining track passed up to
Bluemansdyke. It was here they decided at the council that the scene of
the late drama lay. The question now was what means were to be taken to
attack the murderers; for that murder had been done no man doubted.

All were of one mind as to what the main line of action should be. To go
for them straight, shoot as many as possible on sight, and hang the
balance in Trafalgar: that was plain sailing. But how to get at them was
the subject of much debate. The troopers were for pushing on at once,
and trusting to Fortune to put the rangers in their way. The miners
proposed rather to gain some neighbouring peak, from which a good view
of the country could be obtained, and some idea gained of their
whereabouts. Chicago Bill took rather a gloomy view of things. "Nary one
will we sec," said he; "they've dusted out of the district Tore this.
They'd know the horse would go home, and likely as not they've had a
watch on the road to warn them. I guess, boys, we'd best move on an' do
our best." There was some discussion, but Chicago's opinion carried the
day, and the expedition pushed on in a body.

After passing the second upland station the scenery becomes more and
more grand and rugged. Great peaks two and three thousand feet high rose
sheer up at each side of the narrow track. The heavy wind and rain of
the storm had brought down much debris, and the road was almost
impassable in places. They were frequently compelled to dismount and to
lead the horses. "We haven't far now, boys," said the inspector
cheerily, as they struggled on; and he pointed to a great dark cleft
which yawned in front of them between two almost perpendicular cliffs.
"They are there," he said, "or nowhere." A little higher the road became
better and their progress was more rapid. A halt was called, guns were
unslung, and their pistols loosened in their belts, for the great gully
of Bluemansdyke--the wildest part of the whole Tapu range--was
gaping before them. But not a thing was to be seen; all was as still as
the grave. The horses were picketed in a quiet little ravine, and the
whole party crept on on foot. The Southern sun glared down hot and clear
on the yellow bracken and banks of fern which lined the narrow winding
track. Still not a sign of life. Then came a clear low whistle from the
two advanced troopers, announcing that something had been discovered,
and the main body hurried up. It was a spot for deeds of blood. On one
side of the road there lowered a black gnarled precipice, on the other
was the sullen mouth of the rugged gully. The road took a sharp turn at
this spot. Just at the angle several large boulders were scattered,
lining and overlooking the track. It was at this angle that a little bed
of mud and trampled red clay betokened a recent struggle. There could be
no question that they were at the scene of the murder of the two young
miners. The outline of a horse could still be seen in the soft ground,
and the prints of its hoofs as it kicked out in its death-agony were
plainly marked. Behind one of the rocks were the tracks of several feet,
and some pistol wadding was found in a tuft of ferns. The whole tragedy
lay unclosed before them. Two men, careless in the pride of their youth
and their strength, had swept round that fatal curve. Then a crash, a
groan, a brutat laugh, the galloping of a frightened horse, and all was

What was to be done now? The rocks around were explored, but nothing
fresh discovered. Some six days had elapsed, and the birds were
apparently flown. The party separated and hunted about among the
boulders. Then the American, who could follow a trail like a bloodhound,
found tracks leading towards a rugged pile of rocks on the north side of
the gully. In a crevice here the remains of three horses were found.
Close to them the rim of an old straw hat projected through the loose
loam. Hartley, the sheep-farmer, sprang over to pick it up; he started
back in the act of stooping, and said in an awe-struck whisper to his
friend Murphy, "There's a head under it, Dan!" A few strokes of a spade
disclosed a face familiar to most of the group--that of a poor
travelling photographer well known in the colony by the sobriquet of
"Stooping Johnny," who had disappeared some time before. It was now in
an advanced stage of putrefaction. Close to him another body was
discovered, and another beside that In all, thirteen victims of these
English Thugs were lying under the shadow of the great north wall of the
Bluemansdyke gully. It was there, standing in silent awe round the
remains of these poor fellows, hurried into eternity and buried Hke
dogs, that the search-party registered a vow to sacrifice all interests
and comforts for the space of one month to the single consideration of
revenge. The inspector uncovered his grizzled head as he solemnly swore
it, and his comrades followed his example. The bodies were then, with a
brief prayer, consigned to a deeper grave, a rough cairn was erected
over them, and the eleven men set forth upon their mission of stern

Three weeks had passed--three weeks and two days. The sun was
sinking over the great waste of bushland, unexplored and unknown, which
stretches away from the eastern slope of the Tdpu mountains. Save some
eccentric sportsman or bold prospector, no colonist had ever ventured
into that desolate land; yet on this autumn evening two men were
standing in a little glade in the very heart of it. They were engaged
tying up their horses, and apparently making preparations for camping
out for the night. Though haggard, unkempt, and worn, one still' might
recognise two of our former acquaintances--the young Irish trooper
and the American Chicago Bill.

This was the last effort of the avenging party. They had traversed the
mountain gorges, they had explored every gully and ravine, and now they
had split into several small bands, and, having named a trysting-place,
they were scouring the country in the hope of hitting upon some trace of
the murderers. Foley and Anson had remained among the hills, Murdoch and
Dan Murphy were exploring towards Rathurst, Summerville and the
inspector had ascended along the Wawirra, while the others in three
parties were wandering through the eastern bushland.

Both the trooper and the miner seemed dejected and weary. The one had
set out with visions of glory, and hopes of a short cut to the coveted
stripes which would put him above his fellows; the other had obeyed a
rough wild sense of justice; and each was alike disappointed. The
horses were picketed, and the men threw themselves heavily upon the
ground. There was no need to light a fire; a few dampers and some rusty
bacon were their whole provisions. Braxton produced them, and handed his
share to his comrade. They ate their rough meal without a word. Braxton
was the first to break the silence.

"We're playing our last card," he said.

"And a darned poor one at that," replied his comrade.

"Why, mate," he continued, "if we did knock up agin these all-fired
varmin, ye don't suppose you and I would go for them? I guess I'd up an'
shove for Trafalgar first."

Braxton smiled. Chicago's reckless courage was too well known in the
colony for any words of his to throw a doubt upon it. Miners still tell
how, during the first great rush in '52, a blustering ruffian, relying
upon some similar remark of the pioneer's, had tried to establish a
reputation by an unprovoked assault upon him; and the narrators then
glide imperceptibly into an account of Bill's handsome conduct towards
the widow--how he had given her his week's clean-up to start her in
a drinking shanty. Braxton thought of this as he smiled at Chicago's
remarks, and glanced at the massive limbs and weather-beaten face.

"We'd best see where we are before it grows darker," he said; and
rising, he stacked his gun against the trunk of a blue gum-tree, and
seizing some of the creepers which hung down from it, began rapidly and
silently to ascend it.

"His soul's too big for his body," growled the American, as he watched
the dark lithe figure standing out against the pale-blue evening sky.

"What d'ye see. Jack?" he shouted; for the trooper had reached the
topmost branch by this time, and was taking a survey of the country.

"Bush, bush; nothing but bush," said the voice among the leaves. "Wait a
bit, though; there's a kind of hill about three miles off away to the
nor'-east. I see it above the trees right over there. Not much good to
us, though," he continued, after a pause, "for it seems a barren, stony
sort of place."

Chicago paced about at the bottom of the tree.

"He seems an almighty long time prospectin' it," he muttered, after ten
minutes had elapsed. "Ah, here he is!" and the trooper came swinging
down and landed panting just in front of him.

"Why, what's come over him? What's the matter, Jack?"

Something was the matter. That was very evident. There was a light in
Braxton's blue eyes, and a flush on the pale cheek.

"Bill," he said, putting his hand on his comrade's shoulder, "it's about
time you made tracks for the settlements."

"What d'ye mean?" said Chicago.

"Why, I mean that the murderers are within a league of us, and that I
intend going for them. There, don't be huffed, old man," he added; "of
course I knew you were only joking. But they are there, Bill; I saw
smoke on the top of that hill, and it wasn't good, honest smoke, mind
you; it was dry-wood smoke, and meant to be hid. I thought it was mist
at first; but no, it was smoke. I'll swear it. It could only be them:
who else would camp on the summit of a desolate hill? We've got them,
Bill; we have them as sure as Fate."

"Or they've got us," growled the American. "But here, lad, here's my
glass; run up and have a look at them."

"It's too dark now," said Braxton; "we'll camp out to-night. No fear of
them stirring. They're lying by there until the whole thing blows over,
depend upon it; so we'll make sure of them in the morning."

The miner looked plaintively up at the tree, and then down at his
fourteen stone of solid muscle.

"I guess I must take your word for it," he grumbled; "but you are
bushman enough to tell smoke from mist, and a dry-wood fire from an open
one. We can't do anything to-night till we feel our way, so I allow we'd
best water the horses an' have a good night's rest."

Braxton seemed to be of the same mind; so after a few minutes'
preparation the two men wrapped themselves in their cloaks, and lay, two
little dark spots, on the great green carpet of the primeval bush.

With the first grey light of dawn Chicago sat up and roused his comrade.
A heavy mist hung over the bushland. They could hardly see the loom of
the trees across the little glade. Their clothes glistened with the
little shining beads of moisture. They brushed each other down, and
squatted in bush fashion over their rough breakfast. The haze seemed to
be lifting a little now; they could see fifty yards in every direction.
The miner paced up and down in silence, ruminating over a plug of
"Barrett's Twist." Braxton sat on a fallen tree sponging and oiling his
revolver. Suddenly a single beam of sunshine played over the great blue
gum. It widened and spread, and then in a moment the mist melted away,
and the yellow leaves glowed like flakes of copper in the glare of the
morning sun. Braxton cheerily snapped the lock of the pistol, loaded it,
and replaced it in his belt. Chicago began to whistle, and stopped in
the middle of his walk.

"Now, young un," he said, "here's the glass." Braxton slung it round his
neck, and ascended the tree as he had done the night before. It was
child's-play to the trooper--a splendid climber, as I can testify;
for I saw him two years later swarming up the topmost backstay of the
Hector frigate in a gale of wind for a bet of a bottle of wine. He soon
reached the summit, and shuffling along a naked branch two hundred feet
from the ground, he gained a point where no leaves could obstruct his
view. Here he sat straddle-legged; and, unslinging the glass, he
proceeded to examine the hill, bush by bush and stone by stone.

An hour passed without his moving. Another had almost elapsed before he
descended. His face was grave and thoughtful.

"Are they there?" was the eager query.

"Yes; they are there."

"How many?"

"I've only seen five; but there may be more. Wait till I think it out,

The miner gazed at him with all the reverence matter has towards mind.
Thinking things out was not his strong point.

"Blamed if I can help you," he said apologetically. "It kinder don't
come nat'ral to me to be plottin' and plannin'. Want o' eddication,
likely. My father was allowed to be the hardest-headed man in the
States. Judge Jeffers let on as how the old man wanted to hand in his
checks; so he down an' put his head on the line when the first engine as
ran from Vermont was comin' up. They fined him a hundred dollars for
upsettin' that 'ere locomotive; an' the old man got the cussedest
headache as ever was."

Braxton hardly seemed to hear this family anecdote; he was deep in

"Look here, old man," said he; "sit down by me on the trunk and listen
to what I say. Remember that you are here as a volunteer,
Bill--you've no call to come; now, I am here in the course of duty.
Your name is known through the settlement; you were a marked man when I
was in the nursery. Now, Bill, it's a big thing I am going to ask you.
If you and I go in and take these men, it will be another feather in
your cap, and in yours only. What do men know of Jack Braxton, the
private of police? He'd hardly be mentioned in the matter. Now, I want
to make my name this day. We'll have to secure these men by a surprise
after dusk, and it will be as easy for one resolute man to do it as for
two; perhaps easier, for there is less chance of detection. Bill, I want
you to stay with the horses, and let me go alone."

Chicago sprang to his feet with a snarl of indignation, and paced up and
down in front of the fallen trees. Then he seemed to master himself, for
he sat down again.

"They'd chaw you up, lad," he said, putting his hand on Braxton's
shoulder. "It wouldn't wash."

"Not they," said the trooper. "I'd take your pistol as well as my own,
and I'd need a deal of chawing."

"My character would be ruined," said Bill.

"It's beyond the reach of calumny. You can afford to give me one fair

Bill buried his face in his hands, and thought a little.

"Well, lad," he said, looking up, "I'll look after the horses."

Braxton wrung him by the hand. "There are few men would have done it,
Bill; you are a friend worth having. Now, we'll spend our day as best we
can, old man, and lie close till evening; for I won't start till an hour
after dusk; so we have plenty of time on our hands."

The day passed slowly. The trooper lay among the mosses below the great
blue gum in earnest thought. Once or twice he imagined he heard the
subterranean chuckle and slap of the thigh which usually denoted
amusement on the part of the miner; but on glancing up at that
individual, the expression of his face was so solemn, not to say
funereal, that it was evidently an illusion. They partook of their
scanty dinner and supper cheerfully and with hearty appetites. The
former listlessness had given place to briskness and activity, now that
their object was in view. Chicago blossomed out into many strange
experiences and racy reminiscences of Western life. The hours passed
rapidly and cheerily. The trooper produced a venerable pack of cards
from his holster and proposed euchre; but their gregariousness, and the
general difficulty of distinguishing the king of clubs from the ace of
hearts, exercised a depressing influence upon the players. Gradually the
sun went down on the great wilderness. The shadow fell on the little
glade, while the distant hill was still tipped with gold; then that too
became purplish, a star twinkled over the Tdpu range, and night crept
over the scene.

"Good-bye, old man," said Braxton. "I won't take my carbine; it would
only be in the way. I can't thank you enough for letting me have this
chance. If they wipe me out, Bill, you'll not lose sight of them, I
know; and you'll say I died like a man. I've got no friends and no
message, and nothing in the world but this pack of cards. Keep them,
Bill; they were a fine pack in '51. If you see a smoke on the hill in
the morning you'll know all's well, and you'll bring up the horses at
once. If you don't, you'll ride to Fallen Pine, where we were to
meet,--ride day and night. Bill,--tell Inspector Burton that
you know where the rangers are, that Private Braxton is dead, and that
he said he was to bring up his men, else he'd come back from the grave
and lead them up himself. Do that. Bill. Good-bye."

A great quiet rested over the heart of that desolate woodland. The croak
of a frog, the gurgle of a little streamlet half hidden in the long
grass--no other sound. Then a wakeful jay gave a shrill chatter,
another joined, and another; a bluefinch screamed; a wombat rushed past
to gain its burrow. Something had disturbed them; yet all was apparently
as peaceful as before. Had you been by the jay's nest, however, and
peered downwards, you would have seen something gliding like a serpent
through the brushwood, and caught a glimpse, perhaps, of a pale,
resolute face, and the glint of a pocket-compass pointing north-by-east.

It was a long and weary night for Trooper Braxton. Any moment he might
come on an outpost of the rangers, so every step had to be taken slowly
and with care. But he was an experienced woodman, and hardly a twig
snapped as he crawled along. A morass barred his progress, and he was
compelled to make a long detour.

Then he found himself in thick brushwood, and once more had to go out of
his way. It was very dark here in the depth of the forest. There was a
heavy smell, and a dense steam laden with miasma rose from the ground.
In the dim light he saw strange creeping things around him. A
bush-master writhed across the path in front of him, a cold, dank lizard
crawled over his hand as he crouched down; but the trooper thought only
of the human reptiles in front, and made steadily for his goal. Once he
seemed to be pursued by some animal; he heard a creaking behind him, but
it ceased when he stopped and listened, so he continued his way.

It was when he reached the base of the hill which he had seen from the
distance that the real difficulty of his undertaking began. It was
almost conical in shape, and very steep. The sides were covered with
loose stones and an occasional large boulder. One false step here would
send a shower of these tell-tale fragments clattering down the hill. The
trooper stripped off his high leather boots and turned up his trousers;
then he began cautiously to climb, cowering down behind every boulder.

There was a little patch of light far away on the horizon, a very little
grey patch, but it caused the figure of a man who was moving upon the
crest of the hill to loom out dim and large. He was a sentry apparently,
for he carried a gun under his arm. The top of the hill was formed by a
little plateau about a hundred yards in circumference. Along the edge of
this the man was pacing, occasionally stopping to peer down into the
great dusky sea beneath him. From this raised edge the plateau curved
down from every side, so as to form a crater-like depression. In the
centre of this hollow stood a large white tent. Several horses were
picketed around it, and the ground was littered with bundles of dried
grass and harness. You could see these details now from the edge of the
plateau, for the grey patch in the east had become white, and was
getting longer and wider. You could see the sentry's face, too, as he
paced round and round. A handsome, weak-minded face, with more of the
fool than the devil impressed on it. He seemed cheerful, for the birds
were beginning to sing, and their thousand voices rose from the bush
below. He forgot the forged note, I think, and the dreary voyage, and
the wild escape, and the dark gully away beyond the Tdpu range; for his
eye glistened, and he hummed a quaint little Yorkshire country air. He
was back again in the West Riding village, and the rough boulder in
front shaped itself into the hill behind which Nelly lived before he
broke her heart, and he saw the ivied church that crowned it He would
have seen something else had he looked again--something which was
not in his picture: a white passionless face which glared at him over
the boulder, as he turned upon his heel, still singing, and unconscious
that the bloodhounds of justice were close at his heels.

The trooper's time for action had come. He had reached the last boulder;
nothing lay between the plateau and himself but a few loose stones. He
could hear the song of the sentry dying away in the distance; he drew
his regulation sword, and, with his Adams in his left, he rose and
sprang like a tiger over the ridge and down into the hollow.

The sentry was startled from his dream of the past by a clatter and a
rattling of stones. He sprang round and cocked his gun. No wonder that
he gasped, and that a change passed over his bronzed face. A painter
would need a dash of ultramarine in his flesh-tints to represent it now.
No wonder, I say; for that dark active figure with the bare feet and the
brass buttons meant disgrace and the gallows to him. He saw him spring
across to the tent; he saw the gleam of a sword, and heard a crash as
the tent-pole was severed, and the canvas came down with a run upon the
heads of the sleepers. And then above oaths and shouts he heard a mellow
Irish voice--"IVe twelve shots in my hands. I have ye, every
mother's son. Up with your arms! up, I say, before there is blood upon
my soul. One move, and ye stand before the throne." Braxton had stooped
and parted the doorway of the fallen tent, and was now standing over six
ruffians who occupied it. They lay as they had wakened, but with their
hands above their heads, for there was no resisting that quiet voice,
backed up by the two black muzzles. They imagined they were surrounded
and hopelessly outmatched. Not one of them dreamed that the whole
attacking force stood before them. It was the sentry who first began to
realise the true state of the case. There was no sound or sign of any
reinforcement. He looked to see that the cap was pressed well down on
the nipple, and crept towards the tent. He was a good shot, as many a
keeper on Braidagarth and the Yorkshire fells could testify. He raised
his gun to his shoulder. Braxton heard the click, but dared not remove
his eye or his weapon from his six prisoners. The sentry looked along
the sights. He knew his life depended upon that shot There was more of
the devil than the fool in his face now. He paused a moment to make sure
of his aim, and then came a crash and the thud of a falling body.
Braxton was still standing over the prisoners, but the sentry's gun was
unfired, and he himself was writhing on the ground with a bullet through
his lungs. "Ye see," said Chicago, as he rose from behind a rock with
his gun still smoking in his hand, "it seemed a powerful mean thing to
leave you. Jack; so I thought as I'd kinder drop around promiscus, and
wade in if needed, which I was, as you can't deny. No, ye don't," he
added, as the sentry stretched out his hand to grasp his fallen gun;
"leave the wepin alone, young man; it ain't in your way as it lies

"I'm a dead man!" groaned the ranger.

"Then lie quiet like a respectable corpse," said the miner, "an' don't
go a-squirmin' towards yer gun. That's ornary uneddicated conduct."

"Come here, Bill," cried Braxton, "and bring the ropes those horses are
picketed with. Now," he continued, as the American, having abstracted
the sentry's gun, appeared with an armful of ropes, "you tie these
fellows up, and I'll kill any man who moves."

"A pleasant division of labour, eh, old Blatherskite," said Chicago,
playfully tapping the one-eyed villain Maloney on the head. "Come on;
the ugliest first!" So saying, he began upon him and fastened him

One after another the rangers were tied up; all except the wounded man,
who was too helpless to need securing. Then Chicago went down and
brought up the horses, while Braxton remained on guard; and by mid-day
the cavalcade was in full march through the forest en route for Fallen
Pine, the rendezvous of the search-party. The wounded man was tied on to
a horse in front, the other rangers followed on foot for safety, while
the trooper and Chicago brought up the rear.

There was a sad assemblage at Fallen Pine.

One by one they had dropped in, tanned with the sun, torn by briers,
weakened by the poisonous miasma of the marshlands, all with the same
tale of privation and failure. Summerville and the inspector had fallen
in with blacks above the upper ford, and had barely escaped with their
lives. Troopers Foley and Anson were well, though somewhat gaunt from
privation. Hartley had lost his horse from the bite of a bushmaster.
Murdoch and Murphy had scoured the bush as far as Rathurst, but without
success. All were dejected, and weary. They only waited the arrival of
two of their number to set out on their return to Trafalgar.

It was mid-day, and the sun was beating down with a pitiless glare on
the little clearing. The men were lying about on the shady side of the
trunks, some smoking, some with their hats over their faces and half
asleep. The horses were tethered here and there, looking as listless as
their masters. Only the inspector's old charger seemed superior to the
weather--a shrewd, blasd old horse, that had seen the world, and
was nearly as deeply versed in woodcraft as his master. As Chicago said,
"Short of climbin' a tree, there weren't nothin' that horse couldn't do;
an' it would make a darned good try at that if it was pushed." Old
"Sawback" seemed ill at ease this afternoon. Twice he had pricked up his
ears, and once he had raised his head as if to neigh, but paused before
committing himself. The inspector looked at him curiously and put his
meerschaum back into its case. Meerschaums were always a weakness of
poor Jim Burton's. "Demme it, sir," I have heard him say, "a gentleman
is known by his pipe. When he comes down in the world his pipe has most
vitality." He put the case inside his uniform and went over to the
horse. The ears were still twitching.

"He hears something," said the inspector. "By Jove, so do I! Here, boys,
jump up; there's a body of men coming!" Every man sprang to his horse's
head. "I hear hoofs, and I hear the tramp of men on foot. They must be a
large party. They're heading straight for us. Get under cover, boys, and
have your guns loose." The men wheeled right and left, and in a very few
moments the glade was deserted. Only the brown barrel of a gun here and
there among the long grass and the ferns showed where they were
crouching. "Steady, boys!" said Burton; "if they are enemies, don't fire
till I give the word. Then one by one aim low, and let the smoke clear.
Rangers, by Jove!" he added, as a horseman broke into the clearing some
way down, with his head hanging down over his horse's neck. "More," he
growled, as several men emerged from the bush at the same point. "By the
living powers, they are taken! I see the ropes. Hurrah!" And next moment
Braxton and Chicago were mobbed by nine shouting, dancing men, who
pulled them and tugged at them, and slapped them on the back, and
dragged them about in such a way, that Maloney whispered with a

"If we'd had the grit to do as much, we'd have been free men this day!"

And now our story is nearly done. We have chronicled a fact which we
think is worthy of a wider circulation than the colonial drinking-bar
and the sheep-farmer's fireside, for Trooper Braxton and his capture of
the Bluemansdyke murderers have long been household words among our
brothers in the England of the Southern seas.

We need not detail that joyful ride to Trafalgar, nor the welcome, nor
the attempt at lynching; nor how Maloney, the arch criminal, turned
Queen's evidence, and so writhed away from the gallows. All that may be
read in the colonial press more graphically than I can tell it. My
friend Jack Braxton is an officer now, as his father was before him, and
still in the Trafalgar force. Bill I saw last in '61, when he came over
to London in charge of the barque of the Wellingtonia for the
International Exhibition. He is laying on flesh, I fear, since he took
to sheepfarming; for he was barely brought up by seventeen stone, and
his fighting weight used to be fourteen; but he looks well and hearty.
Maloney was lynched in Placerville--at least so I heard. I had a
letter last mail from the old inspector; he has left the police, and
has a farm at Rathurst. I think, stout-hearted as he is, he must give a
little bit of a shudder when he rides down to Trafalgar for the Thursday
market, and comes round that sharp turn of the road where the boulders
lie, and the furze looks so yellow against the red clay.


He was known in the Gulch as the Reverend Elias B. Hopkins, but it
was generally understood that the title was an honorary one,
extorted by his many eminent qualities, and not borne out by any
legal claim which he could adduce.  "The Parson" was another of his
sobriquets, which was sufficiently distinctive in a land where the
flock was scattered and the shepherds few.  To do him justice, he
never pretended to have received any preliminary training for the
ministry, or any orthodox qualification to practise it.  "We're all
working in the claim of the Lord," he remarked one day, "and it
don't matter a cent whether we're hired for the job or whether we
waltzes in on our own account," a piece of rough imagery which
appealed directly to the instincts of Jackman's Gulch.  It is quite
certain that during the first few months his presence had a marked
effect in diminishing the excessive use both of strong drinks and
of stronger adjectives which had been characteristic of the little
mining settlement.  Under his tuition, men began to understand that
the resources of their native language were less limited than they
had supposed, and that it was possible to convey their impressions
with accuracy without the aid of a gaudy halo of profanity.

We were certainly in need of a regenerator at Jackman's Gulch about
the beginning of '53.  Times were flush then over the whole colony,
but nowhere flusher than there.  Our material prosperity had had a
bad effect upon our morals.  The camp was a small one, lying rather
better than a hundred and twenty miles to the north of Ballarat, at
a spot where a mountain torrent finds its way down a rugged ravine
on its way to join the Arrowsmith River.  History does not relate
who the original Jackman may have been, but at the time I speak of
the camp it contained a hundred or so adults, many of whom were men
who had sought an asylum there after making more civilised mining
centres too hot to hold them.  They were a rough, murderous crew,
hardly leavened by the few respectable members of society who were
scattered among them.

Communication between Jackman's Gulch and the outside world was
difficult and uncertain.  A portion of the bush between it and
Ballarat was infested by a redoubtable outlaw named Conky Jim, who,
with a small band as desperate as himself, made travelling a
dangerous matter.  It was customary, therefore, at the Gulch, to
store up the dust and nuggets obtained from the mines in a special
store, each man's share being placed in a separate bag on which his
name was marked.  A trusty man, named Woburn, was deputed to watch
over this primitive bank.  When the amount deposited became
considerable, a waggon was hired, and the whole treasure was
conveyed to Ballarat, guarded by the police and by a certain number
of miners, who took it in turn to perform the office.  Once in
Ballarat, it was forwarded on to Melbourne by the regular gold
waggons.  By this plan the gold was often kept for months in the
Gulch before being despatched, but Conky Jim was effectually
checkmated, as the escort party were far too strong for him and his
gang.  He appeared, at the time of which I write, to have forsaken
his haunts in disgust, and the road could be traversed by small
parties with impunity.

Comparative order used to reign during the daytime at Jackman's Gulch,
for the majority of the inhabitants were out with crowbar and pick among
the quartz ledges, or washing clay and sand in their cradles by the
banks of the little stream. As the sun sank down, however, the claims
were gradually deserted, and their unkempt owners, clay-bespattered and
shaggy, came lounging into camp, ripe for any form of mischief. Their
first visit was to Woburn's gold store, where their clean-up of the day
was duly deposited, the amount being entered in the storekeeper's book,
and each miner retaining enough to cover his evening's expenses. After
that, all restraint was at an end, and each set to work to get rid of
his surplus dust with the greatest rapidity possible. The focus of
dissipation was the rough bar, formed by a couple of hogsheads spanned
by planks, which was dignified by the name of the "Britannia Drinking
Saloon." Here Nat Adams, the burly bar-keeper, dispensed bad whisky at
the rate of two shillings a noggin, or a guinea a bottle, while his
brother Ben acted as croupier in a rude wooden shanty behind, which had
been converted into a gambling hell, and was crowded every night. There
had been a third brother, but an unfortunate misunderstanding with a
customer had shortened his existence. "He was too soft to live long,"
his brother Nathaniel feelingly observed, on the occasion of his
funeral. "Many's the time I've said to him, 'If you're arguin' a pint
with a stranger, you should always draw first, then argue, and then
shoot, if you judge that he's on the shoot.' Bill was too purlite.

He must needs argue first and draw after, when he might just as
well have kivered his man before talkin' it over with him.  This
amiable weakness of the deceased Bill was a blow to the firm of
Adams, which became so short-handed that the concern could hardly
be worked without the admission of a partner, which would mean a
considerable decrease in the profits.

Nat Adams had had a roadside shanty in the Gulch before the
discovery of gold, and might, therefore, claim to be the oldest
inhabitant.  These keepers of shanties were a peculiar race, and at
the cost of a digression it may he interesting to explain how they
managed to amass considerable sums of money in a land where
travellers were few and far between.  It was the custom of the
"bushmen," i.e., bullock-drivers, sheep tenders, and the other
white hands who worked on the sheep-runs up country, to sign
articles by which they agreed to serve their master for one,
two, or three years at so much per year and certain daily rations.
Liquor was never included in this agreement, and the men remained,
per force, total abstainers during the whole time.  The money was
paid in a lump sum at the end of the engagement.  When that day
came round, Jimmy, the stockman, would come slouching into his
master's office, cabbage-tree hat in hand.

"Morning, master!" Jimmy would say.  "My time's up.  I guess I'll
draw my cheque and ride down to town."

"You'll come back, Jimmy?"

"Yes, I'll come back.  Maybe I'll be away three weeks, maybe a
month.  I want some clothes, master, and my bloomin' boots are
well-nigh off my feet."

"How much, Jimmy?" asks his master, taking up his pen.

"There's sixty pound screw," Jimmy answers thoughtfully; "and you
mind, master, last March, when the brindled bull broke out o' the
paddock.  Two pound you promised me then.  And a pound at the
dipping.  And a pound when Millar's sheep got mixed with ourn;" and
so he goes on, for bushmen can seldom write, but they have memories
which nothing escapes.

His master writes the cheque and hands it across the table.  "Don't
get on the drink, Jimmy," he says.

"No fear of that, master," and the stockman slips the cheque into
his leather pouch, and within an hour he is ambling off upon
his long-limbed horse on his hundred-mile journey to town.

Now Jimmy has to pass some six or eight of the above-mentioned
roadside shanties in his day's ride, and experience has taught him
that if he once breaks his accustomed total abstinence, the
unwonted stimulant has an overpowering effect upon his brain.
Jimmy shakes his head warily as he determines that no earthly
consideration will induce him to partake of any liquor until his
business is over.  His only chance is to avoid temptation; so,
knowing that there is the first of these houses some half-mile
ahead, he plunges into a byepath through the bush which will lead
him out at the other side.

Jimmy is riding resolutely along this narrow path, congratulating
himself upon a danger escaped, when he becomes aware of a
sunburned, black-bearded man who is leaning unconcernedly against
a tree beside the track.  This is none other than the shanty-keeper,
who, having observed Jimmy's manoeuvre in the distance, has
taken a short cut through the bush in order to intercept him.

"Morning, Jimmy!" he cries, as the horseman comes up to him.

"Morning, mate; morning!"

"Where are ye off to to-day then?"

"Off to town," says Jimmy sturdily.

"No, now--are you though?  You'll have bully times down there for
a bit.  Come round and have a drink at my place.  Just by way of

"No," says Jimmy, "I don't want a drink."

"Just a little damp."

"I tell ye I don't want one," says the stockman angrily.

"Well, ye needn't be so darned short about it.  It's nothin' to me
whether you drinks or not.  Good mornin'."

"Good mornin'," says Jimmy, and has ridden on about twenty yards
when he hears the other calling on him to stop.

"See here, Jimmy!" he says, overtaking him again.  "If you'll do me
a kindness when you're up in town I'd be obliged."

"What is it?"

"It's a letter, Jim, as I wants posted.  It's an important one too,
an' I wouldn't trust it with every one; but I knows you, and if
you'll take charge on it it'll be a powerful weight off my mind."

"Give it here," Jimmy says laconically.

"I hain't got it here.  It's round in my caboose.  Come round for
it with me.  It ain't more'n quarter of a mile."

Jimmy consents reluctantly.  When they reach the tumble-down hut
the keeper asks him cheerily to dismount and to come in.

"Give me the letter," says Jimmy.

"It ain't altogether wrote yet, but you sit down here for a minute
and it'll be right," and so the stockman is beguiled into the

At last the letter is ready and handed over.  "Now, Jimmy," says
the keeper, "one drink at my expense before you go."

"Not a taste," says Jimmy.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" the other says in an aggrieved tone.
"You're too damned proud to drink with a poor cove like me.  Here--
give us back that letter.  I'm cursed if I'll accept a favour from
a man whose too almighty big to have a drink with me."

"Well, well, mate, don't turn rusty," says Jim.  "Give us one drink
an' I'm off."

The keeper pours out about half a pannikin of raw rum and hands it
to the bushman.  The moment he smells the old familiar smell his
longing for it returns, and he swigs it off at a gulp.  His eyes
shine more brightly and his face becomes flushed.  The keeper
watches him narrowly.  "You can go now, Jim," he says.

"Steady, mate, steady," says the bushman.  "I'm as good a man as
you.  If you stand a drink I can stand one too, I suppose."  So the
pannikin is replenished, and Jimmy's eyes shine brighter still.

"Now, Jimmy, one last drink for the good of the house," says the
keeper, "and then it's time you were off."  The stockman has a
third gulp from the pannikin, and with it all his scruples and good
resolutions vanish for ever.

"Look here," he says somewhat huskily, taking his cheque out of his
pouch.  "You take this, mate.  Whoever comes along this road, ask
'em what they'll have, and tell them it's my shout.  Let me know
when the money's done."

So Jimmy abandons the idea of ever getting to town, and for
three weeks or a month he lies about the shanty in a state of
extreme drunkenness, and reduces every wayfarer upon the road to
the same condition.  At last one fine morning the keeper comes to
him.  "The coin's done, Jimmy," he says; "it's about time you made
some more."  So Jimmy has a good wash to sober him, straps his
blanket and his billy to his back, and rides off through the bush
to the sheeprun, where he has another year of sobriety, terminating
in another month of intoxication.

All this, though typical of the happy-go-lucky manners of the
inhabitants, has no direct bearing upon Jackman's Gulch, so we must
return to that Arcadian settlement.  Additions to the population
there were not numerous, and such as came about the time of which
I speak were even rougher and fiercer than the original
inhabitants.  In particular, there came a brace of ruffians named
Phillips and Maule, who rode into camp one day, and started a claim
upon the other side of the stream.  They outgulched the Gulch in
the virulence and fluency of their blasphemy, in the truculence of
their speech and manner, and in their reckless disregard of all
social laws.  They claimed to have come from Bendigo, and there
were some amongst us who wished that the redoubted Conky Jim was on
the track once more, as long as he would close it to such visitors
as these.  After their arrival the nightly proceedings at the
Britannia bar and at the gambling hell behind it became more
riotous than ever.  Violent quarrels, frequently ending in
bloodshed, were of constant occurrence.  The more peaceable
frequenters of the bar began to talk seriously of lynching the two
strangers who were the principal promoters of disorder.  Things
were in this unsatisfactory condition when our evangelist, Elias B.
Hopkins, came limping into the camp, travel-stained and footsore,
with his spade strapped across his back, and his Bible in the
pocket of his moleskin jacket.

His presence was hardly noticed at first, so insignificant was the
man.  His manner was quiet and unobtrusive, his face pale, and his
figure fragile.  On better acquaintance, however, there was a
squareness and firmness about his clean-shaven lower jaw, and an
intelligence in his widely-opened blue eyes, which marked him as a
man of character.  He erected a small hut for himself, and started
a claim close to that occupied by the two strangers who had
preceded him.  This claim was chosen with a ludicrous disregard for
all practical laws of mining, and at once stamped the newcomer as
being a green hand at his work.  It was piteous to observe him
every morning as we passed to our work, digging and delving with
the greatest industry, but, as we knew well, without the smallest
possibility of any result.  He would pause for a moment as we went
by, wipe his pale face with his bandanna handkerchief, and shout
out to us a cordial morning greeting, and then fall to again with
redoubled energy.  By degrees we got into the way of making a
half-pitying, half-contemptuous inquiry as to how he got on.  "I hain't
struck it yet, boys," he would answer cheerily, leaning on his
spade, "but the bedrock lies deep just hereabouts, and I reckon
we'll get among the pay gravel to-day."  Day after day he returned
the same reply with unvarying confidence and cheerfulness.

It was not long before he began to show us the stuff that was in
him.  One night the proceedings were unusually violent at the
drinking saloon.  A rich pocket had been struck during the day, and
the striker was standing treat in a lavish and promiscuous fashion
which had reduced three parts of the settlement to a state of wild
intoxication.  A crowd of drunken idlers stood or lay about the
bar, cursing, swearing, shouting, dancing, and here and there
firing their pistols into the air out of pure wantonness.  From the
interior of the shanty behind there came a similar chorus.  Maule,
Phillips, and the roughs who followed them were in the ascendant,
and all order and decency was swept away.

Suddenly, amid this tumult of oaths and drunken cries, men became
conscious of a quiet monotone which underlay all other sounds and
obtruded itself at every pause in the uproar.  Gradually first one
man and then another paused to listen, until there was a general
cessation of the hubbub, and every eye was turned in the direction
whence this quiet stream of words flowed.  There, mounted upon a
barrel, was Elias B. Hopkins, the newest of the inhabitants of
Jackman's Gulch, with a good-humoured smile upon his resolute face.

He held an open Bible in his hand, and was reading aloud a passage
taken at random--an extract from the Apocalypse, if I remember
right.  The words were entirely irrelevant and without the smallest
bearing upon the scene before him, but he plodded on with great
unction, waving his left hand slowly to the cadence of his words.

There was a general shout of laughter and applause at this
apparition, and Jackman's Gulch gathered round the barrel
approvingly, under the impression that this was some ornate joke,
and that they were about to be treated to some mock sermon or
parody of the chapter read.  When, however, the reader, having
finished the chapter, placidly commenced another, and having
finished that rippled on into another one, the revellers came to
the conclusion that the joke was somewhat too long-winded.  The
commencement of yet another chapter confirmed this opinion, and an
angry chorus of shouts and cries, with suggestions as to gagging
the reader or knocking him off the barrel, rose from every side.
In spite of roars and hoots, however, Elias B. Hopkins plodded away
at the Apocalypse with the same serene countenance, looking as
ineffably contented as though the babel around him were the most
gratifying applause.  Before long an occasional boot pattered
against the barrel or whistled past our parson's head; but here
some of the more orderly of the inhabitants interfered in favour of
peace and order, aided curiously enough by the afore-mentioned
Maule and Phillips, who warmly espoused the cause of the little
Scripture reader.  "The little cus has got grit in him," the latter
explained, rearing his bulky red-shirted form between the
crowd and the object of its anger.  "His ways ain't our ways, and
we're all welcome to our opinions, and to sling them round from
barrels or otherwise if so minded.  What I says and Bill says is,
that when it comes to slingin' boots instead o' words it's too
steep by half, an' if this man's wronged we'll chip in an' see him
righted."  This oratorical effort had the effect of checking the
more active signs of disapproval, and the party of disorder
attempted to settle down once more to their carouse, and to ignore
the shower of Scripture which was poured upon them.  The attempt
was hopeless.  The drunken portion fell asleep under the drowsy
refrain, and the others, with many a sullen glance at the
imperturbable reader, slouched off to their huts, leaving him still
perched upon the barrel.  Finding himself alone with the more
orderly of the spectators, the little man rose, closed his book,
after methodically marking with a lead pencil the exact spot at
which he stopped, and descended from his perch.  "To-morrow night,
boys," he remarked in his quiet voice, "the reading will commence
at the 9th verse of the 15th chapter of the Apocalypse," with which
piece of information, disregarding our congratulations, he walked
away with the air of a man who has performed an obvious duty.

We found that his parting words were no empty threat.  Hardly had
the crowd begun to assemble next night before he appeared once more
upon the barrel and began to read with the same monotonous vigour,
tripping over words! muddling up sentences, but still boring
along through chapter after chapter.  Laughter, threats, chaff--
every weapon short of actual violence--was used to deter him, but
all with the same want of success.  Soon it was found that there
was a method in his proceedings.  When silence reigned, or when the
conversation was of an innocent nature, the reading ceased.  A
single word of blasphemy, however, set it going again, and it would
ramble on for a quarter of an hour or so, when it stopped, only to
be renewed upon similar provocation.  The reading was pretty
continuous during that second night, for the language of the
opposition was still considerably free.  At least it was an
improvement upon the night before.

For more than a month Elias B. Hopkins carried on this campaign.
There he would sit, night after night, with the open book upon his
knee, and at the slightest provocation off he would go, like a
musical box when the spring is touched.  The monotonous drawl
became unendurable, but it could only be avoided by conforming to
the parson's code.  A chronic swearer came to be looked upon with
disfavour by the community, since the punishment of his
transgression fell upon all.  At the end of a fortnight the reader
was silent more than half the time, and at the end of the month his
position was a sinecure.

Never was a moral revolution brought about more rapidly and more
completely.  Our parson carried his principle into private life.
I have seen him, on hearing an unguarded word from some worker in
the gulches, rush across, Bible in hand, and perching himself upon
the heap of red clay which surmounted the offender's claim,
drawl through the genealogical tree at the commencement of the New
Testament in a most earnest and impressive manner, as though it
were especially appropriate to the occasion.  In time, an oath
became a rare thing amongst us.  Drunkenness was on the wane too.
Casual travellers passing through the Gulch used to marvel at our
state of grace, and rumours of it went as far as Ballarat, and
excited much comment therein.

