Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
By ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
The Suicide Club
The Rajah's Diamond
The Pavilion on the Links
A Lodging for the Night - a Story of Francis Villon
The Sire de Maletroit's Door
Providence and the Guitar
THE SUICIDE CLUB
STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN WITH THE CREAM TARTS
During his residence in London, the accomplished Prince Florizel of
Bohemia gained the affection of all classes by the seduction of his
manner and by a well-considered generosity. He was a remarkable
man even by what was known of him; and that was but a small part of
what he actually did. Although of a placid temper in ordinary
circumstances, and accustomed to take the world with as much
philosophy as any ploughman, the Prince of Bohemia was not without
a taste for ways of life more adventurous and eccentric than that
to which he was destined by his birth. Now and then, when he fell
into a low humour, when there was no laughable play to witness in
any of the London theatres, and when the season of the year was
unsuitable to those field sports in which he excelled all
competitors, he would summon his confidant and Master of the Horse,
Colonel Geraldine, and bid him prepare himself against an evening
ramble. The Master of the Horse was a young officer of a brave and
even temerarious disposition. He greeted the news with delight,
and hastened to make ready. Long practice and a varied
acquaintance of life had given him a singular facility in disguise;
he could adapt not only his face and bearing, but his voice and
almost his thoughts, to those of any rank, character, or nation;
and in this way he diverted attention from the Prince, and
sometimes gained admission for the pair into strange societies.
The civil authorities were never taken into the secret of these
adventures; the imperturbable courage of the one and the ready
invention and chivalrous devotion of the other had brought them
through a score of dangerous passes; and they grew in confidence as
time went on.
One evening in March they were driven by a sharp fall of sleet into
an Oyster Bar in the immediate neighbourhood of Leicester Square.
Colonel Geraldine was dressed and painted to represent a person
connected with the Press in reduced circumstances; while the Prince
had, as usual, travestied his appearance by the addition of false
whiskers and a pair of large adhesive eyebrows. These lent him a
shaggy and weather-beaten air, which, for one of his urbanity,
formed the most impenetrable disguise. Thus equipped, the
commander and his satellite sipped their brandy and soda in
The bar was full of guests, male and female; but though more than
one of these offered to fall into talk with our adventurers, none
of them promised to grow interesting upon a nearer acquaintance.
There was nothing present but the lees of London and the
commonplace of disrespectability; and the Prince had already fallen
to yawning, and was beginning to grow weary of the whole excursion,
when the swing doors were pushed violently open, and a young man,
followed by a couple of commissionaires, entered the bar. Each of
the commissionaires carried a large dish of cream tarts under a
cover, which they at once removed; and the young man made the round
of the company, and pressed these confections upon every one's
acceptance with an exaggerated courtesy. Sometimes his offer was
laughingly accepted; sometimes it was firmly, or even harshly,
rejected. In these latter cases the new-comer always ate the tart
himself, with some more or less humorous commentary.
At last he accosted Prince Florizel.
"Sir," said he, with a profound obeisance, proffering the tart at
the same time between his thumb and forefinger, "will you so far
honour an entire stranger? I can answer for the quality of the
pastry, having eaten two dozen and three of them myself since five
"I am in the habit," replied the Prince, "of looking not so much to
the nature of a gift as to the spirit in which it is offered."
"The spirit, sir," returned the young man, with another bow, "is
one of mockery."
"Mockery?" repeated Florizel. "And whom do you propose to mock?"
"I am not here to expound my philosophy," replied the other, "but
to distribute these cream tarts. If I mention that I heartily
include myself in the ridicule of the transaction, I hope you will
consider honour satisfied and condescend. If not, you will
constrain me to eat my twenty-eighth, and I own to being weary of
"You touch me," said the Prince, "and I have all the will in the
world to rescue you from this dilemma, but upon one condition. If
my friend and I eat your cakes - for which we have neither of us
any natural inclination - we shall expect you to join us at supper
by way of recompense."
The young man seemed to reflect.
"I have still several dozen upon hand," he said at last; "and that
will make it necessary for me to visit several more bars before my
great affair is concluded. This will take some time; and if you
are hungry - "
The Prince interrupted him with a polite gesture.
"My friend and I will accompany you," he said; "for we have already
a deep interest in your very agreeable mode of passing an evening.
And now that the preliminaries of peace are settled, allow me to
sign the treaty for both."
And the Prince swallowed the tart with the best grace imaginable.
"It is delicious," said he.
"I perceive you are a connoisseur," replied the young man.
Colonel Geraldine likewise did honour to the pastry; and every one
in that bar having now either accepted or refused his delicacies,
the young man with the cream tarts led the way to another and
similar establishment. The two commissionaires, who seemed to have
grown accustomed to their absurd employment, followed immediately
after; and the Prince and the Colonel brought up the rear, arm in
arm, and smiling to each other as they went. In this order the
company visited two other taverns, where scenes were enacted of a
like nature to that already described - some refusing, some
accepting, the favours of this vagabond hospitality, and the young
man himself eating each rejected tart.
On leaving the third saloon the young man counted his store. There
were but nine remaining, three in one tray and six in the other.
"Gentlemen," said he, addressing himself to his two new followers,
"I am unwilling to delay your supper. I am positively sure you
must be hungry. I feel that I owe you a special consideration.
And on this great day for me, when I am closing a career of folly
by my most conspicuously silly action, I wish to behave handsomely
to all who give me countenance. Gentlemen, you shall wait no
longer. Although my constitution is shattered by previous
excesses, at the risk of my life I liquidate the suspensory
With these words he crushed the nine remaining tarts into his
mouth, and swallowed them at a single movement each. Then, turning
to the commissionaires, he gave them a couple of sovereigns.
"I have to thank you," said be, "for your extraordinary patience."
And he dismissed them with a bow apiece. For some seconds he stood
looking at the purse from which he had just paid his assistants,
then, with a laugh, he tossed it into the middle of the street, and
signified his readiness for supper.
In a small French restaurant in Soho, which had enjoyed an
exaggerated reputation for some little while, but had already begun
to be forgotten, and in a private room up two pair of stairs, the
three companions made a very elegant supper, and drank three or
four bottles of champagne, talking the while upon indifferent
subjects. The young man was fluent and gay, but he laughed louder
than was natural in a person of polite breeding; his hands trembled
violently, and his voice took sudden and surprising inflections,
which seemed to be independent of his will. The dessert had been
cleared away, and all three had lighted their cigars, when the
Prince addressed him in these words:-
"You will, I am sure, pardon my curiosity. What I have seen of you
has greatly pleased but even more puzzled me. And though I should
be loth to seem indiscreet, I must tell you that my friend and I
are persons very well worthy to be entrusted with a secret. We
have many of our own, which we are continually revealing to
improper ears. And if, as I suppose, your story is a silly one,
you need have no delicacy with us, who are two of the silliest men
in England. My name is Godall, Theophilus Godall; my friend is
Major Alfred Hammersmith - or at least, such is the name by which
he chooses to be known. We pass our lives entirely in the search
for extravagant adventures; and there is no extravagance with which
we are not capable of sympathy."
"I like you, Mr. Godall," returned the young man; "you inspire me
with a natural confidence; and I have not the slightest objection
to your friend the Major, whom I take to be a nobleman in
masquerade. At least, I am sure he is no soldier."
The Colonel smiled at this compliment to the perfection of his art;
and the young man went on in a more animated manner.
"There is every reason why I should not tell you my story. Perhaps
that is just the reason why I am going to do so. At least, you
seem so well prepared to hear a tale of silliness that I cannot
find it in my heart to disappoint you. My name, in spite of your
example, I shall keep to myself. My age is not essential to the
narrative. I am descended from my ancestors by ordinary
generation, and from them I inherited the very eligible human
tenement which I still occupy and a fortune of three hundred pounds
a year. I suppose they also handed on to me a hare-brain humour,
which it has been my chief delight to indulge. I received a good
education. I can play the violin nearly well enough to earn money
in the orchestra of a penny gaff, but not quite. The same remark
applies to the flute and the French horn. I learned enough of
whist to lose about a hundred a year at that scientific game. My
acquaintance with French was sufficient to enable me to squander
money in Paris with almost the same facility as in London. In
short, I am a person full of manly accomplishments. I have had
every sort of adventure, including a duel about nothing. Only two
months ago I met a young lady exactly suited to my taste in mind
and body; I found my heart melt; I saw that I had come upon my fate
at last, and was in the way to fall in love. But when I came to
reckon up what remained to me of my capital, I found it amounted to
something less than four hundred pounds! I ask you fairly - can a
man who respects himself fall in love on four hundred pounds? I
concluded, certainly not; left the presence of my charmer, and
slightly accelerating my usual rate of expenditure, came this
morning to my last eighty pounds. This I divided into two equal
parts; forty I reserved for a particular purpose; the remaining
forty I was to dissipate before the night. I have passed a very
entertaining day, and played many farces besides that of the cream
tarts which procured me the advantage of your acquaintance; for I
was determined, as I told you, to bring a foolish career to a still
more foolish conclusion; and when you saw me throw my purse into
the street, the forty pounds were at an end. Now you know me as
well as I know myself: a fool, but consistent in his folly; and,
as I will ask you to believe, neither a whimperer nor a coward."
From the whole tone of the young man's statement it was plain that
he harboured very bitter and contemptuous thoughts about himself.
His auditors were led to imagine that his love affair was nearer
his heart than he admitted, and that he had a design on his own
life. The farce of the cream tarts began to have very much the air
of a tragedy in disguise.
"Why, is this not odd," broke out Geraldine, giving a look to
Prince Florizel, "that we three fellows should have met by the
merest accident in so large a wilderness as London, and should be
so nearly in the same condition?"
"How?" cried the young man. "Are you, too, ruined? Is this supper
a folly like my cream tarts? Has the devil brought three of his
own together for a last carouse?"
"The devil, depend upon it, can sometimes do a very gentlemanly
thing," returned Prince Florizel; "and I am so much touched by this
coincidence, that, although we are not entirely in the same case, I
am going to put an end to the disparity. Let your heroic treatment
of the last cream tarts be my example."
So saying, the Prince drew out his purse and took from it a small
bundle of bank-notes.
"You see, I was a week or so behind you, but I mean to catch you up
and come neck and neck into the winning-post," he continued.
"This," laying one of the notes upon the table, "will suffice for
the bill. As for the rest - "
He tossed them into the fire, and they went up the chimney in a
The young man tried to catch his arm, but as the table was between
them his interference came too late.
"Unhappy man," he cried, "you should not have burned them all! You
should have kept forty pounds."
"Forty pounds!" repeated the Prince. "Why, in heaven's name, forty
"Why not eighty?" cried the Colonel; "for to my certain knowledge
there must have been a hundred in the bundle."
"It was only forty pounds he needed," said the young man gloomily.
"But without them there is no admission. The rule is strict.
Forty pounds for each. Accursed life, where a man cannot even die
The Prince and the Colonel exchanged glances. "Explain yourself,"
said the latter. "I have still a pocket-book tolerably well lined,
and I need not say how readily I should share my wealth with
Godall. But I must know to what end: you must certainly tell us
what you mean."
The young man seemed to awaken; he looked uneasily from one to the
other, and his face flushed deeply.
"You are not fooling me?" he asked. "You are indeed ruined men
"Indeed, I am for my part," replied the Colonel.
"And for mine," said the Prince, "I have given you proof. Who but
a ruined man would throw his notes into the fire? The action
speaks for itself."
"A ruined man - yes," returned the other suspiciously, "or else a
"Enough, sir," said the Prince; "I have said so, and I am not
accustomed to have my word remain in doubt."
"Ruined?" said the young man. "Are you ruined, like me? Are you,
after a life of indulgence, come to such a pass that you can only
indulge yourself in one thing more? Are you" - he kept lowering
his voice as he went on - "are you going to give yourselves that
last indulgence? Are you going to avoid the consequences of your
folly by the one infallible and easy path? Are you going to give
the slip to the sheriff's officers of conscience by the one open
Suddenly he broke off and attempted to laugh.
"Here is your health!" he cried, emptying his glass, "and good
night to you, my merry ruined men."
Colonel Geraldine caught him by the arm as he was about to rise.
"You lack confidence in us," he said, "and you are wrong. To all
your questions I make answer in the affirmative. But I am not so
timid, and can speak the Queen's English plainly. We too, like
yourself, have had enough of life, and are determined to die.
Sooner or later, alone or together, we meant to seek out death and
beard him where he lies ready. Since we have met you, and your
case is more pressing, let it be to-night - and at once - and, if
you will, all three together. Such a penniless trio," he cried,
"should go arm in arm into the halls of Pluto, and give each other
some countenance among the shades!"
Geraldine had hit exactly on the manners and intonations that
became the part he was playing. The Prince himself was disturbed,
and looked over at his confidant with a shade of doubt. As for the
young man, the flush came back darkly into his cheek, and his eyes
threw out a spark of light.
"You are the men for me!" he cried, with an almost terrible gaiety.
"Shake hands upon the bargain!" (his hand was cold and wet). "You
little know in what a company you will begin the march! You little
know in what a happy moment for yourselves you partook of my cream
tarts! I am only a unit, but I am a unit in an army. I know
Death's private door. I am one of his familiars, and can show you
into eternity without ceremony and yet without scandal."
They called upon him eagerly to explain his meaning.
"Can you muster eighty pounds between you?" he demanded.
Geraldine ostentatiously consulted his pocket-book, and replied in
"Fortunate beings!" cried the young man. "Forty pounds is the
entry money of the Suicide Club."
"The Suicide Club," said the Prince, "why, what the devil is that?"
"Listen," said the young man; "this is the age of conveniences, and
I have to tell you of the last perfection of the sort. We have
affairs in different places; and hence railways were invented.
Railways separated us infallibly from our friends; and so
telegraphs were made that we might communicate speedier at great
distances. Even in hotels we have lifts to spare us a climb of
some hundred steps. Now, we know that life is only a stage to play
the fool upon as long as the part amuses us. There was one more
convenience lacking to modern comfort; a decent, easy way to quit
that stage; the back stairs to liberty; or, as I said this moment,
Death's private door. This, my two fellow-rebels, is supplied by
the Suicide Club. Do not suppose that you and I are alone, or even
exceptional in the highly reasonable desire that we profess. A
large number of our fellowmen, who have grown heartily sick of the
performance in which they are expected to join daily and all their
lives long, are only kept from flight by one or two considerations.
Some have families who would be shocked, or even blamed, if the
matter became public; others have a weakness at heart and recoil
from the circumstances of death. That is, to some extent, my own
experience. I cannot put a pistol to my head and draw the trigger;
for something stronger than myself withholds the act; and although
I loathe life, I have not strength enough in my body to take hold
of death and be done with it. For such as I, and for all who
desire to be out of the coil without posthumous scandal, the
Suicide Club has been inaugurated. How this has been managed, what
is its history, or what may be its ramifications in other lands, I
am myself uninformed; and what I know of its constitution, I am not
at liberty to communicate to you. To this extent, however, I am at
your service. If you are truly tired of life, I will introduce you
to-night to a meeting; and if not to-night, at least some time
within the week, you will be easily relieved of your existences.
It is now (consulting his watch) eleven; by half-past, at latest,
we must leave this place; so that you have half-an-hour before you
to consider my proposal. It is more serious than a cream tart," he
added, with a smile; "and I suspect more palatable."
"More serious, certainly," returned Colonel Geraldine; "and as it
is so much more so, will you allow me five minutes' speech in
private with my friend, Mr. Godall?"
"It is only fair," answered the young man. "If you will permit, I
"You will be very obliging," said the Colonel.
As soon as the two were alone - "What," said Prince Florizel, "is
the use of this confabulation, Geraldine? I see you are flurried,
whereas my mind is very tranquilly made up. I will see the end of
"Your Highness," said the Colonel, turning pale; "let me ask you to
consider the importance of your life, not only to your friends, but
to the public interest. 'If not to-night,' said this madman; but
supposing that to-night some irreparable disaster were to overtake
your Highness's person, what, let me ask you, what would be my
despair, and what the concern and disaster of a great nation?"
"I will see the end of this," repeated the Prince in his most
deliberate tones; "and have the kindness, Colonel Geraldine, to
remember and respect your word of honour as a gentleman. Under no
circumstances, recollect, nor without my special authority, are you
to betray the incognito under which I choose to go abroad. These
were my commands, which I now reiterate. And now," he added, "let
me ask you to call for the bill."
Colonel Geraldine bowed in submission; but he had a very white face
as he summoned the young man of the cream tarts, and issued his
directions to the waiter. The Prince preserved his undisturbed
demeanour, and described a Palais Royal farce to the young suicide
with great humour and gusto. He avoided the Colonel's appealing
looks without ostentation, and selected another cheroot with more
than usual care. Indeed, he was now the only man of the party who
kept any command over his nerves.
The bill was discharged, the Prince giving the whole change of the
note to the astonished waiter; and the three drove off in a four-
wheeler. They were not long upon the way before the cab stopped at
the entrance to a rather dark court. Here all descended.
After Geraldine had paid the fare, the young man turned, and
addressed Prince Florizel as follows:-
"It is still time, Mr. Godall, to make good your escape into
thraldom. And for you too, Major Hammersmith. Reflect well before
you take another step; and if your hearts say no - here are the
"Lead on, sir," said the Prince. "I am not the man to go back from
a thing once said."
"Your coolness does me good," replied their guide. "I have never
seen any one so unmoved at this conjuncture; and yet you are not
the first whom I have escorted to this door. More than one of my
friends has preceded me, where I knew I must shortly follow. But
this is of no interest to you. Wait me here for only a few
moments; I shall return as soon as I have arranged the
preliminaries of your introduction."
And with that the young man, waving his hand to his companions,
turned into the court, entered a doorway and disappeared.
"Of all our follies," said Colonel Geraldine in a low voice, "this
is the wildest and most dangerous."
"I perfectly believe so," returned the Prince.
"We have still," pursued the Colonel, "a moment to ourselves. Let
me beseech your Highness to profit by the opportunity and retire.
The consequences of this step are so dark, and may be so grave,
that I feel myself justified in pushing a little farther than usual
the liberty which your Highness is so condescending as to allow me
"Am I to understand that Colonel Geraldine is afraid?" asked his
Highness, taking his cheroot from his lips, and looking keenly into
the other's face.
"My fear is certainly not personal," replied the other proudly; "of
that your Highness may rest well assured."
"I had supposed as much," returned the Prince, with undisturbed
good humour; "but I was unwilling to remind you of the difference
in our stations. No more - no more," he added, seeing Geraldine
about to apologise, "you stand excused."
And he smoked placidly, leaning against a railing, until the young
"Well," he asked, "has our reception been arranged?"
"Follow me," was the reply. "The President will see you in the
cabinet. And let me warn you to be frank in your answers. I have
stood your guarantee; but the club requires a searching inquiry
before admission; for the indiscretion of a single member would
lead to the dispersion of the whole society for ever."
The Prince and Geraldine put their heads together for a moment.
"Bear me out in this," said the one; and "bear me out in that,"
said the other; and by boldly taking up the characters of men with
whom both were acquainted, they had come to an agreement in a
twinkling, and were ready to follow their guide into the
There were no formidable obstacles to pass. The outer door stood
open; the door of the cabinet was ajar; and there, in a small but
very high apartment, the young man left them once more.
"He will be here immediately," he said, with a nod, as he
Voices were audible in the cabinet through the folding doors which
formed one end; and now and then the noise of a champagne cork,
followed by a burst of laughter, intervened among the sounds of
conversation. A single tall window looked out upon the river and
the embankment; and by the disposition of the lights they judged
themselves not far from Charing Cross station. The furniture was
scanty, and the coverings worn to the thread; and there was nothing
movable except a hand-bell in the centre of a round table, and the
hats and coats of a considerable party hung round the wall on pegs.
"What sort of a den is this?" said Geraldine.
"That is what I have come to see," replied the Prince. "If they
keep live devils on the premises, the thing may grow amusing."
Just then the folding door was opened no more than was necessary
for the passage of a human body; and there entered at the same
moment a louder buzz of talk, and the redoubtable President of the
Suicide Club. The President was a man of fifty or upwards; large
and rambling in his gait, with shaggy side whiskers, a bald top to
his head, and a veiled grey eye, which now and then emitted a
twinkle. His mouth, which embraced a large cigar, he kept
continually screwing round and round and from side to side, as he
looked sagaciously and coldly at the strangers. He was dressed in
light tweeds, with his neck very open in a striped shirt collar;
and carried a minute book under one arm.
"Good evening," said he, after he had closed the door behind him.
"I am told you wish to speak with me."
"We have a desire, sir, to join the Suicide Club," replied the
The President rolled his cigar about in his mouth. "What is that?"
he said abruptly.
"Pardon me," returned the Colonel, "but I believe you are the
person best qualified to give us information on that point."
"I?" cried the President. "A Suicide Club? Come, come! this is a
frolic for All Fools' Day. I can make allowances for gentlemen who
get merry in their liquor; but let there be an end to this."
"Call your Club what you will," said the Colonel, "you have some
company behind these doors, and we insist on joining it."
"Sir," returned the President curtly, "you have made a mistake.
This is a private house, and you must leave it instantly."
The Prince had remained quietly in his seat throughout this little
colloquy; but now, when the Colonel looked over to him, as much as
to say, "Take your answer and come away, for God's sake!" he drew
his cheroot from his mouth, and spoke -
"I have come here," said he, "upon the invitation of a friend of
yours. He has doubtless informed you of my intention in thus
intruding on your party. Let me remind you that a person in my
circumstances has exceedingly little to bind him, and is not at all
likely to tolerate much rudeness. I am a very quiet man, as a
usual thing; but, my dear sir, you are either going to oblige me in
the little matter of which you are aware, or you shall very
bitterly repent that you ever admitted me to your ante-chamber."
The President laughed aloud.
"That is the way to speak," said he. "You are a man who is a man.
You know the way to my heart, and can do what you like with me.
