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
THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
By H.G. WELLS
TO H.B. MARRIOTT WATSON
Most of the stories in this collection appeared originally in the
"Pall Mall Budget", two were published in the "Pall Mall Gazette",
and one in "St James's Gazette". I desire to make the usual
acknowledgments. The third story in the book was, I find, reprinted
by the "Observatory", and the "Lord of the Dynamos" by the Melbourne
I. THE STOLEN BACILLUS
II. THE FLOWERING OF THE STRANGE ORCHID
III. IN THE AVU OBSERVATORY
IV. THE TRIUMPHS OF A TAXIDERMIST
V. A DEAL IN OSTRICHES
VI. THROUGH A WINDOW
VII. THE TEMPTATION OF HARRINGAY
VIII. THE FLYING MAN
IX. THE DIAMOND MAKER
X. AEPYORNIS ISLAND
XI. THE REMARKABLE CASE OF DAVIDSON'S EYES
XII. THE LORD OF THE DYNAMOS
XIII. THE HAMMERPOND PARK BURGLARY
XIV. A MOTH--"GENUS NOVO"
XV. THE TREASURE IN THE FOREST
THE STOLEN BACILLUS
"This again," said the Bacteriologist, slipping a glass slide under
the microscope, "is a preparation of the celebrated Bacillus of
cholera--the cholera germ."
The pale-faced man peered down the microscope. He was evidently not
accustomed to that kind of thing, and held a limp white hand over his
disengaged eye. "I see very little," he said.
"Touch this screw," said the Bacteriologist; "perhaps the microscope
is out of focus for you. Eyes vary so much. Just the fraction of a
turn this way or that."
"Ah! now I see," said the visitor. "Not so very much to see after all.
Little streaks and shreds of pink. And yet those little particles,
those mere atomies, might multiply and devastate a city! Wonderful!"
He stood up, and releasing the glass slip from the microscope, held
it in his hand towards the window. "Scarcely visible," he said,
scrutinising the preparation. He hesitated. "Are these--alive? Are
they dangerous now?"
"Those have been stained and killed," said the Bacteriologist. "I
wish, for my own part, we could kill and stain every one of them in
"I suppose," the pale man said with a slight smile, "that you scarcely
care to have such things about you in the living--in the active
"On the contrary, we are obliged to," said the Bacteriologist. "Here,
for instance--" He walked across the room and took up one of several
sealed tubes. "Here is the living thing. This is a cultivation of the
actual living disease bacteria." He hesitated, "Bottled cholera, so to
A slight gleam of satisfaction appeared momentarily in the face of the
"It's a deadly thing to have in your possession," he said, devouring
the little tube with his eyes. The Bacteriologist watched the morbid
pleasure in his visitor's expression. This man, who had visited
him that afternoon with a note of introduction from an old friend,
interested him from the very contrast of their dispositions. The lank
black hair and deep grey eyes, the haggard expression and nervous
manner, the fitful yet keen interest of his visitor were a novel
change from the phlegmatic deliberations of the ordinary scientific
worker with whom the Bacteriologist chiefly associated. It was perhaps
natural, with a hearer evidently so impressionable to the lethal
nature of his topic, to take the most effective aspect of the matter.
He held the tube in his hand thoughtfully. "Yes, here is the
pestilence imprisoned. Only break such a little tube as this into a
supply of drinking-water, say to these minute particles of life that
one must needs stain and examine with the highest powers of the
microscope even to see, and that one can neither smell nor taste--say
to them, 'Go forth, increase and multiply, and replenish the
cisterns,' and death--mysterious, untraceable death, death swift and
terrible, death full of pain and indignity--would be released upon
this city, and go hither and thither seeking his victims. Here he
would take the husband from the wife, here the child from its mother,
here the statesman from his duty, and here the toiler from his
trouble. He would follow the water-mains, creeping along streets,
picking out and punishing a house here and a house there where they
did not boil their drinking-water, creeping into the wells of the
mineral-water makers, getting washed into salad, and lying dormant in
ices. He would wait ready to be drunk in the horse-troughs, and by
unwary children in the public fountains. He would soak into the soil,
to reappear in springs and wells at a thousand unexpected places. Once
start him at the water supply, and before we could ring him in, and
catch him again, he would have decimated the metropolis."
He stopped abruptly. He had been told rhetoric was his weakness.
"But he is quite safe here, you know--quite safe."
The pale-faced man nodded. His eyes shone. He cleared his throat.
"These Anarchist--rascals," said he, "are fools, blind fools--to use
bombs when this kind of thing is attainable. I think--"
A gentle rap, a mere light touch of the finger-nails was heard at the
door. The Bacteriologist opened it. "Just a minute, dear," whispered
When he re-entered the laboratory his visitor was looking at his
watch. "I had no idea I had wasted an hour of your time," he said.
"Twelve minutes to four. I ought to have left here by half-past three.
But your things were really too interesting. No, positively I cannot
stop a moment longer. I have an engagement at four."
He passed out of the room reiterating his thanks, and the
Bacteriologist accompanied him to the door, and then returned
thoughtfully along the passage to his laboratory. He was musing on the
ethnology of his visitor. Certainly the man was not a Teutonic type
nor a common Latin one. "A morbid product, anyhow, I am afraid," said
the Bacteriologist to himself. "How he gloated on those cultivations
of disease-germs!" A disturbing thought struck him. He turned to the
bench by the vapour-bath, and then very quickly to his writing-table.
Then he felt hastily in his pockets, and then rushed to the door. "I
may have put it down on the hall table," he said.
"Minnie!" he shouted hoarsely in the hall.
"Yes, dear," came a remote voice.
"Had I anything in my hand when I spoke to you, dear, just now?"
"Nothing, dear, because I remember--"
"Blue ruin!" cried the Bacteriologist, and incontinently ran to the
front door and down the steps of his house to the street.
Minnie, hearing the door slam violently, ran in alarm to the
window. Down the street a slender man was getting into a cab. The
Bacteriologist, hatless, and in his carpet slippers, was running and
gesticulating wildly towards this group. One slipper came off, but
he did not wait for it. "He has gone "mad"!" said Minnie; "it's that
horrid science of his"; and, opening the window, would have called
after him. The slender man, suddenly glancing round, seemed struck
with the same idea of mental disorder. He pointed hastily to the
Bacteriologist, said something to the cabman, the apron of the cab
slammed, the whip swished, the horse's feet clattered, and in a moment
cab, and Bacteriologist hotly in pursuit, had receded up the vista of
the roadway and disappeared round the corner.
Minnie remained straining out of the window for a minute. Then she
drew her head back into the room again. She was dumbfounded. "Of
course he is eccentric," she meditated. "But running about London--in
the height of the season, too--in his socks!" A happy thought struck
her. She hastily put her bonnet on, seized his shoes, went into the
hall, took down his hat and light overcoat from the pegs, emerged upon
the doorstep, and hailed a cab that opportunely crawled by. "Drive
me up the road and round Havelock Crescent, and see if we can find a
gentleman running about in a velveteen coat and no hat."
"Velveteen coat, ma'am, and no 'at. Very good, ma'am." And the cabman
whipped up at once in the most matter-of-fact way, as if he drove to
this address every day in his life.
Some few minutes later the little group of cabmen and loafers that
collects round the cabmen's shelter at Haverstock Hill were startled
by the passing of a cab with a ginger-coloured screw of a horse,
They were silent as it went by, and then as it receded--"That's 'Arry
'Icks. Wot's "he" got?" said the stout gentleman known as Old Tootles.
"He's a-using his whip, he is, "to" rights," said the ostler boy.
"Hullo!" said poor old Tommy Byles; "here's another bloomin' loonatic.
Blowed if there aint."
"It's old George," said old Tootles, "and he's drivin' a loonatic,
"as" you say. Aint he a-clawin' out of the keb? Wonder if he's after
The group round the cabmen's shelter became animated. Chorus: "Go it,
George!" "It's a race." "You'll ketch 'em!" "Whip up!"
"She's a goer, she is!" said the ostler boy.
"Strike me giddy!" cried old Tootles. "Here! "I'm" a-goin' to begin
in a minute. Here's another comin'. If all the kebs in Hampstead aint
gone mad this morning!"
"It's a fieldmale this time," said the ostler boy.
"She's a followin' "him"," said old Tootles. "Usually the other way
"What's she got in her 'and?"
"Looks like a 'igh 'at."
"What a bloomin' lark it is! Three to one on old George," said the
ostler boy. "Nexst!"
Minnie went by in a perfect roar of applause. She did not like it but
she felt that she was doing her duty, and whirled on down Haverstock
Hill and Camden Town High Street with her eyes ever intent on the
animated back view of old George, who was driving her vagrant husband
so incomprehensibly away from her.
The man in the foremost cab sat crouched in the corner, his arms
tightly folded, and the little tube that contained such vast
possibilities of destruction gripped in his hand. His mood was a
singular mixture of fear and exultation. Chiefly he was afraid of
being caught before he could accomplish his purpose, but behind this
was a vaguer but larger fear of the awfulness of his crime. But his
exultation far exceeded his fear. No Anarchist before him had ever
approached this conception of his. Ravachol, Vaillant, all those
distinguished persons whose fame he had envied dwindled into
insignificance beside him. He had only to make sure of the water
supply, and break the little tube into a reservoir. How brilliantly
he had planned it, forged the letter of introduction and got into the
laboratory, and how brilliantly he had seized his opportunity! The
world should hear of him at last. All those people who had sneered at
him, neglected him, preferred other people to him, found his company
undesirable, should consider him at last. Death, death, death! They
had always treated him as a man of no importance. All the world had
been in a conspiracy to keep him under. He would teach them yet what
it is to isolate a man. What was this familiar street? Great Saint
Andrew's Street, of course! How fared the chase? He craned out of the
cab. The Bacteriologist was scarcely fifty yards behind. That was bad.
He would be caught and stopped yet. He felt in his pocket for money,
and found half-a-sovereign. This he thrust up through the trap in the
top of the cab into the man's face. "More," he shouted, "if only we
The money was snatched out of his hand. "Right you are," said the
cabman, and the trap slammed, and the lash lay along the glistening
side of the horse. The cab swayed, and the Anarchist, half-standing
under the trap, put the hand containing the little glass tube upon the
apron to preserve his balance. He felt the brittle thing crack, and
the broken half of it rang upon the floor of the cab. He fell back
into the seat with a curse, and stared dismally at the two or three
drops of moisture on the apron.
"Well! I suppose I shall be the first. "Phew"! Anyhow, I shall be a
Martyr. That's something. But it is a filthy death, nevertheless. I
wonder if it hurts as much as they say."
Presently a thought occurred to him--he groped between his feet. A
little drop was still in the broken end of the tube, and he drank that
to make sure. It was better to make sure. At any rate, he would not
Then it dawned upon him that there was no further need to escape the
Bacteriologist. In Wellington Street he told the cabman to stop, and
got out. He slipped on the step, and his head felt queer. It was rapid
stuff this cholera poison. He waved his cabman out of existence, so to
speak, and stood on the pavement with his arms folded upon his breast
awaiting the arrival of the Bacteriologist. There was something tragic
in his pose. The sense of imminent death gave him a certain dignity.
He greeted his pursuer with a defiant laugh.
"Vive l'Anarchie! You are too late, my friend. I have drunk it. The
cholera is abroad!"
The Bacteriologist from his cab beamed curiously at him through his
spectacles. "You have drunk it! An Anarchist! I see now." He was about
to say something more, and then checked himself. A smile hung in the
corner of his mouth. He opened the apron of his cab as if to descend,
at which the Anarchist waved him a dramatic farewell and strode off
towards Waterloo Bridge, carefully jostling his infected body against
as many people as possible. The Bacteriologist was so preoccupied with
the vision of him that he scarcely manifested the slightest surprise
at the appearance of Minnie upon the pavement with his hat and shoes
and overcoat. "Very good of you to bring my things," he said,
and remained lost in contemplation of the receding figure of the
"You had better get in," he said, still staring. Minnie felt
absolutely convinced now that he was mad, and directed the cabman home
on her own responsibility. "Put on my shoes? Certainly dear," said
he, as the cab began to turn, and hid the strutting black figure,
now small in the distance, from his eyes. Then suddenly something
grotesque struck him, and he laughed. Then he remarked, "It is really
very serious, though."
"You see, that man came to my house to see me, and he is an Anarchist.
No--don't faint, or I cannot possibly tell you the rest. And I wanted
to astonish him, not knowing he was an Anarchist, and took up a
cultivation of that new species of Bacterium I was telling you of,
that infest, and I think cause, the blue patches upon various monkeys;
and like a fool, I said it was Asiatic cholera. And he ran away with
it to poison the water of London, and he certainly might have made
things look blue for this civilised city. And now he has swallowed it.
Of course, I cannot say what will happen, but you know it turned
that kitten blue, and the three puppies--in patches, and the
sparrow--bright blue. But the bother is, I shall have all the trouble
and expense of preparing some more.
"Put on my coat on this hot day! Why? Because we might meet Mrs
Jabber. My dear, Mrs Jabber is not a draught. But why should I wear a
coat on a hot day because of Mrs--. Oh! "very" well."
THE FLOWERING OF THE STRANGE ORCHID
The buying of orchids always has in it a certain speculative flavour.
You have before you the brown shrivelled lump of tissue, and for
the rest you must trust your judgment, or the auctioneer, or your
good-luck, as your taste may incline. The plant may be moribund or
dead, or it may be just a respectable purchase, fair value for your
money, or perhaps--for the thing has happened again and again--there
slowly unfolds before the delighted eyes of the happy purchaser, day
after day, some new variety, some novel richness, a strange twist
of the labellum, or some subtler colouration or unexpected mimicry.
Pride, beauty, and profit blossom together on one delicate green
spike, and, it may be, even immortality. For the new miracle of Nature
may stand in need of a new specific name, and what so convenient as
that of its discoverer? "Johnsmithia"! There have been worse names.
It was perhaps the hope of some such happy discovery that made
Winter-Wedderburn such a frequent attendant at these sales--that hope,
and also, maybe, the fact that he had nothing else of the slightest
interest to do in the world. He was a shy, lonely, rather ineffectual
man, provided with just enough income to keep off the spur of
necessity, and not enough nervous energy to make him seek any exacting
employments. He might have collected stamps or coins, or translated
Horace, or bound books, or invented new species of diatoms. But, as it
happened, he grew orchids, and had one ambitious little hothouse.
"I have a fancy," he said over his coffee, "that something is going to
happen to me to-day." He spoke--as he moved and thought--slowly.
"Oh, don't say "that"!" said his housekeeper--who was also his remote
cousin. For "something happening" was a euphemism that meant only one
thing to her.
"You misunderstand me. I mean nothing unpleasant ... though what I do
mean I scarcely know.
"To-day," he continued, after a pause, "Peters' are going to sell a
batch of plants from the Andamans and the Indies. I shall go up and
see what they have. It may be I shall buy something good, unawares.
That may be it."
He passed his cup for his second cupful of coffee.
"Are these the things collected by that poor young fellow you told me
of the other day?" asked his cousin as she filled his cup.
"Yes," he said, and became meditative over a piece of toast.
"Nothing ever does happen to me," he remarked presently, beginning
to think aloud. "I wonder why? Things enough happen to other people.
There is Harvey. Only the other week; on Monday he picked up sixpence,
on Wednesday his chicks all had the staggers, on Friday his cousin
came home from Australia, and on Saturday he broke his ankle. What a
whirl of excitement!--compared to me."
"I think I would rather be without so much excitement," said his
housekeeper. "It can't be good for you."
"I suppose it's troublesome. Still ... you see, nothing ever happens
to me. When I was a little boy I never had accidents. I never fell in
love as I grew up. Never married.... I wonder how it feels to have
something happen to you, something really remarkable.