There were points about our evangelist which made him especially
fitted for the work which he had undertaken.  A man entirely
without redeeming vices would have had no common basis on which to
work, and no means of gaining the sympathy of his flock.  As we
came to know Elias B. Hopkins better, we discovered that in spite
of his piety there was a leaven of old Adam in him, and that he had
certainly known unregenerate days.  He was no teetotaler.  On the
contrary, he could choose his liquor with discrimination, and lower
it in an able manner.  He played a masterly hand at poker, and
there were few who could touch him at "cut-throat euchre."  He and
the two ex-ruffians, Phillips and Maule, used to play for hours in
perfect harmony, except when the fall of the cards elicited an oath
from one of his companions.  At the first of these offences the
parson would put on a pained smile, and gaze reproachfully at the
culprit.  At the second he would reach for his Bible, and the game
was over for the evening.  He showed us he was a good revolver
shot too, for when we were practising at an empty brandy bottle
outside Adams' bar, he took up a friend's pistol and hit it plumb
in the centre at twenty-four paces.  There were few things he took
up that he could not make a show at apparently, except gold-digging,
and at that he was the veriest duffer alive.  It was pitiful
to see the little canvas bag, with his name printed across
it, lying placid and empty upon the shelf at Woburn's store, while
all the other bags were increasing daily, and some had assumed
quite a portly rotundity of form, for the weeks were slipping by,
and it was almost time for the gold-train to start off for
Ballarat.  We reckoned that the amount which we had stored at the
time represented the greatest sum which had ever been taken by a
single convoy out of Jackman's Gulch.

Although Elias B. Hopkins appeared to derive a certain quiet
satisfaction from the wonderful change which he had effected in the
camp, his joy was not yet rounded and complete.  There was one
thing for which he still yearned.  He opened his heart to us about
it one evening.

"We'd have a blessing on the camp, boys," he said, "if we only had
a service o' some sort on the Lord's day.  It's a temptin' o'
Providence to go on in this way without takin' any notice of it,
except that maybe there's more whisky drunk and more card playin'
than on any other day."

"We hain't got no parson," objected one of the crowd.

"Ye fool!" growled another, "hain't we got a man as is worth any
three parsons, and can splash texts around like clay out o' a
cradle.  What more d'ye want?"

"We hain't got no church!" urged the same dissentient.

"Have it in the open air," one suggested.

"Or in Woburn's store," said another.

"Or in Adams' saloon."

The last proposal was received with a buzz of approval, which
showed that it was considered the most appropriate locality.

Adams' saloon was a substantial wooden building in the rear of the
bar, which was used partly for storing liquor and partly for a
gambling saloon.  It was strongly built of rough-hewn logs, the
proprietor rightly judging, in the unregenerate days of Jackman's
Gulch, that hogsheads of brandy and rum were commodities which had
best be secured under lock and key.  A strong door opened into each
end of the saloon, and the interior was spacious enough, when the
table and lumber were cleared away, to accommodate the whole
population.  The spirit barrels were heaped together at one end by
their owner, so as to make a very fair imitation of a pulpit.

At first the Gulch took but a mild interest in the proceedings, but
when it became known that Elias B. Hopkins intended, after reading
the service, to address the audience, the settlement began to warm
up to the occasion.  A real sermon was a novelty to all of them,
and one coming from their own parson was additionally so.
Rumour announced that it would be interspersed with local hits, and
that the moral would be pointed by pungent personalities.  Men
began to fear that they would be unable to gain seats, and many
applications were made to the brothers Adams.  It was only when
conclusively shown that the saloon could contain them all with a
margin that the camp settled down into calm expectancy.

It was as well that the building was of such a size, for the
assembly upon the Sunday morning was the largest which had ever
occurred in the annals of Jackman's Gulch.  At first it was thought
that the whole population was present, but a little reflection
showed that this was not so.  Maule and Phillips had gone on a
prospecting journey among the hills, and had not returned as yet,
and Woburn, the gold-keeper, was unable to leave his store.  Having
a very large quantity of the precious metal under his charge, he
stuck to his post, feeling that the responsibility was too great to
trifle with.  With these three exceptions the whole of the Gulch,
with clean red shirts, and such other additions to their toilet as
the occasion demanded, sauntered in a straggling line along the
clayey pathway which led up to the saloon.

The interior of the building had been provided with rough benches,
and the parson, with his quiet good-humoured smile, was standing at
the door to welcome them.  "Good morning, boys," he cried cheerily,
as each group came lounging up.  "Pass in; pass in.  You'll find
this is as good a morning's work as any you've done.  Leave
your pistols in this barrel outside the door as you pass; you can
pick them out as you come out again, but it isn't the thing to
carry weapons into the house of peace."  His request was
good-humouredly complied with, and before the last of the congregation
filed in, there was a strange assortment of knives and firearms in
this depository.  When all had assembled, the doors were shut, and
the service began--the first and the last which was ever performed
at Jackman's Gulch.

The weather was sultry and the room close, yet the miners listened
with exemplary patience.  There was a sense of novelty in the
situation which had its attractions.  To some it was entirely new,
others were wafted back by it to another land and other days.
Beyond a disposition which was exhibited by the uninitiated to
applaud at the end of certain prayers, by way of showing that they
sympathised with the sentiments expressed, no audience could have
behaved better.  There was a murmur of interest, however, when
Elias B. Hopkins, looking down on the congregation from his rostrum
of casks, began his address.

He had attired himself with care in honour of the occasion.  He
wore a velveteen tunic, girt round the waist with a sash of china
silk, a pair of moleskin trousers, and held his cabbage-tree hat in
his left hand.  He began speaking in a low tone, and it was noticed
at the time that he frequently glanced through the small aperture
which served for a window which was placed above the heads of those
who sat beneath him.

"I've put you straight now," he said, in the course of his address;
"I've got you in the right rut if you will but stick in it."  Here
he looked very hard out of the window for some seconds.  "You've
learned soberness and industry, and with those things you can
always make up any loss you may sustain.  I guess there isn't one
of ye that won't remember my visit to this camp."  He paused for a
moment, and three revolver shots rang out upon the quiet summer
air.  "Keep your seats, damn ye!" roared our preacher, as his
audience rose in excitement.  "If a man of ye moves down he goes!
The door's locked on the outside, so ye can't get out anyhow.  Your
seats, ye canting, chuckle-headed fools!  Down with ye, ye dogs, or
I'll fire among ye!"

Astonishment and fear brought us back into our seats, and we sat
staring blankly at our pastor and each other.  Elias B. Hopkins,
whose whole face and even figure appeared to have undergone an
extraordinary alteration, looked fiercely down on us from his
commanding position, with a contemptuous smile on his stern face.

"I have your lives in my hands," he remarked; and we noticed as he
spoke that he held a heavy revolver in his hand, and that the butt
of another one protruded from his sash.  "I am armed and you are
not.  If one of you moves or speaks he is a dead man.  If not, I
shall not harm you.  You must wait here for an hour.  Why, you
FOOLS" (this with a hiss of contempt which rang in our ears for
many a long day), "do you know who it is that has stuck you
up?  Do you know who it is that has been playing it upon you for
months as a parson and a saint?  Conky Jim, the bushranger, ye
apes.  And Phillips and Maule were my two right-hand men.  They're
off into the hills with your gold----Ha! would ye?"  This to some
restive member of the audience, who quieted down instantly before
the fierce eye and the ready weapon of the bushranger.  "In an hour
they will be clear of any pursuit, and I advise you to make the
best of it, and not to follow, or you may lose more than your
money.  My horse is tethered outside this door behind me.  When the
time is up I shall pass through it, lock it on the outside, and be
off.  Then you may break your way out as best you can.  I have no
more to say to you, except that ye are the most cursed set of asses
that ever trod in boot-leather."

We had time to endorse mentally this outspoken opinion during the
long sixty minutes which followed; we were powerless before the
resolute desperado.  It is true that if we made a simultaneous rush
we might bear him down at the cost of eight or ten of our number.
But how could such a rush be organised without speaking, and who
would attempt it without a previous agreement that he would be
supported?  There was nothing for it but submission.  It seemed
three hours at the least before the ranger snapped up his watch,
stepped down from the barrel, walked backwards, still covering us
with his weapon, to the door behind him, and then passed rapidly
through it.  We heard the creaking of the rusty lock, and the
clatter of his horse's hoofs, as he galloped away.

It has been remarked that an oath had, for the last few weeks, been
a rare thing in the camp.  We made up for our temporary abstention
during the next half-hour.  Never was heard such symmetrical and
heartfelt blasphemy.  When at last we succeeded in getting the door
off its hinges all sight of both rangers and treasure had
disappeared, nor have we ever caught sight of either the one or the
other since.  Poor Woburn, true to his trust, lay shot through the
head across the threshold of his empty store.  The villains, Maule
and Phillips, had descended upon the camp the instant that we had
been enticed into the trap, murdered the keeper, loaded up a small
cart with the booty, and got safe away to some wild fastness among
the mountains, where they were joined by their wily leader.

Jackman's Gulch recovered from this blow, and is now a flourishing
township.  Social reformers are not in request there, however, and
morality is at a discount.  It is said that an inquest has been
held lately upon an unoffending stranger who chanced to remark that
in so large a place it would be advisable to have some form of
Sunday service.  The memory of their one and only pastor is still
green among the inhabitants, and will be for many a long year to


"Number 43 is no better, doctor," said the head warder, in a slightly
reproachful accent, looking in round the corner of my door.

"Confound 43!" I responded from behind the pages of the Australian

"And 61 says his tubes are paining him. Couldn't you do anything for

"He is a walking drug-shop," said I. "He has the whole British
pharmacopoeia inside him. I believe his tubes are as sound as yours are."

"Then there's 7 and 108, they are chronic," continued the warder,
glancing down a blue slip of paper "And 28 knocked off work yesterday--
said lifting things gave him a stitch in his side. I want you to have a
look at him, if you don't mind, doctor. There's 31 too--him that killed
John Adamson in the Corinthian brig--he's been carrying on awful in the
night, shrieking and yelling, he has, and no stopping him either."

"All right, I'll have a look at him afterward," I said, tossing my paper
carelessly aside, and pouring myself a cup of coffee. "Nothing else to
report, I suppose, warder?"

The official protruded his head a little further into the room. "Beg
pardon, doctor," he said, in a confidential tone, "but I notice as 82 has
a bit of a cold, and it would be a good excuse for you to visit him and
have a chat, maybe."

The cup of coffee was arrested half-way to my lips as I stared in
amazement at the man's serious face.

"An excuse?" I said. "An excuse? What the deuce are you talking about,
McPherson? You see me trudging about all day at my practice, when I'm not
looking after the prisoners, and coming back every night as tired as a
dog, and you talk about finding an excuse for doing more work."

"You'd like it, doctor," said Warder McPherson, insinuating one of his
shoulders into the room. "That man's story's worth listening to if you
could get him to tell it, though he's not what you'd call free in his
speech. Maybe you don't know who 82 is?"

"No, I don't, and I don't care either," I answered, in the conviction
that some local ruffian was about to be foisted upon me as a celebrity.

"He's Maloney," said the warder, "him that turned Queen's evidence after
the murders at blue-mansdyke."

"You don't say so?" I ejaculated, laying down my cup in astonishment. I
had heard of this ghastly series of murders, and read an account of them
in a London magazine long before setting foot in the colony. I remembered
that the atrocities committed had thrown the Burke and Hare crimes
completely into the shade, and that one of the most villainous of the
gang had saved his own skin by betraying his companions. "Are you sure?"
I asked."

"Oh, yes, it's him right enough. Just you draw him out a bit, and he'll
astonish you. He's a man to know, is Maloney; that's to say, in
moderation;" and the head grinned, bobbed, and disappeared, leaving me to
finish my breakfast and ruminate over what I had heard.

The surgeonship of an Australian prison is not an enviable position. It
may be endurable in Melbourne or Sydney, but the little town of Perth has
few attractions to recommend it, and those few had been long exhausted.
The climate was detestable, and the society far from congenial. Sheep and
cattle were the staple support of the community; and their prices,
breeding, and diseases the principal topic of conversation. Now as I,
being an outsider, possessed neither the one nor the other, and was
utterly callous to the new "dip" and the "rot" and other kindred topics,
I found myself in a state of mental isolation, and was ready to hail
anything which might relieve the monotony of my existence. Maloney, the
murderer, had at least some distinctiveness and individuality in his
character, and might act as a tonic to a mind sick of the commonplaces of
existence. When, therefore, I went upon my usual matutinal round, I
turned the lock of the door which bore the convict's number upon it, and
walked into the cell.

The man was lying in a heap upon his rough bed as I entered, but,
uncoiling his long limbs, he started up and stared at me with an insolent
look of defiance on his face which augured badly for our interview. He
had a pale, set face, with sandy hair and a steely-blue eye, with
something feline in its expression. His frame was tall and muscular,
though there was a curious bend in his shoulders, which almost amounted
to a deformity. An ordinary observer meeting him in the street might have
put him down as a well-developed man, fairly handsome, and of studious
habits--even in the hideous uniform of the rottenest convict
establishment he imparted a certain refinement to his carriage which
marked him out among the inferior ruffians around him.

"I'm not on the sick-list," he said, gruffly. There was something in the
hard, rasping voice which dispelled all softer illusions, and made me
realize that I was face to face with the man of the Lena Valley and
Bluemansdyke, the bloodiest bushranger that ever stuck up a farm or cut
the throats of its occupants.

"I know you're not," I answered. "Warder McPherson told me you had a
cold, though, and I thought I'd look in and see you."

"Blast Warder McPherson, and blast you, too!" yelled the convict, in a
paroxysm of rage. "Oh, that's right," he added in a quieter voice; "hurry
away; report me to the governor, do! Get me another six months or so--
that's your game."

"I'm not going to report you," I said.

"Eight square feet of ground," he went on, disregarding my protest, and
evidently working himself into a fury again. "Eight square feet, and I
can't have that without being talked to and stared at, and--oh, blast
the whole crew of you!" and he raised his two clinched hands above his
head and shook them in passionate invective.

"You've got a curious idea of hospitality," I remarked, determined not to
lose my temper, and saying almost the first thing that came to my tongue.

To my surprise the words had an extraordinary effect upon him. He seemed
completely staggered at my assuming the proposition for which he had been
so fiercely contending--namely, that the room in which he stood was his

"I beg your pardon," he said; "I didn't mean to be rude. Won't you take a
seat?" and he motioned toward a rough trestle, which formed the headpiece
of his couch.

I sat down, rather astonished at the sudden change. I don't know that I
liked Maloney better under this new aspect. The murderer had, it is true,
disappeared for the nonce, but there was something in the smooth tones
and obsequious manner which powerfully suggested that the witness of the
queen, who had stood up and sworn away the lives of his companions in

"How's your chest?" I asked, putting on my professional air.

"Come, drop it, doctor--drop it!" he answered, showing a row of white
teeth as he resumed his seat upon the side of the bed. "It wasn't anxiety
after my precious health that brought you along here; that story won't
wash at all. You came to have a look at Wolf Tone Maloney, forger,
murderer, Sydney-slider, ranger, and government peach. That's about my
figure, ain't it? There it is, plain and straight; there's nothing mean
about me."

He paused as if he expected me to say something; but I remained silent,
he repeated once or twice, "There's nothing mean about me."

"And why shouldn't I?" he suddenly yelled, his eyes gleaming and his
whole satanic nature reasserting itself. "We were bound to swing, one and
all, and they were none the worse if I saved myself by turning against
them. Every man for himself, say I, and the devil take the luckiest. You
haven't a plug of tobacco, doctor, have you?"

He tore at the piece of "Barrett's" which I handed him, as ravenously as
a wild beast. It seemed to have the effect of soothing his nerves, for he
settled himself down in the bed and reassumed his former deprecating

"You wouldn't like it yourself, you know, doctor," he said: "it's enough
to make any man a little queer in his temper. I'm in for six months this
time for assault, and very sorry I shall be to go out again, I can tell
you. My mind's at ease in here; but when I'm outside, what with the
government and what with Tattooed Tom, of Hawkesbury, there's no chance
of a quiet life."

"Who is he?" I asked.

"He's the brother of John Grimthorpe, the same that was condemned on my
evidence; and an infernal scamp he was, too! Spawn of the devil, both of
them! This tattooed one is a murderous ruffian, and he swore to have my
blood after that trial. It's seven years ago, and he's following me yet;
I know he is, though he lies low and keeps dark. He came up to me in
Ballarat in '75: you can see on the back of my hand here where the bullet
chipped me. He tried again in '76, at Port Philip, but I got the drop on
him and wounded him badly. He knifed me in '79, though, in a bar at
Adelaide, and that made our account about level. He's loafing round again
now, and he'll let daylight into me--unless--unless by some
extraordinary chance some one does as much for him." And Maloney gave me
a very ugly smile.

"I don't complain of him so much," he continued. "Looking at it in his
way, no doubt it is a sort of family mater that can hardly be neglected.
It's the government that fetches me. When I think of what I've done for
this country, and then of what this country has done for me, it makes me
fairly wild--clean drives me off my head. There's no gratitude nor
common decency left, doctor!"

He brooded over his wrongs for a few minutes, and then proceeded to lay
them before me in detail.

"Here's nine men," he said; "they've been murdering and killing for a
matter of three years, and maybe a life a week wouldn't more than average
the work that they've done. The government tries them, but they can't
convict; and why?--because the witnesses have all had their throats cut,
and the whole job's been very neatly done. What happens then? Up comes a
citizen called Wolf Tone Maloney; he says 'The country needs me, and here
I am.' And with that he gives his evidence, convicts the lot, and enables
the beaks to hang them. That's what I did. There's nothing mean about me!
And now what does the country do in return? Dogs me, sir, spies on me,
watches me night and day, turns against the very man that worked so very
hard for it. There's something mean about that, anyway. I didn't expect
them to knight me, nor to make me colonial secretary; but, blast it! I
did expect that they would let me alone!"

"Well," I remonstrated, "if you choose to break laws and assault people,
you can't expect it to be looked over on account of former services."

"I don't refer to my present imprisonment, sir," said Maloney, with
dignity. "It's the life I've been leading since that cursed trial that
takes the soul out of me. Just you sit there on that trestle, and I'll
tell you all about it; and then look me in the face and tell me that I've
been treated fair by the police."

I shall endeavor to transcribe the experience of the convict in his own
words, as far as I can remember them, preserving his curious perversions
of right and wrong. I can answer for the truth of his facts, whatever may
be said for his deductions from them. Months afterward, Inspector H. W.
Hann, formerly governor of the jail at Dunedin, showed me entries in his
ledger which corroborated every statement. Maloney reeled the story off
in a dull, monotonous voice, with his head sunk upon his breast and his
hands between his knees. The glitter of his serpent-like eyes was the
only sign of the emotions which were stirred up by the recollection of
the events which he narrated.

You've read of Bluemansdyke (he began, with some pride in his tone). We
made it hot while it lasted; but they ran us to earth at last, and a trap
called Braxton, with a damned Yankee, took the lot of us. That was in New
Zealand, of course, and they took us down to Dunedin, and there they were
convicted and hanged. One and all they put up their hands in the dock,
and cursed me till your blood would have run cold to hear them--which
was scurvy treatment, seeing that we had all been pals together; but they
were a blackguard lot, and thought only of themselves. I think it is as
well that they were hung.

They took me back to Dunedin Jail, and clamped me into the old cell. The
only difference they made was, that I had no work to do and was well fed.
I stood this for a week or two, until one day the governor was making his
rounds, and I put the matter to him.

"How's this?" I said. "My conditions were a free pardon, and you're
keeping me here against the law."

He gave a sort of a smile. "Should you like very much to get out?" he

"So much," said I, "that unless you open that door I'll have an action
against you for illegal detention."

He seemed a bit astonished by my resolution.

"You're very anxious to meet your death," he said.

"What d'ye mean?" I asked.

"Come here, and you'll know what I mean," he answered. And he led me down
the passage to a window that overlooked the door of the prison. "Look at
that!" said he.

I looked out, and there were a dozen or so rough-looking fellows standing
outside the street, some of them smoking, some playing cards on the
pavement. When they saw me they gave a yell and crowded round the door,
shaking their fists and hooting.

"They wait for you, watch and watch about," said the governor. "They're
the executive of the vigilance committee. However, since you are
determined to go, I can't stop you."

"D'ye call this a civilized land," I cried, "and let a man be murdered in
cold blood in open daylight?"

When I said this the governor and the warder and every fool in the place
grinned, as if a man's life was a rare good joke.

"You've got the law on your side," says the governor; "so we won't detain
you any longer. Show him out, warder."

He'd have done it, too, the black-hearted villain, if I hadn't begged and
prayed and offered to pay for my board and lodging, which is more than
any prisoner ever did before me. He let me stay on those conditions; and
for three months I was caged up there with every larrikin in the township
clamoring at the other side of the wall. That was pretty treatment for a
man that had served his country!

At last, one morning up came the governor again.

"Well, Maloney," he said, "how long are you going to honor us with your

I could have put a knife into his cursed body, and would, too, if we had
been alone in the bush; but I had to smile, and smooth him and flatter,
for I feared that he might have me sent out.

"You're an infernal rascal," he said; those were his very words, to a man
that had helped him all he knew how. "I don't want any rough justice
here, though; and I think I see my way to getting you out of Dunedin."

"I'll never forget you, governor," said I' and, by God! I never will!

"I don't want your thanks nor your gratitude," he answered; "it's not for
your sake that I do it, but simply to keep order in the town. There's a
steamer starts from the West Quay to Melbourne to-morrow, and we'll get
you aboard it. She is advertised at five in the morning, so have yourself
in readiness."

I packed up the few things I had, and was smuggled out by a back door,
just before daybreak. I hurried down, took my ticket under the name of
Isaac Smith, and got safely aboard the Melbourne boat. I remember hearing
her screw grinding into the water as the warps were cast loose, and
looking back at the lights of Dunedin as I leaned upon the bulwarks, with
the pleasant thought that I was leaving them behind me forever. It seemed
to me that a new world was before me, and that all my troubles had been
cast off. I went down below and had some coffee, and came up again
feeling better than I had done since the morning that I woke to find that
cursed Irishman that took me standing over me with a six-shooter.

Day had dawned by that time, and we were steaming along by the coast,
well out of sight of Dunedin. I loafed about for a couple of hours, and
when the sun got well up some of the other passengers came on deck and
joined me. One of them, a little perky sort of fellow, took a good long
look at me, and then came over and began talking.

"Mining, I suppose?" says he.

"Yes," I says.

"Made your pile?" he says.

"Pretty fair," says I.

"I was at it myself," he says; "I worked at the Nelson fields for three
months, and spent all I made in buying a salted claim which busted up the
second day. I went at it again, though, and struck it rich; but when the
gold wagon was going down to the settlements, it was stuck up by those
cursed rangers, and not a red cent left."

"That was a bad job," I says.

"Broke me--ruined me clean. Never mind, I've seen them all hanged for
it; that makes it easier to bear. There's only one left--the villain
that gave the evidence. I'd die happy if I could come across him. There
were two things I have to do if I meet him."

"What's that?" says I, carelessly.

"I've got to ask him where the money lies--they never had time to make
away with it, and it's cached somewhere in the mountains--and then I've
got to stretch his neck for him, and send his soul down to join the men
that he betrayed."

It seemed to me that I knew something about that cache, and I felt like
laughing; but he was watching me, and it struck me that he had a nasty,
vindictive kind of mind.

"I'm going up on the bridge," I said, for he was not a man whose
acquaintance I cared much about making.

He wouldn't hear of my leaving him, though.

"We're both miners," he says, "and we're pals for the voyage. Come down
to the bar. I'm not too poor to shout."

I couldn't refuse him well, and we went down together; and that was the
beginning of the trouble.. What harm was I doing any one on the ship? All
I asked for was a quiet life, leaving others alone and getting left alone
myself. No man could ask fairer than that. And now just you listen to
what came of it.

We were passing the front of the ladies' cabin, on our way to the saloon,
when out comes a servant lass--a freckled currency she-devil--with a
baby in her arms. We were brushing past her, when she gave a scream like
a railway whistle, and nearly dropped the kid. My nerves gave a sort of
jump when I heard that scream, but I turned and begged her pardon,
letting on that I thought I might have trod on her foot. I knew the game
was up, though, when I saw her white face, and her leaning against the
door and pointing.

"It's him!" she cried; "It's him! I saw him in the court-house. Oh, don't
let him hurt the baby!"

"Who is it?" asked the steward and half a dozen others in a breath.

"It's him--Maloney--Maloney, the murderer--oh, take him away--take
him away!"

I don't rightly remember what happened just at that moment. The furniture
and me seemed to get kind of mixed, and there was cursing, and smashing,
and some one shouting for his gold, and a general stamping round. When I
got steadied a bit, I found somebody's hand in my mouth. From what I
gathered afterward, I concluded that it belonged to that same little man
with the vicious way of talking. He got some of it out again, but that
was because the others were choking me. A poor chap can get no fair play
in this world when once he is down--still, I think he will remember me
till the day of his death--longer, I hope.

They dragged me out on to the poop and held a damned court-martial--on
me, mind you that had thrown over my pals in order to serve them. What
were they to do with me? Some said this, some said that; but it ended by
the captain deciding to send me ashore. The ship stopped, they lowered a
boat, and I was hoisted in, the whole gang of them hooting at me from
over the bulwarks. I saw the man I spoke of tying up his hand, though,
and I felt that things might be worse.

I changed my opinion before we got to land. I had reckoned on the shore
being deserted, and that I might make my way inland; but the ship had
stopped too near the Heads, and a dozen beachcombers and such like had
come down to the water's edge and were staring at us, wondering what the
boat was after. When we got to the edge of the surf the cockswain hailed
them, and after singing out who I was, he and his men threw me into the
water. You may well look surprised--neck and crop into ten feet of
water, with sharks as thick as green parrots in the bush, and I heard
them laughing as I floundered to the shore.

I soon saw it was a worse job than ever. As I came scrambling out through
the weeds, I was collared by a big chap with a velveteen coat, and half a
dozen others got round me and held me fast. Most of them looked simple
fellows enough, and I was not afraid of them; but there was one in a
cabbage-tree hat that had a very nasty expression on his face, and the
big man seemed to be chummy with him.

The dragged me up the beach, and then they let go their hold of me and
stood round in a circle.

"Well, mate," says the man with the hat, "we've been looking out for you
some time in these parts."

"And very good of you, too," I answers.

"None of your jaw," says he, "Come, boys what shall it be--hanging,
drowning, or shooting? Look sharp!"

This looked a bit too like business. "No, you don't" I said. "I've got
government protection and it'll be murder."

"That's what they call it," answered the one in the velveteen coat, as
cheery as a piping crow.

"And you're going to murder me for being a ranger?"

"Ranger be damned!" said the man. "We're going to hang you for peaching
against your pals; and that's an end of the palaver."

They slung a rope round my neck and dragged me up to the edge of the
bush. There were some big she-oaks and blue-gums, and they pitched on one
of these for the wicked deed. They ran the rope over a branch, tied my
hands, and told me to say my prayers. It seemed as if it was all up; but
Providence interfered to save me. It sounds nice enough sitting here and
telling about it, sir; but it was sick work to stand with nothing but the
beach in front of you, and the long white line of surf, with the steamer
in the distance, and a set of bloody-minded villains round you thirsting
for your life.

I never thought I'd owe anything good to the police; but they saved me
that time. A troop of them were riding from Hawkes Point Station to
Dunedin, and hearing that something was up, they came down through the
bush and interrupted the proceedings. I've heard some bands in my time,
doctor, but I never heard music like the jingle of those traps' spurs and
harness as they galloped out on to the open. They tried to hang me even
then, but the police were too quick for them; and the man with the hat
got one over the head with the flat of a sword. I was clapped on to a
horse, and before evening I found myself in my old quarters in the city

The governor wasn't to be done, though. He was determined to get rid of
me, and I was equally anxious to see the last of him. He waited a week or
so until the excitement had begun to die away, and then he smuggled me
aboard a three-mastered schooner bound to Sydney with tallow and hides.

We got far away to sea without a hitch, and things began to look a bit
more rosy. I made sure that I had seen the last of the prison, anyway.
The crew had a sort of an idea who I was, and if there'd been any rough
weather, they'd have hove me overboard, like enough; for they were a
rough, ignorant lot, and had a notion that I brought bad luck to the
ship. We had a good passage, however, and I was landed safe and sound
upon Sydney Quay.

Now just you listen to what happened next. You'd have thought they would
have been sick of ill-using me and following me by this time--wouldn't
you, now? Well, just you listen. It seems that a cursed steamer started
from Dunedin to Sydney on the very day we left, and got in before us,
bringing news that I was coming. Blessed if they hadn't called a meeting
--a regular mass-meeting--at the docks to discuss about it, and I was
marched right into it when I landed. They didn't take long about
arresting me, and I listened to all the speeches and resolutions. If I'd
been a prince there couldn't have been more excitement. The end of all
was that they agreed that it wasn't right that New Zealand should be
allowed to foist her criminals upon her neighbors, and that I was to be
sent back again by the next boat. So they posted me off again as if I was
a damned parcel; and after another eight-hundred-mile journey I found
myself back for the third time moving in the place that I was started

By the time I had begun to think that I was going to spend the rest of my
existence traveling about from one port to another. Every man's hand
seemed turned against me, and there was no peace or quiet in any
direction. I was about sick of it by the time I had come back; and if I
could have taken to the bush I'd have done it, and chanced it with my old
pals. They were too quick for me, though, and kept me under lock and key;
but I managed, in spite of them, to negotiate that cache I told you of,
and sewed the gold up in my belt. I spent another month in jail, and then
they shipped me abroad a bark that was bound for England.

This time the crew never knew who I was, but the captain had a pretty
good idea, though he didn't let on to me that he had any suspicions. I
guessed from the first that the man was a villain. We had a fair passage,
except a gale or two off the Cape; and I began to feel like a free man
when I saw the blue loom of the old country, and the saucy little
pilot-boat from Falmouth dancing toward us over the waves. We ran down
the Channel, and before we reached Gravesend I had agreed with the pilot
that he should take me ashore with him when he left. It was at this time
that the captain showed me that I was right in thinking him a meddling,
disagreeable man. I got my things packed, such as they were, and left him
talking earnestly to the pilot, while I went below for my breakfast. When
I came up again we were fairly into the mouth of the river, and the boat
in which I was to have gone ashore had left us. The skipper said the
pilot had forgotten me; but that was too thin, and I began to fear that
all my old troubles were going to commence once more.

It was not long before my suspicions were confirmed. A boat darted out
from the side of the river, and a tall cove with a long black beard came
aboard. I heard him ask the mate whether they didn't need a mud-pilot to
take them up in the reaches, but it seemed to me that he was a man who
would know a deal more about handcuffs than he did about steering, so I
kept away from him. He came across the deck, however, and made some
remark to me, taking a good look at me the while. I didn't like
inquisitive people at any time, but an inquisitive stranger with glue
about the roots of his beard is the worst of all to stand, especially
under the circumstances. I began to feel that it was time for me to go.

I soon got a chance, and made good use of it. A big collier came athwart
the bows of our steamer, and we had to slacken down to dead slow. There
was a barge astern, and I slipped down by a rope and was into the barge
before any one missed me. Of course I had to leave my luggage behind me,
but I had the belt with the nuggets round my waist, and the chance of
shaking the police off my track was worth more than a couple of boxes. It
was clear to me now that the pilot had been a traitor, as well as the
captain, and had set the detectives after me. I often wish I could drop
across those two men again.

I hung about the barge all day as she drifted down the stream. There was
one man in her, but she was a big, ugly craft, and his hands were too
full for much looking about. Toward evening, when it got a bit dusky, I
struck out for the shore, and found myself in a sort of marsh place, a
good many miles to the east of London. I was soaking wet and half dead
with hunger, but I trudged into the town, got a new rig-out at a
slop-hot, and after having some supper, engaged a bed at the quietest
lodgings I could find.

I woke pretty early--a habit you pick up in the bush--and lucky for me
that I did so. The very first thing I saw when I took a look through a
chink in the shutter was one of those infernal policemen, standing right
opposite and staring up at the windows. He hadn't epaulets nor a sword,
like our traps, but for all that there was a sort of family likeness, and
the same busybody expression. Whether they followed me all the time, or
whether the woman that let me the bed didn't like the looks of me, is
more than I have ever been able to find out. He came across as I was
watching him, and noted down the address of the house in a book. I was
afraid that he was going to ring at the bell, but I suppose his orders
were simply to keep an eye on me, for after another good look at the
windows he moved on down the street.

I saw that my only chance was to act at once. I threw on my clothes,
opened the window softly, and, after making sure that there was nobody
about, dropped out onto the ground and made off as hard as I could run. I
traveled a matter of two or three miles, when my wind gave out; and as I
saw a big building with people going in and out, I went in too, and found
that it was a railway station. A train was just going off for Dover to
meet the French boat, so I took a ticket and jumped into a third-class

There were a couple of other chaps in the carriage, innocent-looking
young beggars, both of them. They began speaking about his and that,
while I sat quiet in the corner and listened. Then they started on
England and foreign countries, and such like. Look ye now, doctor, this
is a fact. One of them begins jawing about the justice of England's laws.
"It's all fair and above-board," says he; "there ain't any secret police,
nor spying, like they have abroad," and a lot more of the same sort of
wash. Rather rough on me, wasn't it, listening to the damned young fool,
with the police following me about like my shadow?

I got to Paris right enough, and there I changed some of my gold, and for
a few days I imagined I'd shaken them off, and began to think of settling
down for a bit of rest. I needed it by that time, for I was looking more
like a ghost than a man. You've never had the police after you, I
suppose? Well, you needn't look offended, I didn't mean any harm. If ever
you had you'd know that it wastes a man away like a sheep with the rot.

I went to the opera one night and took a box, for I was coming out
between the acts when I met a fellow lounging along in the passage. The
light fell on his face, and I saw that it was the mud-pilot that had
boarded us in the Thames. His beard was gone, but I recognized the man at
a glance, for I've a good memory for faces.

I tell you, doctor, I felt desperate for a moment. I could have knifed
him if we had been alone, but he knew me well enough never to give me the
chance. It was more then I could stand any longer, so I went right up to
him and drew him aside, where we'd be free from all the lundgers and

"How long are you going to keep it up?" I asked him.

He seemed a bit flustered for a moment, but then he saw there was no use
beating about the bush, so he answered straight;

"Until you go back to Australia," he said.

"Don't you know," I said, "that I have served the government and got a
free pardon?"

He grinned all over his ugly face when I said this.

"We know all about you, Maloney," he answered. "If you want a quiet life,
just you go back where you came from. If you stay here, you're a marked
man; and when you are found tripping it'll be a lifer for you, at the
least. Free trade's a fine thing but the market's too full of men like
you for us to need to import any."

It seemed to me that there was something in what he said, though he had a
nasty way of putting it. For some days back I'd been feeling a sort of
home sick. The ways of the people weren't my ways. They stared at me in
the street; and if I dropped into a oar, they'd stop talking and edge
away a bit, as if I was a wild beast. I'd sooner have had a pint of old
Stringybark, too, than a bucketful of their rot-gut liquors. There was
too much damned propriety. What was the use of having money if you
couldn't dress as you liked, nor bust in properly? There was no sympathy
for a man if he shot about a little when he was half-over. I've seen a
man dropped at Nelson many a time with less row than they'd make over a
broken window-pane. The thing was slow, and I was sick of it.

"You want me to go back?" I said.

"I've my order to stick fast to you until you do," he answered.

"Well," I said, "I don't care if I do. All I bargain is that you keep
your mouth shut and don't let on who I am, so that I may have a fair
start when I get there."

He agreed to this, and we went over to Southampton the very next day,
where he saw me safely off once more. I took a passage round to Adelaide,
where no one was likely to know me; and there I settled, right under the
nose of the police. Id been there ever since, leading a quiet life,' but
for little difficulties like the one I'm in for now, and for that devil,
Tattooed Tom, of Hawkesbury. I don't know what made me tell you all this,
doctor, unless it is that being lonely makes a man inclined to jaw when
he gets a chance. Just you take warning from me, though. Never put
yourself out to serve your country; for your country will do precious
little for you. Just you let them look after their own affairs; and if
they find difficulty in hanging a set of scoundrels, never mind chipping
in, but let them alone to do as best they can. Maybe they'll remember how
they treated me after I'm dead, and be sorry for neglecting me. I was
rude to you when you came in, and swore a trifle promiscuous: but don't
you mind me, it's only my way. You'll allow, though, that I have cause to
be a bit touchy now and again when I think of all that's passed. You're
not going, are you? Well, if you must, you must; but I hope you will look
me up at odd times when you are going your rounds. Oh, I say, you've left
the balance of that cake of tobacco behind you, haven't you? No: it's in
your pocket--that's all right. Thank ye doctor, you're a good sort, and
as quick as a hint as any man I've met.

A couple of months after narrating his experiences, Wolf Tone Maloney
finished his term, and was released. For a long time I neither saw him
nor heard of him, and he had almost slipped from my memory, until I was
reminded, in a somewhat tragic manner, of his existence. I had been
attending a patient some distance off in the country, and was riding
back, guiding my tired horse among the boulders which strewed the
pathway, and endeavoring to see my way through the gathering darkness,
when I came suddenly upon a little wayside inn. As I walked my horse up
toward the door, intending to make sure of my bearings before proceeding
further, I heard the sound of a violent altercation within the little
bar. There seemed to be a chorus of expostulation or remonstrance, above
which two powerful voices rang out loud and angry. As I listened, there
was a momentary hush, two pistol shots sounded almost simultaneously, and
with a crash the door burst open and a pair of dark figures staggered out
into the moonlight. They struggled for a moment in a deadly wrestle, and
then went down together among the loose stones. I had sprung off my
horse, and, with the help of half a dozen rough fellows from the bar,
dragged them away from one another.

A glance was sufficient to convince me that one of them was drying fast.
He was a thick-set burly fellow, with a determined cast of countenance.
The blood was welling from a deep stab in his throat, and it was evident
that an important artery had been divided. I turned away from him in
despair, and walked over to where his antagonist was lying. He was shot
through the lungs, but managed to raise himself up on his hand as I
approached, and peered anxiously up into my face. To my surprise, I saw
before me the haggard features and flaxen hair of my prison acquaintance,

"Ah, doctor!" he said, recognizing me. "How is he? Will he die?"

He asked the question so earnestly that I imagined he had softened at the
last moment, and feared to leave the world with another homicide upon his
conscience. Truth, however, compelled me to shake my head mournfully, and
to intimate that the wound would prove a mortal one.

Maloney gave a wild cry of triumph, which brought the blood welling out
from between his lips. "Here, boys," he gasped to the little group around
him. "There's money in my inside pocket. Damn the expense! Drinks round.
There's nothing mean about me. I'd drink with you, but I'm going. Give
the doc my share, for he's as good---" Here his head fell back with a
thud, his eye glazed, and the soul of Wolf Tone Maloney, forger, convict,
ranger, murderer, and government peach, drifted away into the Great

I cannot conclude without borrowing the account of the fatal quarrel
which appeared in the columns of the West Australian Sentinel. The
curious will find it in the issue of October 4, 1881:

"FATAL AFFRAY.--W. T. Maloney, a well-known citizen of New Montrose, and
proprietor of the Yellow Boy gambling saloon, has met with his death
under rather painful circumstances. Mr. Maloney was a man who had led a
checkered existence, and whose past history is replete with interest.
Some of our readers may recall the Lena Village murders, in which he
figured as the principal criminal. It is conjectured that during the
seven months that he owned a bar in that region, from twenty to thirty
travelers were hocussed and made away with. He succeeded, however, in
evading the vigilance of the officers of the law, and allied himself with
the bushrangers of Bluemansdyke, whose heroic capture and subsequent
execution are matters of history. Maloney extricated himself from the
fate which awaited him by turning Queen's evidence. He afterward visited
Europe, but returned to West Australia, where he has long played a
prominent part in local matters. On Friday evening he encountered an old
enemy, Thomas Grimthorpe, commonly known as Tattooed Tom, of Hawkesbury.
Shots were exchanged, and both were badly wounded, only surviving a few
minutes. Mr. Maloney had the reputation of being not only the most
wholesale murderer that ever lived, but also of having a finish and
attention to detail in matters of evidence which has been unapproached by
any European criminal. Sic transit gloria mundi!"


On the fourth day of March, in the year 1867, I being at that time in my
five-and-twentieth year, I wrote down the following words in my
note-book--the result of much mental perturbation and conflict:

"The solar system, amidst a countless number of other systems as large as
itself, rolls ever silently through space in the direction of the
constellation of Hercules. The great spheres of which it is composed spin
and spin through the eternal void ceaselessly and noiselessly. Of these
one of the smallest and most insignificant is that conglomeration of
solid and of liquid particles which we have named the earth. It whirls
onwards now as it has done before my birth, and will do after my death--a
revolving mystery, coming none know whence, and going none know whither.
Upon the outer crust of this moving mass crawl many mites, of whom I,
John M'Vittie, am one, helpless, impotent, being dragged aimlessly
through space. Yet such is the state of things amongst us that the little
energy and glimmering of reason which I possess is entirely taken up with
the labours which are necessary in order to procure certain metallic
discs, wherewith I may purchase the chemical elements necessary to build
up my ever-wasting tissues, and keep a roof over me to shelter me from
the inclemency of the weather. I thus have no thought to expend upon the
vital questions which surround me on every side. Yet, miserable entity as
I am, I can still at times feel some degree of happiness, and am
even--save the mark!--puffed up occasionally with a sense of my own

These words, as I have said, I wrote down in my note-book, and they
reflected accurately the thoughts which I found rooted far down in my
soul, ever present and unaffected by the passing emotions of the hour. At
last, however, came a time when my uncle, M'Vittie of Glencairn,
died--the same who was at one time chairman of committees of the House of
Commons. He divided his great wealth among his many nephews, and I found
myself with sufficient to provide amply for my wants during the remainder
of my life, and became at the same time the owner of a bleak tract of
land upon the coast, of Caithness, which I think the old man must have
bestowed upon me in derision, for it was sandy and valueless, and he had
ever a grim sense of humour. Up to this time I had been an attorney in a
midland town in England: Now I saw that I could put my thoughts into
effect, and, leaving all petty and sordid aims, could elevate my mind by
the study of the secrets of nature. My departure from my English home was
somewhat accelerated by the fact that I had nearly slain a man in a
quarrel, for my temper was fiery, and I was apt to forget my own strength
when enraged. There was no legal action taken in the matter, but the
papers yelped at me, and folk looked askance when I met them. It ended by
my cursing them and their vile, smoke-polluted town, and hurrying to my
northern possession, where I might at last find peace and an opportunity
for solitary study and contemplation. I borrowed from my capital before I
went, and so was able to take with me a choice collection of the most
modern philosophical instruments and books, together with chemicals and
such other things as I might need in my retirement.

