The Case Of The Itchy Integrity


These much coveted millions are mine, and you are here; and now I can say to you, ‘Take them, they are yours; I give them to you as I give myself to you.’” She had drawn herself up to her full height as she said this; and she looked splendid and fearful at the same time, in her matchless beauty, diffusing energy and immodesty around her, and shaking her head defiantly, till the waves of golden hair flowed over her shoulders.The two Chevassats shrugged their shoulders, and said it would be absurd if they should trouble themselves about public opinion, as long as their consciences were clear, and they owed nobody anything. One would have fancied so; for he smiled bitterly, and said,-- “Excellent hearts--pshaw!” Then, shrugging his shoulders, he added,-- “Luckily, I deal in all possible things. “That is your lookout,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. You ought to inquire; for you may be close upon a terrible misfortune.” “Ah, is she really so formidable?” Maxime shrugged his shoulders, as if he were impatient at being called upon to prove a well-known fact, and said,-- “I should think so.” There seemed to be no reason why Daniel should persist in his questions after that. He talks of marrying that woman.” Maxime shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and said,-- “As to that, console yourself. And when he begged and prayed, falling on his knees before Miss Sarah, Sir Thorn seized him by the shoulders, and turned him out of the house.” Maxime, overcome by his intense excitement, fell into an easy-chair, and remained there for a considerable time, his eyes fixed, his brow darkened, repenting himself, no doubt, of his candor, his wrath, and his forgetfulness of all he owed to himself and to others. The piece was coming to an end; Miss Brandon was drawing a fur cloak over her shoulders, and left on the count’s arm; while he had to escort Mrs.

Noticing that he attracted attention, Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and quickly walked off towards the boulevards.

She had only taken time to throw a loose wrapper around her shoulders; and her dishevelled hair streamed out from under a kind of coquettish morning-cap. She is as weak as a child; but at the proper moment she can develop a masculine energy and an iron will.” “Why should you tell her at all who Miss Brandon is?” “I have pledged my word of honor to tell her every thing.” Brevan again shrugged his shoulders, and there was no mistaking what he meant by that gesture. But she shrugged her shoulders slightly, and replied in English,-- “My dear count alone would have a right to judge my conduct; and he has authorized me to do what I am doing.” Then turning to Daniel, she said to him in French,-- “Come with me, sir.” IX. de Brevan shrugged his shoulders. Somebody must go, you know, and carry reinforcements there; but I should not care if somebody else”-- He shrugged his shoulders, and said stoically,-- “And besides, since we navy men must be eaten by the fish some time or other, it does not matter very much when that takes place.” Was not that, in a trivial, but terribly impressive manner, precisely the same thing that Daniel had been told by his captain? Money questions are so delicate!” But Daniel said, shrugging his shoulders,-- “I do not understand why you should hesitate to undertake so simple a thing, when you have already consented to render me so signal and so difficult a service.” So simple! I do not know what you mean.” He shrugged his shoulders, and continued in an icy tone,-- “Do me the honor to think that I am not altogether a fool. de Brevan shrugged his shoulders, and said in an undertone,-- “Upon my word, I should not like to stand in the count’s shoes.” As a faithful echo of the gossip that was going on in society, this conversation, carried on in broken sentences, under the porch of St. And you go on.” Without showing any embarrassment, the valet shrugged his shoulders, and continued in a lazy tone,-- “Then the hack came into the court-yard; and we saw the young lady come down in a splendid toilet, such as we have never seen her wear before,--not pretty exactly, but so conspicuous, that it must have attracted everybody’s attention. However harsh and strict the rules may be, however sad life may be there, I will find there some relief for my sorrow, and I will bless you with all my heart.” He only shrugged his shoulders over and over again; then he said,-- “A good idea!

And they will call you a dunce into the bargain.” Count Ville-Handry shrugged his shoulders almost imperceptibly; and then he said, taking his wife by the hand,-- “Would you love me less if I were ruined?” She looked at him with her beautiful eyes as if overflowing with affection, and replied in a voice full of emotion,-- “God is my witness, my friend, that I should be delighted to be able to prove to you that I did not think of money when I married you.” “Sarah!” cried the count in ecstasy, “Sarah, my darling, that was a word worth the whole of that fortune which you blame me for risking.” Even if Henrietta had been more disposed to mistrust appearances, she would never have supposed that the whole scene was most cunningly devised for the purpose of impressing upon the count’s feeble intellect this idea more forcibly than ever. And, shrugging her shoulders, she added in a careless tone,-- “Do you think I am afraid of your reporting me to him? He, shrugging his shoulders, and assuming an air of commiseration, went on,-- “What? Acting almost automatically, she rose, threw an immense cashmere shawl over her shoulders; and, taking her little bag in her hand, she escaped from her room, and slipped along the passages to the servants’ stairs. Yesterday, when she rose, she rang her bell, and her maid came in promptly, made a fire, brought her her slippers, and threw over her shoulders a warm, wadded dressing-wrapper.

Do you think me capable of asking for payment?” And, shrugging her shoulders, she added,-- “Besides, does not all that regards your expenses concern M. “I forbid you,” cried the young lady, with a voice trembling with indignation,--“I forbid you positively ever to mention his name!” The woman shrugged her shoulders. We had a duel, and I have wounded him.” The manner in which the young girl shrugged her shoulders showed but too clearly that she did not believe M. She only shrugged her shoulders; but he went on,-- “Oh, do not smile! She only shrugged her shoulders as she said,-- “As you like, my ‘little pussy-cat.’ Only believe me, it is no use economizing in one’s eating.” From the day of this coup d’etat, Henrietta went down every morning herself to buy her penny-roll and the little supply of milk which constituted her breakfast. So that all her prayers only met with cold faces, shrugging of shoulders, and ironical smiles. “Daniel will come back.” But he, shrugging his shoulders, had answered,-- “If you count upon that alone, you may as well surrender, and become my wife at once.” She turned her head from him with an expression of ineffable disgust.

“A fine opportunity,” he thought, “for the assassin hired by Sarah Brandon!” Then, shrugging his shoulders, he said with a bitter laugh,-- “How can I hesitate? But now, I am nothing but a poor civilian; and here everybody knows civilians must have broad shoulders. that is more than I can tell.” The old doctor slightly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a tone of indifference,-- “You see, gentlemen, this deposition is too vague to prove anything. I am bound to tell you, that, having so far only kept you as a matter of precaution, I shall issue now an order for your arrest.” “You mean I am to be put in jail?” “Yes, until the court shall decide whether you are guilty of murder, or of involuntary homicide.” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, seemed to have foreseen this conclusion: at least he coolly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a hoarse voice,-- “In that case I shall have my linen changed pretty often here; for, if I had been wicked enough to plot an assassination, I should not have been fool enough to say so.” “Who knows?” replied the magistrate. But Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and said,-- “I do not want him punished, any more than the ball which hit me.

When he offered me a boat, he spoke a kind of almost unintelligible jargon, a mixture of English and Spanish words; but he did not think of changing his intonation and his accent.” Affecting an assurance which he was far from really feeling, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, shrugged his shoulders carelessly, and said,-- “Do I know any English? They are my savings.” The lawyer shrugged his shoulders; and, looking very sternly at Crochard, he said,-- “I have before compelled you to make a certain confession. But, as soon as I began, he became perfectly furious, calling me a coward and a traitor, and telling me that I had no choice but to make my fortune, or to receive a blow with the big knife between my shoulders. Well, as you will exhibit your papers in excellent order, they will take you.’ “I opened my eyes wide, and said, ‘That’s all very pretty, what you say; but the mischief is, that, as I have not worked at my profession for more than fifteen years, I have no papers at all.’ He shrugs his shoulders, and says, ‘You shall have your papers.’ That worries me; and I reply, ‘If I have to steal somebody’s papers, and change my name, I won’t do it.’ But the brigand had his notions. His nerves, strained to the utmost, relaxed; and he felt the delight of a man who can at last throw down a heavy burden which he has long borne on his shoulders.

When his father asked him timidly what he proposed doing, he shrugged his shoulders as his sole reply. These much coveted millions are mine, and you are here; and now I can say to you, ‘Take them, they are yours; I give them to you as I give myself to you.’” She had drawn herself up to her full height as she said this; and she looked splendid and fearful at the same time, in her matchless beauty, diffusing energy and immodesty around her, and shaking her head defiantly, till the waves of golden hair flowed over her shoulders.

/

Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola?Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola? /

I have been convinced to-day that all is at an end between us; I retire from the struggle, and care not what becomes of me now.' Prosper was so decided, that M.I have been convinced to-day that all is at an end between us; I retire from the struggle, and care not what becomes of me now.' Prosper was so decided, that M. /

I will drop in again about midnight.“You will save him, will you not--you will save him?” “One may always hope for the best.” This was the doctor’s only answer. The men will remain to assist me, if I require help.” She obeyed submissively, but instead of returning to her own room, she remained in the hall, seating herself upon the lower step of the staircase near the door, counting the seconds, and drawing a thousand conjectures from the slightest sound. It will be necessary for you to give me the particulars, mademoiselle.” The young girl hesitated. Will you do me the favor to go to my room for me? Here is the key of my escritoire; open it, and on the upper shelf you will find a small bottle which please bring to me.’ I noticed with some surprise that M. “I was much grieved at the count’s disappointment,” continued Mademoiselle Marguerite, “but suddenly he exclaimed, joyfully: ‘That address--why, such a person will give it to me--what a fool I am!’” The physician evinced such absorbing interest in this narrative that he forgot to retain his usual impassive attitude. Casimir approached: “It must be in the count’s pocket, and if mademoiselle will allow me----” But she stepped back with outstretched arms as if to protect the escritoire. I will not permit it----” “But, mademoiselle,” insisted the doctor, “your father----” “The Count de Chalusse is not my father!” Dr. “Now,” said she, quietly, “my mind will be at rest. When he recovers, he will have another key made.” The explanation was superfluous. But if the key is destroyed, it will be impossible to suspect any one.” However, the physician’s conjectures were of an entirely different nature.

“Madame Leon and I will watch over M. de Chalusse,” replied Mademoiselle Marguerite; “that is sufficient assurance, monsieur, that your orders will be obeyed to the letter. Only--you will not take offence, I trust, if I ask the count’s regular physician to meet you in consultation.” Such a proposal was anything but pleasing to M. Still we may hope that the paralysis will gradually disappear, and the power of motion return after a time.” Mademoiselle Marguerite was listening, pale, agitated, and embarrassed. de Chalusse should not recover, will he die without regaining consciousness--without being able to speak?” “I am unable to say, mademoiselle--the count’s malady is one of those which set at naught all the hypotheses of science.” She thanked him sadly, sent a servant to summon Madame Leon, and returned to the count’s room. Is she afraid that the count will regain consciousness? Is there any question of a will under all this? But what good will that do? The count has been taken suddenly ill, and he will scarcely live through the night.” Victor Chupin was thunderstruck.

But I have an idea that my guv’nor will hardly laugh when I tell him this. Don’t go to the regular undertakers, but come to me: here’s my address”--proffering a card--“I will treat with the undertakers for you, and take charge of everything. It will be much better and far cheaper for you, on account of certain arrangements I’ve made with these parties. Each item will be specified in the bill, and can be verified during the ceremony, no payment exacted until after delivery. “Still, he may have made a will!” pursued M. “This much is certain,” he resumed, slowly, and in a more composed voice, “whether the count has made a will or not, Valorsay will lose the millions he expected from Chalusse. If there is no will, Mademoiselle Marguerite won’t have a sou, and then, good evening! If there is one, this devil of a girl, suddenly becoming her own mistress, and wealthy into the bargain, will send Monsieur de Valorsay about his business, especially if she loves another, as he himself admits--and in that case, again good evening!” M. If there is no will a fourth of the millions shall be mine! “Then we will go,” remarked M.

He called Madame Dodelin, and without paying the slightest heed to her astonishment at seeing him thus attired: “If the Marquis de Valorsay comes, in my absence,” said he--“and he WILL come--ask him to wait for me. “Excuse me,” he said, “but if it’s all the same to you, I will station myself over there near the gate. In exchange I will give you this note of hand.” The husband and wife exchanged glances, and it was the woman who said: “We accept.” But to carry out this arrangement it was necessary to have a sheet of stamped paper, and the spurious clerk had neglected to provide himself with some. Madame Vantrasson feared so, and turning eagerly to her husband, she exclaimed: “Run to the tobacco shop in the Rue de Levis; you will find some paper there!” He started off at once, and M. But any person who has drank, sir, will drink again. As it is now, it will be until the end, until he starves, or I----” M. “Who, then, will inherit his millions when he dies?” Madame Vantrasson jerked her head. “Everything will go to the government, probably, unless---- But no, that’s impossible.” “What’s impossible?” “Nothing. If I remain here any longer, I shall miss the last omnibus; and I live on the other side of the river, near the Luxembourg.” “But our agreement, monsieur?” “We will draw that up at some future time. I shall be passing again, or I will send one of my colleagues to see you.” It was Madame Vantrasson’s turn to tremble now.

“Wait just a moment longer, monsieur,” she pleaded; “my husband will soon be back, and the last omnibus doesn’t leave the Rue de Levis until midnight.” “I wouldn’t refuse, but this part of the suburbs is so lonely.” “Vantrasson will see you on your way.” And, resolved to detain him at any cost, she poured out a fresh glass of liquor for him, and said: “Where were we?

To whom, then, will the count’s millions go?” It was only the sudden stoppage of the cab in front of his own door that recalled M. “You must be mistaken, my good woman.” “No, no; my master said you would, perhaps, wait for him.” “Very well; I will do so.” Faithful to the orders she had received, the servant conducted the visitor to the drawing-room, lit the tapers in the candelabra, and retired. What will happen next?” However, he drew a newspaper from his pocket, threw himself into an arm-chair, and waited. “Monsieur said he would return before midnight,” she replied; “so he will certainly be here. Won’t monsieur have patience a little longer?” “Well, I will wait a few moments; but, my good woman, light the fire; my feet are frozen!” M.

And, besides, he found his present life so delightful, and he obtained so much gratification for his money, that he was unwilling to make any change. Your creditors will probably leave you in undisturbed possession for another year--it will be to their interest--but when it has elapsed they will take possession of their own, as they have a perfect right to do.” Then, with a meaning smile, the smile of a wily prime minister, he added: “If I were in your place, Monsieur le Marquis, I would profit by this year of grace. “In that case, Monsieur le Marquis, I will state the facts in a few words, without going into particulars. On that very day we will request a certificate from the recorder. This certificate will declare that your estates are free from all encumbrances; you will show this statement to M. de Chalusse, and all his doubts--that is, if he has any--will vanish. It will cost you about twenty-six thousand francs.” M. “In less than a month Mademoiselle Marguerite will be the Marquise de Valorsay, and I shall have a hundred thousand francs a year again.” Then, noting how gravely M. de Chalusse is probably dead, and that most likely Mademoiselle Marguerite has only her beautiful eyes left her, and will dim them in weeping for her vanished millions.” But this brilliant scion of the aristocracy had no suspicion of the real state of affairs, for he continued: “You will say, perhaps, it is strange, that I, Ange-Marie Robert Dalbou, Marquis de Valorsay, should marry a girl whose father and mother no one knows, and whose only name is Marguerite. Still, as it will appear that she merely has a fortune of two hundred thousand francs, no one will accuse me of marrying for money on the strength of my name.

On the contrary, it will seem to be a love-match, and people will suppose that I have grown young again.” He paused, incensed by M. No doubt, it is grand to be honest; but in my case it is so impossible, that I prefer to be dishonest--to commit an act of shameful infamy which will yield a hundred thousand francs a year. no moralizing, if you please.” “Only evil will come of it.” The marquis shrugged his shoulders, and in a tone of bitter scorn, retorted: “Come, Mons. My rival will be saved, and will marry Mademoiselle Marguerite and her millions.” M. For this reason, Monsieur Fortunat, give me at once the five hundred louis you promised me, and I will then bid you good-evening.” The agent had been preparing himself for this moment, and yet he trembled. Didn’t you say to me during our first interview; ‘The thing that will save you, is that you have never in your whole life borrowed a louis from a friend. I will rather crush you, you miserable scoundrel--crush you like a venomous reptile!” There was such a ring of fury in his voice that the crystals of the candelabra vibrated; and Madame Dodelin, in her kitchen, heard it, and shuddered. “Some one will certainly do M. “In forty-eight hours I shall be certain of the count’s fate,” he thought; “he will be dead, or he will be in a fair way to recovery--so by promising to give this frenzied man what he desires on the day after to-morrow, I shall incur no risk.” Taking advantage of an opportunity which M. “That is one of those things no well-bred gentleman will do himself.

But in Paris people can be found to do any kind of dirty work, if you are willing to pay them for it.” “Then how will you know the result?” “Why, twenty minutes after the affair is over, M. de Coralth will be at my house. Pascal Ferailleur, an advocate whose name will be known to fame some day.” “Your friends are always welcome at my house, my dear viscount,” replied Madame d’Argeles. What gentleman will offer me his arm?” There was an evident unwillingness to leave the table, but an old gentleman who had been losing heavily rose to his feet. “Yes, let us go to supper!” he exclaimed; “perhaps that will change the luck.” This was a decisive consideration. “I am a stranger to you, monsieur,” she said, very hurriedly, and in very low tones, “and yet I must ask, and you must grant me, a great favor.” “Speak, madame.” She hesitated, as if at a loss for words, and then all of a sudden she said, eagerly: “You will leave this house at once, without warning any one, and while the other guests are at supper.” Pascal’s astonishment changed into stupor. Come, you have decided, I see--you will go; and to be still more safe, I will show you out through the servants’ hall, then no one can possibly see you.” Pascal had almost decided to yield to her entreaties; but this proposed retreat through the back-door was too revolting to his pride to be thought of for a moment. “I will never consent to such a thing,” he declared. “Yes, yes, leave it to me; I will act as executioner.” This word sent all Pascal’s blood bounding to his heart.

“I will stake four thousand francs,” he faltered. “You see that the coward will not even defend himself!” exclaimed one of the women. They will tell you how utterly impossible it is that this man can be guilty of the ignoble act he is accused of.” No one made any reply. Will you allow an honorable man to be ruined before your very eyes? Will you abandon an innocent man whom you could save by a single word?” But she remained silent; and Pascal staggered as if some one had dealt him a terrible blow. “Remain,” said she; “I want to speak with you.” “You will excuse me,” he began; “I----” But she again bade him “remain” in such an imperious tone that he dared not resist. “Now you will explain,” said she.

However, this affair will cost me dear myself. You can be quite sure that by this evening all Paris will know what occurred here last night.” He paused, meeting Madame Argeles’s look of withering scorn with a cleverly assumed air of astonishment. When you proclaim on the housetops that I am an adventurer, folks will only laugh at you, and I shall be none the worse for it. If Pascal belonged to our set, people might investigate the matter, perhaps; but to-morrow it will be forgotten.” “And will he have no suspicions?” “He will have no proofs to offer, in any case.” Madame d’Argeles seemed to resign herself to the inevitable. “I hope you will, at least, tell me on whose behalf you acted,” she remarked.

There is a wine-shop on the left-hand side, at the corner of the Rue de la Vieille-Estrapade; then a little toy-shop, then a washerwoman’s and then a book-binder’s establishment; while on the right-hand you will find the office of the Bulletin, with a locksmith’s, a fruiterer’s, and a baker’s--that is all. You will be obliged to rely upon yourself, my boy. God grant that in years to come you will not reproach me for my imprudence.” The child did not throw himself into her arms, but holding his head proudly erect, he answered: “I shall love you even more, dear mother, if that be possible. As for the fortune which my father left you, I will restore it to you again.

And on starting on his own account, he could ill afford to dispense with this lawyer’s good-will. Before his office had been open a fortnight, he had seven or eight briefs waiting their turn upon his desk, and his first efforts were such as win the approving smile of old judges, and draw from them the prediction: “That young man will rise in his profession.” He had not desired to make any display of his knowledge or talent, but merely to win the cases confided to him; and, unlike many beginners, he evinced no inclination to shine at his clients’ expense. So don’t wait for me, I beg of you; promise me to go to bed at your usual hour.” “Have you the night-key?” “Yes.” “Very well, then; I will not wait for you. When you come in you will find your candle and some matches on the buffet in the ante-room. how surprised and mortified he will be when he awakes!” Alas! “Poor mother!” he murmured; “it will kill her--but my disgrace would kill her too. But a vague dread, stronger than reason or will, riveted her to the spot. I will fight with you.” Without speaking a word, Pascal caught hold of his mother’s hands and pressed them to his lips. She has promised me that she will have no other husband than myself.” “And the count?” “He doesn’t know--he doesn’t even suspect anything about it.