"That orchid-collector was only thirty-six--twenty years younger than
myself--when he died. And he had been married twice and divorced once;
he had had malarial fever four times, and once he broke his thigh. He
killed a Malay once, and once he was wounded by a poisoned dart. And in
the end he was killed by jungle-leeches. It must have all been
very troublesome, but then it must have been very interesting, you
know--except, perhaps, the leeches."
"I am sure it was not good for him," said the lady, with conviction.
"Perhaps not." And then Wedderburn looked at his watch. "Twenty-three
minutes past eight. I am going up by the quarter to twelve train,
so that there is plenty of time. I think I shall wear my alpaca
jacket--it is quite warm enough--and my grey felt hat and brown shoes.
He glanced out of the window at the serene sky and sunlit garden, and
then nervously at his cousin's face.
"I think you had better take an umbrella if you are going to London,"
she said in a voice that admitted of no denial. "There's all between
here and the station coming back."
When he returned he was in a state of mild excitement. He had made a
purchase. It was rare that he could make up his mind quickly enough to
buy, but this time he had done so.
"There are Vandas," he said, "and a Dendrobe and some Palaeonophis."
He surveyed his purchases lovingly as he consumed his soup. They were
laid out on the spotless tablecloth before him, and he was telling his
cousin all about them as he slowly meandered through his dinner. It
was his custom to live all his visits to London over again in the
evening for her and his own entertainment.
"I knew something would happen to-day. And I have bought all these.
Some of them--some of them--I feel sure, do you know, that some of
them will be remarkable. I don't know how it is, but I feel just
as sure as if someone had told me that some of these will turn out
"That one"--he pointed to a shrivelled rhizome--"was not identified.
It may be a Palaeonophis--or it may not. It may be a new species,
or even a new genus. And it was the last that poor Batten ever
"I don't like the look of it," said his housekeeper. "It's such an
"To me it scarcely seems to have a shape."
"I don't like those things that stick out," said his housekeeper.
"It shall be put away in a pot to-morrow."
"It looks," said the housekeeper, "like a spider shamming dead."
Wedderburn smiled and surveyed the root with his head on one side. "It
is certainly not a pretty lump of stuff. But you can never judge of
these things from their dry appearance. It may turn out to be a very
beautiful orchid indeed. How busy I shall be to-morrow! I must see
to-night just exactly what to do with these things, and to-morrow I
shall set to work."
"They found poor Batten lying dead, or dying, in a mangrove swamp--I
forget which," he began again presently, "with one of these very
orchids crushed up under his body. He had been unwell for some days
with some kind of native fever, and I suppose he fainted. These
mangrove swamps are very unwholesome. Every drop of blood, they say,
was taken out of him by the jungle-leeches. It may be that very plant
that cost him his life to obtain."
"I think none the better of it for that."
"Men must work though women may weep," said Wedderburn with profound
"Fancy dying away from every comfort in a nasty swamp! Fancy being ill
of fever with nothing to take but chlorodyne and quinine--if men were
left to themselves they would live on chlorodyne and quinine--and no
one round you but horrible natives! They say the Andaman islanders are
most disgusting wretches--and, anyhow, they can scarcely make good
nurses, not having the necessary training. And just for people in
England to have orchids!"
"I don't suppose it was comfortable, but some men seem to enjoy that
kind of thing," said Wedderburn. "Anyhow, the natives of his party
were sufficiently civilised to take care of all his collection until
his colleague, who was an ornithologist, came back again from the
interior; though they could not tell the species of the orchid and had
let it wither. And it makes these things more interesting."
"It makes them disgusting. I should be afraid of some of the malaria
clinging to them. And just think, there has been a dead body lying
across that ugly thing! I never thought of that before. There! I
declare I cannot eat another mouthful of dinner."
"I will take them off the table if you like, and put them in the
window-seat. I can see them just as well there."
The next few days he was indeed singularly busy in his steamy little
hothouse, fussing about with charcoal, lumps of teak, moss, and all
the other mysteries of the orchid cultivator. He considered he was
having a wonderfully eventful time. In the evening he would talk about
these new orchids to his friends, and over and over again he reverted
to his expectation of something strange.
Several of the Vandas and the Dendrobium died under his care, but
presently the strange orchid began to show signs of life. He was
delighted and took his housekeeper right away from jam-making to see
it at once, directly he made the discovery.
"That is a bud," he said, "and presently there will be a lot of leaves
there, and those little things coming out here are aërial rootlets."
"They look to me like little white fingers poking out of the brown,"
said his housekeeper. "I don't like them."
"I don't know. They look like fingers trying to get at you. I can't
help my likes and dislikes."
"I don't know for certain, but I don't "think" there are any orchids I
know that have aërial rootlets quite like that. It may be my fancy, of
course. You see they are a little flattened at the ends."
"I don't like 'em," said his housekeeper, suddenly shivering and
turning away. "I know it's very silly of me--and I'm very sorry,
particularly as you like the thing so much. But I can't help thinking
of that corpse."
"But it may not be that particular plant. That was merely a guess of
His housekeeper shrugged her shoulders. "Anyhow I don't like it," she
Wedderburn felt a little hurt at her dislike to the plant. But that
did not prevent his talking to her about orchids generally, and this
orchid in particular, whenever he felt inclined.
"There are such queer things about orchids," he said one day;
"such possibilities of surprises. You know, Darwin studied their
fertilisation, and showed that the whole structure of an ordinary
orchid-flower was contrived in order that moths might carry the pollen
from plant to plant. Well, it seems that there are lots of orchids
known the flower of which cannot possibly be used for fertilisation in
that way. Some of the Cypripediums, for instance; there are no insects
known that can possibly fertilise them, and some of them have never be
found with seed."
"But how do they form new plants?"
"By runners and tubers, and that kind of outgrowth. That is easily
explained. The puzzle is, what are the flowers for?
"Very likely," he added, ""my" orchid may be something extraordinary
in that way. If so I shall study it. I have often thought of making
researches as Darwin did. But hitherto I have not found the time, or
something else has happened to prevent it. The leaves are beginning to
unfold now. I do wish you would come and see them!"
But she said that the orchid-house was so hot it gave her the
headache. She had seen the plant once again, and the aërial rootlets,
which were now some of them more than a foot long, had unfortunately
reminded her of tentacles reaching out after something; and they got
into her dreams, growing after her with incredible rapidity. So that
she had settled to her entire satisfaction that she would not see that
plant again, and Wedderburn had to admire its leaves alone. They were
of the ordinary broad form, and a deep glossy green, with splashes and
dots of deep red towards the base. He knew of no other leaves quite
like them. The plant was placed on a low bench near the thermometer,
and close by was a simple arrangement by which a tap dripped on the
hot-water pipes and kept the air steamy. And he spent his afternoons
now with some regularity meditating on the approaching flowering of
this strange plant.
And at last the great thing happened. Directly he entered the little
glass house he knew that the spike had burst out, although his great
"Palaeonophis Lowii" hid the corner where his new darling stood.
There was a new odour in the air, a rich, intensely sweet scent, that
overpowered every other in that crowded, steaming little greenhouse.
Directly he noticed this he hurried down to the strange orchid. And,
behold! the trailing green spikes bore now three great splashes of
blossom, from which this overpowering sweetness proceeded. He stopped
before them in an ecstasy of admiration.
The flowers were white, with streaks of golden orange upon the petals;
the heavy labellum was coiled into an intricate projection, and a
wonderful bluish purple mingled there with the gold. He could see at
once that the genus was altogether a new one. And the insufferable
scent! How hot the place was! The blossoms swam before his eyes.
He would see if the temperature was right. He made a step towards the
thermometer. Suddenly everything appeared unsteady. The bricks on the
floor were dancing up and down. Then the white blossoms, the green
leaves behind them, the whole greenhouse, seemed to sweep sideways,
and then in a curve upward.
* * * * *
At half-past four his cousin made the tea, according to their
invariable custom. But Wedderburn did not come in for his tea.
"He is worshipping that horrid orchid," she told herself, and waited
ten minutes. "His watch must have stopped. I will go and call him."
She went straight to the hothouse, and, opening the door, called his
name. There was no reply. She noticed that the air was very close, and
loaded with an intense perfume. Then she saw something lying on the
bricks between the hot-water pipes.
For a minute, perhaps, she stood motionless.
He was lying, face upward, at the foot of the strange orchid. The
tentacle-like aërial rootlets no longer swayed freely in the air, but
were crowded together, a tangle of grey ropes, and stretched tight
with their ends closely applied to his chin and neck and hands.
She did not understand. Then she saw from under one of the exultant
tentacles upon his cheek there trickled a little thread of blood.
With an inarticulate cry she ran towards him, and tried to pull him
away from the leech-like suckers. She snapped two of these tentacles,
and their sap dripped red.
Then the overpowering scent of the blossom began to make her head
reel. How they clung to him! She tore at the tough ropes, and he and
the white inflorescence swam about her. She felt she was fainting,
knew she must not. She left him and hastily opened the nearest door,
and, after she had panted for a moment in the fresh air, she had a
brilliant inspiration. She caught up a flower-pot and smashed in the
windows at the end of the green-house. Then she re-entered. She tugged
now with renewed strength at Wedderburn's motionless body, and brought
the strange orchid crashing to the floor. It still clung with the
grimmest tenacity to its victim. In a frenzy, she lugged it and him
into the open air.
Then she thought of tearing through the sucker rootlets one by one,
and in another minute she had released him and was dragging him away
from the horror.
He was white and bleeding from a dozen circular patches.
The odd-job man was coming up the garden, amazed at the smashing of
glass, and saw her emerge, hauling the inanimate body with red-stained
hands. For a moment he thought impossible things.
"Bring some water!" she cried, and her voice dispelled his fancies.
When, with unnatural alacrity, he returned with the water, he found
her weeping with excitement, and with Wedderburn's head upon her knee,
wiping the blood from his face.
"What's the matter?" said Wedderburn, opening his eyes feebly, and
closing them again at once.
"Go and tell Annie to come out here to me, and then go for Doctor
Haddon at once," she said to the odd-job man so soon as he brought the
water; and added, seeing he hesitated, "I will tell you all about it
when you come back."
Presently Wedderburn opened his eyes again, and, seeing that he was
troubled by the puzzle of his position, she explained to him, "You
fainted in the hothouse."
"And the orchid?"
"I will see to that," she said.
Wedderburn had lost a good deal of blood, but beyond that he had
suffered no very great injury. They gave him brandy mixed with some
pink extract of meat, and carried him upstairs to bed. His housekeeper
told her incredible story in fragments to Dr Haddon. "Come to the
orchid-house and see," she said.
The cold outer air was blowing in through the open door, and the
sickly perfume was almost dispelled. Most of the torn aërial rootlets
lay already withered amidst a number of dark stains upon the bricks.
The stem of the inflorescence was broken by the fall of the plant, and
the flowers were growing limp and brown at the edges of the petals.
The doctor stooped towards it, then saw that one of the aërial
rootlets still stirred feebly, and hesitated.
The next morning the strange orchid still lay there, black now and
putrescent. The door banged intermittently in the morning breeze, and
all the array of Wedderburn's orchids was shrivelled and prostrate.
But Wedderburn himself was bright and garrulous upstairs in the glory
of his strange adventure.
IN THE AVU OBSERVATORY
The observatory at Avu, in Borneo, stands on the spur of the mountain.
To the north rises the old crater, black at night against the
unfathomable blue of the sky. From the little circular building, with
its mushroom dome, the slopes plunge steeply downward into the black
mysteries of the tropical forest beneath. The little house in which
the observer and his assistant live is about fifty yards from the
observatory, and beyond this are the huts of their native attendants.
Thaddy, the chief observer, was down with a slight fever. His
assistant, Woodhouse, paused for a moment in silent contemplation of
the tropical night before commencing his solitary vigil. The night
was very still. Now and then voices and laughter came from the native
huts, or the cry of some strange animal was heard from the midst of
the mystery of the forest. Nocturnal insects appeared in ghostly
fashion out of the darkness, and fluttered round his light. He
thought, perhaps, of all the possibilities of discovery that still
lay in the black tangle beneath him; for to the naturalist the virgin
forests of Borneo are still a wonderland full of strange questions and
half-suspected discoveries. Woodhouse carried a small lantern in his
hand, and its yellow glow contrasted vividly with the infinite series
of tints between lavender-blue and black in which the landscape was
painted. His hands and face were smeared with ointment against the
attacks of the mosquitoes.
Even in these days of celestial photography, work done in a purely
temporary erection, and with only the most primitive appliances in
addition to the telescope, still involves a very large amount of
cramped and motionless watching. He sighed as he thought of the
physical fatigues before him, stretched himself, and entered the
The reader is probably familiar with the structure of an ordinary
astronomical observatory. The building is usually cylindrical in
shape, with a very light hemispherical roof capable of being turned
round from the interior. The telescope is supported upon a stone
pillar in the centre, and a clockwork arrangement compensates for the
earth's rotation, and allows a star once found to be continuously
observed. Besides this, there is a compact tracery of wheels and
screws about its point of support, by which the astronomer adjusts it.
There is, of course, a slit in the movable roof which follows the eye
of the telescope in its survey of the heavens. The observer sits or
lies on a sloping wooden arrangement, which he can wheel to any part
of the observatory as the position of the telescope may require.
Within it is advisable to have things as dark as possible, in order to
enhance the brilliance of the stars observed.
The lantern flared as Woodhouse entered his circular den, and the
general darkness fled into black shadows behind the big machine, from
which it presently seemed to creep back over the whole place again as
the light waned. The slit was a profound transparent blue, in which
six stars shone with tropical brilliance, and their light lay, a
pallid gleam, along the black tube of the instrument. Woodhouse
shifted the roof, and then proceeding to the telescope, turned first
one wheel and then another, the great cylinder slowly swinging into a
new position. Then he glanced through the finder, the little
companion telescope, moved the roof a little more, made some further
adjustments, and set the clockwork in motion. He took off his jacket,
for the night was very hot, and pushed into position the uncomfortable
seat to which he was condemned for the next four hours. Then with a
sigh he resigned himself to his watch upon the mysteries of space.
There was no sound now in the observatory, and the lantern waned
steadily. Outside there was the occasional cry of some animal in alarm
or pain, or calling to its mate, and the intermittent sounds of the
Malay and Dyak servants. Presently one of the men began a queer
chanting song, in which the others joined at intervals. After this it
would seem that they turned in for the night, for no further sound
came from their direction, and the whispering stillness became more
and more profound.
The clockwork ticked steadily. The shrill hum of a mosquito explored
the place and grew shriller in indignation at Woodhouse's ointment.
Then the lantern went out and all the observatory was black.
Woodhouse shifted his position presently, when the slow movement of
the telescope had carried it beyond the limits of his comfort.
He was watching a little group of stars in the Milky Way, in one of
which his chief had seen or fancied a remarkable colour variability.
It was not a part of the regular work for which the establishment
existed, and for that reason perhaps Woodhouse was deeply interested.
He must have forgotten things terrestrial. All his attention was
concentrated upon the great blue circle of the telescope field--a
circle powdered, so it seemed, with an innumerable multitude of stars,
and all luminous against the blackness of its setting. As he watched
he seemed to himself to become incorporeal, as if he too were floating
in the ether of space. Infinitely remote was the faint red spot he was
Suddenly the stars were blotted out. A flash of blackness passed, and
they were visible again.
"Queer," said Woodhouse. "Must have been a bird."
The thing happened again, and immediately after the great tube
shivered as though it had been struck. Then the dome of the
observatory resounded with a series of thundering blows. The stars
seemed to sweep aside as the telescope--which had been undamped--swung
round and away from the slit in the roof.
"Great Scott!" cried Woodhouse. "What's this?"
Some huge vague black shape, with a flapping something like a wing,
seemed to be struggling in the aperture of the roof. In another moment
the slit was clear again, and the luminous haze of the Milky Way shone
warm and bright.
The interior of the roof was perfectly black, and only a scraping
sound marked the whereabouts of the unknown creature.