Will you," he continued, addressing Geraldine, "will you step aside
for a few minutes? I shall finish first with your companion, and
some of the club's formalities require to be fulfilled in private."
With these words he opened the door of a small closet, into which
he shut the Colonel.
"I believe in you," he said to Florizel, as soon as they were
alone; "but are you sure of your friend?"
"Not so sure as I am of myself, though he has more cogent reasons,"
answered Florizel, "but sure enough to bring him here without
alarm. He has had enough to cure the most tenacious man of life.
He was cashiered the other day for cheating at cards."
"A good reason, I daresay," replied the President; "at least, we
have another in the same case, and I feel sure of him. Have you
also been in the Service, may I ask?"
"I have," was the reply; "but I was too lazy, I left it early."
"What is your reason for being tired of life?" pursued the
"The same, as near as I can make out," answered the Prince;
The President started. "D-n it," said he, "you must have something
better than that."
"I have no more money," added Florizel. "That is also a vexation,
without doubt. It brings my sense of idleness to an acute point."
The President rolled his cigar round in his mouth for some seconds,
directing his gaze straight into the eyes of this unusual neophyte;
but the Prince supported his scrutiny with unabashed good temper.
"If I had not a deal of experience," said the President at last, "I
should turn you off. But I know the world; and this much any way,
that the most frivolous excuses for a suicide are often the
toughest to stand by. And when I downright like a man, as I do
you, sir, I would rather strain the regulation than deny him."
The Prince and the Colonel, one after the other, were subjected to
a long and particular interrogatory: the Prince alone; but
Geraldine in the presence of the Prince, so that the President
might observe the countenance of the one while the other was being
warmly cross-examined. The result was satisfactory; and the
President, after having booked a few details of each case, produced
a form of oath to be accepted. Nothing could be conceived more
passive than the obedience promised, or more stringent than the
terms by which the juror bound himself. The man who forfeited a
pledge so awful could scarcely have a rag of honour or any of the
consolations of religion left to him. Florizel signed the
document, but not without a shudder; the Colonel followed his
example with an air of great depression. Then the President
received the entry money; and without more ado, introduced the two
friends into the smoking-room of the Suicide Club.
The smoking-room of the Suicide Club was the same height as the
cabinet into which it opened, but much larger, and papered from top
to bottom with an imitation of oak wainscot. A large and cheerful
fire and a number of gas-jets illuminated the company. The Prince
and his follower made the number up to eighteen. Most of the party
were smoking, and drinking champagne; a feverish hilarity reigned,
with sudden and rather ghastly pauses.
"Is this a full meeting?" asked the Prince.
"Middling," said the President. "By the way," he added, "if you
have any money, it is usual to offer some champagne. It keeps up a
good spirit, and is one of my own little perquisites."
"Hammersmith," said Florizel, "I may leave the champagne to you."
And with that he turned away and began to go round among the
guests. Accustomed to play the host in the highest circles, he
charmed and dominated all whom he approached; there was something
at once winning and authoritative in his address; and his
extraordinary coolness gave him yet another distinction in this
half maniacal society. As he went from one to another he kept both
his eyes and ears open, and soon began to gain a general idea of
the people among whom he found himself. As in all other places of
resort, one type predominated: people in the prime of youth, with
every show of intelligence and sensibility in their appearance, but
with little promise of strength or the quality that makes success.
Few were much above thirty, and not a few were still in their
teens. They stood, leaning on tables and shifting on their feet;
sometimes they smoked extraordinarily fast, and sometimes they let
their cigars go out; some talked well, but the conversation of
others was plainly the result of nervous tension, and was equally
without wit or purport. As each new bottle of champagne was
opened, there was a manifest improvement in gaiety. Only two were
seated - one in a chair in the recess of the window, with his head
hanging and his hands plunged deep into his trouser pockets, pale,
visibly moist with perspiration, saying never a word, a very wreck
of soul and body; the other sat on the divan close by the chimney,
and attracted notice by a trenchant dissimilarity from all the
rest. He was probably upwards of forty, but he looked fully ten
years older; and Florizel thought he had never seen a man more
naturally hideous, nor one more ravaged by disease and ruinous
excitements. He was no more than skin and bone, was partly
paralysed, and wore spectacles of such unusual power, that his eyes
appeared through the glasses greatly magnified and distorted in
shape. Except the Prince and the President, he was the only person
in the room who preserved the composure of ordinary life.
There was little decency among the members of the club. Some
boasted of the disgraceful actions, the consequences of which had
reduced them to seek refuge in death; and the others listened
without disapproval. There was a tacit understanding against moral
judgments; and whoever passed the club doors enjoyed already some
of the immunities of the tomb. They drank to each other's
memories, and to those of notable suicides in the past. They
compared and developed their different views of death - some
declaring that it was no more than blackness and cessation; others
full of a hope that that very night they should be scaling the
stars and commencing with the mighty dead.
"To the eternal memory of Baron Trenck, the type of suicides!"
cried one. "He went out of a small cell into a smaller, that he
might come forth again to freedom."
"For my part," said a second, "I wish no more than a bandage for my
eyes and cotton for my ears. Only they have no cotton thick enough
in this world."
A third was for reading the mysteries of life in a future state;
and a fourth professed that he would never have joined the club, if
he had not been induced to believe in Mr. Darwin.
"I could not bear," said this remarkable suicide, "to be descended
from an ape."
Altogether, the Prince was disappointed by the bearing and
conversation of the members.
"It does not seem to me," he thought, "a matter for so much
disturbance. If a man has made up his mind to kill himself, let
him do it, in God's name, like a gentleman. This flutter and big
talk is out of place."
In the meanwhile Colonel Geraldine was a prey to the blackest
apprehensions; the club and its rules were still a mystery, and he
looked round the room for some one who should be able to set his
mind at rest. In this survey his eye lighted on the paralytic
person with the strong spectacles; and seeing him so exceedingly
tranquil, he besought the President, who was going in and out of
the room under a pressure of business, to present him to the
gentleman on the divan.
The functionary explained the needlessness of all such formalities
within the club, but nevertheless presented Mr. Hammersmith to Mr.
Mr. Malthus looked at the Colonel curiously, and then requested him
to take a seat upon his right.
"You are a new-comer," he said, "and wish information? You have
come to the proper source. It is two years since I first visited
this charming club."
The Colonel breathed again. If Mr. Malthus had frequented the
place for two years there could be little danger for the Prince in
a single evening. But Geraldine was none the less astonished, and
began to suspect a mystification.
"What!" cried he, "two years! I thought - but indeed I see I have
been made the subject of a pleasantry."
"By no means," replied Mr. Malthus mildly. "My case is peculiar.
I am not, properly speaking, a suicide at all; but, as it were, an
honorary member. I rarely visit the club twice in two months. My
infirmity and the kindness of the President have procured me these
little immunities, for which besides I pay at an advanced rate.
Even as it is my luck has been extraordinary."
"I am afraid," said the Colonel, "that I must ask you to be more
explicit. You must remember that I am still most imperfectly
acquainted with the rules of the club."
"An ordinary member who comes here in search of death like
yourself," replied the paralytic, "returns every evening until
fortune favours him. He can even, if he is penniless, get board
and lodging from the President: very fair, I believe, and clean,
although, of course, not luxurious; that could hardly be,
considering the exiguity (if I may so express myself) of the
subscription. And then the President's company is a delicacy in
"Indeed!" cried Geraldine, "he had not greatly prepossessed me."
"Ah!" said Mr. Malthus, "you do not know the man: the drollest
fellow! What stories! What cynicism! He knows life to admiration
and, between ourselves, is probably the most corrupt rogue in
"And he also," asked the Colonel, "is a permanency - like yourself,
if I may say so without offence?"
"Indeed, he is a permanency in a very different sense from me,"
replied Mr. Malthus. "I have hem graciously spared, but I must go
at last. Now he never plays. He shuffles and deals for the club,
and makes the necessary arrangements. That man, my dear Mr.
Hammersmith, is the very soul of ingenuity. For three years he has
pursued in London his useful and, I think I may add, his artistic
calling; and not so much as a whisper of suspicion has been once
aroused. I believe him myself to be inspired. You doubtless
remember the celebrated case, six months ago, of the gentleman who
was accidentally poisoned in a chemists shop? That was one of the
least rich, one of the least racy, of his notions; but then, how
simple! and how safe!"
"You astound me," said the Colonel. "Was that unfortunate
gentleman one of the - " He was about to say "victims"; but
bethinking himself in time, he substituted - "members of the club?"
In the same flash of thought, it occurred to him that Mr. Malthus
himself had not at all spoken in the tone of one who is in love
with death; and he added hurriedly:
"But I perceive I am still in the dark. You speak of shuffling and
dealing; pray for what end? And since you seem rather unwilling to
die than otherwise, I must own that I cannot conceive what brings
you here at all."
"You say truly that you are in the dark," replied Mr. Malthus with
more animation. "Why, my dear sir, this club is the temple of
intoxication. If my enfeebled health could support the excitement
more often, you may depend upon it I should be more often here. It
requires all the sense of duty engendered by a long habit of ill-
health and careful regimen, to keep me from excess in this, which
is, I may say, my last dissipation. I have tried them all, sir,"
he went on, laying his hand on Geraldine's arm, "all without
exception, and I declare to you, upon my honour, there is not one
of them that has not been grossly and untruthfully overrated.
People trifle with love. Now, I deny that love is a strong
passion. Fear is the strong passion; it is with fear that you must
trifle, if you wish to taste the intensest joys of living. Envy me
- envy me, sir," he added with a chuckle, "I am a coward!"
Geraldine could scarcely repress a movement of repulsion for this
deplorable wretch; but he commanded himself with an effort, and
continued his inquiries.
"How, sir," he asked, "is the excitement so artfully prolonged? and
where is there any element of uncertainty?"
"I must tell you how the victim for every evening is selected,"
returned Mr. Malthus; "and not only the victim, but another member,
who is to be the instrument in the club's hands, and death's high
priest for that occasion."
"Good God!" said the Colonel, "do they then kill each other?"
"The trouble of suicide is removed in that way," returned Malthus
with a nod.
"Merciful heavens!" ejaculated the Colonel, "and may you - may I -
may the - my friend I mean - may any of us be pitched upon this
evening as the slayer of another man's body and immortal spirit?
Can such things be possible among men born of women? Oh! infamy of
He was about to rise in his horror, when he caught the Prince's
eye. It was fixed upon him from across the room with a frowning
and angry stare. And in a moment Geraldine recovered his
"After all," he added, "why not? And since you say the game is
interesting, VOGUE LA GALERE - I follow the club!"
Mr. Malthus had keenly enjoyed the Colonel's amazement and disgust.
He had the vanity of wickedness; and it pleased him to see another
man give way to a generous movement, while he felt himself, in his
entire corruption, superior to such emotions.
"You now, after your first moment of surprise," said he, "are in a
position to appreciate the delights of our society. You can see
how it combines the excitement of a gaming-table, a duel, and a
Roman amphitheatre. The Pagans did well enough; I cordially admire
the refinement of their minds; but it has been reserved for a
Christian country to attain this extreme, this quintessence, this
absolute of poignancy. You will understand how vapid are all
amusements to a man who has acquired a taste for this one. The
game we play," he continued, "is one of extreme simplicity. A full
pack - but I perceive you are about to see the thing in progress.
Will you lend me the help of your arm? I am unfortunately
Indeed, just as Mr. Malthus was beginning his description, another
pair of folding-doors was thrown open, and the whole club began to
pass, not without some hurry, into the adjoining room. It was
similar in every respect to the one from which it was entered, but
somewhat differently furnished. The centre was occupied by a long
green table, at which the President sat shuffling a pack of cards
with great particularity. Even with the stick and the Colonel's
arm, Mr. Malthus walked with so much difficulty that every one was
seated before this pair and the Prince, who had waited for them,
entered the apartment; and, in consequence, the three took seats
close together at the lower end of the board.
"It is a pack of fifty-two," whispered Mr. Malthus. "Watch for the
ace of spades, which is the sign of death, and the ace of clubs,
which designates the official of the night. Happy, happy young
men!" he added. "You have good eyes, and can follow the game.
Alas! I cannot tell an ace from a deuce across the table."
And he proceeded to equip himself with a second pair of spectacles.
"I must at least watch the faces," he explained.
The Colonel rapidly informed his friend of all that he had learned
from the honorary member, and of the horrible alternative that lay
before them. The Prince was conscious of a deadly chill and a
contraction about his heart; he swallowed with difficulty, and
looked from side to side like a man in a maze.
"One bold stroke," whispered the Colonel, "and we may still
But the suggestion recalled the Prince's spirits.
"Silence!" said be. "Let me see that you can play like a gentleman
for any stake, however serious."
And he looked about him, once more to all appearance at his ease,
although his heart beat thickly, and he was conscious of an
unpleasant heat in his bosom. The members were all very quiet and
intent; every one was pale, but none so pale as Mr. Malthus. His
eyes protruded; his head kept nodding involuntarily upon his spine;
his hands found their way, one after the other, to his mouth, where
they made clutches at his tremulous and ashen lips. It was plain
that the honorary member enjoyed his membership on very startling
"Attention, gentlemen!" said the President.
And he began slowly dealing the cards about the table in the
reverse direction, pausing until each man had shown his card.
Nearly every one hesitated; and sometimes you would see a player's
fingers stumble more than once before he could turn over the
momentous slip of pasteboard. As the Prince's turn drew nearer, he
was conscious of a growing and almost suffocating excitement; but
he had somewhat of the gambler's nature, and recognised almost with
astonishment, that there was a degree of pleasure in his
sensations. The nine of clubs fell to his lot; the three of spades
was dealt to Geraldine; and the queen of hearts to Mr. Malthus, who
was unable to suppress a sob of relief. The young man of the cream
tarts almost immediately afterwards turned over the ace of clubs,
and remained frozen with horror, the card still resting on his
finger; he had not come there to kill, but to be killed; and the
Prince in his generous sympathy with his position almost forgot the
peril that still hung over himself and his friend.
The deal was coming round again, and still Death's card had not
come out. The players held their respiration, and only breathed by
gasps. The Prince received another club; Geraldine had a diamond;
but when Mr. Malthus turned up his card a horrible noise, like that
of something breaking, issued from his mouth; and he rose from his
seat and sat down again, with no sign of his paralysis. It was the
ace of spades. The honorary member had trifled once too often with
Conversation broke out again almost at once. The players relaxed
their rigid attitudes, and began to rise from the table and stroll
back by twos and threes into the smoking-room. The President
stretched his arms and yawned, like a man who has finished his
day's work. But Mr. Malthus sat in his place, with his head in his
hands, and his hands upon the table, drunk and motionless - a thing
The Prince and Geraldine made their escape at once. In the cold
night air their horror of what they had witnessed was redoubled.
"Alas!" cried the Prince, "to be bound by an oath in such a matter!
to allow this wholesale trade in murder to be continued with profit
and impunity! If I but dared to forfeit my pledge!"
"That is impossible for your Highness," replied the Colonel, "whose
honour is the honour of Bohemia. But I dare, and may with
propriety, forfeit mine."
"Geraldine," said the Prince, "if your honour suffers in any of the
adventures into which you follow me, not only will I never pardon
you, but - what I believe will much more sensibly affect you - I
should never forgive myself."
"I receive your Highness's commands," replied the Colonel. "Shall
we go from this accursed spot?"
"Yes," said the Prince. "Call a cab in Heaven's name, and let me
try to forget in slumber the memory of this night's disgrace."
But it was notable that he carefully read the name of the court
before he left it.
The next morning, as soon as the Prince was stirring, Colonel
Geraldine brought him a daily newspaper, with the following
"MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT. - This morning, about two o'clock, Mr.
Bartholomew Malthus, of 16 Chepstow Place, Westbourne Grove, on his
way home from a party at a friend's house, fell over the upper
parapet in Trafalgar Square, fracturing his skull and breaking a
leg and an arm. Death was instantaneous. Mr. Malthus, accompanied
by a friend, was engaged in looking for a cab at the time of the
unfortunate occurrence. As Mr. Malthus was paralytic, it is
thought that his fall may have been occasioned by another seizure.
The unhappy gentleman was well known in the most respectable
circles, and his loss will be widely and deeply deplored."
"If ever a soul went straight to Hell," said Geraldine solemnly,
"it was that paralytic man's."
The Prince buried his face in his hands, and remained silent.
"I am almost rejoiced," continued the Colonel, "to know that he is
dead. But for our young man of the cream tarts I confess my heart
"Geraldine," said the Prince, raising his face, "that unhappy lad
was last night as innocent as you and I; and this morning the guilt
of blood is on his soul. When I think of the President, my heart
grows sick within me. I do not know how it shall be done, but I
shall have that scoundrel at my mercy as there is a God in heaven.
What an experience, what a lesson, was that game of cards!"
"One," said the Colonel, "never to be repeated."
The Prince remained so long without replying, that Geraldine grew
"You cannot mean to return," he said. "You have suffered too much
and seen too much horror already. The duties of your high position
forbid the repetition of the hazard."
"There is much in what you say," replied Prince Florizel, "and I am
not altogether pleased with my own determination. Alas! in the
clothes of the greatest potentate, what is there but a man? I
never felt my weakness more acutely than now, Geraldine, but it is
stronger than I. Can I cease to interest myself in the fortunes of
the unhappy young man who supped with us some hours ago? Can I
leave the President to follow his nefarious career unwatched? Can
I begin an adventure so entrancing, and not follow it to an end?
No, Geraldine: you ask of the Prince more than the man is able to
perform. To-night, once more, we take our places at the table of
the Suicide Club."
Colonel Geraldine fell upon his knees.
"Will your Highness take my life?" he cried. "It is his - his
freely; but do not, O do not! let him ask me to countenance so
terrible a risk."
"Colonel Geraldine," replied the Prince, with some haughtiness of
manner, "your life is absolutely your own. I only looked for
obedience; and when that is unwillingly rendered, I shall look for
that no longer. I add one word your: importunity in this affair
has been sufficient."
The Master of the Horse regained his feet at once.
"Your Highness," he said, "may I be excused in my attendance this
afternoon? I dare not, as an honourable man, venture a second time
into that fatal house until I have perfectly ordered my affairs.
Your Highness shall meet, I promise him, with no more opposition
from the most devoted and grateful of his servants."
"My dear Geraldine," returned Prince Florizel, "I always regret
when you oblige me to remember my rank. Dispose of your day as you
think fit, but be here before eleven in the same disguise."
The club, on this second evening, was not so fully attended; and
when Geraldine and the Prince arrived, there were not above half-a-
dozen persons in the smoking-room. His Highness took the President
aside and congratulated him warmly on the demise of Mr. Malthus.
"I like," he said, "to meet with capacity, and certainly find much
of it in you. Your profession is of a very delicate nature, but I
see you are well qualified to conduct it with success and secrecy."
The President was somewhat affected by these compliments from one
of his Highness's superior bearing. He acknowledged them almost
"Poor Malthy!" he added, "I shall hardly know the club without him.
The most of my patrons are boys, sir, and poetical boys, who are
not much company for me. Not but what Malthy had some poetry, too;
but it was of a kind that I could understand."
"I can readily imagine you should find yourself in sympathy with
Mr. Malthus," returned the Prince. "He struck me as a man of a
very original disposition."
The young man of the cream tarts was in the room, but painfully
depressed and silent. His late companions sought in vain to lead
him into conversation.
"How bitterly I wish," he cried, "that I had never brought you to
this infamous abode! Begone, while you are clean-handed. If you
could have heard the old man scream as he fell, and the noise of
his bones upon the pavement! Wish me, if you have any kindness to
so fallen a being - wish the ace of spades for me to-night!"
A few more members dropped in as the evening went on, but the club
did not muster more than the devil's dozen when they took their
places at the table. The Prince was again conscious of a certain
joy in his alarms; but he was astonished to see Geraldine so much
more self-possessed than on the night before.
"It is extraordinary," thought the Prince, "that a will, made or
unmade, should so greatly influence a young man's spirit."
"Attention, gentlemen!" said the President, and he began to deal.
Three times the cards went all round the table, and neither of the
marked cards had yet fallen from his hand. The excitement as he
began the fourth distribution was overwhelming. There were just
cards enough to go once more entirely round. The Prince, who sat
second from the dealer's left, would receive, in the reverse mode
of dealing practised at the club, the second last card. The third
player turned up a black ace - it was the ace of clubs. The next
received a diamond, the next a heart, and so on; but the ace of
spades was still undelivered. At last, Geraldine, who sat upon the
Prince's left, turned his card; it was an ace, but the ace of
When Prince Florizel saw his fate upon the table in front of him,
his heart stood still. He was a brave man, but the sweat poured
off his face. There were exactly fifty chances out of a hundred
that he was doomed. He reversed the card; it was the ace of
spades. A loud roaring filled his brain, and the table swam before
his eyes. He heard the player on his right break into a fit of
laughter that sounded between mirth and disappointment; he saw the
company rapidly dispersing, but his mind was full of other
thoughts. He recognised how foolish, how criminal, had been his
conduct. In perfect health, in the prime of his years, the heir to
a throne, he had gambled away his future and that of a brave and
loyal country. "God," he cried, "God forgive me!" And with that,
the confusion of his senses passed away, and he regained his self-
possession in a moment.
To his surprise Geraldine had disappeared. There was no one in the
card-room but his destined butcher consulting with the President,
and the young man of the cream tarts, who slipped up to the Prince,
and whispered in his ear:-
"I would give a million, if I had it, for your luck."
His Highness could not help reflecting, as the young man departed,
that he would have sold his opportunity for a much more moderate
The whispered conference now came to an end. The holder of the ace
of clubs left the room with a look of intelligence, and the
President, approaching the unfortunate Prince, proffered him his
"I am pleased to have met you, sir," said he, "and pleased to have
been in a position to do you this trifling service. At least, you
cannot complain of delay. On the second evening - what a stroke of
The Prince endeavoured in vain to articulate something in response,
but his mouth was dry and his tongue seemed paralysed.