But she will tell me. This evening, if I don’t succeed in obtaining an interview, I will write to her. Ferailleur has gone out.” “Very well; I will wait for him, then. ah!” And as no one had offered him a seat, he approached an arm-chair and took possession of it, exclaiming, “You will allow me, I trust? “I will not conceal from you, monsieur,” began the baron, “that I have been led here by certain compunctions of conscience.” And, misinterpreting a gesture which Pascal made, “I mean what I say,” he continued; “compunctions of conscience. I would be willing to swear that it was written from notes furnished by your enemy. But remember my words: if you ever need a helping hand, rap at my door; and when you hold the necessary proofs, I will furnish you with the means of rendering your justification even more startling than the affront.” He prepared to go, but before crossing the threshold, he turned and said: “In future I shall watch the fingers of the player who sits on my left hand.

I will drop in again about midnight. She paused, as one always does before venturing upon a decisive act, from which there will be no return, whatever may be the consequences. Jodon was not a wealthy man, and yet he would willingly have given a hundred-franc note to have known the contents of this letter, or even the name of the person to whom it was addressed.

His curiosity was torturing him to such a degree that he had an idea of doing so; and it required an heroic effort of will to resist the temptation successfully. “I must add,” continued Mademoiselle Marguerite, “that the doctor approved of all that had been done; and I beg you will unite your skill with his in treating the case.” Unfortunately all the medical skill of the faculty would have availed nothing here. “And I will tell my servant to wake me at once if I am sent for,” he added.

Shall I go and bring you your heavy travelling shawl?” “Thanks, my dear Leon--Annette will bring it.” “Then, pray, send for it. What should we do if we needed anything?” “I will call,” replied Marguerite. “Madame Leon and myself will remain with the count,” she said. “Annette”--this was the woman whom she liked best of all the servants “Casimir and a footman will spend the night in the little side salon. “My excessive sensibility will be the death of me.” And so saying, she dropped asleep again. Intelligence, mind, and will were fast bound in a corpse which they could not electrify. “You see he wishes to make a will.” But at that moment the physician entered, pale and breathless. No one will stir from this room until the arrival of the justice----” Madame Leon was bursting with rage. “If monsieur wishes I will explain,” resumed M.

Are you sure that he has not left a will?” The girl shook her head. I am certain that there is a will somewhere.” The magistrate’s eyes were fixed on his ring. “Oh, yes!” insisted Madame Leon; “pray look, monsieur.” “But where should we be likely to find a will?” “Certainly in this room--in this escritoire, or in one of the deceased count’s cabinets.” The magistrate had learnt the story of the key from Bourigeau, but all the same he asked: “Where is the key to this escritoire?” “Alas! “If this treasure has been diverted from the inheritance,” said he, “the thief will be discovered and punished. Would it not have been easier to suppose that the deceased had placed the money somewhere else, and that it will yet be found?” The clerk had been even less disturbed than the magistrate. However, hearing his superior express the intention of continuing the search for the will, and the missing treasure, he abruptly abandoned his calculation, and exclaimed, “Then, I suppose, I can commence my report, monsieur?” “Yes,” replied the magistrate, “write as follows:” And in a monotonous voice he began to dictate the prescribed formula, an unnecessary proceeding, for the clerk was quite as familiar with it as the magistrate himself:--“On the 16th of October, 186-, at nine o’clock in the morning, in compliance with the request of the servants of the deceased Louis-Henri-Raymond de Durtal, Count de Chalusse, and in the interest of his presumptive heirs, and all others connected with him, and in accordance with the requirements of clauses 819 (Code Napoleon) and 909 (Code of Procedure), we, justice of the peace, accompanied by our clerk, visited the residence of the deceased aforesaid, in the Rue de Courcelles, where, having entered a bedroom opening on to the courtyard, and lighted by two windows looking toward the south, we found the body of the deceased aforesaid, lying on his bed, and covered with a sheet. “That will require some little time, and, meanwhile, I will continue my search.” They had, in fact, only examined the shelf of the escritoire, and the drawers were still to be inspected. Who will take charge of this money?” “Oh, not I!” exclaimed Madame Leon. “I will take charge of it,” said M.

“Then here are eight thousand francs, for which you will be held accountable.” M. Casimir being a prudent man, counted the money himself, and after doing so, “Who will attend to the count’s obsequies?” he inquired. de Chalusse would have been likely to deposit his valuables or a will, had been searched, and nothing, absolutely nothing, had been found. So, go and get your lunch; on your return, you will find me here. de Fondege must be sent for.” “The General?” “Yes.” “I will send for him at once,” replied the housekeeper; and thereupon she left the room, closing the door behind her with a vicious slam. “I will answer your questions frankly, or else not answer them at all.” “To resume, then,” said he, “I am told that M. And if by experience you mean lack of confidence, a knowledge of good and evil, distrust of everything and everybody, mine, young girl though I be, will no doubt equal yours.” She paused, hesitated for a moment, and then continued: “But why should I wait for you to question me? I will speak to you as if I were communing with my own soul. I will tell you what no person has ever known--no one, not even Pascal.

It seemed to me that I was ascending on the clouds of incense to the celestial sphere which the sisters so often talked to us about, and where they said each little girl would find her mother.” Mademoiselle Marguerite hesitated for an instant, as if she were somewhat unwilling to give utterance to her thoughts; but at last, forcing herself to continue, she said: “Yes, I suffered exceedingly in that foundling asylum. I was unwilling to be confirmed because I did not wish to wear a certain dress, which a ‘benevolent lady’ had presented for the use of the asylum, and which had belonged to a little girl of my own age who had died of consumption.

‘It is evident that the child will be glad to get away,’ she said to herself. I flattered myself that I might win a more earnest and sincere affection among these honest, industrious toilers, than I had found in the asylum; and to win it and deserve it, I neglected nothing that good-will could suggest, or strength allow. What I had at first done of my own freewill and from a wish to please, at last became my daily task, which I was rigidly required to fulfil. That’s understood.’ But at last he began to grow impatient, and in a voice which impressed one with the idea that he was accustomed to command, he exclaimed, ‘I will do whatever you wish.

Be diligent and dutiful, like our dear Marguerite, and God will reward you as He has rewarded her.’ And, meantime, miserable in my finery, I waited--waited for M. ‘I thank you,’ he replied; ‘and I shall prove the extent of my gratitude to the poor children under your charge.’ Then, turning to me: ‘Marguerite,’ he said, ‘take leave of--your mothers, and tell them that you will never forget their kindness.’” The girl paused, for her emotion had rendered her words almost unintelligible. And yet the memory of Cannes will ever be dear to me. Yes, I believed so; and the few months I spent in that quiet house will be the happiest of my life--I am sure of it. I said to myself every night, ‘It shall be done to-morrow; but when the morrow came I said, ‘I will give myself another day--just one more day.’ Indeed, my courage failed me when I thought of the count’s aristocratic prejudices; and besides, I knew how ambitious he was for my future. When that day comes I will go to your guardian and ask him for your hand; but in Heaven’s name don’t speak now.’ I understood Pascal’s motives well enough.

‘I am condemning you to a cheerless and melancholy youth,’ he sometimes said to me, ‘but it will not last forever--patience, patience!’ Did he really love me? de Fondege and the Marquis de Valorsay will dine here this evening. I will only say that as soon as I saw him, the dislike I felt for him bordered on aversion. ‘With such ideas on her husband’s part the marchioness will be very difficult to please if she is not contented with her lot,’ he added, glancing covertly at me. Perhaps so; but if he were willing to do this for a certain amount of money, what would he not do for a sum twice or thrice as large?

de Chalusse’s will in this matter, even if it became necessary for me to leave his house, and renounce all hopes of the wealth he had promised me. It will rather be so much the better; Pascal will protect me.’ “But resistance is only possible when you are attacked; and M. I willingly confess that I am not a heroine of romance--I do not look upon money with the contempt it deserves.

Less than a fortnight after he had taken me from the asylum, he drew up a will, in which he adopted me and made me his sole legatee. When he burned his last will in my presence, he remarked: ‘This document is useless: they would contest it, and probably succeed in having it set aside. I have thought of a better way; I have found an expedient which will provide for all emergencies.’ And as I ventured some timid objection--for it was repugnant to my sense of honor to act as an instrument of vengeance or injustice, or assist, even passively, in despoiling any person of his rightful inheritance--he harshly, almost brutally, replied: ‘Mind your own business! I will disappoint the folks who are waiting for my property as they deserve to be disappointed.

I will leave them my property, but they shall find it mortgaged to its full value.’ “Unfortunate man! The heirs whom he hated so bitterly, and whom I don’t even know, whose existence people have not even suspected, can now come, and they will find the wealth he was determined to deprive them of intact. He raised me against my will to the highest social position--he placed that wonderful talisman, gold, in my hand; he showed me the world at my feet; and suddenly he allowed me to fall even to lower depths of misery than those in which he found me. And now, when I tell him what I really am, will he think me unworthy of him?” The magistrate sprang to his feet, impelled by an irresistible force.

“Excuse me if I absent myself for a moment; I will soon return.” And so saying he rose and left the room. But before speaking of the future, will you allow me to refer to the past?” The girl bowed her consent. After a few moments’ thoughtful silence, he remarked: “So the point of departure in our investigation, if there is an investigation, will be this: M. Whatever your plans may be--whether you have decided to leave Europe or to remain in Paris to watch for your hour of vengeance, you will need a faithful, trusty companion--a confidant--and here I am! Wife, friend, sister--I will be which ever you desire. “Fortunately, my dear young lady, your devotion will no doubt be useless,” he said at last. “You will forgive me, I trust,” he continued, “if I warn you to prepare for a disappointment. So how can you hope that he will consent to link your destiny to his?” She had not thought of this objection, and it seemed to her a terrible one. Tears came to her dark eyes, and in a despondent voice she murmured: “God grant that he will not evince such cruel generosity.

I will console him, and though we are unfortunate, we may yet be happy. But she was urged on by circumstances, the influence of which was stronger than her own will.

And why should I not become a great artiste if I consecrated all the intelligence, passion, energy, and will I might possess, to my art?” Hearing a knock at the door she paused; and a moment later a footman entered with lights, for night was falling. He was closely followed by another servant, who said: “Mademoiselle, the Marquis de Valorsay is below, and wishes to know if mademoiselle will grant him the honor of an interview.” XII. “You will excuse me, I trust, mademoiselle,” said he, “in having insisted upon seeing you, so that I might express my deep sympathy. They have told me that the count made no provision for you, that he left no will, and that--excuse a liberty which is prompted only by the most respectful interest--and that, the result of this incomprehensible and culpable neglect is that you are ruined and almost without means. “Then I may venture to speak,” he exclaimed, with unconcealed satisfaction, “I will speak, mademoiselle, if you will deign to allow me.” She looked at him with anxious curiosity, wondering what was to come. “I will obey you, mademoiselle,” he said, bowing again. Will you be my wife?” The poor girl was obliged to exercise all her powers of self-control to restrain an exclamation of dismay. But you will forgive me, I trust.

you will be one of the greatest catches in Europe, and you will have plenty of suitors.” Mademoiselle Marguerite sadly shook her head. “You are mistaken, General; the count left no will, and has made no provision whatever for me.” M. “God will not forsake me, General,” she replied. He’s now a lieutenant of hussars, and will soon be promoted to the rank of captain. “Let me hope that you will reconsider the matter. And if Gustave doesn’t please you, we will find some one better. But under no circumstances will Chalusse’s old comrade ever desert you. She’s a good woman and you will understand each other.

You repulsed him, but he will soon make another assault, you may rest assured of that. And some day or other he will come to you and say, ‘Whether we marry or not, let us divide.’” Mademoiselle Marguerite was amazed. We will talk it over again to-morrow, and if I can be of service to you in any way, I shall be only too glad.” “But, monsieur--” “Oh--to-morrow, to-morrow--I must go to dinner now; besides, my clerk must be getting terribly impatient.” The clerk was, indeed, out of temper. But I will find him again. de Chalusse, will find Pascal for me.” XIII.

As will be generally admitted, it is not a profession that can be successfully followed by a craven. When he learns that a man has died without any known heirs, his first care is to ascertain the amount of unclaimed property, to see if it will pay him to take up the case. There must be an agreement in writing clearly stating what proportion--a tenth, a third, or a half--the agent will be entitled to. On hearing of the unexpected good fortune that has befallen him, the heir is generally unsuspicious, and willingly promises to pay the amount demanded of him. “As soon as morning comes I will set to work!” But just before daybreak he fell asleep; and at nine o’clock he was still slumbering so soundly that Madame Dodelin, his housekeeper, had considerable difficulty in waking him. Business is very bad, and I have notes to a large amount overdue, so that--” “You will be obliged to go into bankruptcy.” “Alas! “Will you state your case?” said he.

“Among my creditors I have several enemies, who will refuse me a release. With you it is quite a different matter--this trash, as you very justly call it, will save you at least a hundred thousand francs. They think he died without a will, and that the pretty young lady will be turned out of the house.” This information agreed so perfectly with M. Fortunat’s presentiments that he did not even wince, but calmly asked: “Will Casimir keep his appointment?” “He told me that he would endeavor to come, and I’d wager a hundred to one that he will be there; he would travel ten leagues to put something good into his stomach.” M. From the debris of your fortune, I will undertake to guarantee you a competence which would satisfy many an ambitious man.” The marquis laughed sneeringly. Let her become my wife, and the very next day I will place her in possession of an income of a hundred and fifty thousand francs. But she must marry me first; and this scornful maiden will not grant me her hand unless I can convince her of my love and disinterestedness.” “But your rival?” M.

Read this day’s Figaro, and you will be edified. You can procure the money--will you? It would make, in all, seventy thousand francs that I should owe you, and I will promise to pay you two hundred and fifty thousand if I succeed--and I shall succeed! “I will save all, or save nothing.

I will never give my good friends, who detest me, and whom I cordially hate in return, the delicious joy of seeing the Marquis de Valorsay fall step by step from the high position he has occupied. I will never truckle to the men whom I have eclipsed for fifteen years. “And so,” said he, in a tone which he strove to make persuasive, but which was threatening instead, “it is settled--your decision is final?” “Final.” “You will not even condescend to listen to my explanation?” “It would be a loss of time.” On receiving this cruel reply, M. If you should succeed you will repay me.” Victory perched upon the agent’s banner, and it was with a feeling of pride that he saw his noble client depart, white and speechless with rage. Fortunat, “but we will do our best to make up for lost time; for, I trust, you will do me the honor of breakfasting with me?” “Really, I don’t know that I ought.” “Yes, yes, you must. They will give us a private room; we must have a talk.” It was certainly not for the pleasure of the thing that M.

How she did it, no one will ever know, for she has not an equal in craftiness; but it’s she who has stolen them, I’m sure of it! You will ask for Madame Lucy Huntley, and they will conduct you to me. Pour us out another glass of wine; it will make you all right again.” M. You are going home with me; and I will read you some love-letters from a woman of the world. Then we will go to Mourloup’s, and play a game of billiards. What will they think at the house? What will they say?” M.

If she has no one to advise her, I will offer my services; and who knows----” A cab was passing; M. If you will follow me, we will make some inquiries on the subject.” And rising with a willingness that augured well for their success, he led the agent into the courtyard, where five or six vehicles were stationed, while the drivers lounged on a bench, chatting and smoking their pipes “Which of you was employed by a lady yesterday evening at about eight o’clock?” “What sort of a person was she?” “She was a handsome woman, between thirty and forty years’ old, very fair, rather stout, and dressed in black. But you would know the house again, wouldn’t you?” “Undoubtedly I should.” “Will you take me there?” “Certainly, sir. “The first words will depend solely upon my first impressions. “Will monsieur take the trouble to follow me?” M. madame, this will teach me not to meddle with what doesn’t concern me, in future. And he was muttering some words of consolation, when Madame d’Argeles suddenly looked up and said: “I must see him--I will see him once more! Is she unwilling to confess that she is a Chalusse? Fortunat saw so plainly that Madame d’Argeles did not understand a word of this sentimental exordium that he thought it necessary to add: “I tell you this, not so much to gain your consideration and good-will, as to explain to you how I became acquainted with these matters relating to your family--how I became aware of your existence, for instance, which no one else suspected.” He paused, hoping for some reply, a word, a sign, but not receiving this encouragement, he continued: “I must, first of all, call your attention to the peculiar situation of M.

His death was so unexpected that he was unable to make any disposition of his property by will, or even to indicate his last wishes. “Will you answer me?” insisted Madame d’Argeles, imperiously. Certainly, I do not owe much to the scoundrel, for he has defrauded me of forty thousand francs, but what will he say when he discovers what I’ve done? He will never believe me if I tell him that it was an involuntary blunder, and Heaven only knows what revenge he will plan! The count never having acknowledged her as his daughter, she will be left actually without bread, while her father’s millions go to enrich the state.” “That will suffice, monsieur; I will think of it. I know a locality that will suit us, and where no one will certainly ever think of looking for us.” “And I,” asked Madame Ferailleur, “what shall I do in the meantime?” “You, mother; you must, at once, sell all that we possess here--everything--even my books.

You will only keep such of our linen and clothes as you can pack in three or four trunks. We are undoubtedly watched; and so it is of the utmost importance that every one should imagine I have left Paris, and that you are going to join me.” “And when everything is sold, and my trunks are ready?” “Then, mother, you must send some one for a cab, and order the driver to take you to the Western Railway Station, where you will have the trunks removed from the cab and placed in the baggage-room, as if you did not intend to leave Paris till the next day.” “Very good, I will do so; even if any one is watching us, he won’t be likely to suspect this ruse. But afterward?” “Afterward, mother, you must go to the waiting-room upstairs, and you will find me there. I will then take you to the rooms I shall have rented, and to-morrow we’ll send a messenger with the receipt the railway people will give you, to fetch our luggage for us.” Madame Ferailleur approved of this plan, deeming herself fortunate in this great calamity that despair had not destroyed her son’s energy and resources of mind. It will bring us good luck. “Are you sure, perfectly sure, that it will reach Mademoiselle Marguerite, and not some one else who might use it against you?” Pascal shook his head. He will scarcely condescend to purchase.

“She is going to meet her son; and with what he has stolen they will live like princes in America.” Rumor, which enlarges and misrepresents everything, had, indeed, absurdly exaggerated the affair at Madame d’Argeles’s house. You will not be very comfortable there, but you will have the pleasure of a little garden.” She rose, summoning all her energy. Everybody will be up and moving about the house to-night, and she said she could easily make her escape for a few moments. So, at half-past twelve to-night she will be at the little garden gate, and if I am promptly at hand, I shall have a reply from Marguerite.” Madame Ferailleur seemed to be expecting something more, and as Pascal remained silent, she remarked: “You spoke of a great misfortune. I do not perceive it.” With an almost threatening gesture, and in a gloomy voice, he answered: “The misfortune is this: if it had not been for this abominable conspiracy, which has dishonored me, Marguerite would have been my wife before a month had elapsed, for now she is free, absolutely free to obey the dictates of her own will and heart.” “Then why do you complain?” “Oh, mother! Now she will be freed from the persecutions of the suitor they intended to force upon her, whom she has spoken to you about--the Marquis de Valorsay, is it not?” This name sent Pascal’s blood to his brain. “Certainly, my dear mother,” he added, “it is a lonely and unattractive neighborhood; but you will find all the necessaries of life near at hand. I have talked with the wife--they seem to be honest, quiet people--and she will pilot you about.

They were to inform her this evening, and you will see her to-morrow. The horses were almost exhausted, but the driver was so willing that he found a means of making them trot as far as the Rue de Courcelles. He had been listening to that mysterious echo of our own desires which we so often mistake for a presentiment; and it had whispered in his heart: “Marguerite herself will come!” With the candor of wretchedness, he could not refrain from telling Madame Leon the hope he had entertained.

God will give me strength and courage. If you love me, you will not try to see me again.

I must tell her that she has been deceived; I will unmask the scoundrel who----” The frightened housekeeper struggled with all her might, trying her best to reach the little gate which was standing open.

His condition was not unlike that of a man who, after falling to the bottom of a precipice, is dragging himself up, all mangled and bleeding, swearing that he will yet save himself, when suddenly a heavy stone which he had loosened in his descent, falls forward and crushes him.