Woodhouse had scrambled from the seat to his feet. He was trembling
violently and in a perspiration with the suddenness of the occurrence.
Was the thing, whatever it was, inside or out? It was big, whatever
else it might be. Something shot across the skylight, and the
telescope swayed. He started violently and put his arm up. It was
in the observatory, then, with him. It was clinging to the roof,
apparently. What the devil was it? Could it see him?
He stood for perhaps a minute in a state of stupefaction. The beast,
whatever it was, clawed at the interior of the dome, and then
something flapped almost into his face, and he saw the momentary
gleam of starlight on a skin like oiled leather. His water-bottle was
knocked off his little table with a smash.
The sense of some strange bird-creature hovering a few yards from his
face in the darkness was indescribably unpleasant to Woodhouse. As his
thought returned he concluded that it must be some night-bird or large
bat. At any risk he would see what it was, and pulling a match from
his pocket, he tried to strike it on the telescope seat. There was a
smoking streak of phosphorescent light, the match flared for a moment,
and he saw a vast wing sweeping towards him, a gleam of grey-brown
fur, and then he was struck in the face and the match knocked out of
his hand. The blow was aimed at his temple, and a claw tore sideways
down to his cheek. He reeled and fell, and he heard the extinguished
lantern smash. Another blow followed as he fell. He was partly
stunned, he felt his own warm blood stream out upon his face.
Instinctively he felt his eyes had been struck at, and, turning over
on his face to protect them, tried to crawl under the protection of
the telescope. He was struck again upon the back, and he heard his
jacket rip, and then the thing hit the roof of the observatory. He
edged as far as he could between the wooden seat and the eyepiece of
the instrument, and turned his body round so that it was chiefly his
feet that were exposed. With these he could at least kick. He was
still in a mystified state. The strange beast banged about in the
darkness, and presently clung to the telescope, making it sway and the
gear rattle. Once it flapped near him, and he kicked out madly and
felt a soft body with his feet. He was horribly scared now. It must be
a big thing to swing the telescope like that. He saw for a moment the
outline of a head black against the starlight, with sharply-pointed
upstanding ears and a crest between them. It seemed to him to be as
big as a mastiff's. Then he began to bawl out as loudly as he could for
At that the thing came down upon him again. As it did so his hand
touched something beside him on the floor. He kicked out, and the
next moment his ankle was gripped and held by a row of keen teeth. He
yelled again, and tried to free his leg by kicking with the other.
Then he realised he had the broken water-bottle at his hand, and,
snatching it, he struggled into a sitting posture, and feeling in the
darkness towards his foot, gripped a velvety ear, like the ear of a
big cat. He had seized the water-bottle by its neck and brought it
down with a shivering crash upon the head of the strange beast. He
repeated the blow, and then stabbed and jobbed with the jagged end of
it, in the darkness, where he judged the face might be.
The small teeth relaxed their hold, and at once Woodhouse pulled his
leg free and kicked hard. He felt the sickening feel of fur and bone
giving under his boot. There was a tearing bite at his arm, and he
struck over it at the face, as he judged, and hit damp fur.
There was a pause; then he heard the sound of claws and the dragging
of a heavy body away from him over the observatory floor. Then there
was silence, broken only by his own sobbing breathing, and a sound
like licking. Everything was black except the parallelogram of the
blue skylight with the luminous dust of stars, against which the end
of the telescope now appeared in silhouette. He waited, as it seemed,
an interminable time. Was the thing coming on again? He felt in his
trouser-pocket for some matches, and found one remaining. He tried
to strike this, but the floor was wet, and it spat and went out. He
cursed. He could not see where the door was situated. In his struggle
he had quite lost his bearings. The strange beast, disturbed by the
splutter of the match, began to move again. "Time!" called Woodhouse,
with a sudden gleam of mirth, but the thing was not coming at him
again. He must have hurt it, he thought, with the broken bottle. He
felt a dull pain in his ankle. Probably he was bleeding there. He
wondered if it would support him if he tried to stand up. The night
outside was very still. There was no sound of any one moving. The
sleepy fools had not heard those wings battering upon the dome, nor
his shouts. It was no good wasting strength in shouting. The monster
flapped its wings and startled him into a defensive attitude. He hit
his elbow against the seat, and it fell over with a crash. He cursed
this, and then he cursed the darkness.
Suddenly the oblong patch of starlight seemed to sway to and fro. Was
he going to faint? It would never do to faint. He clenched his fists
and set his teeth to hold himself together. Where had the door got
to? It occurred to him he could get his bearings by the stars visible
through the skylight. The patch of stars he saw was in Sagittarius and
south-eastward; the door was north--or was it north by west? He tried
to think. If he could get the door open he might retreat. It might be
the thing was wounded. The suspense was beastly. "Look here!" he said,
"if you don't come on, I shall come at you."
Then the thing began clambering up the side of the observatory, and
he saw its black outline gradually blot out the skylight. Was it in
retreat? He forgot about the door, and watched as the dome shifted and
creaked. Somehow he did not feel very frightened or excited now. He
felt a curious sinking sensation inside him. The sharply-defined patch
of light, with the black form moving across it, seemed to be growing
smaller and smaller. That was curious. He began to feel very thirsty,
and yet he did not feel inclined to get anything to drink. He seemed
to be sliding down a long funnel.
He felt a burning sensation in his throat, and then he perceived it
was broad daylight, and that one of the Dyak servants was looking at
him with a curious expression. Then there was the top of Thaddy's face
upside down. Funny fellow, Thaddy, to go about like that! Then he
grasped the situation better, and perceived that his head was on
Thaddy's knee, and Thaddy was giving him brandy. And then he saw the
eyepiece of the telescope with a lot of red smears on it. He began to
"You've made this observatory in a pretty mess," said Thaddy.
The Dyak boy was beating up an egg in brandy. Woodhouse took this and
sat up. He felt a sharp twinge of pain. His ankle was tied up, so were
his arm and the side of his face. The smashed glass, red-stained,
lay about the floor, the telescope seat was overturned, and by the
opposite wall was a dark pool. The door was open, and he saw the grey
summit of the mountain against a brilliant background of blue sky.
"Pah!" said Woodhouse. "Who's been killing calves here? Take me out of
Then he remembered the Thing, and the fight he had had with it.
"What "was" it?" he said to Thaddy--"The Thing I fought with?"
""You" know that best," said Thaddy. "But, anyhow, don't worry
yourself now about it. Have some more to drink."
Thaddy, however, was curious enough, and it was a hard struggle
between duty and inclination to keep Woodhouse quiet until he was
decently put away in bed, and had slept upon the copious dose of
meat-extract Thaddy considered advisable. They then talked it over
"It was," said Woodhouse, "more like a big bat than anything else in
the world. It had sharp, short ears, and soft fur, and its wings were
leathery. Its teeth were little, but devilish sharp, and its jaw could
not have been very strong or else it would have bitten through my
"It has pretty nearly," said Thaddy.
"It seemed to me to hit out with its claws pretty freely. That
is about as much as I know about the beast. Our conversation was
intimate, so to speak, and yet not confidential."
"The Dyak chaps talk about a Big Colugo, a Klang-utang--whatever
that may be. It does not often attack man, but I suppose you made it
nervous. They say there is a Big Colugo and a Little Colugo, and a
something else that sounds like gobble. They all fly about at night.
For my own part I know there are flying foxes and flying lemurs about
here, but they are none of them very big beasts."
"There are more things in heaven and earth," said Woodhouse--and
Thaddy groaned at the quotation--"and more particularly in the forests
of Borneo, than are dreamt of in our philosophies. On the whole, if
the Borneo fauna is going to disgorge any more of its novelties upon
me, I should prefer that it did so when I was not occupied in the
observatory at night and alone."
THE TRIUMPHS OF A TAXIDERMIST
Here are some of the secrets of taxidermy. They were told me by the
taxidermist in a mood of elation. He told me them in the time between
the first glass of whisky and the fourth, when a man is no longer
cautious and yet not drunk. We sat in his den together; his library it
was, his sitting and his eating-room--separated by a bead curtain, so
far as the sense of sight went, from the noisome den where he plied
He sat on a deck chair, and when he was not tapping refractory bits of
coal with them, he kept his feet--on which he wore, after the manner
of sandals, the holy relics of a pair of carpet slippers--out of the
way upon the mantel-piece, among the glass eyes. And his trousers,
by-the-by--though they have nothing to do with his triumphs--were a
most horrible yellow plaid, such as they made when our fathers wore
side-whiskers and there were crinolines in the land. Further, his hair
was black, his face rosy, and his eye a fiery brown; and his coat was
chiefly of grease upon a basis of velveteen. And his pipe had a bowl
of china showing the Graces, and his spectacles were always askew, the
left eye glaring nakedly at you, small and penetrating; the right,
seen through a glass darkly, magnified and mild. Thus his discourse
ran: "There never was a man who could stuff like me, Bellows, never. I
have stuffed elephants and I have stuffed moths, and the things have
looked all the livelier and better for it. And I have stuffed human
beings--chiefly amateur ornithologists. But I stuffed a nigger once.
"No, there is no law against it. I made him with all his fingers out
and used him as a hat-rack, but that fool Homersby got up a quarrel
with him late one night and spoilt him. That was before your time. It
is hard to get skins, or I would have another.
"Unpleasant? I don't see it. Seems to me taxidermy is a promising
third course to burial or cremation. You could keep all your dear ones
by you. Bric-à-brac of that sort stuck about the house would be as
good as most company, and much less expensive. You might have them
fitted up with clockwork to do things.
"Of course they would have to be varnished, but they need not shine
more than lots of people do naturally. Old Manningtree's bald head....
Anyhow, you could talk to them without interruption. Even aunts. There
is a great future before taxidermy, depend upon it. There is fossils
He suddenly became silent.
"No, I don't think I ought to tell you that." He sucked at his pipe
thoughtfully. "Thanks, yes. Not too much water.
"Of course, what I tell you now will go no further. You know I have
made some dodos and a great auk? No! Evidently you are an amateur at
taxidermy. My dear fellow, half the great auks in the world are about
as genuine as the handkerchief of Saint Veronica, as the Holy Coat of
Treves. We make 'em of grebes' feathers and the like. And the great
auk's eggs too!"
"Yes, we make them out of fine porcelain. I tell you it is worth
while. They fetch--one fetched £300 only the other day. That one was
really genuine, I believe, but of course one is never certain. It is
very fine work, and afterwards you have to get them dusty, for no one
who owns one of these precious eggs has ever the temerity to clean the
thing. That's the beauty of the business. Even if they suspect an egg
they do not like to examine it too closely. It's such brittle capital
at the best.
"You did not know that taxidermy rose to heights like that. My boy, it
has risen higher. I have rivalled the hands of Nature herself. One of
the "genuine" great auks"--his voice fell to a whisper--one of the
"genuine" great auks "was made by me"."
"No. You must study ornithology, and find out which it is yourself.
And what is more, I have been approached by a syndicate of dealers
to stock one of the unexplored skerries to the north of Iceland with
specimens. I may--some day. But I have another little thing in hand
just now. Ever heard of the dinornis?
"It is one of those big birds recently extinct in New Zealand. 'Moa'
is its common name, so called because extinct: there is no moa now.
See? Well, they have got bones of it, and from some of the marshes
even feathers and dried bits of skin. Now, I am going to--well, there
is no need to make any bones about it--going to "forge" a complete
stuffed moa. I know a chap out there who will pretend to make the find
in a kind of antiseptic swamp, and say he stuffed it at once, as it
threatened to fall to pieces. The feathers are peculiar, but I have
got a simply lovely way of dodging up singed bits of ostrich plume.
Yes, that is the new smell you noticed. They can only discover the
fraud with a microscope, and they will hardly care to pull a nice
specimen to bits for that.
"In this way, you see, I give my little push in the advancement of
"But all this is merely imitating Nature. I have done more than that
in my time. I have--beaten her."
He took his feet down from the mantel-board, and leant over
confidentially towards me. "I have "created" birds," he said in a low
voice. ""New" birds. Improvements. Like no birds that was ever seen
He resumed his attitude during an impressive silence.
"Enrich the universe; "rath"-er. Some of the birds I made were new
kinds of humming birds, and very beautiful little things, but some of
them were simply rum. The rummest, I think, was the "Anomalopteryx
Jejuna. Jejunus-a-um"--empty--so called because there was really
nothing in it; a thoroughly empty bird--except for stuffing. Old
Javvers has the thing now, and I suppose he is almost as proud of it
as I am. It is a masterpiece, Bellows. It has all the silly clumsiness
of your pelican, all the solemn want of dignity of your parrot,
all the gaunt ungainliness of a flamingo, with all the extravagant
chromatic conflict of a mandarin duck. "Such" a bird. I made it out
of the skeletons of a stork and a toucan and a job lot of feathers.
Taxidermy of that kind is just pure joy, Bellows, to a real artist in
"How did I come to make it? Simple enough, as all great inventions
are. One of those young genii who write us Science Notes in the papers
got hold of a German pamphlet about the birds of New Zealand, and
translated some of it by means of a dictionary and his mother-wit--he
must have been one of a very large family with a small mother--and he
got mixed between the living apteryx and the extinct anomalopteryx;
talked about a bird five feet high, living in the jungles of the North
Island, rare, shy, specimens difficult to obtain, and so on. Javvers,
who even for a collector, is a miraculously ignorant man, read these
paragraphs, and swore he would have the thing at any price. Raided
the dealers with enquiries. It shows what a man can do by
persistence--will-power. Here was a bird-collector swearing he would
have a specimen of a bird that did not exist, that never had existed,
and which for very shame of its own profane ungainliness, probably
would not exist now if it could help itself. And he got it. "He got
"Have some more whisky, Bellows?" said the taxidermist, rousing
himself from a transient contemplation of the mysteries of will-power
and the collecting turn of mind. And, replenished, he proceeded to
tell me of how he concocted a most attractive mermaid, and how an
itinerant preacher, who could not get an audience because of it,
smashed it because it was idolatry, or worse, at Burslem Wakes. But
as the conversation of all the parties to this transaction,
creator, would-be preserver, and destroyer, was uniformly unfit for
publication, this cheerful incident must still remain unprinted.
The reader unacquainted with the dark ways of the collector may
perhaps be inclined to doubt my taxidermist, but so far as great auks'
eggs, and the bogus stuffed birds are concerned, I find that he has
the confirmation of distinguished ornithological writers. And the note
about the New Zealand bird certainly appeared in a morning paper of
unblemished reputation, for the Taxidermist keeps a copy and has shown
it to me.
A DEAL IN OSTRICHES
"Talking of the prices of birds, I've seen an ostrich that cost three
hundred pounds," said the Taxidermist, recalling his youth of travel.
"Three hundred pounds!"
He looked at me over his spectacles. "I've seen another that was
refused at four."
"No," he said, "it wasn't any fancy points. They was just plain
ostriches. A little off colour, too--owing to dietary. And there
wasn't any particular restriction of the demand either. You'd have
thought five ostriches would have ruled cheap on an East Indiaman. But
the point was, one of 'em had swallowed a diamond.
"The chap it got it off was Sir Mohini Padishah, a tremendous swell, a
Piccadilly swell you might say up to the neck of him, and then an ugly
black head and a whopping turban, with this diamond in it. The blessed
bird pecked suddenly and had it, and when the chap made a fuss it
realised it had done wrong, I suppose, and went and mixed itself with
the others to preserve its "incog". It all happened in a minute. I was
among the first to arrive, and there was this heathen going over his
gods, and two sailors and the man who had charge of the birds laughing
fit to split. It was a rummy way of losing a jewel, come to think of
it. The man in charge hadn't been about just at the moment, so that he
didn't know which bird it was. Clean lost, you see. I didn't feel half
sorry, to tell you the truth. The beggar had been swaggering over his
blessed diamond ever since he came aboard.
"A thing like that goes from stem to stern of a ship in no time. Every
one was talking about it. Padishah went below to hide his feelings.