The land which I had inherited was a narrow strip, consisting mostly of
sand, and extending for rather over two miles round the coast of Mansie
Bay, in Caithness. Upon this strip there had been a rambling, greystone
building--when erected or wherefore none could tell me--and this I had
repaired, so that it made a dwelling quite good enough for one of my
simple tastes. One room was my laboratory, another my sitting-room, and
in a third, just under the sloping roof, I slung the hammock in which I
always slept. There were three other rooms, but I left them vacant,
except one which was given over to the old crone who kept house for me.
Save the Youngs and the M'Leods, who were fisherfolk living round at the
other side of Fergus Ness, there were no other people for many miles in
each direction. In front of the house was the great bay, behind it were
two long barren hills, capped by other loftier ones beyond. There was a
glen between the hills, and when the wind was from the land it used to
sweep down this with a melancholy sough and whisper among the branches of
the fir-trees beneath my attic window.

I dislike my fellow-mortals. Justice compels me to add that they appear
for the most part to dislike me. I hate their little crawling ways, their
conventionalities, their deceits, their narrow rights and wrongs. They
take offence at my brusque outspokenness, my disregard for their social
laws, my impatience of all constraint. Among my books and my drugs in my
lonely den at Mansie I could let the great drove of the human race pass
onwards with their politics and inventions and tittle-tattle, and I
remained behind stagnant and happy. Not stagnant either, for I was
working in my own little groove, and making progress. I have reason to
believe that Dalton's atomic theory is founded upon error, and I know
that mercury is not an element.

During the day I was busy with my distillations and analyses. Often I
forgot my meals, and when old Madge summoned me to my tea I found my
dinner lying untouched upon the table. At night I read Bacon, Descartes,
Spinoza, Kant--all those who have pried into what is unknowable. They are
all fruitless and empty, barren of result, but prodigal of polysyllables,
reminding me of men who, while digging for gold, have turned up many
worms, and then exhibit them exultantly as being what they sought. At
times a restless spirit would come upon me, and I would walk thirty and
forty miles without rest or breaking fast. On these occasions, when I
used to stalk through the country villages, gaunt, unshaven, and
dishevelled, the mothers would rush into the road and drag their children
indoors, and the rustics would swarm out of their pot-houses to gaze at
me. I believe that I was known far and wide as the "mad laird o'
Mansie." It was rarely, however, that I made these raids into the
country, for I usually took my exercise upon my own beach, where I
soothed my spirit with strong black tobacco, and made the ocean my friend
and my confidant.

What companion is there like the great restless, throbbing sea? What
human mood is there which it does not match and sympathize with There are
none so gay but that they may feel gayer when they listen to its merry
turmoil, and see the long green surges racing in, with the glint of the
sunbeams in their sparkling crests. But when the grey waves toss their
heads in anger, and the wind screams above them, goading them on to
madder and more tumultuous efforts, then the darkest-minded of men feels
that there is a melancholy principle in Nature which is as gloomy as his
own thoughts. When it was calm in the Bay of Mansie the surface would be
as clear and bright as a sheet of silver, broken only at one spot some
little way from the shore, where a long black line projected out of the
water looking like the jagged back of some sleeping monster. This was the
top of the dangerous ridge of rocks known to the fishermen as the "ragged
reef o' Mansie." When the wind blew from the east the waves would
break upon it like thunder, and the spray would be tossed far over my
house and up to the hills behind. The bay itself was a bold and noble
one, but too much exposed to the northern and eastern gales, and too much
dreaded for its reef, to be much used by mariners. There was something
of romance about this lonely spot. I have lain in my boat upon a calm
day, and peering over the edge I have seen far down the flickering,
ghostly forms of great fish--fish, as it seemed to me, such as naturalist
never knew, and which my imagination transformed into the genii of that
desolate bay. Once, as I stood by the brink of the waters upon a quiet
night, a great cry, as of a woman in hopeless grief, rose from the bosom
of the deep, and swelled out upon the still air, now sinking and now
rising, for a space of thirty seconds. This I heard with my own ears.

In this strange spot, with the eternal hills behind me and the eternal
sea in front, I worked and brooded for more than two years unpestered by
my fellow men. By degrees I had trained my old servant into habits of
silence, so that she now rarely opened her lips, though I doubt not that
when twice a year she visited her relations in Wick, her tongue during
those few days made up for its enforced rest. I had come almost to forget
that I was a member of the human family, and to live entirely with the
dead whose books I pored o'er, when a sudden incident occurred which
threw all my thoughts into a new channel.

Three rough days in June had been succeeded by one calm and peaceful one.
There was not a breath of air that evening. The sun sank down in the west
behind a line of purple clouds, and the smooth surface of the bay was
gashed with scarlet streaks. Along the beach the pools left by the tide
showed up like gouts of blood against the yellow sand, as if some wounded
giant had toilfully passed that way, and had left these red traces of his
grievous hurt behind him. As the darkness closed in, certain ragged
clouds which had lain low on the eastern horizon coalesced and formed a
great irregular cumulus. The glass was still low, and I knew that there
was mischief brewing. About nine o'clock a dull moaning sound came up
from the sea, as from a creature who, much harassed, learns that the hour
of suffering has come round again. At ten a sharp breeze sprang up from
the eastward. At eleven it had increased to a gale, and by midnight the
most furious storm was raging which I ever remember upon that
weather-beaten coast.

As I went to bed the shingle and seaweed were pattering up against my
attic window, and the wind was screaming as though every gust were a lost
soul. By that time the sounds of the tempest had become a lullaby to me.
I knew that the grey walls of the old house would buffet it out, and for
what occurred in the world outside I had small concern. Old Madge was
usually as callous to such things as I was myself. It was a surprise to
me when, about three in the morning, I was awoke by the sound of a great
knocking at my door and excited cries in the wheezy voice of my
housekeeper. I sprang out of my hammock, and roughly demanded of her what
was the matter.

"Eh, maister, maister!" she screamed in her hateful dialect. "Come doun,
mun; come doun! There's a muckle ship gaun ashore on the reef, and the
puir folks are a' yammerin' and ca'in' for help--and I doobt they'll a'
be drooned. Oh, Maister M'Vittie, come down!"

"Hold your tongue, you hag!" I shouted, back in a passion. "What is it to
you whether they are drowned or not? Get back to your bed and leave me
alone." I turned in again and drew the blankets over me. "Those men out
there," I said to myself, "have already gone through half the horrors of
death. If they be saved they will but have to go through the same once
more in the space of a few brief years. It is best therefore that they
should pass away now, since they have suffered that anticipation which is
more than the pain of dissolution." With this thought in my mind I
endeavoured to compose myself to sleep once more, for that philosophy
which had taught me to consider death as a small and trivial incident in
man's eternal and ever-changing career, had also broken me of much
curiosity concerning worldly matters. On this occasion I found, however,
that the old leaven still fermented strongly in my soul. I tossed from
side to side for some minutes endeavouring to beat down the impulses of
the moment by the rules of conduct which I had framed during months of
thought. Then I heard a dull roar amid the wild shriek of the gale, and
I knew that it was the sound of a signal-gun. Driven by an uncontrollable
impulse, I rose, dressed, and having lit my pipe, walked out on to the

It was pitch dark when I came outside, and the wind blew with such
violence that I had to put my shoulder against it and push my way along
the shingle. My face pringled and smarted with the sting of the gravel
which was blown against it, and the red ashes of my pipe streamed away
behind me, dancing fantastically through the darkness. I went down to
where the great waves were thundering in, and shading my eyes with my
hands to keep off the salt spray, I peered out to sea. I could
distinguish nothing, and yet it seemed to me that shouts and great
inarticulate cries were borne to me by the blasts. Suddenly as I gazed I
made out the glint of a light, and then the whole bay and the beach were
lit up in a moment by a vivid blue glare. They were burning a coloured
signal-light on board of the vessel. There she lay on her beam ends right
in the centre of the jagged reef, hurled over to such an angle that I
could see all the planking of her deck. She was a large two-masted
schooner, of foreign rig, and lay perhaps a hundred and eighty or two
hundred yards from the shore. Every spar and rope and writhing piece of
cordage showed up hard and clear under the livid light which sputtered
and flickered from the highest portion of the forecastle. Beyond the
doomed ship out of the great darkness came the long rolling lines of
black waves, never ending, never tiring, with a petulant tuft of foam
here and there upon their crests. Each as it reached the broad circle of
unnatural light appeared to gather strength and volume, and to hurry on
more impetuously until, with a roar and a jarring crash, it sprang upon
its victim. Clinging to the weather shrouds I could distinctly see some
ten or twelve frightened seamen, who, when their light revealed my
presence, turned their white faces towards me and waved their hands
imploringly. I felt my gorge rise against these poor cowering worms. Why
should they presume to shirk the narrow pathway along which all that is
great and noble among mankind has travelled? There was one there who
interested me more than they. He was a tall man, who stood apart from the
others, balancing himself upon the swaying wreck as though he disdained
to cling to rope or bulwark. His hands were clasped behind his back and
his head was sunk upon his breast, but even in that despondent attitude
there was a litheness and decision in his pose and in every motion which
marked him as a man little likely to yield to despair. Indeed, I could
see by his occasional rapid glances up and down and all around him that
he was weighing every chance of safety, but though he often gazed across
the raging surf to where he could see my dark figure upon the beach, his
self-respect or some other reason forbade him from imploring my help in
any way. He stood, dark, silent, and inscrutable, looking down on the
black sea, and waiting for whatever fortune Fate might send him.

It seemed to me that that problem would very soon be settled. As I
looked, an enormous billow, topping all the others, and coming after
them, like a driver following a flock, swept over the vessel. Her
foremast snapped short off, and the men who clung to the shrouds were
brushed away like a swarm of flies. With a rending, riving sound the ship
began to split in two, where the sharp back of the Mansie reef was sawing
into her keel. The solitary man upon the forecastle ran rapidly across
the deck and seized hold of a white bundle which I had already observed
but failed to make out. As he lifted it up the light fell upon it, and I
saw that the object was a woman, with a spar lashed across her body and
under her arms in such a way that her head should always rise above
water. He bore her tenderly to the side and seemed to speak for a minute
or so to her, as though explaining the impossibility of remaining upon
the ship. Her answer was a singular one. I saw her deliberately raise her
hand and strike him across the face with it. He appeared to be silenced
for a moment or so by this, but he addressed her again, directing her, as
far as I could gather from his motions, how she should behave when in the
water. She shrank away from him, but he caught her in his arms. He
stooped over her for a moment and seemed to press his lips against her
forehead. Then a great wave came welling up against the side of the
breaking vessel, and leaning over he placed her upon the summit of it as
gently as a child might be committed to its cradle. I saw her white dress
flickering among the foam on the crest of the dark billow, and then the
light sank gradually lower, and the riven ship and its lonely occupant
were hidden from my eyes.

As I watched those things my manhood overcame my philosophy, and I felt a
frantic impulse to be up and doing. I threw my cynicism to one side as a
garment which I might don again at leisure, and I rushed wildly to my
boat and my sculls. She was a leaky tub, but what then? Was I, who had
cast many a wistful, doubtful glance at my opium bottle, to begin now to
weigh chances and to cavil at danger? I dragged her down to the sea with
the strength of a maniac and sprang in. For a moment or two it was a
question whether she could live among the boiling surge, but a dozen
frantic strokes took me through it, half full of water but still afloat.
I was out on the unbroken waves now, at one time climbing, climbing up
the broad black breast of one, then sinking down, down on the other side,
until looking up I could see the gleam of the foam all around me against
the dark heavens. Far behind me I could hear the wild wailings of old
Madge, who, seeing me start, thought no doubt that my madness had come to
a climax. As I rowed I peered over my shoulder, until at last on the
belly of a great wave which was sweeping towards me I distinguished the
vague white outline of the woman. Stooping over, I seized her as she
swept by me, and with an effort lifted her, all sodden with water, into
the boat. There was no need to row back, for the next billow carried us
in and threw us upon the beach. I dragged the boat out of danger, and
then lifting up the woman I carried her to the house, followed by my
housekeeper, loud with congratulation and praise.

 Now that I had done this thing a reaction set in upon me, I felt that my
 burden lived, for I heard the faint beat of her heart as I pressed my
 ear against her side in carrying her. Knowing this, I threw her down
 beside the fire which Madge had lit, with as little sympathy as though
 she had been a bundle of fagots. I never glanced at her to see if she
 were fair or no. For many years I had cared little for the face of a
 woman. As I lay in my hammock upstairs, however, I heard the old woman
 as she chafed the warmth back into her, crooning a chorus of, "Eh, the
 puir lassie! Eh, the bonnie lassie" from which I gathered that this
 piece of jetsam was both young and comely.

The morning after the gale was peaceful and sunny. As I walked along the
long sweep of sand I could hear the panting of the sea. It was heaving
and swirling about the reef, but along the shore it rippled in gently
enough. There was no sign of the schooner, nor was there any wreckage
upon the beach, which did not surprise me, as I knew there was a great
undertow in those waters. A couple of broad-winged gulls were hovering
and skimming over the scene of the shipwreck, as though many strange
things were visible to them beneath the waves. At times I could hear
their raucous voices as they spoke to one another of what they saw.

When I came back from my walk the woman was waiting at the door for me. I
began to wish when I saw her that I had never saved her, for here was an
end of my privacy. She was very young--at the most nineteen, with a pale
somewhat refined face, yellow hair, merry blue eyes, and shining teeth.
Her beauty was of an ethereal type. She looked so white and light and
fragile that she might have been the spirit of that storm-foam from out
of which I plucked her. She had wreathed some of Madge's garments round
her in a way which was quaint and not unbecoming. As I strode heavily up
the pathway, she put out her hands with a pretty child-like gesture, and
ran down towards me, meaning, as I surmise, to thank me for having saved
her, but I put her aside with a wave of my hand and passed her. At this
she seemed somewhat hurt; and the tears sprang into her eyes, but she
followed me into the sitting-room and watched me wistfully. "What country
do you come from?" I asked her suddenly.

She smiled when I spoke, but shook her head.

"Francais?" I asked. "Deutsch?" "Espagnol?"--each time she shook her
head, and then she rippled off into a long statement in some tongue of
which I could not understand one word.

After breakfast was over, however, I got a clue to her nationality.
Passing along the beach once more, I saw that in a cleft of the ridge a
piece of wood had been jammed. I rowed out to it in my boat, and brought
it ashore. It was part of the sternpost of a boat, and on it, or rather
on the piece of wood attached to it, was the word "Archangel," painted
in strange, quaint lettering. "So," I thought, as I paddled slowly back,
"this pale damsel is a Russian. A fit subject for the White Czar and a
proper dweller on the shores of the White Sea!" It seemed to me strange
that one of her apparent refinement should perform so long a journey in
so frail a craft. When I came back into the house, I pronounced the word
"Archangel" several times in different intonations, but she did not
appear to recognise it.

I shut myself up in the laboratory all the morning, continuing a research
which I was making upon the nature of the allotropic forms of carbon and
of sulphur. When I came out at mid-day for some food she was sitting by
the table with a needle and thread, mending some rents in her clothes,
which were now dry. I resented her continued presence, but I could not
turn her out on the beach to shift for herself. Presently she presented a
new phase of her character. Pointing to herself and then to the scene of
the shipwreck, she held up one finger, by which I understood her to be
asking whether she was the only one saved. I nodded my head to indicate
that she was. On this she sprang out of her chair with a cry of great
joy, and holding the garment which she was mending over her head, and
swaying it from side to side with the motion of her body, she danced as
lightly as a feather all round the room, and then out through the open
door into the sunshine. As she whirled round she sang in a plaintive
shrill voice some uncouth barbarous chant, expressive of exultation. I
called out to her, "Come in, you young fiend, come in and be silent", but
she went on with her dance. Then she suddenly ran towards me, and
catching my hand before I could pluck it away, she kissed it. While we
were at dinner she spied one of my pencils, and taking it up she wrote
the two words "Sophie Ramusine" upon a piece of paper, and then pointed
to herself as a sign that that was her name. She handed the pencil to me,
evidently expecting that I would be equally communicative, but I put it
in my pocket as a sign that I wished to hold no intercourse with her.

Every moment of my life now I regretted the unguarded precipitancy with
which I had saved this woman. What was it to me whether she had lived or
died? I was no young, hot-headed youth to do such things. It was bad
enough to be compelled to have Madge in the house, but she was old and
ugly, and could be ignored. This one was young and lively, and so
fashioned as to divert attention from graver things. Where could I send
her, and what could I do with her? If I sent information to Wick it would
mean that officials and others would come to me and pry, and peep, and
chatter--a hateful thought. It was better to endure her presence than

I soon found that there were fresh troubles in store for me. There is no
place safe from the swarming, restless race of which I am a member. In
the evening, when the sun was dipping down behind the hills, casting them
into dark shadow, but gilding the sands and casting a great glory over
the sea, I went, as is my custom, for a stroll along the beach. Sometimes
on these occasions I took my book with me. I did so on this night, and
stretching myself upon a sand-dune I composed myself to read. As I lay
there I suddenly became aware of a shadow which interposed itself between
the sun and myself. Looking round, I saw to my great surprise a very
tall, powerful man, who was standing a few yards off, and who, instead of
looking at me, was ignoring my existence completely, and was gazing over
my head with a stern set face at the bay and the black line of the Mansie
reef. His complexion was dark, with black hair, and short, curling beard,
a hawk-like nose, and golden earrings in his ears--the general effect
being wild and somewhat noble. He wore a faded velveteen jacket, a
red-flannel shirt, and high sea boots, coming half-way up his thighs. I
recognised him at a glance as being the same man who had been left on the
wreck the night before.

"Hullo" I said, in an aggrieved voice. "You got ashore all right, then?"

"Yes," he answered, in good English. "It was no doing of mine. The waves
threw me up. I wish to God I had been allowed to drown!" There was a
slight foreign lisp in his accent which was rather pleasing. "Two good
fishermen, who live round yonder point, pulled me out and cared for me;
yet I could not honestly thank them for it."

"Ho! ho!" thought I, "here is a man of my own kidney. Why do you wish to
be drowned?" I asked.

"Because," he cried, throwing out his long arms with a passionate,
despairing gesture, "there--there in that blue smiling bay, lies my soul,
my treasure--everything that I loved and lived for."

"Well, well," I said. "People are ruined every day, but there's no use
making a fuss about it. Let me inform you that this ground on which you
walk is my ground, and that the sooner you take yourself off it the
better pleased I shall be. One of you is quite trouble enough."

"One of us?" he gasped.

"Yes--if you could take her off with you I should be still more

He gazed at me for a moment as if hardly able to realise what I said, and
then with a wild cry he ran away from me with prodigious speed and raced
along the sands towards my house. Never before or since have I seen a
human being run so fast. I followed as rapidly as I could, furious at
this threatened invasion, but long before I reached the house he had
disappeared through the open door. I heard a great scream from the
inside, and as I came nearer the sound of a man's bass voice speaking
rapidly and loudly. When I looked in the girl, Sophie Ramusine, was
crouching in a corner, cowering away, with fear and loathing expressed on
her averted face and in every line of her shrinking form. The other, with
his dark eyes flashing, and his outstretched hands quivering with
emotion, was pouring forth a torrent of passionate pleading words. He
made a step forward to her as I entered, but she writhed still farther
away, and uttered a sharp cry like that of a rabbit when the weasel has
him by the throat.

"Here!" I said, pulling him back from her. "This is a pretty to-do! What
do you mean? Do you think this is a wayside inn or place of public

"Oh, sir," he said, "excuse me. This woman is my wife, and I feared that
she was drowned. You have brought me back to life."

"Who are you?" I asked roughly.

"I am a man from Archangel," he said simply; "a Russian man."

"What is your name?"


"Ourganeff!--and hers is Sophie Ramusine. She is no wife of yours. She
has no ring."

"We are man and wife in the sight of Heaven," he said solemnly, looking
upwards. "We are bound by higher laws than those of earth." As he spoke
the girl slipped behind me and caught me by the other hand, pressing it
as though beseeching my protection. "Give me up my wife, sir," he went
on. "Let me take her away from here."

"Look here, you--whatever your name is," I said sternly; "I don't want
this wench here. I wish I had never seen her. If she died it would be no
grief to me. But as to handing her over to you, when it is clear she
fears and hates you, I won't do it. So now just clear your great body out
of this, and leave me to my books. I hope I may never look upon your face

"You won't give her up to me?" he said hoarsely.

"I'll see you damned first!" I answered.

"Suppose I take her," he cried, his dark face growing darker.

All my tigerish blood flashed up in a moment. I picked up a billet of
wood from beside the fireplace. "Go," I said, in a low voice; "go quick,
or I may do you an injury." He looked at me irresolutely for a moment,
and then he left the house. He came back again in a moment, however, and
stood in the doorway looking in at us.

"Have a heed what you do," he said. "The woman is mine, and I shall have
her. When it comes to blows, a Russian is as good a man as a Scotchman."

"We shall see that," I cried, springing forward, but he was already gone,
and I could see his tall form moving away through the gathering darkness.

For a month or more after this things went smoothly with us. I never
spoke to the Russian girl, nor did she ever address me. Sometimes when I
was at work in my laboratory she would slip inside the door and sit
silently there watching me with her great eyes. At first this intrusion
annoyed me, but by, degrees, finding that she made no attempt to distract
my attention, I suffered her to remain. Encouraged by this concession,
she gradually came to move the stool on which she sat nearer and nearer
to my table, until after gaining a little every day during some weeks,
she at last worked her way right up to me, and used to perch herself
beside me whenever I worked. In this position she used, still without
ever obtruding her presence in any way, to make herself very useful by
holding my pens, test-tubes, or bottles and handing me whatever I wanted,
with never-failing sagacity. By ignoring the fact of her being a human
being, and looking upon her as a useful automatic machine I accustomed
myself to her presence so far as to miss her on the few occasions when
she was not at her post. I have a habit of talking aloud to myself at
times when I work, so as to fix my results better in my mind. The girl
must have had a surprising memory for sounds, for she could always repeat
the words which I let fall in this way, without, of course, understanding
in the least what they meant. I have often been amused at hearing her
discharge a volley of chemical equations and algebraic symbols at old
Madge, and then burst into a ringing laugh when the crone would shake her
head, under the impression, no doubt, that she was being addressed in

She never went more than a few yards from the house, and indeed never put
her foot over the threshold without looking carefully out of each window
in order to be sure that there was nobody about. By this I knew that she
suspected that her fellow-countryman was still in the neighbourhood, and
feared that he might attempt to carry her off. She did something else
which was significant. I had an old revolver with some cartridges, which
had been thrown away among the rubbish. She found this one day, and at
once proceeded to clean it and oil it. She hung it up near the door, with
the cartridges in a little bag beside it, and whenever I went for a walk,
she would take it down and insist upon my carrying it with me. In my
absence she would always bolt the door. Apart from her apprehensions she
seemed fairly happy, busying herself in helping Madge when she was not
attending upon me. She was wonderfully nimble-fingered and natty in all
domestic duties.

It was not long before I discovered that her suspicions were well
founded, and that this man from Archangel was still lurking in the
vicinity. Being restless one night I rose and peered out of the window.
The weather was somewhat cloudy, and I could barely make out the line of
the sea, and the loom of my boat upon the beach. As I gazed, however, and
my eyes became accustomed to the obscurity, I became aware that there was
some other dark blur upon the sands, and that in front of my very door,
where certainly there had been nothing of the sort the preceding night.
As I stood at my diamond-paned lattice, still peering and peeping to make
out what this might be, a great bank of clouds rolled slowly away from
the face of the moon, and a flood of cold, clear light was poured down
upon the silent bay and the long sweep of its desolate shores. Then I saw
what this was which haunted my doorstep. It was he, the Russian. He
squatted there like a gigantic toad, with his legs doubled under him in
strange Mongolian fashion, and his eyes fixed apparently upon the window
of the room in which the young girl and the housekeeper slept. The light
fell upon his upturned face, and I saw once more the hawk-like grace of
his countenance, with the single deeply-indented line of care upon his
brow, and the protruding beard which marks the passionate nature. My
first impulse was to shoot him as a trespasser, but, as I gazed, my
resentment changed into pity and contempt. "Poor fool," I said to myself,
"is it then possible that you, whom I have seen looking open-eyed at
present death, should have your whole thoughts and ambition centred upon
this wretched slip of a girl--a girl, too, who flies from you and hates
you? Most women would love you--were it but for that dark face and great
handsome body of yours--and yet you must needs hanker after the one in a
thousand who will have no traffic with you." As I returned to my bed I
chuckled much to myself over this thought. I knew that my bars were
strong and my bolts thick. It mattered little to me whether this strange
man spent his night at my door or a hundred leagues off, so long as he
was gone by the morning. As I expected, when I rose and went out there
was no sign of him, nor had he left any trace of his midnight vigil.

It was not long, however, before I saw him again. I had been out for a
row one morning, for my head was aching, partly from prolonged stooping,
and partly from the effects of a noxious drug which I had inhaled the
night before. I pulled along the coast some miles, and then, feeling
thirsty, I landed at a place where I knew that a fresh-water stream
trickled down into the sea. This rivulet passed through my land, but the
mouth of it, where I found myself that day, was beyond my boundary line.
I felt somewhat taken aback when rising from the stream at which I had
slaked my thirst I found myself face to face with the Russian. I was as
much a trespasser now as he was, and I could see at a glance that he knew

"I wish to speak a few words to you," he said gravely.

"Hurry up, then!" I answered, glancing at my watch. "I have no time to
listen to chatter."

"Chatter!" he repeated angrily. "Ah, \but there. You Scotch people are
strange men. Your face is hard and your words rough, but so are those of
the good fishermen with whom I stay, yet I find that beneath it all there
lie kind honest natures. No doubt you are kind and good, too, in spite of
your roughness."

"In the name of the devil," I said, "say your say, and go your way. I am
weary of the sight of you."

"Can I not soften you in any way?" he cried. "Ah, see--see here "--he
produced a small Grecian cross from inside his velvet jacket. "Look at
this. Our religions may differ in form, but at least we have some common
thoughts and feelings when we see this emblem."

"I am not so sure of that," I answered.

He looked at me thoughtfully.

"You are a very strange man," he said at last. "I cannot understand you.
You still stand between me and Sophie. It is a dangerous position to
take, sir. Oh, believe me, before it is too late. If you did but know
what I have done to gain that woman--how I have risked my body, how I
have lost my soul! You are a small obstacle to some which I have
surmounted--you, whom a rip with a knife, or a blow from a stone, would
put out of my way for ever. But God preserve me from that," he cried
wildly. "I am deep--too deep--already. Anything rather than that."

"You would do better to go back to your country," I said, "than to skulk
about these sand-hills and disturb my leisure. When I have proof that you
have gone away I shall hand this woman over to the protection of the
Russian Consul at Edinburgh. Until then, I shall guard her myself, and
not you, nor any Muscovite that ever breathed, shall take her from me."

"And what is your object in keeping me from Sophie?" he asked. "Do you
imagine that I would injure her? Why, man, I would give my life freely to
save her from the slightest harm. Why do you do this thing?"

"I do it because it is my good pleasure to act so," I answered. "I give
no man reasons for my conduct."

"Look here!" he cried, suddenly blazing into fury, and advancing towards
me with his shaggy mane bristling and his brown hands clenched. "If I
thought you had one dishonest thought towards this girl--if for a moment
I had reason to believe that you had any base motive for detaining
her--as sure as there is a God in Heaven I should drag the heart out of
your bosom with my hands." The very idea seemed to have put the man in a
frenzy, for his face was all distorted and his hands opened and shut
convulsively. I thought that he was about to spring at my throat.

"Stand off," I said, putting my hand on my pistol. "If you lay a finger
on me I shall kill you."

He put his hand into his pocket, and for a moment I thought he was about
to produce a weapon too, but instead of that he whipped out a cigarette
and lit it, breathing the smoke rapidly into his lungs. No doubt he had
found by experience that this was the most effectual way of curbing his

"I told you," he said in a quieter voice, "that my name is
Ourganeff--Alexis Ourganeff. I am a Finn by birth, but I have spent my
life in every part of the world. I was one who could never be still, nor
settle down to a quiet existence. After I came to own my own ship there
is hardly a port from Archangel to Australia which I have not entered. I
was rough and wild and free, but there was one at home, sir, who was prim
and white-handed and soft-tongued, skilful in little fancies and conceits
which women love. This youth by his wiles and tricks stole from me the
love of the girl whom I had ever marked as my own, and who up to that
time had seemed in some sort inclined to, return my passion. I had been
on a voyage to Hammerfest for ivory, and coming back unexpectedly I
learned that my pride and treasure was to be married to this soft-skinned
boy, and that the party had actually gone to the church, In such moments,
sir, something gives way in my head, and I hardly know what I do. I
landed with a boat's crew--all men who had sailed with me for years, and
who were as true as steel. We went up to the church. They were standing,
she and he, before the priest, but the thing had not been done. I dashed
between them and caught her round the waist. My men beat back the
frightened bridegroom and the lookers on. We bore her down to the boat
and aboard our vessel, and then getting up anchor we sailed away across
the White Sea until the spires of Archangel sank down behind the horizon.
She had my cabin, my room, every comfort. I slept among the men in the
forecastle. I hoped that in time her aversion to me would wear away, and
that she would consent to marry me in England or in France. For days and
days we sailed. We saw the North Cape die away behind us, and we skirted
the grey Norwegian coast, but still, in spite of every attention, she
would not forgive me for tearing her from that pale-faced lover of hers.
Then came this cursed storm which shattered both my ship and my hopes,
and has deprived me even of the sight of the woman for whom I have risked
so much. Perhaps she may learn to love me yet."

"You, sir," he said wistfully, "look like one who has seen much of the
world. Do you not think that she may come to forget this man and to
love me?"

"I am tired of your story," I said, turning away. "For my part, I think
you are a great fool. If you imagine that this love of yours will pass
away you had best amuse yourself as best you can until it does. If, on
the other hand, it is a fixed thing, you cannot do better than cut your
throat, for that is the shortest way out of it. I have no more time to
waste on the matter." With this I hurried away and walked down to the
boat. I never looked round, but I heard the dull sound of his feet upon
the sands as he followed me.

"I have told you the beginning of my story," he said, "and you shall know
the end some day. You would do well to let the girl go."

I never answered him, but pushed the boat off. When I had rowed some
distance out I looked back and saw his tall figure upon the yellow sand
as he stood gazing thoughtfully after me. When I looked again some
minutes later he had disappeared.

For a long time after this my life was as regular and as monotonous as it
had been before the shipwreck. At times I hoped that the man from
Archangel had gone away altogether, but certain footsteps which I saw
upon the sand, and more particularly a little pile of cigarette ash which
I found one day behind a hillock from which a view of the house might be
obtained, warned me that, though invisible, he was still in the vicinity.
My relations with the Russian girl remained the same as before. Old Madge
had been somewhat jealous of her presence at first, and seemed to fear
that what little authority she had would be taken away from her. By
degrees, however, as she came to realise my utter indifference, she
became reconciled to the situation, and, as I have said before, profited
by it, as our visitor performed much of the domestic work.

And now I am coming near the end of this narrative of mine, which I have
written a great deal more for my own amusement than for that of anyone
else. The termination of the strange episode in which these two Russians
had played a part was as wild and as sudden as the commencement. The
events of one single night freed me from all my troubles, and left me
once more alone with my books and my studies, as I had been before their
intrusion. Let me endeavour to describe how this came about.

I had had a long day of heavy and wearying work, so that in the evening I
determined upon taking a long walk. When I emerged from the house my
attention was attracted by the appearance of the sea. It lay like a sheet
of glass, so that never a ripple disturbed its surface. Yet the air was
filled with that indescribable moaning sound which I have alluded to
before--a sound as though the spirits of all those who lay beneath those
treacherous waters were sending a sad warning of coming troubles to their
brethren in the flesh. The fishermen's wives along that coast know the
eerie sound, and look anxiously across the waters for the brown sails
making for the land. When I heard it I stepped back into the house and
looked at the glass. It was down below 29░. Then I knew that a wild night
was coming upon us.

Underneath the hills where I walked that evening it was dull and chill,
but their summits were rosy-red, and the sea was brightened by the
sinking sun. There were no clouds of importance in the sky, yet the dull
groaning of the sea grew louder and stronger. I saw, far to the eastward,
a brig beating up for Wick, with a reef in her topsails. It was evident
that her captain had read the signs of nature as I had done. Behind her a
long, lurid haze lay low upon the water, concealing the horizon. "I had
better push on," I thought to myself, "or the wind may rise before I can
get back."

I suppose I must have been at least half a mile from the house when I
suddenly stopped and listened breathlessly. My ears were so accustomed to
the noises of nature, the sighing of the breeze and the sob of the waves,
that any other sound made itself heard at a great distance. I waited,
listening with all my ears. Yes, there it was again--a long-drawn, shrill
cry of despair, ringing over the sands and echoed back from the hills
behind me--a piteous appeal for aid. It came from the direction of my
house. I turned and ran back homewards at the top of my speed, ploughing
through the sand, racing over the shingle. In my mind there was a great
dim perception of what had occurred.

About a quarter of a mile from the house there is a high sand-hill, from
which the whole country round is visible. When I reached the top of this
I paused for a moment. There was the old grey building--there the boat.
Everything seemed to be as I had left it. Even as I gazed, however, the
shrill scream was repeated, louder than before, and the next moment a
tall figure emerged from my door, the figure of the Russian sailor. Over
his shoulder was the white form of the young girl, and even in his haste
he seemed to bear her tenderly and with gentle reverence. I could hear
her wild cries and see her desperate struggles to break away from him.
Behind the couple came my old housekeeper, staunch and true, as the aged
dog, who can no longer bite, still snarls with toothless gums at the
intruder. She staggered feebly along at the heels of the ravisher, waving
her long, thin arms, and hurling, no doubt, volleys of Scotch curses and
imprecations at his head. I saw at a glance that he was making for the
boat. A sudden hope sprang up in my soul that I might be in time to
intercept him. I ran for the beach at the top of my speed. As I ran I
slipped a cartridge into my revolver. This I determined should be the
last of these invasions.

I was too late. By the time I reached the water's edge he was a hundred
yards away, making the boat spring with every stroke of his powerful
arms. I uttered a wild cry of impotent anger, and stamped up and down the
sands like a maniac. He turned and saw me. Rising from his seat he made
me a graceful bow, and waved his hand to me. It was not a triumphant or a
derisive gesture. Even my furious and distempered mind recognised it as
being a solemn and courteous leave-taking. Then he settled down to his
oars once more, and the little skiff shot away out over the bay. The sun
had gone down now, leaving a single dull, red streak upon the water,
which stretched away until it blended with the purple haze on the
horizon. Gradually the skiff grew smaller and smaller as it sped across
this lurid band, until the shades of night gathered round it and it
became a mere blur upon the lonely sea. Then this vague loom died away
also and darkness settled over it--a darkness which should never be

And why did I pace the solitary shore, hot and wrathful as a wolf whose
whelp has been torn from it? Was it that I loved this Muscovite girl?
No--a thousand times no. I am not one who, for the sake of a white skin
or a blue eye, would belie my own life, and change the whole tenor of my
thoughts and existence. My heart was untouched. But my pride--ah, there I
had been cruelly wounded. To think that I had been unable to afford
protection to the helpless one who craved it of me, and who relied on me!
It was that which made my heart sick and sent the blood buzzing through
my ears.

That night a great wind rose up from the sea, and the wild waves shrieked
upon the shore as though they would tear it back with them into the
ocean. The turmoil and the uproar were congenial to my vexed spirit. All
night I wandered up and down, wet with spray and rain, watching the gleam
of the white breakers and listening to the outcry of the storm. My heart
was bitter against the Russian. I joined my feeble pipe to the screaming
of the gale. "If he would but come back again!" I cried, with clenched
hands; "if he would but come back!"

He came back. When the grey light of morning spread over the eastern sky,
and lit up the great waste of yellow, tossing waters, with the brown
clouds drifting swiftly over them, then I saw him once again. A few
hundred yards off along the sand there lay a long dark object, cast up by
the fury of the waves. It was my boat, much shattered and splintered. A
little farther on, a vague, shapeless something was washing to and fro in
the shallow water, all mixed with shingle and with seaweed. I saw at a
glance that it was the Russian, face downwards and dead. I rushed into
the water and dragged him up on to the beach. It was only when I turned
him over that I discovered that she was beneath him, his dead arms
encircling her, his mangled body still intervening between her and the
fury of the storm. It seemed that the fierce German Sea might beat the
life from him, but with all its strength it was unable to tear this
one-idea'd man from the woman whom he loved. There were signs which led
me to believe that during that awful night the woman's fickle mind had
come at last to learn the worth of the true heart and strong arm which
struggled for her and guarded her so tenderly. Why else should her little
head be nestling so lovingly on his broad breast, while her yellow hair
entwined itself with his flowing beard? Why too should there be that
bright smile of ineffable happiness and triumph, which death itself had
not had power to banish from his dusky face? I fancy that death had been
brighter to him than life had ever been.

Madge and I buried them there on the shores of the desolate northern sea.
They lie in one grave deep down beneath the yellow sand. Strange things
may happen in the world around them. Empires may rise and may fall,
dynasties may perish, great wars may come and go, but, heedless of it
all, those two shall embrace each other for ever and aye, in their lonely
shrine by the side of the sounding ocean. I sometimes have thought that
their spirits flit like shadowy sea-mews over the wild waters of the bay.
No cross or symbol marks their resting-place, but old Madge puts wild
flowers upon it at times, and when I pass on my daily walk and see the
fresh blossoms scattered over the sand, I think of the strange couple who
came from afar, and broke for a little space the dull tenor of my sombre


"All aboard?" said the captain.

"All aboard, sir!" said the mate.

"Then stand by to let her go."

It was nine o'clock on a Wednesday morning.  The good ship
Spartan was lying off Boston Quay with her cargo under hatches,
her passengers shipped, and everything prepared for a start.  The
warning whistle had been sounded twice; the final bell had been
rung.  Her bowsprit was turned towards England, and the hiss of
escaping steam showed that all was ready for her run of three
thousand miles.  She strained at the warps that held her like a
greyhound at its leash,

I have the misfortune to be a very nervous man.  A sedentary
literary life has helped to increase the morbid love of solitude
which, even in my boyhood, was one of my distinguishing
characteristics.  As I stood upon the quarter-deck of the
Transatlantic steamer, I bitterly cursed the necessity which drove
me back to the land of my forefathers.  The shouts of the sailors,
the rattle of the cordage, the farewells of my fellow-passengers,
and the cheers of the mob, each and all jarred upon my sensitive
nature.  I felt sad too.  An indescribable feeling, as of
some impending calamity, seemed to haunt me.  The sea was
calm, and the breeze light.  There was nothing to disturb the
equanimity of the most confirmed of landsmen, yet I felt as if I
stood upon the verge of a great though indefinable danger.  I have
noticed that such presentiments occur often in men of my peculiar
temperament, and that they are not uncommonly fulfilled.  There is
a theory that it arises from a species of second-sight, a subtle
spiritual communication with the future.  I well remember that Herr
Raumer, the eminent spiritualist, remarked on one occasion that I
was the most sensitive subject as regards supernatural phenomena
that he had ever encountered in the whole of his wide experience.
Be that as it may, I certainly felt far from happy as I threaded my
way among the weeping, cheering groups which dotted the white decks
of the good ship Spartan.  Had I known the experience which
awaited me in the course of the next twelve hours I should even
then at the last moment have sprung upon the shore, and made my
escape from the accursed vessel.

"Time's up!" said the captain, closing his chronometer with a snap,
and replacing it in his pocket.  "Time's up!" said the mate.  There
was a last wail from the whistle, a rush of friends and relatives
upon the land.  One warp was loosened, the gangway was being pushed
away, when there was a shout from the bridge, and two men appeared,
running rapidly down the quay.  They were waving their hands and
making frantic gestures, apparently with the intention of stopping
the ship.  "Look sharp!" shouted the crowd.

"Hold hard!" cried the captain.  "Ease her! stop her!  Up with the
gangway!" and the two men sprang aboard just as the second warp
parted, and a convulsive throb of the engine shot us clear of the
shore.  There was a cheer from the deck, another from the quay, a
mighty fluttering of handkerchiefs, and the great vessel ploughed
its way out of the harbour, and steamed grandly away across the
placid bay.

We were fairly started upon our fortnight's voyage.  There was a
general dive among the passengers in quest of berths and luggage,
while a popping of corks in the saloon proved that more than one
bereaved traveller was adopting artificial means for drowning the
pangs of separation.  I glanced round the deck and took a running
inventory of my compagnons de voyage.  They presented the usual
types met with upon these occasions.  There was no striking face
among them.  I speak as a connoisseur, for faces are a specialty of
mine.  I pounce upon a characteristic feature as a botanist does on
a flower, and bear it away with me to analyse at my leisure, and
classify and label it in my little anthropological museum.  There
was nothing worthy of me here.  Twenty types of young America going
to "Yurrup," a few respectable middle-aged couples as an antidote,
a sprinkling of clergymen and professional men, young ladies,
bagmen, British exclusives, and all the olla podrida of an
ocean-going steamer.  I turned away from them and gazed back at the
receding shores of America, and, as a cloud of remembrances rose
before me, my heart warmed towards the land of my adoption.
A pile of portmanteaus and luggage chanced to be lying on one side
of the deck, awaiting their turn to be taken below.  With my usual
love for solitude I walked behind these, and sitting on a coil of
rope between them and the vessel's side, I indulged in a melancholy

I was aroused from this by a whisper behind me.  "Here's a quiet
place," said the voice.  "Sit down, and we can talk it over in

Glancing through a chink between two colossal chests, I saw that
the passengers who had joined us at the last moment were standing
at the other side of the pile.  They had evidently failed to see me
as I crouched in the shadow of the boxes.  The one who had spoken
was a tall and very thin man with a blue-black beard and a
colourless face.  His manner was nervous and excited.  His
companion was a short plethoric little fellow, with a brisk and
resolute air.  He had a cigar in his mouth, and a large ulster
slung over his left arm.  They both glanced round uneasily, as if
to ascertain whether they were alone.  "This is just the place," I
heard the other say.  They sat down on a bale of goods with their
backs turned towards me, and I found myself, much against my will,
playing the unpleasant part of eavesdropper to their conversation.