"You feel a little sickish?" asked the President, with some show of
solicitude. "Most gentlemen do. Will you take a little brandy?"
The Prince signified in the affirmative, and the other immediately
filled some of the spirit into a tumbler.
"Poor old Malthy!" ejaculated the President, as the Prince drained
the glass. "He drank near upon a pint, and little enough good it
seemed to do him!"
"I am more amenable to treatment," said the Prince, a good deal
revived. "I am my own man again at once, as you perceive. And so,
let me ask you, what are my directions?"
"You will proceed along the Strand in the direction of the City,
and on the left-hand pavement, until you meet the gentleman who has
just left the room. He will continue your instructions, and him
you will have the kindness to obey; the authority of the club is
vested in his person for the night. And now," added the President,
"I wish you a pleasant walk."
Florizel acknowledged the salutation rather awkwardly, and took his
leave. He passed through the smoking-room, where the bulk of the
players were still consuming champagne, some of which he had
himself ordered and paid for; and he was surprised to find himself
cursing them in his heart. He put on his hat and greatcoat in the
cabinet, and selected his umbrella from a corner. The familiarity
of these acts, and the thought that he was about them for the last
time, betrayed him into a fit of laughter which sounded
unpleasantly in his own ears. He conceived a reluctance to leave
the cabinet, and turned instead to the window. The sight of the
lamps and the darkness recalled him to himself.
"Come, come, I must be a man," he thought, "and tear myself away."
At the corner of Box Court three men fell upon Prince Florizel and
he was unceremoniously thrust into a carriage, which at once drove
rapidly away. There was already an occupant.
"Will your Highness pardon my zeal?" said a well known voice.
The Prince threw himself upon the Colonel's neck in a passion of
"How can I ever thank you?" he cried. "And how was this effected?"
Although he had been willing to march upon his doom, he was
overjoyed to yield to friendly violence, and return once more to
life and hope.
"You can thank me effectually enough," replied the Colonel, "by
avoiding all such dangers in the future. And as for your second
question, all has been managed by the simplest means. I arranged
this afternoon with a celebrated detective. Secrecy has been
promised and paid for. Your own servants have been principally
engaged in the affair. The house in Box Court has been surrounded
since nightfall, and this, which is one of your own carriages, has
been awaiting you for nearly an hour."
"And the miserable creature who was to have slain me - what of
him?" inquired the Prince.
"He was pinioned as he left the club," replied the Colonel, "and
now awaits your sentence at the Palace, where he will soon be
joined by his accomplices."
"Geraldine," said the Prince, "you have saved me against my
explicit orders, and you have done well. I owe you not only my
life, but a lesson; and I should be unworthy of my rank if I did
not show myself grateful to my teacher. Let it be yours to choose
There was a pause, during which the carriage continued to speed
through the streets, and the two men were each buried in his own
reflections. The silence was broken by Colonel Geraldine.
"Your Highness," said he, "has by this time a considerable body of
prisoners. There is at least one criminal among the number to whom
justice should be dealt. Our oath forbids us all recourse to law;
and discretion would forbid it equally if the oath were loosened.
May I inquire your Highness's intention?"
"It is decided," answered Florizel; "the President must fall in
duel. It only remains to choose his adversary."
"Your Highness has permitted me to name my own recompense," said
the Colonel. "Will he permit me to ask the appointment of my
brother? It is an honourable post, but I dare assure your Highness
that the lad will acquit himself with credit."
"You ask me an ungracious favour," said the Prince, "but I must
refuse you nothing."
The Colonel kissed his hand with the greatest affection; and at
that moment the carriage rolled under the archway of the Prince's
An hour after, Florizel in his official robes, and covered with all
the orders of Bohemia, received the members of the Suicide Club.
"Foolish and wicked men," said he, "as many of you as have been
driven into this strait by the lack of fortune shall receive
employment and remuneration from my officers. Those who suffer
under a sense of guilt must have recourse to a higher and more
generous Potentate than I. I feel pity for all of you, deeper than
you can imagine; to-morrow you shall tell me your stories; and as
you answer more frankly, I shall be the more able to remedy your
misfortunes. As for you," he added, turning to the President, "I
should only offend a person of your parts by any offer of
assistance; but I have instead a piece of diversion to propose to
you. Here," laying his hand on the shoulder of Colonel Geraldine's
young brother, "is an officer of mine who desires to make a little
tour upon the Continent; and I ask you, as a favour, to accompany
him on this excursion. Do you," he went on, changing his tone, "do
you shoot well with the pistol? Because you may have need of that
accomplishment. When two men go travelling together, it is best to
be prepared for all. Let me add that, if by any chance you should
lose young Mr. Geraldine upon the way, I shall always have another
member of my household to place at your disposal; and I am known,
Mr. President, to have long eyesight, and as long an arm."
With these words, said with much sternness, the Prince concluded
his address. Next morning the members of the club were suitably
provided for by his munificence, and the President set forth upon
his travels, under the supervision of Mr. Geraldine, and a pair of
faithful and adroit lackeys, well trained in the Prince's
household. Not content with this, discreet agents were put in
possession of the house in Box Court, and all letters or visitors
for the Suicide Club or its officials were to be examined by Prince
Florizel in person.
Here (says my Arabian author) ends THE STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN WITH
THE CREAM TARTS, who is now a comfortable householder in Wigmore
Street, Cavendish Square. The number, for obvious reasons, I
suppress. Those who care to pursue the adventures of Prince
Florizel and the President of the Suicide Club, may read the
HISTORY OF THE PHYSICIAN AND THE SARATOGA TRUNK.
STORY OF THE PHYSICIAN AND THE SARATOGA TRUNK
MR. SILAS Q. SCUDDAMORE was a young American of a simple and
harmless disposition, which was the more to his credit as he came
from New England - a quarter of the New World not precisely famous
for those qualities. Although he was exceedingly rich, he kept a
note of all his expenses in a little paper pocket-book; and he had
chosen to study the attractions of Paris from the seventh story of
what is called a furnished hotel, in the Latin Quarter. There was
a great deal of habit in his penuriousness; and his virtue, which
was very remarkable among his associates, was principally founded
upon diffidence and youth.
The next room to his was inhabited by a lady, very attractive in
her air and very elegant in toilette, whom, on his first arrival,
he had taken for a Countess. In course of time he had learned that
she was known by the name of Madame Zephyrine, and that whatever
station she occupied in life it was not that of a person of title.
Madame Zephyrine, probably in the hope of enchanting the young
American, used to flaunt by him on the stairs with a civil
inclination, a word of course, and a knock-down look out of her
black eyes, and disappear in a rustle of silk, and with the
revelation of an admirable foot and ankle. But these advances, so
far from encouraging Mr. Scuddamore, plunged him into the depths of
depression and bashfulness. She had come to him several times for
a light, or to apologise for the imaginary depredations of her
poodle; but his mouth was closed in the presence of so superior a
being, his French promptly left him, and he could only stare and
stammer until she was gone. The slenderness of their intercourse
did not prevent him from throwing out insinuations of a very
glorious order when he was safely alone with a few males.
The room on the other side of the American's - for there were three
rooms on a floor in the hotel - was tenanted by an old English
physician of rather doubtful reputation. Dr. Noel, for that was
his name, had been forced to leave London, where he enjoyed a large
and increasing practice; and it was hinted that the police had been
the instigators of this change of scene. At least he, who had made
something of a figure in earlier life, now dwelt in the Latin
Quarter in great simplicity and solitude, and devoted much of his
time to study. Mr. Scuddamore had made his acquaintance, and the
pair would now and then dine together frugally in a restaurant
across the street.
Silas Q. Scuddamore had many little vices of the more respectable
order, and was not restrained by delicacy from indulging them in
many rather doubtful ways. Chief among his foibles stood
curiosity. He was a born gossip; and life, and especially those
parts of it in which he had no experience, interested him to the
degree of passion. He was a pert, invincible questioner, pushing
his inquiries with equal pertinacity and indiscretion; he had been
observed, when he took a letter to the post, to weigh it in his
hand, to turn it over and over, and to study the address with care;
and when he found a flaw in the partition between his room and
Madame Zephyrine's, instead of filling it up, he enlarged and
improved the opening, and made use of it as a spy-hole on his
One day, in the end of March, his curiosity growing as it was
indulged, he enlarged the hole a little further, so that he might
command another corner of the room. That evening, when he went as
usual to inspect Madame Zephyrine's movements, he was astonished to
find the aperture obscured in an odd manner on the other side, and
still more abashed when the obstacle was suddenly withdrawn and a
titter of laughter reached his ears. Some of the plaster had
evidently betrayed the secret of his spy-hole, and his neighbour
had been returning the compliment in kind. Mr. Scuddamore was
moved to a very acute feeling of annoyance; he condemned Madame
Zephyrine unmercifully; he even blamed himself; but when he found,
next day, that she had taken no means to baulk him of his favourite
pastime, he continued to profit by her carelessness, and gratify
his idle curiosity.
That next day Madame Zephyrine received a long visit from a tall,
loosely-built man of fifty or upwards, whom Silas had not hitherto
seen. His tweed suit and coloured shirt, no less than his shaggy
side-whiskers, identified him as a Britisher, and his dull grey eye
affected Silas with a sense of cold. He kept screwing his mouth
from side to side and round and round during the whole colloquy,
which was carried on in whispers. More than once it seemed to the
young New Englander as if their gestures indicated his own
apartment; but the only thing definite he could gather by the most
scrupulous attention was this remark made by the Englishman in a
somewhat higher key, as if in answer to some reluctance or
"I have studied his taste to a nicety, and I tell you again and
again you are the only woman of the sort that I can lay my hands
In answer to this, Madame Zephyrine sighed, and appeared by a
gesture to resign herself, like one yielding to unqualified
That afternoon the observatory was finally blinded, a wardrobe
having been drawn in front of it upon the other side; and while
Silas was still lamenting over this misfortune, which he attributed
to the Britisher's malign suggestion, the concierge brought him up
a letter in a female handwriting. It was conceived in French of no
very rigorous orthography, bore no signature, and in the most
encouraging terms invited the young American to be present in a
certain part of the Bullier Ball at eleven o'clock that night.
Curiosity and timidity fought a long battle in his heart; sometimes
he was all virtue, sometimes all fire and daring; and the result of
it was that, long before ten, Mr. Silas Q. Scuddamore presented
himself in unimpeachable attire at the door of the Bullier Ball
Rooms, and paid his entry money with a sense of reckless devilry
that was not without its charm.
It was Carnival time, and the Ball was very full and noisy. The
lights and the crowd at first rather abashed our young adventurer,
and then, mounting to his brain with a sort of intoxication, put
him in possession of more than his own share of manhood. He felt
ready to face the devil, and strutted in the ballroom with the
swagger of a cavalier. While he was thus parading, he became aware
of Madame Zephyrine and her Britisher in conference behind a
pillar. The cat-like spirit of eaves-dropping overcame him at
once. He stole nearer and nearer on the couple from behind, until
he was within earshot.
"That is the man," the Britisher was saying; "there - with the long
blond hair - speaking to a girl in green."
Silas identified a very handsome young fellow of small stature, who
was plainly the object of this designation.
"It is well," said Madame Zephyrine. "I shall do my utmost. But,
remember, the best of us may fail in such a matter."
"Tut!" returned her companion; "I answer for the result. Have I
not chosen you from thirty? Go; but be wary of the Prince. I
cannot think what cursed accident has brought him here to-night.
As if there were not a dozen balls in Paris better worth his notice
than this riot of students and counter-jumpers! See him where he
sits, more like a reigning Emperor at home than a Prince upon his
Silas was again lucky. He observed a person of rather a full
build, strikingly handsome, and of a very stately and courteous
demeanour, seated at table with another handsome young man, several
years his junior, who addressed him with conspicuous deference.
The name of Prince struck gratefully on Silas's Republican hearing,
and the aspect of the person to whom that name was applied
exercised its usual charm upon his mind. He left Madame Zephyrine
and her Englishman to take care of each other, and threading his
way through the assembly, approached the table which the Prince and
his confidant had honoured with their choice.
"I tell you, Geraldine," the former was saying, "the action is
madness. Yourself (I am glad to remember it) chose your brother
for this perilous service, and you are bound in duty to have a
guard upon his conduct. He has consented to delay so many days in
Paris; that was already an imprudence, considering the character of
the man he has to deal with; but now, when he is within eight-and-
forty hours of his departure, when he is within two or three days
of the decisive trial, I ask you, is this a place for him to spend
his time? He should be in a gallery at practice; he should be
sleeping long hours and taking moderate exercise on foot; he should
be on a rigorous diet, without white wines or brandy. Does the dog
imagine we are all playing comedy? The thing is deadly earnest,
"I know the lad too well to interfere," replied Colonel Geraldine,
"and well enough not to be alarmed. He is more cautious than you
fancy, and of an indomitable spirit. If it had been a woman I
should not say so much, but I trust the President to him and the
two valets without an instant's apprehension."
"I am gratified to hear you say so," replied the Prince; "but my
mind is not at rest. These servants are well-trained spies, and
already has not this miscreant succeeded three times in eluding
their observation and spending several hours on end in private, and
most likely dangerous, affairs? An amateur might have lost him by
accident, but if Rudolph and Jerome were thrown off the scent, it
must have been done on purpose, and by a man who had a cogent
reason and exceptional resources."
"I believe the question is now one between my brother and myself,"
replied Geraldine, with a shade of offence in his tone.
"I permit it to be so, Colonel Geraldine," returned Prince
Florizel. "Perhaps, for that very reason, you should be all the
more ready to accept my counsels. But enough. That girl in yellow
And the talk veered into the ordinary topics of a Paris ballroom in
Silas remembered where he was, and that the hour was already near
at hand when he ought to be upon the scene of his assignation. The
more he reflected the less he liked the prospect, and as at that
moment an eddy in the crowd began to draw him in the direction of
the door, he suffered it to carry him away without resistance. The
eddy stranded him in a corner under the gallery, where his ear was
immediately struck with the voice of Madame Zephyrine. She was
speaking in French with the young man of the blond locks who had
been pointed out by the strange Britisher not half-an-hour before.
"I have a character at stake," she said, "or I would put no other
condition than my heart recommends. But you have only to say so
much to the porter, and he will let you go by without a word."
"But why this talk of debt?" objected her companion.
"Heavens!" said she, "do you think I do not understand my own
And she went by, clinging affectionately to her companion's arm.
This put Silas in mind of his billet.
"Ten minutes hence," thought he, "and I may be walking with as
beautiful a woman as that, and even better dressed - perhaps a real
lady, possibly a woman or title."
And then he remembered the spelling, and was a little downcast.
"But it may have been written by her maid," he imagined.
The clock was only a few minutes from the hour, and this immediate
proximity set his heart beating at a curious and rather
disagreeable speed. He reflected with relief that he was in no way
bound to put in an appearance. Virtue and cowardice were together,
and he made once more for the door, but this time of his own
accord, and battling against the stream of people which was now
moving in a contrary direction. Perhaps this prolonged resistance
wearied him, or perhaps he was in that frame of mind when merely to
continue in the same determination for a certain number of minutes
produces a reaction and a different purpose. Certainly, at least,
he wheeled about for a third time, and did not stop until he had
found a place of concealment within a few yards of the appointed
Here he went through an agony of spirit, in which he several times
prayed to God for help, for Silas had been devoutly educated. He
had now not the least inclination for the meeting; nothing kept him
from flight but a silly fear lest he should be thought unmanly; but
this was so powerful that it kept head against all other motives;
and although it could not decide him to advance, prevented him from
definitely running away. At last the clock indicated ten minutes
past the hour. Young Scuddamore's spirit began to rise; he peered
round the corner and saw no one at the place of meeting; doubtless
his unknown correspondent had wearied and gone away. He became as
bold as he had formerly been timid. It seemed to him that if he
came at all to the appointment, however late, he was clear from the
charge of cowardice. Nay, now he began to suspect a hoax, and
actually complimented himself on his shrewdness in having suspected
and outmanoeuvred his mystifiers. So very idle a thing is a boy's
Armed with these reflections, he advanced boldly from his corner;
but he had not taken above a couple of steps before a hand was laid
upon his arm. He turned and beheld a lady cast in a very large
mould and with somewhat stately features, but bearing no mark of
severity in her looks.
"I see that you are a very self-confident lady-killer," said she;
"for you make yourself expected. But I was determined to meet you.
When a woman has once so far forgotten herself as to make the first
advance, she has long ago left behind her all considerations of
Silas was overwhelmed by the size and attractions of his
correspondent and the suddenness with which she had fallen upon
him. But she soon set him at his ease. She was very towardly and
lenient in her behaviour; she led him on to make pleasantries, and
then applauded him to the echo; and in a very short time, between
blandishments and a liberal exhibition of warm brandy, she had not
only induced him to fancy himself in love, but to declare his
passion with the greatest vehemence.
"Alas!" she said; "I do not know whether I ought not to deplore
this moment, great as is the pleasure you give me by your words.
Hitherto I was alone to suffer; now, poor boy, there will be two.
I am not my own mistress. I dare not ask you to visit me at my own
house, for I am watched by jealous eyes. Let me see," she added;
"I am older than you, although so much weaker; and while I trust in
your courage and determination, I must employ my own knowledge of
the world for our mutual benefit. Where do you live?"
He told her that he lodged in a furnished hotel, and named the
street and number.
She seemed to reflect for some minutes, with an effort of mind.
"I see," she said at last. "You will be faithful and obedient,
will you not?"
Silas assured her eagerly of his fidelity.
"To-morrow night, then," she continued, with an encouraging smile,
"you must remain at home all the evening; and if any friends should
visit you, dismiss them at once on any pretext that most readily
presents itself. Your door is probably shut by ten?" she asked.
"By eleven," answered Silas.
"At a quarter past eleven," pursued the lady, "leave the house.
Merely cry for the door to be opened, and be sure you fall into no
talk with the porter, as that might ruin everything. Go straight
to the corner where the Luxembourg Gardens join the Boulevard;
there you will find me waiting you. I trust you to follow my
advice from point to point: and remember, if you fail me in only
one particular, you will bring the sharpest trouble on a woman
whose only fault is to have seen and loved you."
"I cannot see the use of all these instructions," said Silas.
"I believe you are already beginning to treat me as a master," she
cried, tapping him with her fan upon the arm. "Patience, patience!
that should come in time. A woman loves to be obeyed at first,
although afterwards she finds her pleasure in obeying. Do as I ask
you, for Heaven's sake, or I will answer for nothing. Indeed, now
I think of it," she added, with the manner of one who has just seen
further into a difficulty, "I find a better plan of keeping
importunate visitors away. Tell the porter to admit no one for
you, except a person who may come that night to claim a debt; and
speak with some feeling, as though you feared the interview, so
that he may take your words in earnest."
"I think you may trust me to protect myself against intruders," he
said, not without a little pique.
"That is how I should prefer the thing arranged," she answered
coldly. "I know you men; you think nothing of a woman's
Silas blushed and somewhat hung his head; for the scheme he had in
view had involved a little vain-glorying before his acquaintances.
"Above all," she added, "do not speak to the porter as you come
"And why?" said he. "Of all your instructions, that seems to me
the least important."
"You at first doubted the wisdom of some of the others, which you
now see to be very necessary," she replied. "Believe me, this also
has its uses; in time you will see them; and what am I to think of
your affection, if you refuse me such trifles at our first
Silas confounded himself in explanations and apologies; in the
middle of these she looked up at the clock and clapped her hands
together with a suppressed scream.
"Heavens!" she cried, "is it so late? I have not an instant to
lose. Alas, we poor women, what slaves we are! What have I not
risked for you already?"
And after repeating her directions, which she artfully combined
with caresses and the most abandoned looks, she bade him farewell
and disappeared among the crowd.
The whole of the next day Silas was filled with a sense of great
importance; he was now sure she was a countess; and when evening
came he minutely obeyed her orders and was at the corner of the
Luxembourg Gardens by the hour appointed. No one was there. He
waited nearly half-an-hour, looking in the face of every one who
passed or loitered near the spot; he even visited the neighbouring
corners of the Boulevard and made a complete circuit of the garden
railings; but there was no beautiful countess to throw herself into
his arms. At last, and most reluctantly, he began to retrace his
steps towards his hotel. On the way he remembered the words he had
heard pass between Madame Zephyrine and the blond young man, and
they gave him an indefinite uneasiness.
"It appears," he reflected, "that every one has to tell lies to our
He rang the bell, the door opened before him, and the porter in his
bed-clothes came to offer him a light.
"Has he gone?" inquired the porter.
"He? Whom do you mean?" asked Silas, somewhat sharply, for he was
irritated by his disappointment.
"I did not notice him go out," continued the porter, "but I trust
you paid him. We do not care, in this house, to have lodgers who
cannot meet their liabilities."
"What the devil do you mean?" demanded Silas rudely. "I cannot
understand a word of this farrago."
"The short blond young man who came for his debt," returned the
other. "Him it is I mean. Who else should it be, when I had your
orders to admit no one else?"
"Why, good God, of course he never came," retorted Silas.
"I believe what I believe," returned the porter, putting his tongue
into his cheek with a most roguish air.
"You are an insolent scoundrel," cried Silas, and, feeling that he
had made a ridiculous exhibition of asperity, and at the same time
bewildered by a dozen alarms, he turned and began to run upstairs.
"Do you not want a light then?" cried the porter.
But Silas only hurried the faster, and did not pause until he had
reached the seventh landing and stood in front of his own door.
There he waited a moment to recover his breath, assailed by the
worst forebodings and almost dreading to enter the room.