At dinner--he pigged at a table by himself, him and two other
Hindoos--the captain kind of jeered at him about it, and he got very
excited. He turned round and talked into my ear. He would not buy the
birds; he would have his diamond. He demanded his rights as a British
subject. His diamond must be found. He was firm upon that. He would
appeal to the House of Lords. The man in charge of the birds was one
of those wooden-headed chaps you can't get a new idea into anyhow. He
refused any proposal to interfere with the birds by way of medicine.
His instructions were to feed them so-and-so and treat them so-and-so,
and it was as much as his place was worth not to feed them so-and-so
and treat them so-and-so. Padishah had wanted a stomach-pump--though
you can't do that to a bird, you know. This Padishah was full of bad
law, like most of these blessed Bengalis, and talked of having a lien
on the birds, and so forth. But an old boy, who said his son was a
London barrister, argued that what a bird swallowed became "ipso
facto" part of the bird, and that Padishah's only remedy lay in
an action for damages, and even then it might be possible to show
contributory negligence. He hadn't any right of way about an ostrich
that didn't belong to him. That upset Padishah extremely, the more so
as most of us expressed an opinion that that was the reasonable view.
There wasn't any lawyer aboard to settle the matter, so we all talked
pretty free. At last, after Aden, it appears that he came round to the
general opinion, and went privately to the man in charge and made an
offer for all five ostriches.
"The next morning there was a fine shindy at breakfast. The man hadn't
any authority to deal with the birds, and nothing on earth would
induce him to sell; but it seems he told Padishah that a Eurasian
named Potter had already made him an offer, and on that Padishah
denounced Potter before us all. But I think the most of us thought it
rather smart of Potter, and I know that when Potter said that he'd
wired at Aden to London to buy the birds, and would have an answer at
Suez, I cursed pretty richly at a lost opportunity.
"At Suez, Padishah gave way to tears--actual wet tears--when Potter
became the owner of the birds, and offered him two hundred and fifty
right off for the five, being more than two hundred per cent. on what
Potter had given. Potter said he'd be hanged if he parted with a
feather of them--that he meant to kill them off one by one and find
the diamond; but afterwards, thinking it over, he relented a little.
He was a gambling hound, was this Potter, a little queer at cards, and
this kind of prize-packet business must have suited him down to the
ground. Anyhow, he offered, for a lark, to sell the birds separately
to separate people by auction at a starting price of £80 for a bird.
But one of them, he said, he meant to keep for luck.
"You must understand this diamond was a valuable one--a little Jew
chap, a diamond merchant, who was with us, had put it at three or
four thousand when Padishah had shown it to him--and this idea of an
ostrich gamble caught on. Now it happened that I'd been having a
few talks on general subjects with the man who looked after these
ostriches, and quite incidentally he'd said one of the birds was
ailing, and he fancied it had indigestion. It had one feather in its
tail almost all white, by which I knew it, and so when, next day, the
auction started with it, I capped Padishah's eighty-five by ninety.
I fancy I was a bit too sure and eager with my bid, and some of the
others spotted the fact that I was in the know. And Padishah went for
that particular bird like an irresponsible lunatic. At last the Jew
diamond merchant got it for £175, and Padishah said £180 just after
the hammer came down--so Potter declared. At any rate the Jew merchant
secured it, and there and then he got a gun and shot it. Potter made a
Hades of a fuss because he said it would injure the sale of the other
three, and Padishah, of course, behaved like an idiot; but all of us
were very much excited. I can tell you I was precious glad when that
dissection was over, and no diamond had turned up--precious glad. I'd
gone to one-forty on that particular bird myself.
"The little Jew was like most Jews--he didn't make any great fuss over
bad luck; but Potter declined to go on with the auction until it was
understood that the goods could not be delivered until the sale was
over. The little Jew wanted to argue that the case was exceptional,
and as the discussion ran pretty even, the thing was postponed until
the next morning. We had a lively dinner-table that evening, I can
tell you, but in the end Potter got his way, since it would stand to
reason he would be safer if he stuck to all the birds, and that we
owed him some consideration for his sportsmanlike behaviour. And the
old gentleman whose son was a lawyer said he'd been thinking the thing
over and that it was very doubtful if, when a bird had been opened and
the diamond recovered, it ought not to be handed back to the
proper owner. I remember I suggested it came under the laws of
treasure-trove--which was really the truth of the matter. There was a
hot argument, and we settled it was certainly foolish to kill the bird
on board the ship. Then the old gentleman, going at large through his
legal talk, tried to make out the sale was a lottery and illegal,
and appealed to the captain; but Potter said he sold the birds "as"
ostriches. He didn't want to sell any diamonds, he said, and didn't
offer that as an inducement. The three birds he put up, to the best of
his knowledge and belief, did "not" contain a diamond. It was in the
one he kept--so he hoped.
"Prices ruled high next day all the same. The fact that now there were
four chances instead of five of course caused a rise. The blessed
birds averaged 227, and, oddly enough, this Padishah didn't secure one
of 'em--not one. He made too much shindy, and when he ought to have
been bidding he was talking about liens, and, besides, Potter was a
bit down on him. One fell to a quiet little officer chap, another to
the little Jew, and the third was syndicated by the engineers. And
then Potter seemed suddenly sorry for having sold them, and said he'd
flung away a clear thousand pounds, and that very likely he'd draw a
blank and that he always had been a fool, but when I went and had a
bit of a talk to him, with the idea of getting him to hedge on his
last chance, I found he'd already sold the bird he'd reserved to a
political chap that was on board, a chap who'd been studying Indian
morals and social questions in his vacation. That last was the three
hundred pounds bird. Well, they landed three of the blessed creatures
at Brindisi--though the old gentleman said it was a breach of the
Customs regulations--and Potter and Padishah landed too. The Hindoo
seemed half mad as he saw his blessed diamond going this way and
that, so to speak. He kept on saying he'd get an injunction--he had
injunction on the brain--and giving his name and address to the chaps
who'd bought the birds, so that they'd know where to send the diamond.
None of them wanted his name and address, and none of them would give
their own. It was a fine row I can tell you--on the platform. They all
went off by different trains. I came on to Southampton, and there
I saw the last of the birds, as I came ashore; it was the one the
engineers bought, and it was standing up near the bridge, in a kind of
crate, and looking as leggy and silly a setting for a valuable diamond
as ever you saw--if it "was" a setting for a valuable diamond.
""How did it end"? Oh! like that. Well--perhaps. Yes, there's one more
thing that may throw light on it. A week or so after landing I was
down Regent-street doing a bit of shopping, and who should I see
arm-in-arm and having a purple time of it but Padishah and Potter. If
you come to think of it--
"Yes. "I've" thought that. Only, you see, there's no doubt the diamond
was real. And Padishah was an eminent Hindoo. I've seen his name
in the papers--often. But whether the bird swallowed the diamond
certainly is another matter, as you say."
THROUGH A WINDOW
After his legs were set, they carried Bailey into the study and put
him on a couch before the open window. There he lay, a live--even a
feverish man down to the loins, and below that a double-barrelled
mummy swathed in white wrappings. He tried to read, even tried to
write a little, but most of the time he looked out of the window.
He had thought the window cheerful to begin with, but now he thanked
God for it many times a day. Within, the room was dim and grey, and
in the reflected light the wear of the furniture showed plainly. His
medicine and drink stood on the little table, with such litter as the
bare branches of a bunch of grapes or the ashes of a cigar upon a
green plate, or a day old evening paper. The view outside was flooded
with light, and across the corner of it came the head of the acacia,
and at the foot the top of the balcony-railing of hammered iron. In
the foreground was the weltering silver of the river, never quiet and
yet never tiresome. Beyond was the reedy bank, a broad stretch of
meadow land, and then a dark line of trees ending in a group of
poplars at the distant bend of the river, and, upstanding behind them,
a square church tower.
Up and down the river, all day long, things were passing. Now a string
of barges drifting down to London, piled with lime or barrels of beer;
then a steam-launch, disengaging heavy masses of black smoke, and
disturbing the whole width of the river with long rolling waves; then
an impetuous electric launch, and then a boatload of pleasure-seekers,
a solitary sculler, or a four from some rowing club. Perhaps the river
was quietest of a morning or late at night. One moonlight night some
people drifted down singing, and with a zither playing--it sounded
very pleasantly across the water.
In a few days Bailey began to recognise some of the craft; in a week
he knew the intimate history of half-a-dozen. The launch "Luzon", from
Fitzgibbon's, two miles up, would go fretting by, sometimes three or
four times a day, conspicuous with its colouring of Indian-red and
yellow, and its two Oriental attendants; and one day, to Bailey's vast
amusement, the house-boat "Purple Emperor" came to a stop outside, and
breakfasted in the most shameless domesticity. Then one afternoon, the
captain of a slow-moving barge began a quarrel with his wife as they
came into sight from the left, and had carried it to personal violence
before he vanished behind the window-frame to the right. Bailey
regarded all this as an entertainment got up to while away his
illness, and applauded all the more moving incidents. Mrs Green,
coming in at rare intervals with his meals, would catch him clapping
his hands or softly crying, "Encore!" But the river players had other
engagements, and his encore went unheeded.
"I should never have thought I could take such an interest in things
that did not concern me," said Bailey to Wilderspin, who used to come
in in his nervous, friendly way and try to comfort the sufferer by
being talked to. "I thought this idle capacity was distinctive of
little children and old maids. But it's just circumstances. I simply
can't work, and things have to drift; it's no good to fret and
struggle. And so I lie here and am as amused as a baby with a rattle,
at this river and its affairs.
"Sometimes, of course, it gets a bit dull, but not often.
"I would give anything, Wilderspin, for a swamp--just one swamp--once.
Heads swimming and a steam launch to the rescue, and a chap or so
hauled out with a boat-hook.... There goes Fitzgibbon's launch! They
have a new boat-hook, I see, and the little blackie is still in the
dumps. I don't think he's very well, Wilderspin. He's been like that
for two or three days, squatting sulky-fashion and meditating over the
churning of the water. Unwholesome for him to be always staring at the
frothy water running away from the stern."
They watched the little steamer fuss across the patch of sunlit river,
suffer momentary occultation from the acacia, and glide out of sight
behind the dark window-frame.
"I'm getting a wonderful eye for details," said Bailey: "I spotted
that new boat-hook at once. The other nigger is a funny little chap.
He never used to swagger with the old boat-hook like that."
"Malays, aren't they?" said Wilderspin.
"Don't know," said Bailey. "I thought one called all that sort of
Then he began to tell Wilderspin what he knew of the private affairs
of the houseboat, "Purple Emperor". "Funny," he said, "how these
people come from all points of the compass--from Oxford and Windsor,
from Asia and Africa--and gather and pass opposite the window just
to entertain me. One man floated out of the infinite the day before
yesterday, caught one perfect crab opposite, lost and recovered a
scull, and passed on again. Probably he will never come into my life
again. So far as I am concerned, he has lived and had his little
troubles, perhaps thirty--perhaps forty--years on the earth, merely
to make an ass of himself for three minutes in front of my window.
Wonderful thing, Wilderspin, if you come to think of it."
"Yes," said Wilderspin; ""isn't" it?"
A day or two after this Bailey had a brilliant morning. Indeed,
towards the end of the affair, it became almost as exciting as any
window show very well could be. We will, however, begin at the
Bailey was all alone in the house, for his housekeeper had gone into
the town three miles away to pay bills, and the servant had her
holiday. The morning began dull. A canoe went up about half-past nine,
and later a boat-load of camping men came down. But this was mere
margin. Things became cheerful about ten o'clock.
It began with something white fluttering in the remote distance where
the three poplars marked the river bend. "Pocket-handkerchief," said
Bailey, when he saw it "No. Too big! Flag perhaps."
However, it was not a flag, for it jumped about. "Man in whites
running fast, and this way," said Bailey. "That's luck! But his whites
are precious loose!"
Then a singular thing happened. There was a minute pink gleam among
the dark trees in the distance, and a little puff of pale grey that
began to drift and vanish eastward. The man in white jumped and
continued running. Presently the report of the shot arrived.
"What the devil!" said Bailey. "Looks as if someone was shooting at
He sat up stiffly and stared hard. The white figure was coming along
the pathway through the corn. "It's one of those niggers from the
Fitzgibbon's," said Bailey; "or may I be hanged! I wonder why he keeps
sawing with his arm."
Then three other figures became indistinctly visible against the dark
background of the trees.
Abruptly on the opposite bank a man walked into the picture. He was
black-bearded, dressed in flannels, had a red belt, and a vast grey
felt hat. He walked, leaning very much forward and with his hands
swinging before him. Behind him one could see the grass swept by the
towing-rope of the boat he was dragging. He was steadfastly regarding
the white figure that was hurrying through the corn. Suddenly he
stopped. Then, with a peculiar gesture, Bailey could see that he began
pulling in the tow-rope hand over hand. Over the water could be heard
the voices of the people in the still invisible boat.
"What are you after, Hagshot?" said someone.
The individual with the red belt shouted something that was inaudible,
and went on lugging in the rope, looking over his shoulder at the
advancing white figure as he did so. He came down the bank, and the
rope bent a lane among the reeds and lashed the water between his
Then just the bows of the boat came into view, with the towing-mast
and a tall, fair-haired man standing up and trying to see over the
bank. The boat bumped unexpectedly among the reeds, and the tall,
fair-haired man disappeared suddenly, having apparently fallen back
into the invisible part of the boat. There was a curse and some
indistinct laughter. Hagshot did not laugh, but hastily clambered into
the boat and pushed off. Abruptly the boat passed out of Bailey's
But it was still audible. The melody of voices suggested that its
occupants were busy telling each other what to do.
The running figure was drawing near the bank. Bailey could now see
clearly that it was one of Fitzgibbon's Orientals, and began to
realise what the sinuous thing the man carried in his hand might
be. Three other men followed one another through the corn, and the
foremost carried what was probably the gun. They were perhaps two
hundred yards or more behind the Malay.
"It's a man hunt, by all that's holy!" said Bailey.
The Malay stopped for a moment and surveyed the bank to the right.
Then he left the path, and, breaking through the corn, vanished in
that direction. The three pursuers followed suit, and their heads and
gesticulating arms above the corn, after a brief interval, also went
out of Bailey's field of vision.
Bailey so far forgot himself as to swear. "Just as things were getting
lively!" he said. Something like a woman's shriek came through the
air. Then shouts, a howl, a dull whack upon the balcony outside that
made Bailey jump, and then the report of a gun.
"This is precious hard on an invalid," said Bailey.
But more was to happen yet in his picture. In fact, a great deal more.
The Malay appeared again, running now along the bank up stream.
His stride had more swing and less pace in it than before. He was
threatening someone ahead with the ugly krees he carried. The blade,
Bailey noticed, was dull--it did not shine as steel should.
Then came the tall, fair man, brandishing a boat-hook, and after him
three other men in boating costume, running clumsily with oars.
The man with the grey hat and red belt was not with them. After an
interval the three men with the gun reappeared, still in the corn,
but now near the river bank. They emerged upon the towing-path,
and hurried after the others. The opposite bank was left blank and
The sick-room was disgraced by more profanity. "I would give my life
to see the end of this," said Bailey. There were indistinct shouts up
stream. Once they seemed to be coming nearer, but they disappointed
Bailey sat and grumbled. He was still grumbling when his eye caught
something black and round among the waves. "Hullo!" he said. He looked
narrowly and saw two triangular black bodies frothing every now and
then about a yard in front of this.
He was still doubtful when the little band of pursuers came into sight
again, and began to point to this floating object. They were talking
eagerly. Then the man with the gun took aim.
"He's swimming the river, by George!" said Bailey.
The Malay looked round, saw the gun, and went under. He came up so
close to Bailey's bank of the river that one of the bars of the
balcony hid him for a moment. As he emerged the man with the gun
fired. The Malay kept steadily onward--Bailey could see the wet hair
on his forehead now and the krees between his teeth--and was presently
hidden by the balcony.