"Well, Muller," said the taller of the two, "we've got it aboard
right enough."

"Yes," assented the man whom he had addressed as Muller, "it's safe

"It was rather a near go."

"It was that, Flannigan."

"It wouldn't have done to have missed the ship."

"No, it would have put our plans out."

"Ruined them entirely," said the little man, and puffed furiously
at his cigar for some minutes.

"I've got it here," he said at last.

"Let me see it."

"Is no one looking?"

"No, they are nearly all below."

"We can't be too careful where so much is at stake," said Muller,
as he uncoiled the ulster which hung over his arm, and disclosed a
dark object which he laid upon the deck.  One glance at it was
enough to cause me to spring to my feet with an exclamation of
horror.  Luckily they were so engrossed in the matter on hand that
neither of them observed me.  Had they turned their heads they
would infallibly have seen my pale face glaring at them over the
pile of boxes.

From the first moment of their conversation a horrible misgiving
had come over me.  It seemed more than confirmed as I gazed at what
lay before me.  It was a little square box made of some dark wood,
and ribbed with brass.  I suppose it was about the size of a cubic
foot.  It reminded me of a pistol-case, only it was decidedly
higher.  There was an appendage to it, however, on which my eyes
were riveted, and which suggested the pistol itself rather than its
receptacle.  This was a trigger-like arrangement upon the lid, to
which a coil of string was attached.  Beside this trigger there was
a small square aperture through the wood.  The tall man,
Flannigan, as his companion called him, applied his eye to this,
and peered in for several minutes with an expression of intense
anxiety upon his face.

"It seems right enough," he said at last.

"I tried not to shake it," said his companion.

"Such delicate things need delicate treatment.  Put in some of the
needful, Muller."

The shorter man fumbled in his pocket for some time, and then
produced a small paper packet.  He opened this, and took out of it
half a handful of whitish granules, which he poured down through
the hole.  A curious clicking noise followed from the inside of the
box, and both the men smiled in a satisfied way.

"Nothing much wrong there," said Flannigan.

"Right as a trivet," answered his companion.

"Look out! here's some one coming.  Take it down to our berth.  It
wouldn't do to have any one suspecting what our game is, or, worse
still, have them fumbling with it, and letting it off by mistake."

"Well, it would come to the same, whoever let it off," said Muller.

"They'd be rather astonished if they pulled the trigger," said the
taller, with a sinister laugh.  "Ha, ha! fancy their faces!  It's
not a bad bit of workmanship, I flatter myself."

"No," said Muller.  "I hear it is your own design, every bit of it,
isn't it?"

"Yes, the spring and the sliding shutter are my own."

"We should take out a patent."

And the two men laughed again with a cold harsh laugh, as they took
up the little brass-bound package, and concealed it in Muller's
voluminous overcoat.

"Come down, and we'll stow it in our berth," said Flannigan.  "We
won't need it until to-night, and it will be safe there."

His companion assented, and the two went arm-in-arm along the deck
and disappeared down the hatchway, bearing the mysterious little
box away with them.  The last words I heard were a muttered
injunction from Flannigan to carry it carefully, and avoid knocking
it against the bulwarks.

How long I remained sitting on that coil of rope I shall never
know.  The horror of the conversation I had just overheard was
aggravated by the first sinking qualms of sea-sickness.  The long
roll of the Atlantic was beginning to assert itself over both ship
and passengers.  I felt prostrated in mind and in body, and fell
into a state of collapse, from which I was finally aroused by the
hearty voice of our worthy quartermaster.

"Do you mind moving out of that, sir?" he said.  "We want to get
this lumber cleared off the deck."

His bluff manner and ruddy healthy face seemed to be a positive
insult to me in my present condition.  Had I been a courageous or
a muscular man I could have struck him.  As it was, I treated the
honest sailor to a melodramatic scowl which seemed to cause him no
small astonishment, and strode past him to the other side of
the deck.  Solitude was what I wanted--solitude in which I could
brood over the frightful crime which was being hatched before my
very eyes.  One of the quarter-boats was hanging rather low down
upon the davits.  An idea struck me, and climbing on the bulwarks,
I stepped into the empty boat and lay down in the bottom of it.
Stretched on my back, with nothing but the blue sky above me, and
an occasional view of the mizen as the vessel rolled, I was at
least alone with my sickness and my thoughts.

I tried to recall the words which had been spoken in the terrible
dialogue I had overheard.  Would they admit of any construction but
the one which stared me in the face?  My reason forced me to
confess that they would not.  I endeavoured to array the various
facts which formed the chain of circumstantial evidence, and to
find a flaw in it; but no, not a link was missing.  There was the
strange way in which our passengers had come aboard, enabling them
to evade any examination of their luggage.  The very name of
"Flannigan" smacked of Fenianism, while "Muller" suggested nothing
but socialism and murder.  Then their mysterious manner; their
remark that their plans would have been ruined had they missed the
ship; their fear of being observed; last, but not least, the
clenching evidence in the production of the little square box with
the trigger, and their grim joke about the face of the man who
should let it off by mistake--could these facts lead to any
conclusion other than that they were the desperate emissaries of
some body, political or otherwise, who intended to sacrifice
themselves, their fellow-passengers, and the ship, in one great
holocaust?  The whitish granules which I had seen one of them pour
into the box formed no doubt a fuse or train for exploding it.  I
had myself heard a sound come from it which might have emanated
from some delicate piece of machinery.  But what did they mean by
their allusion to to-night?  Could it be that they contemplated
putting their horrible design into execution on the very first
evening of our voyage?  The mere thought of it sent a cold shudder
over me, and made me for a moment superior even to the agonies of

I have remarked that I am a physical coward.  I am a moral one
also.  It is seldom that the two defects are united to such a
degree in the one character.  I have known many men who were most
sensitive to bodily danger, and yet were distinguished for the
independence and strength of their minds.  In my own case, however,
I regret to say that my quiet and retiring habits had fostered a
nervous dread of doing anything remarkable or making myself
conspicuous, which exceeded, if possible, my fear of personal
peril.  An ordinary mortal placed under the circumstances in which
I now found myself would have gone at once to the Captain,
confessed his fears, and put the matter into his hands.  To me,
however, constituted as I am, the idea was most repugnant.  The
thought of becoming the observed of all observers, cross-questioned
by a stranger, and confronted with two desperate conspirators in
the character of a denouncer, was hateful to me.  Might it not
by some remote possibility prove that I was mistaken?  What would
be my feelings if there should turn out to be no grounds for my
accusation?  No, I would procrastinate; I would keep my eye on the
two desperadoes and dog them at every turn.  Anything was better
than the possibility of being wrong.

Then it struck me that even at that moment some new phase of the
conspiracy might be developing itself.  The nervous excitement
seemed to have driven away my incipient attack of sickness, for I
was able to stand up and lower myself from the boat without
experiencing any return of it.  I staggered along the deck with the
intention of descending into the cabin and finding how my
acquaintances of the morning were occupying themselves.  Just as I
had my hand on the companion-rail, I was astonished by receiving a
hearty slap on the back, which nearly shot me down the steps with
more haste than dignity.

"Is that you, Hammond?" said a voice which I seemed to recognise.

"God bless me," I said, as I turned round, "it can't be Dick
Merton!  Why, how are you, old man?"

This was an unexpected piece of luck in the midst of my
perplexities.  Dick was just the man I wanted; kindly and shrewd in
his nature, and prompt in his actions, I should have no difficulty
in telling him my suspicions, and could rely upon his sound sense
to point out the best course to pursue.  Since I was a little lad
in the second form at Harrow, Dick had been my adviser and
protector.  He saw at a glance that something had gone wrong with

"Hullo!" he said, in his kindly way, "what's put you about,
Hammond?  You look as white as a sheet.  Mal de mer, eh?"

"No, not that altogether," said I.  "Walk up and down with me,
Dick; I want to speak to you.  Give me your arm."

Supporting myself on Dick's stalwart frame, I tottered along by his
side; but it was some time before I could muster resolution to

"Have a cigar," said he, breaking the silence.

"No, thanks," said I.  "Dick, we shall be all corpses to-night."

"That's no reason against your having a cigar now," said Dick, in
his cool way, but looking hard at me from under his shaggy eyebrows
as he spoke.  He evidently thought that my intellect was a little

"No," I continued, "it's no laughing matter; and I speak in sober
earnest, I assure you.  I have discovered an infamous conspiracy,
Dick, to destroy this ship and every soul that is in her;" and I
then proceeded systematically, and in order, to lay before him the
chain of evidence which I had collected.  "There, Dick," I said, as
I concluded, "what do you think of that? and, above all, what am I
to do?"

To my astonishment he burst into a hearty fit of laughter.

"I'd be frightened," he said, "if any fellow but you had told me as
much.  You always had a way, Hammond, of discovering mares'
nests.  I like to see the old traits breaking out again.  Do you
remember at school how you swore there was a ghost in the long
room, and how it turned out to be your own reflection in the
mirror.  Why, man," he continued, "what object would any one have
in destroying this ship?  We have no great political guns aboard.
On the contrary, the majority of the passengers are Americans.
Besides, in this sober nineteenth century, the most wholesale
murderers stop at including themselves among their victims.  Depend
upon it, you have misunderstood them, and have mistaken a
photographic camera, or something equally innocent, for an infernal

"Nothing of the sort, sir," said I, rather touchily "You will learn
to your cost, I fear, that I have neither exaggerated nor
misinterpreted a word.  As to the box, I have certainly never
before seen one like it.  It contained delicate machinery; of that
I am convinced, from the way in which the men handled it and spoke
of it."

"You'd make out every packet of perishable goods to be a torpedo,"
said Dick, "if that is to be your only test."

"The man's name was Flannigan," I continued.

"I don't think that would go very far in a court of law," said
Dick; "but come, I have finished my cigar.  Suppose we go down
together and split a bottle of claret.  You can point out these two
Orsinis to me if they are still in the cabin."

"All right," I answered; "I am determined not to lose sight of
them all day.  Don't look hard at them, though, for I don't want
them to think that they are being watched."

"Trust me," said Dick; "I'll look as unconscious and guileless as
a lamb;" and with that we passed down the companion and into the

A good many passengers were scattered about the great central
table, some wrestling with refractory carpet bags and rug-straps,
some having their luncheon, and a few reading and otherwise amusing
themselves.  The objects of our quest were not there.  We passed
down the room and peered into every berth, but there was no sign of
them.  "Heavens!" thought I, "perhaps at this very moment they are
beneath our feet, in the hold or engine-room, preparing their
diabolical contrivance!"  It was better to know the worst than to
remain in such suspense.

"Steward," said Dick, "are there any other gentlemen about?"

"There's two in the smoking-room, sir," answered the steward.

The smoking-room was a little snuggery, luxuriously fitted up, and
adjoining the pantry.  We pushed the door open and entered.  A sigh
of relief escaped from my bosom.  The very first object on which my
eye rested was the cadaverous face of Flannigan, with its hard-set
mouth and unwinking eye.  His companion sat opposite to him.  They
were both drinking, and a pile of cards lay upon the table.  They
were engaged in playing as we entered.  I nudged Dick to show him
that we had found our quarry, and we sat down beside them with
as unconcerned an air as possible.  The two conspirators seemed to
take little notice of our presence.  I watched them both narrowly.
The game at which they were playing was "Napoleon."  Both were
adepts at it, and I could not help admiring the consummate nerve of
men who, with such a secret at their hearts, could devote their
minds to the manipulating of a long suit or the finessing of a
queen.  Money changed hands rapidly; but the run of luck seemed to
be all against the taller of the two players.  At last he threw
down his cards on the table with an oath, and refused to go on.

"No, I'm hanged if I do," he said; "I haven't had more than two of
a suit for five hands."

"Never mind," said his comrade, as he gathered up his winnings; "a
few dollars one way or the other won't go very far after to-night's

I was astonished at the rascal's audacity, but took care to keep my
eyes fixed abstractedly upon the ceiling, and drank my wine in as
unconscious a manner as possible.  I felt that Flannigan was
looking towards me with his wolfish eyes to see if I had noticed
the allusion.  He whispered something to his companion which I
failed to catch.  It was a caution, I suppose, for the other
answered rather angrily--

"Nonsense!  Why shouldn't I say what I like?  Over-caution is just
what would ruin us."

"I believe you want it not to come off," said Flannigan.

"You believe nothing of the sort," said the other, speaking rapidly
and loudly.  "You know as well as I do that when I play for a stake
I like to win it.  But I won't have my words criticised and cut
short by you or any other man.  I have as much interest in our
success as you have--more, I hope."

He was quite hot about it, and puffed furiously at his cigar for
some minutes.  The eyes of the other ruffian wandered alternately
from Dick Merton to myself.  I knew that I was in the presence of
a desperate man, that a quiver of my lip might be the signal for
him to plunge a weapon into my heart, but I betrayed more
self-command than I should have given myself credit for under such
trying circumstances.  As to Dick, he was as immovable and
apparently as unconscious as the Egyptian Sphinx.

There was silence for some time in the smoking-room, broken only by
the crisp rattle of the cards, as the man Muller shuffled them up
before replacing them in his pocket.  He still seemed to be
somewhat flushed and irritable.  Throwing the end of his cigar into
the spittoon, he glanced defiantly at his companion and turned
towards me.

"Can you tell me, sir," he said, "when this ship will be heard of

They were both looking at me; but though my face may have turned a
trifle paler, my voice was as steady as ever as I answered--

"I presume, sir, that it will be heard of first when it enters
Queenstown Harbour."

"Ha, ha!" laughed the angry little man, "I knew you would say that.
Don't you kick me under the table, Flannigan, I won't stand it.  I
know what I am doing.  You are wrong, sir," he continued, turning
to me, "utterly wrong."

"Some passing ship, perhaps," suggested Dick.

"No, nor that either."

"The weather is fine," I said; "why should we not be heard of at
our destination."

"I didn't say we shouldn't be heard of at our destination.
Possibly we may not, and in any case that is not where we shall be
heard of first."

"Where then?" asked Dick.

"That you shall never know.  Suffice it that a rapid and mysterious
agency will signal our whereabouts, and that before the day is out.
Ha, ha!" and he chuckled once again.

"Come on deck!" growled his comrade; "you have drunk too much of
that confounded brandy-and-water.  It has loosened your tongue.
Come away!" and taking him by the arm he half led him, half forced
him out of the smoking-room, and we heard them stumbling up the
companion together, and on to the deck.

"Well, what do you think now?" I gasped, as I turned towards Dick.
He was as imperturbable as ever.

"Think!" he said; "why, I think what his companion thinks, that we
have been listening to the ravings of a half-drunken man.  The
fellow stunk of brandy."

"Nonsense, Dick I you saw how the other tried to stop his tongue."

"Of course he did.  He didn't want his friend to make a fool of
himself before strangers.  Maybe the short one is a lunatic, and
the other his private keeper.  It's quite possible."

"O Dick, Dick," I cried, "how can you be so blind!  Don't you see
that every word confirmed our previous suspicion?"

"Humbug, man!" said Dick; "you're working yourself into a state of
nervous excitement.  Why, what the devil do you make of all that
nonsense about a mysterious agent which would signal our

"I'll tell you what he meant, Dick," I said, bending forward and
grasping my friend's arm.  "He meant a sudden glare and a flash
seen far out at sea by some lonely fisherman off the American
coast.  That's what he meant."

"I didn't think you were such a fool, Hammond," said Dick Merton
testily.  "If you try to fix a literal meaning on the twaddle that
every drunken man talks, you will come to some queer conclusions.
Let us follow their example, and go on deck.  You need fresh air,
I think.  Depend upon it, your liver is out of order.  A sea-voyage
will do you a world of good."

"If ever I see the end of this one," I groaned, "I'll promise never
to venture on another.  They are laying the cloth, so it's hardly
worth while my going up.  I'll stay below and unpack my things."

"I hope dinner will find you in a more pleasant state of mind,"
said Dick; and he went out, leaving me to my thoughts until the
clang of the great gong summoned us to the saloon.

My appetite, I need hardly say, had not been improved by the
incidents which had occurred during the day.  I sat down, however,
mechanically at the table, and listened to the talk which was going
on around me.  There were nearly a hundred first-class passengers,
and as the wine began to circulate, their voices combined with the
clash of the dishes to form a perfect Babel.  I found myself seated
between a very stout and nervous old lady and a prim little
clergyman; and as neither made any advances I retired into my
shell, and spent my time in observing the appearance of my
fellow-voyagers.  I could see Dick in the dim distance dividing his
attentions between a jointless fowl in front of him and a
self-possessed young lady at his side.  Captain Dowie was doing the
honours at my end, while the surgeon of the vessel was seated at
the other.  I was glad to notice that Flannigan was placed almost
opposite to me.  As long as I had him before my eyes I knew that,
for the time at least, we were safe.  He was sitting with what was
meant to be a sociable smile on his grim face.  It did not escape
me that he drank largely of wine--so largely that even before the
dessert appeared his voice had become decidedly husky.  His friend
Muller was seated a few places lower down.  He ate little, and
appeared to be nervous and restless.

"Now, ladies," said our genial Captain, "I trust that you will
consider yourselves at home aboard my vessel.  I have no fears for
the gentlemen.  A bottle of champagne, steward.  Here's to a fresh
breeze and a quick passage!  I trust our friends in America will
hear of our safe arrival in eight days, or in nine at the very

I looked up.  Quick as was the glance which passed between
Flannigan and his confederate, I was able to intercept it.  There
was an evil smile upon the former's thin lips.

The conversation rippled on.  Politics, the sea, amusements,
religion, each was in turn discussed.  I remained a silent though
an interested listener.  It struck me that no harm could be done by
introducing the subject which was ever in my mind.  It could be
managed in an off-hand way, and would at least have the effect of
turning the Captain's thoughts in that direction.  I could watch,
too, what effect it would have upon the faces of the conspirators.

There was a sudden lull in the conversation.  The ordinary subjects
of interest appeared to be exhausted.  The opportunity was a
favourable one.

"May I ask, Captain," I said, bending forward and speaking very
distinctly, "what you think of Fenian manifestoes?"

The Captain's ruddy face became a shade darker from honest

"They are poor cowardly things," he said, "as silly as they are

"The impotent threats of a set of anonymous scoundrels," said
a pompous-looking old gentleman beside him.

"O Captain!" said the fat lady at my side, "you don't really think
they would blow up a ship?"

"I have no doubt they would if they could.  But I am very sure they
shall never blow up mine."

"May I ask what precautions are taken against them?" asked an
elderly man at the end of the table.

"All goods sent aboard the ship are strictly examined," said
Captain Dowie.

"But suppose a man brought explosives aboard with him?" I

"They are too cowardly to risk their own lives in that way."

During this conversation Flannigan had not betrayed the slightest
interest in what was going on.  He raised his head now and looked
at the Captain.

"Don't you think you are rather underrating them?" he said.  "Every
secret society has produced desperate men--why shouldn't the
Fenians have them too?  Many men think it a privilege to die in the
service of a cause which seems right in their eyes, though others
may think it wrong"

"Indiscriminate murder cannot be right in anybody's eyes," said the
little clergyman.

"The bombardment of Paris was nothing else," said Flannigan; "yet
the whole civilised world agreed to look on with folded arms, and
change the ugly word `murder' into the more euphonious one of
`war.'  It seemed right enough to German eyes; why shouldn't
dynamite seem so to the Fenian?"

"At any rate their empty vapourings have led to nothing as yet,"
said the Captain.

"Excuse me," returned Flannigan, "but is there not some room for
doubt yet as to the fate of the Dotterel?  I have met men in
America who asserted from their own personal knowledge that there
was a coal torpedo aboard that vessel."

"Then they lied," said the Captain.  "It was proved conclusively at
the court-martial to have arisen from an explosion of coal-gas--but
we had better change the subject, or we may cause the ladies to
have a restless night;" and the conversation once more drifted back
into its original channel.

During this little discussion Flannigan had argued his point with
a gentlemanly deference and a quiet power for which I had not given
him credit.  I could not help admiring a man who, on the eve of a
desperate enterprise, could courteously argue upon a point which
must touch him so nearly.  He had, as I have already mentioned,
partaken of a considerable quantity of wine; but though there was
a slight flush upon his pale cheek, his manner was as reserved as
ever.  He did not join in the conversation again, but seemed to be
lost in thought.

A whirl of conflicting ideas was battling in my own mind.  What was
I to do?  Should I stand up now and denounce them before both
passengers and Captain?  Should I demand a few minutes'
conversation with the latter in his own cabin, and reveal it
all?  For an instant I was half resolved to do it, but then the old
constitutional timidity came back with redoubled force.  After all
there might be some mistake.  Dick had heard the evidence and had
refused to believe in it.  I determined to let things go on their
course.  A strange reckless feeling came over me.  Why should I
help men who were blind to their own danger?  Surely it was the
duty of the officers to protect us, not ours to give warning to
them.  I drank off a couple of glasses of wine, and staggered upon
deck with the determination of keeping my secret locked in my own

It was a glorious evening.  Even in my excited state of mind I
could not help leaning against the bulwarks and enjoying the
refreshing breeze.  Away to the westward a solitary sail stood out
as a dark speck against the great sheet of flame left by the
setting sun.  I shuddered as I looked at it.  It was grand but
appalling.  A single star was twinkling faintly above our mainmast,
but a thousand seemed to gleam in the water below with every stroke
of our propeller.  The only blot in the fair scene was the great
trail of smoke which stretched away behind us like a black slash
upon a crimson curtain.  It was hard to believe that the great
peace which hung over all Nature could be marred by a poor
miserable mortal.

"After all," I thought, as I gazed into the blue depths beneath me,
"if the worst comes to the worst, it is better to die here than to
linger in agony upon a sick-bed on land."  A man's life seems a
very paltry thing amid the great forces of Nature.  All my
philosophy could not prevent my shuddering, however, when I turned
my head and saw two shadowy figures at the other side of the deck,
which I had no difficulty in recognising.  They seemed to be
conversing earnestly, but I had no opportunity of overhearing what
was said; so I contented myself with pacing up and down, and
keeping a vigilant watch upon their movements.

It was a relief to me when Dick came on deck.  Even an incredulous
confidant is better than none at all.

"Well, old man," he said, giving me a facetious dig in the ribs,
"we've not been blown up yet."

"No, not yet," said I; "but that's no proof that we are not going
to be."

"Nonsense, man!" said Dick; "I can't conceive what has put this
extraordinary idea into your head.  I have been talking to one of
your supposed assassins, and he seems a pleasant fellow enough;
quite a sporting character, I should think, from the way he

"Dick," I said, "I am as certain that those men have an infernal
machine, and that we are on the verge of eternity, as if I saw them
putting the match to the fuse."

"Well, if you really think so," said Dick, half awed for the moment
by the earnestness of my manner, "it is your duty to let the
Captain know of your suspicions."

"You are right," I said; "I will.  My absurd timidity has prevented
my doing so sooner.  I believe our lives can only be saved by
laying the whole matter before him."

"Well, go and do it now," said Dick; "but for goodness' sake don't
mix me up in the matter."

"I'll speak to him when he comes off the bridge," I answered; "and
in the meantime I don't mean to lose sight of them."

"Let me know of the result," said my companion; and with a nod he
strolled away in search, I fancy, of his partner at the dinner-table.

Left to myself, I bethought me of my retreat of the morning, and
climbing on the bulwark I mounted into the quarter-boat, and lay
down there.  In it I could reconsider my course of action, and by
raising my head I was able at any time to get a view of my
disagreeable neighbours.

An hour passed, and the Captain was still on the bridge.  He was
talking to one of the passengers, a retired naval officer, and the
two were deep in debate concerning some abstruse point in
navigation.  I could see the red tips of their cigars from where I
lay.  It was dark now, so dark that I could hardly make out the
figures of Flannigan and his accomplice.  They were still standing
in the position which they had taken up after dinner.  A few of the
passengers were scattered about the deck, but many had gone below.
A strange stillness seemed to pervade the air.  The voices of
the watch and the rattle of the wheel were the only sounds which
broke the silence.

Another half-hour passed.  The Captain was still upon the bridge.
It seemed as if he would never come down.  My nerves were in a
state of unnatural tension, so much so that the sound of two steps
upon the deck made me start up in a quiver of excitement.  I peered
over the edge of the boat, and saw that our suspicious passengers
had crossed from the other side, and were standing almost directly
beneath me.  The light of a binnacle fell full upon the ghastly
face of the ruffian Flannigan.  Even in that short glance I saw
that Muller had the ulster, whose use I knew so well, slung loosely
over his arm.  I sank back with a groan.  It seemed that my fatal
procrastination had sacrificed two hundred innocent lives.

I had read of the fiendish vengeance which awaited a spy.  I knew
that men with their lives in their hands would stick at nothing.
All I could do was to cower at the bottom of the boat and listen
silently to their whispered talk below.

"This place will do," said a voice.

"Yes, the leeward side is best."

"I wonder if the trigger will act?"

"I am sure it will."

"We were to let it off at ten, were we not?"

"Yes, at ten sharp.  We have eight minutes yet."  There was a
pause.  Then the voice began again--

"They'll hear the drop of the trigger, won't they?"

"It doesn't matter.  It will be too late for any one to prevent its
going off."

"That's true.  There will be some excitement among those we have
left behind, won't there?"

"Rather.  How long do you reckon it will be before they hear of

"The first news will get in at about midnight at earliest."

"That will be my doing."

"No, mine."

"Ha, ha! we'll settle that."

There was a pause here.  Then I heard Muller's voice in a ghastly
whisper, "There's only five minutes more."

How slowly the moments seemed to pass!  I could count them by the
throbbing of my heart.

"It'll make a sensation on land," said a voice.

"Yes, it will make a noise in the newspapers."

I raised my head and peered over the side of the boat.  There
seemed no hope, no help.  Death stared me in the face, whether I
did or did not give the alarm.  The Captain had at last left the
bridge.  The deck was deserted, save for those two dark figures
crouching in the shadow of the boat.

Flannigan had a watch lying open in his hand.

"Three minutes more," he said.  "Put it down upon the deck."

"No, put it here on the bulwarks."

It was the little square box.  I knew by the sound that they had
placed it near the davit, and almost exactly under my head.

I looked over again.  Flannigan was pouring something out of a
paper into his hand.  It was white and granular--the same that I
had seen him use in the morning.  It was meant as a fuse, no doubt,
for he shovelled it into the little box, and I heard the strange
noise which had previously arrested my attention.

"A minute and a half more," he said.  "Shall you or I pull the

"I will pull it," said Muller.

He was kneeling down and holding the end in his hand.  Flannigan
stood behind with his arms folded, and an air of grim resolution
upon his face.

I could stand it no longer.  My nervous system seemed to give way
in a moment.

"Stop!" I screamed, springing to my feet.  "Stop misguided and
unprincipled men!"

They both staggered backwards.  I fancy they thought I was a
spirit, with the moonlight streaming down upon my pale face.

I was brave enough now.  I had gone too far to retreat.

"Cain was damned," I cried, "and he slew but one; would you have
the blood of two hundred upon your souis?"

"He's mad!" said Flannigan.  "Time's up.  Let it off, Muller."
I sprang down upon the deck.

"You shan't do it!" I said.

"By what right do you prevent us?"

"By every right, human and divine."

"It's no business of yours.  Clear out of this."

"Never!" said I.

"Confound the fellow!  There's too much at stake to stand on
ceremony.  I'll hold him, Muller, while you pull the trigger."

Next moment I was struggling in the herculean grasp of the
Irishman.  Resistance was useless; I was a child in his hands.

He pinned me up against the side of the vessel, and held me there.

"Now," he said, "look sharp.  He can't prevent us."

I felt that I was standing on the verge of eternity. Half-strangled in
the arms of the taller ruffian, I saw the other approach the fatal box.
He stooped over it and seized the string. I breathed one prayer when I
saw his grasp tighten upon it. Then came a sharp snap, a strange rasping
noise. The trigger had fallen, the side of the box flew out, and let

Little more need be said.  It is not a subject on which I care to
dwell.  The whole thing is too utterly disgusting and absurd.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is to retire gracefully from the
scene, and let the sporting correspondent of the New York Herald
fill my unworthy place.  Here is an extract clipped from its
columns shortly after our departure from America:--

"Pigeon-flying Extraordinary.--A novel match has been brought off
last week between the birds of John H. Flannigan, of Boston, and
Jeremiah Muller, a well-known citizen of Lowell. Both men
have devoted much time and attention to an improved breed of bird,
and the challenge is an old-standing one. The pigeons were backed
to a large amount, and there was considerable local interest in the
result.  The start was from the deck of the Transatlantic steamship
Spartan, at ten o'clock on the evening of the day of starting,
the vessel being then reckoned to be about a hundred miles from the
land.  The bird which reached home first was to be declared the
winner.  Considerable caution had, we believe, to be observed, as
some captains have a prejudice against the bringing off of sporting
events aboard their vessels.  In spite of some little difficulty at
the last moment, the trap was sprung almost exactly at ten o'clock.

"Muller's bird arrived in Lowell in an extreme state of exhaustion
on the following morning, while Flannigan's has not been heard of.
The backers of the latter have the satisfaction of knowing,
however, that the whole affair has been characterised by extreme
fairness.  The pigeons were confined in a specially invented trap,
which could only be opened by the spring.  It was thus possible to
feed them through an aperture in the top, but any tampering with
their wings was quite out of the question.  A few such matches
would go far towards popularising pigeon-flying in America, and
form an agreeable variety to the morbid exhibitions of human
endurance which have assumed such proportions during the last few


[First published in London Society(?), April 1881]

"Robinson, the boss wants you!"

"The dickens he does!" thought I; for Mr. Dickson, Odessa agent of
Bailey & Co., corn merchants, was a bit of a Tartar, as I had learned to
my cost. "What's the row now?" I demanded of my fellow-clerk; "has he
got scent of our Mcolaieff escapade, or what is it?"

"No idea," said Gregory; "the old boy seems in a good humor; some
business matter, probably. But don't keep him waiting." So summoning up
an air of injured innocence, to be ready for all contingencies, I
marched into the lion's den.

Mr. Dickson was standing before the fire in a Briton's time-honored
attitude, and motioned me into a chair in front of him. "Mr. Robinson,"
he said, "I have great confidence in your discretion and common-sense.
The follies of youth will break out, but I think that you have a
sterling foundation to your character underlying any superficial

I bowed.

"I believe," he continued, "that you can speak Russian pretty fluently."

I bowed again.

"I have, then," he proceeded, "a mission which I wish you to undertake,
and on the success of which your promotion may depend. I would not trust
it to a subordinate, were it not that duty ties me to my post at

"You may depend upon my doing my best, sir," I replied.

"Right, sir; quite right! What I wish you to do is briefly this: The
line of railway has just been opened to Solteff, some hundred miles up
the country. Now, I wish to get the start of the other Odessa firms in
securing the produce of that district, which I have reason to believe
may be had at very low prices. You will proceed by rail to Solteff, and
interview a Mr. Dimidoff, who is the largest landed proprietor in the
town. Make as favorable terms as you can with him. Both Mr. Dimidoff and
I wish the whole thing to be done as quietly and secretly as possible in
fact, that nothing should be known about the matter until the grain
appears in Odessa. I desire it for the interests of the firm, and Mr.
Dimidoff on account of the prejudice his peasantry entertain against
exportation. You will find yourself expected at the end of your journey,
and will start to-night. Money shall be ready for your expenses.
Good-morning, Mr. Robinson; I hope you won't fail to realize the good
opinion I have of your abilities."

"Gregory," I said, as I strutted into the office, "I'm off on a mission
a secret mission, my boy; an affair of thousands of pounds. Lend me your
little port-manteau mine's too imposing and tell Ivan to pack it. A
Russian millionaire expects me at the end of my journey. Don't breathe a
word of it to any of Simkins's people, or the whole game will be up.
Keep it dark!"

I was so charmed at being, as it were, behind the scenes, that I crept
about the office all day in a sort of cloak-and-bloody-dagger style,
with responsibility and brooding care marked upon every feature; and
when at night I stepped out and stole down to the station, the
unprejudiced observer would certainly have guessed, from my general
behavior, that I had emptied the contents of the strong-box, before
starting, into that little valise of Gregory's. It was imprudent of him,
by the way, to leave English labels pasted all over it. However, I could
only hope that the "Londons" and "Birminghams" would attract no
attention, or at least that no rival corn merchant might deduce from
them who I was and what my errand might be.

Having paid the necessary roubles and got my ticket, I ensconced myself
in the corner of a snug Russian car, and pondered over my extraordinary
good fortune. Dickson was growing old now, and if I could make my mark
in this matter it might be a great thing for me. Dreams arose of a
partnership in the firm. The noisy wheels seemed to clank out "Bailey,
Robinson & Co.," "Bailey, Robinson & Co.," in a monotonous refrain,
which gradually sunk into a hum, and finally ceased as I dropped into a
deep sleep. Had I known the experience which awaited me at the end of my
journey it would hardly have been so peaceable.

I awoke with an uneasy feeling that some one was watching me closely;
nor was I mistaken. A tall dark man had taken up his position on the
seat opposite, and his black, sinister eyes seemed to look through me
and beyond me, as if he wished to read my very soul. Then I saw him
glance down at my little trunk.

"Good heavens!" thought I, "here's Simkins's agent, I suppose. It was
careless of Gregory to leave those confounded labels on the valise."

I closed my eyes for a time, but on reopening them I again caught the
stranger's earnest gaze.

"From England, I see," he said in Russian, showing a row of white teeth
in what was meant to be an amiable smile.

"Yes," I replied, trying to look unconcerned, but painfully aware of my

"Traveling for pleasure, perhaps?" said he.

"Yes," I answered, eagerly. "Certainly for pleasure; nothing else."

"Of course not," said he, with a shade of irony in his voice.
"Englishmen always travel for pleasure, don't they? Oh, no; nothing

His conduct was mysterious, to say the least of it. It was only
explainable upon two hypotheses he was either a madman, or he was the
agent of some firm bound upon the same errand as myself, and determined
to show me that he guessed my little game.

They were about equally unpleasant, and, on the whole, I was relieved
when the train pulled up in the tumble-down shed which does duty for a
station in the rising town of Solteff Solteff, whose resources I was
about to open out, and whose commerce I was to direct into the great
world's channels. I almost expected to see a triumphal arch as I stepped
on to the platform.

I was to be expected at the end of my journey, so Mr. Dickson had
informed me. I looked about among the motley crowd, but saw no Mr.
Dimidoff. Suddenly a slovenly, unshaven man passed me rapidly, and
glanced first at me and then at my trunk that wretched trunk, the cause
of all my woes. He disappeared in the crowd, but in a little time came
strolling past me again, and contrived to whisper as he did so:

"Follow me, but at some distance," immediately setting off out of the
station and down the street at a rapid pace. Here was mystery with a
vengeance! I trotted along in his rear with my valise, and on turning
the corner found a rough drosky waiting for me. My unshaven friend
opened the door, and I stepped in.

"Is Mr. Dim--" I was beginning.

"Hush!" he cried. "No names, no names; the very walls have ears. You
will hear all to-night;" and with that assurance he closed the door,
and, seizing the reins, we drove off at a rapid pace so rapid that I saw
my black-eyed acquaintance of the railway carriage gazing after us in
surprise until we were out of sight.

I thought over the whole matter as we jogged along in that abominable
springless conveyance.

"They say the nobles are tyrants in Russia," I mused; "but it seems to
me to be the other way about, for here's this poor Mr. Dimidoff, who
evidently thinks his ex-serfs will rise and murder him if he raises the
price of grain in the district by exporting some out of it. Fancy being
obliged to have recourse to all this mystery and deception in order to
sell one's own property! Why, it's worse than an Irish landlord. It is
monstrous! Well, he doesn't seem to live in a very aristocratic quarter
either," I soliloquized, as I gazed out at the narrow, crooked streets
and the unkempt, dirty Muscovites whom we passed. "I wish Gregory or
some one was with me, for it's a cut-throat-looking shop! By Jove! he's
pulling up; we must be there!"

We were there, to all appearance; for the drosky stopped, and my
driver's shaggy head appeared through the aperture.

"It is here, most honored master," he said, as he helped me to alight.

"Is Mr. Dimi--" I commenced; but he interrupted me again.

"Anything but names," he whispered; "anything but that. You are too used
to a land that is free. Caution, oh, sacred one!" and he ushered me down
a stone-flagged passage, and up a stair at the end of it. "Sit for a few
minutes in this room," he said, opening a door, "and a repast will be
served for you;" and with that he left me to my own reflections.

"Well," thought I, "whatever Mr. Dimidoff's house may be like, his
servants are undoubtedly well trained. 'Oh, sacred one!' and 'revered
master!' I wonder what he'd call old Dickson himself, if he is so polite
to the clerk! I suppose it wouldn't be the thing to smoke in this little
crib; but I could do a pipe nicely. By the way, how confoundedly like a
cell it looks!"

It certainly did look like a cell. The door was an iron one, and
enormously strong, while the single window was closely barred. The floor
was of wood, and sounded hollow and insecure as I strolled across it.
Both floor and walls were thickly splashed with coffee or some other
dark liquid. On the whole, it was far from being a place where one would
be likely to become unreasonably festive.

I had hardly concluded my survey when I heard steps approaching down the
corridor, and the door was opened by my old friend of the drosky. He
announced that my dinner was ready, and, with many bows and apologies
for leaving me in what he called the "dismissal room," he led me down
the passage, and into a large and beautifully furnished apartment. A
table was spread for two in the centre of it, and by the fire was
standing a man very little older than myself. He turned as I came in,
and stepped forward to meet me with every symptom of profound respect.

"So young and yet so honored!" he exclaimed; and then seeming to
recollect himself, he continued, "Pray sit at the head of the table. You
must be fatigued by your long and arduous journey. We dine tete-a-tete,
but the others assemble after-ward."

"Mr. Dimidoff, I presume?" said I.

"No, sir," said he, turning his keen gray eyes upon me. "My name is
Petrokine; you mistake me perhaps for one of the others. But now, not a
word of business until the council meets. Try our chef's soup; you will
find it excellent, I think."

Who Mr. Petrokine or the others might be I could not conceive. Land
stewards of Dimidoff's, perhaps; though the name did not seem familiar to
my companion. However, as he appeared to shun any business questions at
present, I gave in to his humor, and we conversed on social life in
England a subject in which he displayed considerable knowledge and
acuteness. His remarks, too, on Malthus and the laws of population were
wonderfully good, though savoring somewhat of Radicalism.

"By the way," he remarked, as we smoked a cigar over our wine, "we
should never have known you but for the English labels on your luggage;
it was the luckiest thing in the world that Alexander noticed them. We
had no personal description of you; indeed, we were prepared to expect a
somewhat older man. You ai'e young indeed, sir, to be intrusted with
such a mission."

"My employer trusts me," I replied; "and we have learned in our trade
that youth and shrewdness are not incompatible."

"Your remark is true, sir," returned my newly made friend; "but I am
surprised to hear you call our glorious association a trade. Such a term
is gross indeed to apply to a body of men banded together to supply the
world with that which it is yearning for, but which, without our
exertions, it can never hope to attain. A spiritual brotherhood would be
a more fitting term."

"By Jove!" thought I, "how pleased the boss would be to hear him! He
must have been in the business himself, whoever he is."

"Now, sir," said Mr. Petrokine, "the clock points to eight, and the
council must be already sitting. Let us go up together, and I will
introduce you. I need hardly say that the greatest secrecy is observed,
and that your appearance is anxiously awaited."

I turned over in my mind as I followed him how I might best fulfil my
mission and secure the most advantageous terms. They seemed as anxious
as I was in the matter, and there appeared to be no opposition, so
perhaps the best thing would be to wait and see what they would propose.

I had hardly come to this conclusion when my guide swung open a large
door at the end of a passage, and I found myself in a room larger and
even more gorgeously fitted up than the one in which I had dined. A long
table, covered with green baize and strewn with papers, ran down the
middle, and round it were sitting fourteen or fifteen men conversing
earnestly. The whole scene reminded me forcibly of a gambling hell I had
visited some time before.

Upon our entrance the company rose and bowed. I could not but remark
that my companion attracted no attention, while every eye was turned
upon me with a strange mixture of surprise and almost servile respect. A
man at the head of the table, who was remarkable for the extreme pallor
of his face as contrasted with his blue-black hair and moustache, waved
his hand to a seat beside him, and I sat down.

"I need hardly say," said Mr. Petrokine, "that Gustave Berger, the
English agent, is now honoring us with his presence. He is young indeed,
Alexis," he continued to iny pale-faced neighbor, "and yet he is of
European reputation."

"Come, draw it mild!" thought I, adding aloud: "If you refer to me, sir,
though I am indeed acting as English agent, my name is not Berger, but
Robinson Mr. Tom Robinson, at your service."

A laugh ran round the table.

"So be it, so be it," said the man they called Alexis. "I commend your
discretion, most honored sir. One can not be too careful. Preserve your
English sobriquet by all means. I regret that any painful duty should be
performed upon this auspicious evening; but the rules of our association
must be preserved at any cost to our feelings, and a dismissal is
inevitable to-night."

"What the deuce is the fellow driving at?" thought I. "What is it to me
if he does give his servant the sack? This Dimidoff, wherever he is,
seems to keep a private lunatic asylum."

"Take out the gag!" The words fairly shot through me, and I started in
my chair. It was Petrokine who spoke. For the first time I noticed that
a burly, stout man, sitting at the other end of the table, had his arms
tied behind his chair and a handkerchief round his mouth. A horrible
suspicion began to creep into my heart. Where was I? Was I in Mr.
Dimidoff's? Who were these men, with their strange words?"

"Take out the gag!" repeated Petrokine; and the handkerchief was

"Now, Paul Ivanovitch," said he, "what have you to say before you go?"

"Not a dismissal, sirs," he pleaded; "not a dismissal; anything but
that! I will go into some distant land, and my mouth shall be closed
forever. I will do anything that the society asks, but pray, pray do not
dismiss me."

"You know our laws, and you know your crime," said Alexis, in a cold,
harsh voice. "Who drove us from Odessa by his false tongue and his
double face? Who wrote the anonymous letter to the governor?
Who cut the wire that would have destroyed the arch-tyrant? You did,
Paul Ivanovitch, and you must die!"