“I will murder the scoundrel rather; and afterward justice may do whatever it likes with me.” He experienced that implacable, merciless thirsting for vengeance which does not even recoil before the commission of a crime to secure satisfaction, and this longing inflamed him with such energy that, although he had been so utterly exhausted a few moments before--he was not half an hour in making his way back to his new home. “She’s almost blind now; but, in less than six months she will be able to stand at her window and see a pin in the middle of the street, so the physician who is treating her eyes promised me; then we shall be all right again. Accordingly, he took up the lamp, opened a door, and, in the pompous tone of a rich banker who is inviting some important personage to enter his private room, he said: “Will you be kind enough to step into my chamber, m’sieur?” The room which Chupin so emphatically denominated his “chamber” was a tiny nook, extraordinarily clean, it is true, but scantily furnished with a small iron bedstead, a trunk, and a chair. What he refrained from telling was that years before, when he was still a mere child, without will or discernment, his father had taken him from his mother, and had started him down that terrible descent, which inevitably leads one to prison or the gallows, unless there be an almost miraculous interposition on one’s behalf. A father’s a father after all, and yours will undoubtedly reform by and by.” He said this as he would have said anything else, out of politeness and for the sake of testifying a friendly interest; but he really cared no more for this information concerning the Chupin family than the grand Turk. The count will have the best of funerals--the finest hearse out, with six horses, twenty-four mourning coaches--a grand display, in fact. It will be worth seeing.” M. And to prove this, I’m about to employ you in an affair which will pay you handsomely if you prosecute it successfully.” Chupin’s eyes brightened at first but grew dark a moment afterward, for delight had been quickly followed by a feeling of distrust.

You must watch her every glance, and when her eyes tell you that she is looking at her son, your task will be nearly over. You will then only have to follow this son, and find out his name and address, what he does, and how he lives. Before entering, however, he pointed out Madame d’Argeles’s pretty house on the opposite side of the street, and said to him: “The woman whom you are to follow, and whose son you are to discover, will emerge from that house.” At that moment, after a night passed in meditating upon his mother’s prophetic warnings, Chupin was again beset by the same scruples which had so greatly disturbed him on the previous evening.

She will undoubtedly alight, and contrive some means of passing and repassing him--of touching him, if possible. Your task will only consist in following her closely enough to be on the ground as soon as she is. “What will this fine lady do when she gets to the Bois?” he asked himself. “Why, her coachman will take his place in the procession, and drive her slowly round and round the lakes.

Meantime I can trot along beside her without attracting attention--and it will be good for my health.” His expectations were realized in every respect. “Will you never have done?” growled Chupin. Hereabout you may hear all the latest news and gossip of the fashionable world, the last political canards--all the incidents of Parisian life which will be recorded by the papers on the following morning. And do you know whom you will find in my box?” At this moment they passed, and Chupin rose to his feet. “Go home,” said Reason; “it will be easy enough to find this Wilkie again. They will, no doubt, remain at table until six o’clock in the morning. “This will teach you that the time of your compatriot, Lord Seymour, has passed by.

Then it will be my turn to laugh; and as I’m a good-natured fellow, I will give you my half-smoked cigars.” M. But I’m not so very bad-looking, fortunately, and I’m always hoping that the daughter of some rich banker will fall in love with me and marry me.

Thanks to a supreme effort of will, Chupin conquered this mad fury; and, dropping the bottle, he remarked to the young women who were uttering panic-stricken shrieks: “Be quiet; don’t you see that I was only in fun.” But even M. “I will serve my guv’nor for nothing,” he decided.

Chupin would willingly have given a hundred sous from his private purse to have known. Chupin will breakfast with me--and serve us at once. Fortunat understood how to force doors open, and his manoeuvres succeeded so well that he was finally allowed to enter a small sitting-room, while the servant went off, saying: “I will go and inform monsieur.” Instead of wasting time in congratulating himself on this first achievement the agent began to inspect the room in which he found himself, as well as another apartment, the door of which stood open. “It will be very easy to manage him.” However his reflections were interrupted by the return of the servant, who exclaimed: “My master is in the dining-room, and if monsieur will enter----” The heir-hunter did enter, and found himself face to face with M. I have already arranged with a party to prosecute my claims; the agreement will be signed on the day after to-morrow.” “With whom?” “Ah, excuse me; that’s my affair.” He had finished his chocolate, and he now poured out a glass of ice-water, drank it, wiped his mouth, and rose from the table. “You will excuse me, my dear sir, if I leave you,” he remarked. Some one else will capture the prize! It’s he who has outwitted me.” He reflected for a moment, and then, in a very different tone, he said: “I shall never see a penny of the count’s millions, and my forty thousand francs are gone forever; but, as Heaven hears me, I will have some satisfaction for my money. “And I, monsieur,” said he, “will give you some information about this Coralth.

Will you grant me an interview on Wednesday next, at a quarter-past three o’clock? “Weep, my dear young lady, weep; it will do you good. Others will love you. I will not attempt to offer you consolation, God alone can assuage certain sorrows. But we will discuss this matter to-morrow.

In MY heart you will fill the place of the beloved and lamented daughter I have lost--my beautiful and gentle Bathilde. Once more I say farewell until to-morrow--trusting that you will accept the sympathy and affection of your best friend, “ATHENAIS DE FONDEGE.” Mademoiselle Marguerite was thunderstruck, for the writer of this epistle was a lady whom she had only met five or six times, who had never visited her, and with whom she had scarcely exchanged twenty words. “You will fill the place of the beloved daughter I have lost,” wrote Madame de Fondege. I must convince myself.” And, obeying a mysterious influence, stronger than her own will, she left the room and went down the stairs. “And I will know for certain before an hour has passed,” said Mademoiselle Marguerite to herself. “I can conceal from her what I don’t wish her to know, and with a little skill I can make her carry to her employers such information as will serve my plans. But your old friends will console you.

what she told you, she will do--she will do it. She was “virtuous;” but so dangerously virtuous that one might have supposed she was so against her will, and that she bitterly regretted it. I know your heart--I know that she will find in you a second mother.” Mademoiselle Marguerite stood speechless and rigid.

But you will learn to know me. You will give me that sweet name of mother when I shall have deserved it.” Standing at a little distance off, the General listened with the air of a man who has a profound respect for his wife’s ability. “Now the ice is broken,” he thought, “it will be strange if Athenais doesn’t do whatever she pleases with that little savage.” His hopes were so brightly reflected upon his countenance, that Madame Leon, who was furtively watching him, became alarmed. She therefore returned to them as soon as possible, excusing herself for her abrupt departure as well as she could; but she was not accustomed to deceive, and her embarrassment might have betrayed her had it not been for the General, who fortunately interrupted her by saying: “I, too, must excuse myself, my dear child; but Madame de Fondege will remain with you. de Chalusse has no heirs, this house will be closed--you can remain here no longer.” “I know it, madame.” “Where will you go?” “Alas! You may tell madame, however, that you will certainly return in less than a quarter of an hour.” Marguerite followed him, and when they were alone in the count’s study and the doors had been carefully closed, the magistrate exclaimed: “I have been thinking a great deal of you, my child, a great deal; and it seems to me that I can explain certain things which worried you yesterday. He is in Paris--concealed somewhere--I’m sure of it; and I know a man who will find him for me. “She is extremely unwilling to see you go out into the world alone.

It is true that it will be a difficult task to collect such proofs; but it is not impossible, with the aid of time, which divulges so many crimes. And you may count upon me; I will give you the benefit of all my influence and experience. /

From that day forward, his life was spent in demanding money and waiting for it.So in view of softening the hearts of Pascal and his mother, she began to relate the history of her life, skilfully mingling the false with the true, and representing herself as an unfortunate victim of circumstances, and the inhuman cruelty of relatives. She felt that Pascal must not be consoled, but spurred on to fresh efforts; and so mustering all her courage, she said: “Are you acquainted with Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life? You only know that hers has been a life of great vicissitudes--and so it is not strange that she should be slandered.” “In that case, mother,” said Pascal, “you were wrong to interrupt Madame Vantrasson. Maumejan, Business Agent, Route de la Revolte.” His knowledge of Parisian life had induced him to choose the same profession as M. For what was this amount to a confirmed gambler who, without as much as a frown, gained or lost a fortune every evening of his life. Who initiated her into what you call high life? The baron’s livid cheeks suddenly became purple, his eyes glittered, and it seemed by his threatening gesture as if he were strongly tempted to murder this man, who had discovered the terrible, disgraceful secrets of his domestic life.

So, they now have an interest in prolonging my life.” As he spoke he sprang up with an almost frenzied air, and, seizing Pascal by the arm, again continued.

Do what she may, I can only see in her the chaste and beautiful wife of our early married life.

Then he must have been living on the principal--he is ruined.” Meanwhile the marquis gayly continued: “You see, I’m going to make a change in my mode of life. I begin to find a bachelor life not so very pleasant after all; there is rheumatism in prospect, and my digestion is becoming impaired--in short, I feel that it is time for marriage, baron; and--I am about to marry.” “You!” “Yes, I. Such perfect beauty united with such modesty, grace, and nobility of soul, such passion, candor and talent, cannot be met twice in a lifetime. Upon my word, my imagination paints a charming picture of the calm and happy life we shall lead there! de Chalusse, thus saving his life.” It is not at all remarkable that the Marquis de Valorsay should have failed to see any connection between his narrative and the baron’s agitation. What imaginable connection could there be between the confirmed gambler, who was Kami-Bey’s companion, Lia d’Argeles’s friend, and the husband who for ten long years had pursued the man who, by seducing his wife, had robbed him of all the happiness of life? de Chalusse’s whole life was haunted by the thought of the husband he had wronged. Pretending that the count had turned her from the path of duty, and destroyed her life and happiness, she lost no opportunity of tormenting him. During the last few months of his life he obtained peace--that is to say, he bought it. de Valorsay resumed--“I wish to break off my former life, to turn over a new leaf.

“And to make Mademoiselle Marguerite’s life one long misery,” said he, “I need only favor her marriage with the marquis. We must gain an intimate knowledge of Valorsay’s private life. Wilkie did not know much concerning his origin or his early life; and his history, so far as he was acquainted with it, could be told in a few words. But this charming life could not last for ever. Of course his friends assured him that they could quickly make him acquainted with the only life that it was worth while living; and, to prove it, they accepted the invitation to dinner which he immediately offered them. From that day forward, his life was spent in demanding money and waiting for it. If he knew something about her, she on her side knew everything connected with his past life.

“Never in all my life have I spoken more seriously,” insisted the viscount. “But, in the meantime, life is hard. He did not remember having ever seen him before, and yet the young scamp was evidently well acquainted with his past life, for he had cast the name of Paul in his face, as a deadly insult. In going through life as he had done, a man makes enemies at every step; and he had an imposing number of foes, whom he only held in check by his unbounded impudence and his renown as a duellist. However, Madame d’Argeles’s experience in life had left her but limited faith in apparent or pretended disinterestedness. then he would have gone away convinced that he was mistaken.” But would the smooth-spoken visitor have declared that he knew everything, if he had not really penetrated the mystery of her life? “You know that I have been infamously duped and deceived, that the happiness of my life has been destroyed by a scoundrel who tempted the wife I so fondly loved to forget her duty, and trample her honor under foot. He has defrauded me alike of happiness and vengeance!” If her son’s life had depended on a single word, Madame d’Argeles could not have uttered it.

She knew what mental agony had urged the baron to a sort of moral suicide, and led him to contract the vice in which he wasted his life and squandered, or, at least risk, his millions. “What!” he stammered; “you will relinquish the millions that are legally yours, to the government?” “Yes--I am resolved--it must be so.” “Will you sacrifice your son’s future in this style?” “No, it isn’t in my power to do that; but Wilkie will do so, later, on, I’m sure of it.” “But this is simply folly.” A feverish agitation had now succeeded Madame d’Argeles’s torpor; there was an expression of scorn and anger on her rigid features, and her eyes, usually so dull and lifeless, fairly blazed. I have told you with perfect frankness everything concerning my past life, save this--this--that I am married, Monsieur le Baron, legally married. “Perhaps destiny is weary of afflicting us,” she continued; “perhaps a new life is about to begin. In that case, my poor child,” she said aloud, “you must see that a new life is about to commence for you. With her experience of life, she could not fail to understand the despicable part Wilkie was playing. Break loose from this life to-morrow, assume your rightful name, install yourself at the Hotel de Chalusse, and in a week from now no one will remember that you were once known as Lia d’Argeles. Why, if people attempted to rake up the past life of their acquaintances, they should have far too much to do. with returning life came the consciousness of the terrible reality.

When one has never tasted real pleasure, one cannot realize how gloomy one’s life really is. I doubt if you have ever attended a ball in your whole life.

fetes and music, wonderful toilettes and the flashing of diamonds, the admiration of gentlemen, the envy of rivals, the consciousness of one’s own beauty, are these delights not enough to fill any woman’s life? Indeed, marriage is a sensible woman’s only object in life, since it is her emancipation.” Was Madame de Fondege going to plead her son’s cause? If Marguerite had been born in the Hotel de Chalusse, if she had known a father’s and a mother’s tender care from her infancy, if she had always been protected by a large fortune from the stern realities of life, there would have been no hope for her now that she was left poor and alone--for how can a girl avoid dangers she is ignorant of? But from her earliest childhood Marguerite had studied the difficult science of real life under the best of teachers--misfortune. In twenty-four hours the Fondege family had been raised to such affluence that they must have asked themselves if it were possible they had ever known the agonies of that life of false appearances and sham luxury which is a thousand times worse than an existence of abject poverty.

An inward voice, stronger than reason, told her that this letter threatened her happiness, her future, perhaps her life! To attack him there was to endanger his life--to wound him at a point where all his sensibility centred. Do you want the particulars of the viscount’s past life? Never in life! It was the old Chupin come to life once more--Toto Chupin as he had appeared before his conversion. It’s only God’s protecting care that has saved you again from an act which you would have reproached yourself for all your life.

And, loading himself with a host of flower-pots as skilfully as if he had been accustomed to handling them all his life, he added: “Now, lead the way.” The valet and the concierge preceded him with empty hands, of course; and, on reaching the second floor, they opened a door, and said: “This is the place. “Such is life,” thought Chupin, philosophically. Even if Chupin had not possessed the precocious penetration he owed to his life of adventure, the young woman and the old gentleman had said enough to enable him to form a correct estimate of the situation. If she were acquainted with her husband’s present life, how did it happen that she did not prefer starvation, or the alms-house and a pauper’s grave to his assistance?

A vague presentiment told her that this man was better acquainted with her past life than she was herself, and that he could, if he chose, tell her her mother’s name--the name of the woman whom the count so dreaded, and who had so pitilessly deserted her. Mademoiselle Marguerite only did him justice when she said that the sole condition on which he could consent to live was that of consecrating his life, and all his strength, intelligence and will to confounding this infamous calumny. Perhaps she has so far lived by honest toil, and perhaps at this very moment this support fails her, and she is abandoning herself to a life of infamy.’ Great God! “Then you know nothing of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life. Is it possible she never told you anything about it?” “I only know that she has been very unhappy.” “Has she never alluded to the time when she was an apprentice?” “She has only told me that she earned her living with her own hands at one time of her life.” “Well, I am better informed on the subject.” Pascal’s amazement was changed to terror. For was not his life at stake?

you see, mother, you see!” “As for the wife, it was easy to see that she had sincerely regretted the loss of the best apprentice, the most honest servant, and the best worker she had ever seen in her life. No--I only pray God that you may never have to repent of choosing a wife whose past life must ever remain an impenetrable mystery!” Pascal had become very pale. “Mother!” he said in a quivering voice, “mother!” “I mean that you will only know so much of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life as she may choose to tell you,” continued the obdurate old lady. I would have my son’s wife above suspicion; and she--why, there is not a single episode in her life that does not expose her to the most atrocious calumny.” “What does calumny matter? And where can one find the mother who does not count as one of the sublime joys of maternity the task of seeking a wife for her son, of choosing from among all others the young girl who will be the companion of his life, the angel of his dark and of his prosperous days? “Mademoiselle Marguerite will be the innocent cause of one of the greatest disappointments of my life; but I have no reason to hate her--and I have always been able to show justice even to the persons I loved the least.

Take it and see.” Pascal obeyed, and noticed with surprise that the work was entitled, “The Indispensable and Complete Letter-writer, for Both Sexes, in Every Condition of Life.” “Now turn to the page I have marked,” said Madame Ferailleur. Owing to her past life, Marguerite’s experience is far in advance of her years, and if some one told me that she had fathomed Madame Leon’s character, I should not be at all surprised.” It was necessary to ascertain what had become of Marguerite; and Pascal was puzzling his brain to discover how this might be done, when suddenly he exclaimed: “Madame Vantrasson! Follow my example, my old friend, and you’ll have a comfortable life.’ And I shall follow his advice, M. I have led this life long enough. He had feared that he might not be able to retain his self-control when he found himself in the presence of the scoundrel who, after destroying his happiness, ruining his future, and depriving him of his honor--dearer than life itself--was at that moment endeavoring, by the most infamous manoeuvres, to rob him of the woman he loved.

His agony, when he thought of his precarious condition, could only be compared to that of a miner, who, while ascending from the bowels of the earth, finds that the rope, upon which his life depends, is slowly parting strand by strand, and who asks himself, in terror, if the few threads that still remain unsevered will be strong enough to raise him to the mouth of the pit. It is true, however, that I have a foreigner to deal with--one of those half-civilized nabobs who come here every year to astonish the Parisians with their wealth and display, and who, by their idiotic prodigality, have so increased the price of everything that life has become well-nigh an impossibility to such of us as don’t care to squander an entire fortune in a couple of years. He literally felt that he was restored to life. For the first, and probably the last time in his life, M.

Wilkie mentally acknowledged that he knew nothing of high life, and that what he had considered luxury was scarcely the shadow of the reality. But, on the other hand, if you were rich, you would probably lead an honest life, like many others, who, wanting for nothing, are not tempted to do wrong, who, in fact, show virtue in which there is nothing worthy of praise. I afterward learned that this was only a natural result of the wild life he had led. I knew that I was risking my reputation, the spotless honor of our house, my happiness, and life! Defend yourself, and save your life if you can!’ And as Arthur hesitated, and seemed to be trying to gain time instead of picking up the weapon that was lying on the floor near him, my brother struck him in the face with the flat side of his sword, and cried: ‘Now will you fight, you coward! I saw my brother stagger, beat the air wildly with his hands, and fall apparently lifeless to the floor. I knew nothing of real life, of its requirements and difficulties. Moreover, reason had regained its ascendency, my eyes were gradually opening to the truth, and I was beginning to learn the real character of the scoundrel for whom I had sacrificed all that makes life desirable. He feared that if he left me, lying unconscious beside my brother’s lifeless form, I might on recovering my senses reveal the truth, and unconsciously act as his accuser.

It made him wild with rage to think that he was only separated from this immense fortune--the dream of his life--by a single word of mine, and to find that he had not the power to extort that word from me. I tried to convince myself that appearances are nothing, that reality is everything, and that it did not matter if I were known as a courtesan since rumor lied, and my life WAS really chaste. You have broken the only link that bound me to life, by proving the futility of the most terrible sacrifices. Who risked his life in slipping those cards in the pack which Pascal Ferailleur held? And the poor girl asked herself with a shudder if Pascal were still living; and a vision of his bleeding corpse, lying lifeless in some deserted street, rose before her. He gradually grew extremely animated; and three or four adventures of garrison life which he persisted in relating despite his mother’s frowns, were calculated to convince his hearers that he was a great favorite with the fair sex. I was never so smitten in my life--and I said to myself, ‘Lieutenant, it is all over--you are caught at last!’” Pale with anger, astonished and humiliated beyond measure, the young girl listened with her head lowered, vainly trying to find words to express the feelings which disturbed her; but M. And a happy inspiration entering his mind, he continued: “A man does not insult a woman, mademoiselle, when, while telling her that he loves her and thinks her beautiful, he offers her his name and life.” Mademoiselle Marguerite shrugged her shoulders ironically, and remained for a moment silent.

Who I am, where I was reared, and how, and what my past life has been, these are matters that M. I have committed many acts of folly; but there is nothing in my past life for which I have cause to blush.” He looked fixedly at Mademoiselle Marguerite, as if he were striving to read her inmost soul; and in a solemn tone, that contrasted strangely with his usual levity of manner, he added: “If the name I bear should ever be compromised, my prospects would be blighted forever! This was the woman who, while her husband was braving death to win fortune for her, had been dazzled by the Count de Chalusse’s wealth, and who, later in life, when she was the richest of the rich, had sunk into the very depths of degradation--had stooped, indeed, to a Coralth! She was a type of the wife created by the customs of fashionable society; the woman who feels elated when her name appears in the newspapers and in the chronicles of Parisian “high life”; who has no thought of her deserted fireside, but is ever tormented by a terrible thirst for bustle and excitement; whose head is empty, and whose heart is dry--the woman who only exists for the world; and who is devoured by unappeasable covetousness, and who, at times, envies an actress’s liberty, and the notoriety of the leaders of the demi-monde; the woman who is always in quest of fresh excitement, and fails to find it; the woman who is blase, and prematurely old in mind and body, and who yet still clings despairingly to her fleeting youth. You take your revenge in giving me back life, honor, everything--for you are my daughter; do you not know it? What do you suppose could have happened?” Never in her whole life had Madame de Fondege been so incensed. Had she the right to be pitiless, when by stretching out her hand she might, perhaps, have rescued the wretched woman from her terrible life. They had never met before, and their anxiety to become acquainted was intense, for they each felt that the other would exert a decisive influence upon her life. “You forget, Pascal.” she insisted, “that Mademoiselle Marguerite must be at home again by ten o’clock, if she consents to the ordeal you feel obliged to impose upon her.” This was the voice of duty recalling Pascal to the stern realities of life. She intuitively divined what was passing in the mind of the puritanical old lady, and realized that her whole future, and the happiness of her entire wedded life, depended upon her conduct at that moment.