When at last he did so he was relieved to find it dark, and to all
appearance, untenanted. He drew a long breath. Here he was, home
again in safety, and this should be his last folly as certainly as
it had been his first. The matches stood on a little table by the
bed, and he began to grope his way in that direction. As he moved,
his apprehensions grew upon him once more, and he was pleased, when
his foot encountered an obstacle, to find it nothing more alarming
than a chair. At last he touched curtains. From the position of
the window, which was faintly visible, he knew he must be at the
foot of the bed, and had only to feel his way along it in order to
reach the table in question.
He lowered his hand, but what it touched was not simply a
counterpane - it was a counterpane with something underneath it
like the outline of a human leg. Silas withdrew his arm and stood
a moment petrified.
"What, what," he thought, "can this betoken?"
He listened intently, but there was no sound of breathing. Once
more, with a great effort, he reached out the end of his finger to
the spot he had already touched; but this time he leaped back half
a yard, and stood shivering and fixed with terror. There was
something in his bed. What it was he knew not, but there was
It was some seconds before he could move. Then, guided by an
instinct, he fell straight upon the matches, and keeping his back
towards the bed lighted a candle. As soon as the flame had
kindled, he turned slowly round and looked for what he feared to
see. Sure enough, there was the worst of his imaginations
realised. The coverlid was drawn carefully up over the pillow, but
it moulded the outline of a human body lying motionless; and when
he dashed forward and flung aside the sheets, he beheld the blond
young man whom he had seen in the Bullier Ball the night before,
his eyes open and without speculation, his face swollen and
blackened, and a thin stream of blood trickling from his nostrils.
Silas uttered a long, tremulous wail, dropped the candle, and fell
on his knees beside the bed.
Silas was awakened from the stupor into which his terrible
discovery had plunged him by a prolonged but discreet tapping at
the door. It took him some seconds to remember his position; and
when he hastened to prevent anyone from entering it was already too
late. Dr. Noel, in a tall night-cap, carrying a lamp which lighted
up his long white countenance, sidling in his gait, and peering and
cocking his head like some sort of bird, pushed the door slowly
open, and advanced into the middle of the room.
"I thought I heard a cry," began the Doctor, "and fearing you might
be unwell I did not hesitate to offer this intrusion."
Silas, with a flushed face and a fearful beating heart, kept
between the Doctor and the bed; but he found no voice to answer.
"You are in the dark," pursued the Doctor; "and yet you have not
even begun to prepare for rest. You will not easily persuade me
against my own eyesight; and your face declares most eloquently
that you require either a friend or a physician - which is it to
be? Let me feel your pulse, for that is often a just reporter of
He advanced to Silas, who still retreated before him backwards, and
sought to take him by the wrist; but the strain on the young
American's nerves had become too great for endurance. He avoided
the Doctor with a febrile movement, and, throwing himself upon the
floor, burst into a flood of weeping.
As soon as Dr. Noel perceived the dead man in the bed his face
darkened; and hurrying back to the door which he had left ajar, he
hastily closed and double-locked it.
"Up!" he cried, addressing Silas in strident tones; "this is no
time for weeping. What have you done? How came this body in your
room? Speak freely to one who may be helpful. Do you imagine I
would ruin you? Do you think this piece of dead flesh on your
pillow can alter in any degree the sympathy with which you have
inspired me? Credulous youth, the horror with which blind and
unjust law regards an action never attaches to the doer in the eyes
of those who love him; and if I saw the friend of my heart return
to me out of seas of blood he would be in no way changed in my
affection. Raise yourself," he said; "good and ill are a chimera;
there is nought in life except destiny, and however you may be
circumstanced there is one at your side who will help you to the
Thus encouraged, Silas gathered himself together, and in a broken
voice, and helped out by the Doctor's interrogations, contrived at
last to put him in possession of the facts. But the conversation
between the Prince and Geraldine he altogether omitted, as he had
understood little of its purport, and had no idea that it was in
any way related to his own misadventure.
"Alas!" cried Dr. Noel, "I am much abused, or you have fallen
innocently into the most dangerous hands in Europe. Poor boy, what
a pit has been dug for your simplicity! into what a deadly peril
have your unwary feet been conducted! This man," he said, "this
Englishman, whom you twice saw, and whom I suspect to be the soul
of the contrivance, can you describe him? Was he young or old?
tall or short?"
But Silas, who, for all his curiosity, had not a seeing eye in his
head, was able to supply nothing but meagre generalities, which it
was impossible to recognise.
"I would have it a piece of education in all schools!" cried the
Doctor angrily. "Where is the use of eyesight and articulate
speech if a man cannot observe and recollect the features of his
enemy? I, who know all the gangs of Europe, might have identified
him, and gained new weapons for your defence. Cultivate this art
in future, my poor boy; you may find it of momentous service."
"The future!" repeated Silas. "What future is there left for me
except the gallows?"
"Youth is but a cowardly season," returned the Doctor; "and a man's
own troubles look blacker than they are. I am old, and yet I never
"Can I tell such a story to the police?" demanded Silas.
"Assuredly not," replied the Doctor. "From what I see already of
the machination in which you have been involved, your case is
desperate upon that side; and for the narrow eye of the authorities
you are infallibly the guilty person. And remember that we only
know a portion of the plot; and the same infamous contrivers have
doubtless arranged many other circumstances which would be elicited
by a police inquiry, and help to fix the guilt more certainly upon
"I am then lost, indeed!" cried Silas.
"I have not said so," answered Dr. Noel "for I am a cautious man."
"But look at this!" objected Silas, pointing to the body. "Here is
this object in my bed; not to be explained, not to be disposed of,
not to be regarded without horror."
"Horror?" replied the Doctor. "No. When this sort of clock has
run down, it is no more to me than an ingenious piece of mechanism,
to be investigated with the bistoury. When blood is once cold and
stagnant, it is no longer human blood; when flesh is once dead, it
is no longer that flesh which we desire in our lovers and respect
in our friends. The grace, the attraction, the terror, have all
gone from it with the animating spirit. Accustom yourself to look
upon it with composure; for if my scheme is practicable you will
have to live some days in constant proximity to that which now so
greatly horrifies you."
"Your scheme?" cried Silas. "What is that? Tell me speedily,
Doctor; for I have scarcely courage enough to continue to exist."
Without replying, Doctor Noel turned towards the bed, and proceeded
to examine the corpse.
"Quite dead," he murmured. "Yes, as I had supposed, the pockets
empty. Yes, and the name cut off the shirt. Their work has been
done thoroughly and well. Fortunately, he is of small stature."
Silas followed these words with an extreme anxiety. At last the
Doctor, his autopsy completed, took a chair and addressed the young
American with a smile.
"Since I came into your room," said he, "although my ears and my
tongue have been so busy, I have not suffered my eyes to remain
idle. I noted a little while ago that you have there, in the
corner, one of those monstrous constructions which your fellow-
countrymen carry with them into all quarters of the globe - in a
word, a Saratoga trunk. Until this moment I have never been able
to conceive the utility of these erections; but then I began to
have a glimmer. Whether it was for convenience in the slave trade,
or to obviate the results of too ready an employment of the bowie-
knife, I cannot bring myself to decide. But one thing I see
plainly - the object of such a box is to contain a human body.
"Surely," cried Silas, "surely this is not a time for jesting."
"Although I may express myself with some degree of pleasantry,"
replied the Doctor, "the purport of my words is entirely serious.
And the first thing we have to do, my young friend, is to empty
your coffer of all that it contains."
Silas, obeying the authority of Doctor Noel, put himself at his
disposition. The Saratoga trunk was soon gutted of its contents,
which made a considerable litter on the floor; and then - Silas
taking the heels and the Doctor supporting the shoulders - the body
of the murdered man was carried from the bed, and, after some
difficulty, doubled up and inserted whole into the empty box. With
an effort on the part of both, the lid was forced down upon this
unusual baggage, and the trunk was locked and corded by the
Doctor's own hand, while Silas disposed of what had been taken out
between the closet and a chest of drawers.
"Now," said the Doctor, "the first step has been taken on the way
to your deliverance. To-morrow, or rather to-day, it must be your
task to allay the suspicions of your porter, paying him all that
you owe; while you may trust me to make the arrangements necessary
to a safe conclusion. Meantime, follow me to my room, where I
shall give you a safe and powerful opiate; for, whatever you do,
you must have rest."
The next day was the longest in Silas's memory; it seemed as if it
would never be done. He denied himself to his friends, and sat in
a corner with his eyes fixed upon the Saratoga trunk in dismal
contemplation. His own former indiscretions were now returned upon
him in kind; for the observatory had been once more opened, and he
was conscious of an almost continual study from Madame Zephyrine's
apartment. So distressing did this become, that he was at last
obliged to block up the spy-hole from his own side; and when he was
thus secured from observation he spent a considerable portion of
his time in contrite tears and prayer.
Late in the evening Dr. Noel entered the room carrying in his hand
a pair of sealed envelopes without address, one somewhat bulky, and
the other so slim as to seem without enclosure.
"Silas," he said, seating himself at the table, "the time has now
come for me to explain my plan for your salvation. To-morrow
morning, at an early hour, Prince Florizel of Bohemia returns to
London, after having diverted himself for a few days with the
Parisian Carnival. It was my fortune, a good while ago, to do
Colonel Geraldine, his Master of the Horse, one of those services,
so common in my profession, which are never forgotten upon either
side. I have no need to explain to you the nature of the
obligation under which he was laid; suffice it to say that I knew
him ready to serve me in any practicable manner. Now, it was
necessary for you to gain London with your trunk unopened. To this
the Custom House seemed to oppose a fatal difficulty; but I
bethought me that the baggage of so considerable a person as the
Prince, is, as a matter of courtesy, passed without examination by
the officers of Custom. I applied to Colonel Geraldine, and
succeeded in obtaining a favourable answer. To-morrow, if you go
before six to the hotel where the Prince lodges, your baggage will
be passed over as a part of his, and you yourself will make the
journey as a member of his suite."
"It seems to me, as you speak, that I have already seen both the
Prince and Colonel Geraldine; I even overheard some of their
conversation the other evening at the Bullier Ball."
"It is probable enough; for the Prince loves to mix with all
societies," replied the Doctor. "Once arrived in London," he
pursued, "your task is nearly ended. In this more bulky envelope I
have given you a letter which I dare not address; but in the other
you will find the designation of the house to which you must carry
it along with your box, which will there be taken from you and not
trouble you any more."
"Alas!" said Silas, "I have every wish to believe you; but how is
it possible? You open up to me a bright prospect, but, I ask you,
is my mind capable of receiving so unlikely a solution? Be more
generous, and let me further understand your meaning."
The Doctor seemed painfully impressed.
"Boy," he answered, "you do not know how hard a thing you ask of
me. But be it so. I am now inured to humiliation; and it would be
strange if I refused you this, after having granted you so much.
Know, then, that although I now make so quiet an appearance -
frugal, solitary, addicted to study - when I was younger, my name
was once a rallying-cry among the most astute and dangerous spirits
of London; and while I was outwardly an object for respect and
consideration, my true power resided in the most secret, terrible,
and criminal relations. It is to one of the persons who then
obeyed me that I now address myself to deliver you from your
burden. They were men of many different nations and dexterities,
all bound together by a formidable oath, and working to the same
purposes; the trade of the association was in murder; and I who
speak to you, innocent as I appear, was the chieftain of this
"What?" cried Silas. "A murderer? And one with whom murder was a
trade? Can I take your hand? Ought I so much as to accept your
services? Dark and criminal old man, would you make an accomplice
of my youth and my distress?"
The Doctor bitterly laughed.
"You are difficult to please, Mr. Scuddamore," said he; "but I now
offer you your choice of company between the murdered man and the
murderer. If your conscience is too nice to accept my aid, say so,
and I will immediately leave you. Thenceforward you can deal with
your trunk and its belongings as best suits your upright
"I own myself wrong," replied Silas. "I should have remembered how
generously you offered to shield me, even before I had convinced
you of my innocence, and I continue to listen to your counsels with
"That is well," returned the Doctor; "and I perceive you are
beginning to learn some of the lessons of experience."
"At the same time," resumed the New-Englander, "as you confess
yourself accustomed o this tragical business, and the people to
whom you recommend me are your own former associates and friends,
could you not yourself undertake the transport of the box, and rid
me at once of its detested presence?"
"Upon my word," replied the Doctor, "I admire you cordially. If
you do not think I have already meddled sufficiently in your
concerns, believe me, from my heart I think the contrary. Take or
leave my services as I offer them; and trouble me with no more
words of gratitude, for I value your consideration even more
lightly than I do your intellect. A time will come, if you should
be spared to see a number of years in health of mind, when you will
think differently of all this, and blush for your to-night's
So saying, the Doctor arose from his chair, repeated his directions
briefly and clearly, and departed from the room without permitting
Silas any time to answer.
The next morning Silas presented himself at the hotel, where he was
politely received by Colonel Geraldine, and relieved, from that
moment, of all immediate alarm about his trunk and its grisly
contents. The journey passed over without much incident, although
the young man was horrified to overhear the sailors and railway
porters complaining among themselves about the unusual weight of
the Prince's baggage. Silas travelled in a carriage with the
valets, for Prince Florizel chose to be alone with his Master of
the Horse. On board the steamer, however, Silas attracted his
Highness's attention by the melancholy of his air and attitude as
he stood gazing at the pile of baggage; for he was still full of
disquietude about the future.
"There is a young man," observed the Prince, "who must have some
cause for sorrow."
"That," replied Geraldine, "is the American for whom I obtained
permission to travel with your suite."
"You remind me that I have been remiss in courtesy," said Prince
Florizel, and advancing to Silas, he addressed him with the most
exquisite condescension in these words:- "I was charmed, young sir,
to be able to gratify the desire you made known to me through
Colonel Geraldine. Remember, if you please, that I shall be glad
at any future time to lay you under a more serious obligation."
And he then put some questions as to the political condition of
America, which Silas answered with sense and propriety.
"You are still a young man," said the Prince; "but I observe you to
be very serious for your years. Perhaps you allow your attention
to be too much occupied with grave studies. But, perhaps, on the
other hand, I am myself indiscreet and touch upon a painful
"I have certainly cause to be the most miserable of men," said
Silas; "never has a more innocent person been more dismally
"I will not ask you for your confidence," returned Prince Florizel.
"But do not forget that Colonel Geraldine's recommendation is an
unfailing passport; and that I am not only willing, but possibly
more able than many others, to do you a service."
Silas was delighted with the amiability of this great personage;
but his mind soon returned upon its gloomy preoccupations; for not
even the favour of a Prince to a Republican can discharge a
brooding spirit of its cares.
The train arrived at Charing Cross, where the officers of the
Revenue respected the baggage of Prince Florizel in the usual
manner. The most elegant equipages were in waiting; and Silas was
driven, along with the rest, to the Prince's residence. There
Colonel Geraldine sought him out, and expressed himself pleased to
have been of any service to a friend of the physician's, for whom
he professed a great consideration.
"I hope," he added, "that you will find none of your porcelain
injured. Special orders were given along the line to deal tenderly
with the Prince's effects."
And then, directing the servants to place one of the carriages at
the young gentleman's disposal, and at once to charge the Saratoga
trunk upon the dickey, the Colonel shook hands and excused himself
on account of his occupations in the princely household.
Silas now broke the seal of the envelope containing the address,
and directed the stately footman to drive him to Box Court, opening
off the Strand. It seemed as if the place were not at all unknown
to the man, for he looked startled and begged a repetition of the
order. It was with a heart full of alarms, that Silas mounted into
the luxurious vehicle, and was driven to his destination. The
entrance to Box Court was too narrow for the passage of a coach; it
was a mere footway between railings, with a post at either end. On
one of these posts was seated a man, who at once jumped down and
exchanged a friendly sign with the driver, while the footman opened
the door and inquired of Silas whether he should take down the
Saratoga trunk, and to what number it should be carried.
"If you please," said Silas. "To number three."
The footman and the man who had been sitting on the post, even with
the aid of Silas himself, had hard work to carry in the trunk; and
before it was deposited at the door of the house in question, the
young American was horrified to find a score of loiterers looking
on. But he knocked with as good a countenance as he could muster
up, and presented the other envelope to him who opened.
"He is not at home," said he, "but if you will leave your letter
and return to-morrow early, I shall be able to inform you whether
and when he can receive your visit. Would you like to leave your
box?" he added.
"Dearly," cried Silas; and the next moment he repented his
precipitation, and declared, with equal emphasis, that he would
rather carry the box along with him to the hotel.
The crowd jeered at his indecision and followed him to the carriage
with insulting remarks; and Silas, covered with shame and terror,
implored the servants to conduct him to some quiet and comfortable
house of entertainment in the immediate neighbourhood.
The Prince's equipage deposited Silas at the Craven Hotel in Craven
Street, and immediately drove away, leaving him alone with the
servants of the inn. The only vacant room, it appeared, was a
little den up four pairs of stairs, and looking towards the back.
To this hermitage, with infinite trouble and complaint, a pair of
stout porters carried the Saratoga trunk. It is needless to
mention that Silas kept closely at their heels throughout the
ascent, and had his heart in his mouth at every corner. A single
false step, he reflected, and the box might go over the banisters
and land its fatal contents, plainly discovered, on the pavement of
Arrived in the room, he sat down on the edge of his bed to recover
from the agony that he had just endured; but he had hardly taken
his position when he was recalled to a sense of his peril by the
action of the boots, who had knelt beside the trunk, and was
proceeding officiously to undo its elaborate fastenings.
"Let it be!" cried Silas. "I shall want nothing from it while I
"You might have let it lie in the hall, then," growled the man; "a
thing as big and heavy as a church. What you have inside I cannot
fancy. If it is all money, you are a richer man than me."
"Money?" repeated Silas, in a sudden perturbation. "What do you
mean by money? I have no money, and you are speaking like a fool."
"All right, captain," retorted the boots with a wink. "There's
nobody will touch your lordship's money. I'm as safe as the bank,"
he added; "but as the box is heavy, I shouldn't mind drinking
something to your lordship's health."
Silas pressed two Napoleons upon his acceptance, apologising, at
the same time, for being obliged to trouble him with foreign money,
and pleading his recent arrival for excuse. And the man, grumbling
with even greater fervour, and looking contemptuously from the
money in his hand to the Saratoga trunk and back again from the one
to the other, at last consented to withdraw.
For nearly two days the dead body had been packed into Silas's box;
and as soon as he was alone the unfortunate New-Englander nosed all
the cracks and openings with the most passionate attention. But
the weather was cool, and the trunk still managed to contain his
He took a chair beside it, and buried his face in his hands, and
his mind in the most profound reflection. If he were not speedily
relieved, no question but he must be speedily discovered. Alone in
a strange city, without friends or accomplices, if the Doctor's
introduction failed him, he was indubitably a lost New-Englander.
He reflected pathetically over his ambitious designs for the
future; he should not now become the hero and spokesman of his
native place of Bangor, Maine; he should not, as he had fondly
anticipated, move on from office to office, from honour to honour;
he might as well divest himself at once of all hope of being
acclaimed President of the United States, and leaving behind him a
statue, in the worst possible style of art, to adorn the Capitol at
Washington. Here he was, chained to a dead Englishman doubled up
inside a Saratoga trunk; whom he must get rid of, or perish from
the rolls of national glory!
I should be afraid to chronicle the language employed by this young
man to the Doctor, to the murdered man, to Madame Zephyrine, to the
boots of the hotel, to the Prince's servants, and, in a word, to
all who had been ever so remotely connected with his horrible
He slunk down to dinner about seven at night; but the yellow
coffee-room appalled him, the eyes of the other diners seemed to
rest on his with suspicion, and his mind remained upstairs with the
Saratoga trunk. When the waiter came to offer him cheese, his
nerves were already so much on edge that he leaped half-way out of
his chair and upset the remainder of a pint of ale upon the table-
The fellow offered to show him to the smoking-room when he had
done; and although he would have much preferred to return at once
to his perilous treasure, he had not the courage to refuse, and was
shown downstairs to the black, gas-lit cellar, which formed, and
possibly still forms, the divan of the Craven Hotel.
Two very sad betting men were playing billiards, attended by a
moist, consumptive marker; and for the moment Silas imagined that
these were the only occupants of the apartment. But at the next
glance his eye fell upon a person smoking in the farthest corner,
with lowered eyes and a most respectable and modest aspect. He
knew at once that he had seen the face before; and, in spite of the
entire change of clothes, recognised the man whom he had found
seated on a post at the entrance to Box Court, and who had helped
him to carry the trunk to and from the carriage. The New-Englander
simply turned and ran, nor did he pause until he had locked and
bolted himself into his bedroom.
There, all night long, a prey to the most terrible imaginations, he
watched beside the fatal boxful of dead flesh. The suggestion of
the boots that his trunk was full of gold inspired him with all
manner of new terrors, if he so much as dared to close an eye; and
the presence in the smoking-room, and under an obvious disguise, of
the loiterer from Box Court convinced him that he was once more the
centre of obscure machinations.
Midnight had sounded some time, when, impelled by uneasy
suspicions, Silas opened his bedroom door and peered into the
passage. It was dimly illuminated by a single jet of gas; and some
distance off he perceived a man sleeping on the floor in the
costume of an hotel under-servant. Silas drew near the man on
tiptoe. He lay partly on his back, partly on his side, and his
right forearm concealed his face from recognition. Suddenly, while
the American was still bending over him, the sleeper removed his
arm and opened his eyes, and Silas found himself once more face to
face with the loiterer of Box Court.
"Good-night, sir," said the man, pleasantly.
But Silas was too profoundly moved to find an answer, and regained
his room in silence.
Towards morning, worn out by apprehension, he fell asleep on his
chair, with his head forward on the trunk. In spite of so
constrained an attitude and such a grisly pillow, his slumber was
sound and prolonged, and he was only awakened at a late hour and by
a sharp tapping at the door.
He hurried to open, and found the boots without.
"You are the gentleman who called yesterday at Box Court?" he
Silas, with a quaver, admitted that he had done so.
"Then this note is for you," added the servant, proffering a sealed
Silas tore it open, and found inside the words: "Twelve o'clock."