I leaned back in my chair and fairly gasped.

"Remove him!" said Petrokine; and the man of the drosky, with two
others, forced him out.

I heard the footsteps pass down the passage and then a door open and
shut. Then came a sound as of a struggle, ended by a heavy, crunching
blow and a dull thud.

"So perish all who are false to their oath," said Alexis, solemnly; and
a hoarse "Amen" went up from his companions.

"Death alone can dismiss us from our order," said another man further
down; "but Mr. Berg Mr. Kobinson is pale. The scene has been too much
for him after his long journey from England."

"Oh, Tom, Tom," thought I, "if ever you get out of this scrape you'll
turn over a new leaf. You're not fit to die, and that's a fact." It was
only too evident to me now that by some strange misconception I had got
in among a gang of cold-blooded Nihilists, who mistook me for one of
their order. I felt, after what I had witnessed, that my only chance of
life was to try to play the role thus forced upon me until an
opportunity for escape should present itself; so I tried hard to regain
my air of self-possession, which had been so rudely shaken.

"I am indeed fatigued," I replied; "but I feel stronger now. Excuse my
momentary weakness."

"It was but natural," said a man with a thick beard at my right hand.
"And now, most honored sir, how goes the cause in England 2"

"Remarkably well," I answered.

"Has the great commissioner condescended to send a missive to the
Solteff branch?" asked Petfokine.

"Nothing in writing," I replied.

"But he has spoken of it?"

"Yes; he said he had watched it with feelings of the liveliest
satisfaction," I returned.

"'Tis well! 'tis well!" ran round the table.

I felt giddy and sick from the critical nature of my position. Any
moment a question might be asked which would show me in my true colors.
I rose and helped myself from a decanter of brandy which stood on a
side-table. The potent liquor flew to my excited brain, and as I sat
down I felt reckless enough to be half amused at my position, and
inclined to play with my tormentors. I still, however, had all my wits
about me.

"You have been to Birmingham?" asked the man with the beard.

"Many times," said I.

"Then you have, of course, seen the private work-shop and arsenal?"

"I have been over them both more than once."

"It is still, I suppose, entirely unsuspected by the police?" continued
my interrogator.

"Entirely," I replied.

"Can you tell us how it is that so large a concern is kept so completely
secret ?"

Here was a poser; but my native impudence and the brandy seemed to come
to my aid.

"That is information," I replied, "which I do not feel justified in
divulging even here. In withholding it I am acting under the direction
of the chief commissioner."

"You are right perfectly right," said my original friend Petrokine. "You
will no doubt make your report to the central office at Moscow before
entering into such details."

"Exactly so," I replied, only too happy to get a lift out of my

"We have heard," said Alexis, "that you were sent to inspect the
Livadia. Can you give us any particulars about it?"

"Anything you ask I will endeavor to answer," I replied, in desperation.

"Have any orders been made in Birmingham concerning it?"

"None when I left England."

"Well, well, there's plenty of time yet," said the man with the beard
"many months. Will the bottom be of wood or iron?"

"Of wood," I answered at random.

"'Tis well!" said another voice. "And what is the breadth of the Clyde
below Greenock?"

"It varies much," I replied; "on an average about eighty yards."

"How many men does she carry?" asked an anemic-looking youth at the foot
of the table, who seemed more fit for a public school than this den of

"About three hundred," said I.

"A floating coffin!" said the young Nihilist in a sepulchral voice.

"Are the store-rooms on a level with or underneath the state-cabins?"
asked Petrokine.

"Underneath," said I decisively, though I need hardly say I had not the
smallest conception."

"And now, most honored sir," said Alexis, "tell us what was the reply of
Bauer, the German Socialist, to Ravinsky's proclamation?"

Here was a deadlock with a vengeance. Whether my cunning would have
extricated me from it or not was never decided, for Providence hurried
me from one dilemma into another and a worse one.

A door slammed downstairs, and rapid footsteps were heard approaching.
Then came a loud tap out-side, followed by two smaller ones.

"The sign of the society!" said Petrokine; "and yet we are all present;
who can it be?"

The door was thrown open, and a man entered, dusty and travel-stained,
but with an air of authority and power stamped on every feature of his
harsh but expressive face. He glanced round the table, scanning each
countenance carefully. There was a start of surprise in the room. He was
evidently a stranger to them all.

"What means this intrusion, sir?" said my friend with the beard.

"Intrusion!" said the stranger. "I was given to understand that I was
expected, and had looked forward to a warmer welcome from my
fellow-associates. I am personally unknown to you, gentlemen, but I am
proud to think that my name should command some respect among you. I am
Gustave Berger, the agent from England, bearing letters from the chief
commissioner to his well-beloved brothers of Solteff."

One of their own bombs could hardly have created greater surprise had it
been fired in the midst of them. Every eye was fixed alternately on me
and upon the newly arrived agent.

"If you are indeed Gustave Berger," said Petrokine, "who is this?"

"That I am Gustave Berger these credentials will show," said the
stranger, as he threw a packet upon the table. "Who that man may be I
know not; but if he has intruded himself upon the lodge under false
pretences, it is clear that he must never carry out of the room what he
has learned. Speak, sir," he added, addressing me; "who and what are

I felt that my time had come. My revolver was in my hip-pocket; but what
was that against so many desperate men? I grasped the butt of it,
however, as a drowning man clings to a straw, and I tried to preserve my
coolness as I glanced round at the cold, vindictive faces turned toward

"Gentlemen," I said, "the role I have played tonight has been a purely
involuntary one on my part. I am no police spy, as you seem to suspect;
nor, on the other hand, have I the honor to be a member of your
association. I am an inoffensive corn-dealer, who by an extraordinary
mistake has been forced into this unpleasant and awkward position."

I paused for a moment. Was it my fancy that there was a peculiar noise
in the street a noise as of many feet treading softly? No, it had died
away; it was but the throbbing of my own heart.

"I need hardly say," I continued, "that anything I may have heard
to-night will be safe in my keeping. I pledge my solemn honor as a
gentleman that not one word of it shall transpire through me."

The senses of men in great physical danger become strangely acute, or
their imagination plays them curious tricks. My back was toward the door
as I sat, but I could have sworn that I heard heavy breathing behind it.
Was it the three minions whom I had seen before in the performance of
their hateful functions, and who, like vultures, had sniffed another

I looked round the table. Still the same hard, cruel faces. Not one
glance of sympathy. I cocked the revolver in my pocket.

There was a painful silence, which was broken by the harsh, grating
voice of Petrokine.

"Promises are easily made and easily broken," he said. "There is but one
way of securing eternal silence. It is our lives or yours. Let the
highest among us speak."

"You are right, sir," said the English agent; "there is but one course
open. He must be dismissed."

I knew what that meant in their confounded jargon, and sprang to my

"By Heaven!" I shouted, putting my back against the door, "you shan't
butcher a free Englishman like a sheep! The first among you who stirs

A man sprang at me. I saw along the sights of my derringer the gleam of
a knife and the demoniacal face of Gusfave Berger. Then I pulled the
trigger, and, with his hoarse scream sounding in my ears, I was felled
to the ground by a crushing blow from behind. Half-unconscious, and
pressed down by some heavy weight, I heard the noise of shouts and blows
above me, and then I fainted.

When I came to myself I was lying among the debris of the door, which
had been beaten in on the top of me. Opposite were a dozen of the men
who had lately sat in judgment upon me, tied two and two, and guarded by
a score of Russian soldiers. Beside me was the corpse of the ill-fated
English agent, his whole face blown in by the force of the explosion.
Alexis and Petrokine were both lying on the floor like myself, bleeding

"Well, young fellow, you've had a narrow escape," said a hearty voice in
my ear.

I looked up, and recognized my black-eyed acquaintance of the railway

"Stand up," he continued: "you're only a bit stunned; no bones broken.
It's no wonder I mistook you for the Nihilist agent, when the very lodge
itself was taken in. Well, you're the only stranger who ever came out of
this den alive. Come downstairs with me. I know who you are, and what
you are after now; I'll take you to Mr. Dimidoff. Nay, don't go in
there," he cried, as I walked toward the door of the cell into which I
had been originally ushered. "Keep out of that; you've seen evil sights
enough for one day. Come down and have a glass of liquor."

He explained as we walked back to the hotel that the police of Solteff,
of which he was the chief, had had warning and been on the lookout
during some time for this Nihilist emissary. My arrival in so
unfrequented a place, coupled with my air of secrecy and the English
labels on that confounded portmanteau of Gregory's, had completed the

I have little more to tell. My socialistic acquaintances were all either
transported to Siberia or executed. My mission was performed to the
satisfaction of my employers. My conduct during the whole business has
won me promotion, and my prospects for life have been improved since
that horrible night, the remembrance of which still makes me shiver.


"It air strange, it air," he was saying as I opened the door of the room
where our social little semi-literary society met; "but I could tell you
queerer things than that 'ere--almighty queer things. You can't learn
everything out of books, sirs, nohow. You see it ain't the men as can
string English together and as has had good eddications as finds
themselves in the queer places I've been in. They're mostly rough men,
sirs, as can scarce speak aright, far less tell with pen and ink the
things they've seen; but if they could they'd make some of your
European's har riz with astonishment. They would, sirs, you bet!"

His name was Jefferson Adams, I believe; I know his initials were J.A.,
for you may see them yet deeply whittled on the right-hand upper panel of
our smoking-room door. He left us this legacy, and also some artistic
patterns done in tobacco juice upon our Turkey carpet; but beyond these
reminiscences our American storyteller has vanished from our ken. He
gleamed across our ordinary quiet conviviality like some brilliant
meteor, and then was lost in the outer darkness. That night, however, our
Nevada friend was in full swing; and I quietly lit my pipe and dropped
into the nearest chair, anxious not to interrupt his story.

"Mind you," he continued, "I hain't got no grudge against your men of
science. I likes and respects a chap as can match every beast and plant,
from a huckleberry to a grizzly with a jawbreakin' name; but if you wants
real interestin' facts, something a bit juicy, you go to your whalers and
your frontiersmen, and your scouts and Hudson Bay men, chaps who mostly
can scarce sign their names."

There was a pause here, as Mr. Jefferson Adams produced a long cheroot
and lit it. We preserved a strict silence in the room, for we had already
learned that on the slightest interruption our Yankee drew himself into
his shell again. He glanced round with a self-satisfied smile as he
remarked our expectant looks, and continued through a halo of smoke,

"Now which of you gentlemen has even been in Arizona? None, I'll warrant.
And of all English or Americans as can put pen to paper, how many has
been in Arizona? Precious few, I calc'late. I've been there, sirs, lived
there for years; and when I think of what I've seen there, why, I can
scarce get myself to believe it now.

"Ah, there's a country! I was one of Walker's filibusters, as they chose
to call us; and after we'd busted up, and the chief was shot, some on us
made tracks and located down there. A reg'lar English and American
colony, we was, with our wives and children, and all complete. I reckon
there's some of the old folk there yet, and that they hain't forgotten
what I'm agoing to tell you. No, I warrant they hain't, never on this
side of the grave, sirs.

"I was talking about the country, though; and I guess I could astonish
you considerable if I spoke of nothing else. To think of such a land
being built for a few 'Greasers' and half-breeds! It's a misusing of the
gifts of Providence, that's what I calls it. Grass as hung over a chap's
head as he rode through it, and trees so thick that you couldn't catch a
glimpse of blue sky for leagues and leagues, and orchids like umbrellas!
Maybe some on you has seen a plant as they calls the 'fly-catcher,' in
some parts of the States?"

"Diancea muscipula," murmured Dawson, our scientific man par excellence.

"Ah, 'Die near a municipal,' that's him! You'll see a fly stand on that
'ere plant, and then you'll see the two sides of a leaf snap up together
and catch it between them, and grind it up and mash it to bits, for all
the world like some great sea squid with its beak; and hours after, if
you open the leaf, you'll see the body lying half-digested, and in bits.
Well, I've seen those flytraps in Arizona with leaves eight and ten feet
long, and thorns or teeth a foot or more; why, they could--But darn it,
I'm going too fast!

"It's about the death of Joe Hawkins I was going to tell you; 'bout as
queer a thing, I reckon, as ever you heard tell on. There wasn't nobody
in Montana as didn't know of Joe Hawkins--'Alabama' Joe, as he was called
there. A reg'lar out and outer, he was, 'bout the darndest skunk as even
man clapt eyes on. He was a good chap enough, mind ye, as long as you
stroked him the right way; but rile him anyhow, and he were worse nor a
wild-cat. I've seen him empty his six-shooter into a crowd as chanced to
jostle him agoing into Simpson's bar when there was a dance on; and he
bowied Tom Hooper 'cause he spilt his liquor over his weskit by mistake.
No, he didn't stick at murder, Joe didn't; and he weren't a man to be
trusted further nor you could see him.

"Now at the time I tell on, when Joe Hawkins was swaggerin' about the
town and layin' down the law with his shootin'-irons, there was an
Englishman there of the name of Scott--Tom Scott, if I rec'lects aright.
This chap Scott was a thorough Britisher (beggin' the present company's
pardon), and yet he didn't freeze much to the British set there, or they
didn't freeze much to him. He was a quiet simple man, Scott was--rather
too quiet for a rough set like that; sneakin' they called him, but he
weren't that. He kept hisself mostly apart, an' didn't interfere with
nobody so long as he were left alone. Some said as how he'd been kinder
ill-treated at home--been a Chartist, or something of that sort, and had
to up sticks and run; but he never spoke of it hisself, an' never
complained. Bad luck or good, that chap kept a stiff lip on him.

"This chap Scott was a sort o' butt among the men about Montana, for he
was so quiet an' simple-like. There was no party either to take up his
grievances; for, as I've been saying, the Britishers hardly counted him
one of them, and many a rough joke they played on him. He never cut up
rough, but was polite to all hisself. I think the boys got to think he
hadn't much grit in him till he showed 'em their mistake.

"It was in Simpson's bar as the row got up, an' that led to the queer
thing I was going to tell you of. Alabama Joe and one or two other
rowdies were dead on the Britishers in those days, and they spoke their
opinions pretty free, though I warned them as there'd be an almighty
muss. That partic'lar night Joe was nigh half drunk, an' he swaggered
about the town with his six-shooter, lookin' out for a quarrel. Then he
turned into the bar where he know'd he'd find some o' the English as
ready for one as he was hisself. Sure enough, there was half a dozen
lounging about, an' Tom Scott standin' alone before the stove. Joe sat
down by the table, and put his revolver and bowie down in front of him.
'Them's my arguments, Jeff,' he says to me, 'if any white-livered
Britisher dares give me the lie.' I tried to stop him, sirs; but he
weren't a man as you could easily turn, an' he began to speak in a way as
no chap could stand. Why, even a 'Greaser' would flare up if you said as
much of Greaserland! There was a commotion at the bar, an' every man laid
his hands on his wepins; but afore they could draw we heard a quiet voice
from the stove: 'Say your prayers, Joe Hawkins; for, by Heaven, you're a
dead man!' Joe turned round, and looked like grabbin' at his iron; but it
weren't no manner of use. Tom Scott was standing up, covering him with
his Derringer; a smile on his white face, but the very devil shining in
his eye. 'It ain't that the old country has used me over-well,' he says,
'but no man shall speak agin it afore me, and live.' For a second or two
I could see his finger tighten round the trigger, an' then he gave a
laugh, an' threw the pistol on the floor. 'No,' he says, 'I can't shoot a
half-drunk man. Take your dirty life, Joe, an' use it better nor you have
done. You've been nearer the grave this night than you will be agin until
your time comes. You'd best make tracks now, I guess. Nay, never look
black at me, man; I'm not afeard at your shootin'-iron. A bully's nigh
always a coward.' And he swung contemptuously round, and relit his
half-smoked pipe from the stove; while Alabama slunk out o' the bar, with
the laughs of the Britishers ringing in his ears. I saw his face as he
passed me, and on it I saw murder, sirs--murder, as plain as ever I seed
anything in my life.

"I stayed in the bar after the row, and watched Tom Scott as he shook
hands with the men about. It seemed kinder queer to me to see him smilin'
and cheerful-like; for I knew Joe's bloodthirsty mind, and that the
Englishman had small chance of ever seeing the morning. He lived in an
out-of-the-way sort of place, you see, clean off the trail, and had to
pass through the Flytrap Gulch to get to it. This here gulch was a
marshy gloomy place, lonely enough during the day even; for it were
always a creepy sort o' thing to see the great eight- and ten-foot leaves
snapping up if aught touched them; but at night there were never a soul
near. Some parts of the marsh, too, were soft and deep, and a body thrown
in would be gone by the morning. I could see Alabama Joe crouchin' under
the leaves of the great Flytrap in the darkest part of the gulch, with a
scowl on his face and a revolver in his hand; I could see it, sirs, as
plain as with my two eyes.

"'Bout midnight Simpson shuts up his bar, so out we had to go. Tom Scott
started off for his three-mile walk at a slashing pace. I just dropped
him a hint as he passed me, for I kinder liked the chap. 'Keep your
Derringer loose in your belt, sir,' I says, 'for you might chance to need
it.' He looked round at me with his quiet smile, and then I lost sight of
him in the gloom. I never thought to see him again. He'd hardly gone
afore Simpson comes up to me and says, 'There'll be a nice job in the
Flytrap Gulch to-night, Jeff; the boys say that Hawkins started half an
hour ago to wait for Scott and shoot him on sight. I calc'late the
coroner be wanted to-morrow.'

"What passed in the gulch that night? It were a question as were asked
pretty free next morning. A half-breed was in Ferguson's store after
daybreak, and he said as he'd chanced to be near the gulch 'bout one in
the morning. It warn't easy to get at his story, he seemed so uncommon
scared; but he told us, at last, as he'd heard the fearfulest screams in
the stillness of the night. There weren't no shots, he said, but scream
after scream, kinder muffled, like a man with a serape over his head, an'
in mortal pain. Abner Brandon and me, and a few more, was in the store at
the time; so we mounted and rode out to Scott's house, passing through
the gulch on the way. There weren't nothing partic'lar to be seen
there--no blood nor marks of a fight, nor nothing; and when we gets up to
Scott's house, out he comes to meet us as fresh as a lark. 'Hullo, Jeff!'
says he, 'no need for the pistols after all. Come in an' have a cocktail,
boys.' `Did you see or hear nothing as you came home last night?' says I.
'No,' says he; 'all was quiet enough. An owl kinder moaning in the
Flytrap Gulch--that was all. Come, jump off and have a glass.' `Thank
ye,' says Abner. So off we gets, and Tom Scott rode into the settlement
with us when we went back.

"An allfired commotion was on in Main-street as we rode into it. The
'Merican party seemed to have gone clean crazed. Alabama Joe was gone,
not a darned particle of him left. Since he went out to the gulch nary
eye had seen him. As we got off our horses there was a considerable crowd
in front of Simpson's, and some ugly looks at Tom Scott, I can tell you.
There was a clickin' of pistols, and I saw as Scott had his hand in his
bosom too. There weren't a single English face about. 'Stand aside, Jeff
Adams,' says Zebb Humphrey, as great a scoundrel as ever lived, 'you
hain't got no hand in this game. Say, boys, are we, free Americans, to be
murdered by any darned Britisher?' It was the quickest thing as ever I
seed. There was a rush an' a crack; Zebb was down, with Scott's ball in
his thigh, and Scott hisself was on the ground with a dozen men holding
him. It weren't no use struggling, so he lay quiet. They seemed a bit
uncertain what to do with him at first, but then one of Alabama's special
chums put them up to it. Joe's gone,' he said; 'nothing ain't surer nor
that, an' there lies the man as killed him. Some on you knows as Joe went
on business to the gulch last night; he never came back. That 'ere
Britisher passed through after he'd gone; they'd had a row, screams is
heard 'mong the great flytraps. I say agin he has played poor Joe some o'
his sneakin' tricks, an' thrown him into the swamp. It ain't no wonder as
the body is gone. But air we to stan'by and see English murderin' our own
chums? I guess not. Let Judge Lynch try him, that's what I say.' `Lynch
him!' shouted a hundred angry voices--for all the rag-tag an' bobtail o'
the settlement was round us by this time. 'Here, boys, fetch a rope, and
swing him up. Up with him over Simpson's door!' `See here though,' says
another, coming forrards; 'let's hang him by the great flytrap in the
gulch. Let Joe see as he's revenged, if so be as he's buried 'bout
theer.' There was a shout for this, an' away they went, with Scott tied
on his mustang in the middle, and a mounted guard, with cocked revolvers,
round him; for we knew as there was a score or so Britishers about, as
didn't seem to recognise Judge Lynch, and was dead on a free fight.

"I went out with them, my heart bleedin' for Scott, though he didn't seem
a cent put out, he didn't. He were game to the backbone. Seems kinder
queer, sirs, hangin' a man to a flytrap; but our'n were a reg'lar tree,
and the leaves like a brace of boats with a hinge between 'em and thorns
at the bottom.

"We passed down the gulch to the place where the great one grows, and
there we seed it with the leaves, some open, some shut. But we seed
something worse nor that. Standin' round the tree was some thirty men,
Britishers all, an' armed to the teeth. They was waitin' for us
evidently, an' had a businesslike look about 'em, as if they'd come for
something and meant to have it. There was the raw material there for
about as warm a scrimmidge as ever I seed. As we rode up, a great
red-bearded Scotchman--Cameron were his name--stood out afore the rest,
his revolver cocked in his hand. 'See here, boys,' he says, 'you've got
no call to hurt a hair of that man's head. You hain't proved as Joe is
dead yet; and if you had, you hain't proved as Scott killed him. Anyhow,
it were in self-defence; for you all know as he was lying in wait for
Scott, to shoot him on sight; so I say agin, you hain't got no call to
hurt that man; and what's more, I've got thirty six-barrelled arguments
against your doin' it.' `It's an interestin' pint, and worth arguin'
out,' said the man as was Alabama Joe's special chum. There was a
clickin' of pistols, and a loosenin' of knives, and the two parties began
to draw up to one another, an' it looked like a rise in the mortality of
Montana. Scott was standing behind with a pistol at his ear if he
stirred, lookin' quiet and composed as having no money on the table, when
sudden he gives a start an' a shout as rang in our ears like a trumpet.
'Joe!' he cried, Joe! Look at him! In the flytrap!' We all turned an'
looked where he was pointin'. Jerusalem! I think we won't get that picter
out of our minds agin. One of the great leaves of the flytrap, that had
been shut and touchin' the ground as it lay, was slowly rolling back upon
its hinges. There, lying like a child in its cradle, was Alabama Joe in
the hollow of the leaf. The great thorns had been slowly driven through
his heart as it shut upon him. We could see as he'd tried to cut his way
out, for there was slit in the thick fleshy leaf, an' his bowie was in
his hand; but it had smothered him first. He'd lain down on it likely to
keep the damp off while he were awaitin' for Scott, and it had closed on
him as you've seen your little hothouse ones do on a fly; an' there he
were as we found him, torn and crushed into pulp by the great jagged
teeth of the man-eatin' plant. There, sirs, I think you'll own as that's
a curious story."

"And what became of Scott?" asked Jack Sinclair.

"Why, we carried him back on our shoulders, we did, to Simpson's bar, and
he stood us liquors round. Made a speech too--a darned fine speech--from
the counter. Somethin' about the British lion an' the 'Merican eagle
walkin' arm in arm for ever an' a day. And now, sirs, that yarn was long,
and my cheroot's out, so I reckon I'll make tracks afore it's later;" and
with a "Good-night!" he left the room.

"A most extraordinary narrative!" said Dawson. "Who would have thought a
Diancea had such power!"

"Deuced rum yarn!" said young Sinclair.

"Evidently a matter-of-fact truthful man," said the doctor. "Or the most
original liar that ever lived," said I.

I wonder which he was.


Abe Durton's cabin was not beautiful. People have been heard to assert
that it was ugly, and, even after the fashion of Harvey's Sluice, have
gone the length of prefixing their adjective with a forcible expletive
which emphasised their criticism. Abe, however, was a stolid and
easygoing man, on whose mind the remarks of an unappreciative public made
but little impression. He had built the house himself, and it suited his
partner and him, and what more did they want? Indeed he was rather touchy
upon the subject. "Though I says it as raised it," he remarked, "it'll
lay over any shanty in the valley. Holes? Well, of course there are
holes. You wouldn't get fresh air without holes. There's nothing stuffy
about my house. Rain? Well, if it does let the rain in, ain't it an
advantage to know its rainin' without gettin' up to unbar the door. I
wouldn't own a house that didn't leak some. As to its bein' off the
perpendic'lar, I like a house with a bit of a tilt. Anyways it pleases my
pard, Boss Morgan, and what's good enough for him is good enough for you,
I suppose." At which approach to personalities his antagonist usually
sheered off, and left the honours of the field to the indignant

But whatever difference of opinion might exist as to the beauty of the
establishment, there could be no question as to its utility. To the tired
wayfarer, plodding along the Buckhurst-road in the direction of the
Sluice, the warm glow upon the summit of the hill was a beacon of hope
and of comfort. Those very holes at which the neighbours sneered helped
to diffuse a cheery atmosphere of light around, which was doubly
acceptable on such a night as the present.

There was only one man inside the hut, and that was the proprietor, Abe
Durton himself, or "Bones," as he had been christened with the rude
heraldry of the camp. He was sitting in front of the great wood fire,
gazing moodily into its glowing depths, and occasionally giving a faggot
a kick of remonstrance when it showed any indication of dying into a
smoulder. His fair Saxon face, with its bold simple eyes and crisp yellow
beard, stood out sharp and clear against the darkness as the flickering
light played over it. It was a manly resolute countenance, and yet the
physiognomist might have detected something in the lines of the mouth
which showed a weakness somewhere, an indecision which contrasted
strangely with his herculean shoulders and massive limbs. Abe's was one
of those trusting simple natures which are as easy to lead as they are
impossible to drive; and it was this happy pliability of disposition
which made him at once the butt and the favourite of the dwellers in the
Sluice. Badinage in that primitive settlement was of a somewhat ponderous
character, yet no amount of chaff had ever brought a dark look on Bones's
face, or an unkind thought into his honest heart. It was only when his
aristocratic partner was, as he thought, being put upon, that an ominous
tightness about his lower lip and an angry light in his blue eyes caused
even the most irrepressible humorist in the colony to nip his favourite
joke in the bud, in order to diverge into an earnest and all-absorbing
dissertation upon the state of the weather.

"The Boss is late to-night," he muttered as he rose from his chair and
stretched himself in a colossal yawn. "My stars, how it does rain and
blow! Don't it, Blinky?" Slinky was a demure and meditative owl, whose
comfort and welfare was a chronic subject of solicitude to its master,
and who at present contemplated him gravely from one of the rafters.
"Pity you can't speak, Blinky," continued Abe, glancing up at his
feathered companion. "There's a powerful deal of sense in your face.
Kinder melancholy too. Crossed in love, maybe, when you was young.
Talkin' of love," he added, "I've not seen Susan to-day;" and lighting
the candle which stood in a black bottle upon the table, he walked across
the room and peered earnestly at one of the many pictures from stray
illustrated papers, which had been cut out by the occupants and posted up
upon the walls.

The particular picture which attracted him was one which represented a
very tawdrily-dressed actress simpering over a bouquet at an imaginary
audience. This sketch had, for some inscrutable reason, made a deep
impression upon the susceptible heart of the miner. He had invested the
young lady with a human interest by solemnly, and without the slightest
warrant, christening her as Susan Banks, and had then installed her as
his standard of female beauty.

"You see my Susan," he would say, when some wanderer from Buckhurst, or
even from Melbourne, would describe some fair Circe whom he had left
behind him. "There ain't a girl like my Sue. If ever you go to the old
country again, just you ask to see her. Susan Banks is her name, and I've
got her picture up at the shanty."

Abe was still gazing at his charmer when the rough door was flung open,
and a blinding cloud of sleet and rain came driving into the cabin,
almost obscuring for the moment a young man who sprang in and proceeded
to bar the entrance behind him, an operation which the force of the wind
rendered no easy matter. He might have passed for the genius of the
storm, with the water dripping from his long hair and running down his
pale refined face.

"Well," he said, in a slightly peevish voice, "haven't you got any

"Waiting and ready," said his companion cheerily, pointing to a large pot
which bubbled by the side of the fire. "You seem sort of damp."

"Damp be hanged! I'm soaked, man, thoroughly saturated. It's a night that
I wouldn't have a dog out, at least not a dog that I had any respect for.
Hand over that dry coat from the peg."

Jack Morgan, or Boss, as he was usually called, belonged to a type which
was commoner in the mines during the flush times of the first great rush
than would be supposed. He was a man of good blood, liberally educated,
and a graduate of an English university. Boss should, in the natural
course of things, have been an energetic curate, or struggling
professional man, had not some latent traits cropped out in his
character, inherited possibly from old Sir Henry Morgan, who had founded
the family with Spanish pieces of eight gallantly won upon the high seas.
It was this wild strain of blood no doubt which had caused him to drop
from the bedroom-window of the ivy-clad English parsonage, and leave home
and friends behind him, to try his luck with pick and shovel in the
Australian fields. In spite of his effeminate face and dainty manners,
the rough dwellers in Harvey's Sluice had gradually learned that the
little man was possessed of a cool courage and unflinching resolution,
which won respect in a community where pluck was looked upon as the
highest of human attributes. No one ever knew how it was that Bones and
he had become partners; yet partners they were, and the large simple
nature of the stronger man looked with an almost superstitious reverence
upon the clear decisive mind of his companion.

"That's better," said the Boss, as he dropped into the vacant chair
before the fire and watched Abe laying out the two metal plates, with the
horn-handled knives and abnormally pronged forks. "Take your mining boots
off, Bones; there's no use filling the cabin with red clay. Come here and
sit down."

His gigantic partner came meekly over and perched himself upon the top of
a barrel.

"What's up?" he asked.

"Shares are up," said his companion. "That's what's up. Look here," and
he extracted a crumpled paper from the pocket of the steaming coat.
"Here's the Buckhurst Sentinel. Read this article--this one here about a
paying lead in the Conemara mine. We hold pretty heavily in that concern,
my boy. We might sell out to-day and clear something--but I think we'll
hold on."

Abe Durton in the mean time was laboriously spelling out the article in
question, following the lines with his great forefinger, and muttering
under his tawny moustache.

"Two hundred dollars a foot," he said, looking up. "Why, pard, we hold a
hundred feet each. It would give us twenty thousand dollars! We might go
home on that."

"Nonsense!" said his companion; "we've come out here for something better
than a beggarly couple of thousand pounds. The thing is bound to pay.
Sinclair the assayer has been over there, and says there's a ledge of the
richest quartz he ever set eyes on. It is just a case of getting the
machinery to crush it. By the way, what was to-days' take like?"

Abe extracted a small wooden box from his pocket and handed it to his
comrade. It contained what appeared to be about a teaspoonful of sand and
one or two little metallic granules not larger than a pea. Boss Morgan
laughed, and returned it to his companion.

"We sha'n't make our fortune at that rate, Bones," he remarked; and there
was a pause in the conversation as the two men listened to the wind as it
screamed and whistled past the little cabin.

"Any news from Buckhurst?" asked Abe, rising and proceeding to extract
their supper from the pot.

"Nothing much," said his companion. "Cock-eyed Joe has been shot by Bill
Reid in McFarlane's Store."

"Ah," said Abe, with listless interest.

"Bushrangers have been around and stuck up the Rochdale station. They say
they are coming over here."

The miner whistled as he poured some whisky into a jug. "Anything more?"
he asked.

"Nothing of importance except that the blacks have been showing a bit
down New Sterling way, and that the assayer has bought a piano and is
going to have his daughter out from Melbourne to live in the new house
opposite on the other side of the road. So you see we are going to have
something to look at, my boy," he added as he sat down, and began
attacking the food set before him. "They say she is a beauty, Bones."

"She won't be a patch on my Sue," returned the other decisively.

His partner smiled as he glanced round at the flaring print upon the
wall. Suddenly he dropped his knife and seemed to listen. Amid the wild
uproar of the wind and the rain there was a low rumbling sound which was
evidently not dependent upon the elements.

"What's that?"

"Darned if I know."

The two men made for the door and peered out earnestly into the darkness.
Far away along the Buckhurst road they could see a moving light, and the
dull sound was louder than before.

"It's a buggy coming down," said Abe.

"Where is it going to?"

"Don't know. Across the ford, I s'pose."

"Why, man, the ford will be six feet deep to-night, and running like a

The light was nearer now, coming rapidly round the curve of the road.
There was a wild sound of galloping with the rattle of the wheels.

"Horses have bolted, by thunder!"

"Bad job for the man inside."

There was a rough individuality about the inhabitants of Harvey's Sluice,
in virtue of which every man bore his misfortunes upon his own shoulders,
and had very little sympathy for those of his neighbours. The predominant
feeling of the two men was one of pure curiosity as they watched the
swinging swaying lanterns coming down the winding road.

"If he don't pull 'em up before they reach the ford he's a goner,"
remarked Abe Durton resignedly.

Suddenly there came a lull in the sullen splash of the rain. It was but
for a moment, but in that moment there came down on the breeze a long cry
which caused the two men to start and stare at each other, and then to
rush frantically down the steep incline towards the road below.

"A woman, by Heaven!" gasped Abe, as he sprang across the gaping shaft of
a mine in the recklessness of his haste.

Morgan was the lighter and more active man. He drew away rapidly from his
stalwart companion. Within a minute he was standing panting and
bare-headed in the middle of the soft muddy road, while his partner was
still toiling down the side of the declivity.

The carriage was close on him now. He could see in the light of the lamps
the raw-boned Australian horse as, terrified by the storm and by its own
clatter, it came tearing down the declivity which led to the ford. The
man who was driving seemed to see the pale set face in the pathway in
front of him, for he yelled out some incoherent words of warning, and
made a last desperate attempt to pull up. There was a shout, an oath, and
a jarring crash, and Abe, hurrying down, saw a wild infuriated horse
rearing madly in the air with the slim dark figure hanging on to its
bridle. Boss, with the keen power of calculation which had made him the
finest cricketer at Rugby in his day, had caught the rein immediately
below the bit, and clung to it with silent concentration. Once he was
down with a heavy thud in the roadway as the horse jerked its head
violently forwards, but when, with a snort of exultation, the animal
pressed on, it was only to find that the prostrate man beneath its
forehoofs still maintained his unyielding grasp.

"Hold it, Bones," he said, as a tall figure hurled itself into the road
and seized the other rein.

"All right, old man, I've got him;" and the horse, cowed by the sight of
a fresh assailant, quieted down, and stood shivering with terror. "Get
up, Boss, it's safe now."

But poor Boss lay groaning in the mud.

"I can't do it, Bones." There was a catch in the voice as of pain.
"There's something wrong, old chap, but don't make a fuss. It's only a
shake; give me a lift up."

Abe bent tenderly over his prostrate companion. He could see that he was
very white, and breathing with difficulty.

"Cheer up, old Boss," he murmured. "Hullo! my stars!"

The last two exclamations were shot out of the honest miner's bosom as if
they were impelled by some irresistible force, and he took a couple of
steps backward in sheer amazement. There at the other side of the fallen
man, and half shrouded in the darkness, stood what appeared to Abe's
simple soul to be the most beautiful vision that ever had appeared upon
earth. To eyes accustomed to rest upon nothing more captivating than the
ruddy faces and rough beards of the miners in the Sluice, it seemed that
that fair delicate countenance must belong to a wanderer from some better
world. Abe gazed at it with a wondering reverence, oblivious for the
moment even of his injured friend upon the ground.

"0 papa," said the apparition, in great distress, "he is hurt, the
gentleman is hurt," and with a quick feminine gesture of sympathy, she
bent her lithe figure over Boss Morgan's prostrate figure.

"Why, it's Abe Durton and his partner," said the driver of the buggy,
coming forward and disclosing the grizzled features of Mr. Joshua
Sinclair, the assayer to the mines. "I don't know how to thank you, boys.
The infernal brute got the bit between his teeth, and I should have had
to have thrown Carrie out and chanced it in another minute. That's
right," he continued as Morgan staggered to his feet. "Not much hurt, I

"I can get up to the hut now," said the young man, steadying himself upon
his partner's shoulder. "How are you going to get Miss Sinclair home?"

"Oh, we can walk," said the young lady, shaking off the effects of her
fright with all the elasticity of youth.

"We can drive and take the road round the bank so as to avoid the ford,"
said her father. "The horse seems cowed enough now; you need not be
afraid of it, Carrie. I hope we shall see you at the house, both of you.
Neither of us can easily forget this night's work."

Miss Carrie said nothing, but she managed to shoot a little demure glance
of gratitude from under her long lashes, to have won which honest Abe
felt that he would have cheerfully undertaken to stop a runaway

There was a cheery shout of "Good-night," a crack of the whip, and the
buggy rattled away in the darkness.

"You told me the men were rough and nasty, pa," said Miss Carrie
Sinclair, after a long silence, when the two dark shadows had died away
in the distance, and the carriage was speeding along by the turbulent
stream. "I don't think so. I think they were very nice." And Carrie was
unusually quiet for the remainder of her journey, and seemed more
reconciled to the hardship of leaving her dear friend Amelia in the
far-off boarding school at Melbourne.

That did not prevent her from writing a full, true, and particular
account of their little adventure to the same young lady upon that very

"They stopped the horse, darling, and one poor fellow was hurt. And 0,
Amy, if you had seen the other one in a red shirt, with a pistol at his
waist! I couldn't help thinking of you, dear. He was just your idea. You
remember, a yellow moustache and great blue eyes. And how he did stare at
poor me! You never see such men in Burke-street, Amy;" and so on, for
four pages of pretty feminine gossip.

In the mean time poor Boss, badly shaken, had been helped up the hill by
his partner and regained the shelter of the shanty. Abe doctored him out
of the rude pharmacopoeia of the camp, and bandaged up his strained arm.
Both were men of few words, and neither made any allusion to what had
taken place. It was noticed, however, by Blinky that his master failed to
pay his usual nightly orisons before the shrine of Susan Banks. Whether
this sagacious fowl drew any deductions from this, and from the fact that
Bones sat long and earnestly smoking by the smouldering fire, I know not.
Suffice it that as the candle died away and the miner rose from his
chair, his feathered friend flew down upon his shoulder, and was only
prevented from giving vent to a sympathetic hoot by Abe's warning finger,
and its own strong inherent sense of propriety.

A casual visitor dropping into the straggling township of Harvey's Sluice
shortly after Miss Carrie Sinclair's arrival would have noticed a
considerable alteration in the manners and customs of its inhabitants.
Whether it was the refining influence of a woman's presence, or whether
it sprang from an emulation excited by the brilliant appearance of Abe
Durton, it is hard to say--probably from a blending of the two. Certain
it is that that young man had suddenly developed an affection for
cleanliness and a regard for the conventionalities of civilisation, which
aroused the astonishment and ridicule of his companions. That Boss Morgan
should pay attention to his personal appearance had long been set down as
a curious and inexplicable phenomenon, depending upon early education;
but that loose-limbed easy-going Bones should flaunt about in a clean
shirt was regarded by every grimy denizen of the Sluice as a direct and
premeditated insult. In self-defence, therefore, there was a general
cleaning up after working hours, and such a run upon the grocery
establishment, that soap went up to an unprecedented figure, and a fresh
consignment had to be ordered from McFarlane's store in Buckhurst.

"Is this here a free minin' camp, or is it a darned Sunday-school?" had
been the indignant query of Long McCoy, a prominent member of the
reactionary party, who had failed to advance with the times, having been
absent during the period of regeneration. But his remonstrance met with
but little sympathy; and at the end of a couple of days a general
turbidity of the creek announced his surrender, which was confirmed by
his appearance in the Colonial Bar with a shining and bashful face, and
hair which was redolent of bear's grease.

"I felt kinder lonesome," he remarked apologetically, "so I thought as
I'd have a look what was under the clay," and he viewed himself
approvingly in the cracked mirror which graced the select room of the

Our casual visitor would have noticed a remarkable change also in the
conversation of the community. Somehow, when a certain dainty little
bonnet with a sweet girlish figure beneath it was seen in the distance
among the disused shafts and mounds of red earth which disfigured the
sides of the valley, there was a warning murmur, and a general clearing
off of the cloud of blasphemy, which was, I regret to state, an habitual
characteristic of the working population of Harvey's Sluice. Such things
only need a beginning; and it was noticeable that long after Miss
Sinclair had vanished from sight there was a decided rise in the moral
barometer of the gulches. Men found by experience that their stock of
adjectives was less limited than they had been accustomed to suppose, and
that the less forcible were sometimes even more adapted for conveying
their meaning.

Abe had formerly been considered one of the most experienced valuators of
an ore in the settlement. It had been commonly supposed that he was able
to estimate the amount of gold in a fragment of quartz with remarkable
exactness. This, however, was evidently a mistake, otherwise he would
never have incurred the useless expense of having so many worthless
specimens assayed as he now did. Mr. Joshua Sinclair found himself
inundated with such a flood of fragments of mica, and lumps of rock
containing decimal percentages of the precious metals, that he began to
form a very low opinion of the young man's mining capabilities. It is
even asserted that Abe shuffled up to the house one morning with a
hopeful smile, and, after some fumbling, produced half a brick from the
bosom of his jersey, with the stereotyped remark "that he thought he'd
struck it at last, and so had dropped in to ask him to cipher out an
estimate." As this anecdote rests, however, upon the unsupported evidence
of Jim Struggles, the humorist of the camp, there may be some slight
inaccuracy of detail.