A timid, inexperienced girl, who had been carefully kept from all knowledge of life and evil, would have been crushed by such a burden of disgrace, and could only have wept and prayed. You desire what I desired--a life of luxury, brief if it must be, but happy--a life of gayety, wild excitement, and dissipation. Chupin’s resolution did not, however, prevent him from attending the trial of Vantrasson and Madame Leon--the former of whom was sentenced to hard labor for life, and the latter to ten years’ imprisonment. After all, assurance is the winning card in the game of life! /

The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. The crossing from Dover to Calais had been rough; a drizzling rain fell all the time, and most of the passengers had remained below. Strange to say, they were few enough, as I saw on landing. It was a Sunday in late July, and there ought to have been a strong stream setting towards Central Europe.

I hardly expected to find much room in the train; not that it mattered, for my place was booked through in the Lucerne sleeping-car of the Engadine express. When I reached the siding where this train de luxe was drawn up, I saw that I was not merely the first but the only passenger. Five sleeping-cars and a dining-car attached, with the full staff, attendants, chef, waiters--all lay there waiting for me, and me alone. "Not very busy?" I said, with a laugh to the conductor. "Parbleu," replied the man, polyglot and cosmopolitan, like most of his class, but a Frenchman, or, more likely from his accent, a Swiss. "I never saw the like before." "I shall have a compartment to myself, then?" "Monsieur may have the whole carriage if he wishes--the whole five carriages.

It is but to arrange." His eyes glistened at the prospect of something special in this obvious scarcity of coming tips. "The train will run, I hope? The carriages are wanted at the other end for the return journey. Stay, what have we here?" We stood talking together on the platform, and at some little distance from the railway station, the road to which was clear and open all the way, so that I could see a little party of four approaching us, and distinguish them. Two ladies, an official, probably one of the guards, and a porter laden with light luggage. As they came up I discreetly withdrew to my own compartment, the window of which was open, so that I could hear and see all that passed. "Places?" echoed the conductor. "Madame can have fifty." "What did I tell madame?" put in the official who had escorted her.

A separate compartment for myself and maid; the child can come in with us." Now for the first time I noticed that the maid was carrying a bundle in her arms, the nature of which was unmistakable. The way in which she swung it to and fro rhythmically was that of a nurse and child. "If madame prefers, the maid and infant can be accommodated apart," suggested the obliging conductor. "I wish them to be with me. Only, as the train is not full--very much the reverse indeed--only one other passenger, a gentleman--no more--" The news affected her strangely, and in two very different ways. She turned to talk to her maid in English, while the conductor busied himself in preparing the tickets. "What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English. There is nothing to be afraid of, not in that way.

I saw him, the gentleman, as we came up. He's quite a gentleman, a good-looking military-looking man, not at all the other sort--you know the sort I mean." Now while I accepted the compliment to myself, I was greatly mystified by the allusion to the "other sort of man." "You think we can go on, that it's safe, even in this empty train? We should have passed unobserved among a lot of people." "But then there would have been a lot of people to observe us; some one, perhaps, who knew you, some one who might send word." "I wish I knew who this passenger is. The mere thought makes me shiver. Not a soul could have equalled you at the business. You might have been at it all your life," said the maid, with affectionate familiarity, that of a humble performer paying tribute to a great artist in crime. The very opposite of the younger woman (about her more directly), a neatly dressed unassuming person, short and squat in figure, with a broad, plain, and, to the casual observer, honest face, slow in movement and of no doubt sluggish temperament, not likely to be moved or distressed by conscience, neither at the doing or the memory of evil deeds.

Now the conductor came up and civilly bowed them towards their carriage, mine, which they entered at the other end as I left it making for the restaurant, not a little interested in what I had heard.

Who and what could these two people be with whom I was so strangely and unexpectedly thrown? The one was a lady, I could hardly be mistaken in that; it was proved in many ways, voice, air, aspect, all spoke of birth and breeding, however much she might have fallen away from or forfeited her high station.

She might have taken to devious practices, or been forced into them; whatever the cause of her present decadence she could not have been always the thief she now confessed herself. There must surely have been some excuse for her, some overmastering temptation, some extreme pressure exercised irresistibly through her emotions, her affections, her fears. As I still hesitated, puzzled and bewildered, still anxious to give her the benefit of the doubt, she came to the door of the buffet where I was now seated at lunch, and allowed me to survey her more curiously and more at leisure.

"A daughter of the gods, divinely tall and most divinely fair." The height and slimness of her graceful figure enhanced by the tight-fitting tailor-made ulster that fell straight from collar to heel; her head well poised, a little thrown back with chin in the air, and a proud defiant look in her undeniably handsome face. Fine eyes of darkest blue, a well-chiseled nose with delicate, sensitive nostrils, a small mouth with firm closely compressed lips, a wealth of glossy chestnut hair, gathered into a knot under her tweed travelling cap.

As she faced me, looking straight at me, she conveyed the impression of a determined unyielding character, a woman who would do much, dare much, who would go her own road if so resolved, undismayed and undeterred by any difficulties that might beset her. Then, to my surprise, although I might have expected it, she came and seated herself at a table close to my elbow.

She had told her companion that she wanted to know more about me, that she would like to enlist me in her service, questionable though it might be, and here she was evidently about to make the attempt. "I beg your pardon," she began almost at once in English, when the waiter had brought her a plate of soup, and she was toying with the first spoonful, speaking in a low constrained, almost sullen voice, as though it cost her much to break through the convenances in thus addressing a stranger. "You will think it strange of me," she went on, "but I am rather awkwardly situated, in fact in a position of difficulty, even of danger, and I venture to appeal to you as a countryman, an English officer." "How do you know that?" I asked, quickly concluding that my light baggage had been subjected to scrutiny, and wondering what subterfuge she would adopt to explain it.

Gentlemen of your cloth are as easily recognizable as if your names were printed on your back." "And as they are generally upon our travelling belongings." I looked at her steadily with a light laugh, and a crimson flush came on her face. However hardened a character, she had preserved the faculty of blushing readily and deeply, the natural adjunct of a cream-like complexion. "Let me introduce myself in full," I said, pitying her obvious confusion; and I handed her my card, which she took with a shamefaced air, rather foreign to her general demeanour. "What was your regiment?" "The Princess Ulrica Rifles, but I left it on promotion. I am unattached for the moment, and waiting for reëmployment." "Your own master then?" "Practically, until I am called upon to serve. Meanwhile I am loafing about Europe." "Do you go beyond Lucerne?" "Across the St. Am I right in supposing we are to be fellow travellers by the Engadine express?" I went on by way of saying something. "To Lucerne or further?" CHAPTER II.

"Probably." The answer was given with great hesitation. To tell you the truth, I dread the journey. Now I find it ever so much worse than I expected." "Why is that, if I may ask?" "You see, I am travelling alone, practically alone that is to say, with only my maid." "And your child," I added rather casually, with no second thought, and I was puzzled to understand why the chance phrase evoked another vivid blush. "The child! Oh, yes, the child," and I was struck that she did not say "my" child, but laid rather a marked stress on the definite article. "That of course increases your responsibility," I hazarded, and she seized the suggestion. The idea of going all that way in an empty train quite terrifies me." "I don't see why it should." "But just think. There will be no one in it, no one but ourselves. Suppose the five attendants and the others were to combine against us? They might rob and murder us." "Oh, come, come.

You must not let foolish fears get the better of your common sense.

Why should they want to make us their victims? I believe they are decent, respectable men, the employes of a great company, carefully selected. Ladies are perhaps a little too reckless in carrying their valuables about with them. Your jewel-case may be exceptionally well lined." "Oh, but it is not; quite the contrary," she cried with almost hysterical alacrity. "I have nothing to tempt them. And yet something dreadful might happen; I feel we are quite at their mercy." "I don't. I tell you frankly that I think you are grossly exaggerating the situation. Wait over for another train, I mean?" I am free to confess that, although my curiosity had been aroused, I would much rather have washed my hands of her, and left her and her belongings, especially the more compromising part, the mysterious treasure, behind at Calais. "Is there another train soon?" she inquired nervously. It connects with the train from Victoria at 2.20 and the boat from Folkestone.

You need only run as far as Boulogne with this Engadine train, and wait there till it starts. I think about 6 P.M." "Will that not lose time?" "Undoubtedly you will be two hours later at Basle, and you may lose the connection with Lucerne and the St. But if I can be of no further use to you I will make my bow. It is time for me to get back to the train, and for my part I don't in the least want to lose the Engadine express." She got up too, and walked out of the buffet by my side.

"I shall go on, at any rate as far as Boulogne," she volunteered, without my asking the question; and we got into our car together, she entering her compartment and I mine. I smoked many cigarettes pondering over the curious episode and my new acquaintance. A young man would have sworn she was perfectly straight, that there could be no guile in this sweet-faced, gentle, well-mannered woman; and I, with my greater experience of life and the sex, was much tempted to do the same. It was against the grain to condemn her as all bad, a depredator, a woman with perverted moral sense who broke the law and did evil things. But what else could I conclude from the words I had heard drop from her own lips, strengthened and confirmed as they were by the incriminating language of her companion? "Bother the woman and her dark blue eyes.

I hope to heaven she will really leave the train at Boulogne; we ought to be getting near there by now." I had travelled the road often enough to know it by heart, and I recognized our near approach only to realize that the train did not mean to stop. I turned over the leaves of Bradshaw and saw I had been mistaken; the train skirted Boulogne and never entered the station. "Well, that settles it for the present, anyhow. If she still wants to leave the train she must wait now until Amiens.

We had hardly passed the place when her maid's (or companion's) square figure filled the open doorway of my compartment, and in her strong deep voice she addressed a brief summons to me brusquely and peremptorily: "My lady wishes to speak to you." "And pray what does 'my lady' want with me?" I replied carelessly, using the expression as a title of rank. Blair." The correction and information were vouchsafed with cold self-possession. If she had been in any trouble, any serious trouble, such as she anticipated when talking to me at the buffet, and a prey to imaginary alarms since become real, I should have been ready to serve her or any woman in distress, but nothing of this could have happened in the short hour's run so far." "I thought you were a gentleman," was the scornful rejoinder. "A nice sort of gentleman, indeed, to sit there like a stock or a stone when a lady sends for you!" "A lady!" There was enough sarcasm in my tone to bring a flush upon her impassive face, a fierce gleam of anger in her stolid eyes; and when I added, "A fine sort of lady!" I thought she would have struck me. You're not the kind of people I like to deal with or wish to know." She stared at me open-mouthed, her hands clenched, her eyes half out of her head. Her face had gone deadly white, and I thought she would have fallen there where she stood, a prey to impotent rage. The lady, Mrs. Blair, as I had just heard her called, appeared behind, her taller figure towering above the maid's, her face in full view, vexed with varying acute emotions, rage, grief, and terror combined. Do you go back to our place this instant; we cannot be away together, you know that; it must not be left alone, one of us must be on guard over it. My self-reproach was aroused even before I quailed under the withering contempt of her tone.

You can have no real reason for condemning me." "Let me admit that, and leave the matter there," I pleaded. I could not bring myself to tell her that she was self-condemned, that she was the principal witness against herself.

Come, please, let there be no more evasion. I shall stay here until you tell me what you think of me, and why." She seated herself by my side in the narrow velvet seat of the small compartment, so close that the folds of her tweed skirt (she had removed her ulster) touched and rubbed against me. I was invaded by the sweet savour of her gracious presence (she used some delightful scent, violette ideale, I believe), by putting forth my hand a few inches I might have taken hers in mine. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. How do I differ from the rest of--your world, let us call it?" "You do not, as far as I can see. At least you ought to hold your own anywhere, in any society, the very best." "And yet I'm not 'your sort.' Am I a humbug, an impostor, an adventuress, a puppet and play-actress? Or is it that I have forfeited my right, my rank of gentlewoman, my position in the world, your world?" I was silent, moodily, obstinately silent. She had hit the blot, and could put but one interpretation upon it.

She still was not satisfied; she would penetrate my reserve, overcome my reticence, have it out of me willy nilly, whether I would or no. I have my reasons for desiring to know the very worst." "Why drive me to that?" I schooled myself to seem hard and uncompromising. I felt I was weakening under the subtle charm of her presence, and the pretty pleading of her violet eyes; but I was still resolute not to give way. "If you will only tell me why you think such evil I may be able to justify myself, or at least explain away appearances that are against me." "You admit there are such appearances?

Remember, I never said so." "Then on what do you condemn me? "You imply that I have no conscience, or that I should feel the qualms, the prickings of conscience?" "After what you've done, yes," I blurted out. How dare you judge me without knowing the facts, without a shadow of proof?" She sprang to her feet and passed to the door, where she turned, as it were, at bay. "I have the very best proof, from your own lips. I heard you and your maid talking together at Calais." "A listener, Colonel Annesley? You stood under my window there." I defended myself indignantly. "And their consequences, madam," but the shot failed rather of effect. Was she so old a hand, so hardened in crime, that the fears of detection, arrest, reprisals, the law and its penalties had no effect upon her? Now, when standing before me fully confessed for what she was, and practically at my mercy, she could laugh with cool and unabashed levity and make little of the whole affair. If I had hoped that I had done with her now, when the murder was out, I was very much mistaken.

She had some further designs on me, I was sure. The woman was in the ascendant, and, as I thought, the eternal feminine ever agog to attract and subjugate the male, she would conquer my admiration even if she could not secure my esteem. Call in the gendarmes at the next station? Have me taken red-handed with the--stolen property--the 'swag,' you know the word, perhaps, in my possession?" "I am not a police officer; it's not my business," I answered gruffly. "Or you might telegraph back to England, to London, to Scotland Yard: 'The woman Blair in the Engadine express.

Wire along the line to authorities, French and Swiss, to look out for her and arrest preparatory to extradition.'" "I would much rather not continue this conversation, Mrs. I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs. I would rather not have the whole list," I interrupted her, but could not check her restless tongue.

I was the heroine of that robbery at Buckingham Palace. I was at the State Ball, and made a fine harvest of jewels. I have swept a dozen country-houses clean; I have picked pockets and lifted old lace from the shop counters, and embezzled and forged--" "And turned pirate, and held up trains, and robbed the Bank of England," I added, falling into her humour and laughing as she rose to her full height; and again her mood changed, dominating me with imperious air, her voice icily cold in manner, grave and repellent. Nothing, indeed, could take the sting out of this, and yet it was all but impossible to accuse her, to blame her even for what she had done. She read that in my eyes, in my abashed face, my hands held out deprecating her wrath, and her next words had a note of conciliation in them. "There are degrees of wrong-doing, shades of guilt," she said. "Crimes, offences, misdeeds, call them as you please, are not absolutely unpardonable; in some respects they are excusable, if not justifiable. "You know I am still quite in the dark." "And you must remain so, for the present at any rate," she said firmly and sharply. We are absolute strangers, I owe you no explanation, and I would give you none, even if you asked." "I have not asked and shall not ask anything." "Then you are willing to take it so, to put the best construction on what you have heard, to forget my words, to surrender your suspicions?" "If you will tell me only this: that I may have confidence in you, that I may trust you, some day, to enlighten me and explain what seems so incomprehensible to-day." "I am sorely tempted to do so now," she paused, lost for a time in deep and anxious thought; and then, after subjecting me to a long and intent scrutiny, she shook her head.

You must earn the right to my confidence, you must prove to me that you will not misuse it. There are others concerned; I am not speaking for myself alone. If the first I will help you, if the latter I will also help you as far as lies in my power." "Without conditions?" And when I nodded assent such a smile lit up her face that more than repaid me, and stifled the doubts and qualms that still oppressed me. But, bewitched by the sorcery of her bright eyes, I said bravely: "I accept service--I am yours to command.

The way is by no means clear.

There are risks, dangers before me. I may ask you to share them. "I shall not disappoint you," was what I said, and, in a firm assured voice, added, "You have resolved then to travel forward in this train?" "I must, I have no choice.

I dare not tarry by the way. "That is not in the compact. For the present you must be satisfied so, and there is nothing more to be said." "I shall see you again, I trust," I pleaded, as she rose to leave me. Why should we not dine together in the dining-car by and by?" she proposed with charming frankness, in the lighter mood that sat so well upon her. "The waiters will be there to play propriety, and no Mrs. If only I might be allowed to--" know more, I would have said, but she chose to put other words into my mouth. "To join us in the watching? Become one of us, belong to a gang of thieves, liable like the rest of us to the law? I would gladly help you, see you through any difficulty by the way, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at active partnership," I answered a little lamely under her mocking eyes.

"There is a limit, then, to your devotion?" She was coldly sarcastic now, and I realized painfully that I had receded in her favour. She had by no means dispelled them.

So for half an hour I abused her fiercely; I swore at myself hotly as an ass, a hopeless and unmitigated ass, ever ready to be betrayed and beguiled by woman's wiles, the too easy victim of the first pretty face I saw. The fit lasted for quite half an hour, and then came the reaction. I heard her rich deep voice singing in my ears, I felt the haunting glamour of her eyes, remembered her gracious presence, and my heart went out to her. I knew, of course, that I ought not to stand between her and the inevitable Nemesis that awaits upon misdeeds, but what if I helped her to avoid or escape it? The opportunity was nearer at hand than I thought.

Blair, were soon to be put to the test. The train reached Amiens punctually at 5 P.M., and a stoppage of five minutes was announced. I got out to stretch my legs on the platform. No one took much notice of us; it must have been known that the train was empty, for there were no waiters from the buffet with café au lait or fruit, or brioches--no porters about, or other officials.

I had not expected to see any passengers come on board the train, a through express, made up of sleeping-cars and a supplementary charge on the tickets. But on running into the station (ours was the first carriage) I had noticed a man standing with a valise in his hand, and I saw him following the train down the platform when we stopped. He addressed himself to a little group of conductors who had already alighted, and were gossiping idly among themselves, having nothing else to do. One of them indicated our particular attendant, to whom he spoke, and who brought him directly to our carriage. Evidently the newcomer was bound for Lucerne via Basle. Here was one more occupant of our neglected train, another companion and fellow traveller in our nearly empty sleeping-car. Curiosity and something more led me to examine this man closely; it was a strange, undefined, inexplicable sense of foreboding, of fateful forecast, that he and I were destined to be thrown together unpleasantly, to be much mixed up with one another, and to the comfort and satisfaction of neither. His position in life, his business, trade or calling were not to be easily fixed; a commercial man, an agent or "traveller" on his own account, well-to-do and prosperous, was the notion borne out by his dress, his white waistcoat and coloured shirt of amazing pattern (a hint of his Italian origin), his rings and the showy diamond pin in his smart necktie. I added to this, my first impression, by further observation, for which I soon had abundant opportunity.

When the train moved on, he came and took his seat on the flap seat (or strapontin) just opposite my compartment. I could not tell why, until presently he made overtures of sociability and began a desultory talk across the corridor.

My cabin or compartment, it will be remembered, was the last but one; the newcomer had been given the one behind mine, and here from his seat he commanded the whole length of the carriage forward, which included the compartment occupied by Mrs.

His eyes were so deep set as to be almost lost in their recesses behind his sandy eyelashes, and he kept them screwed up close, with the intent watchful gaze of an animal about to make a spring. His whole aspect, his shifty, restless manner, his furtive looks, all were antipathetic and to his great advantage. I had all but shut the door of my compartment in his face, but it suddenly occurred to me that he was capable of wandering on, and when he found the ladies inflicting his greasy attentions upon them. There are ladies in that compartment yonder." "Ladies indeed! You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there. "Does monsieur, tell me quickly, I--I--beg--know them! Can he describe them to me?" "I shall tell you nothing about them. What the mischief do you mean by asking me questions? Find out what you want for yourself." I was hot and indignant with the brute. I shall find out then," and he jumped up, the spring seat closing with a bang from under him.

The noise concealed the sound of the electric bell which I had pressed to summon the attendant, as I rushed out and caught the other man by the arm. "You'll do nothing of the kind," I cried with very vigorous emphasis, backed by all my strength. "I'll shake you to a jelly if you dare to move another inch." "Here, I say, drop it.

Who the deuce are you? At this moment the conductor appeared upon the scene, and began to expostulate loudly. No fighting and quarrelling are permitted." "Well, then, people must behave themselves," I retorted. "Don't let this chap annoy your passengers." "I have done nothing to annoy them," stammered the other.