He was punctual to the hour; the trunk was carried before him by
several stout servants; and he was himself ushered into a room,
where a man sat warming himself before the fire with his back
towards the door. The sound of so many persons entering and
leaving, and the scraping of the trunk as it was deposited upon the
bare boards, were alike unable to attract the notice of the
occupant; and Silas stood waiting, in an agony of fear, until he
should deign to recognise his presence.
Perhaps five minutes had elapsed before the man turned leisurely
about, and disclosed the features of Prince Florizel of Bohemia.
"So, sir," he said, with great severity, "this is the manner in
which you abuse my politeness. You join yourselves to persons of
condition, I perceive, for no other purpose than to escape the
consequences of your crimes; and I can readily understand your
embarrassment when I addressed myself to you yesterday."
"Indeed," cried Silas, "I am innocent of everything except
And in a hurried voice, and with the greatest ingenuousness, he
recounted to the Prince the whole history of his calamity.
"I see I have been mistaken," said his Highness, when he had heard
him to an end. "You are no other than a victim, and since I am not
to punish you may be sure I shall do my utmost to help. And now,"
he continued, "to business. Open your box at once, and let me see
what it contains."
Silas changed colour.
"I almost fear to look upon it," he exclaimed.
"Nay," replied the Prince, "have you not looked at it already?
This is a form of sentimentality to be resisted. The sight of a
sick man, whom we can still help, should appeal more directly to
the feelings than that of a dead man who is equally beyond help or
harm, love or hatred. Nerve yourself, Mr. Scuddamore," and then,
seeing that Silas still hesitated, "I do not desire to give another
name to my request," he added.
The young American awoke as if out of a dream, and with a shiver of
repugnance addressed himself to loose the straps and open the lock
of the Saratoga trunk. The Prince stood by, watching with a
composed countenance and his hands behind his back. The body was
quite stiff, and it cost Silas a great effort, both moral and
physical, to dislodge it from its position, and discover the face.
Prince Florizel started back with an exclamation of painful
"Alas!" he cried, "you little know, Mr. Scuddamore, what a cruel
gift you have brought me. This is a young man of my own suite, the
brother of my trusted friend; and it was upon matters of my own
service that he has thus perished at the hands of violent and
treacherous men. Poor Geraldine," he went on, as if to himself,
"in what words am I to tell you of your brother's fate? How can I
excuse myself in your eyes, or in the eyes of God, for the
presumptuous schemes that led him to this bloody and unnatural
death? Ah, Florizel! Florizel! when will you learn the discretion
that suits mortal life, and be no longer dazzled with the image of
power at your disposal? Power!" he cried; "who is more powerless?
I look upon this young man whom I have sacrificed, Mr. Scuddamore,
and feel how small a thing it is to be a Prince."
Silas was moved at the sight of his emotion. He tried to murmur
some consolatory words, and burst into tears.
The Prince, touched by his obvious intention, came up to him and
took him by the hand.
"Command yourself," said he. "We have both much to learn, and we
shall both be better men for to-day's meeting."
Silas thanked him in silence with an affectionate look.
"Write me the address of Doctor Noel on this piece of paper,"
continued the Prince, leading him towards the table; "and let me
recommend you, when you are again in Paris, to avoid the society of
that dangerous man. He has acted in this matter on a generous
inspiration; that I must believe; had he been privy to young
Geraldine's death he would never have despatched the body to the
care of the actual criminal."
"The actual criminal!" repeated Silas in astonishment.
"Even so," returned the Prince. "This letter, which the
disposition of Almighty Providence has so strangely delivered into
my hands, was addressed to no less a person than the criminal
himself, the infamous President of the Suicide Club. Seek to pry
no further in these perilous affairs, but content yourself with
your own miraculous escape, and leave this house at once. I have
pressing affairs, and must arrange at once about this poor clay,
which was so lately a gallant and handsome youth."
Silas took a grateful and submissive leave of Prince Florizel, but
he lingered in Box Court until he saw him depart in a splendid
carriage on a visit to Colonel Henderson of the police. Republican
as he was, the young American took off his hat with almost a
sentiment of devotion to the retreating carriage. And the same
night he started by rail on his return to Paris.
Here (observes my Arabian author) is the end of THE HISTORY OF THE
PHYSICIAN AND THE SARATOGA TRUNK. Omitting some reflections on the
power of Providence, highly pertinent in the original, but little
suited to our occiddental taste, I shall only add that Mr.
Scuddamore has already begun to mount the ladder of political fame,
and by last advices was the Sheriff of his native town.
THE ADVENTURE OF THE HANSOM CABS
Lieutenant Brackenbury Rich had greatly distinguished himself in
one of the lesser Indian hill wars. He it was who took the
chieftain prisoner with his own hand; his gallantry was universally
applauded; and when he came home, prostrated by an ugly sabre cut
and a protracted jungle fever, society was prepared to welcome the
Lieutenant as a celebrity of minor lustre. But his was a character
remarkable for unaffected modesty; adventure was dear to his heart,
but he cared little for adulation; and he waited at foreign
watering-places and in Algiers until the fame of his exploits had
run through its nine days' vitality and begun to be forgotten. He
arrived in London at last, in the early season, with as little
observation as he could desire; and as he was an orphan and had
none but distant relatives who lived in the provinces, it was
almost as a foreigner that he installed himself in the capital of
the country for which he had shed his blood.
On the day following his arrival he dined alone at a military club.
He shook hands with a few old comrades, and received their warm
congratulations; but as one and all had some engagement for the
evening, he found himself left entirely to his own resources. He
was in dress, for he had entertained the notion of visiting a
theatre. But the great city was new to him; he had gone from a
provincial school to a military college, and thence direct to the
Eastern Empire; and he promised himself a variety of delights in
this world for exploration. Swinging his cane, he took his way
westward. It was a mild evening, already dark, and now and then
threatening rain. The succession of faces in the lamplight stirred
the Lieutenant's imagination; and it seemed to him as if he could
walk for ever in that stimulating city atmosphere and surrounded by
the mystery of four million private lives. He glanced at the
houses, and marvelled what was passing behind those warmly-lighted
windows; he looked into face after face, and saw them each intent
upon some unknown interest, criminal or kindly.
"They talk of war," he thought, "but this is the great battlefield
And then he began to wonder that he should walk so long in this
complicated scene, and not chance upon so much as the shadow of an
adventure for himself.
"All in good time," he reflected. "I am still a stranger, and
perhaps wear a strange air. But I must be drawn into the eddy
The night was already well advanced when a plump of cold rain fell
suddenly out of the darkness. Brackenbury paused under some trees,
and as he did so he caught sight of a hansom cabman making him a
sign that he was disengaged. The circumstance fell in so happily
to the occasion that he at once raised his cane in answer, and had
soon ensconced himself in the London gondola.
"Where to, sir?" asked the driver.
"Where you please," said Brackenbury.
And immediately, at a pace of surprising swiftness, the hansom
drove off through the rain into a maze of villas. One villa was so
like another, each with its front garden, and there was so little
to distinguish the deserted lamp-lit streets and crescents through
which the flying hansom took its way, that Brackenbury soon lost
all idea of direction.
He would have been tempted to believe that the cabman was amusing
himself by driving him round and round and in and out about a small
quarter, but there was something business-like in the speed which
convinced him of the contrary. The man had an object in view, he
was hastening towards a definite end; and Brackenbury was at once
astonished at the fellow's skill in picking a way through such a
labyrinth, and a little concerned to imagine what was the occasion
of his hurry. He had heard tales of strangers falling ill in
London. Did the driver belong to some bloody and treacherous
association? and was he himself being whirled to a murderous death?
The thought had scarcely presented itself, when the cab swung
sharply round a corner and pulled up before the garden gate of a
villa in a long and wide road. The house was brilliantly lighted
up. Another hansom had just driven away, and Brackenbury could see
a gentleman being admitted at the front door and received by
several liveried servants. He was surprised that the cabman should
have stopped so immediately in front of a house where a reception
was being held; but he did not doubt it was the result of accident,
and sat placidly smoking where he was, until he heard the trap
thrown open over his head.
"Here we are, sir," said the driver.
"Here!" repeated Brackenbury. "Where?"
"You told me to take you where I pleased, sir," returned the man
with a chuckle, "and here we are."
It struck Brackenbury that the voice was wonderfully smooth and
courteous for a man in so inferior a position; he remembered the
speed at which he had been driven; and now it occurred to him that
the hansom was more luxuriously appointed than the common run of
"I must ask you to explain," said he. "Do you mean to turn me out
into the rain? My good man, I suspect the choice is mine."
"The choice is certainly yours," replied the driver; "but when I
tell you all, I believe I know how a gentleman of your figure will
decide. There is a gentlemen's party in this house. I do not know
whether the master be a stranger to London and without
acquaintances of his own; or whether he is a man of odd notions.
But certainly I was hired to kidnap single gentlemen in evening
dress, as many as I pleased, but military officers by preference.
You have simply to go in and say that Mr. Morris invited you."
"Are you Mr. Morris?" inquired the Lieutenant.
"Oh, no," replied the cabman. "Mr. Morris is the person of the
"It is not a common way of collecting guests," said Brackenbury:
"but an eccentric man might very well indulge the whim without any
intention to offend. And suppose that I refuse Mr. Morris's
invitation," he went on, "what then?"
"My orders are to drive you back where I took you from," replied
the man, "and set out to look for others up to midnight. Those who
have no fancy for such an adventure, Mr. Morris said, were not the
guests for him."
These words decided the Lieutenant on the spot.
"After all," he reflected, as he descended from the hansom, "I have
not had long to wait for my adventure."
He had hardly found footing on the side-walk, and was still feeling
in his pocket for the fare, when the cab swung about and drove off
by the way it came at the former break-neck velocity. Brackenbury
shouted after the man, who paid no heed, and continued to drive
away; but the sound of his voice was overheard in the house, the
door was again thrown open, emitting a flood of light upon the
garden, and a servant ran down to meet him holding an umbrella.
"The cabman has been paid," observed the servant in a very civil
tone; and he proceeded to escort Brackenbury along the path and up
the steps. In the hall several other attendants relieved him of
his hat, cane, and paletot, gave him a ticket with a number in
return, and politely hurried him up a stair adorned with tropical
flowers, to the door of an apartment on the first storey. Here a
grave butler inquired his name, and announcing "Lieutenant
Brackenbury Rich," ushered him into the drawing-room of the house.
A young man, slender and singularly handsome, came forward and
greeted him with an air at once courtly and affectionate. Hundreds
of candles, of the finest wax, lit up a room that was perfumed,
like the staircase, with a profusion of rare and beautiful
flowering shrubs. A side-table was loaded with tempting viands.
Several servants went to and fro with fruits and goblets of
champagne. The company was perhaps sixteen in number, all men, few
beyond the prime of life, and with hardly an exception, of a
dashing and capable exterior. They were divided into two groups,
one about a roulette board, and the other surrounding a table at
which one of their number held a bank of baccarat.
"I see," thought Brackenbury, "I am in a private gambling saloon,
and the cabman was a tout."
His eye had embraced the details, and his mind formed the
conclusion, while his host was still holding him by the hand; and
to him his looks returned from this rapid survey. At a second view
Mr. Morris surprised him still more than on the first. The easy
elegance of his manners, the distinction, amiability, and courage
that appeared upon his features, fitted very ill with the
Lieutenant's preconceptions on the subject of the proprietor of a
hell; and the tone of his conversation seemed to mark him out for a
man of position and merit. Brackenbury found he had an instinctive
liking for his entertainer; and though he chid himself for the
weakness, he was unable to resist a sort of friendly attraction for
Mr. Morris's person and character.
"I have heard of you, Lieutenant Rich," said Mr. Morris, lowering
his tone; "and believe me I am gratified to make your acquaintance.
Your looks accord with the reputation that has preceded you from
India. And if you will forget for a while the irregularity of your
presentation in my house, I shall feel it not only an honour, but a
genuine pleasure besides. A man who makes a mouthful of barbarian
cavaliers," he added with a laugh, "should not be appalled by a
breach of etiquette, however serious."
And he led him towards the sideboard and pressed him to partake of
"Upon my word," the Lieutenant reflected, "this is one of the
pleasantest fellows and, I do not doubt, one of the most agreeable
societies in London."
He partook of some champagne, which he found excellent; and
observing that many of the company were already smoking, he lit one
of his own Manillas, and strolled up to the roulette board, where
he sometimes made a stake and sometimes looked on smilingly on the
fortune of others. It was while he was thus idling that he became
aware of a sharp scrutiny to which the whole of the guests were
subjected. Mr. Morris went here and there, ostensibly busied on
hospitable concerns; but he had ever a shrewd glance at disposal;
not a man of the party escaped his sudden, searching looks; he took
stock of the bearing of heavy losers, he valued the amount of the
stakes, he paused behind couples who were deep in conversation;
and, in a word, there was hardly a characteristic of any one
present but he seemed to catch and make a note of it. Brackenbury
began to wonder if this were indeed a gambling hell: it had so
much the air of a private inquisition. He followed Mr. Morris in
all his movements; and although the man had a ready smile, he
seemed to perceive, as it were under a mask, a haggard, careworn,
and preoccupied spirit. The fellows around him laughed and made
their game; but Brackenbury had lost interest in the guests.
"This Morris," thought he, "is no idler in the room. Some deep
purpose inspires him; let it be mine to fathom it."
Now and then Mr. Morris would call one of his visitors aside; and
after a brief colloquy in an ante-room, he would return alone, and
the visitors in question reappeared no more. After a certain
number of repetitions, this performance excited Brackenbury's
curiosity to a high degree. He determined to be at the bottom of
this minor mystery at once; and strolling into the ante-room, found
a deep window recess concealed by curtains of the fashionable
green. Here he hurriedly ensconced himself; nor had he to wait
long before the sound of steps and voices drew near him from the
principal apartment. Peering through the division, he saw Mr.
Morris escorting a fat and ruddy personage, with somewhat the look
of a commercial traveller, whom Brackenbury had already remarked
for his coarse laugh and under-bred behaviour at the table. The
pair halted immediately before the window, so that Brackenbury lost
not a word of the following discourse:-
"I beg you a thousand pardons!" began Mr. Morris, with the most
conciliatory manner; "and, if I appear rude, I am sure you will
readily forgive me. In a place so great as London accidents must
continually happen; and the best that we can hope is to remedy them
with as small delay as possible. I will not deny that I fear you
have made a mistake and honoured my poor house by inadvertence;
for, to speak openly, I cannot at all remember your appearance.
Let me put the question without unnecessary circumlocution -
between gentlemen of honour a word will suffice - Under whose roof
do you suppose yourself to be?"
"That of Mr. Morris," replied the other, with a prodigious display
of confusion, which had been visibly growing upon him throughout
the last few words.
"Mr. John or Mr. James Morris?" inquired the host.
"I really cannot tell you," returned the unfortunate guest. "I am
not personally acquainted with the gentleman, any more than I am
"I see," said Mr. Morris. "There is another person of the same
name farther down the street; and I have no doubt the policeman
will be able to supply you with his number. Believe me, I
felicitate myself on the misunderstanding which has procured me the
pleasure of your company for so long; and let me express a hope
that we may meet again upon a more regular footing. Meantime, I
would not for the world detain you longer from your friends.
John," he added, raising his voice, "will you see that this
gentleman finds his great-coat?"
And with the most agreeable air Mr. Morris escorted his visitor as
far as the ante-room door, where he left him under conduct of the
butler. As he passed the window, on his return to the drawing-
room, Brackenbury could hear him utter a profound sigh, as though
his mind was loaded with a great anxiety, and his nerves already
fatigued with the task on which he was engaged.
For perhaps an hour the hansoms kept arriving with such frequency,
that Mr. Morris had to receive a new guest for every old one that
he sent away, and the company preserved its number undiminished.
But towards the end of that time the arrivals grew few and far
between, and at length ceased entirely, while the process of
elimination was continued with unimpaired activity. The drawing-
room began to look empty: the baccarat was discontinued for lack
of a banker; more than one person said good-night of his own
accord, and was suffered to depart without expostulation; and in
the meanwhile Mr. Morris redoubled in agreeable attentions to those
who stayed behind. He went from group to group and from person to
person with looks of the readiest sympathy and the most pertinent
and pleasing talk; he was not so much like a host as like a
hostess, and there was a feminine coquetry and condescension in his
manner which charmed the hearts of all.
As the guests grew thinner, Lieutenant Rich strolled for a moment
out of the drawing-room into the hall in quest of fresher air. But
he had no sooner passed the threshold of the ante-chamber than he
was brought to a dead halt by a discovery of the most surprising
nature. The flowering shrubs had disappeared from the staircase;
three large furniture waggons stood before the garden gate; the
servants were busy dismantling the house upon all sides; and some
of them had already donned their great-coats and were preparing to
depart. It was like the end of a country ball, where everything
has been supplied by contract. Brackenbury had indeed some matter
for reflection. First, the guests, who were no real guests after
all, had been dismissed; and now the servants, who could hardly be
genuine servants, were actively dispersing.
'"Was the whole establishment a sham?" he asked himself. "The
mushroom of a single night which should disappear before morning?"
Watching a favourable opportunity, Brackenbury dashed upstairs to
the highest regions of the house. It was as he had expected. He
ran from room to room, and saw not a stick of furniture nor so much
as a picture on the walls. Although the house had been painted and
papered, it was not only uninhabited at present, but plainly had
never been inhabited at all. The young officer remembered with
astonishment its specious, settled, and hospitable air on his
It was only at a prodigious cost that the imposture could have been
carried out upon so great a scale.
Who, then, was Mr. Morris? What was his intention in thus playing
the householder for a single night in the remote west of London?
And why did he collect his visitors at hazard from the streets?
Brackenbury remembered that he had already delayed too long, and
hastened to join the company. Many had left during his absence;
and counting the Lieutenant and his host, there were not more than
five persons in the drawing-room - recently so thronged. Mr.
Morris greeted him, as he re-entered the apartment, with a smile,
and immediately rose to his feet.
"It is now time, gentlemen," said he, "to explain my purpose in
decoying you from your amusements. I trust you did not find the
evening hang very dully on your hands; but my object, I will
confess it, was not to entertain your leisure, but to help myself
in an unfortunate necessity. You are all gentlemen," he continued,
"your appearance does you that much justice, and I ask for no
better security. Hence, I speak it without concealment, I ask you
to render me a dangerous and delicate service; dangerous because
you may run the hazard of your lives, and delicate because I must
ask an absolute discretion upon all that you shall see or hear.
From an utter stranger the request is almost comically extravagant;
I am well aware of this; and I would add at once, if there be any
one present who has heard enough, if there be one among the party
who recoils from a dangerous confidence and a piece of Quixotic
devotion to he knows not whom - here is my hand ready, and I shall
wish him good-night and God-speed with all the sincerity in the
A very tall, black man, with a heavy stoop, immediately responded
to this appeal.
"I commend your frankness, Sir," said he; "and, for my part, I go.
I make no reflections; but I cannot deny that you fill me with
suspicious thoughts. I go myself, as I say; and perhaps you will
think I have no right to add words to my example."
"On the contrary," replied Mr. Morris, "I am obliged to you for all
you say. It would be impossible to exaggerate the gravity of my
"Well, gentlemen, what do you say?" said the tall man, addressing
the others. "We have had our evening's frolic; shall we all go
homeward peaceably in a body? You will think well of my suggestion
in the morning, when you see the sun again in innocence and
The speaker pronounced the last words with an intonation which
added to their force; and his face wore a singular expression, full
of gravity and significance. Another of the company rose hastily,
and, with some appearance of alarm, prepared to take his leave.
There were only two who held their ground, Brackenbury and an old
red-nosed cavalry Major; but these two preserved a nonchalant
demeanour, and, beyond a look of intelligence which they rapidly
exchanged, appeared entirely foreign to the discussion that had
just been terminated.
Mr. Morris conducted the deserters as far as the door, which he
closed upon their heels; then he turned round, disclosing a
countenance of mingled relief and animation, and addressed the two
officers as follows.
"I have chosen my men like Joshua in the Bible," said Mr. Morris,
"and I now believe I have the pick of London. Your appearance
pleased my hansom cabmen; then it delighted me; I have watched your
behaviour in a strange company, and under the most unusual
circumstances: I have studied how you played and how you bore your
losses; lastly, I have put you to the test of a staggering
announcement, and you received it like an invitation to dinner. It
is not for nothing," he cried, "that I have been for years the
companion and the pupil of the bravest and wisest potentate in
"At the affair of Bunderchang," observed the Major, "I asked for
twelve volunteers, and every trooper in the ranks replied to my
appeal. But a gaming party is not the same thing as a regiment
under fire. You may be pleased, I suppose, to have found two, and
two who will not fail you at a push. As for the pair who ran away,
I count them among the most pitiful hounds I ever met with.
Lieutenant Rich," he added, addressing Brackenbury, "I have heard
much of you of late; and I cannot doubt but you have also heard of
me. I am Major O'Rooke."
And the veteran tendered his hand, which was red and tremulous, to
the young Lieutenant.
"Who has not?" answered Brackenbury.
"When this little matter is settled," said Mr. Morris, "you will
think I have sufficiently rewarded you; for I could offer neither a
more valuable service than to make him acquainted with the other."
"And now," said Major O'Rooke, "is it a duel?"
"A duel after a fashion," replied Mr. Morris, "a duel with unknown
and dangerous enemies, and, as I gravely fear, a duel to the death.
I must ask you," he continued, "to call me Morris no longer; call
me, if you please, Hammersmith; my real name, as well as that of
another person to whom I hope to present you before long, you will
gratify me by not asking and not seeking to discover for
yourselves. Three days ago the person of whom I speak disappeared
suddenly from home; and, until this morning, I received no hint of
his situation. You will fancy my alarm when I tell you that he is
engaged upon a work of private justice. Bound by an unhappy oath,
too lightly sworn, he finds it necessary, without the help of law,
to rid the earth of an insidious and bloody villain. Already two
of our friends, and one of them my own born brother, have perished
in the enterprise. He himself, or I am much deceived, is taken in
the same fatal toils. But at least he still lives and still hopes,
as this billet sufficiently proves."