It is certain that what with professional business in the morning and
social visits at night, the tall figure of the miner was a familiar
object in the little drawing room of Azalea Villa, as the new house of
the assayer had been magniloquently named. He seldom ventured upon a
remark in the presence of its female occupant; but would sit on the
extreme edge of his chair in a state of speechless admiration while she
rattled off some lively air upon the newly-imported piano. Many were the
strange and unexpected places in which his feet turned up. Miss Carrie
had gradually come to the conclusion that they were entirely independent
of his body, and had ceased to speculate upon the manner in which she
would trip over them on one side of the table while the blushing owner
was apologising from the other. There was only one cloud on honest
Bones's mental horizon, and that was the periodical appearance of Black
Tom Ferguson, of Rochdale Ferry. This clever young scamp had managed to
ingratiate himself with old Joshua, and was a constant visitor at the
villa. There were evil rumours abroad about Black Tom. He was known to be
a gambler, and shrewdly suspected to be worse. Harvey's Sluice was not
censorious, and yet there was a general feeling that Ferguson was a man
to be avoided. There was a reckless Úlan about his bearing, however, and
a sparkle in his conversation, which had an indescribable charm, and even
induced the Boss, who was particular in such matters, to cultivate his
acquaintance while forming a correct estimate of his character. Miss
Carrie seemed to hail his appearance as a relief, and chattered away for
hours about books and music and the gaieties of Melbourne. It was on
these occasions that poor simple Bones would sink into the very lowest
depths of despondency, and either slink away, or sit glaring at his rival
with an earnest malignancy which seemed to cause that gentleman no small

The miner made no secret to his partner of the admiration which he
entertained for Miss Sinclair. If he was silent in her company, he was
voluble enough when she was the subject of discourse. Loiterers upon the
Buckhurst road might have heard a stentorian voice upon the hillside
bellowing forth a vocabulary of female charms. He submitted his
difficulties to the superior intelligence of the Boss.

"That loafer from Rochdale," he said, "he seems to reel it off kinder
nat'ral, while for the life of me I can't say a word. Tell me, Boss, what
would you say to a girl like that?"

"Why, talk about what would interest her," said his companion. "Ah,
that's where it lies."

"Talk about the customs of the place and the country," said the Boss,
pulling meditatively at his pipe. "Tell her stories of what you have seen
in the mines, and that sort of thing."

"Eh? You'd do that, would you?" responded his comrade more hopefully. "If
that's the hang of it I am right. I'll go up now and tell her about
Chicago Bill, an' how he put them two bullets in the man from the bend
the night of the dance."

Boss Morgan laughed.

"That's hardly the thing," he said. "You'd frighten her if you told her
that. Tell her something lighter, you know; something to amuse her,
something funny."

"Funny?" said the anxious lover, with less confidence in his voice. "How
you and me made Mat Houlahan drunk and put him in the pulpit of the
Baptist church, and he wouldn't let the preacher in in the morning. How
would that do, eh?"

"For Heaven's sake, don't say anything of the sort," said his Mentor, in
great consternation. "She'd never speak to either of us again. No, what I
mean is that you should tell about the habits of the mines, how men live
and work and die there. If she is a sensible girl that ought to interest

"How they live at the mines? Pard, you are good to me. How they live?
There's a thing I can talk of as glib as Black Tom or any man. I'll try
it on her when I see her."

"By the way," said his partner listlessly, "just keep an eye on that man
Ferguson. His hands aren't very clean, you know and he's not scrupulous
when he is aiming for anything. You remember how Dick Williams, of
English Town, was found dead in the bush. Of course it was rangers that
did it. They do say, however, that Black Tom owed him a deal more money
than he could ever have paid. There's been one or two queer things about
him. Keep your eye on him, Abe. Watch what he does."

"I will," said his companion.

And he did. He watched him that very night. Watched him stride out of the
house of the assayer with anger and baffled pride on every feature of his
handsome swarthy face. Watched him clear the garden paling at a bound,
pass in long rapid strides down the side of the valley, gesticulating
wildly with his hands, and vanish into the bushland beyond. All this Abe
Durton watched, and with a thoughtful look upon his face he relit his
pipe and strolled slowly backward to the hut upon the hill.

March was drawing to a close in Harvey's Sluice, and the glare and heat
of the antipodean summer had toned down into the rich mellow hues of
autumn. It was never a lovely place to look upon. There was something
hopelessly prosaic in the two bare rugged ridges, seamed and scarred by
the hand of man, with iron arms of windlasses, and broken buckets
projecting everywhere through the endless little hillocks of red earth.
Down the middle ran the deeply rutted road from Buckhurst, winding along
and crossing the sluggish tide of Harper's Creek by a crumbling wooden
bridge. Beyond the bridge lay the cluster of little huts with the
Colonial Bar and the Grocery towering in all the dignity of whitewash
among the humble dwellings around. The assayer's verandah-lined house lay
above the gulches on the side of the slope nearly opposite the
dilapidated specimen of architecture of which our friend Abe was so
unreasonably proud.

There was one other building which might have come under the category of
what an inhabitant of the Sluice would have described as a "public
edifice" with a comprehensive wave of his pipe which conjured up images
of an endless vista of colonnades and minarets. This was the Baptist
chapel, a modest little shingle-roofed erection on the bend of the river
about a mile above the settlement. It was from this that the town looked
at its best, when the harsh outlines and crude colours were somewhat
softened by distance. On that particular morning the stream looked pretty
as it meandered down the valley; pretty, too, was the long rising upland
behind, with its luxuriant green covering; and prettiest of all was Miss
Carrie Sinclair, as she laid down the basket of ferns which she was
carrying, and stopped upon the summit of the rising ground.

Something seemed to be amiss with that young lady. There was a look of
anxiety upon her face which contrasted strangely with her usual
appearance of piquant insouciance. Some recent annoyance had left its
traces upon her. Perhaps it was to walk it off that she had rambled down
the valley; certain it is that she inhaled the fresh breezes of the
woodlands as if their resinous fragrance bore with them some antidote for
human sorrow.

She stood for some time gazing at the view before her. She could see her
father's house, like a white dot upon the hillside, though strangely
enough it was a blue reek of smoke upon the opposite slope which seemed
to attract the greater part of her attention. She lingered there,
watching it with a wistful look in her hazel eyes. Then the loneliness of
her situation seemed to strike her, and she felt one of those spasmodic
fits of unreasoning terror to which the bravest women are subject. Tales
of natives and of bushrangers, their daring and their cruelty, flashed
across her. She glanced at the great mysterious stretch of silent
bushland beside her, and stooped to pick up her basket with the intention
of hurrying along the road in the direction of the gulches. She started
round, and hardly suppressed a scream as a long red-flannelled arm shot
out from behind her and withdrew the basket from her very grasp.

The figure which met her eye would to some have seemed little calculated
to allay her fears. The high boots, the rough shirt, and the broad girdle
with its weapons of death were, however, too familiar to Miss Carrie to
be objects of terror; and when above them all she saw a pair of tender
blue eyes looking down upon her, and a half-abashed smile lurking under a
thick yellow moustache, she knew that for the remainder of that walk
ranger and black would be equally powerless to harm her.

"0 Mr. Durton," she said, "how you did startle me!"

"I'm sorry, miss," said Abe, in great trepidation at having caused his
idol one moment's uneasiness. "You see," he continued, with simple
cunning, "the weather bein' fine and my partner gone prospectin', I
thought I'd walk up to Hagley's Hill and round back by the bend, and
there I sees you accidental-like and promiscuous a-standin' on a
hillock." This astounding falsehood was reeled off by the miner with
great fluency, and an artificial sincerity which at once stamped it as a
fabrication. Bones had concocted and rehearsed it while tracking the
little footsteps in the clay, and looked upon it as the very depth of
human guile. Miss Carrie did not venture upon a remark, but there was a
gleam of amusement in her eyes which puzzled her lover.

Abe was in good spirits this morning. It may have been the sunshine, or
it may have been the rapid rise of shares in the Conemara, which
lightened his heart. I am inclined to think, however, that it was
referable to neither of these causes. Simple as he was, the scene which
he had witnessed the night before could only lead to one conclusion. He
pictured himself walking as wildly down the valley under similar
circumstances, and his heart was touched with pity for his rival. He felt
very certain that the ill-omened face of Mr. Thomas Ferguson of Rochdale
Ferry would never more be seen within the walls of Azalea Villa. Then why
did she refuse him? He was handsome, he was fairly rich. Could it--? no,
it couldn't; of course it couldn't; how could it! The idea was
ridiculous--so very ridiculous that it had fermented in the young man's
brain all night, and that he could do nothing but ponder over it in the
morning, and cherish it in his perturbed bosom.

They passed down the red pathway together, and along by the river's bank.
Abe had relapsed into his normal condition of taciturnity. He had made
one gallant effort to hold forth upon the subject of ferns, stimulated by
the basket which he held in his hand, but the theme was not a thrilling
one, and after a spasmodic flicker he had abandoned the attempt. While
coming along he had been full of racy anecdotes and humorous
observations. He had rehearsed innumerable remarks which were to be
poured into Miss Sinclair's appreciative ear. But now his brain seemed of
a sudden to have become a vacuum, and utterly devoid of any idea save an
insane and overpowering impulse to comment upon the heat of the sun. No
astronomer who ever reckoned a parallax was so entirely absorbed in the
condition of the celestial bodies as honest Bones while he trudged along
by the slow-flowing Australian river.

Suddenly his conversation with his partner came back into his mind. What
was it Boss had said upon the subject? "Tell her how they live at the
mines." He revolved it in his brain. It seemed a curious thing to talk
about; but Boss had said it, and Boss was always right. He would take the
plunge; so with a premonitory hem he blurted out,

"They live mostly on bacon and beans in the valley."

He could not see what effect this communication had upon his companion.
He was too tall to be able to peer under the little straw bonnet. She did
not answer. He would try again.

"Mutton on Sundays," he said.

Even this failed to arouse any enthusiasm. In fact she seemed to be
laughing. Boss was evidently wrong. The young man was in despair. The
sight of a ruined hut beside the pathway conjured up a fresh idea. He
grasped at it as a drowning man to a straw.

"Cockney Jack built that," he remarked. "Lived there till he died."

"What did he die of?" asked his companion.

"Three star brandy," said Abe decisively. "I used to come over of a night
when he was bad and sit with him. Poor chap! he had a wife and two
children in Putney. He'd rave, and call me Polly, by the hour. He was
cleaned out, hadn't a red cent; but the boys collected rough gold enough
to see him through. He's buried there in that shaft; that was his claim,
so we just dropped him down it an' filled it up. Put down his pick too,
an' a spade an' a bucket, so's he'd feel kinder perky and at home."

Miss Carrie seemed more interested now.

"Do they often die like that?" she asked.

"Well, brandy kills many; but there's more gets dropped--shot, you know."

"I don't mean that. Do many men die alone and miserable down there, with
no one to care for them?" and she pointed to the cluster of houses
beneath them. "Is there any one dying now? It is awful to think of."

"There's none as I knows on likely to throw up their hand."

"I wish you wouldn't use so much slang, Mr. Durton," said Carrie, looking
up at him reprovingly out of her voilet eyes. It was strange what an air
of proprietorship this young lady was gradually assuming towards her
gigantic companion. "You know it isn't polite. You should get a
dictionary and learn the proper words."

"Ah, that's it," said Bones apologetically. "It's gettin' your hand on
the proper one. When you've not got a steam drill, you've got to put up
with a pick."

"Yes, but it's easy if you really try. You could say that a man was
`dying,' or 'moribund,' if you like."

"That's it," said the miner enthusiastically. "'Moribund!' That's a
word. Why, you could lay over Boss Morgan in the matter of words.
'Moribund!' There's some sound about that."

Carrie laughed.

"It's not the sound you must think of, but whether it will express your
meaning. Seriously, Mr. Durton, if any one should be ill in the camp you
must let me know. I can nurse, and I might be of use. You will, won't

Abe readily acquiesced, and relapsed into silence as he pondered over the
possibility of inoculating himself with some long and tedious disease.
There was a mad dog reported from Buckhurst. Perhaps something might be
done with that.

"And now I must say good-morning," said Carrie, as they came to the spot
where a crooked pathway branched off from the track and wound up to
Azalea Villa. "Thank you ever so much for escorting me."

In vain Abe pleaded for the additional hundred yards, and adduced the
overwhelming weight of the diminutive basket as a cogent reason. The
young lady was inexorable. She had taken him too far out of his way
already. She was ashamed of herself; she wouldn't hear of it.

So poor Bones departed in a mixture of many opposite feelings. He had
interested her. She had spoken kindly to him. But then she had sent him
away before there was any necessity; she couldn't care much about him if
she would do that. I think he might have felt a little more cheerful,
however, had he seen Miss Carrie Sinclair as she watched his retiring
figure from the garden-gate with a loving look upon her saucy face, and a
mischievous smile at his bent head and desponding appearance.

The Colonial Bar was the favourite haunt of the inhabitants of Harvey's
Sluice in their hours of relaxation. There had been a fierce competition
between it and the rival establishment termed the Grocery, which, in
spite of its innocent appellation, aspired also to dispense spirituous
refreshments. The importation of chairs into the latter had led to the
appearance of a settee in the former. Spittoons appeared in the Grocery
against a picture in the Bar, and, as the frequenters expressed it, the
honours were even. When, however, the Grocery led a window-curtain, and
its opponent returned a snuggery and a mirror, the game was declared to
be in favour of the latter, and Harvey's Sluice showed its sense of the
spirit of the proprietor by withdrawing their custom from his opponent.

Though every man was at liberty to swagger into the Bar itself, and bask
in the shimmer of its many coloured bottles, there was a general feeling
that the snuggery, or special apartment, should be reserved for the use
of the more prominent citizens. It was in this room that committees met,
that opulent companies were conceived and born, and that inquests were
generally held. The latter, I regret to state, was, in 1861, a pretty
frequent ceremony at the Sluice; and the findings of the coroner were
sometimes characterised by a fine breezy originality. Witness when Bully
Burke, a notorious desperado, was shot down by a quiet young medical man,
and a sympathetic jury brought in that "the deceased had met his death in
an ill-advised attempt to stop a pistol-ball while in motion," a verdict
which was looked upon as a triumph of jurisprudence in the camp, as
simultaneously exonerating the culprit, and adhering to the rigid and
undeniable truth.

On this particular evening there was an assemblage of notabilities in the
snuggery, though no such pathological ceremony had called them together.
Many changes had occurred of late which merited discussion; and it was in
this chamber, gorgeous in all the effete luxury of the mirror and settee,
that Harvey's Sluice was wont to exchange ideas. The recent cleaning of
the population was still causing some ferment in men's minds. Then there
was Miss Sinclair and her movements to be commented on, and the paying
lead in the Conemara, and the recent rumours of bushrangers. It was no
wonder that the leading men in the township had come together in the
Colonial Bar.

The rangers were the present subject of discussion. For some few days
rumours of their presence had been flying about, and an uneasy feeling
had pervaded the colony. Physical fear was a thing little known in
Harvey's Sluice. The miners would have turned out to hunt down the
desperadoes with as much zest as if they had been so many kangaroos. It
was the presence of a large quantity of gold in the town which caused
anxiety. It was felt that the fruits of their labour must be secured at
any cost. Messages had been sent over to Buckhurst for as many troopers
as could be spared, and in the mean time the main street of the Sluice
was paraded at night by volunteer sentinels.

A fresh impetus had been given to the panic by the report brought in
to-day by Jim Struggles. Jim was of an ambitious and aspiring turn of
mind, and after gazing in silent disgust at his last week's clean up, he
had metaphorically shaken the clay of Harvey's Sluice from his feet, and
had started off into the woods with the intention of prospecting round
until he could hit upon some likely piece of ground for himself. Jim's
story was that he was sitting upon a fallen trunk eating his midday
damper and rusty bacon, when his trained ear had caught the clink of
horses' hoofs. He had hardly time to take the precaution of rolling off
the tree and crouching down behind it, before a troop of men came riding
down through the bush, and passed within a stone-throw of him.

"There was Bill Smeaton and Murphy Duff," said Struggles, naming two
notorious ruffians; "and there was three more that I couldn't rightly
see. And they took the trail to the right, and looked like business all
over, with their guns in their hands."

Jim was submitted to a searching cross-examination that evening; but
nothing could shake his testimony or throw a further light upon what he
had seen. He told the story several times and at long intervals; and
though there might be a pleasing variety in the minor incidents, the main
facts were always identically the same. The matter began to look serious.

There were a few, however, who were loudly sceptical as to the existence
of the rangers, and the most prominent of these was a young man who was
perched on a barrel in the centre of the room, and was evidently one of
the leading spirits in the community. We have already seen that dark
curling hair, lack-lustre eye, and thin cruel lip, in the person of Black
Tom Ferguson, the rejected suitor of Miss Sinclair. He was easily
distinguishable from the rest of the party by a tweed coat, and other
symptoms of effeminacy in his dress, which might have brought him into
disrepute had he not, like Abe Durton's partner, early established the
reputation of being a quietly desperate man. On the present occasion he
seemed somewhat under the influence of liquor, a rare occurrence with
him, and probably to be ascribed to his recent disappointment. He was
almost fierce in his denunciation of Jim Struggles and his story.

"It's always the same," he said; "if a man meets a few travellers in the
bush, he's bound to come back raving about rangers. If they'd seen
Struggles there, they would have gone off with a long yarn about a ranger
crouching behind a tree. As to recognising people riding fast among tree
trunks--it is an impossibility."

Struggles, however, stoutly maintained his original assertion, and all
the sarcasms and arguments of his opponent were thrown away upon his
stolid complacency. It was noticed that Ferguson seemed unaccountably put
out about the whole matter. Something seemed to be on his mind, too; for
occasionally he would spring off his perch and pace up and down the room
with an abstracted and very forbidding look upon his swarthy face. It was
a relief to every one when suddenly catching up his hat, and wishing the
company a curt "Good-night," he walked off through the bar, and into the
street beyond.

"Seems kinder put out," remarked Long McCoy.

"He can't be afeard of the rangers, surely," said Joe Shamus, another man
of consequence, and principal shareholder of the El Dorado.

"No, he's not the man to be afraid," answered another. "There's something
queer about him the last day or two. He's been long trips in the woods
without any tools. They do say that the assayer's daughter has chucked
him over."

"Quite right too. A darned sight too good for him," remarked several

"It's odds but he has another try," said Shamus. "He's a hard man to beat
when he's set his mind on a thing."

"Abe Durton's the horse to win," remarked Houlahan, a little bearded
Irishman. "It's sivin to four I'd be willin' to lay on him." "And you'd
be afther losing your money, a-vich," said a young man with a laugh.
"She'll want more brains than ever Bones had in his skull, you bet."

"Who's seen Bones to-day?" asked McCoy.

"I've seen him," said the young miner. "He came round all through the
camp asking for a dictionary--wanted to write a letter likely."

"I saw him readin' it," said Shamus. "He came over to me an' told me he'd
struck something good at the first show. Showed me a word about as long
as your arm--'abdicate,' or something." "It's a rich man he is now, I
suppose," said the Irishman. "Well, he's about made his pile. He holds a
hundred feet of the Conemara, and the shares go up every hour. If he'd
sell out he'd he about fit to go home."

"Guess he wants to take somebody home with him," said another. "Old
Joshua wouldn't object, seein' that the money is there."

I think it has been already recorded in this narrative that Jim
Struggles, the wandering prospector, had gained the reputation of being
the wit of the camp. It was not only in airy badinage, but in the
conception and execution of more pretentious practical pleasantries that
Jim had earned his reputation. His adventure in the morning had caused a
certain stagnation in his usual flow of humour; but the company and his
potations were gradually restoring him to a more cheerful state of mind.
He had been brooding in silence over some idea since the departure of
Ferguson, and he now proceeded to evolve it to his expectant companions.

"Say, boys," he began. "What day's this?"

"Friday, ain't it?"

"No, not that. What day of the month?"

"Darned if I know!"

"Well, I'll tell you now. It's the first o' April. I've got a calendar in
the hut as says so."

"What if it is?" said several voices.

"Well, don't you see, it's All Fools' day. Couldn't we fix up some little
joke on some one, eh? Couldn't we get a laugh out of it? Now there's old
Bones, for instance; he'll never smell a rat. Couldn't we send him off
somewhere and watch him go maybe? We'd have something to chaff him on for
a month to come, eh?"

There was a general murmur of assent. A joke, however poor, was always
welcome to the Sluice. The broader the point, the more thoroughly was it
appreciated. There was no morbid delicacy of feeling in the gulches.

"Where shall we send him?" was the query.

Jim Struggles was buried in thought for a moment. Then an unhallowed
inspiration seemed to come over him, and he laughed uproariously, rubbing
his hands between his knees in the excess of his delight.

"Well, what is it?" asked the eager audience.

"See here, boys. There's Miss Sinclair. You was saying as Abe's gone on
her. She don't fancy him much you think. Suppose we write him a
note--send it him to-night, you know."

"Well, what then?" said McCoy.

"Well, pretend the note is from her, d'ye see? Put her name at the
bottom. Let on as she wants him to come up an' meet her in the garden at
twelve. He's bound to go. He'll think she wants to go off with him. It'll
be the biggest thing played this year."

There was a roar of laughter. The idea conjured up of honest Bones
mooning about in the garden, and of old Joshua coming out to remonstrate
with a double-barrelled shot-gun, was irresistibly comic. The plan was
approved of unanimously.

"Here's pencil and here's paper," said the humorist. "Who's goin' to
write the letter?"

"Write it yourself, Jim," said Shamus.

"Well, what shall I say?"

"Say what you think right."

"I don't know how she'd put it," said Jim, scratching his head in great
perplexity. "However, Bones will never know the differ. How will this do?
'Dear old man. Come to the garden at twelve to-night, else I'll never
speak to you again,' eh?"

"No, that's not the style," said the young miner. "Mind, she's a lass of
eddication. She'd put it kinder flowery and soft." "Well, write it
yourself," said Jim sulkily, handing him over the pencil.

"This is the sort of thing," said the miner, moistening the point of it
in his mouth. "'When the moon is in the sky--'" "There it is. That's
bully," from the company.

"'And the stars a-shinin' bright, meet, 0 meet me, Adolphus, by the
garden-gate at twelve.'"

"His name isn't Adolphus," objected a critic.

"That's how the poetry comes in," said the miner. "It's kinder fanciful,
d'ye see. Sounds a darned sight better than Abe. Trust him for guessing
who she means. I'll sign it Carrie. There!" This epistle was gravely
passed round the room from hand to hand, and reverentially gazed upon as
being a remarkable production of the human brain. It was then folded up
and committed to the care of a small boy, who was solemnly charged under
dire threats to deliver it at the shanty, and to make off before any
awkward questions were asked him. It was only after he had disappeared in
the darkness that some slight compunction visited one or two of the

"Ain't it playing it rather low on the girl?" said Shamus. "And rough on
old Bones?" suggested another.

However, these objections were overruled by the majority, and disappeared
entirely upon the appearance of a second jorum of whisky. The matter had
almost been forgotten by the time that Abe had received his note, and was
spelling it out with a palpitating heart under the light of his solitary

That night has long been remembered in Harvey's Sluice. A fitful breeze
was sweeping down from the distant mountains, moaning and sighing among
the deserted claims. Dark clouds were hurrying across the moon, one
moment throwing a shadow over the landscape, and the next allowing the
silvery radiance to shine down, cold and clear, upon the little valley,
and bathe in a weird mysterious light the great stretch of bushland on
either side of it. A great loneliness seemed to rest on the face of
Nature. Men remarked afterwards on the strange eerie atmosphere which
hung over the little town.

It was in the darkness that Abe Durton sallied out from his little
shanty. His partner, Boss Morgan, was still absent in the bush, so that
beyond the ever-watchful Blinky there was no living being to observe his
movements. A feeling of mild surprise filled his simple soul that his
angel's delicate fingers could have formed those great straggling
hieroglyphics; however, there was the name at the foot, and that was
enough for him. She wanted him, no matter for what, and with a heart as
pure and as heroic as any knight-errant, this rough miner went forth at
the summons of his love.

He groped his way up the steep winding track which led to Azalea Villa.
There was a little clump of small trees and shrubs about fifty yards from
the entrance of the garden. Abe stopped for a moment when he had reached
them in order to collect himself. It was hardly twelve yet, so that he
had a few minutes to spare. He stood under their dark canopy peering at
the white house vaguely outlined in front of him. A plain enough little
dwelling-place to any prosaic mortal, but girt with reverence and awe in
the eyes of the lover.

The miner paused under the shade of the trees, and then moved on to the
garden-gate. There was no one there. He was evidently rather early. The
moon was shining brightly now-, and the country round was as clear as
day. Abe looked past the little villa at the road which ran like a white
winding streak over the brow of the hill. A watcher behind could have
seen his square athletic figure standing out sharp and clear. Then he
gave a start as if he had been shot, and staggered up against the little
gate beside him.

He had seen something which caused even his sunburned face to become a
shade paler as he thought of the girl so near him. Just at the bend of
the road, not two hundred yards away, he saw a dark moving mass coming
round the curve, and lost in the shadow of the hill. It was but for a
moment; yet in that moment the quick perception of the practised woodman
had realised the whole situation. It was a band of horsemen bound for the
villa; and what horsemen would ride so by night save the terror of the
woodlands--the dreaded rangers of the bush?

It is true that on ordinary occasions Abe was as sluggish in his
intellect as he was heavy in his movements. In the hour of danger,
however, he was as remarkable for cool deliberation as for prompt and
decisive action. As he advanced up the garden he rapidly reckoned up the
chances against him. There were half a dozen of the assailants at the
most moderate computation, all desperate and fearless men. The question
was whether he could keep them at bay for a short time and prevent their
forcing a passage into the house. We have already mentioned that
sentinels had been placed in the main street of the town. Abe reckoned
that help would be at hand within ten minutes of the firing of the first

Were he inside the house he could confidently reckon on holding his own
for a longer period than that. Before he could rouse the sleepers and
gain admission, however, the rangers would be upon him. He must content
himself with doing his utmost. At any rate he would show Carrie that if
he could not talk to her he could at least die for her. The thought gave
him quite a glow of pleasure, as he crept under the shadow of the house.
He cocked his revolver. Experience had taught him the advantage of the
first shot.

The road along which the rangers were coming ended at a wooden gate
opening into the upper part of the assayer's little garden. This gate had
a high acacia hedge on either side of it, and opened into a short walk
also lined by impassable thorny walls. Abe knew the place well. One
resolute man might, he thought, hold the passage for a few minutes until
the assailants broke through elsewhere and took him in the rear. At any
rate, it was his best chance. He passed the front door, but forbore to
give any alarm. Sinclair was an elderly man, and would be of little
assistance in such a desperate struggle as was before him, and the
appearance of lights in the house would warn the rangers of the
resistance awaiting them. 0 for his partner the Boss, for Chicago Bill,
for any one of twenty gallant men who would have come at his call and
stood by him in such a quarrel! He turned into the narrow pathway. There
was the well-remembered wooden gate; and there, perched upon the gate,
languidly swinging his legs backwards and forwards, and peering down the
road in front of him, was Mr. John Morgan, the very man for whom Abe had
been longing from the bottom of his heart.

There was short time for explanations. A few hurried words announced that
the Boss, returning from his little tour, had come across the rangers
riding on their mission of darkness, and overhearing their destination,
had managed by hard running and knowledge of the country to arrive before
them. "No time to alarm any one," he explained, still panting from his
exertions; "must stop them ourselves--not come for swag--come for your
girl. Only over our bodies, Bones," and with these few broken words the
strangely assorted friends shook hands and looked lovingly into each
other's eyes, while the tramp of the horses came down to them on the
fragrant breeze of the woods.

There were six rangers in all. One who appeared to be leader rode in
front, while the others followed in a body. They flung themselves off
their horses when they were opposite the house, and after a few muttered
words from their captain, tethered the animals to a small tree, and
walked confidently towards the gate.

Boss Morgan and Abe were crouching down under the shadow of the hedge, at
the extreme end of the narrow passage. They were invisible to the
rangers, who evidently reckoned on meeting little resistance in this
isolated house. As the first man came forwards and half turned to give
some order to his comrades both the friends recognised the stern profile
and heavy moustache of Black Tom Ferguson, the rejected suitor of Miss
Carrie Sinclair. Honest Abe made a mental vow that he at least should
never reach the door alive.

The ruffian stepped up to the gate and put his hand upon the latch. He
started as a stentorian "Stand back!" came thundering out from among the
bushes. In war, as in love, the miner was a man of few words.

"There's no road this way," explained another voice with an infinite
sadness and gentleness about it which was characteristic of its owner
when the devil was rampant in his soul. The ranger recognised it. He
remembered the soft languid address which he had listened to in the
billiard-room of the Buckhurst Arms, and which had wound up by the mild
orator putting his back against the door, drawing a derringer, and asking
to see the sharper who would dare to force a passage. "It's that infernal
fool Durton," he said, "and his white-faced friend."

Both were well-known names in the country round. But the rangers were
reckless and desperate men. They drew up to the gate in a body.

"Clear out of that!" said their leader in a grim whisper; "you can't save
the girl. Go off with whole skins while you have the chance."

The partners laughed.

"Then curse you, come on!"

The gate was flung open and the party fired a struggling volley, and made
a fierce rush towards the gravelled walk.

The revolvers cracked merrily in the silence of the night from the bushes
at the other end. It was hard to aim with precision in the darkness. The
second man sprang convulsively into the air, and fell upon his face with
his arms extended, writhing horribly in the moonlight. The third was
grazed in the leg and stopped. The others stopped out of sympathy. After
all, the girl was not for them, and their heart was hardly in the work.
Their captain rushed madly on, like a valiant blackguard as he was, but
was met by a crashing blow from the butt of Abe Durton's pistol,
delivered with a fierce energy which sent him reeling back among his
comrades with the blood streaming from his shattered jaw, and his
capacity for cursing cut short at the very moment when he needed to draw
upon it most.

"Don't go yet," said the voice in the darkness.

However, they had no intention of going yet. A few minutes must elapse,
they knew, before Harvey's Sluice could be upon them. There was still
time to force the door if they could succeed in mastering the defenders.
What Abe had feared came to pass. Black Ferguson knew the ground as well
as he did. He ran rapidly along the hedge, and the five crashed through
it where there was some appearance of a gap. The two friends glanced at
each other. Their flank was turned. They stood up like men who knew their
fate and did not fear to meet it.

There was a wild medley of dark figures in the moonlight, and a ringing
cheer from well-known voices. The humorists of Harvey's Sluice had found
something even more practical than the joke which they had come to
witness. The partners saw the faces of friends beside them--Shamus,
Struggles, McCoy. There was a desperate rally, a sweeping fiery rush, a
cloud of smoke, with pistol-shots and fierce oaths ringing out of it, and
when it lifted, a single dark shadow flying for dear life to the shelter
of the broken hedge was the only ranger upon his feet within the little
garden. But there was no sound of triumph among the victors; a strange
hush had come over them, and a murmur as of grief--for there, lying
across the threshold which he had fought so gallantly to defend, lay poor
Abe, the loyal and simple hearted, breathing heavily with a bullet
through his lungs.

He was carried inside with all the rough tenderness of the mines. There
were men there, I think, who would have borne his hurt to have had the
love of that white girlish figure, which bent over the blood-stained bed
and whispered so softly and so tenderly in his ear. Her voice seemed to
rouse him. He opened his dreamy blue eyes and looked about him. They
rested on her face.

"Played out," he murmured; "pardon, Carrie, morib--" and with a faint
smile he sank back upon the pillow.

However, Abe failed for once to be as good as his word. His hardy
constitution asserted itself, and he shook off what might in a weaker man
have proved a deadly wound. Whether it was the balmy air of the woodlands
which came sweeping over a thousand miles of forest into the sick man's
room, or whether it was the little nurse who tended him so gently,
certain it is that within two months we heard that he had realised his
shares in the Conemara, and gone from Harvey's Sluice and the little
shanty upon the hill for ever.

I had the advantage a short time afterwards of seeing an extract from the
letter of a young lady named Amelia, to whom we have made a casual
allusion in the course of our narrative. We have already broken the
privacy of one feminine epistle, so we shall have fewer scruples in
glancing at another. "I was bridesmaid," she remarks, "and Carrie looked
charming" (underlined) "in the veil and orange blossoms. Such a man, he
is, twice as big as your Jack, and he was so funny, and blushed, and
dropped the prayer-book. And when they asked the question you could have
heard him roar `I do!' at the other end of George street. His best man
was a darling" (twice underlined). "So quiet and handsome and nice. Too
gentle to take care of himself among those rough men, I am sure." I think
it quite possible that in the fullness of time Miss Amelia managed to
take upon herself the care of our old friend Mr. Jack Morgan, commonly
known as the Boss.

A tree is still pointed out at the bend as Ferguson's gum-tree. There is
no need to enter into unsavoury details. Justice is short and sharp in
primitive colonies, and the dwellers in Harvey's Sluice were a serious
and practical race.

It is still the custom for a select party to meet on a Saturday evening
in the snuggery of the Colonial Bar. On such occasions, if there be a
stranger or guest to be entertained, the same solemn ceremony is always
observed. Glasses are charged in silence; there is a tapping of the same
upon the table, and then, with a deprecating cough, Jim Struggles comes
forward and tells the tale of the April joke, and of what came of it.
There is generally conceded to be something very artistic in the way in
which he breaks off suddenly at the close of his narrative by waving his
bumper in the air with "An' here's to Mr. and Mrs. Bones. God bless 'em!"
a sentiment in which the stranger, if he is a prudent man, will most
cordially acquiesce.


Do I know why Tom Donahue is called "Lucky Tom?" Yes; I do; and that is
more than one in ten of those who call him so can say. I have knocked
about a deal in my time, and seen some strange sights, but none stranger
than the way in which Tom gained that sobriquet and his fortune with it.
For I was with him at the time.--Tell it? Oh, certainly; but it is a
longish story and a very strange one; so fill up your glass again, and
light another cigar while I try to reel it off. Yes; a very strange one;
beats some fairy stories I have heard; but it's true sir, every word of
it. There are men alive at Cape Colony now who'll remember it and confirm
what I say. Many a time has the tale been told round the fire in Boers'
cabins from Orange State to Griqualand; yes, and out in the Bush and at
the Diamond Fields too.

I'm roughish now sir; but I was entered at the Middle Temple once, and
studied for the Bar. Tom--worse luck!--was one of my fellow-students; and
a wildish time we had of it, until at last our finances ran short, and we
were compelled to give up our so-called studies, and look about for some
part of the world where two young fellows with strong arms and sound
constitutions might make their mark. In those days the tide of emigration
had scarcely begun to set in towards Africa, and so we thought our best
chance would be down at Cape Colony. Well--to make a long story short--we
set sail, and were deposited in Cape Town with less than five pounds in
our pockets; and there we parted. We each tried our hands at many things,
and had ups and downs; but when, at the end of three years, chance led
each of us up-country and we met again, we were, I regret to say, in
almost as bad a plight as when we started.

Well, this was not much of a commencement; and very disheartened we were,
so disheartened that Tom spoke of going back to England and getting a
clerkship. For you see we didn't know that we had played out all our
small cards, and that the trumps were going to turn up. No; we thought
our "hands" were bad all through. It was a very lonely part of the
country that we were in, inhabited by a few scattered farmers, whose
houses were stockaded and fenced in to defend them against the Kaffirs.
Tom Donahue and I had a little hut right out in the Bush; but we were
known to possess nothing, and to be handy with our revolvers, so we had
little to fear. There we waited doing odd jobs, and hoping that something
would turn up. Well, after we had been there about a month something did
turn up upon a certain night, something which was the making of both of
us; and it's about that night sir, that I'm going to tell you. I remember
it well. The wind was howling past our cabin, and the rain threatened to
burst in our rude window. We had a great wood-fire crackling and
sputtering on the hearth, by which I was sitting mending a whip, while
Tom was lying in his bunk groaning disconsolately at the chance which had
led him to such a place.

"Cheer up, Tom--cheer up," said I. "No man ever knows what may be
awaiting him."

"III-luck, ill-luck, Jack," he answered. "I always was an unlucky dog.
Here have I been three years in this abominable country; and I see lads
fresh from England jingling the money in their pockets, while I am as
poor as when I landed. Ah, Jack, if you want to keep your head above
water, old friend, you must try your fortune away from me."

"Nonsense, Tom; you're down in your luck to-night. But hark! Here's some
one coming outside. Dick Wharton, by the tread; he'll rouse you, if any
man can."

Even as I spoke the door was flung open, and honest Dick Wharton, with
the water pouring from him, stepped in, his hearty red face looking
through the haze like a harvest-moon. He shook himself, and after
greeting us sat down by the fire to warm himself.

"Whereaway, Dick, on such a night as this?" said I. "You'll find the
rheumatism a worse foe than the Kaffirs, unless you keep more regular

Dick was looking unusually serious, almost frightened, one would say, if
one did not know the man. "Had to go," he replied--"had to go. One of
Madison's cattle has been straying down Sasassa Valley, and of course
none of our blacks would go down that Valley at night; and if we lad
waited till morning, the brute would have been in Kaffirland."

"Why wouldn't they go down Sasassa Valley at night?" asked Tom.

"Kaffirs, I suppose," said I.

"Ghosts," said Dick.

We both laughed.

"I suppose they didn't give such a matter-of-fact fellow as you a sight
of their charms?" said Tom from the bunk.

"Yes," said Dick seriously--"yes; I saw what the niggers talk about; and
I promise you, lads, I don't want ever to see it again."

Tom sat up in his bed. "Nonsense, Dick; you're joking, man! Come, tell us
all about it. The legend first, and your own experience afterwards.--Pass
him over the bottle, Jack."

"Well, as to the legend," began Dick "--it seems that the niggers have
had it handed down to them that Sasassa Valley is haunted by a frightful
fiend. Hunters and wanderers passing down the defile have seen its
glowing eyes under the shadows of the cliff; and the story goes that
whoever has chanced to encounter that baleful glare, has had his
after-life blighted by the malignant power of this creature. Whether that
be true or not," continued Dick ruefully, "I may have an opportunity of
judging for myself."

"Go on, Dick--go on," cried Tom. "Let's hear about what you saw."

"Well, I was groping down the Valley, looking for that cow of Madison's,
and I had, I suppose, got half-way down, where a black craggy cliff juts
into the ravine on the right, when I halted to have a pull at my flask. I
had my eye fixed at the time upon the projecting cliff I have mentioned,
and noticed nothing unusual about it. I then put up my flask and took a
step or two forward, when in a moment there burst apparently from the
base of the rock, about eight feet from the ground and a hundred yards
from me, a strange lurid glare, flickering and oscillating, gradually
dying away and then reappearing again.--No, no; I've seen many a
glow-worm and firefly--nothing of that sort. There it was burning away,
and I suppose I gazed at it, trembling in every limb, for fully ten
minutes. Then I took a step forwards, when instantly it vanished,
vanished like a candle blown out. I stepped back again; but it was some
time before I could find the exact spot and position from which it was
visible. At last, there it was, the weird reddish light, flickering away
as before. Then I screwed up my courage, and made for the rock; but the
ground was so uneven that it was impossible to steer straight; and though
I walked along the whole base of the cliff, I could see nothing. Then I
made tracks for home; and I can tell you, boys, that until you remarked
it, I never knew it was raining, the whole way along.--But hollo! what's
the matter with Tom?"

What indeed? Tom was now sitting with his legs over the side of the bunk,
and his whole face betraying excitement so intense as to be almost
painful. "The fiend would have two eyes. How many lights did you see,
Dick? Speak out!"

"Only one."

"Hurrah!" cried Tom--"that's better!" Whereupon he kicked the blankets
into the middle of the room, and began pacing up and down with long
feverish strides. Suddenly he stopped opposite Dick, and laid his hand
upon his shoulder: "I say, Dick, could we get to Sasassa Valley before

"Scarcely," said Dick.

"Well, look here; we are old friends, Dick Wharton, you and I. Now, don't
you tell any other man what you have told us, for a week. You'll promise
that; won't you?"

I could see by the look on Dick's face as he acquiesced that he
considered poor Tom to be mad; and indeed I was myself completely
mystified by his conduct. I had, however, seen so many proofs of my
friend's good sense and quickness of apprehension, that I thought it
quite possible that Wharton's story had had a meaning in his eyes which
I was too obtuse to take in.

All night Tom Donahue was greatly excited, and when Wharton left he
begged him to remember his promise, and also elicited from him a
description of the exact spot at which he had seen the apparition, as
well as the hour at which it appeared. After his departure, which must
have been about four in the morning, I turned into my bunk and watched
Tom sitting by the fire splicing two sticks together, until I fell
asleep. I suppose I must have slept about two hours; but when I awoke,
Tom was still sitting working away in almost the same position. He had
fixed the one stick across the top of the other so as to form a rough T,
and was now busy in fitting a smaller stick into the angle between them,
by manipulating which, the cross one could be either cocked up or
depressed to any extent. He had cut notches too in the perpendicular
stick, so that by the aid of the small prop, the cross one could be kept
in any position for an indefinite time.

"Look here, Jack!" he cried, whenever he saw that I was awake, "Come, and
give me your opinion. Suppose I put this cross-stick pointing straight at
a thing, and arranged this small one so as to keep it so, and left it, I
could find that thing again if I wanted it--don't you think I could,
Jack--don't you think so?" he continued nervously, clutching me by the

"Well," I answered, "it would depend on how far off the thing was, and
how accurately it was pointed. If it were any distance, I'd cut sights on
your cross-stick; then a string tied to the end of it, and held in a
plumb-line forwards, would lead you pretty near what you wanted. But
surely, Tom, you don't intend to localise the ghost in that way?"

"You'll see to-night, old friend--you'll see tonight. I'll carry this to
the Sasassa Valley. You get the loan of Madison's crowbar, and come with
me; but mind you tell no man where you are going, or what you want it

All day Tom was walking up and down the room, or working hard at the
apparatus. His eyes were glistening, his cheek hectic, and he had all the
symptoms of high fever. "Heaven grant that Dick's diagnosis be not
correct!" I thought, as I returned with the crowbar; and yet, as evening
drew near, I found myself imperceptibly sharing the excitement.

About six o'clock Tom sprang to his feet and seized his sticks. "I can
stand it no longer, Jack," he cried; "up with your crowbar, and hey for
Sasassa Valley! To-night's work, my lad, will either make us or mar us!
Take your six-shooter, in case we meet the Kaffirs. I daren't take mine,
Jack," he continued, putting his hands upon my shoulders--"I daren't take
mine; for if my ill-luck sticks to me to-night, I don't know what I might
not do with it."

Well, having filled our pockets with provisions, we set out, and as we
took our wearisome way towards the Sasassa Valley, I frequently attempted
to elicit from my companion some clue as to his intentions. But his only
answer was: "Let us hurry on, Jack. Who knows how many have heard of
Wharton's adventure by this time! Let us hurry on, or we may not be first
in the field!"