This seemed to Bailey an unendurable wrong. The man was lost to him
for ever now, so he thought. Why couldn't the brute have got himself
decently caught on the opposite bank, or shot in the water?
"It's worse than Edwin Drood," said Bailey.
Over the river, too, things had become an absolute blank. All seven
men had gone down stream again, probably to get the boat and follow
across. Bailey listened and waited. There was silence. "Surely it's
not over like this," said Bailey.
Five minutes passed--ten minutes. Then a tug with two barges went up
stream. The attitudes of the men upon these were the attitudes of
those who see nothing remarkable in earth, water, or sky. Clearly the
whole affair had passed out of sight of the river. Probably the hunt
had gone into the beech woods behind the house.
"Confound it!" said Bailey. "To be continued again, and no chance this
time of the sequel. But this is hard on a sick man."
He heard a step on the staircase behind him and looking round saw the
door open. Mrs Green came in and sat down, panting. She still had her
bonnet on, her purse in her hand, and her little brown basket upon her
arm. "Oh, there!" she said, and left Bailey to imagine the rest.
"Have a little whisky and water, Mrs Green, and tell me about it,"
Sipping a little, the lady began to recover her powers of explanation.
One of those black creatures at the Fitzgibbon's had gone mad, and
was running about with a big knife, stabbing people. He had killed
a groom, and stabbed the under-butler, and almost cut the arm off a
"Running amuck with a krees," said Bailey. "I thought that was it."
And he was hiding in the wood when she came through it from the town.
"What! Did he run after you?" asked Bailey, with a certain touch of
glee in his voice.
"No, that was the horrible part of it," Mrs Green explained. She had
been right through the woods and had "never known he was there". It
was only when she met young Mr Fitzgibbon carrying his gun in the
shrubbery that she heard anything about it. Apparently, what upset
Mrs Green was the lost opportunity for emotion. She was determined,
however, to make the most of what was left her.
"To think he was there all the time!" she said, over and over again.
Bailey endured this patiently enough for perhaps ten minutes. At last
he thought it advisable to assert himself. "It's twenty past one, Mrs
Green," he said. "Don't you think it time you got me something to
This brought Mrs Green suddenly to her knees.
"Oh Lord, sir!" she said. "Oh! don't go making me go out of this room,
sir, till I know he's caught. He might have got into the house, sir.
He might be creeping, creeping, with that knife of his, along the
passage this very--"
She broke off suddenly and glared over him at the window. Her lower
jaw dropped. Bailey turned his head sharply.
For the space of half a second things seemed just as they were. There
was the tree, the balcony, the shining river, the distant church
tower. Then he noticed that the acacia was displaced about a foot to
the right, and that it was quivering, and the leaves were rustling.
The tree was shaken violently, and a heavy panting was audible.
In another moment a hairy brown hand had appeared and clutched the
balcony railings, and in another the face of the Malay was peering
through these at the man on the couch. His expression was an
unpleasant grin, by reason of the krees he held between his teeth,
and he was bleeding from an ugly wound in his cheek. His hair wet to
drying stuck out like horns from his head. His body was bare save for
the wet trousers that clung to him. Bailey's first impulse was to
spring from the couch, but his legs reminded him that this was
By means of the balcony and tree the man slowly raised himself until
he was visible to Mrs Green. With a choking cry she made for the door
and fumbled with the handle.
Bailey thought swiftly and clutched a medicine bottle in either
hand. One he flung, and it smashed against the acacia. Silently and
deliberately, and keeping his bright eyes fixed on Bailey, the Malay
clambered into the balcony. Bailey, still clutching his second bottle,
but with a sickening, sinking feeling about his heart, watched first
one leg come over the railing and then the other.
It was Bailey's impression that the Malay took about an hour to get
his second leg over the rail. The period that elapsed before the
sitting position was changed to a standing one seemed enormous--days,
weeks, possibly a year or so. Yet Bailey had no clear impression of
anything going on in his mind during that vast period, except a vague
wonder at his inability to throw the second medicine bottle. Suddenly
the Malay glanced over his shoulder. There was the crack of a rifle.
He flung up his arms and came down upon the couch. Mrs Green began a
dismal shriek that seemed likely to last until Doomsday. Bailey stared
at the brown body with its shoulder blade driven in, that writhed
painfully across his legs and rapidly staining and soaking the
spotless bandages. Then he looked at the long krees, with the reddish
streaks upon its blade, that lay an inch beyond the trembling brown
fingers upon the floor. Then at Mrs Green, who had backed hard against
the door and was staring at the body and shrieking in gusty outbursts
as if she would wake the dead. And then the body was shaken by one
last convulsive effort.
The Malay gripped the krees, tried to raise himself with his left
hand, and collapsed. Then he raised his head, stared for a moment
at Mrs Green, and twisting his face round looked at Bailey. With a
gasping groan the dying man succeeded in clutching the bed clothes
with his disabled hand, and by a violent effort, which hurt Bailey's
legs exceedingly, writhed sideways towards what must be his last
victim. Then something seemed released in Bailey's mind and he brought
down the second bottle with all his strength on to the Malay's face.
The krees fell heavily upon the floor.
"Easy with those legs," said Bailey, as young Fitzgibbon and one of
the boating party lifted the body off him.
Young Fitzgibbon was very white in the face. "I didn't mean to kill
him," he said.
"It's just as well," said Bailey.
THE TEMPTATION OF HARRINGAY
It is quite impossible to say whether this thing really happened. It
depends entirely on the word of R.M. Harringay, who is an artist.
Following his version of the affair, the narrative deposes that
Harringay went into his studio about ten o'clock to see what he could
make of the head that he had been working at the day before. The
head in question was that of an Italian organ-grinder, and Harringay
thought--but was not quite sure--that the title would be the "Vigil."
So far he is frank, and his narrative bears the stamp of truth. He
had seen the man expectant for pennies, and with a promptness that
suggested genius, had had him in at once.
"Kneel. Look up at that bracket," said Harringay. "As if you expected
"Don't "grin"!" said Harringay. "I don't want to paint your gums. Look
as though you were unhappy."
Now, after a night's rest, the picture proved decidedly
unsatisfactory. "It's good work," said Harringay. "That little bit in
the neck ... But."
He walked about the studio and looked at the thing from this point and
from that. Then he said a wicked word. In the original the word is
"Painting," he says he said. "Just a painting of an organ-grinder--a
mere portrait. If it was a live organ-grinder I wouldn't mind. But
somehow I never make things alive. I wonder if my imagination is
wrong." This, too, has a truthful air. His imagination "is" wrong.
"That creative touch! To take canvas and pigment and make a man--as
Adam was made of red ochre! But this thing! If you met it walking
about the streets you would know it was only a studio production. The
little boys would tell it to 'Garnome and git frimed.' Some little
touch ... Well--it won't do as it is."
He went to the blinds and began to pull them down. They were made of
blue holland with the rollers at the bottom of the window, so that you
pull them down to get more light. He gathered his palette, brushes,
and mahl stick from his table. Then he turned to the picture and put a
speck of brown in the corner of the mouth; and shifted his attention
thence to the pupil of the eye. Then he decided that the chin was a
trifle too impassive for a vigil.
Presently he put down his impedimenta, and lighting a pipe surveyed
the progress of his work. "I'm hanged if the thing isn't sneering at
me," said Harringay, and he still believes it sneered.
The animation of the figure had certainly increased, but scarcely in
the direction he wished. There was no mistake about the sneer. "Vigil
of the Unbeliever," said Harringay. "Rather subtle and clever that!
But the left eyebrow isn't cynical enough."
He went and dabbed at the eyebrow, and added a little to the lobe of
the ear to suggest materialism. Further consideration ensued. "Vigil's
off, I'm afraid," said Harringay. "Why not Mephistopheles? But that's
a bit "too" common. 'A Friend of the Doge,'--not so seedy. The armour
won't do, though. Too Camelot. How about a scarlet robe and call him
'One of the Sacred College'? Humour in that, and an appreciation of
Middle Italian History."
"There's always Benvenuto Cellini," said Harringay; "with a clever
suggestion of a gold cup in one corner. But that would scarcely suit
He describes himself as babbling in this way in order to keep down an
unaccountably unpleasant sensation of fear. The thing was certainly
acquiring anything but a pleasing expression. Yet it was as certainly
becoming far more of a living thing than it had been--if a sinister
one--far more alive than anything he had ever painted before. "Call it
'Portrait of a Gentleman,'" said Harringay;--"A Certain Gentleman."
"Won't do," said Harringay, still keeping up his courage. "Kind of
thing they call Bad Taste. That sneer will have to come out. That
gone, and a little more fire in the eye--never noticed how warm his
eye was before--and he might do for--? What price Passionate Pilgrim?
But that devilish face won't do--"this" side of the Channel.
"Some little inaccuracy does it," he said; "eyebrows probably too
oblique,"--therewith pulling the blind lower to get a better light,
and resuming palette and brushes.
The face on the canvas seemed animated by a spirit of its own. Where
the expression of diablerie came in he found impossible to discover.
Experiment was necessary. The eyebrows--it could scarcely be the
eyebrows? But he altered them. No, that was no better; in fact, if
anything, a trifle more satanic. The corner of the mouth? Pah! more
than ever a leer--and now, retouched, it was ominously grim. The eye,
then? Catastrophe! he had filled his brush with vermilion instead of
brown, and yet he had felt sure it was brown! The eye seemed now to
have rolled in its socket, and was glaring at him an eye of fire. In a
flash of passion, possibly with something of the courage of panic, he
struck the brush full of bright red athwart the picture; and then a
very curious thing, a very strange thing indeed, occurred--if it "did"
"The diabolified Italian before him shut both his eyes, pursed his
mouth, and wiped the colour off his face with his hand".
Then the "red eye" opened again, with a sound like the opening of
lips, and the face smiled. "That was rather hasty of you," said the
Harringay states that, now that the worst had happened, his
self-possession returned. He had a saving persuasion that devils were
"Why do you keep moving about then," he said, "making faces and all
that--sneering and squinting, while I am painting you?"
"I don't," said the picture.
"You "do"," said Harringay.
"It's yourself," said the picture.
"It's "not" myself," said Harringay.
"It "is" yourself," said the picture. "No! don't go hitting me with
paint again, because it's true. You have been trying to fluke an
expression on my face all the morning. Really, you haven't an idea
what your picture ought to look like."
"I have," said Harringay.
"You have "not"," said the picture: "You "never" have with your
pictures. You always start with the vaguest presentiment of what you
are going to do; it is to be something beautiful--you are sure of
that--and devout, perhaps, or tragic; but beyond that it is all
experiment and chance. My dear fellow! you don't think you can paint a
picture like that?"
Now it must be remembered that for what follows we have only
"I shall paint a picture exactly as I like," said Harringay, calmly.
This seemed to disconcert the picture a little. "You can't paint a
picture without an inspiration," it remarked.
"But I "had" an inspiration--for this."
"Inspiration!" sneered the sardonic figure; "a fancy that came from
your seeing an organ-grinder looking up at a window! Vigil! Ha, ha!
You just started painting on the chance of something coming--that's
what you did. And when I saw you at it I came. I want a talk with
"Art, with you," said the picture,--"it's a poor business. You potter.
I don't know how it is, but you don't seem able to throw your soul
into it. You know too much. It hampers you. In the midst of your
enthusiasms you ask yourself whether something like this has not been
done before. And ..."
"Look here," said Harringay, who had expected something better than
criticism from the devil. "Are you going to talk studio to me?" He
filled his number twelve hoghair with red paint.
"The true artist," said the picture, "is always an ignorant man. An
artist who theorises about his work is no longer artist but critic.
Wagner ... I say!--What's that red paint for?"
"I'm going to paint you out," said Harringay. "I don't want to hear
all that Tommy Rot. If you think just because I'm an artist by trade
I'm going to talk studio to you, you make a precious mistake."
"One minute," said the picture, evidently alarmed. "I want to make
you an offer--a genuine offer. It's right what I'm saying. You lack
inspirations. Well. No doubt you've heard of the Cathedral of Cologne,
and the Devil's Bridge, and--"
"Rubbish," said Harringay. "Do you think I want to go to perdition
simply for the pleasure of painting a good picture, and getting it
slated. Take that."
His blood was up. His danger only nerved him to action, so he says.
So he planted a dab of vermilion in his creature's mouth. The Italian
spluttered and tried to wipe it off--evidently horribly surprised. And
then--according to Harringay--there began a very remarkable struggle,
Harringay splashing away with the red paint, and the picture wriggling
about and wiping it off as fast as he put it on. ""Two" masterpieces,"
said the demon. "Two indubitable masterpieces for a Chelsea artist's
soul. It's a bargain?" Harringay replied with the paint brush.
For a few minutes nothing could be heard but the brush going and the
spluttering and ejaculations of the Italian. A lot of the strokes he
caught on his arm and hand, though Harringay got over his guard often
enough. Presently the paint on the palette gave out and the two
antagonists stood breathless, regarding each other. The picture was
so smeared with red that it looked as if it had been rolling about
a slaughterhouse, and it was painfully out of breath and very
uncomfortable with the wet paint trickling down its neck. Still, the
first round was in its favour on the whole. "Think," it said, sticking
pluckily to its point, "two supreme masterpieces--in different styles.
Each equivalent to the Cathedral..."
""I" know," said Harringay, and rushed out of the studio and along the
passage towards his wife's boudoir.
In another minute he was back with a large tin of enamel--Hedge
Sparrow's Egg Tint, it was, and a brush. At the sight of that
the artistic devil with the red eye began to scream. ""Three"
Harringay delivered cut two across the demon, and followed with
a thrust in the eye. There was an indistinct rumbling. ""Four"
masterpieces," and a spitting sound.
But Harringay had the upper hand now and meant to keep it. With rapid,
bold strokes he continued to paint over the writhing canvas, until at
last it was a uniform field of shining Hedge Sparrow tint. Once the
mouth reappeared and got as far as "Five master--" before he filled
it with enamel; and near the end the red eye opened and glared at him
indignantly. But at last nothing remained save a gleaming panel of
drying enamel. For a little while a faint stirring beneath the surface
puckered it slightly here and there, but presently even that died away
and the thing was perfectly still.
Then Harringay--according to Harringay's account--lit his pipe and sat
down and stared at the enamelled canvas, and tried to make out clearly
what had happened. Then he walked round behind it, to see if the back
of it was at all remarkable. Then it was he began to regret he had not
photographed the Devil before he painted him out.
This is Harringay's story--not mine. He supports it by a small canvas
(24 by 20) enamelled a pale green, and by violent asseverations. It is
also true that he never has produced a masterpiece, and in the opinion
of his intimate friends probably never will.
THE FLYING MAN
The Ethnologist looked at the "bhimraj" feather thoughtfully. "They
seemed loth to part with it," he said.
"It is sacred to the Chiefs," said the lieutenant; "just as yellow
silk, you know, is sacred to the Chinese Emperor."
The Ethnologist did not answer. He hesitated. Then opening the topic
abruptly, "What on earth is this cock-and-bull story they have of a
The lieutenant smiled faintly. "What did they tell you?"
"I see," said the Ethnologist, "that you know of your fame."
The lieutenant rolled himself a cigarette. "I don't mind hearing about
it once more. How does it stand at present?"
"It's so confoundedly childish," said the Ethnologist, becoming
irritated. "How did you play it off upon them?"
The lieutenant made no answer, but lounged back in his folding-chair,
"Here am I, come four hundred miles out of my way to get what is left
of the folk-lore of these people, before they are utterly demoralised
by missionaries and the military, and all I find are a lot of
impossible legends about a sandy-haired scrub of an infantry
lieutenant. How he is invulnerable--how he can jump over
elephants--how he can fly. That's the toughest nut. One old gentleman
described your wings, said they had black plumage and were not quite
as long as a mule. Said he often saw you by moonlight hovering over
the crests out towards the Shendu country.--Confound it, man!"