And the speaker, no other than Colonel Geraldine, proffered a
letter, thus conceived:-
"Major Hammersmith, - On Wednesday, at 3 A.M., you will be admitted
by the small door to the gardens of Rochester House, Regent's Park,
by a man who is entirely in my interest. I must request you not to
fail me by a second. Pray bring my case of swords, and, if you can
find them, one or two gentlemen of conduct and discretion to whom
my person is unknown. My name must not be used in this affair.
"From his wisdom alone, if he had no other title," pursued Colonel
Geraldine, when the others had each satisfied his curiosity, "my
friend is a man whose directions should implicitly be followed. I
need not tell you, therefore, that I have not so much as visited
the neighbourhood of Rochester House; and that I am still as wholly
in the dark as either of yourselves as to the nature of my friend's
dilemma. I betook myself, as soon as I had received this order, to
a furnishing contractor, and, in a few hours, the house in which we
now are had assumed its late air of festival. My scheme was at
least original; and I am far from regretting an action which has
procured me the services of Major O'Rooke and Lieutenant
Brackenbury Rich. But the servants in the street will have a
strange awakening. The house which this evening was full of lights
and visitors they will find uninhabited and for sale to-morrow
morning. Thus even the most serious concerns," added the Colonel,
"have a merry side."
"And let us add a merry ending," said Brackenbury.
The Colonel consulted his watch.
"It is now hard on two," he said. "We have an hour before us, and
a swift cab is at the door. Tell me if I may count upon your
"During a long life," replied Major O'Rooke, "I never took back my
hand from anything, nor so much as hedged a bet."
Brackenbury signified his readiness in the most becoming terms; and
after they had drunk a glass or two of wine, the Colonel gave each
of them a loaded revolver, and the three mounted into the cab and
drove off for the address in question.
Rochester House was a magnificent residence on the banks of the
canal. The large extent of the garden isolated it in an unusual
degree from the annoyances of neighbourhood. It seemed the PARC
AUX CERFS of some great nobleman or millionaire. As far as could
be seen from the street, there was not a glimmer of light in any of
the numerous windows of the mansion; and the place had a look of
neglect, as though the master had been long from home.
The cab was discharged, and the three gentlemen were not long in
discovering the small door, which was a sort of postern in a lane
between two garden walls. It still wanted ten or fifteen minutes
of the appointed time; the rain fell heavily, and the adventurers
sheltered themselves below some pendant ivy, and spoke in low tones
of the approaching trial.
Suddenly Geraldine raised his finger to command silence, and all
three bent their hearing to the utmost. Through the continuous
noise of the rain, the steps and voices of two men became audible
from the other side of the wall; and, as they drew nearer,
Brackenbury, whose sense of hearing was remarkably acute, could
even distinguish some fragments of their talk.
"Is the grave dug?" asked one.
"It is," replied the other; "behind the laurel hedge. When the job
is done, we can cover it with a pile of stakes."
The first speaker laughed, and the sound of his merriment was
shocking to the listeners on the other side.
"In an hour from now," he said.
And by the sound of the steps it was obvious that the pair had
separated, and were proceeding in contrary directions.
Almost immediately after the postern door was cautiously opened, a
white face was protruded into the lane, and a hand was seen
beckoning to the watchers. In dead silence the three passed the
door, which was immediately locked behind them, and followed their
guide through several garden alleys to the kitchen entrance of the
house. A single candle burned in the great paved kitchen, which
was destitute of the customary furniture; and as the party
proceeded to ascend from thence by a flight of winding stairs, a
prodigious noise of rats testified still more plainly to the
dilapidation of the house.
Their conductor preceded them, carrying the candle. He was a lean
man, much bent, but still agile; and he turned from time to time
and admonished silence and caution by his gestures. Colonel
Geraldine followed on his heels, the case of swords under one arm,
and a pistol ready in the other. Brackenbury's heart beat thickly.
He perceived that they were still in time; but he judged from the
alacrity of the old man that the hour of action must be near at
hand; and the circumstances of this adventure were so obscure and
menacing, the place seemed so well chosen for the darkest acts,
that an older man than Brackenbury might have been pardoned a
measure of emotion as he closed the procession up the winding
At the top the guide threw open a door and ushered the three
officers before him into a small apartment, lighted by a smoky lamp
and the glow of a modest fire. At the chimney corner sat a man in
the early prime of life, and of a stout but courtly and commanding
appearance. His attitude and expression were those of the most
unmoved composure; he was smoking a cheroot with much enjoyment and
deliberation, and on a table by his elbow stood a long glass of
some effervescing beverage which diffused an agreeable odour
through the room.
"Welcome," said he, extending his hand to Colonel Geraldine. "I
knew I might count on your exactitude."
"On my devotion," replied the Colonel, with a bow.
"Present me to your friends," continued the first; and, when that
ceremony had been performed, "I wish, gentlemen," he added, with
the most exquisite affability, "that I could offer you a more
cheerful programme; it is ungracious to inaugurate an acquaintance
upon serious affairs; but the compulsion of events is stronger than
the obligations of good-fellowship. I hope and believe you will be
able to forgive me this unpleasant evening; and for men of your
stamp it will be enough to know that you are conferring a
"Your Highness," said the Major, "must pardon my bluntness. I am
unable to hide what I know. For some time back I have suspected
Major Hammersmith, but Mr. Godall is unmistakable. To seek two men
in London unacquainted with Prince Florizel of Bohemia was to ask
too much at Fortune's hands."
"Prince Florizel!" cried Brackenbury in amazement.
And he gazed with the deepest interest on the features of the
celebrated personage before him.
"I shall not lament the loss of my incognito," remarked the Prince,
"for it enables me to thank you with the more authority. You would
have done as much for Mr. Godall, I feel sure, as for the Prince of
Bohemia; but the latter can perhaps do more for you. The gain is
mine," he added, with a courteous gesture.
And the next moment he was conversing with the two officers about
the Indian army and the native troops, a subject on which, as on
all others, he had a remarkable fund of information and the
There was something so striking in this man's attitude at a moment
of deadly peril that Brackenbury was overcome with respectful
admiration; nor was he less sensible to the charm of his
conversation or the surprising amenity of his address. Every
gesture, every intonation, was not only noble in itself, but seemed
to ennoble the fortunate mortal for whom it was intended; and
Brackenbury confessed to himself with enthusiasm that this was a
sovereign for whom a brave man might thankfully lay down his life.
Many minutes had thus passed, when the person who had introduced
them into the house, and who had sat ever since in a corner, and
with his watch in his hand, arose and whispered a word into the
"It is well, Dr. Noel," replied Florizel, aloud; and then
addressing the others, "You will excuse me, gentlemen," he added,
"if I have to leave you in the dark. The moment now approaches."
Dr. Noel extinguished the lamp. A faint, grey light, premonitory
of the dawn, illuminated the window, but was not sufficient to
illuminate the room; and when the Prince rose to his feet, it was
impossible to distinguish his features or to make a guess at the
nature of the emotion which obviously affected him as he spoke. He
moved towards the door, and placed himself at one side of it in an
attitude of the wariest attention.
"You will have the kindness," he said, "to maintain the strictest
silence, and to conceal yourselves in the densest of the shadow."
The three officers and the physician hastened to obey, and for
nearly ten minutes the only sound in Rochester House was occasioned
by the excursions of the rats behind the woodwork. At the end of
that period, a loud creak of a hinge broke in with surprising
distinctness on the silence; and shortly after, the watchers could
distinguish a slow and cautious tread approaching up the kitchen
stair. At every second step the intruder seemed to pause and lend
an ear, and during these intervals, which seemed of an incalculable
duration, a profound disquiet possessed the spirit of the
listeners. Dr. Noel, accustomed as he was to dangerous emotions,
suffered an almost pitiful physical prostration; his breath
whistled in his lungs, his teeth grated one upon another, and his
joints cracked aloud as he nervously shifted his position.
At last a hand was laid upon the door, and the bolt shot back with
a slight report. There followed another pause, during which
Brackenbury could see the Prince draw himself together noiselessly
as if for some unusual exertion. Then the door opened, letting in
a little more of the light of the morning; and the figure of a man
appeared upon the threshold and stood motionless. He was tall, and
carried a knife in his hand. Even in the twilight they could see
his upper teeth bare and glistening, for his mouth was open like
that of a hound about to leap. The man had evidently been over the
head in water but a minute or two before; and even while he stood
there the drops kept falling from his wet clothes and pattered on
The next moment he crossed the threshold. There was a leap, a
stifled cry, an instantaneous struggle; and before Colonel
Geraldine could spring to his aid, the Prince held the man disarmed
and helpless, by the shoulders
"Dr. Noel," he said, "you will be so good as to re-light the lamp."
And relinquishing the charge of his prisoner to Geraldine and
Brackenbury, he crossed the room and set his back against the
chimney-piece. As soon as the lamp had kindled, the party beheld
an unaccustomed sternness on the Prince's features. It was no
longer Florizel, the careless gentleman; it was the Prince of
Bohemia, justly incensed and full of deadly purpose, who now raised
his head and addressed the captive President of the Suicide Club.
"President," he said, "you have laid your last snare, and your own
feet are taken in it. The day is beginning; it is your last
morning. You have just swum the Regent's Canal; it is your last
bathe in this world. Your old accomplice, Dr. Noel, so far from
betraying me, has delivered you into my hands for judgment. And
the grave you had dug for me this afternoon shall serve, in God's
almighty providence, to hide your own just doom from the curiosity
of mankind. Kneel and pray, sir, if you have a mind that way; for
your time is short, and God is weary of your iniquities."
The President made no answer either by word or sign; but continued
to hang his head and gaze sullenly on the floor, as though he were
conscious of the Prince's prolonged and unsparing regard.
"Gentlemen," continued Florizel, resuming the ordinary tone of his
conversation, "this is a fellow who has long eluded me, but whom,
thanks to Dr. Noel, I now have tightly by the heels. To tell the
story of his misdeeds would occupy more time than we can now
afford; but if the canal had contained nothing but the blood of his
victims, I believe the wretch would have been no drier than you see
him. Even in an affair of this sort I desire to preserve the forms
of honour. But I make you the judges, gentlemen - this is more an
execution than a duel and to give the rogue his choice of weapons
would be to push too far a point of etiquette. I cannot afford to
lose my life in such a business," he continued, unlocking the case
of swords; "and as a pistol-bullet travels so often on the wings of
chance, and skill and courage may fall by the most trembling
marksman, I have decided, and I feel sure you will approve my
determination, to put this question to the touch of swords."
When Brackenbury and Major O'Rooke, to whom these remarks were
particularly addressed, had each intimated his approval, "Quick,
sir," added Prince Florizel to the President, "choose a blade and
do not keep me waiting; I have an impatience to be done with you
For the first time since he was captured and disarmed the President
raised his head, and it was plain that he began instantly to pluck
"Is it to be stand up?" he asked eagerly, "and between you and me?"
"I mean so far to honour you," replied the Prince.
"Oh, come!" cried the President. "With a fair field, who knows how
things may happen? I must add that I consider it handsome
behaviour on your Highness's part; and if the worst comes to the
worst I shall die by one of the most gallant gentlemen in Europe."
And the President, liberated by those who had detained him, stepped
up to the table and began, with minute attention, to select a
sword. He was highly elated, and seemed to feel no doubt that he
should issue victorious from the contest. The spectators grew
alarmed in the face of so entire a confidence, and adjured Prince
Florizel to reconsider his intention.
"It is but a farce," he answered; "and I think I can promise you,
gentlemen, that it will not be long a-playing."
"Your Highness will be careful not to over-reach," said Colonel
"Geraldine," returned the Prince, "did you ever know me fail in a
debt of honour? I owe you this man's death, and you shall have
The President at last satisfied himself with one of the rapiers,
and signified his readiness by a gesture that was not devoid of a
rude nobility. The nearness of peril, and the sense of courage,
even to this obnoxious villain, lent an air of manhood and a
The Prince helped himself at random to a sword.
"Colonel Geraldine and Doctor Noel," he said, "will have the
goodness to await me in this room. I wish no personal friend of
mine to be involved in this transaction. Major O'Rooke, you are a
man of some years and a settled reputation - let me recommend the
President to your good graces. Lieutenant Rich will be so good as
lend me his attentions: a young man cannot have too much
experience in such affairs."
"Your Highness," replied Brackenbury, "it is an honour I shall
"It is well," returned Prince Florizel; "I shall hope to stand your
friend in more important circumstances."
And so saying he led the way out of the apartment and down the
The two men who were thus left alone threw open the window and
leaned out, straining every sense to catch an indication of the
tragical events that were about to follow. The rain was now over;
day had almost come, and the birds were piping in the shrubbery and
on the forest trees of the garden. The Prince and his companions
were visible for a moment as they followed an alley between two
flowering thickets; but at the first corner a clump of foliage
intervened, and they were again concealed from view. This was all
that the Colonel and the Physician had an opportunity to see, and
the garden was so vast, and the place of combat evidently so remote
from the house, that not even the noise of sword-play reached their
"He has taken him towards the grave," said Dr. Noel, with a
"God," cried the Colonel, "God defend the right!"
And they awaited the event in silence, the Doctor shaking with
fear, the Colonel in an agony of sweat. Many minutes must have
elapsed, the day was sensibly broader, and the birds were singing
more heartily in the garden before a sound of returning footsteps
recalled their glances towards the door. It was the Prince and the
two Indian officers who entered. God had defended the right.
"I am ashamed of my emotion," said Prince Florizel; "I feel it is a
weakness unworthy of my station, but the continued existence of
that hound of hell had begun to prey upon me like a disease, and
his death has more refreshed me than a night of slumber. Look,
Geraldine," he continued, throwing his sword upon the floor, "there
is the blood of the man who killed your brother. It should be a
welcome sight. And yet," he added, "see how strangely we men are
made! my revenge is not yet five minutes old, and already I am
beginning to ask myself if even revenge be attainable on this
precarious stage of life. The ill he did, who can undo it? The
career in which he amassed a huge fortune (for the house itself in
which we stand belonged to him) - that career is now a part of the
destiny of mankind for ever; and I might weary myself making
thrusts in carte until the crack of judgment, and Geraldine's
brother would be none the less dead, and a thousand other innocent
persons would be none the less dishonoured and debauched! The
existence of a man is so small a thing to take, so mighty a thing
to employ! Alas!" he cried, "is there anything in life so
disenchanting as attainment?"
"God's justice has been done," replied the Doctor. "So much I
behold. The lesson, your Highness, has been a cruel one for me;
and I await my own turn with deadly apprehension."
"What was I saying?" cried the Prince. "I have punished, and here
is the man beside us who can help me to undo. Ah, Dr. Noel! you
and I have before us many a day of hard and honourable toil; and
perhaps, before we have none, you may have more than redeemed your
"And in the meantime," said the Doctor, "let me go and bury my
(And this, observes the erudite Arabian, is the fortunate
conclusion of the tale. The Prince, it is superfluous to mention,
forgot none of those who served him in this great exploit; and to
this day his authority and influence help them forward in their
public career, while his condescending friendship adds a charm to
their private life. To collect, continues my author, all the
strange events in which this Prince has played the part of
Providence were to fill the habitable globe with books. But the
stories which relate to the fortunes of THE RAJAH'S DIAMOND are of
too entertaining a description, says he, to be omitted. Following
prudently in the footsteps of this Oriental, we shall now begin the
series to which he refers with the STORY OF THE BANDBOX.)
THE RAJAH'S DIAMOND
STORY OF THE BANDBOX
UP to the age of sixteen, at a private school and afterwards at one
of those great institutions for which England is justly famous, Mr.
Harry Hartley had received the ordinary education of a gentleman.
At that period, he manifested a remarkable distaste for study; and
his only surviving parent being both weak and ignorant, he was
permitted thenceforward to spend his time in the attainment of
petty and purely elegant accomplishments. Two years later, he was
left an orphan and almost a beggar. For all active and industrious
pursuits, Harry was unfitted alike by nature and training. He
could sing romantic ditties, and accompany himself with discretion
on the piano; he was a graceful although a timid cavalier; he had a
pronounced taste for chess; and nature had sent him into the world
with one of the most engaging exteriors that can well be fancied.
Blond and pink, with dove's eyes and a gentle smile, he had an air
of agreeable tenderness and melancholy, and the most submissive and
caressing manners. But when all is said, he was not the man to
lead armaments of war, or direct the councils of a State.
A fortunate chance and some influence obtained for Harry, at the
time of his bereavement, the position of private secretary to
Major-General Sir Thomas Vandeleur, C.B. Sir Thomas was a man of
sixty, loud-spoken, boisterous, and domineering. For some reason,
some service the nature of which had been often whispered and
repeatedly denied, the Rajah of Kashgar had presented this officer
with the sixth known diamond of the world. The gift transformed
General Vandeleur from a poor into a wealthy man, from an obscure
and unpopular soldier into one of the lions of London society; the
possessor of the Rajah's Diamond was welcome in the most exclusive
circles; and he had found a lady, young, beautiful, and well-born,
who was willing to call the diamond hers even at the price of
marriage with Sir Thomas Vandeleur. It was commonly said at the
time that, as like draws to like, one jewel had attracted another;
certainly Lady Vandeleur was not only a gem of the finest water in
her own person, but she showed herself to the world in a very
costly setting; and she was considered by many respectable
authorities, as one among the three or four best dressed women in
Harry's duty as secretary was not particularly onerous; but he had
a dislike for all prolonged work; it gave him pain to ink his
lingers; and the charms of Lady Vandeleur and her toilettes drew
him often from the library to the boudoir. He had the prettiest
ways among women, could talk fashions with enjoyment, and was never
more happy than when criticising a shade of ribbon, or running on
an errand to the milliner's. In short, Sir Thomas's correspondence
fell into pitiful arrears, and my Lady had another lady's maid.
At last the General, who was one of the least patient of military
commanders, arose from his place in a violent access of passion,
and indicated to his secretary that he had no further need for his
services, with one of those explanatory gestures which are most
rarely employed between gentlemen. The door being unfortunately
open, Mr. Hartley fell downstairs head foremost.
He arose somewhat hurt and very deeply aggrieved. The life in the
General's house precisely suited him; he moved, on a more or less
doubtful footing, in very genteel company, he did little, he ate of
the best, and he had a lukewarm satisfaction in the presence of
Lady Vandeleur, which, in his own heart, he dubbed by a more
Immediately after he had been outraged by the military foot, he
hurried to the boudoir and recounted his sorrows.
"You know very well, my dear Harry," replied Lady Vandeleur, for
she called him by name like a child or a domestic servant, "that
you never by any chance do what the General tells you. No more do
I, you may say. But that is different. A woman can earn her
pardon for a good year of disobedience by a single adroit
submission; and, besides, no one is married to his private
secretary. I shall be sorry to lose you; but since you cannot stay
longer in a house where you have been insulted, I shall wish you
good-bye, and I promise you to make the General smart for his
Harry's countenance fell; tears came into his eyes, and he gazed on
Lady Vandeleur with a tender reproach.
"My Lady," said he, "what is an insult? I should think little
indeed of any one who could not forgive them by the score. But to
leave one's friends; to tear up the bonds of affection - "
He was unable to continue, for his emotion choked him, and he began
Lady Vandeleur looked at him with a curious expression. "This
little fool," she thought, "imagines himself to be in love with me.
Why should he not become my servant instead of the General's? He
is good-natured, obliging, and understands dress; and besides it
will keep him out of mischief. He is positively too pretty to be
unattached." That night she talked over the General, who was
already somewhat ashamed of his vivacity; and Harry was transferred
to the feminine department, where his life was little short of
heavenly. He was always dressed with uncommon nicety, wore
delicate flowers in his button-hole, and could entertain a visitor
with tact and pleasantry. He took a pride in servility to a
beautiful woman; received Lady Vandeleur's commands as so many
marks of favour; and was pleased to exhibit himself before other
men, who derided and despised him, in his character of male lady's-
maid and man milliner. Nor could he think enough of his existence
from a moral point of view. Wickedness seemed to him an
essentially male attribute, and to pass one's days with a delicate
woman, and principally occupied about trimmings, was to inhabit an
enchanted isle among the storms of life.
One fine morning he came into the drawing-room and began to arrange
some music on the top of the piano. Lady Vandeleur, at the other
end of the apartment, was speaking somewhat eagerly with her
brother, Charlie Pendragon, an elderly young man, much broken with
dissipation, and very lame of one foot. The private secretary, to
whose entrance they paid no regard, could not avoid overhearing a
part of their conversation.
"To-day or never," said the lady. "Once and for all, it shall be
"To-day, if it must be," replied the brother, with a sigh. "But it
is a false step, a ruinous step, Clara; and we shall live to repent
Lady Vandeleur looked her brother steadily and somewhat strangely
in the face.
"You forget," she said; "the man must die at last."
"Upon my word, Clara," said Pendragon, "I believe you are the most
heartless rascal in England."
"You men," she returned, "are so coarsely built, that you can never
appreciate a shade of meaning. You are yourselves rapacious,
violent, immodest, careless of distinction; and yet the least
thought for the future shocks you in a woman. I have no patience
with such stuff. You would despise in a common banker the
imbecility that you expect to find in us."
"You are very likely right," replied her brother; "you were always
cleverer than I. And, anyway, you know my motto: The family
"Yes, Charlie," she returned, taking his hand in hers, "I know your
motto better than you know it yourself. 'And Clara before the
family!' Is not that the second part of it? Indeed, you are the
best of brothers, and I love you dearly."
Mr. Pendragon got up, looking a little confused by these family
"I had better not be seen," said he. "I understand my part to a
miracle, and I'll keep an eye on the Tame Cat."
"Do," she replied. "He is an abject creature, and might ruin all."