Well sir, we struggled on through the hills for a matter of ten miles;
till at last, after descending a crag, we saw opening out in front of us
a ravine so sombre and dark that it might have been the gate of Hades
itself; cliffs many hundred feet high shut in on every side the gloomy
boulder-studded passage which led through the haunted defile into
Kaffirland. The moon rising above the crags, threw into strong relief the
rough irregular pinnacles of rock by which they were topped, while all
below was dark as Erebus.

"The Sasassa Valley?" said I.

"Yes," said Tom.

I looked at him. He was calm now; the flush and feverishness had passed
away; his actions were deliberate and slow. Yet there was a certain
rigidity in his face and glitter in his eye which shewed that a crisis
had come.

We entered the pass, stumbling along amid the great boulders. Suddenly I
heard a short quick exclamation from Tom. "That's the crag!" he cried,
pointing to a great mass looming before us in the darkness. "Now Jack,
for any favour use your eyes! We're about a hundred yards from that
cliff, I take it; so you move slowly towards one side, and I'll do the
same towards the other. When you see anything, stop, and call out. Don't
take more than twelve inches in a step, and keep your eye fixed on the
cliff about eight feet from the ground. Are you ready?"

"Yes." I was even more excited than Tom by this time. What his intention
or object was, I could not conjecture, beyond that he wanted to examine
by daylight the part of the cliff from which the light came. Yet the
influence of the romantic situation and of my companion's suppressed
excitement was so great, that I could feel the blood coursing through my
veins and count the pulses throbbing at my temples.

"Start!" cried Tom; and we moved off, he to the right, Ito the left, each
with our eyes fixed intently on the base of the crag. I had moved perhaps
twenty feet, when in a moment it burst upon me. Through the growing
darkness there shone a small ruddy glowing point, the light from which
waned and increased, flickered and oscillated, each change producing a
more weird effect than the last. The old Kaffir superstition came into my
mind, and I felt a cold shudder pass over me. In my excitement, I stepped
a pace backwards, when instantly the light went out, leaving utter
darkness in its place; but when I advanced again, there was the ruddy
glare glowing from the base of the cliff. "Tom, Tom!" I cried.

"Ay, ay!" I heard him exclaim, as he hurried over towards me.

"There it is--there, up against the cliff!"

Tom was at my elbow. "I see nothing," said he.

"Why, there, there, man, in front of you!" I stepped to the right as I
spoke, when the light instantly vanished from my eyes.

But from Tom's ejaculations of delight it was clear that from my former
position it was visible to him also. "Jack," he cried, as he turned and
wrung my hand--"Jack, you and I can never complain of our luck again. Now
heap up a few stones where we are standing.--That's right. Now we must
fix my sign-post firmly in at the top. There! It would take a strong wind
to blow that down; and we only need it to hold out till morning. 0 Jack,
my boy, to think that only yesterday we were talking of becoming clerks,
and you saying that no man knew what was awaiting him too! By Jove, Jack,
it would make a good story!"

By this time we had firmly fixed the perpendicular stick in between two
large stones; and Tom bent down and peered along the horizontal one. For
fully a quarter of an hour he was alternately raising and depressing it,
until at last, with a sigh of satisfaction, he fixed the prop into the
angle, and stood up. "Look along, Jack," he said. "You have as straight
an eye to take a sight as any man I know of."

I looked along. There, beyond the further sight was the ruddy
scintillating speck, apparently at the end of the stick itself, so
accurately had it been adjusted. "And now, my boy," said Tom, "let's have
some supper, and a sleep. There's nothing more to be done to-night; but
we'll need all our wits and strength to-morrow. Get some sticks, and
kindle a fire here, and then we'll be able to keep an eye on our
signal-post, and see that nothing happens to it during the night."

Well sir, we kindled a fire, and had supper with the Sasassa demon's eye
rolling and glowing in front of us the whole night through. Not always in
the same place though; for after supper, when I glanced along the sights
to have another look at it, it was nowhere to be seen. The information
did not, however, seem to disturb Tom in any way. He merely remarked:
"It's the moon, not the thing, that has shifted;" and coiling himself up,
went to sleep.

By early dawn we were both up, and gazing along our pointer at the cliff;
but we could make out nothing save one dead monotonous slaty surface,
rougher perhaps at the part we were examining than elsewhere, but
otherwise presenting nothing remarkable.

"Now for your idea, Jack!" said Tom Donahue, unwinding a long thin cord
from round his waist. "You fasten it, and guide me while I take the other
end." So saying he walked off to the base of the cliff, holding one end
of the cord, while I drew the other taut, and wound it round the middle
of the horizontal stick, passing it through the sight at the end. By this
means I could direct Tom to the right or left, until we had our string
stretching from the point of attachment, through the sight, and on to the
rock, which it struck about eight feet from the ground. Tom drew a chalk
circle of about three feet diameter round the spot, and then called to me
to come and join him. "We've managed this business together, Jack," he
said, "and we'll find what we are to find, together." The circle he had
drawn embraced a part of the rock smoother than the rest, save that about
the centre there were a few rough protuberances or knobs. One of these
Tom pointed to with a cry of delight. It was a roughish brownish mass
about the size of a man's closed fist, and looking like a bit of dirty
glass let into the wall of the cliff. "That's it!" he cried--"that's it!"

"That's what?"

"Why, man, a diamond, and such a one as there isn't a monarch in Europe
but would envy Tom Donahue the possession of. Up with your crowbar, and
we'll soon exorcise the demon of Sasassa Valley!"

I was so astounded that for a moment I stood speechless with surprise,
gazing at the treasure which had so unexpectedly fallen into our hands.

"Here, hand me the crowbar," said Tom. "Now, by using this little round
knob which projects from the cliff here, as a fulcrum, we may be able to
lever it off.--Yes; there it goes. I never thought it could have come so
easily. Now, Jack, the sooner we get back to our hut and then down to
Cape Town, the better."

We wrapped up our treasure, and made our way across the hills, towards
home. On the way, Tom told me how, while a law-student in the Middle
Temple, he had come upon a dusty pamphlet in the library, by one Jans van
Hounym, which told of an experience very similar to ours, which had
befallen that worthy Duchman in the latter part of the seventeenth
century, and which resulted in the discovery of a luminous diamond. This
tale it was which had come into Tom's head as he listened to honest Dick
Wharton's ghost-story; while the means which he had adopted to verify his
supposition sprang from his own fertile Irish brain.

"We'll take it down to Cape Town," continued Tom, "and if we can't
dispose of it with advantage there, it will be worth our while to ship
for London with it. Let us go along to Madison's first, though; he knows
something of these things, and can perhaps give us some idea of what we
may consider a fair price for our treasure."

We turned off from the track accordingly, before reaching our hut, and
kept along the narrow path leading to Madison's farm. He was at lunch
when we entered; and in a minute we were seated at each side of him,
enjoying South African hospitality.

"Well," he said, after the servants were gone, "what's in the wind now? I
see you have something to say to me. What is it?"

Tom produced his packet, and solemnly untied the handkerchiefs which
enveloped it. "There!" he said, putting his crystal on the table; "what
would you say was a fair price for that?"

Madison took it up and examined it critically. "Well," he said, laying it
down again, "in its crude state about twelve shillings per ton."

"Twelve shillings!" cried Tom, starting to his feet. "Don't you see what
it is?"


"Rock fiddle; a diamond."

"Taste it!" said Madison.

Torn put it to his lips, dashed it down with a dreadful exclamation, and
rushed out of the room.

I felt sad and disappointed enough myself; but presently remembering what
Tom had said about the pistol, I, too, left the house, and made for the
hut, leaving Madison open-mouthed with astonishment. When I got in, I
found Tom lying in his bunk with his face to the wall, too dispirited
apparently to answer my consolations. Anathematising Dick and Madison,
the Sasassa demon, and everything else, I strolled out of the hut, and
refreshed myself with a pipe after our wearisome adventure. I was about
fifty yards away from the hut, when I heard issuing from it the sound
which of all others I least expected to hear. Had it been a groan or an
oath, I should have taken it as a matter of course; but the sound which
caused me to stop and take the pipe out of my mouth was a hearty roar of
laughter! Next moment, Tom himself emerged from the door, his whole face
radiant with delight. "Game for another ten-mile walk, old fellow?"

"What! for another lump of rock-salt, at twelve shillings a ton?"

"'No more of that, Hal, an you love me,'" grinned Tom. "Now look here,
Jack. What blessed fools we are to be so floored by a trifle! Just sit on
this stump for five minutes, and I'll make it as clear as daylight.
You've seen many a lump of rock-salt stuck in a crag, and so have I,
though we did make such a mull of this one. Now, Jack, did any of the
pieces you have ever seen shine in the darkness brighter than any

"Well, I can't say they ever did."

"I'd venture to prophesy that if we waited until night, which we won't
do, we would see that light still glimmering among the rocks. Therefore,
Jack, when we took away this worthless salt, we took the wrong crystal.
It is no very strange thing in these hills that a piece of rock-salt
should be lying within a foot of a diamond. It caught our eyes, and we
were excited, and so we made fools of ourselves, and left the real stone
behind. Depend upon it, Jack, the Sasassa gem is lying within this magic
circle of chalk upon the face of yonder cliff. Come, old fellow, light
your pipe and stow your revolver, and we'll be off before that fellow
Madison has time to put two and two together."

I don't know that I was very sanguine this time. I had begun in fact to
look upon the diamond as a most unmitigated nuisance. However, rather
than throw a damper on Tom's expectations, I announced myself eager to
start. What a walk it was! Tom was always a good mountaineer, but his
excitement seemed to lend him wings that day, while I scrambled along
after him as best I could. When we got within half a mile he broke into
the "double," and never pulled up until he reached the round white circle
upon the cliff. Poor old Tom! when I came up, his mood had changed, and
he was standing with his hands in his pockets, gazing vacantly before him
with a rueful countenance.

"Look!" he said--"look!" and he pointed at the cliff. Not a sign of
anything in the least resembling a diamond there. The circle included
nothing but flat slate-coloured stone, with one large hole, where we had
extracted the rock-salt, and one or two smaller depressions. No sign of
the gem. "I've been over every inch of it," said poor Tom. "It's not
there. Some one has been here and noticed the chalk, and taken it. Come
home, Jack; I feel sick and tired. Oh! had any man ever luck like mine!"

I turned to go, but took one last look at the cliff first. Tom was
already ten paces off.

"Honor!" I cried, "don't you see any change in that circle since

"What d'ye mean?" said Tom.

"Don't you miss a thing that was there before?"

"The rock-salt?" said Tom.

"No; but the little round knob that we used for a fulcrum. I suppose we
must have wrenched it off in using the lever.  Let's have a look at what
it's made of."

Accordingly, at the foot of the cliff we searched about among the loose

"Here you are, Jack! We've done it at last! We're made men!"

I turned round, and there was Tom radiant with delight, and with a little
corner of black rock in his hand. At first sight it seemed to be merely a
chip from the cliff; but near the base there was projecting from it an
object which Tom was now exultingly pointing out. It looked at first
something like a glass eye; but there was a depth and brilliancy about it
such as glass never exhibited. There was no mistake this time; we had
certainly got possession of a jewel of great value; and with light hearts
we turned from the valley, bearing away with us the "fiend" which had so
long reigned there.

There sir; I've spun my story out too long, and tired you perhaps. You
see when I get talking of those rough old days, I kind of see the little
cabin again, and the brook beside it, and the bush around, and seem to
hear Tom's honest voice once more. There's little for me to say now. We
prospered on the gem. Tom Donahue, as you know, has set up here, and is
well known about town. I have done well, farming and ostrich-raising in
Africa. We set old Dick Wharton up in business, and he is one of our
nearest neighbours. If you should ever be coming up our way sir, you'll
not forget to ask for Jack Turnbull--Jack Turnbull of Sasassa Farm.


"Bob!" I shouted.

No answer.


A rapid crescendo of snores ending in a prolonged gasp. "Wake up, Bob!"

"What the deuce is the row?" said a very sleepy voice. "It's nearly
breakfast-time," I explained.

"Bother breakfast-time!" said the rebellious spirit in the bed. "And
here's a letter, Bob," said I.

"Why on earth couldn't you say so at once? Come on with it;" on which
cordial invitation I marched into my brother's room, and perched myself
upon the side of his bed.

"Here you are," said I. "Indian stamp--Brindisi postmark. Who is it

"Mind your own business, Stumpy," said my brother, as he pushed back his
curly tangled locks and, after rubbing his eyes, proceeded to break the
seal. Now if there is one appellation for which above all others I have a
profound contempt, it is this one of "Stumpy." Some miserable nurse,
impressed by the relative proportions of my round grave face and little
mottled legs, had dubbed me with the odious nickname in the days of my
childhood. I am not really a bit more stumpy than any other girl of
seventeen. On the present occasion I rose in all the dignity of wrath,
and was about to dump my brother on the head with the pillow by way of
remonstrance, when a look of interest in his face stopped me.

"Who do you think is coming, Nelly?" he said. "An old friend of yours."

"What! from India? Not Jack Hawthorne?"

"Even so," said Bob. "Jack is coming back and going to stay with us. He
says he will be here almost as soon as his letter. Now don't dance about
like that. You'll knock down the guns, or do some damage. Keep quiet like
a good girl, and sit down here again." Bob spoke with all the weight of
the two-and-twenty summers which had passed over his towsy head, so I
calmed down and settled into my former position.

"Won't it be jolly?" I cried. "But, Bob, the last time he was here he was
a boy, and now he is a man. He won't be the same Jack at all."

"Well, for that matter," said Bob, "you were only a girl then--a nasty
little girl with ringlets, while now--"

"What now?" I asked.

Bob seemed actually on the eve of paying me a compliment. "Well, you
haven't got the ringlets, and you are ever so much bigger, you see, and

Brothers are a blessing for one thing. There is no possibility of any
young lady getting unreasonably conceited if she be endowed with them.

I think they were all glad at breakfast-time to hear of Jack Hawthorne's
promised advent. By "all" I mean my mother and Elsie and Bob. Our cousin
Solomon Barker looked anything but overjoyed when I made the announcement
in breathless triumph. I never thought of it before, but perhaps that
young man is getting fond of Elsie, and is afraid of a rival; otherwise I
don't see why such a simple thing should have caused him to push away his
egg, and declare that he had done famously, in an aggressive manner which
at once threw doubt upon his proposition. Grace Maberly, Elsie's friend,
seemed quietly contented, as is her wont.

As for me, I was in a riotous state of delight. Jack and I had been
children together. He was like an elder brother to me until he became a
cadet and left us. How often Bob and he had climbed old Brown's
apple-trees, while I stood beneath and collected the spoil in my little
white pinafore! There was hardly a scrape or adventure which I could
remember in which Jack did not figure as a prominent character. But he
was "Lieutenant" Hawthorne now, had been through the Afghan War, and was,
as Bob said, "quite the warrior." What ever would he look like? Somehow
the "warrior" had conjured up an idea of Jack in full armour with plumes
on his head, thirsting for blood, and hewing at somebody with an enormous
sword. After doing that sort of thing I was afraid he would never descend
to romps and charades and the other stock amusements of Hatherley House.

Cousin Sol was certainly out of spirits during the next few days. He
could be hardly persuaded to make a fourth at lawn-tennis, but showed an
extraordinary love of solitude and strong tobacco. We used to come across
him in the most unexpected places, in the shrubbery and down by the
river, on which occasions, if there was any possibility of avoiding us,
he would gaze rigidly into the distance, and utterly ignore feminine
shouts and the waving of parasols. It was certainly very rude of him. I
got hold of him one evening before dinner, and drawing myself up to my
full height of five feet four and a half inches, I proceeded to give him
a piece of my mind, a process which Bob characterises as the height of
charity, since it consists in my giving away what I am most in need of

Cousin Sol was lounging in a rocking-chair with the Times before him,
gazing moodily over the top of it into the fire. I ranged up alongside
and poured in my broadside.

"We seem to have given you some offence, Mr. Barker," I remarked, with
lofty courtesy.

"What do you mean, Nell?" asked my cousin, looking up at me in surprise.
He had a very curious way of looking at me, had cousin Sol.

"You appear to have dropped our acquaintance," I remarked; and then
suddenly descending from my heroics, "You are stupid, Sol! What's been
the matter with you?"

"Nothing, Nell, at least, nothing of any consequence. You know my medical
examination is in two months, and I am reading for it.

"0," said I, in a bristle of indignation, "if that's it, there's no more
to be said. Of course if you prefer bones to your female relations, it's
all right. There are young men who would rather make themselves agreeable
than mope in corners and learn how to prod people with knives." With
which epitome of the noble science of surgery I proceeded to straighten
some refractory antimacassars with unnecessary violence.

I could see Sol looking with an amused smile at the angry little
blue-eyed figure in front of him. "Don't blow me up, Nell," he said, "I
have been plucked once, you know. Besides," looking grave, "you'll have
amusement enough when this--what is his name?--Lieutenant Hawthorne

"Jack won't go and associate with mummies and skeletons, at any rate," I

"Do you always call him Jack?" asked the student. "Of course I do. John
sounds so stiff."

"0, it does, does it?" said my companion doubtfully.

I still had my theory about Elsie running in my head. I thought I might
try and set the matter in a more cheerful light. Sol had got up, and was
staring out of the open window. I went over to him and glanced up timidly
into his usually good-humoured face, which was now looking very dark and
discontented. He was a shy man as a rule, but I thought that with a
little leading he might be brought to confess.

"You're a jealous old thing," I remarked.

The young man coloured and looked down at me.

"I know your secret," said I boldly.

"What secret?" said he, colouring even more.

"Never you mind. I know it. Let me tell you this," I added, getting
bolder, "that Jack and Elsie never got on very well. There is far more
chance of Jack's falling in love with me. We were always friends."

If I had stuck the knitting-needle which I held in my hand into cousin
Sol he could not have given a greater jump. "Good heavens!" he said, and
I could see his dark eyes staring at me through the twilight. "Do you
really think that it is your sister that I care for?"

"Certainly," said I stoutly, with a feeling that I was nailing my colours
to a mast.

Never did a single word produce such an effect. Cousin Sol wheeled round
with a gasp of astonishment, and sprang right out of the window. He
always had curious ways of expressing his feelings, but this one struck
me as being so entirely original that I was utterly bereft of any idea
save that of wonder. I stood staring out into the gathering darkness.
Then there appeared looking in at me from the lawn a very much abashed
and still rather astonished face. "It's you I care for, Nell," said the
face, and at once vanished, while I heard the noise of somebody running
at the top of his speed down the avenue. He certainly was a most
extraordinary young man.

Things went on very much the same at Hatherley House in spite of cousin
Sol's characteristic declaration of affection. He never sounded me as to
my sentiments in regard to him, nor did he allude to the matter for
several days. He evidently thought that he had done all which was needed
in such cases. He used to discompose me dreadfully at times, however, by
coming and planting himself opposite me, and staring at me with a stony
rigidity which was absolutely appalling.

"Don't do that, Sol," I said to him one day; "you give me the creeps all

"Why do I give you the creeps, Nelly?" said he. "Don't you like me?"

"0 yes. I like you well enough," said I. "I like Lord Nelson, for that
matter; but I shouldn't like his monument to come and stare at me by the
hour. It makes me feel quite all-overish."

"What on earth put Lord Nelson into your head?" said my cousin.

"I'm sure I don't know."

"Do you like me the same way you like Lord Nelson, Nell?"

"Yes," I said, "only more." With which small ray of encouragement poor
Sol had to be content, as Elsie and Miss Maberley came rustling into the
room and put an end to our tete-a-tete.

I certainly did like my cousin. I knew what a simple true nature lay
beneath his quiet exterior. The idea of having Sol Barker for a lover,
however--Sol, whose very name was synonymous with bashfulness--was too
incredible. Why couldn't he fall in love with Grace or with Elsie? They
might have known what to do with him; they were older than I, and could
encourage him, or snub him, as they thought best. Gracie, however, was
carrying on a mild flirtation with my brother Bob, and Elsie seemed
utterly unconscious of the whole matter. I have one characteristic
recollection of my cousin which I cannot help introducing here, though it
has nothing to do with the thread of the narrative. It was on the
occasion of his first visit to Hatherley House. The wife of the Rector
called one day, and the responsibility of entertaining her rested with
Sol and myself. We got on very well at first. Sol was unusually lively
and talkative. Unfortunately a hospitable impulse came upon him; and in
spite of many warning nods and winks, he asked the visitor if he might
offer her a glass of wine. Now, as ill luck would have it, our supply had
just been finished, and though we had written to London, a fresh
consignment had not yet arrived. I listened breathlessly for the answer,
trusting she would refuse; but to my horror she accepted with alacrity.
"Never mind ringing, Nell," said Sol, "I'll act as butler;" and with a
confident smile he marched into the little cupboard in which the
decanters were usually kept. It was not until he was well in that he
suddenly recollected having heard us mention in the morning that there
was none in the house. His mental anguish was so great that he spent the
remainder of Mrs. Salter's visit in the cupboard, utterly refusing to
come out until after her departure. Had there been any possibility of the
winepress having another egress, or leading anywhere, matters would not
have been so bad; but I knew that old Mrs. Salter was as well up in the
geography of the house as I was myself. She stayed for three-quarters of
an hour waiting for Sol's reappearance, and then went away in high
dudgeon. "My dear," she said, recounting the incident to her husband, and
breaking into semi-scriptural language in the violence of her
indignation, "the cupboard seemed to open and swallow him!"

"Jack is coming down by the two o'clock train," said Bob one morning,
coming in to breakfast with a telegram in his hand.

I could see Sol looking at me reproachfully; but that did not prevent me
from showing my delight at the intelligence. "We'll have awful fun when
he comes," said Bob. "We'll drag the fish-pond, and have no end of a
lark. Won't it be jolly, Sol?"

Sol's opinion of its jollity was evidently too great to be expressed in
words; for he gave an inarticulate grunt as answer.

I had a long cogitation on the subject of Jack in the garden that
morning. After all, I was becoming a big girl, as Bob had forcibly
reminded me. I must be circumspect in my conduct now. A real live man had
actually looked upon me with the eyes of love. It was all very well when
I was a child to have Jack following me about and kissing me; but I must
keep him at a distance now. I remembered how he presented me with a dead
fish once which he had taken out of the Hatherley Brook, and how I
treasured it up among my most precious possessions, until an insidious
odour in the house had caused the mother to send an abusive letter to Mr.
Burton, who had pronounced our drainage to be all that could be desired.
I must learn to be formal and distant. I pictured our meeting to myself,
and went through a rehearsal of it. The holly-bush represented Jack, and
I approached it solemnly, made it a stately curtsey, and held out my hand
with, "So glad to see you, Lieutenant Hawthorne!" Elsie came out while I
was doing it, but made no remark. I heard her ask Sol at luncheon,
however, whether idiocy generally ran in families, or was simply confined
to individuals; at which poor Sol blushed furiously, and became utterly
incoherent in his attempts at an explanation.

Our farmyard opens upon the avenue about half-way between Hatherley House
and the lodge. Sol and I and Mr. Nicholas Cronin, the son of a
neighbouring squire, went down there after lunch. This imposing
demonstration was for the purpose of quelling a mutiny which had broken
out in the henhouse. The earliest tidings of the rising had been conveyed
to the house by young Bayliss, son and heir of the henkeeper, and my
presence had been urgently requested. Let me remark in parenthesis that
fowls were my special department in domestic economy, and that no step
was ever taken in their management without my advice and assistance. Old
Bayliss hobbled out upon our arrival, and informed us of the full extent
of the disturbance. It seems that the crested hen and the Bantam cock had
developed such length of wing that they were enabled to fly over into the
park; and that the example of these ringleaders had been so contagious,
that even such steady old matrons as the bandy-legged Cochin China had
developed roving propensities, and pushed their way into forbidden
ground. A council of war was held in the yard, and it was unanimously
decided that the wings of the recalcitrants must be clipped.

What a scamper we had! By "we" I mean Mr. Cronin and myself; while cousin
Sol hovered about in the background with the scissors, and cheered us on.
The two culprits clearly knew that they were wanted; for they rushed
under the hayricks and over the coops, until there seemed to be at least
half a dozen crested hens and Bantam cocks dodging about in the yard. The
other hens were mildly interested in the proceedings, and contented
themselves with an occasional derisive cluck, with the exception of the
favourite wife of the Bantam, who abused us roundly from the top of the
coop. The ducks were the most aggravating portion of the community; for
though they had nothing to do with the original disturbance, they took a
warm interest in the fugitives, waddling behind them as fast as their
little yellow legs would carry them, and getting in the way of the

"We have it!" I gasped, as the crested hen was driven into a corner.
"Catch it, Mr. Cronin! 0, you've missed it! you've missed it! Get in the
way, Sol. 0 dear, it's coming to me!"

"Well done, Miss Montague!" cried Mr. Cronin, as I seized the wretched
fowl by the leg as it fluttered past me, and proceeded to tuck it under
my arm to prevent any possibility of escape. "Let me carry it for you."

"No, no; I want you to catch the cock. There it goes! There--behind the
hayrick. You go to one side, and I'll go to the other." "It's going
through the gate!" shouted Sol.

"Shoo!" cried I. "Shoo! 0, it's gone!" and we both made a dart into the
park in pursuit, tore round the corner into the avenue, and there I found
myself face to face with a sunburned young man in a tweed suit, who was
lounging along in the direction of the house.

There was no mistaking those laughing grey eyes, though I think if I had
never looked at him some instinct would have told me that it was Jack.
How could I be dignified with the crested hen tucked under my arm? I
tried to pull myself up; but the miserable bird seemed to think that it
had found a protector at last, for it began to cluck with redoubled
vehemence. I had to give it up in despair, and burst into a laugh, while
Jack did the same.

"How are you, Nell?" he said, holding out his hand; and then in an
astonished voice, "Why, you're not a bit the same as when I saw you

"Well, I hadn't a hen under my arm then," said I.

"Who would have thought that little Nell would have developed into a
woman?" said Jack, still lost in amazement. "You didn't expect me to
develop into a man, did you?" said I in high indignation; and then,
suddenly dropping all reserve, "We're awfully glad you've come, Jack.
Never mind going up to the house. Come and help us to catch that Bantam

"Right you are," said Jack in his old cheery way, still keeping his eyes
firmly fixed upon my countenance. "Come on!" and away the three of us
scampered across the park, with poor Sol aiding and abetting with the
scissors and the prisoner in the rear. Jack was a very crumpled-looking
visitor by the time he paid his respects to the mother that afternoon,
and my dreams of dignity and reserve were scattered to the winds.

We had quite a party at Hatherley House that May. There were Bob, and
Sol, and Jack Hawthorne, and Mr. Nicholas Cronin; then there were Miss
Maberley, and Elsie, and mother, and myself. On an emergency we could
always muster half a dozen visitors from the houses round, so as to have
an audience when charades or private theatricals were attempted. Mr.
Cronin, an easy-going athletic young Oxford man, proved to be a great
acquisition, having wonderful powers of organisation and execution. Jack
was not nearly as lively as he used to be, in fact we unanimously accused
him of being in love; at which he looked as silly as young men usually do
on such occasions, but did not attempt to deny the soft impeachment.

"What shall we do to-day?" said Bob one morning. "Can anybody make a

"Drag the pond," said Mr. Cronin.

"Haven't men enough," said Bob; "anything else?"

"We must get up a sweepstakes for the Derby," remarked Jack. "0, there's
plenty of time for that. It isn't run till the week after next. Anything

"Lawn-tennis," said Sol dubiously.

"Bother lawn-tennis!"

"You might make a picnic to Hatherley Abbey," said I. "Capital!" cried
Mr. Cronin. "The very thing. What do you think, Bob?"

"First class," said my brother grasping eagerly at the idea.

Picnics are very dear to those who are in the first stage of the tender

"Well, how are we to go, Nell?" asked Elsie.

"I won't go at all," said I; "I'd like to awfully, but I have to plant
those ferns Sol got me. You had better walk. It is only three miles and
young Bayliss can be sent over with the basket of provisions."

"You'll come, Jack?" said Bob.

Here was another impediment. The Lieutenant had twisted his ankle
yesterday. He had not mentioned it to any one at the time; but it was
beginning to pain him now.

"Couldn't do it, really," said Jack. "Three miles there and three back!"

"Come on. Don't be lazy," said Bob.

"My dear fellow," answered the Lieutenant, "I have had walking enough to
last me the rest of my life. If you had seen how that energetic general
of ours bustled me along from Cabul to Candahar, you'd sympathise with

"Leave the veteran alone," said Mr. Nicholas Cronin. "Pity the war-worn
soldier," remarked Bob.

"None of your chaff," said Jack. "I'll tell you what I'll do," he added,
brightening up. "You let me have the trap, Bob, and I'll drive over with
Nell as soon as she has finished planting her ferns. We can take the
basket with us. You'll come, won't you, Nell?"

"All right," said I. And Bob having given his assent to the arrangement,
and everybody being pleased, except Mr. Solomon Barker, who glared with
mild malignancy at the soldier, the matter was finally settled, and the
whole party proceeded to get ready, and finally departed down the avenue.

It was an extraordinary thing how that ankle improved after the last of
the troop had passed round the curve of the hedge. By the time the ferns
were planted and the gig got ready Jack was as active and lively as ever
he was in his life.

"You seem to have got better very suddenly," I remarked, as we drove down
the narrow winding country lane.

"Yes," said Jack. "The fact is, Nell, there never was anything the matter
with me. I wanted to have a talk with you."

"You don't mean to say you would tell a lie in order to have a talk with
me?" I remonstrated.

"Forty," said Jack stoutly.

I was too lost in contemplation of the depths of guile in Jack's nature
to make any further remark. I wondered whether Elsie would be flattered
or indignant were anyone to offer to tell so many lies in her behalf.

"We used to be good friends when we were children, Nell," remarked my

"Yes," said I, looking down at the rug which was thrown over my knees. I
was beginning to be quite an experienced young lady by this time, you
see, and to understand certain inflections of the masculine voice, which
are only to be acquired by practice.

"You don't seem to care for me now as much as you did then," said Jack.

I was still intensely absorbed in the leopard's skin in front of me.

"Do you know, Nelly," continued Jack, "that when I have been camping out
in the frozen passes of the Himalayas, when I have seen the hostile array
in front of me; in fact," suddenly dropping into bathos, "all the time I
was in that beastly hole Afghanistan, I used to think of the little girl
I had left in England."

"Indeed!" I murmured.

"Yes," said Jack, "I bore the memory of you in my heart, and then when I
came back you were a little girl no longer. I found you a beautiful
woman, Nelly, and I wondered whether you had forgotten the days that were

Jack was becoming quite poetical in his enthusiasm. By this time he had
left the old bay pony entirely to its own devices, and it was indulging
in its chronic propensity of stopping and admiring the view.

"Look here, Nelly," said Jack, with a gasp like a man who is about to
pull the string of his shower-bath, "one of the things you learn in
campaigning is to secure a good thing whenever you see it. Never delay or
hesitate, for you never know that some other fellow may not carry it off
while you are making up your mind."

"It's coming now," I thought in despair, "and there's no window for Jack
to escape by after he has made the plunge." I had gradually got to
associate the ideas of love and jumping out of windows, ever since poor
Sol's confession.

"Do you think, Nell," said Jack, "that you could ever care for me enough
to share my lot for ever? could you ever be my wife, Nell?"

He didn't even jump out of the trap. He sat there beside me, looking at
me with his eager gray eyes, while the pony strolled along, cropping the
wild flowers on either side of the road. It was quite evident that he
intended having an answer. Somehow as I looked down I seemed to see a
pale shy face looking in at me from a dark background, and to hear Sol's
voice as he declared his love. Poor fellow! he was first in the field at
any rate.

"Could you, Nell?" asked Jack once more.

"I like you very much, Jack," said I, looking up at him nervously;
"but"--how his face changed at that monosyllable!--"I don't think I like
you enough for that. Besides, I'm so young, you know. I suppose I ought
to be very much complimented and that sort of thing by your offer; but
you mustn't think of me in that light any more."

"You refuse me, then?" said Jack, turning a little white. "Why don't you
go and ask Elsie?" cried I in despair. "Why should you all come to me?"

"I don't want Elsie," cried Jack, giving the pony a cut with his whip
which rather astonished that easy-going quadruped. "What do you mean by
'all,' Nell?"

No answer.

"I see how it is," said Jack bitterly; "I've noticed how that cousin of
yours has been hanging round you ever since I have been here. You are
engaged to him."

"No, I'm not," said I.

"Thank God for that!" responded Jack devoutly. "There is some hope yet.
Perhaps you will come to think better of it in time. Tell me, Nelly, are
you fond of that fool of a medical student?"

"He isn't a fool," said I indignantly, "and I am quite as fond of him as
I shall ever be of you."

"You might not care for him much and still be that," said Jack sulkily;
and neither of us spoke again until a joint bellow from Bob and Mr.
Cronin announced the presence of the rest of the company.

If the picnic was a success, it was entirely due to the exertions of the
latter gentleman. Three lovers out of four was an undue proportion, and
it took all his convivial powers to make up for the shortcomings of the
rest. Bob seemed entirely absorbed in Miss Maberley's charms, poor Elsie
was left out in the cold, while my two admirers spent their time in
glaring alternately at me and at each other. Mr. Cronin, however, fought
gallantly against the depression, making himself agreeable to all, and
exploring ruins or drawing corks with equal vehemence and energy.

Cousin Sol was particularly disheartened and out of spirits. He thought,
no doubt, that my solitary ride with Jack had been a prearranged thing
between us. There was more sorrow than anger in his eyes, however, while
Jack, I regret to say, was decidedly ill-tempered. It was this fact which
made me choose out my cousin as my companion in the ramble through the
woods which succeeded our lunch. Jack had been assuming a provoking air
of proprietorship lately, which I was determined to quash once for all. I
felt angry with him, too, for appearing to consider himself ill used at
my refusal, and for trying to disparage poor Sol behind his back. I was
far from loving either the one or the other, but somehow my girlish ideas
of fair play revolted at either of them taking what I considered an
unfair advantage. I felt that if Jack had not come I should, in the
fulness of time, have ended by accepting my cousin; on the other hand, if
it had not been for Sol, I might never have refused Jack. At present I
was too fond of them both to favour either. "How in the world is it to
end?" thought I. I must do something decisive one way or the other; or
perhaps the best thing would be to wait and see what the future might
bring forth.

Sol seemed mildly surprised at my having selected him as my companion,
but accepted the offer with a grateful smile. His mind seemed to have
been vastly relieved.

"So I haven't lost you yet, Nell," he murmured, as we branched off among
the great tree-trunks and heard the voices of the party growing fainter
in the distance.

"Nobody can lose me," said I, "for nobody has won me yet. For goodness'
sake don't talk about it any more. Why can't you talk like your old self
two years ago, and not be so dreadfully sentimental?"

"You'll know why some day, Nell," said the student reproachfully. "Wait
until you are in love yourself, and you will understand it."

I gave a little incredulous sniff.

"Sit here, Nell," said cousin Sol, manoeuvring me into a little bank of
wild strawberries and mosses, and perching himself upon a stump of a tree
beside me. "Now all I ask you to do is to answer one or two questions,
and I'll never bother you any more."

I sat resignedly, with my hands in my lap.

"Are you engaged to Lieutenant Hawthorne?"

"No!" said I energetically.

"Are you fonder of him than of me?"

"No, I'm not."

Sol's thermometer of happiness up to a hundred in the shade at the least.

"Are you fonder of me than of him, Nelly?" in a very tender voice.


Thermometer down below zero again.

"Do you mean to say that we are exactly equal in your eyes?"


"But you must choose between us some time, you know," said cousin Sol
with mild reproach in his voice.

"I do wish you wouldn't bother me so!" I cried, getting angry, as women
usually do when they are in the wrong. "You don't care for me much or you
wouldn't plague me. I believe the two of you will drive me mad between

Here there were symptoms of sobs on my part, and utter consternation and
defeat among the Barker faction.

"Can't you see how it is, Sol?" said I, laughing through my tears at his
woe-begone appearance. "Suppose you were brought up with two girls and
had got to like them both very much, but had never preferred one to the
other and never dreamed of marrying either, and then all of a sudden you
are told you must choose one, and so make the other very unhappy, you
wouldn't find it an easy thing to do, would you?"

"I suppose not," said the student.

"Then you can't blame me."

"I don't blame you, Nelly," he answered, attacking a great purple
toadstool with his stick. "I think you are quite right to be sure of your
own mind. It seems to me," he continued, speaking rather gaspily, but
saying his mind like the true English gentleman that he was, "it seems to
me that Hawthorne is an excellent fellow. He has seen more of the world
than I have, and always does and says the right thing in the right place,
which certainly isn't one of my characteristics. Then he is well born and
has good prospects. I think I should be very grateful to you for your
hesitation, Nell, and look upon it as a sign of your good-heartedness."

"We won't talk about it any more," said I, thinking in my heart what a
very much finer fellow he was than the man he was praising. "Look here,
my jacket is all stained with horrid fungi and things. We'd better go
after the rest of the party, hadn't we? I wonder where they are by this

It didn't take very long to find that out. At first we heard shouting and
laughter coming echoing through the long glades, and then, as we made our
way in that direction, we were astonished to meet the usually phlegmatic
Elsie careering through the wood at the top of her speed, her hat off,
and her hair streaming in the wind. My first idea was that some frightful
catastrophe had occurred--brigands possibly, or a mad dog--and I saw my
companion's big hand close round his stick; but on meeting the fugitive
it proved to be nothing more tragic than a game of hide-and-seek which
the indefatigable Mr. Cronin had organised. What fun we had, crouching
and running and dodging among the Hatherley oaks! and how horrified the
prim old abbot who planted them would have been, and the long series of
black-coated brethren who have muttered their orisons beneath the welcome
shade! Jack refused to play on the excuse of his weak ankle, and lay
smoking under a tree in high dudgeon, glaring in a baleful and gloomy
fashion at Mr. Solomon Barker; while the latter gentleman entered
enthusiastically into the game, and distinguished himself by always
getting caught, and never by any possibility catching anybody else.

Poor Jack! He was certainly unfortunate that day. Even an accepted lover
would have been rather put out, I think, by an incident which occurred
during our return home. It was agreed that all of us should walk, as the
trap had been already sent off with the empty basket, so we started down
Thorny Lane and through the fields. We were just getting over a stile to
cross old Brown's ten-acre lot, when Mr. Cronin pulled up, and remarked
that he thought we had better get into the road.

"Road?" said Jack. "Nonsense! We save a quarter of a mile by the field."

"Yes, but it's rather dangerous. We'd better go round."

"Where's the danger?" said our military man, contemptuously twisting his

"0, nothing," said Cronin. "That quadruped in the middle of the field is
a bull, and not a very good-tempered one either. That's all. I don't
think that the ladies should be allowed to go."

"We won't go," said the ladies in chorus.

"Then come round by the hedge and get into the road," suggested Sol.

"You may go as you like," said Jack rather testily; "but I am going
across the field."

"Don't be a fool, Jack," said my brother.

"You fellows may think it right to turn tail at an old cow, but I don't.
It hurts my self-respect, you see, so I shall join you at the other side
of the farm." With which speech Jack buttoned up his coat in a truculent
manner, waved his cane jauntily, and swaggered off into the ten-acre lot.

We clustered about the stile and watched the proceedings with anxiety.
Jack tried to look as if he were entirely absorbed in the view and in the
probable state of the weather, for he gazed about him and up into the
clouds in an abstracted manner. His gaze generally began and ended,
however, somewhere in the direction of the bull. That animal, after
regarding the intruder with a prolonged stare, had retreated into the
shadow of the hedge at one side, while Jack was walking up the long axis
of the field.

"It's all right," said I. "It's got out of his way."

"I think it's leading him on," said Mr. Nicholas Cronin. "It's a vicious
cunning brute."

Mr. Cronin had hardly spoken before the bull emerged from the hedge, and
began pawing the ground, and tossing its wicked black head in the air.
Jack was in the middle of the field by this time, and affected to take no
notice of his companion, though he quickened his pace slightly. The
bull's next manoeuvre was to run rapidly round in two or three small
circles; and then it suddenly stopped, bellowed, put down its head,
elevated its tail, and made for Jack at the very top of its speed.

There was no use pretending to ignore its existence any longer. Jack
faced round and gazed at it for a moment. He had only his little cane in
his hand to oppose to the half ton of irate beef which was charging
towards him. He did the only thing that was possible, namely to make for
the hedge at the other side of the field.

At first Jack hardly condescended to run, but went off with a languid
contemptuous trot, a sort of compromise between his dignity and his fear,
which was so ludicrous that, frightened as we were, we burst into a
chorus of laughter. By degrees, however, as he heard the galloping of
hoofs sounding nearer and nearer, he quickened his pace, until ultimately
he was in full flight for shelter, with his hat gone and his coat-tails
fluttering in the breeze, while his pursuer was not ten yards behind him.
If all Ayoub Khan's cavalry had been in his rear, our Afghan hero could
not have done the distance in a shorter time. Quickly as he went, the
bull went quicker still, and the two seemed to gain the hedge almost at
the same moment. We saw Jack spring boldly into it, and the next moment
he came flying out at the other side as if he had been discharged from a
cannon, while the bull indulged in a series of triumphant bellows through
the hole which he had made. It was a relief to us all to see Jack gather
himself up and start off for home without a glance in our direction. He
had retired to his room by the time we arrived, and did not appear until
breakfast next morning, when he limped in with a very crestfallen
expression. None of us was hard-hearted enough to allude to the subject,
however, and by judicious treatment we restored him before lunch-time to
his usual state of equanimity.

It was a couple of days after the picnic that our great Derby sweepstakes
was to come off. This was an annual ceremony never omitted at Hatherley
House, where, between visitors and neighbours, there were generally quite
as many candidates for tickets as there were horses entered.

"The sweepstakes, ladies and gentlemen, comes off to-night," said Bob in
his character of head of the house. "The subscription is ten shillings.
Second gets quarter of the pool, and third has his money returned. No one
is allowed to have more than one ticket, or to sell his ticket after
drawing it. The drawing will be at seven thirty." All of which Bob
delivered in a very pompous and official voice, though the effect was
rather impaired by a sonorous "Amen!" from Mr. Nicholas Cronin.