Get in there and stay there;" and with that I forced him, almost flung him, into his compartment, where he fell panting upon the velvet sofa.

"You'd better keep an eye on him," I said to the conductor, who was inclined to be disagreeable, and was barely pacified by a couple of five-franc pieces. "Fellows of this sort are apt to be a nuisance, and we must take care of the ladies." As I said this I saw Mrs. Blair's face peering out beyond her door a little nervously, but she ventured to come right out and along the passage towards me. In here?" and she followed the indication of my thumb as I jerked it back, and looked over my shoulder into the compartment. "Ah!" The ejaculation was involuntary, and one of acute painful surprise, the gesture that accompanied it spontaneous and full of terror.

"He must not see me; let me go, let me go!" But her strength failed her, and but for my supporting arm she would have fallen to the ground. There was clearly a strong bond of affection between these two, possibly companions and confederates in wrong-doing; the delicate and refined woman, tormented by the inner qualms of outraged conscience, relied and leant upon the stronger and more resolute nature. There, there, don't give way," said the maid, softly coaxing her and stroking her hands. He is there! Falfani, the--the--you know--" Of course I saw it all now. I had puzzled my brains vainly trying to place him, to fix his quality and condition in life, neglecting the one simple obvious solution to which so many plain indications pointed.

The man, of course, was a detective, an officer or private agent, and his dirty business--you see, I was already shaken in my honesty, and now with increasing demoralization under seductive influences I was already inclined to cross over to the other side of the frontier of crime--his dirty business was the persecution of my sweet friend. It will be taken from us." "You cannot, you must not, shall not turn back now," said the maid with great determination. Wouldn't it be better to slip out of the train at the first station and run away?" "He would do the same. And how much the better should we be? It would be far worse; we should be much more at his mercy if we left the train. The journey would still have to be made; we must get to the end, the very end, or we'd better not have started." "He will know then, if he sticks to us. We cannot hide it from him, nor where we have taken it; we shall never be able to keep it, they will come and claim it and recover it;" and she cried hysterically: "I cannot see my way; it's all dark, black as night. I wish--I wish--" "That you had never done it?" quickly asked the maid; and I noticed a slight sarcasm in her tone that was not without its effect in bracing up and strengthening her companion's shattered nerves. I did it deliberately, counting the cost fully, and it shall be paid, however heavy it may be.

It is not regret that tortures me, but the fear of failure when so near success." "We will succeed yet. Do not be cast down, my sweet dear." The maid patted her on the cheek with great affection. This gentleman, the colonel here, will help us, perhaps." "Will you?" Who could resist her pleading voice and shining eyes? If I had had any scruples left I would have thrown them to the winds. [The Statement of Domenico Falfani, confidential agent, made to his employers, Messrs.

Becke and Co., of the Private Inquiry Offices, 279 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.] I propose, gentlemen, to set down here at length the story of my mission, and the events which befell me from the time I first received my instructions. The circumstances which led up to her disappearance and the partners of her flight are already well known to you. The only indication given me, as you are aware, was that I might take it for granted that she would go abroad and probably by the most direct route to the South, to Switzerland and across the Alps into Italy. My orders having only reached me in the early morning, the theft having presumably been committed during the night previous to Sunday, September 21, I was unable to ascertain through the tourist agencies whether any and what tickets had been booked in the directions indicated. My most urgent duty then was to watch the outgoing Continental trains, the first of which left Charing Cross for Dover and Calais at 9 A.M. I closely watched it therefore, and its passengers, and travelled with it to Cannon Street, where I continued my search, but without result.

I was greatly helped in my quest by the not unusual fact noticeable on Sundays, that travellers abroad are few in number. I had no difficulty in satisfying myself that the lady and her party were not in this train, and I returned at once to Charing Cross in time for the second Continental train, the 10 A.M. I had resolved to book myself by that as far as Amiens, for I knew that, once there, I should have reached a central point or junction, a sort of throat through which every train moving southward to Paris or Switzerland must pass. There remained, of course, the route via Dover by Ostend and through Brussels; but I had been informed by you that Ludovic Tiler, my colleague and coworker, was to undertake the inquiry on that line. It is part of my business to be thoroughly familiar with the Continental Bradshaw, and I soon ticked off the different trains that interested me. There was first the 11 A.M. from Victoria by Dover and Calais, where it connected with the Paris express and the sleeping-car Engadine express, both of which run through Amiens, where, however, the latter branches off to Basle and beyond, with special cars for Lucerne, Zurich and Coire. Then came the 2.20 P.M.

from Charing Cross to Folkestone, and so to Boulogne, Amiens and the rest, travelling the same road as the Engadine express. This was the last of the day service, as it gave most time, allowing people to start at the very latest moment, and I felt it quite probable that my lady would prefer to take it. I reached Amiens a little before 5 P.M., and I had a wait of half an hour for the first express from Calais. I was greatly disappointed when at last it appeared issuing from the tunnel, and passed me where I stood at the commencement of the platform, taking stock of each carriage as it passed. The train seemed to be quite empty; there were no passengers, so the officials, the conductors, informed me when I talked to them, sad and unhappy at the certain loss of tips. Only one of them had any luck, Jules l'Echelle, of the Lucerne sleeping-car, who had one or two people on board. The lady, quite a lady, a grande dame belle personne, tall, fine figure, well dressed; her companion no doubt her servant; the child, well, an ordinary child, an infant in arms. I had them, I felt sure.

There could be no mistaking this description. I held them in the hollow of my hand.

Here they were in this car, and it would be all my own fault if they escaped me.

It would be necessary only to verify my conclusions, to identify the lady according to the description and photograph given me. For the rest I knew what to do. As I have said, there was one other passenger, a gentleman, in the car, and I felt it would be prudent to make his acquaintance. No doubt I could tell at the first glance whether or not he was an ordinary traveller, or whether he was a friend and accomplice of the lady under observation. I was at great pains to be affable, to treat him with all the courtly consideration I have at command, and I flatter myself that in the matter of tact and good-breeding I do not yield to princes of the blood royal. The man was an absolute brute, abrupt, overbearing, rude. I offered him a cigar (a Borneo of the best brand, at 10s. the hundred), and he not only refused it, but positively forbade me to smoke.

There were ladies in the carriage, he said (this was the first reference made to them), and, when declining to be ordered about, I proposed to refer the question to themselves, he threw himself violently upon me and assaulted me brutally. Fortunately the attendant came to my rescue or I should have been seriously injured. He lifted me into my compartment very kindly, and acted like an old friend, as indeed he was, for I remembered him as the Jules l'Echelle with whom I served some time back as an assistant at the Baths of Bormio. It was, of course, clear to my mind that my assailant was associated in some way with the lady, and probably a confederate.

I saw that I must know more about him, with the least possible delay, and as soon as Jules had left me, promising to return later and talk of old times, and the changes that had come over us since then, I ventured to look out and get a glimpse of the other man, I will not call him gentleman after his conduct. He was nowhere in sight, but I could hear his voice, several voices, talking together at the far end. No doubt he had joined his friends in their compartment, and the moment seemed opportune to visit his. It was next to mine, and the door stood invitingly open. At least he made no pretence at mystery; his light baggage lay about, a dressing bag, a roll of rugs, a couple of sticks and an umbrella strapped together, all very neat and precise and respectable, and all alike furnished with a parchment tag or label bearing in plain language all that I wanted to know. Basil Annesley," and his club, the Mars and Neptune, that famous military house in Piccadilly. Underneath, on all, his destination was written, "Hotel Bellevue, Bellagio, Como." There could never be the least difficulty in finding this person if I wanted him, as I thought likely. In my great contentment at the discovery I had been wanting in caution, and I lingered too long on forbidden ground. "You infernal scoundrel," cried some one from the door, and once more I felt an angry hand on my shoulder.

Explain yourself." "It's all a mistake," I began, trying to make the best of it, struggling to get free.

But he still held me in a grip of iron, and it was not until my friend Jules appeared that I got out of the enemy's clutches. "The boot is on the other leg, I take it. The man's a thief.

He will have to be locked up." "I'm not the only thief in the car, then," I cried, for I was now mad with him and his threats. "I don't know what you're driving at, or whom you think to accuse; but I tell you this, my friend, that I shall call in the police at the next station and hand you over." I looked at the conductor Jules, appealing for protection. I saw at once that it would be terrible for me to have any trouble with the police. They could do me no harm, but I might be delayed, obliged to leave the train, and I should lose sight of the lady, possibly fail altogether.

You might own the whole train. Who might you be?" "None of your confounded impudence," shouted the Colonel, as he pointed to one of the luggage labels. I have caught this man under suspicious circumstances in the very act of rifling my effects. I insist upon his being taken into custody." "There isn't enough for that," Jules answered, still my friend, but weakening a little before this masterly army officer, and I felt that I must speak for myself.

"And if you stop me I will have the law of you for false imprisonment, and bring heavy damages. Enough that you will feel the weight of their hands if you interfere with me in carrying out their instructions." "Well, anyhow, tell me who you are.

Is that the name he has given you?"--this to the conductor. "I have a clear right," I insisted, overruling all objections raised by the Colonel; and taking it into my hands I read the names aloud, "Colonel Annesley, Mrs. Blair, maid and child." I pronounced the name with great contempt. No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. Blair; you may take that from me," I said as impressively as a judge on the bench. "And what's more, Colonel, I wouldn't press charges you can't substantiate against me, or I may hit back with another not so easy to meet. Try to stop me at the next station, and I'll stop your pal--ah, don't"--he had a cruelly strong hand--"your Mrs.

Blair, and she'll find herself in a particularly tight place." "We'll see about that," said the Colonel, who kept a stiff face, but was, I think, rather crestfallen. Whatever may have been the Colonel's intentions when he caught me in his compartment, something, and I think my last words, led him to modify them. I ought to be able to hold my own with him, although in truth I was not over happy at the course events had taken, and I could not compliment myself on my good management. I had not been overprudent; I had pressed my attentions on him rather abruptly, although I had the excuse that I usually found them well received, thanks to my affable address; again I had behaved most incautiously in penetrating his identity. I could only surmise that the lady was the one I was in search of, for I had not as yet clapt eyes on her, and I had been to some extent driven to show my hand before I had made my ground good.

So the first thing I did on regaining my own compartment was to ring for Jules, the conductor, and put before him the photograph with which I was provided, and ask him if he recognized it. It is the lady yonder," he said promptly. For the present you must know that I am after her; I have to watch her, stick to her like her shadow until it is time to act." "An adventuress, eh?" "She is in possession of what does not belong to her; something she abstracted from--from--Never mind where, and it must be recovered from her here, or after she leaves the car." "Afterwards, please. I could do it, say somewhere short of Basle, and on reaching there make off. No one should be any the wiser, and they, the women, wouldn't dare to make a fuss." "It's I who do not dare--not for twice five hundred francs.

My place is worth more than that; and if it is a dog's life, it is better than lying on the straw. Besides, there's her friend the Colonel, he'll be on the alert, you may depend." "So must I be, and I must find some way to circumvent him. He sha'n't beat me, the overbearing, hectoring brute. I was not as clever as I thought, and shall have to tell you how seriously I had underrated his worth in the coming trial of strength. As the train sped on and the night began to close in on us, I remained quietly in my berth, pondering over my position, and in considering the course I should adopt under various contingencies. The first and most serious danger was that the lady should succeed in leaving the train at any of the intermediate stations at Basle, and so give me the slip.

There were Laon, Rheims, Chaumont, and the rest. I did not look for any such attempt until far into the night, when the stations were empty and half-dark, and I agreed with Jules to divide the hours till daylight, he taking the first, I the last. We were due at Basle at 5 A.M., and I expected to join forces then with Tiler, my colleague, coming from the side of Ostend, via Brussels and Strasburg. Meanwhile I kept quiet and made no sign beyond showing that I was there and on the spot ready to act if it should be necessary. Thus, when the train slackened speed on approaching a station, I was always on the move and the first to descend and patrol the platform. The Colonel always got out too, but he never accosted me; indeed, he seemed disposed to despise me, to ignore my existence, or dare me to the worst I could do.

I suppose the lady must have been of the same mind, for when dinner-time arrived, she came boldly out of her compartment, and I met her face to face for the first time, on her way to the restaurant. I was standing at the door of my compartment. "Dinner is ready," the Colonel said to me significantly, but I did not choose to understand, and shook my head, holding my ground. One moment," he whispered to the lady, who walked on, and turned again to me: "Now see here, my friend, I do not mean to leave you behind. You will come to the dining-car with us, and no two ways about it, even if I have to carry you." "I won't dine with you," I cried. "You're going to dine under my eye, that's all, even though the sight of you is enough to make one sick. So come along, sharp's the word, see? There was something in his manner that cowed me, and I was obliged in spite of myself to give way. There were only three of us in the dining-car, and we were not a very merry company.

Our tables were laid almost adjoining, and there was no conversation between us, except when the Colonel asked me with contemptuous civility what wine I preferred. He did not talk to the lady, or the merest commonplaces, for I was within earshot. Then I got back to my berth, where the bed was made. I threw myself on to it, rejoiced at the prospect of getting a few hours' sleep while Jules remained on the watch. I slept heavily, but in fitful snatches, as a man does when constantly disturbed by the whirr and whizzing of the train, the rattle and jangle of wheels passing over ill-jointed points. After one of the longest periods of unconsciousness I awoke, aroused by the complete absence of noise. The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt. Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle. I thought I recognized the station, but I soon made out for certain the name "Basilea" (Basle), and saw the clock with the fingers at five-thirty.

People were already on the move, work-people, the thrifty, industrious Swiss, forestalling time, travellers in twos and threes arriving and departing by the early train through this great junction on the frontier of Switzerland. Who are those crossing the platform hurriedly. Right under my eyes, a little party of four, two females, two men accompanying them, escorting them, carrying rugs and parcels. There could not be a shadow of doubt.

It was the lady, the so-called Mrs.

Blair, in full flight, with all her belongings, and under the care and guidance not only of the Colonel, that of course, but also of the perfidious Jules l'Echelle. All doubt of his treachery disappeared when on rushing to the door I found I had been locked into my compartment. I rang the electric bell frantically, again and again. I got no answer; I threw up the window and thrust my head out, shouting for help, but got none, only one or two sluggish porters came up and asked what was amiss, answering stolidly, when they heard, that it was none of their business. "They had no key, it must be a mistake. The conductor would explain, I must wait till he came." Presently Jules arrived, walking very leisurely from the direction of the restaurant, and he stood right under my window with a grin on his face and mockery in his voice. I believe it was your trickery from the first. I must get out, I tell you, or they will escape me," I cried. I may say it is pretty certain they will. That was the Colonel's idea; you'd better talk to him about it next time you see him." "And that will be never, I expect.

He's not going to show up here again." "There you're wrong; he will be back before the train starts, you may rely on that, and you'll be able to talk to him. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was. The railway officials at Basle might have interfered, but Jules answered for me, declaring with a significant gesture that I was in drink and that he would see to me. Already the train was moving out of the station, when, to my intense joy, I caught sight of Ludovic Tiler, who came down the platform running alongside us, and crying, "Falfani, Falfani," as he recognized me.

She's in the restaurant. You'll easily know her, in a long ulster, with her maid and the child. By the Lord, she is standing at the door! The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot.

I had failed, myself, but I hoped that with my lead he would get on to the scent and keep to it. Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler's intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side. If the Colonel knew that another man was on his friend's track, he would surely have left the train at once so as to go to her assistance.

But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler's existence. I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l'Echelle came with the Colonel to release me.

"As for you, l'Echelle, it shall cost you your place, and I'll take the law of you, Colonel Annesley; I'll get damages and you shall answer for your illegal action." "Pfui!" retorted the Colonel. "The mischief you can do is nothing to what you might have done. We can stand the racket. I've bested you for the present--that's the chief thing, anyway. You can't persecute the poor lady any more." "Poor lady! "If you dare to utter a single word against that lady, I'll break every bone in your body." "I'm saying nothing--it's not me, it's all the world. It was in the papers, you must have read them, the most awful story, such--such depravity there never was--such treachery, such gross misconduct." He caught me by the arm so violently and looked so fierce that for a moment I was quite alarmed. Leave the lady alone, both by word and deed.

You've collared me for a bit, but I'm not the only one in the show." "The only one that counts," he said sneering. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone. "What if I had a pal waiting for me at Basle, who received my instructions there--just when you thought you had me safe--and has now taken up the running?" He was perfectly staggered at this, I could see plainly. "You infernal villain," he shouted, "I believe the whole thing is a confounded lie! I only account to them for my conduct. But he looked me very straight in the eyes. Give up the whole business; you will only burn your fingers." "Ah! How so?" "The law is altogether against you. "Tell that to the Courts and to the Judge when you are prosecuted for contempt and charged as an accessory after the fact. It will take the starch out of you." "Rot!

The law can't do us much harm. The only person who might make it disagreeable is Lord Blackadder, and I snap my fingers at him." "The Earl of Blackadder? He has been made the victim of an abominable outrage, and will spare no effort, no means, no money to recover his own." "Lord Blackadder is a cad--a cruel, cowardly ruffian.

It would give me the greatest pleasure to kick him down the street. All must depend on what I heard there--upon what news, if any, came from Ludovic Tiler. So on my arrival I made my way straight to the telegraph-office in the corner of the great station, and on showing my card an envelope was handed to me.

It was from Tiler at Basle, and ran as follows: "They have booked through by 7.30 A.M., via Brienne, Lausanne to Brieg, and I suppose the Simplon. Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola? The sooner the better. Wire me from all places along the route, giving your movements. 70." The news pointed pretty clearly to the passage of the Alps and descent into Italy by another route than the St. I had my Bradshaw in my bag, and proceeded at once to verify the itinerary by the time-table, while I drank my early coffee in the restaurant upon the station platform.

I was most anxious to join hands with Tiler, and quickly turned over the leaves of my railway guide to see if it was possible, and how it might best be managed.

My first idea was to retrace my steps to Basle and follow him by the same road. But I soon found that the trains would not fit in the very least. He would be travelling by the one fast train in the day, which was due at Brieg at four o'clock in the afternoon. My first chance, if I caught the very next train back from Lucerne, would only get me to Brieg by the eleven o'clock the following morning. It was not good enough, and I dismissed the idea forthwith. Then I remembered that by getting off the St. Gothard railway at Goeschenen I should strike the old Furka diligence route by the Devil's Bridge, Hospenthal, and the Rhone Glacier, a drive of fifty miles, more or less, but at least it would get me to Brieg that same night by 10 or 11 o'clock. Before adopting this line I had to consider that there was a risk of missing Tiler and his quarry; that is to say, of being too late for them; for the lady might decide to push on directly she reached Brieg, taking a special carriage extra post as far as the Simplon at least, even into Domo Dossola. She was presumably in such a hurry that the night journey would hardly deter her from driving over the pass. By the time I reached Brieg they would be halfway across the Alps, and I must take the same road, making a stern chase, proverbially the longest.

I turned my attention, therefore, to the Italian end of the carriage road, and to seeing how and when I could reach Domo Dossola, the alternative suggestion made by Tiler. There would be no difficulty as to that, and I found I could be there in good time the same evening. I worked it out on the tables and it looked easy enough. Leave Lucerne by the St. Gothard railway, pass Goeschenen, and go through the tunnel down the Italian side as far as Bellizona. Thence a branch line would take me to Locarno and into touch with the steamboat service on Lake Maggiore. There was a fixed connection according to the tables, and I should land at Pallanza within a short hour's drive of the line to Domo Dossola. I could be established there by nightfall and would command the situation.

Every carriage that came down the Simplon must come under my eye. There could be no doubt that the Bellizona-Locarno Lake line was the preferable one, and I finally decided in favour of it.

I closed my Bradshaw with a bang, replaced it in my bag, drank up my coffee, and started for the telegraph office. I meant to advise Tiler of my plans, and at the same time arrange with him to look out for me just outside the terminus station at Domo Dossola, or to communicate with me there at the Hôtel de la Poste. On coming out I ran up against the last person I wished to see. It was the Colonel, who greeted me with a loud laugh, and gave me a slap on the back. Well, what's the next move?" "I decline to hold any conversation with you," I began severely. There are police about, and the Swiss police do not approve of brawling," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. "Come, Falfani, tell me what you mean to do now," he went on in the same tone.

We are inseparables, you and I, as much united as the Siamese twins.