The lieutenant laughed cheerfully. "Go on," he said. "Go on."
The Ethnologist did. At last he wearied. "To trade so," he said, "on
these unsophisticated children of the mountains. How could you bring
yourself to do it, man?"
"I'm sorry," said the lieutenant, "but truly the thing was forced upon
me. I can assure you I was driven to it. And at the time I had not the
faintest idea of how the Chin imagination would take it. Or curiosity.
I can only plead it was an indiscretion and not malice that made me
replace the folk-lore by a new legend. But as you seem aggrieved, I
will try and explain the business to you.
"It was in the time of the last Lushai expedition but one, and Walters
thought these people you have been visiting were friendly. So, with an
airy confidence in my capacity for taking care of myself, he sent me
up the gorge--fourteen miles of it--with three of the Derbyshire men
and half a dozen Sepoys, two mules, and his blessing, to see what
popular feeling was like at that village you visited. A force of
ten--not counting the mules--fourteen miles, and during a war! You saw
""Road"!" said the Ethnologist.
"It's better now than it was. When we went up we had to wade in
the river for a mile where the valley narrows, with a smart stream
frothing round our knees and the stones as slippery as ice. There it
was I dropped my rifle. Afterwards the Sappers blasted the cliff with
dynamite and made the convenient way you came by. Then below, where
those very high cliffs come, we had to keep on dodging across the
river--I should say we crossed it a dozen times in a couple of miles.
"We got in sight of the place early the next morning. You know how
it lies, on a spur halfway between the big hills, and as we began to
appreciate how wickedly quiet the village lay under the sunlight, we
came to a stop to consider.
"At that they fired a lump of filed brass idol at us, just by way of a
welcome. It came twanging down the slope to the right of us where the
boulders are, missed my shoulder by an inch or so, and plugged the
mule that carried all the provisions and utensils. I never heard such
a death-rattle before or since. And at that we became aware of a
number of gentlemen carrying matchlocks, and dressed in things like
plaid dusters, dodging about along the neck between the village and
the crest to the east.
"'Right about face,' I said. 'Not too close together.'
"And with that encouragement my expedition of ten men came round and
set off at a smart trot down the valley again hitherward. We did not
wait to save anything our dead had carried, but we kept the second
mule with us--he carried my tent and some other rubbish--out of a
feeling of friendship.
"So ended the battle--ingloriously. Glancing back, I saw the valley
dotted with the victors, shouting and firing at us. But no one was
hit. These Chins and their guns are very little good except at a
sitting shot. They will sit and finick over a boulder for hours taking
aim, and when they fire running it is chiefly for stage effect.
Hooker, one of the Derbyshire men, fancied himself rather with the
rifle, and stopped behind for half a minute to try his luck as we
turned the bend. But he got nothing.
"I'm not a Xenophon to spin much of a yarn about my retreating army.
We had to pull the enemy up twice in the next two miles when he became
a bit pressing, by exchanging shots with him, but it was a fairly
monotonous affair--hard breathing chiefly--until we got near the place
where the hills run in towards the river and pinch the valley into
a gorge. And there we very luckily caught a glimpse of half a dozen
round black heads coming slanting-ways over the hill to the left of
us--the east that is--and almost parallel with us.
"At that I called a halt. 'Look here,' says I to Hooker and the other
Englishmen; 'what are we to do now?' and I pointed to the heads.
"'Headed orf, or I'm a nigger,' said one of the men.
"'We shall be,' said another. 'You know the Chin way, George?'
"'They can pot every one of us at fifty yards,' says Hooker, 'in the
place where the river is narrow. It's just suicide to go on down.'
"I looked at the hill to the right of us. It grew steeper lower down
the valley, but it still seemed climbable. And all the Chins we had
seen hitherto had been on the other side of the stream.
"'It's that or stopping,' says one of the Sepoys.
"So we started slanting up the hill. There was something faintly
suggestive of a road running obliquely up the face of it, and that we
followed. Some Chins presently came into view up the valley, and I
heard some shots. Then I saw one of the Sepoys was sitting down
about thirty yards below us. He had simply sat down without a word,
apparently not wishing to give trouble. At that I called a halt again;
I told Hooker to try another shot, and went back and found the man was
hit in the leg. I took him up, carried him along to put him on the
mule--already pretty well laden with the tent and other things which
we had no time to take off. When I got up to the rest with him, Hooker
had his empty Martini in his hand, and was grinning and pointing to a
motionless black spot up the valley. All the rest of the Chins were
behind boulders or back round the bend. 'Five hundred yards,' says
Hooker, 'if an inch. And I'll swear I hit him in the head.'
"I told him to go and do it again, and with that we went on again.
"Now the hillside kept getting steeper as we pushed on, and the road
we were following more and more of a shelf. At last it was mere cliff
above and below us. 'It's the best road I have seen yet in Chin Lushai
land,' said I to encourage the men, though I had a fear of what was
"And in a few minutes the way bent round a corner of the cliff. Then,
finis! the ledge came to an end.
"As soon as he grasped the position one of the Derbyshire men fell
a-swearing at the trap we had fallen into. The Sepoys halted quietly.
Hooker grunted and reloaded, and went back to the bend.
"Then two of the Sepoy chaps helped their comrade down and began to
unload the mule.
"Now, when I came to look about me, I began to think we had not been
so very unfortunate after all. We were on a shelf perhaps ten yards
across it at widest. Above it the cliff projected so that we could not
be shot down upon, and below was an almost sheer precipice of perhaps
two or three hundred feet. Lying down we were invisible to anyone
across the ravine. The only approach was along the ledge, and on that
one man was as good as a host. We were in a natural stronghold, with
only one disadvantage, our sole provision against hunger and thirst
was one live mule. Still we were at most eight or nine miles from the
main expedition, and no doubt, after a day or so, they would send up
after us if we did not return.
"After a day or so ..."
The lieutenant paused. "Ever been thirsty, Graham?"
"Not that kind," said the Ethnologist.
"H'm. We had the whole of that day, the night, and the next day of it,
and only a trifle of dew we wrung out of our clothes and the tent.
And below us was the river going giggle, giggle, round a rock in mid
stream. I never knew such a barrenness of incident, or such a quantity
of sensation. The sun might have had Joshua's command still upon it
for all the motion one could see; and it blazed like a near furnace.
Towards the evening of the first day one of the Derbyshire men said
something--nobody heard what--and went off round the bend of the
cliff. We heard shots, and when Hooker looked round the corner he was
gone. And in the morning the Sepoy whose leg was shot was in delirium,
and jumped or fell over the cliff. Then we took the mule and shot
it, and that must needs go over the cliff too in its last struggles,
leaving eight of us.
"We could see the body of the Sepoy down below, with the head in the
water. He was lying face downwards, and so far as I could make out was
scarcely smashed at all. Badly as the Chins might covet his head, they
had the sense to leave it alone until the darkness came.
"At first we talked of all the chances there were of the main body
hearing the firing, and reckoned whether they would begin to miss us,
and all that kind of thing, but we dried up as the evening came on.
The Sepoys played games with bits of stone among themselves, and
afterwards told stories. The night was rather chilly. The second day
nobody spoke. Our lips were black and our throats afire, and we lay
about on the ledge and glared at one another. Perhaps it's as well
we kept our thoughts to ourselves. One of the British soldiers began
writing some blasphemous rot on the rock with a bit of pipeclay, about
his last dying will, until I stopped it. As I looked over the edge
down into the valley and saw the river rippling I was nearly tempted
to go after the Sepoy. It seemed a pleasant and desirable thing to
go rushing down through the air with something to drink--or no more
thirst at any rate--at the bottom. I remembered in time, though, that
I was the officer in command, and my duty to set a good example, and
that kept me from any such foolishness.
"Yet, thinking of that, put an idea into my head. I got up and looked
at the tent and tent ropes, and wondered why I had not thought of it
before. Then I came and peered over the cliff again. This time the
height seemed greater and the pose of the Sepoy rather more painful.
But it was that or nothing. And to cut it short, I parachuted.
"I got a big circle of canvas out of the tent, about three times the
size of that table-cover, and plugged the hole in the centre, and I
tied eight ropes round it to meet in the middle and make a parachute.
The other chaps lay about and watched me as though they thought it was
a new kind of delirium. Then I explained my notion to the two British
soldiers and how I meant to do it, and as soon as the short dusk had
darkened into night, I risked it. They held the thing high up, and I
took a run the whole length of the ledge. The thing filled with air
like a sail, but at the edge I will confess I funked and pulled up.
"As soon as I stopped I was ashamed of myself--as well I might be in
front of privates--and went back and started again. Off I jumped this
time--with a kind of sob, I remember--clean into the air, with the big
white sail bellying out above me.
"I must have thought at a frightful pace. It seemed a long time before
I was sure that the thing meant to keep steady. At first it heeled
sideways. Then I noticed the face of the rock which seemed to be
streaming up past me, and me motionless. Then I looked down and saw in
the darkness the river and the dead Sepoy rushing up towards me. But
in the indistinct light I also saw three Chins, seemingly aghast at
the sight of me, and that the Sepoy was decapitated. At that I wanted
to go back again.
"Then my boot was in the mouth of one, and in a moment he and I were
in a heap with the canvas fluttering down on the top of us. I fancy I
dashed out his brains with my foot. I expected nothing more than to be
brained myself by the other two, but the poor heathen had never heard
of Baldwin, and incontinently bolted.
"I struggled out of the tangle of dead Chin and canvas, and looked
round. About ten paces off lay the head of the Sepoy staring in the
moonlight. Then I saw the water and went and drank. There wasn't a
sound in the world but the footsteps of the departing Chins, a faint
shout from above, and the gluck of the water. So soon as I had drunk
my full I started off down the river.
"That about ends the explanation of the flying man story. I never met
a soul the whole eight miles of the way. I got to Walters' camp by ten
o'clock, and a born idiot of a sentinel had the cheek to fire at me
as I came trotting out of the darkness. So soon as I had hammered my
story into Winter's thick skull, about fifty men started up the valley
to clear the Chins out and get our men down. But for my own part I had
too good a thirst to provoke it by going with them.
"You have heard what kind of a yarn the Chins made of it. Wings as
long as a mule, eh?--And black feathers! The gay lieutenant bird!
The lieutenant meditated cheerfully for a moment. Then he added, "You
would scarcely credit it, but when they got to the ridge at last, they
found two more of the Sepoys had jumped over."
"The rest were all right?" asked the Ethnologist.
"Yes," said the lieutenant; "the rest were all right, barring a
certain thirst, you know."
And at the memory he helped himself to soda and whisky again.
THE DIAMOND MAKER
Some business had detained me in Chancery Lane until nine in the
evening, and thereafter, having some inkling of a headache, I was
disinclined either for entertainment or further work. So much of the
sky as the high cliffs of that narrow cañon of traffic left visible
spoke of a serene night, and I determined to make my way down to
the Embankment, and rest my eyes and cool my head by watching the
variegated lights upon the river. Beyond comparison the night is the
best time for this place; a merciful darkness hides the dirt of the
waters, and the lights of this transition age, red, glaring orange,
gas-yellow, and electric white, are set in shadowy outlines of every
possible shade between grey and deep purple. Through the arches of
Waterloo Bridge a hundred points of light mark the sweep of the
Embankment, and above its parapet rise the towers of Westminster, warm
grey against the starlight. The black river goes by with only a rare
ripple breaking its silence, and disturbing the reflections of the
lights that swim upon its surface.
"A warm night," said a voice at my side.
I turned my head, and saw the profile of a man who was leaning over
the parapet beside me. It was a refined face, not unhandsome, though
pinched and pale enough, and the coat collar turned up and pinned
round the throat marked his status in life as sharply as a uniform. I
felt I was committed to the price of a bed and breakfast if I answered
I looked at him curiously. Would he have anything to tell me worth the
money, or was he the common incapable--incapable even of telling his
own story? There was a quality of intelligence in his forehead and
eyes, and a certain tremulousness in his nether lip that decided me.
"Very warm," said I; "but not too warm for us here."
"No," he said, still looking across the water, "it is pleasant enough
here ... just now."
"It is good," he continued after a pause, "to find anything so restful
as this in London. After one has been fretting about business all day,
about getting on, meeting obligations, and parrying dangers, I do not
know what one would do if it were not for such pacific corners." He
spoke with long pauses between the sentences. "You must know a little
of the irksome labour of the world, or you would not be here. But
I doubt if you can be so brain-weary and footsore as I am ... Bah!
Sometimes I doubt if the game is worth the candle. I feel inclined to
throw the whole thing over--name, wealth, and position--and take to
some modest trade. But I know if I abandoned my ambition--hardly as
she uses me--I should have nothing but remorse left for the rest of my
He became silent. I looked at him in astonishment. If ever I saw a man
hopelessly hard-up it was the man in front of me. He was ragged and he
was dirty, unshaven and unkempt; he looked as though he had been left
in a dust-bin for a week. And he was talking to "me" of the irksome
worries of a large business. I almost laughed outright. Either he was
mad or playing a sorry jest on his own poverty.
"If high aims and high positions," said I, "have their drawbacks of
hard work and anxiety, they have their compensations. Influence,
the power of doing good, of assisting those weaker and poorer than
ourselves; and there is even a certain gratification in display...."
My banter under the circumstances was in very vile taste. I spoke on
the spur of the contrast of his appearance and speech. I was sorry
even while I was speaking.
He turned a haggard but very composed face upon me. Said he: "I forget
myself. Of course you would not understand."
He measured me for a moment. "No doubt it is very absurd. You will not
believe me even when I tell you, so that it is fairly safe to tell
you. And it will be a comfort to tell someone. I really have a big
business in hand, a very big business. But there are troubles just
now. The fact is ... I make diamonds."
"I suppose," said I, "you are out of work just at present?"
"I am sick of being disbelieved," he said impatiently, and suddenly
unbuttoning his wretched coat he pulled out a little canvas bag that
was hanging by a cord round his neck. From this he produced a brown
pebble. "I wonder if you know enough to know what that is?" He handed
it to me.
Now, a year or so ago, I had occupied my leisure in taking a London
science degree, so that I have a smattering of physics and mineralogy.
The thing was not unlike an uncut diamond of the darker sort, though
far too large, being almost as big as the top of my thumb. I took it,
and saw it had the form of a regular octahedron, with the curved faces
peculiar to the most precious of minerals. I took out my penknife and
tried to scratch it--vainly. Leaning forward towards the gas-lamp, I
tried the thing on my watch-glass, and scored a white line across that
with the greatest ease.
I looked at my interlocutor with rising curiosity. "It certainly is
rather like a diamond. But, if so, it is a Behemoth of diamonds. Where
did you get it?"
"I tell you I made it," he said. "Give it back to me."
He replaced it hastily and buttoned his jacket. "I will sell it you
for one hundred pounds," he suddenly whispered eagerly. With that my
suspicions returned. The thing might, after all, be merely a lump
of that almost equally hard substance, corundum, with an accidental
resemblance in shape to the diamond. Or if it was a diamond, how came
he by it, and why should he offer it at a hundred pounds?
We looked into one another's eyes. He seemed eager, but honestly
eager. At that moment I believed it was a diamond he was trying to
sell. Yet I am a poor man, a hundred pounds would leave a visible gap
in my fortunes and no sane man would buy a diamond by gaslight from a
ragged tramp on his personal warranty only. Still, a diamond that size
conjured up a vision of many thousands of pounds. Then, thought I,
such a stone could scarcely exist without being mentioned in every
book on gems, and again I called to mind the stories of contraband and
light-fingered Kaffirs at the Cape. I put the question of purchase on
"How did you get it?" said I.
"I made it."
I had heard something of Moissan, but I knew his artificial diamonds
were very small. I shook my head.