I must now drop the personal style of narrative for a time. Hitherto my
little story has consisted simply in a series of extracts from my own
private journal; but now I have to tell of a scene which only came to my
ears after many months.

Lieutenant Hawthorne, or Jack, as I cannot help calling him, had been
very quiet since the day of the picnic, and given himself up to reverie.
Now, as luck would have it, Mr. Solomon Barker sauntered into the
smoking-room after luncheon on the day of the sweepstakes, and found the
Lieutenant puffing moodily in solitary grandeur upon one of the settees.
It would have seemed cowardly to retreat, so the student sat down in
silence, and began turning over the pages of the Graphic. Both the rivals
felt the situation to be an awkward one. They had been in the habit of
studiously avoiding each other's society, and now they found themselves
thrown together suddenly, with no third person to act as a buffer. The
silence began to be oppressive. The Lieutenant yawned and coughed with
over-acted nonchalance, while honest Sol felt very hot and uncomfortable,
and continued to stare gloomily at the paper in his hand. The ticking of
the clock, and the click of the billiard-balls across the passage, seemed
to grow unendurably loud and monotonous. Sol glanced across once; but
catching his companion's eye in an exactly similar action, the two young
men seemed simultaneously to take a deep and all-absorbing interest in
the pattern of the cornice.

"Why should I quarrel with him?" thought Sol to himself. "After all, I
want nothing but fair play. Probably I shall be snubbed; but I may as
well give him an opening."

Sol's cigar had gone out; the opportunity was too good to be neglected.

"Could you oblige me with a fusee, Lieutenant?" he asked. The Lieutenant
was sorry--extremely sorry--but he was not in possession of a fusee.

This was a bad beginning. Chilly politeness was even more repulsing than
absolute rudeness. But Mr. Solomon Barker, like many other shy men, was
audacity itself when the ice had once been broken. He would have no more
bickerings or misunderstandings. Now was the time to come to some
definite arrangement. He pulled his armchair across the room, and planted
himself in front of the astonished soldier.

"You're in love with Miss Nelly Montague," he remarked. Jack sprang off
the settee with as much rapidity as if Farmer Brown's bull were coming in
through the window.

"And if I am, sir," he said, twisting his tawny moustache, "what the
devil is that to you?"

"Don't lose your temper," said Sol. "Sit down again, and talk the matter
over like a reasonable Christian. I am in love with her too."

"What the deuce is the fellow driving at?" thought Jack, as he resumed
his seat, still simmering after his recent explosion.

"So the long and the short of it is that we are both in love with her,"
continued Sol, emphasising his remarks with his bony forefinger.

"What then?" said the Lieutenant, showing some symptoms of a relapse. "I
suppose that the best man will win, and that the young lady is quite able
to choose for herself. You don't expect me to stand out of the race just
because you happen to want the prize, do you?"

"That's just it," cried Sol. "One of us will have to stand out. You've
hit the right idea there. You see, Nelly--Miss Montague, I mean--is, as
far as I can see, rather fonder of you than of me, but still fond enough
of me not to wish to grieve me by a positive refusal."

"Honesty compels me to state," said Jack, in a more conciliatory voice
than he had made use of hitherto, "that Nelly--Miss Montague, I mean--is
rather fonder ofyou than of me; but still, as you say, fond enough of me
not to prefer my rival openly in my presence."

"I don't think you're right," said the student. "In fact I know you are
not; for she told me as much with her own lips. However, what you say
makes it easier for us to come to an understanding. It is quite evident
that as long as we show ourselves to be equally fond of her, neither of
us can have the slightest hope of winning her."

"There's some sense in that," said the Lieutenant reflectively; "but what
do you propose?"

"I propose that one of us stand out, to use your own expression. There is
no alternative."

"But who is to stand out?" asked Jack.

"Ah, that is the question."

"I can claim to have known her longest."

"I can claim to have loved her first."

Matters seemed to have come to a deadlock. Neither of the young men was
in the least inclined to abdicate in favour of his rival.

"Look here," said the student, "let us decide the matter by lot." This
seemed fair, and was agreed to by both. A new difficulty arose, however.
Both of them felt sentimental objections towards risking their angel upon
such a paltry chance as the turn of a coin or the length of a straw. It
was at this crisis that an inspiration came upon Lieutenant Hawthorne.

"I'll tell you how we will decide it," he said. "You and I are both
entered for our Derby sweepstakes. If your horse beats mine, I give up my
chance; if mine beats yours, you leave Miss Montague for ever. Is that a

"I have only one stipulation to make," said Sol. "It is ten days yet
before the race will be run. During that time neither of us must attempt
to take an unfair advantage of the other. We shall both agree not to
press our suit until the matter is decided."

"Done!" said the soldier.

"Done!" said Solomon.

And they shook hands upon the agreement.

I had, as I have already observed, no knowledge of the conversation which
had taken place between my suitors. I may mention incidentally that
during the course of it I was in the library, listening to Tennyson, read
aloud in the deep musical voice of Mr. Nicholas Cronin. I observed,
however, in the evening that these two young men seemed remarkably
excited about their horses, and that neither of them was in the least
inclined to make himself agreeable to me, for which crime I am happy to
say that they were both punished by drawing rank outsiders. Eurydice, I
think, was the name of Sol's; while Jack's was Bicycle. Mr. Cronin drew
an American horse named Iroquois, and all the others seemed fairly well
pleased. I peeped into the smoking-room before going to bed, and was
amused to see Jack consulting the sporting prophet of the Field, while
Sol was deeply immersed in the Gazette. This sudden mania for the Turf
seemed all the more strange, since I knew that if my cousin could
distinguish a horse from a cow, it was as much as any of his friends
would give him credit for.

The ten succeeding days were voted very slow by various members of the
household. I cannot say that I found them so. Perhaps that was because I
discovered something very unexpected and pleasing in the course of that
period. It was a relief to be free of any fear of wounding the
susceptibilities of either of my former lovers. I could say what I chose
and do what I liked now; for they had deserted me completely, and handed
me over to the society of my brother Bob and Mr. Nicholas Cronin. The new
excitement of horse-racing seemed to have driven their former passion
completely out of their minds. Never was a house so deluged with special
tips and every vile print which could by any possibility have a word
bearing upon the training of the horses or their antecedents. The very
grooms in the stable were tired of recounting how Bicycle was descended
from Velocipede, or explaining to the anxious medical student how
Eurydice was by Orpheus out of Hades. One of them discovered that her
maternal grandmother had come in third for the Ebor Handicap; but the
curious way in which he stuck the half crown which he received into his
left eye, while he winked at the coachman with his right, throws some
doubt upon the veracity of his statement. As he remarked in a beery
whisper that evening, "The bloke'll never know the differ, and it's worth
'arf a dollar for him to think as it's true."

As the day drew nearer the excitement increased. Mr. Cronin and I used to
glance across at each other and smile as Jack and Sol precipitated
themselves upon the papers at breakfast, and devoured the list of the
betting. But matters culminated upon the evening immediately preceding
the race. The Lieutenant had run down to the station to secure the latest
intelligence, and now he came rushing in, waving a crushed paper
frantically over his head.

"Eurydice is scratched!" he yelled. "Your horse is done for, Barker!"

"What!" roared Sol.

"Done for--utterly broken down in training--won't run at all!" "Let me
see," groaned my cousin, seizing the paper; and then, dropping it, he
rushed out of the room, and banged down the stairs, taking four at a
time. We saw no more of him until late at night, when he slunk in,
looking very dishevelled, and crept quietly off to his room. Poor fellow,
I should have condoled with him had it not been for his recent disloyal
conduct towards myself.

Jack seemed a changed man from that moment. He began at once to pay me
marked attention, very much to the annoyance of myself and of someone
else in the room. He played and sang and proposed round games, and, in
fact, quite usurped the role usually played by Mr. Nicholas Cronin.

I remember that it struck me as remarkable that on the morning of the
Derby-day the Lieutenant should have entirely lost his interest in the
race. He was in the greatest spirits at breakfast, but did not even open
the paper in front of him. It was Mr. Cronin who unfolded it at last and
glanced over its columns. "What's the news, Nick?" asked my brother Bob.

"Nothing much. 0 yes, here's something. Another railway accident.
Collision apparently. Westinghouse brake gone wrong. Two killed, seven
hurt, and--by Jove! listen to this: 'Among the victims was one of the
competitors in the equine Olympiad of to-day. A sharp splinter had
penetrated its side, and the valuable animal had to be sacrified upon the
shrine of humanity. The name of the horse is Bicycle.' Hullo, you've gone
and spilt your coffee all over the cloth, Hawthorne! Ah, I forgot,
Bicycle was your horse, wasn't it? Your chance is gone, I am afraid. I
see that Iroquois, who started low, has come to be first favourite now."

Ominous words, reader, as no doubt your nice discernment has taught you
during, at the least, the last three pages. Don't call me a flirt and a
coquette until you have weighed the facts. Consider my pique at the
sudden desertion of my admirers, think of my delight at the confession
from a man whom I had tried to conceal from myself even that I loved,
think of the opportunities which he enjoyed during the time that Jack and
Sol were systematically avoiding me, in accordance with their ridiculous
agreement. Weigh all this, and then which among you will throw the first
stone at the blushing little prize of the Derby Sweep?

Here it is as it appeared at the end of three short months in the Morning
Post: "August 12th.--At Hatherley Church, Nicholas Cronin, Esq., eldest
son of Nicholas Cronin, Esq., of the Woodlands, Cropshire, to Miss
Eleanor Montague, daughter of the late James Montague, Esq., J.P., of
Hatherley House."

Jack set off with the declared intention of volunteering for a ballooning
expedition to the North Pole. He came back, however, in three days, and
said that he had changed his mind, but intended to walk in Stanley's
footsteps across Equatorial Africa. Since then he has dropped one or two
gloomy allusions to forlorn hopes and the unutterable joys of death; but
on the whole he is coming round very nicely and has been heard to grumble
of late on such occasions as the under-doing of the mutton and the
over-doing of the beef, which may be fairly set down as a very healthy

Sol took it more quietly, but I fear the iron went deeper into his soul.
However, he pulled himself together like a dear brave fellow as he is,
and actually had the hardihood to propose the bridesmaids, on which
occasion he became inextricably mixed up in the labyrinth of words. He
washed his hands of the mutinous sentence, however, and resumed his seat
in the middle of it, overwhelmed with blushes and applause. I hear that
he has confided his woes and his disappointments to Grace Maberley's
sister, and met with the sympathy which he expected. Bob and Gracie are
to be married in a few months, so possibly there may be another wedding
about that time.


I am sure that Nature never intended me to be a self-made man. There are
times when I can hardly bring myself to realise that twenty years of my
life were spent behind the counter of a grocer's shop in the East End of
London, and that it was through such an avenue that I reached a wealthy
independence and the possession of Goresthorpe Grange. My habits are
conservative, and my tastes refined and aristocratic. I have a soul which
spurns the vulgar herd. Our family, the D'Odds, date back to a
prehistoric era, as is to be inferred from the fact that their advent
into British history is not commented on by any trustworthy historian.
Some instinct tells me that the blood of a Crusader runs in my veins.
Even now, after the lapse of so many years, such exclamations as "By'r
Lady!" rise naturally to my lips, and I feel that, should circumstances
require it, I am capable of rising in my stirrups and dealing an infidel
a blow--say with a mace--which would considerably astonish him.

Goresthorpe Grange is a feudal mansion--or so it was termed in the
advertisement which originally brought it under my notice. Its right to
this adjective had a most remarkable effect upon its price, and the
advantages gained may possibly be more sentimental than real. Still, it
is soothing to me to know that I have slits in my staircase through which
I can discharge arrows; and there is a sense of power in the fact of
possessing a complicated apparatus by means of which I am enabled to pour
molten lead upon the head of the casual visitor. These things chime in
with my peculiar humour, and I do not grudge to pay for them. I am proud
of my battlements and of the circular uncovered sewer which girds me
round. I am proud of my portcullis and donjon and keep. There is but one
thing wanting to round off the mediaevalism of my abode, and to render it
symmetrically and completely antique. Goresthorpe Grange is not provided
with a ghost.

Any man with old-fashioned tastes and ideas as to how such establishments
should be conducted, would have been disappointed at the omission. In my
case it was particularly unfortunate. From my childhood I had been an
earnest student of the supernatural, and a firm believer in it. I have
revelled in ghostly literature until there is hardly a tale bearing upon
the subject which I have not perused. I learned the German language for
the sole purpose of mastering a book upon demonology. When an infant I
had secreted myself in dark rooms in the hope of seeing some of those
bogies with which my nurse used to threaten me; and the same feeling is
as strong in me now as then. It was a proud moment when I felt that a
ghost was one of the luxuries which money might command.

It is true that there was no mention of an apparition in the
advertisement. On reviewing the mildewed walls, however, and the shadowy
corridors, I had taken it for granted that there was such a thing on the
premises. As the presence of a kennel presupposes that of a dog, so I
imagined that it was impossible that such desirable quarters should be
untenanted by one or more restless shades. Good heavens, what can the
noble family from whom I purchased it have been doing during these
hundreds of years! Was there no member of it spirited enough to make away
with his sweetheart, or take some other steps calculated to establish a
hereditary spectre? Even now I can hardly write with patience upon the

For a long time I hoped against hope. Never did rat squeak behind the
wainscot, or rain drip upon the attic floor, without a wild thrill
shooting through me as I thought that at last I had come upon traces of
some unquiet soul. I felt no touch of fear upon these occasions. If it
occurred in the night-time, I would send Mrs. D'Odd--who is a
strong-minded woman--to investigate the matter, while I covered up my
head with the bedclothes and indulged in an ecstacy of expectation. Alas,
the result was always the same! The suspicious sound would be traced to
some cause so absurdly natural and commonplace that the most fervid
imagination could not clothe it with any of the glamour of romance.

I might have reconciled myself to this state of things, had it not been
for Jorrocks of Havistock Farm. Jorrocks is a coarse, burly,
matter-of-fact fellow, whom I only happened to know through the
accidental circumstance of his fields adjoining my demesne. Yet this man,
though utterly devoid of all appreciation of archaeological unities, is
in possession of a well-authenticated and undeniable spectre. Its
existence only dates back, I believe, to the reign of the Second George,
when a young lady cut her throat upon hearing of the death of her lover
at the battle of Dettingen. Still, even that gives the house an air of
respectability, especially when coupled with blood stains upon the floor.
Jorrocks is densely unconscious of his good fortune; and his language
when he reverts to the apparition is painful to listen to. He little
dreams how I covet every one of those moans and nocturnal wails which he
describes with unnecessary objurgation. Things are indeed coming to a
pretty pass when democratic spectres are allowed to desert the landed
proprietors and annul every social distinction by taking refuge in the
houses of the great unrecognised.

I have a large amount of perseverance. Nothing else could have raised me
into my righful sphere, considering the uncongenial atmosphere in which I
spent the earlier part of my life. I felt now that a ghost must be
secured, but how to set about securing one was more than either Mrs.
D'Odd or myself was able to determine. My reading taught me that such
phenomena are usually the outcome of crime. What crime was to be done,
then, and who was to do it? A wild idea entered my mind that Watkins, the
house-steward, might be prevailed upon--for a consideration--to immolate
himself or someone else in the interests of the establishment. I put the
matter to him in a half-jesting manner; but it did not seem to strike him
in a favourable light. The other servants sympathised with him in his
opinion--at least, I cannot account in any other way for their having
left the house in a body the same afternoon.

"My dear," Mrs. D'Odd remarked to me one day after dinner, as I sat
moodily sipping a cup of sack--I love the good old names--"my dear, that
odious ghost of Jorrocks' has been gibbering again."

"Let it gibber!" I answered, recklessly.

Mrs. D'Odd struck a few chords on her virginal and looked thoughtfully
into the fire.

"I'll tell you what it is, Argentine," she said at last, using the pet
name which we usually substituted for Silas, "we must have a ghost sent
down from London."

"How can you be so idiotic, Matilda?" I remarked, severely. "Who could
get us such a thing?"

"My cousin, Jack Brocket, could," she answered, confidently.

Now, this cousin of Matilda's was rather a sore subject between us. He
was a rakish, clever young fellow, who had tried his hand at many things,
but wanted perseverance to succeed at any. He was, at that time, in
chambers in London, professing to be a general agent, and really living,
to a great extent, upon his wits. Matilda managed so that most of our
business should pass through his hands, which certainly saved me a great
deal of trouble; but I found that Jack's commission was generally
considerably larger than all the other items of the bill put together. It
was this fact which made me feel inclined to rebel against any further
negotiations with the young gentleman.

"0 yes, he could," insisted Mrs. D., seeing the look of disapprobation
upon my face. "You remember how well he managed that business about the

"It was only a resuscitation of the old family coat-of-arms, my dear," I

Matilda smiled in an irritating manner. "There was a resuscitation of the
family portraits, too, dear," she remarked. "You must allow that Jack
selected them very judiciously."

I thought of the long line of faces which adorned the walls of my
banqueting-hall, from the burly Norman robber, through every gradation of
casque, plume, and ruff, to the sombre Chesterfieldian individual who
appears to have staggered against a pillar in his agony at the return of
a maiden MS. which he grips convulsively in his right hand. I was fain to
confess that in that instance he had done his work well, and that it was
only fair to give him an order--with the usual commission--for a family
spectre should such a thing be attainable.

It is one of my maxims to act promptly when once my mind is made up. Noon
of the next day found me ascending the spiral stone staircase which leads
to Mr. Brocket's chambers, and admiring the succession of arrows and
fingers upon the whitewashed wall, all indicating the direction of that
gentleman's sanctum. As it happened, artificial aids of the sort were
entirely unnecessary, as an animated flap-dance overhead could proceed
from no other quarter, though it was replaced by a deathly silence as I
groped my way up the stair. The door was opened by a youth evidently
astounded at the appearance of a client, and I was ushered into the
presence of my young friend, who was writing furiously in a large
ledger--upside down, as I afterwards discovered.

After the first greetings, I plunged into business at once. "Look here,
Jack," I said, "I want you to get me a spirit, if you can."

"Spirits you mean!" shouted my wife's cousin, plunging his hand into the
waste-paper basket and producing a bottle with the celerity of a
conjuring trick. "Let's have a drink!"

I held up my hand as a mute appeal against such a proceeding so early in
the day; but on lowering it again I found that I had almost involuntarily
closed my fingers round the tumbler which my adviser had pressed upon me.
I drank the contents hastily off, lest anyone should come in upon us and
set me down as a toper. After all there was something very amusing about
the young fellow's eccentricities.

"Not spirits," I explained, smilingly; "an apparition--a ghost. If
such a thing is to be had, I should be very willing to negotiate."

"A ghost for Goresthorpe Grange?" inquired Mr. Brocket, with
as much coolness as if I had asked for a drawing-room suite.

"Quite so," I answered.

"Easiest thing in the world," said my companion, filling up my glass
again in spite of my remonstrance. "Let us see!" Here he took down a
large red note-book, with all the letters of the alphabet in a fringe
down the edge. "A ghost you said, didn't you? That's G.
G--gems--gimlets--gas-pipes--gauntlets--guns--galleys. Ah, here we are.
Ghosts. Volume nine, section six, page forty-one. Excuse me!" And Jack
ran up a ladder and began rummaging among the pile of ledgers on a high
shelf. I felt half inclined to empty my glass into the spittoon when his
back was turned; but on second thoughts I disposed of it in a legitimate

"Here it is!" cried my London agent, jumping off the ladder with a crash,
and depositing an enormous volume of manuscript upon the table. "I have
all these things tabulated, so that I may lay my hands upon them in a
moment. It's all right--it's quite weak" (here he filled our glasses
again). "What were we looking up, again?"

"Ghosts," I suggested.

"Of course; page 41. Here we are. T.H. Fowler & Son, Dunkel Street,
suppliers of mediums to the nobility and gentry; charms sold--love
philtres--mummies--horoscopes cast.' Nothing in your line there, I

I shook my head despondently.

"'Frederick Tabb,'" continued my wife's cousin, "'sole channel of
communication between the living and the dead. Proprietor of the spirits
of Byron, Kirke White, Grimaldi, Tom Cribb, and Inigo Jones.' That's
about the figure!"

"Nothing romantic enough there," I objected. "Good heavens! Fancy a ghost
with a black eye and a handkerchief tied round its waist, or turning
summersaults, and saying, 'How are you tomorrow?'" The very idea made me
so warm that I emptied my glass and filled it again.

"Here is another," said my companion, "'Christopher McCarthy; bi-weekly
seances--attended by all the eminent spirits of ancient and modern times.
Nativities--charms--abracadabras, messages from the dead.' He might be
able to help us. However, I shall have a hunt round myself to-morrow, and
see some of these fellows. I know their haunts, and it's odd if I can't
pick up something cheap. So there's an end of business," he concluded,
hurling the ledger into the corner, "and now we'll have something to

We had several things to drink--so many that my inventive faculties were
dulled next morning, and I had some little difficulty in explaining to
Mrs. D'Odd why it was that I hung my boots and spectacles upon a peg
along with my other garments before retiring to rest. The new hopes
excited by the confident manner in which my agent had undertaken the
commission, caused me to rise superior to alcoholic reaction, and I paced
about the rambling corridors and old-fashioned rooms, picturing to myself
the appearance of my expected acquisition, and deciding what part of the
building would harmonise best with its presence. After much
consideration, I pitched upon the banqueting-hall as being, on the whole,
most suitable for its reception. It was a long low room, hung round with
valuable tapestry and interesting relics of the old family to whom it had
belonged. Coats of mail and implements of war glimmered fitfully as the
light of the fire played over them, and the wind crept under the door,
moving the hangings to and fro with a ghastly rustling. At one end there
was the raised dais, on which in ancient times the host and his guests
used to spread their table, while a descent of a couple of steps led to
the lower part of the hall, where the vassals and retainers held wassail.
The floor was uncovered by any sort of carpet, but a layer of rushes had
been scattered over it by my direction. In the whole room there was
nothing to remind one of the nineteenth century; except, indeed, my own
solid silver plate, stamped with the resuscitated family arms, which was
laid out upon an oak table in the centre. This, I determined, should be
the haunted room, supposing my wife's cousin to succeed in his
negotiation with the spirit-mongers. There was nothing for it now but to
wait patiently until I heard some news of the result of his inquiries.

A letter came in the course of a few days, which, if it was short, was at
least encouraging. It was scribbled in pencil on the back of a playbill,
and sealed apparently with a tobacco-stopper. "Am on the track," it said.
"Nothing of the sort to be had from any professional spiritualist, but
picked up a fellow in a pub yesterday who says he can manage it for you.
Will send him down unless you wire to the contrary. Abrahams is his name,
and he has done one or two of these jobs before." The letter wound up
with some incoherent allusions to a cheque, and was signed by my
affectionate cousin, John Brocket.

I need hardly say that I did not wire, but awaited the arrival of Mr.
Abrahams with all impatience. In spite of my belief in the supernatural,
I could scarcely credit the fact that any mortal could have such a
command over the spirit-world as to deal in them and barter them against
mere earthly gold. Still, I had Jack's word for it that such a trade
existed; and here was a gentleman with a Judaical name ready to
demonstrate it by proof positive. How vulgar and commonplace Jorrocks'
eighteenth-century ghost would appear should I succeed in securing a real
mediaeval apparition! I almost thought that one had been sent down in
advance, for, as I walked round the moat that night before retiring to
rest, I came upon a dark figure engaged in surveying the machinery of my
portcullis and drawbridge. His start of surprise, however, and the manner
in which he hurried off into the darkness, speedily convinced me of his
earthly origin, and I put him down as some admirer of one of my female
retainers mourning over the muddy Hellespont which divided him from his
love. Whoever he may have been, he disappeared and did not return, though
I loitered about for some time in the hope of catching a glimpse of him
and exercising my feudal rights upon his person.

Jack Brocket was as good as his word. The shades of another evening were
beginning to darken round Goresthorpe Grange, when a peal at the outer
bell, and the sound of a fly pulling up, announced the arrival of Mr.
Abrahams. I hurried down to meet him, half expecting to see a choice
assortment of ghosts crowding in at his rear. Instead, however, of being
the sallow-faced, melancholy-eyed man that I had pictured to myself, the
ghost-dealer was a sturdy little podgy fellow, with a pair of wonderfully
keen sparkling eyes and a mouth which was constantly stretched in a
good-humoured, if somewhat artificial, grin. His sole stock-intrade
seemed to consist of a small leather bag jealously locked and strapped,
which emitted a metallic chink upon being placed on the stone flags in
the hall.

"And 'ow are you, sir?" he asked, wringing my hand with the utmost
effusion. "And the missus, 'ow is she? And all the others--'ow's all
their 'ealth?"

I intimated that we were all as well as could reasonably be expected, but
Mr. Abrahams happened to catch a glimpse of Mrs. D'Odd in the distance,
and at once plunged at her with another string of inquiries as to her
health, delivered so volubly and with such an intense earnestness, that I
half expected to see him terminate his cross-examination by feeling her
pulse and demanding a sight of her tongue. All this time his little eyes
rolled round and round, shifting perpetually from the floor to the
ceiling, and from the ceiling to the walls, taking in apparently every
article of furniture in a single comprehensive glance.

Having satisfied himself that neither of us was in a pathological
condition, Mr. Abrahams suffered me to lead him upstairs, where a repast
had been laid out for him to which he did ample justice. The mysterious
little bag he carried along with him, and deposited it under his chair
during the meal. It was not until the table had been cleared and we were
left together that he broached the matter on which he had come down.

"I hunderstand," he remarked, puffing at a trichinopoly, "that you want
my 'elp in fitting up this 'ere 'ouse with a happarition."

I acknowledged the correctness of his surmise, while mentally wondering
at those restless eyes of his, which still danced about the room as if he
were making an inventory of the contents.

"And you won't find a better man for the job, though I says it as
shouldn't," continued my companion. "Wot did I say to the young gent wot
spoke to me in the bar of the Lame Dog? 'Can you do it?' says he. 'Try
me,' says I, 'me and my bag. Just try me.' I couldn't say fairer than

My respect for Jack Brocket's business capacities began to go up very
considerably. He certainly seemed to have managed the matter wonderfully
well. "You don't mean to say that you carry ghosts about in bags?" I
remarked, with diffidence.

Mr. Abrahams smiled a smile of superior knowledge. "You wait," he said;
"give me the right place and the right hour, with a little of the essence
of Lucoptolycus"--here he produced a small bottle from his waistcoat
pocket--"and you won't find no ghost that I ain't up to. You'll see them
yourself, and pick your own, and I can't say fairer than that."

As all Mr. Abrahams' protestations of fairness were accompanied by a
cunning leer and a wink from one or other of his wicked little eyes, the
impression of candour was somewhat weakened.

"When are you going to do it?" I asked, reverentially.

"Ten minutes to one in the morning," said Mr. Abrahams, with decision.
"Some says midnight, but I says ten to one, when there ain't such a
crowd, and you can pick your own ghost. And now," he continued, rising to
his feet, "suppose you trot me round the premises, and let me see where
you wants it; for there's some places as attracts 'em, and some as they
won't hear of--not if there was no other place in the world."

Mr. Abrahams inspected our corridors and chambers with a most critical
and observant eye, fingering the old tapestry with the air of a
connoisseur, and remarking in an undertone that it would "match uncommon
nice." It was not until he reached the banqueting-hall, however, which I
had myself picked out, that his admiration reached the pitch of
enthusiasm. "'Ere's the place!" he shouted, dancing, bag in hand, round
the table on which my plate was lying, and looking not unlike some quaint
little goblin himself. "'Ere's the place; we won't get nothin' to beat
this! A fine room--noble, solid, none of your electro-plate trash! That's
the way as things ought to be done, sir. Plenty of room for 'em to glide
here. Send up some brandy and the box of weeds; I'll sit here by the fire
and do the preliminaries, which is more trouble than you'd think; for
them ghosts carries on hawful at times, before they finds out who they've
got to deal with. If you was in the room they'd tear you to pieces as
like as not. You leave me alone to tackle them, and at half-past twelve
come in, and I lay they'll be quiet enough by then."

Mr. Abrahams' request struck me as a reasonable one, so I left him with
his feet upon the mantelpiece, and his chair in front of the fire,
fortifying himself with stimulants against his refractory visitors. From
the room beneath, in which I sat with Mrs. D'Odd, I could hear that,
after sitting for some time, he rose up and paced about the hall with
quick impatient steps. We then heard him try the lock of the door, and
afterward drag some heavy article of furniture in the direction of the
window, on which, apparently, he mounted, for I heard the creaking of the
rusty hinges as the diamond-paned casement folded backward, and I knew it
to be situated several feet above the little man's reach. Mrs. D'Odd says
that she could distinguish his voice speaking in low and rapid whispers
after this, but that may have been her imagination. I confess that I
began to feel more impressed than I had deemed it possible to be. There
was something awesome in the thought of the solitary mortal standing by
the open window and summoning in from the gloom outside the spirits of
the nether world. It was with a trepidation which I could hardly disguise
from Matilda that I observed that the clock was pointing to half-past
twelve, and that the time had come for me to share the vigil of my

He was sitting in his old position when I entered, and there were no
signs of the mysterious movements which I had overheard, though his
chubby face was flushed as with recent exertion.

"Are you succeeding all right?" I asked as I came in, putting on as
careless an air as possible, but glancing involuntarily round the room to
see if we were alone.

"Only your help is needed to complete the matter," said Mr. Abrahams, in
a solemn voice. "You shall sit by me and partake of the essence of
Lucoptolycus, which removes the scales from our earthly eyes. Whatever
you may chance to 'see, speak not and make no movement, lest you break
the spell." His manner was subdued, and his usual cockney vulgarity had
entirely disappeared. I took the chair which he indicated, and awaited
the result.

My companion cleared the rushes from the floor in our neighbourhood, and,
going down upon his hands and knees, described a half-circle with chalk,
which enclosed the fireplace and ourselves. Round the edge of this
half-circle he drew several hieroglyphics, not unlike the signs of the
zodiac. He then stood up and uttered a long invocation, delivered so
rapidly that it sounded like a single gigantic word in some uncouth
guttural language. Having finished this prayer, if prayer it was, he
pulled out the small bottle which he had produced before, and poured a
couple of teaspoonfuls of clear transparent fluid into a phial, which he
handed to me with an intimation that I should drink it.

The liquid had a faintly sweet odour, not unlike the aroma of certain
sorts of apples. I hesitated a moment before applying it to my lips, but
an impatient gesture from my companion overcame my scruples, and I tossed
it off. The taste was not unpleasant; and, as it gave rise to no
immediate effects, I leaned back in my chair and composed myself for what
was to come. Mr. Abrahams seated himself beside me, and I felt that he
was watching my face from time to time, while repeating some more of the
invocations in which he had indulged before.

A sense of delicious warmth and languor began gradually to steal over me,
partly, perhaps, from the heat of the fire, and partly from some
unexplained cause. An uncontrollable impulse to sleep weighed down my
eyelids, while at the same time my brain worked actively, and a hundred
beautiful and pleasing ideas flitted through it. So utterly lethargic did
I feel that, though I was aware that my companion put his hand over the
region of my heart, as if to feel how it were beating, I did not attempt
to prevent him, nor did I even ask him for the reason of his action.
Everything in the room appeared to be reeling slowly round in a drowsy
dance, of which I was the centre. The great elk's head at the far end
wagged solemnly backward and forward, while the massive salvers on the
tables performed cotillons with the claret-cooler and the epergne. My
head fell upon my breast from sheer heaviness, and I should have become
unconscious had I not been recalled to myself by the opening of the door
at the other end of the hall.

This door led on to the raised dais, which, as I have mentioned, the
heads of the house used to reserve for their own use. As it swung slowly
back upon its hinges, I sat up in my chair, clutching at the arms, and
staring with a horrified glare at the dark passage outside. Something was
coming down it--something unformed and intangible, but still a something.
Dim and shadowy, I saw it flit across the threshold, while a blast of
ice-cold air swept down the room, which seemed to blow through me,
chilling my very heart. I was aware of the mysterious presence, and then
I heard it speak in a voice like the sighing of an east wind among
pine-trees on the banks of a desolate sea.

It said: "I am the invisible nonentity. I have affinities and am subtle.
I am electric, magnetic, and spiritualistic. I am the great ethereal
sigh-heaver. I kill dogs. Mortal, wilt thou choose me?"

I was about to speak, but the words seemed to be choked in my throat;
and, before I could get them out, the shadow flitted across the hall and
vanished in the darkness at the other side, while a long-drawn melancholy
sigh quivered through the apartment.

I turned my eyes toward the door once more, and beheld, to my
astonishment, a very small old woman, who hobbled along the corridor and
into the hall. She passed backward and forward several times, and then,
crouching down at the very edge of the circle upon the floor, she
disclosed a face the horrible malignity of which shall never be banished
from my recollection. Every foul passion appeared to have left its mark
upon that hideous countenance.

"Ha! ha!" she screamed, holding out her wizened hands like the talons of
an unclean bird. "You see what I am. I am the fiendish old woman. I wear
snuff-coloured silks. My curse descends on people. Sir Walter was partial
to me. Shall I be thine, mortal?"

I endeavoured to shake my head in horror; on which she aimed a blow at me
with her crutch, and vanished with an eldritch scream.

By this time my eyes turned naturally toward the open door, and I was
hardly surprised to see a man walk in of tall and noble stature. His face
was deadly pale, but was surmounted by a fringe of dark hair which fell
in ringlets down his back. A short pointed beard covered his chin. He was
dressed in loose-fitting clothes, made apparently of yellow satin, and a
large white ruff surrounded his neck. He paced across the room with slow
and majestic strides. Then turning, he addressed me in a sweet,
exquisitely modulated voice.

"I am the cavalier," he remarked. "I pierce and am pierced. Here is my
rapier. I clink steel. This is a blood stain over my heart. I can emit
hollow groans. I am patronised by many old Conservative families. I am
the original manor-house apparition. I work alone, or in company with
shrieking damsels."

He bent his head courteously, as though awaiting my reply, but the same
choking sensation prevented me from speaking; and, with a deep bow, he

He had hardly gone before a feeling of intense horror stole over me, and
I was aware of the presence of a ghastly creature in the room, of dim
outlines and uncertain proportions. One moment it seemed to pervade the
entire apartment, while at another it would become invisible, but always
leaving behind it a distinct consciousness of its presence. Its voice,
when it spoke, was quavering and gusty. It said: "I am the leaver of
footsteps and the spiller of gouts of blood. I tramp upon corridors.
Charles Dickens has alluded to me. I make strange and disagreeable
noises. I snatch letters and place invisible hands on people's wrists. I
am cheerful. I burst into peals of hideous laughter. Shall I do one now?"
I raised my hand in a deprecating way, but too late to prevent one
discordant outbreak which echoed through the room. Before I could lower
it the apparition was gone.

I turned my head toward the door in time to see a man come hastily and
stealthily into the chamber. He was a sunburnt powerfully built fellow,
with ear-rings in his ears and a Barcelona handkerchief tied loosely
round his neck. His head was bent upon his chest, and his whole aspect
was that of one afflicted by intolerable remorse. He paced rapidly
backward and forward like a caged tiger, and I observed that a drawn
knife glittered in one of his hands, while he grasped what appeared to be
a piece of parchment in the other. His voice, when he spoke, was deep and
sonorous. He said, "I am a murderer. I am a ruffian. I crouch when I
walk. I step noiselessly. I know something of the Spanish Main. I can do
the lost treasure business. I have charts. Am able-bodied and a good
walker. Capable of haunting a large park." He looked toward me
beseechingly, but before I could make a sign I was paralysed by the
horrible sight which appeared at the door.

It was a very tall man, if, indeed, it might be called a man, for the
gaunt bones were protruding through the corroding flesh, and the features
were of a leaden hue. A winding-sheet was wrapped round the figure, and
formed a hood over the head, from under the shadow of which two fiendish
eyes, deep set in their grisly sockets, blazed and sparkled like red-hot
coals. The lower jaw had fallen upon the breast, disclosing a withered,
shrivelled tongue and two lines of black and jagged fangs. I shuddered
and drew back as this fearful apparition advanced to the edge of the

"I am the American blood-curdler," it said, in a voice which seemed to
come in a hollow murmur from the earth beneath it. "None other is
genuine. I am the embodiment of Edgar Allan Poe. I am circumstantial and
horrible. I am a low-caste spirit-subduing spectre. Observe my blood and
my bones. I am grisly and nauseous. No depending on artificial aid. Work
with grave-clothes, a coffin-lid, and a galvanic battery. Turn hair white
in a night." The creature stretched out its fleshless arms to me as if in
entreaty, but I shook my head; and it vanished, leaving a low, sickening,
repulsive odour behind it. I sank back in my chair, so overcome by terror
and disgust that I would have very willingly resigned myself to
dispensing with a ghost altogether, could I have been sure that this was
the last of the hideous procession.

A faint sound of trailing garments warned me that it was not so. I looked
up, and beheld a white figure emerging from the corridor into the light.
As it stepped across the threshold I saw that it was that of a young and
beautiful woman dressed in the fashion of a bygone day. Her hands were
clasped in front of her, and her pale proud face bore traces of passion
and of suffering. She crossed the hall with a gentle sound, like the
rustling of autumn leaves, and then, turning her lovely and unutterably
sad eyes upon me, she said. "I am the plaintive and sentimental, the
beautiful and ill-used. I have been forsaken and betrayed. I shriek in
the night-time and glide down passages. My antecedents are highly
respectable and generally aristocratic. My tastes are aesthetic. Old oak
furniture like this would do, with a few more coats of mail and plenty of
tapestry. Will you not take me?"

Her voice died away in a beautiful cadence as she concluded, and she held
out her hands as if in supplication. I am always sensitive to female
influences. Besides, what would Jorrocks's ghost be to this? Could
anything be in better taste? Would I not be exposing myself to the chance
of injuring my nervous system by interviews with such creatures as my
last visitor, unless I decided at once? She gave me a seraphic smile, as
if she knew what was passing in my mind. That smile settled the matter.
"She will do!" I cried; "I choose this one;" and as, in my enthusiasm, I
took a step toward her I passed over the magic circle which had girdled
me round.

"Argentine, we have been robbed!"

I had an indistinct consciousness of these words being spoken, or rather
screamed, in my ear a great number of times without my being able to
grasp their meaning. A violent throbbing in my head seemed to adapt
itself to their rhythm, and I closed my eyes to the lullaby of "Robbed,
robbed, robbed." A vigorous shake caused me to open them again, however,
and the sight of Mrs. D'Odd in the scantiest of costumes and most furious
of tempers was sufficiently impressive to recall all my scattered
thoughts, and make me realise that I was lying on my back on the floor,
with my head among the ashes which had fallen from last night's fire, and
a small glass phial in my hand.

I staggered to my feet, but felt so weak and giddy that I was compelled
to fall back into a chair. As my brain became clearer, stimulated by the
exclamations of Matilda, I began gradually to recollect the events of the
night. There was the door through which my supernatural visitors had
filed. There was the circle of chalk with the hieroglyphics round the
edge. There was the cigar-box and brandy-bottle which had been honoured
by the attentions of Mr. Abrahams. But the seer himself--where was he?
and what was this open window with a rope running out of it? And where, 0
where, was the pride of Goresthorpe Grange, the glorious plate which was
to have been the delectation of generations of D'Odds? And why was Mrs.
D. standing in the grey light of dawn, wringing her hands and repeating
her monotonous refrain? It was only very gradually that my misty brain
took these things in, and grasped the connection between them.

Reader, I have never seen Mr. Abrahams since; I have never seen the plate
stamped with the resuscitated family crest; hardest of all, I have never
caught a glimpse of the melancholy spectre with the trailing garments,
nor do I expect that I ever shall. In fact my night's experiences have
cured me of my mania for the supernatural, and quite reconciled me to
inhabiting the humdrum nineteenth-century edifice on the outskirts of
London which Mrs. D. has long had in her mind's eye.

As to the explanation of all that occurred--that is a matter which is
open to several surmises. That Mr. Abrahams, the ghost-hunter, was
identical with Jemmy Wilson, alias the Nottingham crackster, is
considered more than probable at Scotland Yard, and certainly the
description of that remarkable burglar tallied very well with the
appearance of my visitor. The small bag which I have described was picked
up in a neighbouring field next day, and found to contain a choice
assortment of jemmies and centre-bits. Footmarks deeply imprinted in the
mud on either side of the moat showed that an accomplice from below had
received the sack of precious metals which had been let down through the
open window. No doubt the pair of scoundrels, while looking round for a
job, had overheard Jack Brocket's indiscreet inquiries, and promptly
availed themselves of the tempting opening.

And now as to my less substantial visitors, and the curious grotesque
vision which I had enjoyed--am Ito lay it down to any real power over
occult matters possessed by my Nottingham friend? For a long time I was
doubtful upon the point, and eventually endeavoured to solve it by
consulting a well-known analyst and medical man, sending him the few
drops of the so-called essence of Lucoptolycus which remained in my
phial. I append the letter which I received from him, only too happy to
have the opportunity of winding up my little narrative by the weighty
words of a man of learning:


"Dear Sir: Your very singular case has interested me extremely. The
bottle which you sent contained a strong solution of chloral, and the
quantity which you describe yourself as having swallowed must have
amounted to at least eighty grains of the pure hydrate. This would of
course have reduced you to a partial state of insensibility, gradually
going on to complete coma. In this semi-unconscious state ofchloralism it
is not unusual for circumstantial and bizarre visions to present
themselves--more especially to individuals unaccustomed to the use of the
drug. You tell me in your note that your mind was saturated with ghostly
literature, and that you had long taken a morbid interest in classifying
and recalling the various forms in which apparitions have been said to
appear. You must also remember that you were expecting to see something
of that very nature, and that your nervous system was worked up to an
unnatural state of tension. Under the circumstances, I think that, far
from the sequel being an astonishing one, it would have been very
surprising indeed to any one versed in narcotics had you not experienced
some such effects.--I remain, dear sir, sincerely yours,

"T. E. STUBE, M.D.

"Argentine D'Odd, Esq.
"The Elms, Brixton."


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