I shall appeal for protection to the authorities." "Do so, my friend, do so. See which will get the best of that. I don't want to swagger, but at any rate all the world knows pretty well who I am; but what shall you call yourself, Mr. Falfani?" "I have my credentials from my employers; I have letters, testimonials, recommendations from the best people." "Including the Earl of Blackadder, I presume? You may get the best of it in the long run, but you'll lose a good deal of time. I must throw dust in his eyes, put him off the scent, mislead, befool, elude him somehow. The time was drawing on for the departure of the St. I had booked at Amiens as far as Lucerne only, leaving further plans as events might fall out. He would be certain to be within earshot when I went up to the window. "See that gentleman," I nodded towards the Colonel.

"He wants you; do your best for him." And when the tourist agent proceeded on his mission to be accosted, I fear rather unceremoniously, I slipped off and hid out of sight. I felt sure I was unobserved as I took my place in the crowd at the ticket-window, but when I had asked and paid for my place to Locarno I heard, to my disgust, some one else applying for a ticket to exactly the same place, and in a voice that was strangely familiar. On looking round I saw Jules l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, but out of uniform, and with an amused grin on his face. How about your service on the car?" I asked suspiciously. His business was the Colonel's, who had set him to assist in watching me. I had two enemies then to encounter, and I realized with some misgiving that the Colonel was not a man to be despised. I secured a place with difficulty; there was rather a rush for the St. It was composed as usual of corridor carriages, all classes en suite, and I knew that it would be impossible to conceal the fact that I was on board the train.

Within five minutes Jules had verified the fact and taken seats in the immediate neighbourhood, to which he and the Colonel presently came. Many excursions, especially by steamer; the Borromean islands well worth seeing, and Baveno and Stresa and the road to the Simplon." I refused to be drawn, and only muttered that I hated excursions and steamers and lakes, and wished to be left in peace. Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? I took the Colonel's hint, and pretended to take refuge in sleep, and at last, I believe, I dozed off.

It was suggested to me by the short tunnels that succeed so frequently in the ascent of the St. They are, as most people know, a chief feature in the mountain railway, and a marvel of engineering skill, being cut in circles to give the necessary length and gain the height with a moderate gradient. Speed is so far slackened that it would be quite possible to drop off the train without injury whenever inclined.

I nursed my project with eyes shut, still feigning sleep; and my extreme quiescence had, as I hoped, the effect of throwing them off their guard.

Jules, like all in the same employment, was always ready for forty winks, and I saw that he was sound and snoring just as we entered the last tunnel before reaching the entrance of the final great tunnel at Goeschenen. I could not be quite sure of the Colonel, but his attitude was that of a man resting, and who had very nearly lost himself, if he had not quite gone off. Fortunately we sat at the extreme end of a coach, in the last places, and besides we three there was only one other occupant in the compartment of six. The fourth passenger was awake, but I made a bid for his good-will by touching my lips with a finger, and the next minute I was gone. I expected to hear the alarm given at my disappearance, but none reached my ears, as the train rattled past me with its twinkling lights and noisy road. I held myself close against the side of the tunnel in perfect safety, although the hot wind of the passing cars fanned my cheek and rather terrified me.

The moment the train was well gone I faced the glimmering light that showed the entrance to the tunnel at the further end from the station, and ran to it with all speed. I knew that my jump from the train could not pass unnoticed, and I counted on being followed. I expected that the tunnel would be explored by people from Goeschenen so soon as the train ran in and reported. My first object, therefore, was to quit the line, and I did so directly I was clear of the tunnel. I climbed the fence, dropped into a road, left that again to ascend the slope and take shelter among the rocks and trees. The pursuit, if any, was not very keen or long maintained. When all was quiet, an hour later I made for the highroad, the famous old road that leads through the Devil's Pass to Andermatt, three miles above. I altogether avoided the Goeschenen station, fearing any inconvenient inquiries, and abandoned all idea of getting the telegram from Tiler that might be possibly awaiting me. I should be obliged now to send him fresh news, news of the changed plans that took me direct into Brieg; and on entering Andermatt I came upon the post-office, just where I wanted it, both to send my message and order an extra post carriage from Brieg. It was with a sense of intense relief that I sank back into the cushions and felt that at last I was free.

Long before I reached Hospenthal, a mile or so from Andermatt, I was disturbed by strange cries to the accompaniment of harness bells. "Yo-icks, Yo-icks, G-o-ne away!" was borne after me with all the force of stentorian lungs, and looking round I saw to my horror a second carriage coming on at top speed, and beyond all question aiming to overtake us. Soon they drew nearer, near enough for speech, and the accursed Colonel hailed me. Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer. "Going all the way to Brieg by road, I believe?

It's all in the day's work." With that I desired my driver to pull up, and waved my hand to the others, motioning to them that the road was theirs. But when I stopped they stopped, and the Colonel jeered. When I drove on they came along too, laughing. We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St. Gothard, the other leading to the Furka, I took the first for a short distance, then turned back, just to try my pursuers. They still stuck to me. He had collared me, he was on my back, and I felt that I must throw up the sponge. "I gave you fair notice that you would not get rid of me, and by heaven you shall not," he cried fiercely, putting off all at once the lighter mockery of his tone. You think to find your confederate there, and you hope that, combined, the two of you will get the better of that lady. I must get in touch with him at the earliest possible moment and my nearest way to him, situated as I was now, must be at or through Brieg.

We pulled up for luncheon and a short rest at the Furka; again in the afternoon at the Rhone Glacier. Then we pursued our way all along the valley, with the great snow peak of the Matterhorn in front of us, through village and hamlet, in the fast fading light, and so on under the dark but luminous sky into Munster, Fiesch, and Morel, till at length we rolled into Brieg about 11 P.M. I drove straight to the Hôtel de la Poste, careless that my tormentors were accompanying me; they could do me no more harm, and Tiler was at hand to help in vindicating our position. There was no Tiler at the Hôtel de la Poste; no Tiler in Brieg. Wait there or leave address." My face must have betrayed my abject despair.

I was so completely knocked over that I offered no opposition when the Colonel impudently took the telegram out of my hand and read it coolly. "By the Lord Harry, that's good." CHAPTER X. I travelled via Ostend, Brussels and Strasburg, and was due at Basle from that side at 4.35 A.M. My instructions were to look out for Falfani there, and thought I might do so if our train was fairly punctual, as it was. We were "on time," and the answer to my first question was that the Lucerne express was still at the platform, but on the point of departure. He was in trouble himself; they had nipped him, caught him tight, and thrown him off the scent. I was now to take up the running. "You've got your chance now, Ludovic," he said hurriedly, as he leaned out of the carriage window. She's got the wiles of the devil, and will sell you like a dog if you don't mind. Hurry now; you'll pick her up in the waiting-room or restaurant, and can't miss her." He gave me the description, and I left him, promising him a wire at the telegraph office, Lucerne.

He was right, there was no mistaking her. Few people were about at that time in the morning, and there was not a soul among the plain-headed, commonplace Swiss folk to compare with her, an English lady with her belongings. She was quite a beauty, tall, straight, lissom, in her tight-fitting ulster; her piquante-looking heather cap perched on chestnut curls, and setting off as handsome a face as I have ever seen. And I have seen and admired many, for I don't deny that I've a strong penchant for pretty women, and this was the pick of the basket. It was rather a bore to be put on to her in the way of business; but why should I not get a little pleasure out of it if I could? I need not be disagreeable; it might help matters and pass the time pleasantly, even if in the end I might have to show my teeth. I saw her looking me over as I walked into the waiting-room, curiously, critically, and for a moment I fancied she guessed who I was. If so--if she thought me one of her persecutors--she would hardly look upon me without repugnance, yet I almost believed it was all the other way. I had an idea that she did not altogether dislike me, that she was pleased with my personal appearance.

I had had my successes in my time, and may say, although it sounds conceited, that I had won the approval of other ladies quite as high-toned. In the meantime it would be amusing, enjoyable, to make friends. So far I had still to ascertain the direction in which she was bound. That might be safely inferred, for she was in the waiting-room with her porter and her bags, ready to pass out upon the platform as soon as the doors were opened.

(Everyone knows that the idiotic and uncomfortable practice still prevails in Switzerland of shutting passengers off from the train till the very last moment.) This waiting-room served for many lines, and I could only wait patiently to enter the particular train for which she would be summoned. When at length an official unlocked the door and announced the train for Biel, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, and Brieg, she got up to take her seat, and I had no longer any doubt as to the direction of her journey. So as I saw her go, I slipped back to the ticket-office and took my place all the way to Brieg, the furthest point on the line. This was obviously my best and safest plan, as I should then be ready for anything that happened.

After getting my ticket I found time to telegraph to Falfani at Lucerne, giving him my latest news, and then proceeded to the train. I found the lady easily enough, and got into the same carriage with her. It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. Although the seat I chose was at a discreet distance, I was able to keep her in view. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope. One of the Swiss guards of the train, a surly, overbearing brute, like so many others of his class, accosted her rudely, and from his gestures was evidently taking her to task as to the number and size of her parcels in the net above. He began to shift them, and, despite her indignant protests in imperfect German, threw some of them on the floor. I hurried to the rescue, and, being fluent in German as in several other languages--it is part of my stock in trade--I sharply reproved the guard and called him an unmannerly boor for his cowardly treatment of an unprotected lady. She responded quickly, readily, and I thought I might improve the occasion by politely inquiring if I could be of any further service to her.

"Perhaps you can tell me, you see I am strange on this line," she answered with a perfectly innocent air, "do you happen to know at what time we are due at Lausanne?" "Not to the minute," I replied. I had not the slightest suspicion that she was playing with me. Silly ass that I was, I failed to detect the warning that dropped from her own lips.

When I got back with the Bradshaw I came upon them for just one moment unawares. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity. It is the only way." Then she caught sight of me as I stood before her, and her manner instantly changed. She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. Lausanne I think you said?" I asked casually as I turned over the pages of the guide. I only wanted to know whether there would be time for déjeuner at Lausanne. I think there is no dining-car on this train?" "No, it is on the next, which is extraordinarily bad mismanagement. It is a slow train the next, and we are a special express.

It depends upon my meeting friends somewhere on the lake, either there or further on. If they come on board we shall run on to Brieg so as to drop over the Alps to Lake Maggiore by the Simplon route." I threw this out carelessly but with deliberate intention, and the shot told.

I had not the smallest doubt that this was her plan also. She was bound to cross over into Italy, that we knew, or our employers firmly believed it, and as she had been driven off the St. Gothard by Falfani she had now doubled back by Switzerland to make the journey to Brieg and across the mountains by road. I had scored as I thought, but I forgot that in gaining the knowledge I had betrayed my own intentions, and put her upon her guard. How long does it take, have you any idea, and how do you travel?" "It is about nine hours by diligence," I said, consulting the Bradshaw, "and the fare is forty francs, but by private carriage or extra post a good deal more." "May I look?" and I handed her the book, "although I never could understand Bradshaw," she added pleasantly. "I shall be very pleased to explain if you are in doubt," I suggested; but she declined laughingly, saying it would amuse her to puzzle out things, so I left her the book and composed myself into a corner while the train rattled on. I mused and dozed and dreamily watched her pretty face admiringly, as she pored over the pages of the Guide, little thinking she was perfecting a plan for my undoing.

The first stop was at Biel or Bienne, its French name, and there was a halt of ten minutes or more. I made my way to the telegraph office in the station, where to my great satisfaction I found a message from Falfani, informing me that he should make the best of his way to Brieg, unless I could suggest something better.

The answer I despatched at once to Goeschenen was worded as follows: "Declares she is going to Montreux only. Come on there anyhow and await further from me. I was well satisfied with what we were doing, and on receiving the second and third telegrams at Neuchâtel and Yverdun I was all the more pleased. The smile that came upon her lips was so pleasant and sweet that it might have overjoyed a more conceited man than myself. "Are we near then? I never was so hungry in my life," and the smile expanded into a gay laugh as she rose to her feet and was ready to leave the carriage. "I'm afraid you will have to wait, Philpotts, we cannot leave that," she pointed to the child nestling sound asleep by her side. This gentleman will perhaps escort me to the refreshment-room." I agreed, of course, and saying, "Only too charmed," I led the way--a long way, for the restaurant is at the far end of the platform. At last we sat down tête-à-tête and prepared to do full justice to the meal. "I shall perhaps like something else better," and she went carefully through the whole menu, so that the time slipped away, and we were within five minutes of departure.

Come and help me choose," and in duty bound I gallantly carried the food back to the train. I walked ahead briskly, and making my way to the places where we had left the maid and child, jumped in. They were gone, the two of them. The seats were empty, and as the compartment was quite empty, too, no one could tell me when they had left or where they had gone. For the moment I was dazed and dumfounded, but I took a pull on myself quickly. Had they sold me completely?

My one chance was in prompt action; I must hunt them up, recover trace of them with all possible despatch, follow them, and find them wherever they might be. There was just the chance that they had only moved into another carriage, thinking that when I missed them I should get out and hunt for them in the station. To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere. So eager was I that I neglected the ordinary warnings that the train was about to start; the guard's fertig ("ready"), the sounding horn, the answering engine whistle, I overlooked them all, and we moved on before I could descend. Nein, nein, verboten." A hand caught me roughly by the collar and dragged me back.

It was the enemy I had made in championing my lady, the guard of the train, who gladly seized the chance of being disagreeable to me. I fought hard to be free, but by the time I had shaken him off the speed had so increased that it would have been unsafe to leave the train.

Fortunately our first stop was within five and twenty minutes, at Vevey; and there in ten minutes more I found a train back to Lausanne, so that I had lost less than an hour and a half in all.

It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. My first business was to inquire in and about the station for a person or persons answering to the parties I missed. Had they separated, these two women, for good and all? If the maid had gone off first, I had to consider whether they would not again join forces as soon as I was well out of the way. They would surely feel safer, happier, together, and this encouraged me to ask first for two people, two females, a lady and her servant, one of them, the latter, carrying a child.

There were many officials about in uniform, and all alike supercilious and indifferent, after the manner of their class, to the travelling public, and I could get none to take the smallest interest in my affairs. One shrugged his shoulders, another stared at me in insolent silence, a third answered me abruptly that he was too occupied to bother himself, and a fourth peremptorily ordered me not to hang any longer about the station.

Foiled thus by the railway staff--and I desire to place on record here my deliberate opinion after many years' experience in many lands, that for rudeness and overbearing manners the Swiss functionary has no equal in the whole world--I went outside the station and sought information among the cabmen and touts who hang about waiting to take up travellers. I accosted all the drivers patiently one by one, but could gather nothing definite from any of them. Most had been on the stand at the arrival of the midday train, many had been engaged to convey passengers and baggage up into the town of Lausanne, and had deposited their fares at various hotels and private residences, but no one had driven any party answering to those of whom I was in search. This practically decided the point that my lady had not left the station in a carriage or openly, if she had walked. But that she had not been observed did not dispose of the question. They were dull, stupid men, these, only intent on their own business, who would pay little attention to humble persons on foot showing no desire to hire a cab. A confidential agent who will not take infinite pains in his researches had better seek some other line of business. As I stood there in front of the great station belonging to the Jura-Simplon, I saw facing me a small façade of the Gare Sainte Luce, one of the intermediate stations on the Ficelle or cable railway that connects Ouchy on the lake with Lausanne above. It was not a hundred yards distant; it could be easily and quickly reached, and without much observation, if a person waited till the immediate neighbourhood had been cleared by the general exodus after the arrival of the chief express of the day.

There were any number of trains by this funiculaire--at every half-hour indeed--and any one taking this route could reach either Lausanne or Ouchy after a very few minutes' journey up or down. I was only too conscious of my great loss of time, now at the outset, which might efface all tracks and cut me off hopelessly from any clue. I was soon across and inside the Sainte Luce station, but still undecided which direction I should choose, when the little car arrived going upward, and I ran over to that platform and jumped in. I must begin one way or the other, and I proceeded at once to question the conductor, when he nicked my ticket, only to draw perfectly blank. It is idiote to ask such questions, monsieur, of a busy man." "I can pay for what I want," I whispered gently, as I slipped a five-franc piece into his hand, ever mindful of the true saying, Point d'argent, point de Suisse; and the bribe entirely changed his tone. Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not--" he dropped his voice--"not for five francs." I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue. But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, "if," he added cunningly, "it was not Ouchy." But he had seen her, that was sure--seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before.

he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, "diable, who could say?" I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry. She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand. I resolved to inquire at all the hotels forthwith. I must run her to ground if possible, fix her once more, or I should never again dare to look my employers in the face. I was now upon the great bridge that spans the valley of the Flon and joins the old with the new quarter of Lausanne. The best hotels, the Gibbon, Richemont, Falcon, Grand Pont, and several more, stood within easy reach, and I soon exhausted this branch of the inquiry. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address--Eugène Falloon, Rue Pré Fleuri--where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus.

On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news. The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy." "And on board the steamer? "He shall tell you himself if I can find him when we reach the terminus. It may not be easy, but I could do it if--" Another and a third five-franc piece solved his doubts, and I abandoned my visit to the terminus hotel to seize this more tangible clue, and proceeded at once to the lake shore. On reaching the steamboat pier I was introduced to the porter, a shock-headed, stupid-looking creature, whom I forthwith questioned eagerly; but elicited only vague and, I felt sure, misleading replies. The conductor assisted at my interview, stimulating and encouraging the man to speak, and overdid it, as I thought. I strongly suspected that this new evidence had been produced in order to bleed me further. Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse? How dressed, and did he suppose her condition to be that of a lady like the other, equal in rank, or an inferior?

The answers I got were not encouraging. Of course they were ladies, both of them. In the very latest fashion. They were very distinguished people. "Were they carrying anything, either of them?" I inquired. "Yes, when I saw them first they had much baggage.

It was for that they summoned me. Handbags, sacs de nuit, rugs, wrappers, bonnet-boxes, many things, like all travellers." "And you noticed nothing big, no parcel for which they were particularly concerned?" "They were anxious about everything, and worried me about everything, but about no one thing especially that I can remember." This did not tally with my own observation and the extreme care taken of the child in the woman's arms. I did not look at the clock." "But you know by the steamers that arrive. You men must know which are due, and when they pass through." "Come, come, Antoine," broke in the conductor, determined to give him a lead, "you must know that; there are not so many. It would be about 2 P.M., wouldn't it, when the express boat comes from Vevey and Bouveret?" "Yes, I make no doubt of that," said the man, with a gleam of intelligence upon his stolid face. "And the ladies went on board it, you say?

You are sure?" "It must have been so; I certainly carried their traps on board." "Now, are you quite positive it was the two o'clock going that way, and not the quarter past two returning from Geneva?" I had my Bradshaw handy, and was following the time-table with my fingers. "The 2.15?" The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face. You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier.

I could easily make a mistake between them." "It is my firm belief," I said, utterly disgusted with the fellow, "my firm belief that you have made a mistake all through. You never saw the ladies at all, either of you." I turned upon the conductor with a fierce scowl. I've a precious good mind to report you to your superiors, and insist upon your refunding the money. My superiors will always listen first to one of their own employés, and it will be awkward if I charge you with obstructing an official and making false charges against him." Mine is a hasty temper; I am constrained to confess to a fault which often stood in my way especially in my particular business. The conductor's insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Without another word I rushed at him, caught him by the throat, and shook him violently, throwing him to the ground and beating his head upon it savagely. I was quickly removed like any malefactor to the lock-up in the town above, and was thus for the moment effectively precluded from continuing my pursuit. Law and order are not to be lightly trifled with in Switzerland, least of all in the Canton de Vaud. I had been taken in the very act of committing a savage assault upon an official in the execution of his duty, which is true to the extent that every Swiss official conceives it to be his duty to outrage the feelings and tyrannize over inoffensive strangers.

The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. I was not permitted to answer the charge against me, but was at once consigned to a cell, having been first searched and despoiled of all my possessions. Among them was my knife and a pocket revolver I generally carried, also my purse, my wallet with all my private papers, and my handbag. Both wallet and handbag were locked; they demanded the keys, thinking I had them hidden on my person, but I said they could find them for themselves, the truth being the locks were on a patent plan and could be opened with the fingers by any one who knew. My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it. I offered him any money in reason, I would pay any sum they might fix, pay down on the nail and give my bond for the rest.

My gaolers scouted the proposal indignantly. It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? what could I produce in cash on the nail? My bond would not be worth the paper it was written on. No, no, there was no chance for me; nothing could save me. I must go before the correctional police and pay in person for my offence. I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more.

I appealed to the British Consul; I insisted upon seeing him. When they laughed at me, saying that he would not interfere with the course of justice on behalf of such an unknown vagabond, I told them roundly that I was travelling under the special protection of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, the illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne. Let them bring me my wallet. I would show them my passport bearing the Royal Arms and the signature of one of H.M. All of us in the employ of Messrs. Becke invariably carried Foreign Office passports as the best credentials we could produce if we were caught in any tight place. The greeting of so great a personage to his trusty and well beloved Ludovic Tiler had a very marked effect upon my captors. It was enhanced by the sight of a parcel of crisp Bank of England notes lying snugly in the pocket of the wallet, which I had opened, but without betraying the secret of the spring.