She kissed the tips of her fingers to him daintily; and the brother
withdrew by the boudoir and the back stair.
"Harry," said Lady Vandeleur, turning towards the secretary as soon
as they were alone, "I have a commission for you this morning. But
you shall take a cab; I cannot have my secretary freckled."
She spoke the last words with emphasis and a look of half-motherly
pride that caused great contentment to poor Harry; and he professed
himself charmed to find an opportunity of serving her.
"It is another of our great secrets," she went on archly, "and no
one must know of it but my secretary and me. Sir Thomas would make
the saddest disturbance; and if you only knew how weary I am of
these scenes! Oh, Harry, Harry, can you explain to me what makes
you men so violent and unjust? But, indeed, I know you cannot; you
are the only man in the world who knows nothing of these shameful
passions; you are so good, Harry, and so kind; you, at least, can
be a woman's friend; and, do you know? I think you make the others
more ugly by comparison."
"It is you," said Harry gallantly, "who are so kind to me. You
treat me like - "
"Like a mother," interposed Lady Vandeleur; "I try to be a mother
to you. Or, at least," she corrected herself with a smile, "almost
a mother. I am afraid I am too young to be your mother really.
Let us say a friend - a dear friend."
She paused long enough to let her words take effect in Harry's
sentimental quarters, but not long enough to allow him a reply.
"But all this is beside our purpose," she resumed. "You will find
a bandbox in the left-hand side of the oak wardrobe; it is
underneath the pink slip that I wore on Wednesday with my Mechlin.
You will take it immediately to this address," and she gave him a
paper, "but do not, on any account, let it out of your hands until
you have received a receipt written by myself. Do you understand?
Answer, if you please - answer! This is extremely important, and I
must ask you to pay some attention."
Harry pacified her by repeating her instructions perfectly; and she
was just going to tell him more when General Vandeleur flung into
the apartment, scarlet with anger, and holding a long and elaborate
milliner's bill in his hand.
"Will you look at this, madam?" cried he. "Will you have the
goodness to look at this document? I know well enough you married
me for my money, and I hope I can make as great allowances as any
other man in the service; but, as sure as God made me, I mean to
put a period to this disreputable prodigality."
"Mr. Hartley," said Lady Vandeleur, "I think you understand what
you have to do. May I ask you to see to it at once?"
"Stop," said the General, addressing Harry, "one word before you
go." And then, turning again to Lady Vandeleur, "What is this
precious fellow's errand?" he demanded. "I trust him no further
than I do yourself, let me tell you. If he had as much as the
rudiments of honesty, he would scorn to stay in this house; and
what he does for his wages is a mystery to all the world. What is
his errand, madam? and why are you hurrying him away?"
"I supposed you had something to say to me in private," replied the
"You spoke about an errand," insisted the General. "Do not attempt
to deceive me in my present state of temper. You certainly spoke
about an errand."
"If you insist on making your servants privy to our humiliating
dissensions," replied Lady Vandeleur, "perhaps I had better ask Mr.
Hartley to sit down. No?" she continued; "then you may go, Mr.
Hartley. I trust you may remember all that you have heard in this
room; it may be useful to you."
Harry at once made his escape from the drawing-room; and as he ran
upstairs he could hear the General's voice upraised in declamation,
and the thin tones of Lady Vandeleur planting icy repartees at
every opening. How cordially he admired the wife! How skilfully
she could evade an awkward question! with what secure effrontery
she repeated her instructions under the very guns of the enemy! and
on the other hand, how he detested the husband!
There had been nothing unfamiliar in the morning's events, for he
was continually in the habit of serving Lady Vandeleur on secret
missions, principally connected with millinery. There was a
skeleton in the house, as he well knew. The bottomless
extravagance and the unknown liabilities of the wife had long since
swallowed her own fortune, and threatened day by day to engulph
that of the husband. Once or twice in every year exposure and ruin
seemed imminent, and Harry kept trotting round to all sorts of
furnishers' shops, telling small fibs, and paying small advances on
the gross amount, until another term was tided over, and the lady
and her faithful secretary breathed again. For Harry, in a double
capacity, was heart and soul upon that side of the war: not only
did he adore Lady Vandeleur and fear and dislike her husband, but
he naturally sympathised with the love of finery, and his own
single extravagance was at the tailor's.
He found the bandbox where it had been described, arranged his
toilette with care, and left the house. The sun shone brightly;
the distance he had to travel was considerable, and he remembered
with dismay that the General's sudden irruption had prevented Lady
Vandeleur from giving him money for a cab. On this sultry day
there was every chance that his complexion would suffer severely;
and to walk through so much of London with a bandbox on his arm was
a humiliation almost insupportable to a youth of his character. He
paused, and took counsel with himself. The Vandeleurs lived in
Eaton Place; his destination was near Notting Hill; plainly, he
might cross the Park by keeping well in the open and avoiding
populous alleys; and he thanked his stars when he reflected that it
was still comparatively early in the day.
Anxious to be rid of his incubus, he walked somewhat faster than
his ordinary, and he was already some way through Kensington
Gardens when, in a solitary spot among trees, he found himself
confronted by the General.
"I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas," observed Harry, politely falling
on one side; for the other stood directly in his path.
"Where are you going, sir?" asked the General.
"I am taking a little walk among the trees," replied the lad.
The General struck the bandbox with his cane.
"With that thing?" he cried; "you lie, sir, and you know you lie!"
"Indeed, Sir Thomas," returned Harry, "I am not accustomed to be
questioned in so high a key."
"You do not understand your position," said the General. "You are
my servant, and a servant of whom I have conceived the most serious
suspicions. How do I know but that your box is full of teaspoons?"
"It contains a silk hat belonging to a friend," said Harry.
"Very well," replied General Vandeleur. "Then I want to see your
friend's silk hat. I have," he added grimly, "a singular curiosity
for hats; and I believe you know me to be somewhat positive."
"I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas, I am exceedingly grieved," Harry
apologised; "but indeed this is a private affair."
The General caught him roughly by the shoulder with one hand, while
he raised his cane in the most menacing manner with the other.
Harry gave himself up for lost; but at the same moment Heaven
vouchsafed him an unexpected defender in the person of Charlie
Pendragon, who now strode forward from behind the trees.
"Come, come, General, hold your hand," said he, "this is neither
courteous nor manly."
"Aha!" cried the General, wheeling round upon his new antagonist,
"Mr. Pendragon! And do you suppose, Mr. Pendragon, that because I
have had the misfortune to marry your sister, I shall suffer myself
to be dogged and thwarted by a discredited and bankrupt libertine
like you? My acquaintance with Lady Vandeleur, sir, has taken away
all my appetite for the other members of her family."
"And do you fancy, General Vandeleur," retorted Charlie, "that
because my sister has had the misfortune to marry you, she there
and then forfeited her rights and privileges as a lady? I own,
sir, that by that action she did as much as anybody could to
derogate from her position; but to me she is still a Pendragon. I
make it my business to protect her from ungentlemanly outrage, and
if you were ten times her husband I would not permit her liberty to
be restrained, nor her private messengers to be violently
"How is that, Mr. Hartley?" interrogated the General. "Mr.
Pendragon is of my opinion, it appears. He too suspects that Lady
Vandeleur has something to do with your friend's silk hat."
Charlie saw that he had committed an unpardonable blunder, which he
hastened to repair.
"How, sir?" he cried; "I suspect, do you say? I suspect nothing.
Only where I find strength abused and a man brutalising his
inferiors, I take the liberty to interfere."
As he said these words he made a sign to Harry, which the latter
was too dull or too much troubled to understand.
"In what way am I to construe your attitude, sir?" demanded
"Why, sir, as you please," returned Pendragon.
The General once more raised his cane, and made a cut for Charlie's
head; but the latter, lame foot and all, evaded the blow with his
umbrella, ran in, and immediately closed with his formidable
"Run, Harry, run!" he cried; "run, you dolt! Harry stood petrified
for a moment, watching the two men sway together in this fierce
embrace; then he turned and took to his heels. When he cast a
glance over his shoulder he saw the General prostrate under
Charlie's knee, but still making desperate efforts to reverse the
situation; and the Gardens seemed to have filled with people, who
were running from all directions towards the scene of fight. This
spectacle lent the secretary wings; and he did not relax his pace
until he had gained the Bayswater road, and plunged at random into
an unfrequented by-street.
To see two gentlemen of his acquaintance thus brutally mauling each
other was deeply shocking to Harry. He desired to forget the
sight; he desired, above all, to put as great a distance as
possible between himself and General Vandeleur; and in his
eagerness for this he forgot everything about his destination, and
hurried before him headlong and trembling. When he remembered that
Lady Vandeleur was the wife of one and the sister of the other of
these gladiators, his heart was touched with sympathy for a woman
so distressingly misplaced in life. Even his own situation in the
General's household looked hardly so pleasing as usual in the light
of these violent transactions.
He had walked some little distance, busied with these meditations,
before a slight collision with another passenger reminded him of
the bandbox on his arm.
"Heavens!" cried he, "where was my head? and whither have I
Thereupon he consulted the envelope which Lady Vandeleur had given
him. The address was there, but without a name. Harry was simply
directed to ask for "the gentleman who expected a parcel from Lady
Vandeleur," and if he were not at home to await his return. The
gentleman, added the note, should present a receipt in the
handwriting of the lady herself. All this seemed mightily
mysterious, and Harry was above all astonished at the omission of
the name and the formality of the receipt. He had thought little
of this last when he heard it dropped in conversation; but reading
it in cold blood, and taking it in connection with the other
strange particulars, he became convinced that he was engaged in
perilous affairs. For half a moment he had a doubt of Lady
Vandeleur herself; for he found these obscure proceedings somewhat
unworthy of so high a lady, and became more critical when her
secrets were preserved against himself. But her empire over his
spirit was too complete, he dismissed his suspicions, and blamed
himself roundly for having so much as entertained them.
In one thing, however, his duty and interest, his generosity and
his terrors, coincided - to get rid of the bandbox with the
greatest possible despatch.
He accosted the first policeman and courteously inquired his way.
It turned out that he was already not far from his destination, and
a walk of a few minutes brought him to a small house in a lane,
freshly painted, and kept with the most scrupulous attention. The
knocker and bell-pull were highly polished; flowering pot-herbs
garnished the sills of the different windows; and curtains of some
rich material concealed the interior from the eyes of curious
passengers. The place had an air of repose and secrecy; and Harry
was so far caught with this spirit that he knocked with more than
usual discretion, and was more than usually careful to remove all
impurity from his boots.
A servant-maid of some personal attractions immediately opened the
door, and seemed to regard the secretary with no unkind eyes.
"This is the parcel from Lady Vandeleur," said Harry.
"I know," replied the maid, with a nod. "But the gentleman is from
home. Will you leave it with me?"
"I cannot," answered Harry. "I am directed not to part with it but
upon a certain condition, and I must ask you, I am afraid, to let
"Well," said she, "I suppose I may let you wait. I am lonely
enough, I can tell you, and you do not look as though you would eat
a girl. But be sure and do not ask the gentleman's name, for that
I am not to tell you."
"Do you say so?" cried Harry. "Why, how strange! But indeed for
some time back I walk among surprises. One question I think I may
surely ask without indiscretion: Is he the master of this house?"
"He is a lodger, and not eight days old at that," returned the
maid. "And now a question for a question: Do you know lady
"I am her private secretary," replied Harry with a glow of modest
"She is pretty, is she not?" pursued the servant.
"Oh, beautiful!" cried Harry; "wonderfully lovely, and not less
good and kind!"
"You look kind enough yourself," she retorted; "and I wager you are
worth a dozen Lady Vandeleurs."
Harry was properly scandalised.
"I!" he cried. "I am only a secretary!"
"Do you mean that for me?" said the girl. "Because I am only a
housemaid, if you please." And then, relenting at the sight of
Harry's obvious confusion, "I know you mean nothing of the sort,"
she added; "and I like your looks; but I think nothing of your Lady
Vandeleur. Oh, these mistresses!" she cried. "To send out a real
gentleman like you - with a bandbox - in broad day!"
During this talk they had remained in their original positions -
she on the doorstep, he on the side-walk, bareheaded for the sake
of coolness, and with the bandbox on his arm. But upon this last
speech Harry, who was unable to support such point-blank
compliments to his appearance, nor the encouraging look with which
they were accompanied, began to change his attitude, and glance
from left to right in perturbation. In so doing he turned his face
towards the lower end of the lane, and there, to his indescribable
dismay, his eyes encountered those of General Vandeleur. The
General, in a prodigious fluster of heat, hurry, and indignation,
had been scouring the streets in chase of his brother-in-law; but
so soon as he caught a glimpse of the delinquent secretary, his
purpose changed, his anger flowed into a new channel, and he turned
on his heel and came tearing up the lane with truculent gestures
Harry made but one bolt of it into the house, driving the maid
before him; and the door was slammed in his pursuer's countenance.
"Is there a bar? Will it lock?" asked Harry, while a salvo on the
knocker made the house echo from wall to wall.
"Why, what is wrong with you?" asked the maid. "Is it this old
"If he gets hold of me," whispered Harry, "I am as good as dead.
He has been pursuing me all day, carries a sword-stick, and is an
Indian military officer."
"These are fine manners," cried the maid. "And what, if you
please, may be his name?"
"It is the General, my master," answered Harry. "He is after this
"Did not I tell you?" cried the maid in triumph. "I told you I
thought worse than nothing of your Lady Vandeleur; and if you had
an eye in your head you might see what she is for yourself. An
ungrateful minx, I will be bound for that!"
The General renewed his attack upon the knocker, and his passion
growing with delay, began to kick and beat upon the panels of the
"It is lucky," observed the girl, "that I am alone in the house;
your General may hammer until he is weary, and there is none to
open for him. Follow me!"
So saying she led Harry into the kitchen, where she made him sit
down, and stood by him herself in an affectionate attitude, with a
hand upon his shoulder. The din at the door, so far from abating,
continued to increase in volume, and at each blow the unhappy
secretary was shaken to the heart.
"What is your name?" asked the girl.
"Harry Hartley," he replied.
"Mine," she went on, "is Prudence. Do you like it?"
"Very much," said Harry. "But hear for a moment how the General
beats upon the door. He will certainly break it in, and then, in
heaven's name, what have I to look for but death?"
"You put yourself very much about with no occasion," answered
Prudence. "Let your General knock, he will do no more than blister
his hands. Do you think I would keep you here if I were not sure
to save you? Oh, no, I am a good friend to those that please me!
and we have a back door upon another lane. But," she added,
checking him, for he had got upon his feet immediately on this
welcome news, "but I will not show where it is unless you kiss me.
Will you, Harry?"
"That I will," he cried, remembering his gallantry, "not for your
back door, but because you are good and pretty."
And he administered two or three cordial salutes, which were
returned to him in kind.
Then Prudence led him to the back gate, and put her hand upon the
"Will you come and see me?" she asked.
"I will indeed," said Harry. "Do not I owe you my life?"
"And now," she added, opening the door, "run as hard as you can,
for I shall let in the General."
Harry scarcely required this advice; fear had him by the forelock;
and he addressed himself diligently to flight. A few steps, and he
believed he would escape from his trials, and return to Lady
Vandeleur in honour and safety. But these few steps had not been
taken before he heard a man's voice hailing him by name with many
execrations, and, looking over his shoulder, he beheld Charlie
Pendragon waving him with both arms to return. The shock of this
new incident was so sudden and profound, and Harry was already
worked into so high a state of nervous tension, that he could think
of nothing better than to accelerate his pace, and continue
running. He should certainly have remembered the scene in
Kensington Gardens; he should certainly have concluded that, where
the General was his enemy, Charlie Pendragon could be no other than
a friend. But such was the fever and perturbation of his mind that
he was struck by none of these considerations, and only continued
to run the faster up the lane.
Charlie, by the sound of his voice and the vile terms that he
hurled after the secretary, was obviously beside himself with rage.
He, too, ran his very best; but, try as he might, the physical
advantages were not upon his side, and his outcries and the fall of
his lame foot on the macadam began to fall farther and farther into
Harry's hopes began once more to arise. The lane was both steep
and narrow, but it was exceedingly solitary, bordered on either
hand by garden walls, overhung with foliage; and, for as far as the
fugitive could see in front of him, there was neither a creature
moving nor an open door. Providence, weary of persecution, was now
offering him an open field for his escape.
Alas! as he came abreast of a garden door under a tuft of
chestnuts, it was suddenly drawn back, and he could see inside,
upon a garden path, the figure of a butcher's boy with his tray
upon his arm. He had hardly recognised the fact before he was some
steps beyond upon the other side. But the fellow had had time to
observe him; he was evidently much surprised to see a gentleman go
by at so unusual a pace; and he came out into the lane and began to
call after Harry with shouts of ironical encouragement.
His appearance gave a new idea to Charlie Pendragon, who, although
he was now sadly out of breath, once more upraised his voice.
"Stop, thief!" he cried.
And immediately the butcher's boy had taken up the cry and joined
in the pursuit.
This was a bitter moment for the hunted secretary. It is true that
his terror enabled him once more to improve his pace, and gain with
every step on his pursuers; but he was well aware that he was near
the end of his resources, and should he meet any one coming the
other way, his predicament in the narrow lane would be desperate
"I must find a place of concealment," he thought, "and that within
the next few seconds, or all is over with me in this world."
Scarcely had the thought crossed his mind than the lane took a
sudden turning; and he found himself hidden from his enemies.
There are circumstances in which even the least energetic of
mankind learn to behave with vigour and decision; and the most
cautious forget their prudence and embrace foolhardy resolutions.
This was one of those occasions for Harry Hartley; and those who
knew him best would have been the most astonished at the lad's
audacity. He stopped dead, flung the bandbox over a garden wall,
and leaping upward with incredible agility and seizing the
copestone with his hands, he tumbled headlong after it into the
He came to himself a moment afterwards, seated in a border of small
rosebushes. His hands and knees were cut and bleeding, for the
wall had been protected against such an escalade by a liberal
provision of old bottles; and he was conscious of a general
dislocation and a painful swimming in the head. Facing him across
the garden, which was in admirable order, and set with flowers of
the most delicious perfume, he beheld the back of a house. It was
of considerable extent, and plainly habitable; but, in odd contrast
to the grounds, it was crazy, ill-kept, and of a mean appearance.
On all other sides the circuit of the garden wall appeared
He took in these features of the scene with mechanical glances, but
his mind was still unable to piece together or draw a rational
conclusion from what he saw. And when he heard footsteps advancing
on the gravel, although he turned his eyes in that direction, it
was with no thought either for defence or flight.
The new-comer was a large, coarse, and very sordid personage, in
gardening clothes, and with a watering-pot in his left hand. One
less confused would have been affected with some alarm at the sight
of this man's huge proportions and black and lowering eyes. But
Harry was too gravely shaken by his fall to be so much as
terrified; and if he was unable to divert his glances from the
gardener, he remained absolutely passive, and suffered him to draw
near, to take him by the shoulder, and to plant him roughly on his
feet, without a motion of resistance.
For a moment the two stared into each other's eyes, Harry
fascinated, the man filled with wrath and a cruel, sneering humour.
"Who are you?" he demanded at last. "Who are you to come flying
over my wall and break my GLOIRE DE DIJONS! What is your name?" he
added, shaking him; "and what may be your business here?"
Harry could not as much as proffer a word in explanation.
But just at that moment Pendragon and the butcher's boy went
clumping past, and the sound of their feet and their hoarse cries
echoed loudly in the narrow lane. The gardener had received his
answer; and he looked down into Harry's face with an obnoxious
"A thief!" he said. "Upon my word, and a very good thing you must
make of it; for I see you dressed like a gentleman from top to toe.
Are you not ashamed to go about the world in such a trim, with
honest folk, I dare say, glad to buy your cast-off finery second
hand? Speak up, you dog," the man went on; "you can understand
English, I suppose; and I mean to have a bit of talk with you
before I march you to the station."
"Indeed, sir," said Harry, "this is all a dreadful misconception;
and if you will go with me to Sir Thomas Vandeleur's in Eaton
Place, I can promise that all will be made plain. The most upright
person, as I now perceive, can be led into suspicious positions."
"My little man," replied the gardener, "I will go with you no
farther than the station-house in the next street. The inspector,
no doubt, will be glad to take a stroll with you as far as Eaton
Place, and have a bit of afternoon tea with your great
acquaintances. Or would you prefer to go direct to the Home
Secretary? Sir Thomas Vandeleur, indeed! Perhaps you think I
don't know a gentleman when I see one, from a common run-the-hedge
like you? Clothes or no clothes, I can read you like a book. Here
is a shirt that maybe cost as much as my Sunday hat; and that coat,
I take it, has never seen the inside of Rag-fair, and then your
boots - "
The man, whose eyes had fallen upon the ground, stopped short in
his insulting commentary, and remained for a moment looking
intently upon something at his feet. When he spoke his voice was
"What, in God's name," said he, "is all this?"
Harry, following the direction of the man's eyes, beheld a
spectacle that struck him dumb with terror and amazement. In his
fall he had descended vertically upon the bandbox and burst it open
from end to end; thence a great treasure of diamonds had poured
forth, and now lay abroad, part trodden in the soil, part scattered
on the surface in regal and glittering profusion. There was a
magnificent coronet which he had often admired on Lady Vandeleur;
there were rings and brooches, ear-drops and bracelets, and even
unset brilliants rolling here and there among the rosebushes like
drops of morning dew. A princely fortune lay between the two men
upon the ground - a fortune in the most inviting, solid, and
durable form, capable of being carried in an apron, beautiful in
itself, and scattering the sunlight in a million rainbow flashes.
"Good God!" said Harry, "I am lost!"