"You seem to know something of this kind of thing. I will tell you
a little about myself. Perhaps then you may think better of the
purchase." He turned round with his back to the river, and put his
hands in his pockets. He sighed. "I know you will not believe me."
"Diamonds," he began--and as he spoke his voice lost its faint flavour
of the tramp and assumed something of the easy tone of an educated
man--"are to be made by throwing carbon out of combination in a
suitable flux and under a suitable pressure; the carbon crystallises
out, not as black-lead or charcoal-powder, but as small diamonds. So
much has been known to chemists for years, but no one yet has hit upon
exactly the right flux in which to melt up the carbon, or exactly the
right pressure for the best results. Consequently the diamonds made by
chemists are small and dark, and worthless as jewels. Now I, you know,
have given up my life to this problem--given my life to it.
"I began to work at the conditions of diamond making when I was
seventeen, and now I am thirty-two. It seemed to me that it might take
all the thought and energies of a man for ten years, or twenty years,
but, even if it did, the game was still worth the candle. Suppose one
to have at last just hit the right trick, before the secret got out
and diamonds became as common as coal, one might realise millions.
He paused and looked for my sympathy. His eyes shone hungrily. "To
think," said he, "that I am on the verge of it all, and here!
"I had," he proceeded, "about a thousand pounds when I was twenty-one,
and this, I thought, eked out by a little teaching, would keep my
researches going. A year or two was spent in study, at Berlin chiefly,
and then I continued on my own account. The trouble was the secrecy.
You see, if once I had let out what I was doing, other men might have
been spurred on by my belief in the practicability of the idea; and I
do not pretend to be such a genius as to have been sure of coming in
first, in the case of a race for the discovery. And you see it was
important that if I really meant to make a pile, people should not
know it was an artificial process and capable of turning out diamonds
by the ton. So I had to work all alone. At first I had a little
laboratory, but as my resources began to run out I had to conduct my
experiments in a wretched unfurnished room in Kentish Town, where I
slept at last on a straw mattress on the floor among all my apparatus.
The money simply flowed away. I grudged myself everything except
scientific appliances. I tried to keep things going by a little
teaching, but I am not a very good teacher, and I have no university
degree, nor very much education except in chemistry, and I found I had
to give a lot of time and labour for precious little money. But I got
nearer and nearer the thing. Three years ago I settled the problem of
the composition of the flux, and got near the pressure by putting
this flux of mine and a certain carbon composition into a closed-up
gun-barrel, filling up with water, sealing tightly, and heating."
"Rather risky," said I.
"Yes. It burst, and smashed all my windows and a lot of my apparatus;
but I got a kind of diamond powder nevertheless. Following out the
problem of getting a big pressure upon the molten mixture from
which the things were to crystallise, I hit upon some researches of
Daubrée's at the Paris "Laboratorie des Poudres et Salpêtres". He
exploded dynamite in a tightly screwed steel cylinder, too strong to
burst, and I found he could crush rocks into a muck not unlike the
South African bed in which diamonds are found. It was a tremendous
strain on my resources, but I got a steel cylinder made for my purpose
after his pattern. I put in all my stuff and my explosives, built up
a fire in my furnace, put the whole concern in, and--went out for a
I could not help laughing at his matter-of-fact manner. "Did you not
think it would blow up the house? Were there other people in the
"It was in the interest of science," he said, ultimately. "There was a
costermonger family on the floor below, a begging-letter writer in the
room behind mine, and two flower-women were upstairs. Perhaps it was a
bit thoughtless. But possibly some of them were out.
"When I came back the thing was just where I left it, among the
white-hot coals. The explosive hadn't burst the case. And then I had
a problem to face. You know time is an important element in
crystallisation. If you hurry the process the crystals are small--it
is only by prolonged standing that they grow to any size. I resolved
to let this apparatus cool for two years, letting the temperature go
down slowly during that time. And I was now quite out of money; and
with a big fire and the rent of my room, as well as my hunger to
satisfy, I had scarcely a penny in the world.
"I can hardly tell you all the shifts I was put to while I was making
the diamonds. I have sold newspapers, held horses, opened cab-doors.
For many weeks I addressed envelopes. I had a place as assistant to
a man who owned a barrow, and used to call down one side of the road
while he called down the other. Once for a week I had absolutely
nothing to do, and I begged. What a week that was! One day the fire
was going out and I had eaten nothing all day, and a little chap
taking his girl out, gave me sixpence--to show-off. Thank heaven for
vanity! How the fish-shops smelt! But I went and spent it all on
coals, and had the furnace bright red again, and then--Well, hunger
makes a fool of a man.
"At last, three weeks ago, I let the fire out. I took my cylinder and
unscrewed it while it was still so hot that it punished my hands, and
I scraped out the crumbling lava-like mass with a chisel, and hammered
it into a powder upon an iron plate. And I found three big diamonds
and five small ones. As I sat on the floor hammering, my door opened,
and my neighbour, the begging-letter writer, came in. He was
drunk--as he usually is. ''Nerchist,' said he. 'You're drunk,' said I.
''Structive scoundrel,' said he. 'Go to your father,' said I, meaning
the Father of Lies. 'Never you mind,' said he, and gave me a cunning
wink, and hiccuped, and leaning up against the door, with his other
eye against the door-post, began to babble of how he had been prying
in my room, and how he had gone to the police that morning, and how
they had taken down everything he had to say--''siffiwas a ge'm,' said
he. Then I suddenly realised I was in a hole. Either I should have
to tell these police my little secret, and get the whole thing blown
upon, or be lagged as an Anarchist. So I went up to my neighbour
and took him by the collar, and rolled him about a bit, and then I
gathered up my diamonds and cleared out. The evening newspapers called
my den the Kentish-Town Bomb Factory. And now I cannot part with the
things for love or money.
"If I go in to respectable jewellers they ask me to wait, and go and
whisper to a clerk to fetch a policeman, and then I say I cannot wait.
And I found out a receiver of stolen goods, and he simply stuck to
the one I gave him and told me to prosecute if I wanted it back. I am
going about now with several hundred thousand pounds-worth of diamonds
round my neck, and without either food or shelter. You are the first
person I have taken into my confidence. But I like your face and I am
He looked into my eyes.
"It would be madness," said I, "for me to buy a diamond under the
circumstances. Besides, I do not carry hundreds of pounds about in my
pocket. Yet I more than half believe your story. I will, if you like,
do this: come to my office to-morrow...."
"You think I am a thief!" said he keenly. "You will tell the police. I
am not coming into a trap."
"Somehow I am assured you are no thief. Here is my card. Take that,
anyhow. You need not come to any appointment. Come when you will."
He took the card, and an earnest of my good-will.
"Think better of it and come," said I.
He shook his head doubtfully. "I will pay back your half-crown with
interest some day--such interest as will amaze you," said he. "Anyhow,
you will keep the secret?... Don't follow me."
He crossed the road and went into the darkness towards the little
steps under the archway leading into Essex Street, and I let him go.
And that was the last I ever saw of him.
Afterwards I had two letters from him asking me to send
bank-notes--not cheques--to certain addresses. I weighed the matter
over, and took what I conceived to be the wisest course. Once he
called upon me when I was out. My urchin described him as a very thin,
dirty, and ragged man, with a dreadful cough. He left no message. That
was the finish of him so far as my story goes. I wonder sometimes what
has become of him. Was he an ingenious monomaniac, or a fraudulent
dealer in pebbles, or has he really made diamonds as he asserted? The
latter is just sufficiently credible to make me think at times that
I have missed the most brilliant opportunity of my life. He may of
course be dead, and his diamonds carelessly thrown aside--one, I
repeat, was almost as big as my thumb. Or he may be still wandering
about trying to sell the things. It is just possible he may yet emerge
upon society, and, passing athwart my heavens in the serene altitude
sacred to the wealthy and the well-advertised, reproach me silently
for my want of enterprise. I sometimes think I might at least have
risked five pounds.
The man with the scarred face leant over the table and looked at my
"Orchids?" he asked.
"A few," I said.
"Cypripediums," he said.
"Chiefly," said I.
"Anything new? I thought not. "I" did these islands
twenty-five--twenty-seven years ago. If you find anything new
here--well it's brand new. I didn't leave much."
"I'm not a collector," said I.
"I was young then," he went on. "Lord! how I used to fly round." He
seemed to take my measure. "I was in the East Indies two years, and in
Brazil seven. Then I went to Madagascar."
"I know a few explorers by name," I said, anticipating a yarn. "Whom
did you collect for?"
"Dawsons. I wonder if you've heard the name of Butcher ever?"
"Butcher--Butcher?" The name seemed vaguely present in my memory; then I
recalled "Butcher" v. "Dawson". "Why!" said I, "you are the man who sued
them for four years' salary--got cast away on a desert island ..."
"Your servant," said the man with the scar, bowing. "Funny case,
wasn't it? Here was me, making a little fortune on that island, doing
nothing for it neither, and them quite unable to give me notice. It
often used to amuse me thinking over it while I was there. I did
calculations of it--big--all over the blessed atoll in ornamental
"How did it happen?" said I. "I don't rightly remember the case."
"Well.... You've heard of the Aepyornis?"
"Rather. Andrews was telling me of a new species he was working on
only a month or so ago. Just before I sailed. They've got a thigh
bone, it seems, nearly a yard long. Monster the thing must have been!"
"I believe you," said the man with the scar. "It "was" a monster.
Sinbad's roc was just a legend of 'em. But when did they find these
"Three or four years ago--'91, I fancy. Why?"
"Why? Because "I" found 'em--Lord!--it's nearly twenty years ago. If
Dawsons hadn't been silly about that salary they might have made a
perfect ring in 'em.... "I" couldn't help the infernal boat going
He paused, "I suppose it's the same place. A kind of swamp about
ninety miles north of Antananarivo. Do you happen to know? You have
to go to it along the coast by boats. You don't happen to remember,
"I don't. I fancy Andrews said something about a swamp."
"It must be the same. It's on the east coast. And somehow there's
something in the water that keeps things from decaying. Like creosote
it smells. It reminded me of Trinidad. Did they get any more eggs?
Some of the eggs I found were a foot-and-a-half long. The swamp goes
circling round, you know, and cuts off this bit. It's mostly salt,
too. Well.... What a time I had of it! I found the things quite by
accident. We went for eggs, me and two native chaps, in one of those
rum canoes all tied together, and found the bones at the same time. We
had a tent and provisions for four days, and we pitched on one of the
firmer places. To think of it brings that odd tarry smell back even
now. It's funny work. You go probing into the mud with iron rods, you
know. Usually the egg gets smashed. I wonder how long it is since
these Aepyornises really lived. The missionaries say the natives have
legends about when they were alive, but I never heard any such stories
myself.[A] But certainly those eggs we got were as fresh as if they
had been new laid. Fresh! Carrying them down to the boat one of my
nigger chaps dropped one on a rock and it smashed. How I lammed into
the beggar! But sweet it was, as if it was new laid, not even smelly,
and its mother dead these four hundred years, perhaps. Said a
centipede had bit him. However, I'm getting off the straight with the
story. It had taken us all day to dig into the slush and get these
eggs out unbroken, and we were all covered with beastly black mud, and
naturally I was cross. So far as I knew they were the only eggs that
have ever been got out not even cracked. I went afterwards to see the
ones they have at the Natural History Museum in London; all of them
were cracked and just stuck together like a mosaic, and bits missing.
Mine were perfect, and I meant to blow them when I got back. Naturally
I was annoyed at the silly duffer dropping three hours' work just on
account of a centipede. I hit him about rather."
[Footnote A: No European is known to have seen a live Aepyornis,
with the doubtful exception of MacAndrew, who visited Madagascar in
The man with the scar took out a clay pipe. I placed my pouch before
him. He filled up absent-mindedly.
"How about the others? Did you get those home? I don't remember--"
"That's the queer part of the story. I had three others. Perfectly
fresh eggs. Well, we put 'em in the boat, and then I went up to
the tent to make some coffee, leaving my two heathens down by the
beach--the one fooling about with his sting and the other helping him.
It never occurred to me that the beggars would take advantage of
the peculiar position I was in to pick a quarrel. But I suppose the
centipede poison and the kicking I had given him had upset the one--he
was always a cantankerous sort--and he persuaded the other.
"I remember I was sitting and smoking and boiling up the water over a
spirit-lamp business I used to take on these expeditions. Incidentally
I was admiring the swamp under the sunset. All black and blood-red it
was, in streaks--a beautiful sight. And up beyond the land rose grey
and hazy to the hills, and the sky behind them red, like a furnace
mouth. And fifty yards behind the back of me was these blessed
heathen--quite regardless of the tranquil air of things--plotting
to cut off with the boat and leave me all alone with three days'
provisions and a canvas tent, and nothing to drink whatsoever, beyond
a little keg of water. I heard a kind of yelp behind me, and there
they were in this canoe affair--it wasn't properly a boat--and,
perhaps, twenty yards from land. I realised what was up in a moment.
My gun was in the tent, and, besides, I had no bullets--only duck
shot. They knew that. But I had a little revolver in my pocket, and I
pulled that out as I ran down to the beach.
"'Come back!' says I, flourishing it.
"They jabbered something at me, and the man that broke the egg jeered.
I aimed at the other--because he was unwounded and had the paddle, and
I missed. They laughed. However, I wasn't beat. I knew I had to keep
cool, and I tried him again and made him jump with the whang of it.
He didn't laugh that time. The third time I got his head, and over
he went, and the paddle with him. It was a precious lucky shot for a
revolver. I reckon it was fifty yards. He went right under. I don't
know if he was shot, or simply stunned and drowned. Then I began to
shout to the other chap to come back, but he huddled up in the canoe
and refused to answer. So I fired out my revolver at him and never got
"I felt a precious fool, I can tell you. There I was on this rotten,
black beach, flat swamp all behind me, and the flat sea, cold after
the sunset, and just this black canoe drifting steadily out to sea. I
tell you I damned Dawsons and Jamrachs and Museums and all the rest
of it just to rights. I bawled to this nigger to come back, until my
voice went up into a scream.
"There was nothing for it but to swim after him and take my luck with
the sharks. So I opened my clasp-knife and put it in my mouth, and
took off my clothes and waded in. As soon as I was in the water I lost
sight of the canoe, but I aimed, as I judged, to head it off. I hoped
the man in it was too bad to navigate it, and that it would keep on
drifting in the same direction. Presently it came up over the horizon
again to the south-westward about. The afterglow of sunset was well
over now and the dim of night creeping up. The stars were coming
through the blue. I swum like a champion, though my legs and arms were
"However, I came up to him by the time the stars were fairly out.
As it got darker I began to see all manner of glowing things in the
water--phosphorescence, you know. At times it made me giddy. I hardly
knew which was stars and which was phosphorescence, and whether I was
swimming on my head or my heels. The canoe was as black as sin, and
the ripple under the bows like liquid fire. I was naturally chary of
clambering up into it. I was anxious to see what he was up to first.
He seemed to be lying cuddled up in a lump in the bows, and the stern
was all out of water. The thing kept turning round slowly as it
drifted--kind of waltzing, don't you know. I went to the stern, and
pulled it down, expecting him to wake up. Then I began to clamber in
with my knife in my hand, and ready for a rush. But he never stirred.
So there I sat in the stern of the little canoe, drifting away over
the calm phosphorescent sea, and with all the host of the stars above
me, waiting for something to happen.
"After a long time I called him by name, but he never answered. I was
too tired to take any risks by going along to him. So we sat there. I
fancy I dozed once or twice. When the dawn came I saw he was as dead
as a doornail and all puffed up and purple. My three eggs and the
bones were lying in the middle of the canoe, and the keg of water and
some coffee and biscuits wrapped in a Cape "Argus" by his feet, and a
tin of methylated spirit underneath him. There was no paddle, nor, in
fact, anything except the spirit-tin that one could use as one, so
I settled to drift until I was picked up. I held an inquest on him,
brought in a verdict against some snake, scorpion, or centipede
unknown, and sent him overboard.