When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release.

I was promised dinner from a restaurant hard by, and was permitted to send a brief telegram to Falfani, to the effect that I was detained at Lausanne by unforeseen circumstances, but no more. Then bedding was brought in, on which, after a night in the train, I managed to sleep soundly enough until quite late next morning. I had summoned Eugène Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened. He was prompt and practical, and proceeded to perform the commissions I gave him with all despatch. I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke's have friends and correspondents in every city of the world. He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice. I had been warned that I might expect to be examined that very day, but that several were likely to elapse before the final disposal of my case. All that forenoon, and quite late into the next day, I was left brooding and chafing at my misfortune, self-inflicted I will confess, but not the less irksome to bear.

I had almost persuaded myself that I should be left to languish here quite friendless and forgotten, when the luck turned suddenly, and daylight broke in to disperse my gloomy forebodings. First came the Consul, and with him an intelligent Swiss advocate, who declared he would soon put matters right. That was the only question.

And while we still discussed it we found amongst the callers a respectable and well-to-do watchmaker from Geneva, who had been entreated (no doubt from Becke's) to do all that was needful on my behalf. I might be of good cheer; there was no reasonable doubt but that I should be released, but hardly before next day. A second night in durance was not much to my taste, but I bore it with as much resignation as I could command; and when next morning I appeared before the Court, I paid my fine of one hundred francs with hearty good-will. I assured my bail, the friendly watchmaker, that he need not have the smallest fear I should again commit myself. My spirits rose with my release, but there was still more than freedom to encourage my light-heartedness. Falloon had come upon undoubted evidence that she had never left the great Jura-Simplon station, but had remained quietly out of sight in the "ladies' waiting-room" until the next train left for Geneva. This was at 1.35 P.M., and she must have slipped away right under my eyes into the very train which had brought me back from Vevey. So near are the chances encountered in such a profession as ours. Falloon had only ascertained this positively on the second day of my detention, but with it the information that only two first-class tickets, both for Geneva, had been issued by that train. To make it all sure he had taken the precaution to ask at all the stations along the line at which the train had stopped, seven in number, and had learned that no persons answering to my ladies had alighted at any of them.

So my search was carried now to Geneva, and it might be possible to come upon my people there, although I was not oversanguine. I knew something of the place. I had been there more than once, had stayed some time, and I knew too well that it is a city with many issues, many facilities for travelling, and, as they had so much reason for moving on rapidly, the chances were that they would have already escaped me. We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. The party had certainly been seen at this very station. Two ladies, one tall, the other short, with a baby.

They had gone no further then; they had not returned to the station since. But there was a second station, the Gare des Vollondes, at the opposite end of the city, from which ran the short line to Bouveret on the south shore of the lake, and I sent Falloon there to inquire, giving him a rendezvous an hour later at the Café de la Couronne on the Quai du Lac. Meanwhile I meant to take all the hotels in regular order, and began with those of the first class on the right bank, the Beau Rivage, the Russie, de la Paix, National, Des Bergues, and the rest. As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole. Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction. It was the lady herself.

She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot. At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. My lady made up her mind then and there, and as it paused she boarded it with one quick, agile spring. With no less prompt decision I followed her, and we entered the car almost simultaneously.

There were only two seats vacant and, curiously enough, face to face. "Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. The truth was my child had been suddenly taken ill and the nurse had to leave the train hurriedly. "But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake," she continued. I begin to like the place, and I have found very comfortable quarters at the Hôtel Cornavin, near the station.

There was surely some pitfall, some trap concealed for my abounding credulity. "The accommodation is good, nice rooms, civil people, decent cuisine. The tram-car by this time had run through the Place Molard, the Allemand Marché, and was turning into the Rue de la Corraterie, pointing upward for the theatre and the Promenade des Bastions. She settled the question by getting out at the Place Neuve with a few parting words. Do try the Cornavin. What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there? I could not afford to let her out of my sight, and with one spring I also left the car and, catching a last glimpse of her retreating skirts, gave chase. I cannot say whether she realized that I was following, but she led me a pretty dance. In and out, and round and round, by narrow streets and dark passages, backwards and forwards, as adroitly as any practised thief eluding the hot pursuit of the police.

At last she paused and looked back, and thinking she had shaken me off (for knowing the game well I had hastily effaced myself in a doorway) plunged into the entrance of a small unpretending hotel in a quiet, retired square--the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, certainly not the Cornavin.

The door in which I had taken shelter was that of a dark third-rate café well suited to my purpose, and well placed, for I was in full view of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, which I was resolved to watch at least until my lady came out again. As I slowly absorbed an absinthe, revolving events past and to come, I thought it would be well to draw Falloon to me. It was past the hour for our meeting. I scribbled three lines of a note and despatched it to the Café de la Couronne by a messenger to whom I fully described my colleague's appearance, desiring him to show the addressed envelope before delivery, but having no doubt that it would reach its destination. Presently Falloon joined me, and as my lady had as yet made no sign, I bade him continue the watch, while I left the café openly and ostentatiously, so that it might be seen by any one curious to know that I had given up the game. I designed only to try the Hôtel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable.

There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel. I was told directly I asked at the bureau that a Mrs. Blair, accompanied by her maid and child, was staying in the house. She was not at home for the moment. I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand.

I secured a room at the Cornavin Hôtel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once. With this idea I took the earliest opportunity of telegraphing to him as follows: "Detained by unfortunate contretemps at Lausanne, happily surmounted, clue lost and regained. "LUDOVIC." I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M.

It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. Combined we could tie ourselves to our quarry, and never let her out of sight until our principals could take over and settle the business. Then hailing a cab, I drove to a point close by where I had left Falloon, and found the situation entirely unchanged. No one had come out of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio. All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me. The more I tortured my brain to consider how, the less I was able to fathom her intentions.

The time ran on, and I thought it would be prudent to return to my own hotel. Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying. Falloon should stand his ground where he was, but I fully impressed upon him the importance of the duty entrusted to him. Blair had not returned when the table d'hôte bell rang at the Cornavin, but I had hardly swallowed the first spoonful of soup when Falloon appeared, hot and flurried, with very startling news. "Already her carriage enters the station--without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere." I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. There she was ahead of me, quite unmistakable, walking quickly, with her fine upright figure clad in the same pearl gray ulster she had worn in the tram-car. She passed through the open doors of the waiting-room on to the platform where the train was waiting with engine attached. "The 7.35 for Culoz and beyond by Amberieu to Paris," I was informed on inquiry. "A double back," I concluded on the spot. In another minute or two she would have eluded me once more.

As we were on the point of starting, I scribbled a few lines on a leaf torn from my pocket-book to inform Falfani of my hasty departure and the reason for it. This I folded carefully and addressed to him, entrusting it to Falloon, who was to seek out my colleague at the Hôtel Cornavin after the arrival of the late train from Brieg, and deliver it. At the same time I handed Falloon a substantial fee, but desired him to offer his services to Falfani. I saw no more of the lady. She did not show at Bellegarde when the French Customs' examination took place, nor yet at Culoz, and I believed she was now committed to the journey northward. But as I was dozing in my place and the train slowed on entering Amberieu, the guard whom I had suborned came to me with a hurried call. Madame has descended and is just leaving the station.

No doubt for the Hôtel de France, just opposite." There she was indeed with all her belongings. (How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. I quickened my pace and entered the hotel almost simultaneously with her. Ranging up alongside I said, not without exultation: "Geneva was not so much to your taste, then? You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. She was so closely veiled that I could not see her face, but it was the same figure, the same costume, the same air. No fear." I meant to spend the night on guard, watching and waiting till I was relieved by the arrival of the others, to whom I telegraphed without delay. I left my narrative at the moment when I had promised my help to the lady I found in such distress in the Engadine express.

I promised it unconditionally, and although there were circumstances in her case to engender suspicion, I resolutely ignored them.

It was her secret, and I was bound to respect it, content to await the explanation I felt sure she could make when so minded. It was at dinner in the dining-car, under the eyes of her persecutor, that we arranged to give him the slip at Basle.

As may be supposed I rejoiced greatly on reaching Brieg to find that Falfani had been bitterly disappointed. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne. He said he had lost "her," the lady of course. I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out. She certainly had not reached Brieg, for with my ally l'Echelle we searched the town for news of her that night and again next morning. The situation was embarrassing. I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief. One of us, l'Echelle or myself, continually watched him all that day, the third of this curious imbroglio into which I was plunged. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room. When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed.

"I'll appeal to the law, I'll denounce you to the authorities, I'll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment. I loathe and detest you. "I am the representative of a court of law; I have great people at my back, people who will soon bring you to book. The Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder will arrive shortly. I've told you before now what I think of Lord Blackadder, and if it be necessary I'll tell him to his face when he gets here." This conversation took place just before the table-d'hôte luncheon, and immediately afterwards Falfani went out in the direction of the railway station. I followed, keeping him in sight on the platform, where, by and by, I saw him, hat in hand, bowing obsequiously before a passenger who alighted from the incoming train. They walked back together to the hotel, and so, at a certain distance, did I. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me. "Earl of Blackadder" was the name engraved, and written just below in pencil were the words, "would like to speak to Colonel Annesley at once." "Well, I've no objection," I began, stiffly.

I thought the summons a trifle too peremptory. "Where is he?" The waiter pointed back to the hotel, and I saw a white, evil face glowering at me from a window on the ground floor of the hotel. The very look on it stirred my bile. It was an assumption of superiority, of concentrated pride and exaggerated authority, as though everyone must yield to his lightest wish and humble himself in the dust before him. I resented this, and slipping the card carelessly in my pocket, I nodded to the waiter, who still stood awaiting my reply. Mahomet came to the mountain. It wore an angry scowl now; his dark eyes glittered balefully under the close-knit eyebrows, his lips were drawn down, and the curved nose was like the aggressive beak of a bird of prey. "Colonel Annesley, I understand," he said coldly, contemptuously, just lifting one finger towards the brim of his hat.

"That is my name," I responded, without returning the salute. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel. There can be nothing between you and me, Lord Blackadder, that concerns me very closely; nothing that the whole world may not hear." "What I have to say might prove very unpleasant to you in the telling, Colonel Annesley. Say what you please, my lord, and, if you like, as loud as you please, only be quick about it." "With all my heart, then, if you will have it so. "People who forget themselves so far as you have done must accept the responsibility of their own actions; and I tell you, here and now, that I shall call you to strict account for yours." The man was trying me hard, but still I strove to keep my temper. No one would do so who had read the public prints lately." "How dare you, sir, refer to my conduct, or presume to criticize or question it?" he burst out. We are within a short step of either France or Italy, and in both countries the old-fashioned plan of settling affairs of honour is still in force. We shall find friendly seconds in the nearest garrison town, and I shall be glad to cross the frontier with you whenever you please." "You talk like the hectoring, swashbuckling bully that you are," he cried angrily, but looking rather uncomfortable....

"I will swear the peace against you." "Do so by all means. A man who would descend to espionage, who could so cruelly misuse a lady, is capable of anything; of making assertions he cannot substantiate, of threatening things he dare not do." "I have the clearest proof of what I say. You have chosen to come into my life--" "I should be extremely sorry to do so." "Will you deny that you have sided with my enemies, that you have joined and abetted them in a base plot to defraud and rob me of my--my--property, of that which I most highly value and cherish of all my possessions?" "I don't know what you are talking about, Lord Blackadder, but whatever your grievance I tell you candidly that I do not like your tone or your manner, and I shall hold no further converse with you." I turned my back on him and walked away. I shall go my own road, and I defy you to do your worst." Here, when I was on the threshold of the hotel, I met Falfani full, as he came running out excitedly, holding in his hand the telltale blue envelope, which, with his elated air, indicated clearly that he had just received important news. I paused for a moment, hoping he might commit himself, and was rewarded by hearing him say aloud: "It is from Geneva, my lord, from Ludovic Tiler," he began indiscreetly, and was angrily silenced by my lord, who called him "a triple-dyed idiot," and with a significant gesture towards me bade him walk away to some distance from the hotel. The mischief was done, however, for I had of course heard enough to know that the other detective had given signs of life at last, and that the report, to judge by Falfani's glee, must be satisfactory. The more pleased the other side, the more reason to fear that matters were adverse on ours. It might be thought that I was too hard on my Lord Blackadder, but only those few indeed who were unacquainted with the circumstances of his divorce would find fault with me.

The scandal was quite recent, and the Blackadder case had been in everybody's mouth. The papers had been full of it, and the proceedings were not altogether to his lordship's credit. They had been instituted by him, however, on grounds that induced the jury to give him a verdict, and the judge had pronounced a decree nisi on the evidence as it stood. Yet the public sympathies were generally with the respondent, the Countess of Blackadder.

It had been an unhappy marriage, an ill-assorted match, mercenary, of mere convenience, forced upon an innocent and rather weak girl by careless and callous guardians, eager to rid themselves of responsibility for the two twin sisters, Ladies Claire and Henriette Standish, orphans, and with no near relations. Lord Blackadder was immensely rich, but a man of indifferent moral character, a roué and a voluptuary, with a debilitated constitution and an unattractive person, possessing none of the gifts that take a maiden's fancy. Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. Distrust grew into strong suspicion, and presently consumed him when an old flame of Lady Henriette's, Charlie Forrester, of the Dark Horse, turned up from foreign service, and their names came to be bracketed together by the senseless gossiping busybodies ever ready to tear a pretty woman's reputation to tatters.

There was one very awkward story that could not be disproved as it was told, and in the upshot convicted her.

It was said, but not so positively, that she had met him at Victoria Station; they were seen there together, had travelled by the same train, and there was a strong presumption that they had arrived together at Brighton; one or two railway officials deposed to the fact. Lady Blackadder denied this entirely, and gave a very different complexion to the story. Major Forrester had seen her off, no doubt, but they had parted at the carriage door.

Her visit to Brighton had been for the purpose of seeing and staying with an old servant, once a very confidential maid for whom she had a great liking, and had often taken refuge with when worried and in trouble. She thought, perhaps, to make this the first stage in the rupture with my lord. This flight was the head and corner-stone of Lady Blackadder's offending. It was interpreted into guilt of the most heinous kind; the evidence in support of it seemed overwhelming. Witnesses swore positively to the companionship of Major Forrester, both at Victoria and Brighton, and it was to be fairly assumed that they were at the latter place together. The maid, a woman married to an ex-French or Swiss courier, by name Bruel, could not be produced, simply because she could not be found in Brighton. They were supposed to be settled there as lodging-house keepers, but they had not resided long enough to be in the Directory, and their address was not known. Lord Blackadder's case was that they were pure myths, they had never had any tangible existence, but were only imported into the case to support an ingenious but untenable defence. It was more than hinted that they had been spirited away, and they were not the first material witnesses, it was hinted, in an intricate case, conducted by Messrs.

So the plausible, nay, completely satisfactory explanation of Lady Blackadder's visit to Brighton could not be put forward, much less established, and there was no sort of hope for her. She lost her case in the absence of the Bruels, man and wife. The verdict was for Lord Blackadder, and he was adjudged to have the care and custody of the child, the infant Viscount Aspdale. I had not the smallest doubt when I realized with whom I had to do that the unhappy mother had made a desperate effort to redress her wrongs, as she thought them, and had somehow contrived to carry off her baby before she could be deprived of it. I had met her in full flight upon the Engadine express. The Court might order such an unnatural proceeding, but I was moved by every chivalrous impulse to give her my unstinting and unhesitating support to counteract it. I was full of these thoughts, and still firmly resolved to help Lady Blackadder, when l'Echelle, the conductor whose services I still retained, sought me out hurriedly, and told me that he believed the others were on the point of leaving Brieg. "I saw Falfani and milord poring over the pages of the Indicateur, and heard the word Geneva dropped in a whisper.

I think they mean to take the next train along the lake shore." "Not a doubt of it," I assented; "so will we.

They must not be allowed to go beyond our reach." When the 6.57 P.M. for Geneva was due out from Brieg, we, l'Echelle and I, appeared on the platform, and our intention to travel by it was made plain to Lord Blackadder. The effect upon him was painfully manifest at once. Seeing me enter the same carriage with him, with the obvious intention of keeping him under my eye, he threw himself back among the cushions and yielded himself with the worst grace to the inevitable. The railway journey was horribly slow, and it must have been past 11 P.M. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed. I expected them to take a carriage and drive off, and was prepared to give chase, when I found they started on foot, evidently to some destination close at hand. It proved to be the Cornavin Hôtel, not a stone's-throw from the station. They entered, and went straight to the bureau, where the night clerk was at his desk. I heard them ask for a person named Tiler, and without consulting his books the clerk replied angrily: "Tiler!

He has gone off from the dinner-table and without paying his bill." "That shall be made all right," replied Lord Blackadder loftily, as he detailed his name and quality, before which the employé bowed low. "And might I ask," his lordship went on, "whether a certain Mrs. Blair, a lady with her child and its nurse, is staying in the hotel?" "But certainly, milord. They have been here some days. This explains." And he passed the scrap of paper on to his employer.

He says the parties have gone, and that he is in close attendance; yet this fellow here," pointing to the clerk, "assures us she is in this very house. I don't understand it, by Gad!" "There is some fresh trick, my lord, you may be sure. The devil himself isn't half so clever as this fine lady.

But we'll get at the bottom of it. We shall hear more from Tiler, and we've got the lady here, under our hand." "Ah! How do you know, sir," to the clerk, "that Mrs. Blair is still in the hotel? See, it is marked in the register. Blair holds it still." "But she may not be in it, all the same. She may retain it, but not use it." "Look, my lord, look, there's one of her party, anyway," interposed Falfani, and he called his attention to a female figure standing a little aloof in the shadow of the staircase, and which I had already recognized. Lord Blackadder had not seen her, and now his eye, for the first time, fell upon me. Take yourself off, or I will not answer for the consequences." I confess I only laughed and still held my ground, although my lord's outcry had attracted much attention. Several people ran up, and they might have sided against me, when I heard a voice whisper into my ear: "Come, sir, come.

"I had no idea you were within miles, and was repining bitterly that I had let you get so far out of the way.

Now you appear in the very nick of time, just when I was almost in despair. Then with a conscious blush she went on. I can lay no claim to the title." "May I be forgiven if I trench on such a delicate subject, and assure you of my most sincere sympathy? I was watching that fellow, the detective Falfani, when his lordship came upon the scene. How am I to escape him?" "With the child?" "To be sure. Of course, I do not fear him in the least for myself." "You want to keep the child?" "Naturally, as I carried it off." "And still more because you had the best right to it, whatever the Court might direct. You are its mother." Again she blushed and smiled, rather comically. Yet he is very near getting it now." "In there?" I nodded towards the next room. How are you to manage it?" "There would not have been the slightest difficulty; it was all but done, and then some one, something, failed me.

I expected too much perhaps, but I have been bitterly disappointed, and the danger has revived." "Come, come, Lady Blackadder, keep up your courage. Let us take counsel together. "It is getting late, but you must hear all I have to tell before we can decide upon the next step.

First let me clear the ground a little. I am not Lady Blackadder--no, no, do not misunderstand me--not on account of the divorce, but I never was Lady Blackadder. I shall never forget that detestable trial, those awful days in the Divorce Court, when the lawyers fought and wrangled over my darling sister, like dogs over a bone, tearing and snarling at each other, while the judge sat above like a solemn old owl, never moving or making a sign. "Henriette positively refused to appear in the case, although she was pressed and entreated by her legal advisers. She could have thrown so much light on the worst and darkest part.

She could have repudiated the cowardly charges made, and cast back the lies drawn round her to ruin her. If the jury had but seen her pretty, pathetic face, and heard from her own sweet lips all she had endured, they would have come to a very different verdict. She would not defend the action; she did not want to win it, but waited till it was all over, hiding herself away in a far-off corner of the Apennines, where I was to join her with the child, little Ralph. "There had been no question of that; the possibility of her losing it had never been raised, or she would have nerved herself to fight sooner than give up what she valued more than her very life. "It fell upon me with crushing effect, although towards the end of the trial I had had my forebodings. Lord Blackadder was to have the custody of his heir, and my dear sweet Henriette was to be robbed for ever of her chiefest joy and treasure. The infant child was to be abandoned to strangers, paid by its unnatural and unfeeling father.

"I had braced myself to listen to all that came out in court, a whole tissue of lies told by perjured wretches whose evidence was accepted as gospel--one of them was the same Falfani whom you know, and who had acted the loathsome part of spy on several occasions. "Directly the judge had issued his cruel fiat, I slipped out, hurried down-stairs into the Strand, jumped into a hansom, and was driven at top speed to Hamilton Terrace, bent upon giving instant effect to a scheme I had long since devised. The dear baby was dressed quickly--he was as good as gold--the baggage, enough for my hurried journey to Fuentellato, had been packed for days past, and we took the road. When I first saw you at Calais I was seized with a terrible fear, which was soon allayed; you did not look much like a detective, and you were already my good friend when the real ruffian, Falfani, came on board the train at Amiens." "On reaching Geneva I at once opened communications with Henriette.