His mind raced backwards into the past with the incalculable
velocity of thought, and he began to comprehend his day's
adventures, to conceive them as a whole, and to recognise the sad
imbroglio in which his own character and fortunes had become
involved. He looked round him as if for help, but he was alone in
the garden, with his scattered diamonds and his redoubtable
interlocutor; and when he gave ear, there was no sound but the
rustle of the leaves and the hurried pulsation of his heart. It
was little wonder if the young man felt himself deserted by his
spirits, and with a broken voice repeated his last ejaculation - "I
The gardener peered in all directions with an air of guilt; but
there was no face at any of the windows, and he seemed to breathe
"Pick up a heart," he said, "you fool! The worst of it is done.
Why could you not say at first there was enough for two? Two?" he
repeated, "aye, and for two hundred! But come away from here,
where we may be observed; and, for the love of wisdom, straighten
out your hat and brush your clothes. You could not travel two
steps the figure of fun you look just now."
While Harry mechanically adopted these suggestions, the gardener,
getting upon his knees, hastily drew together the scattered jewels
and returned them to the bandbox. The touch of these costly
crystals sent a shiver of emotion through the man's stalwart frame;
his face was transfigured, and his eyes shone with concupiscence;
indeed it seemed as if he luxuriously prolonged his occupation, and
dallied with every diamond that he handled. At last, however, it
was done; and, concealing the bandbox in his smock, the gardener
beckoned to Harry and preceded him in the direction of the house.
Near the door they were met by a young man evidently in holy
orders, dark and strikingly handsome, with a look of mingled
weakness and resolution, and very neatly attired after the manner
of his caste. The gardener was plainly annoyed by this encounter;
but he put as good a face upon it as he could, and accosted the
clergyman with an obsequious and smiling air.
"Here is a fine afternoon, Mr. Rolles," said he: "a fine
afternoon, as sure as God made it! And here is a young friend of
mine who had a fancy to look at my roses. I took the liberty to
bring him in, for I thought none of the lodgers would object."
"Speaking for myself," replied the Reverend Mr. Rolles, "I do not;
nor do I fancy any of the rest of us would be more difficult upon
so small a matter. The garden is your own, Mr. Raeburn; we must
none of us forget that; and because you give us liberty to walk
there we should be indeed ungracious if we so far presumed upon
your politeness as to interfere with the convenience of your
friends. But, on second thoughts," he added, "I believe that this
gentleman and I have met before. Mr. Hartley, I think. I regret
to observe that you have had a fall."
And he offered his hand.
A sort of maiden dignity and a desire to delay as long as possible
the necessity for explanation moved Harry to refuse this chance of
help, and to deny his own identity. He chose the tender mercies of
the gardener, who was at least unknown to him, rather than the
curiosity and perhaps the doubts of an acquaintance.
"I fear there is some mistake," said he. "My name is Thomlinson
and I am a friend of Mr. Raeburn's."
"Indeed?" said Mr. Rolles. "The likeness is amazing."
Mr. Raeburn, who had been upon thorns throughout this colloquy, now
felt it high time to bring it to a period.
"I wish you a pleasant saunter, sir," said he.
And with that he dragged Harry after him into the house, and then
into a chamber on the garden. His first care was to draw down the
blind, for Mr. Rolles still remained where they had left him, in an
attitude of perplexity and thought. Then he emptied the broken
bandbox on the table, and stood before the treasure, thus fully
displayed, with an expression of rapturous greed, and rubbing his
hands upon his thighs. For Harry, the sight of the man's face
under the influence of this base emotion, added another pang to
those he was already suffering. It seemed incredible that, from
his life of pure and delicate trifling, he should be plunged in a
breath among sordid and criminal relations. He could reproach his
conscience with no sinful act; and yet he was now suffering the
punishment of sin in its most acute and cruel forms - the dread of
punishment, the suspicions of the good, and the companionship and
contamination of vile and brutal natures. He felt he could lay his
life down with gladness to escape from the room and the society of
"And now," said the latter, after he had separated the jewels into
two nearly equal parts, and drawn one of them nearer to himself;
"and now," said he, "everything in this world has to be paid for,
and some things sweetly. You must know, Mr. Hartley, if such be
your name, that I am a man of a very easy temper, and good nature
has been my stumbling-block from first to last. I could pocket the
whole of these pretty pebbles, if I chose, and I should like to see
you dare to say a word; but I think I must have taken a liking to
you; for I declare I have not the heart to shave you so close. So,
do you see, in pure kind feeling, I propose that we divide; and
these," indicating the two heaps, "are the proportions that seem to
me just and friendly. Do you see any objection, Mr. Hartley, may I
ask? I am not the man to stick upon a brooch."
"But, sir," cried Harry, "what you propose to me is impossible.
The jewels are not mine, and I cannot share what is another's, no
matter with whom, nor in what proportions."
"They are not yours, are they not?" returned Raeburn. "And you
could not share them with anybody, couldn't you? Well now, that is
what I call a pity; for here am I obliged to take you to the
station. The police - think of that," he continued; "think of the
disgrace for your respectable parents; think," he went on, taking
Harry by the wrist; "think of the Colonies and the Day of
"I cannot help it," wailed Harry. "It is not my fault. You will
not come with me to Eaton Place?"
"No," replied the man, "I will not, that is certain. And I mean to
divide these playthings with you here."
And so saying he applied a sudden and severe torsion to the lad's
Harry could not suppress a scream, and the perspiration burst forth
upon his face. Perhaps pain and terror quickened his intelligence,
but certainly at that moment the whole business flashed across him
in another light; and he saw that there was nothing for it but to
accede to the ruffian's proposal, and trust to find the house and
force him to disgorge, under more favourable circumstances, and
when he himself was clear from all suspicion.
"I agree," he said.
"There is a lamb," sneered the gardener. "I thought you would
recognise your interests at last. This bandbox," he continued, "I
shall burn with my rubbish; it is a thing that curious folk might
recognise; and as for you, scrape up your gaieties and put them in
Harry proceeded to obey, Raeburn watching him, and every now and
again his greed rekindled by some bright scintillation, abstracting
another jewel from the secretary's share, and adding it to his own.
When this was finished, both proceeded to the front door, which
Raeburn cautiously opened to observe the street. This was
apparently clear of passengers; for he suddenly seized Harry by the
nape of the neck, and holding his face downward so that he could
see nothing but the roadway and the doorsteps of the houses, pushed
him violently before him down one street and up another for the
space of perhaps a minute and a half. Harry had counted three
corners before the bully relaxed his grasp, and crying, "Now be off
with you!" sent the lad flying head foremost with a well-directed
and athletic kick.
When Harry gathered himself up, half-stunned and bleeding freely at
the nose, Mr. Raeburn had entirely disappeared. For the first
time, anger and pain so completely overcame the lad's spirits that
he burst into a fit of tears and remained sobbing in the middle of
After he had thus somewhat assuaged his emotion, he began to look
about him and read the names of the streets at whose intersection
he had been deserted by the gardener. He was still in an
unfrequented portion of West London, among villas and large
gardens; but he could see some persons at a window who had
evidently witnessed his misfortune; and almost immediately after a
servant came running from the house and offered him a glass of
water. At the same time, a dirty rogue, who had been slouching
somewhere in the neighbourhood, drew near him from the other side.
"Poor fellow," said the maid, "how vilely you have been handled, to
be sure! Why, your knees are all cut, and your clothes ruined! Do
you know the wretch who used you so?"
"That I do!" cried Harry, who was somewhat refreshed by the water;
"and shall run him home in spite of his precautions. He shall pay
dearly for this day's work, I promise you."
"You had better come into the house and have yourself washed and
brushed," continued the maid. "My mistress will make you welcome,
never fear. And see, I will pick up your hat. Why, love of
mercy!" she screamed, "if you have not dropped diamonds all over
Such was the case; a good half of what remained to him after the
depredations of Mr. Raeburn, had been shaken out of his pockets by
the summersault and once more lay glittering on the ground. He
blessed his fortune that the maid had been so quick of eye; "there
is nothing so bad but it might be worse," thought he; and the
recovery of these few seemed to him almost as great an affair as
the loss of all the rest. But, alas! as he stooped to pick up his
treasures, the loiterer made a rapid onslaught, overset both Harry
and the maid with a movement of his arms, swept up a double handful
of the diamonds, and made off along the street with an amazing
Harry, as soon as he could get upon his feet, gave chase to the
miscreant with many cries, but the latter was too fleet of foot,
and probably too well acquainted with the locality; for turn where
the pursuer would he could find no traces of the fugitive.
In the deepest despondency, Harry revisited the scene of his
mishap, where the maid, who was still waiting, very honestly
returned him his hat and the remainder of the fallen diamonds.
Harry thanked her from his heart, and being now in no humour for
economy, made his way to the nearest cab-stand and set off for
Eaton Place by coach.
The house, on his arrival, seemed in some confusion, as if a
catastrophe had happened in the family; and the servants clustered
together in the hall, and were unable, or perhaps not altogether
anxious, to suppress their merriment at the tatterdemalion figure
of the secretary. He passed them with as good an air of dignity as
he could assume, and made directly for the boudoir. When he opened
the door an astonishing and even menacing spectacle presented
itself to his eyes; for he beheld the General and his wife and, of
all people, Charlie Pendragon, closeted together and speaking with
earnestness and gravity on some important subject. Harry saw at
once that there was little left for him to explain - plenary
confession had plainly been made to the General of the intended
fraud upon his pocket, and the unfortunate miscarriage of the
scheme; and they had all made common cause against a common danger.
"Thank Heaven!" cried Lady Vandeleur, "here he is! The bandbox,
Harry - the bandbox!"
But Harry stood before them silent and downcast.
"Speak!" she cried. "Speak! Where is the bandbox?"
And the men, with threatening gestures, repeated the demand.
Harry drew a handful of jewels from his pocket. He was very white.
"This is all that remains," said he. "I declare before Heaven it
was through no fault of mine; and if you will have patience,
although some are lost, I am afraid, for ever, others, I am sure,
may be still recovered."
"Alas!" cried Lady Vandeleur, "all our diamonds are gone, and I owe
ninety thousand pounds for dress!"
"Madam," said the General, "you might have paved the gutter with
your own trash; you might have made debts to fifty times the sum
you mention; you might have robbed me of my mother's coronet and
ring; and Nature might have still so far prevailed that I could
have forgiven you at last. But, madam, you have taken the Rajah's
Diamond - the Eye of Light, as the Orientals poetically termed it -
the Pride of Kashgar! You have taken from me the Rajah's Diamond,"
he cried, raising his hands, "and all, madam, all is at an end
"Believe me, General Vandeleur," she replied, "that is one of the
most agreeable speeches that ever I heard from your lips; and since
we are to be ruined, I could almost welcome the change, if it
delivers me from you. You have told me often enough that I married
you for your money; let me tell you now that I always bitterly
repented the bargain; and if you were still marriageable, and had a
diamond bigger than your head, I should counsel even my maid
against a union so uninviting and disastrous. As for you, Mr.
Hartley," she continued, turning on the secretary, "you have
sufficiently exhibited your valuable qualities in this house; we
are now persuaded that you equally lack manhood, sense, and self-
respect; and I can see only one course open for you - to withdraw
instanter, and, if possible, return no more. For your wages you
may rank as a creditor in my late husband's bankruptcy."
Harry had scarcely comprehended this insulting address before the
General was down upon him with another.
"And in the meantime," said that personage, "follow me before the
nearest Inspector of Police. You may impose upon a simple-minded
soldier, sir, but the eye of the law will read your disreputable
secret. If I must spend my old age in poverty through your
underhand intriguing with my wife, I mean at least that you shall
not remain unpunished for your pains; and God, sir, will deny me a
very considerable satisfaction if you do not pick oakum from now
until your dying day."
With that, the General dragged Harry from the apartment, and
hurried him downstairs and along the street to the police-station
of the district.
Here (says my Arabian author) ended this deplorable business of the
bandbox. But to the unfortunate Secretary the whole affair was the
beginning of a new and manlier life. The police were easily
persuaded of his innocence; and, after he had given what help he
could in the subsequent investigations, he was even complemented by
one of the chiefs of the detective department on the probity and
simplicity of his behaviour. Several persons interested themselves
in one so unfortunate; and soon after he inherited a sum of money
from a maiden aunt in Worcestershire. With this he married
Prudence, and set sail for Bendigo, or according to another
account, for Trincomalee, exceedingly content, and will the best of
STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN IN HOLY ORDERS
The Reverend Mr. Simon Rolles had distinguished himself in the
Moral Sciences, and was more than usually proficient in the study
of Divinity. His essay "On the Christian Doctrine of the Social
Obligations" obtained for him, at the moment of its production, a
certain celebrity in the University of Oxford; and it was
understood in clerical and learned circles that young Mr. Rolles
had in contemplation a considerable work - a folio, it was said -
on the authority of the Fathers of the Church. These attainments,
these ambitious designs, however, were far from helping him to any
preferment; and he was still in quest of his first curacy when a
chance ramble in that part of London, the peaceful and rich aspect
of the garden, a desire for solitude and study, and the cheapness
of the lodging, led him to take up his abode with Mr. Raeburn, the
nurseryman of Stockdove Lane.
It was his habit every afternoon, after he had worked seven or
eight hours on St. Ambrose or St. Chrysostom, to walk for a while
in meditation among the roses. And this was usually one of the
most productive moments of his day. But even a sincere appetite
for thought, and the excitement of grave problems awaiting
solution, are not always sufficient to preserve the mind of the
philosopher against the petty shocks and contacts of the world.
And when Mr. Rolles found General Vandeleur's secretary, ragged and
bleeding, in the company of his landlord; when he saw both change
colour and seek to avoid his questions; and, above all, when the
former denied his own identity with the most unmoved assurance, he
speedily forgot the Saints and Fathers in the vulgar interest of
"I cannot be mistaken," thought he. "That is Mr. Hartley beyond a
doubt. How comes he in such a pickle? why does he deny his name?
and what can be his business with that black-looking ruffian, my
As he was thus reflecting, another peculiar circumstance attracted
his attention. The face of Mr. Raeburn appeared at a low window
next the door; and, as chance directed, his eyes met those of Mr.
Rolles. The nurseryman seemed disconcerted, and even alarmed; and
immediately after the blind of the apartment was pulled sharply
"This may all be very well," reflected Mr. Rolles; "it may be all
excellently well; but I confess freely that I do not think so.
Suspicious, underhand, untruthful, fearful of observation - I
believe upon my soul," he thought, "the pair are plotting some
The detective that there is in all of us awoke and became clamant
in the bosom of Mr. Rolles; and with a brisk, eager step, that bore
no resemblance to his usual gait, he proceeded to make the circuit
of the garden. When he came to the scene of Harry's escalade, his
eye was at once arrested by a broken rosebush and marks of
trampling on the mould. He looked up, and saw scratches on the
brick, and a rag of trouser floating from a broken bottle. This,
then, was the mode of entrance chosen by Mr. Raeburn's particular
friend! It was thus that General Vandeleur's secretary came to
admire a flower-garden! The young clergyman whistled softly to
himself as he stooped to examine the ground. He could make out
where Harry had landed from his perilous leap; he recognised the
flat foot of Mr. Raeburn where it had sunk deeply in the soil as he
pulled up the Secretary by the collar; nay, on a closer inspection,
he seemed to distinguish the marks of groping fingers, as though
something had been spilt abroad and eagerly collected.
"Upon my word," he thought, "the thing grows vastly interesting."
And just then he caught sight of something almost entirely buried
in the earth. In an instant he had disinterred a dainty morocco
case, ornamented and clasped in gilt. It had been trodden heavily
underfoot, and thus escaped the hurried search of Mr. Raeburn. Mr.
Rolles opened the case, and drew a long breath of almost horrified
astonishment; for there lay before him, in a cradle of green
velvet, a diamond of prodigious magnitude and of the finest water.
It was of the bigness of a duck's egg; beautifully shaped, and
without a flaw; and as the sun shone upon it, it gave forth a
lustre like that of electricity, and seemed to burn in his hand
with a thousand internal fires.
He knew little of precious stones; but the Rajah's Diamond was a
wonder that explained itself; a village child, if he found it,
would run screaming for the nearest cottage; and a savage would
prostrate himself in adoration before so imposing a fetish. The
beauty of the stone flattered the young clergyman's eyes; the
thought of its incalculable value overpowered his intellect. He
knew that what he held in his hand was worth more than many years'
purchase of an archiepiscopal see; that it would build cathedrals
more stately than Ely or Cologne; that he who possessed it was set
free for ever from the primal curse, and might follow his own
inclinations without concern or hurry, without let or hindrance.
And as he suddenly turned it, the rays leaped forth again with
renewed brilliancy, and seemed to pierce his very heart.
Decisive actions are often taken in a moment and without any
conscious deliverance from the rational parts of man. So it was
now with Mr. Rolles. He glanced hurriedly round; beheld, like Mr.
Raeburn before him, nothing but the sunlit flower-garden, the tall
tree-tops, and the house with blinded windows; and in a trice he
had shut the case, thrust it into his pocket, and was hastening to
his study with the speed of guilt.
The Reverend Simon Rolles had stolen the Rajah's Diamond.
Early in the afternoon the police arrived with Harry Hartley. The
nurseryman, who was beside himself with terror, readily discovered
his hoard; and the jewels were identified and inventoried in the
presence of the Secretary. As for Mr. Rolles, he showed himself in
a most obliging temper, communicated what he knew with freedom, and
professed regret that he could do no more to help the officers in
"Still," he added, "I suppose your business is nearly at an end."
"By no means," replied the man from Scotland Yard; and he narrated
the second robbery of which Harry had been the immediate victim,
and gave the young clergyman a description of the more important
jewels that were still not found, dilating particularly on the
"It must be worth a fortune," observed Mr. Rolles.
"Ten fortunes - twenty fortunes," cried the officer.
"The more it is worth," remarked Simon shrewdly, "the more
difficult it must be to sell. Such a thing has a physiognomy not
to be disguised, and I should fancy a man might as easily negotiate
St. Paul's Cathedral."
"Oh, truly!" said the officer; "but if the thief be a man of any
intelligence, he will cut it into three or four, and there will be
still enough to make him rich."
"Thank you," said the clergyman. "You cannot imagine how much your
conversation interests me."
Whereupon the functionary admitted that they knew many strange
things in his profession, and immediately after took his leave.
Mr. Rolles regained his apartment. It seemed smaller and barer
than usual; the materials for his great work had never presented so
little interest; and he looked upon his library with the eye of
scorn. He took down, volume by volume, several Fathers of the
Church, and glanced them through; but they contained nothing to his
"These old gentlemen," thought he, "are no doubt very valuable
writers, but they seem to me conspicuously ignorant of life. Here
am I, with learning enough to be a Bishop, and I positively do not
know how to dispose of a stolen diamond. I glean a hint from a
common policeman, and, with all my folios, I cannot so much as put
it into execution. This inspires me with very low ideas of
Herewith he kicked over his book-shelf and, putting on his hat,
hastened from the house to the club of which he was a member. In
such a place of mundane resort he hoped to find some man of good
counsel and a shrewd experience in life. In the reading-room he
saw many of the country clergy and an Archdeacon; there were three
journalists and a writer upon the Higher Metaphysic, playing pool;
and at dinner only the raff of ordinary club frequenters showed
their commonplace and obliterated countenances. None of these,
thought Mr. Rolles, would know more on dangerous topics than he
knew himself; none of them were fit to give him guidance in his
present strait. At length in the smoking-room, up many weary
stairs, he hit upon a gentleman of somewhat portly build and
dressed with conspicuous plainness. He was smoking a cigar and
reading the FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW; his face was singularly free from
all sign of preoccupation or fatigue; and there was something in
his air which seemed to invite confidence and to expect submission.
The more the young clergyman scrutinised his features, the more he
was convinced that he had fallen on one capable of giving pertinent
"Sir," said he, "you will excuse my abruptness; but I judge you
from your appearance to be pre-eminently a man of the world."
"I have indeed considerable claims to that distinction," replied
the stranger, laying aside his magazine with a look of mingled
amusement and surprise.
"I, sir," continued the Curate, "am a recluse, a student, a
creature of ink-bottles and patristic folios. A recent event has
brought my folly vividly before my eyes, and I desire to instruct
myself in life. By life," he added, "I do not mean Thackeray's
novels; but the crimes and secret possibilities of our society, and
the principles of wise conduct among exceptional events. I am a
patient reader; can the thing be learnt in books?"
"You put me in a difficulty," said the stranger. "I confess I have
no great notion of the use of books, except to amuse a railway
journey; although, I believe, there are some very exact treatises
on astronomy, the use of the globes, agriculture, and the art of
making paper flowers. Upon the less apparent provinces of life I
fear you will find nothing truthful. Yet stay," he added, "have
you read Gaboriau?"
Mr. Rolles admitted he had never even heard the name.
"You may gather some notions from Gaboriau," resumed the stranger.
"He is at least suggestive; and as he is an author much studied by
Prince Bismarck, you will, at the worst, lose your time in good
"Sir," said the Curate, "I am infinitely obliged by your
"You have already more than repaid me," returned the other.
"How?" inquired Simon.
"By the novelty of your request," replied the gentleman; and with a
polite gesture, as though to ask permission, he resumed the study
of the FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW.
On his way home Mr. Rolles purchased a work on precious stones and
several of Gaboriau's novels. These last he eagerly skimmed until
an advanced hour in the morning; but although they introduced him
to many new ideas, he could nowhere discover what to do with a
stolen diamond. He was annoyed, moreover, to find the information
scattered amongst romantic story-telling, instead of soberly set
forth after the manner of a manual; and he concluded that, even if
the writer had thought much upon these subjects, he was totally
lacking in educational method. For the character and attainments
of Lecoq, however, he was unable to contain his admiration.
"He was truly a great creature," ruminated Mr. Rolles. "He knew
the world as I know Paley's Evidences. There was nothing that he
could not carry to a termination with his own hand, and against the
largest odds. Heavens!" he broke out suddenly, "is not this the
lesson? Must I not learn to cut diamonds for myself?"
It seemed to him as if he had sailed at once out of his
perplexities; he remembered that he knew a jeweller, one
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