"After that I had a drink of water and a few biscuits, and took a
look round. I suppose a man low down as I was don't see very far;
leastways, Madagascar was clean out of sight, and any trace of land at
all. I saw a sail going south-westward--looked like a schooner, but
her hull never came up. Presently the sun got high in the sky and
began to beat down upon me. Lord! It pretty near made my brains boil.
I tried dipping my head in the sea, but after a while my eye fell on
the Cape "Argus", and I lay down flat in the canoe and spread this
over me. Wonderful things these newspapers! I never read one through
thoroughly before, but it's odd what you get up to when you're alone,
as I was. I suppose I read that blessed old Cape "Argus" twenty times.
The pitch in the canoe simply reeked with the heat and rose up into
"I drifted ten days," said the man with the scar. "It's a little thing
in the telling, isn't it? Every day was like the last. Except in the
morning and the evening I never kept a look-out even--the blaze was so
infernal. I didn't see a sail after the first three days, and those
I saw took no notice of me. About the sixth night a ship went by
scarcely half a mile away from me, with all its lights ablaze and its
ports open, looking like a big firefly. There was music aboard. I
stood up and shouted and screamed at it. The second day I broached one
of the Aepyornis eggs, scraped the shell away at the end bit by bit,
and tried it, and I was glad to find it was good enough to eat. A bit
flavoury--not bad, I mean--but with something of the taste of a duck's
egg. There was a kind of circular patch, about six inches across, on
one side of the yolk, and with streaks of blood and a white mark like
a ladder in it that I thought queer, but I did not understand what
this meant at the time, and I wasn't inclined to be particular. The
egg lasted me three days, with biscuits and a drink of water. I chewed
coffee berries too--invigorating stuff. The second egg I opened about
the eighth day, and it scared me."
The man with the scar paused. "Yes," he said, "developing."
"I dare say you find it hard to believe. "I" did, with the thing
before me. There the egg had been, sunk in that cold black mud,
perhaps three hundred years. But there was no mistaking it. There was
the--what is it?--embryo, with its big head and curved back, and its
heart beating under its throat, and the yolk shrivelled up and great
membranes spreading inside of the shell and all over the yolk. Here
was I hatching out the eggs of the biggest of all extinct birds, in a
little canoe in the midst of the Indian Ocean. If old Dawson had known
that! It was worth four years' salary. What do "you" think?
"However, I had to eat that precious thing up, every bit of it, before
I sighted the reef, and some of the mouthfuls were beastly unpleasant.
I left the third one alone. I held it up to the light, but the shell
was too thick for me to get any notion of what might be happening
inside; and though I fancied I heard blood pulsing, it might have been
the rustle in my own ears, like what you listen to in a seashell.
"Then came the atoll. Came out of the sunrise, as it were, suddenly,
close up to me. I drifted straight towards it until I was about half a
mile from shore, not more, and then the current took a turn, and I had
to paddle as hard as I could with my hands and bits of the Aepyornis
shell to make the place. However, I got there. It was just a common
atoll about four miles round, with a few trees growing and a spring in
one place, and the lagoon full of parrot-fish. I took the egg ashore
and put it in a good place well above the tide lines and in the sun,
to give it all the chance I could, and pulled the canoe up safe, and
loafed about prospecting. It's rum how dull an atoll is. As soon as I
had found a spring all the interest seemed to vanish. When I was a kid
I thought nothing could be finer or more adventurous than the Robinson
Crusoe business, but that place was as monotonous as a book of
sermons. I went round finding eatable things and generally thinking;
but I tell you I was bored to death before the first day was out.
It shows my luck--the very day I landed the weather changed. A
thunderstorm went by to the north and flicked its wing over the
island, and in the night there came a drencher and a howling wind slap
over us. It wouldn't have taken much, you know, to upset that canoe.
"I was sleeping under the canoe, and the egg was luckily among the
sand higher up the beach, and the first thing I remember was a sound
like a hundred pebbles hitting the boat at once, and a rush of water
over my body. I'd been dreaming of Antananarivo, and I sat up and
holloaed to Intoshi to ask her what the devil was up, and clawed out
at the chair where the matches used to be. Then I remembered where I
was. There were phosphorescent waves rolling up as if they meant to
eat me, and all the rest of the night as black as pitch. The air was
simply yelling. The clouds seemed down on your head almost, and the
rain fell as if heaven was sinking and they were baling out the waters
above the firmament. One great roller came writhing at me, like a
fiery serpent, and I bolted. Then I thought of the canoe, and ran down
to it as the water went hissing back again; but the thing had gone. I
wondered about the egg then, and felt my way to it. It was all right
and well out of reach of the maddest waves, so I sat down beside it
and cuddled it for company. Lord! what a night that was!
"The storm was over before the morning. There wasn't a rag of cloud
left in the sky when the dawn came, and all along the beach there were
bits of plank scattered--which was the disarticulated skeleton, so to
speak, of my canoe. However, that gave me something to do, for, taking
advantage of two of the trees being together, I rigged up a kind of
storm-shelter with these vestiges. And that day the egg hatched.
"Hatched, sir, when my head was pillowed on it and I was asleep. I
heard a whack and felt a jar and sat up, and there was the end of the
egg pecked out and a rum little brown head looking out at me. 'Lord!'
I said, 'you're welcome'; and with a little difficulty he came out.
"He was a nice friendly little chap, at first, about the size of a
small hen--very much like most other young birds, only bigger. His
plumage was a dirty brown to begin with, with a sort of grey scab that
fell off it very soon, and scarcely feathers--a kind of downy hair. I
can hardly express how pleased I was to see him. I tell you, Robinson
Crusoe don't make near enough of his loneliness. But here was
interesting company. He looked at me and winked his eye from the front
backwards, like a hen, and gave a chirp and began to peck about at
once, as though being hatched three hundred years too late was just
nothing. 'Glad to see you, Man Friday!' says I, for I had naturally
settled he was to be called Man Friday if ever he was hatched, as
soon as ever I found the egg in the canoe had developed. I was a bit
anxious about his feed, so I gave him a lump of raw parrot-fish at
once. He took it, and opened his beak for more. I was glad of that,
for, under the circumstances, if he'd been at all fanciful, I should
have had to eat him after all. You'd be surprised what an interesting
bird that Aepyornis chick was. He followed me about from the very
beginning. He used to stand by me and watch while I fished in the
lagoon, and go shares in anything I caught. And he was sensible, too.
There were nasty green warty things, like pickled gherkins, used to
lie about on the beach, and he tried one of these and it upset him. He
never even looked at any of them again.
"And he grew. You could almost see him grow. And as I was never much
of a society man his quiet, friendly ways suited me to a T. For nearly
two years we were as happy as we could be on that island. I had no
business worries, for I knew my salary was mounting up at Dawsons'. We
would see a sail now and then, but nothing ever came near us. I
amused myself, too, by decorating the island with designs worked in
sea-urchins and fancy shells of various kinds. I put AEPYORNIS ISLAND
all round the place very nearly, in big letters, like what you see
done with coloured stones at railway stations in the old country, and
mathematical calculations and drawings of various sorts. And I used to
lie watching the blessed bird stalking round and growing, growing; and
think how I could make a living out of him by showing him about if I
ever got taken off. After his first moult he began to get handsome,
with a crest and a blue wattle, and a lot of green feathers at the
behind of him. And then I used to puzzle whether Dawsons had any right
to claim him or not. Stormy weather and in the rainy season we lay
snug under the shelter I had made out of the old canoe, and I used to
tell him lies about my friends at home. And after a storm we would go
round the island together to see if there was any drift. It was a kind
of idyll, you might say. If only I had had some tobacco it would have
been simply just like Heaven.
"It was about the end of the second year our little paradise went
wrong. Friday was then about fourteen feet high to the bill of him,
with a big, broad head like the end of a pickaxe, and two huge brown
eyes with yellow rims, set together like a man's--not out of sight
of each other like a hen's. His plumage was fine--none of the
half-mourning style of your ostrich--more like a cassowary as far as
colour and texture go. And then it was he began to cock his comb at me
and give himself airs, and show signs of a nasty temper....
"At last came a time when my fishing had been rather unlucky, and he
began to hang about me in a queer, meditative way. I thought he might
have been eating sea-cucumbers or something, but it was really just
discontent on his part. I was hungry too, and when at last I landed a
fish I wanted it for myself. Tempers were short that morning on both
sides. He pecked at it and grabbed it, and I gave him a whack on the
head to make him leave go. And at that he went for me. Lord!...
"He gave me this in the face." The man indicated his scar. "Then he
kicked me. It was like a cart-horse. I got up, and seeing he hadn't
finished, I started off full tilt with my arms doubled up over my
face. But he ran on those gawky legs of his faster than a racehorse,
and kept landing out at me with sledge hammer kicks, and bringing his
pickaxe down on the back of my head. I made for the lagoon, and went
in up to my neck. He stopped at the water, for he hated getting his
feet wet, and began to make a shindy, something like a peacock's, only
hoarser. He started strutting up and down the beach. I'll admit I felt
small to see this blessed fossil lording it there. And my head and
face were all bleeding, and--well, my body just one jelly of bruises.
"I decided to swim across the lagoon and leave him alone for a bit,
until the affair blew over. I shinned up the tallest palm-tree, and
sat there thinking of it all. I don't suppose I ever felt so hurt
by anything before or since. It was the brutal ingratitude of the
creature. I'd been more than a brother to him. I'd hatched him,
educated him. A great gawky, out-of-date bird! And me a human
being--heir of the ages and all that.
"I thought after a time he'd begin to see things in that light
himself, and feel a little sorry for his behaviour. I thought if I
was to catch some nice little bits of fish, perhaps, and go to him
presently in a casual kind of way, and offer them to him, he might do
the sensible thing. It took me some time to learn how unforgiving and
cantankerous an extinct bird can be. Malice!
"I won't tell you all the little devices I tried to get that bird
round again. I simply can't. It makes my cheek burn with shame even
now to think of the snubs and buffets I had from this infernal
curiosity. I tried violence. I chucked lumps of coral at him from a
safe distance, but he only swallowed them. I shied my open knife at
him and almost lost it, though it was too big for him to swallow. I
tried starving him out and struck fishing, but he took to picking
along the beach at low water after worms, and rubbed along on that.
Half my time I spent up to my neck in the lagoon, and the rest up the
palm-trees. One of them was scarcely high enough, and when he caught
me up it he had a regular Bank Holiday with the calves of my legs.
It got unbearable. I don't know if you have ever tried sleeping up a
palm-tree. It gave me the most horrible nightmares. Think of the shame
of it, too! Here was this extinct animal mooning about my island like
a sulky duke, and me not allowed to rest the sole of my foot on the
place. I used to cry with weariness and vexation. I told him straight
that I didn't mean to be chased about a desert island by any damned
anachronisms. I told him to go and peck a navigator of his own age.
But he only snapped his beak at me. Great ugly bird--all legs and
"I shouldn't like to say how long that went on altogether. I'd have
killed him sooner if I'd known how. However, I hit on a way of
settling him at last. It is a South American dodge. I joined all my
fishing-lines together with stems of seaweed and things and made
a stoutish string, perhaps twelve yards in length or more, and I
fastened two lumps of coral rock to the ends of this. It took me some
time to do, because every now and then I had to go into the lagoon or
up a tree as the fancy took me. This I whirled rapidly round my head,
and then let it go at him. The first time I missed, but the next time
the string caught his legs beautifully, and wrapped round them again
and again. Over he went. I threw it standing waist-deep in the lagoon,
and as soon as he went down I was out of the water and sawing at his
neck with my knife ...
"I don't like to think of that even now. I felt like a murderer while
I did it, though my anger was hot against him. When I stood over him
and saw him bleeding on the white sand, and his beautiful great legs
and neck writhing in his last agony ... Pah!
"With that tragedy loneliness came upon me like a curse. Good Lord!
you can't imagine how I missed that bird. I sat by his corpse and
sorrowed over him, and shivered as I looked round the desolate, silent
reef. I thought of what a jolly little bird he had been when he was
hatched, and of a thousand pleasant tricks he had played before he
went wrong. I thought if I'd only wounded him I might have nursed him
round into a better understanding. If I'd had any means of digging
into the coral rock I'd have buried him. I felt exactly as if he was
human. As it was, I couldn't think of eating him, so I put him in the
lagoon, and the little fishes picked him clean. I didn't even save the
feathers. Then one day a chap cruising about in a yacht had a fancy to
see if my atoll still existed.
"He didn't come a moment too soon, for I was about sick enough of the
desolation of it, and only hesitating whether I should walk out into
the sea and finish up the business that way, or fall back on the green
"I sold the bones to a man named Winslow--a dealer near the British
Museum, and he says he sold them to old Havers. It seems Havers didn't
understand they were extra large, and it was only after his death they
attracted attention. They called 'em Aepyornis--what was it?"
""Aepyornis vastus"," said I. "It's funny, the very thing was
mentioned to me by a friend of mine. When they found an Aepyornis,
with a thigh a yard long, they thought they had reached the top of
the scale, and called him "Aepyornis maximus". Then someone turned
up another thighbone four feet six or more, and that they called
"Aepyornis Titan". Then your "vastus" was found after old Havers died,
in his collection, and then a "vastissimus" turned up."
"Winslow was telling me as much," said the man with the scar. "If they
get any more Aepyornises, he reckons some scientific swell will go
and burst a bloodvessel. But it was a queer thing to happen to a man;
THE REMARKABLE CASE OF DAVIDSON'S EYES
The transitory mental aberration of Sidney Davidson, remarkable enough
in itself, is still more remarkable if Wade's explanation is to
be credited. It sets one dreaming of the oddest possibilities of
intercommunication in the future, of spending an intercalary five
minutes on the other side of the world, or being watched in our most
secret operations by unsuspected eyes. It happened that I was the
immediate witness of Davidson's seizure, and so it falls naturally to
me to put the story upon paper.
When I say that I was the immediate witness of his seizure, I mean
that I was the first on the scene. The thing happened at the Harlow
Technical College, just beyond the Highgate Archway. He was alone in
the larger laboratory when the thing happened. I was in a smaller
room, where the balances are, writing up some notes. The thunderstorm
had completely upset my work, of course. It was just after one of the
louder peals that I thought I heard some glass smash in the other
room. I stopped writing, and turned round to listen. For a moment
I heard nothing; the hail was playing the devil's tattoo on the
corrugated zinc of the roof. Then came another sound, a smash--no
doubt of it this time. Something heavy had been knocked off the bench.
I jumped up at once and went and opened the door leading into the big
I was surprised to hear a queer sort of laugh, and saw Davidson
standing unsteadily in the middle of the room, with a dazzled look on
his face. My first impression was that he was drunk. He did not notice
me. He was clawing out at something invisible a yard in front of his
face. He put out his hand, slowly, rather hesitatingly, and then
clutched nothing. "What's come to it?" he said. He held up his hands
to his face, fingers spread out. "Great Scot!" he said. The thing
happened three or four years ago, when everyone swore by that
personage. Then he began raising his feet clumsily, as though he had
expected to find them glued to the floor.
"Davidson!" cried I. "What's the matter with you?" He turned round in
my direction and looked about for me. He looked over me and at me
and on either side of me, without the slightest sign of seeing me.
"Waves," he said; "and a remarkably neat schooner. I'd swear that was
Bellows' voice. "Hullo"!" He shouted suddenly at the top of his voice.
I thought he was up to some foolery. Then I saw littered about his
feet the shattered remains of the best of our electrometers. "What's
up, man?" said I. "You've smashed the electrometer!"
"Bellows again!" said he. "Friends left, if my hands are gone.
Something about electrometers. Which way "are" you, Bellows?" He
suddenly came staggering towards me. "The damned stuff cuts like
butter," he said. He walked straight into the bench and recoiled.
"None so buttery that!" he said, and stood swaying.
I felt scared. "Davidson," said I, "what on earth
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