I felt satisfied, now that I had come so far, it would be well that she should join me, and that we should concert together as to our next proceedings.

Our first and principal aim was to retain the child at all costs and against all comers. I had no precise knowledge as to where we should be beyond the jurisdiction of the English law, but I could not believe that the Divorce Court and its emissaries could interfere with us in a remote Italian village.

He was so bold and unscrupulous that, if the law would not help him, he would try stratagem, or even force. We should be really safe nowhere if we once came within his reach, and, the best plan to keep out of his clutches was to hide our whereabouts from him. "Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her. If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. Farther afield, if necessary to the very end of the world. That was another reason for drawing my sister to me.

I had hit upon a cunning device, as I thought it, to confuse and deceive my pursuers, to throw them on to a false scent, lead them to follow a red herring, while the fox, free of the hunt, took another line." CHAPTER XVII. "There should be two Richmonds in the field! Two sets, two parties, each of them consisting of one lady, one maid, and one baby, exactly similar and indistinguishable. When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry. Run it to the death, while the party got clear away. Fuentellato was at no great distance from Parma, on the main line of railway. If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday.

My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. I had taken up my quarters in this hotel because it was so near the station, but I thought it prudent that Henriette should lodge somewhere else, the farther the better, and she went to a small place, the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, at the other end of the town.

"It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come. "We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help. There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required--the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment.

"Everything was completed by this morning, and I had settled that my sister, with her dear little Ralph, should get away, but by quite a new route, while I held my ground against the detectives. I felt sure they would soon hear of me and run me down. I hoped they would attach themselves to me, and meant to lead them a fine dance as a blind for Henriette, who, meanwhile, would have crossed to Lyons and gone south to Marseilles. The Riviera is a longer and more roundabout road to Turin, but it was open, and I hoped unimpeded.

Everything was cut and dried and this evening we scored the first point in the game. Henriette went on this evening to Amberieu, the junction for Lyons. She went straight from her hotel, alone, for of course I was obliged to keep close, or the trick would have been discovered, and it was in part.

"For I must tell you that to-day one of the detectives appeared in Geneva, not the first man, but a second, who attached himself to me at Basle. I met him plump on the Mont Blanc Bridge and turned tail, but he came after me. Then I got out and left him, making my way to the Pierre Fatio Hôtel by a circuitous route, dodging in and out among the narrow streets till I nearly lost myself. "I thought I had eluded him, and he certainly was nowhere near when I went into the hotel.

The man accosted her, taking her for me. So you see--" "If she goes round by Lyons to Marseilles, then, he would be at her heels, and the scheme breaks down in that respect?" "Not only that, I don't see that he could interfere with her, or do her much harm, and at Marseilles she might change her plans entirely. There are ever so many ways of escape from a seaport.

She might take ship and embark on board the first steamer bound to the East, for India or Ceylon, the Antipodes or far Cathay." "Well, why not?" "Henriette, my sister, has given way. Her courage has failed her at this, the most critical moment, when she is within a hair's breadth of success.

She is afraid to go on alone with little Ralph, and is running back to me by the first train to-morrow morning, at five or six o'clock." "Coming here? Into the very mouths of all the others!" "Just so, and all my great scheme will be ruined.

They cannot but find out, and there is no knowing what they may do.

What can I do?" She looked at me in piteous appeal, the tears brimming over, her hands stretched towards me with a gesture at once pathetic and enchanting. "Say, rather, what can we do, Lady Claire," I corrected her. "This is my business, too, if you will allow me to say so, and I offer you my advice for what it is worth." "Yes, I will take it thankfully, I promise you." "The only safe course now is the boldest. You must make another exchange with your sister, Lady Blackadder--" "Call her Lady Henriette Standish. She has dropped the other entirely." "By all means. Lady Henriette then has determined to take the first train from Amberieu at--Have you a Bradshaw? You must, if possible, exchange babies, and at the same time exchange rôles. I feel sure that you, at any rate, are not afraid of going to Marseilles with the real baby." "Hardly!" she laughed scornfully. The first and all-important is for you to secure the little Ralph and escape with him.

It will have to be done under the very eyes of the enemy, for there is every reason to fear they will be going on, too. The other detective, this Tiler--I have heard them call him by that name--will have told them of her ladyship's movements, and will have summoned them, Falfani at least, to his side." "If I go on by that early train they will, no doubt, do the same. I must not be seen by them. They would fathom the trick of the two parties and the exchange." "Yet you must go on by that train. It's the only way." "Of course I might change my appearance a little, but not enough to deceive them.

Cannot I go across to the station before them and hide in some compartment specially reserved for us?" "It might be managed. We might secure the whole of the seats." "Money is no object." "It will do most things, especially in Switzerland. Before 5 A.M." "If necessary I'll sit up all night." "Well, then, that's settled. I'll knock at your door and see you get some coffee." "Philpotts shall make it; no one in the hotel must know.

There will be the bill." "I will see to that. I'll come back after you're ensconced, with the blinds drawn. Sick lady on the way, via Culoz to Aix-les-Bains, must not be disturbed. It won't matter my being seen on the road, all the better really if my lord is there, for I have a little plan of my own, Lady Claire--no, please don't ask me yet--but it will help matters, I think." "You are, indeed, my true and faithful friend," she said, as she put out her hand and wished me good night. 17 I descended to the ground floor, seeking the smoking-room and a little stimulant to assist me in deciding the best course of action for the following day. As I passed along the corridor I caught sight of l'Echelle, whom I considered my man, in close confabulation with Falfani in a quiet corner. They could hardly have seen me, at least l'Echelle made no reference to the fact when he came to me presently and asked if I had any orders for the morning. The truth, please, or you get nothing more from me." "He is a vaurien and fainéant, and thinks others as bad as himself; said my lord would give me five hundred francs to know what you were doing, and find out whether the lady who travelled with us to Basle last Sunday is here in this house." "I've no objection to your taking his money if you will tell me something. Have you any idea?" "They all go on by the early train to Culoz or farther.

A pressing telegram has come from their man at Amberieu." "Ah! Then you may say that I am also going by that early train. They're not going to shake me off very easily. Tell them that, and that if they want the lady they'd better look for her. I shall be forgiven, I think, under the circumstances. The free use of coin had the desired effect at the railway station. I was met at a private door and escorted, with my precious party, by a circuitous route to where the 5.48 was shunted, waiting the moment to run back to the departure platform. There was a coupé ready for Lady Claire, and she took her place quietly, observed by no one but the obsequious official who had managed it all.

As for me, I walked boldly to the hotel and hung about the hall till the Blackadder party appeared and had left for the station. Then I asked the hotel clerk for Lady Claire's bill, paid it, with my own, and went over to the train, selecting a compartment close to the coupé.

As I passed it I knocked lightly on the window pane, giving a signal previously arranged between us. I do not think that Lord Blackadder saw me then, at the start. But at Bellegarde, the Swiss frontier, where there was a wait of half an hour for the Customs examination, an irritating performance always, but carried out here with the most maddening and overbearing particularity, everyone was obliged to alight from the train, and for the moment I trembled for Lady Claire. But the appeal addressed to the French brigadier, "un galant homme," of an invalid lady, too ill to be disturbed, was effectual, especially when backed by two five-franc pieces. Lord Blackadder was on the platform with the rest, and directly he saw me he came up with the same arrogant air, curiously blended with aggrieved helplessness. I shall appeal to the authorities. It affords protection to all who claim it against such people as you." "If you talk like that I'll give you some reason to seek the protection of the gendarmes or police," I cried, but checked myself at once.

I had made up my mind how to deal with him, but the time was not yet. "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture! Lord Blackadder hurried to his compartment at the end of the train some way from mine and the coupé. As I passed the latter, seeing the road clear, I gave the signal, and, taking out my railway carriage key, quickly slipped in. She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask. "The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously. "It is essential that we should have a few last words together. Naturally we must now be guided very much by the way things happen, but so far as possible we must prepare for them.

I don't believe Lord Blackadder has any idea you are in the train, and I much doubt that he expects to find Lady Henriette at Culoz. You think she will really be there?" "I feel sure of it.

It is just what she would do." "Then everything will depend on you. You must be alert and prompt, on the qui vive to seize your opportunity.

It will be your business to make your way to her with the dummy the instant the train stops." "I shall have to find her." "That is the first and chief thing on your part.

There are very few minutes for the whole job.

Find her, exchange burthens, send her to the train for Aix-les-Bains. It will be waiting there.

You hurry back to this coupé, lie low, and, if all goes well, you will be travelling on toward Amberieu before the enemy has the least notion what has occurred." "But one word, please. What will the enemy have been doing at Culoz? Say they catch sight of Henriette as soon as we do?" "I hope and trust they may. I count upon that as part of my programme." "But they will catch her, stop her, deprive her of our dear little Ralph." "Wait, wait. We shall both be moving about, and the best address I can give will be in London. Telegraph to me there to my club, the Mars and Neptune, Piccadilly. I will send instructions there to have all telegrams opened and retelegraphed to me at once. They shall be kept informed of my whereabouts daily. There, standing under the shadow of the dwarf plane-trees, but with not the slightest suggestion of concealment, was the exact counterpart of Lady Claire, her twin sister, Lady Henriette Standish, till lately Lady Blackadder.

She was staring intently at our train as it ran in, deeply anxious, no doubt, to note the arrival of her sister. "Give me a short start," I said to Lady Claire as I jumped out of the coupé. "You will see why." Even as I spoke I was satisfied that the pursuing party had recognized the object of their journey.

They had all alighted and were coming up the platform in great haste to where she stood. Had any doubt remained, it would have been removed by the appearance of a man who ran out from some back part of the station and waved them forward with much gesticulation. Here I interposed, and, rushing forward with all the ardour of a football player entering a scrimmage, I took Lord Blackadder by the throat and shook him. When that audacious and intemperate English Colonel so far forgot himself as to assault my lord the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder at Culoz Station in the open light of day before us all, I greatly rejoiced; for, although horror-stricken at his ruffianly conduct, I knew that he would get his deserts at last. The French authorities would certainly not tolerate brawling in the precincts of the railway station, and justice must promptly overtake the sole offender. The blackguard Colonel, the cause and origin of the disturbance, would, of course, be at once arrested and removed.

The fracas had naturally attracted general attention. A crowd quickly gathered around us, many passengers and a number of idlers, who drop from nowhere, as it might be, all drawn to the spot by overmastering curiosity. Everybody talked at the same time, asking questions, volunteering answers, some laughing shamelessly at my lord's discomfiture, a few expressing indignation, and declaring that such a scandal should not be permitted, and the guilty parties held strictly to account. The gendarmes on duty--a couple of them are always at hand in a French railway station--soon appeared, and, taking in the situation at the first glance, imposed silence peremptorily. "Let some one, one person only, speak and explain." The brigadier, or sergeant, addressed himself to me, no doubt seeing that I had assumed a prominent place in the forefront, and seemed a person of importance. "Monsieur here," I said, pointing to the Colonel, who, in spite of all we could do, still held my lord tight, "was the aggressor, as you can see for yourselves.

Who, then, is the other?" "An abominable vaurien," I answered with great heat. "A rank villain; one who outrages all decency, breaks every law, respects no rank--" "Bus, bus," cried the Colonel, in some language of his own, as he put me aside so roughly that I still feel the pain in my shoulder. I am, as you will perceive, an officer of the English army, and I appeal to you as a comrade, for I see by your decorations, no doubt richly deserved, that you are an ancien militaire. "Such as the wolf and the tiger and the snake expect from their victim." It made me sick to hear him currying favour with the gendarme, and still worse that it was affecting the old trooper, who looked on all as pekins, mere civilians, far inferior to military men. "Protection you shall have, mon Colonel, if you have a right to it, bien entendu," said the sergeant, civilly but cautiously. "I ask it because these people have made a dead set at me. They have tried to hustle me and, I fear, to rob me, and I have been obliged to act in my own defence." Before I could protest against this shameless misrepresentation of the fact, my lord interposed.

He was now free, and, gradually recovering, was burning to avenge the insults put upon him. His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel. "Take us before the station-master, or send for the Commissary from the town. I haven't the slightest objection." "Yes, yes, the Commissaire de police, the judge, the peace officer. Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. "With all my heart," cried the Colonel. It is my right; let us all go before the Commissary." "There is no Commissary here in Culoz.

I'm quite ready," assented the Colonel, with an alacrity I did not understand. "I desire most strongly to haul this hectoring bully before the law, and let his flagrant misconduct be dealt with in a most exemplary fashion." I caught a curious shadow flitting across my comrade Tiler's face at this speech. He," jerking his finger toward the Colonel, "wants us to waste as much time as possible, while my lady slips through our fingers and gets farther and farther on her road." "Where is she?" "Ah, where? No longer here, anyway." The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station. It had gone on, quite unobserved by any of us during the fracas, and it flashed upon me at once that the incident had been planned for this very purpose of occupying our attention while she stole off. My lady was travelling the other way--this way. Still there was a reason, a good one.

She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?" "She only came because I'd tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip," said Tiler. She's not the sort to hide herself easily, with all her belongings, the nurse and the baby and all the rest. But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix.

I mean to push this through to the bitter end. You will be careful, sergeant, to bring your prisoner along with you." "Merci bien! I do not want you or any one else to teach me my duty," replied the gendarme, very stiffly. It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side.

"A prisoner, am I?" cried the Colonel, gaily. When is it to be?" "Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22," Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way. Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him. The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him. I was a little doubtful of that slippery gentleman; although I had bought him, as I thought, the night before, I never felt sure of him. He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer. Was the money thrown away, and his intention now to go back on his bargain? Meanwhile Tiler and I thought it our pressing duty to utilize these few moments in seeking news of our lady and her party.

Oh, yes, many people, officials, and hangers-on about the station had seen her. Too much seen indeed, for the stories told were confusing and conflicting. One facteur assured us he had helped her into the train going Amberieu way, but I thought his description very vague, although Tiler swallowed the statement quite greedily. Another man told me quite a different story; he had seen her, and had not the slightest doubt of it, in the down train, that for Aix-les-Bains, the express via Chambery, Modane, and the Mont Cenis tunnel for Italy. This was the true version, I felt sure.

Why, then, Tiler asked, had she gone to Amberieu, running back as she had done with him at her heels? Why else had she returned to Culoz by the early train directly she thought she had eluded Tiler? The reasoning was correct, but Ludovic was always a desperately obstinate creature, jealous and conceited, tenacious of his opinions, and holding them far superior to those who were cleverer and more intelligent than himself. Then we heard the whistle of the approaching train, and we all collected on the platform. L'Echelle, as he came from the direction of the buvette, was a little in the rear of the Colonel and the gendarmes. He was grinning all over it and pointing toward the Colonel with his finger, derisively.

I was not inclined to trust him very greatly, but he evidently wished us to believe that he thought very little of the Colonel, and that we might count upon his support against him. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together. My lord very liberally provided first-class tickets for the whole of the party, but the Colonel took his own and paid for the gendarmes. He refused to travel in the same carriage with the noble Earl, saying openly and impudently that he preferred the society of honest old soldiers to such a crew as ours. L'Echelle, still sitting on the hedge, as I fancied, got in with the Colonel and his escort. On reaching Aix-les-Bains, we found the omnibus that did the service de la ville, but the Colonel refused to enter it, and declared he would walk; he cared nothing for the degradation of appearing in the public streets as a prisoner marching between a couple of gendarmes. He gloried in it, he said; his desire was clearly to turn the whole thing into ridicule, and the passers-by laughed aloud at this well-dressed gentleman, as he strutted along with his hat cocked, one hand on his hip, the other placed familiarly on the sergeant's arm. He met some friends, too,--one was a person rather like himself, with the same swaggering high-handed air, who accosted him as we were passing the corner of the square just by the Hôtel d'Aix. Basil my boy!" cried the stranger. Took up by the police?

I'm going before the beak and may want a witness as to character." "Right oh! There are some more of us here from the old shop--Jack Tyrrell, Bobus Smith--all Mars and Neptune men. They'll speak for a pal at a pinch. Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. "I've got a particular appointment there with Monsieur le Commissaire, and the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder." "Oh! By-by, you'll see me again, and all the chaps I can pick up at the Cercle and the hotels near." Then our procession passed on, the Colonel and gendarmes leading, Tiler and I with l'Echelle close behind. He had driven on ahead in a fiacre and was standing alone at the entrance to the police office, which is situated on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Ville, a pretty old-fashioned building of gray stone just facing the Etablissement Thermale, the home of the far-famed baths from which Aix-les-Bains takes its name. "In here?" asked my lord; and with a brief wave of his hand he would have passed in first, but the officers of the law put him rather rudely aside and claimed precedence for their prisoner. le Commissaire, who was there, seated at a table opposite his greffier, rose and bowed stiffly, inquiring our business, my lord pushed forward into the front and began very warmly, in passable French: "I am an aggrieved person seeking justice on a wrong-doer.

No one need claim it in the tone you have assumed." The Commissary was a solemn person, full of the stiff formality exhibited by members of the French magistracy, the juniors especially. He was dressed in discreet black, his clean-shaven, imperturbable face showed over a stiff collar, and he wore the conventional white tie of the French official. It is the duty of the officers of the law now present, and prepared, I presume, to make their report. I have been shamefully ill-used by that man there." He shook his finger at the Colonel. I am entitled to your best consideration." "Every individual, the poorest, meanest, is entitled to that in republican France. I must first hear the story from my own people. I shall complain to your superiors--I shall bring the matter before the British ambassador. I must ask you to behave yourself, to respect the convenances, or I shall be compelled to show you the door." "I will not be put down in this way, I will speak; I--I--" "Silence, monsieur. I call upon you, explicitly, to moderate your tone and pay proper deference to my authority." With this the commissary pulled out a drawer, extracted a tricolour sash and slowly buckled it round his waist, then once more turned interrogatively to the sergeant: "It is nothing very serious, M.

le Commissaire," said the treacherous gendarme.

Fi donc! Why the commonest voyous, the rôdeurs of the barrière, could not do worse.

Men of honour settle their disputes differently; they do not come to the police correctionnelle." "Pray do not think it is my desire," broke in the Colonel, with his customary fierceness. Duels are in contravention of the Code. le Commissaire, and it cannot be tolerated." "I am not responsible to you, sir, and will account for my action à qui de droit, to those who have the right to question me. The case is dismissed. Gendarmes, release your prisoner, and let everyone withdraw." We all trooped out into the square, where a number of persons had assembled, evidently the Colonel's friends, for they greeted him uproariously. "The prisoner has left the court without a stain upon his character," the Colonel shouted in answer to their noisy inquiries. Why did they run you in?" they still asked. He didn't mean it really;" and I could see that the Earl could hardly contain himself in his rage. Then, suddenly muttering something about "bounders" and "cads," he forced his way through and hurried off, shouting his parting instructions to us to join him as soon as possible at the Hôtel Hautecombe on the hill.

Nothing you have done has been of the very slightest use; on the contrary, through your beastly mismanagement I have been dragged into this degrading position, held up to ridicule and contempt before all the world. And with it all, the whole thing has failed. The situation is not hopeless, believe me. You may rely on us to regain touch with the fugitives without delay. I have a clue, and with your lordship's permission will follow it at once." I saw clearly that he was set upon the absurd notion he had conceived that the lady had gone westward, and I felt it my duty to warn the Earl not to be misled by Tiler. "There is nothing in his clue, my lord. "I will decide what it is worth." Then Tiler propounded his theory. "It might be good enough," I interjected, "if I did not know the exact contrary. The lady with her party was seen going in exactly the opposite direction. His lordship looked from one to the other, plainly perplexed and with increasing anger.

"By the Lord Harry, it's pleasant to be served by a couple of such useless creatures who differ so entirely in their views that they cannot agree upon a common plan of action. How can I decide as to the best course if you give me no help?" "Perhaps your lordship will allow me to make a suggestion?" I said gravely, and I flatter myself with some dignity, for I wished to show I was not pleased with the way he treated us. "Whether the lady has gone north or south, east or west, may be uncertain; and although I am satisfied in my own mind as to the direction she took, I am willing to await further developments before embarking on any further chase. To my mind the best clue, the real, the only clue, lies here, in our very hands. If we have only a little patience, this Colonel Annesley will act as a sign-post." "You think that some communication will reach him from the fugitives?" "Most decidedly I do. I firmly believe that the lady relies upon him greatly, and will in all probability call him to her, or if not that she will wish to let him know how she has got on." For the first time in this unpleasant interview his lordship looked at me approvingly.

"It ought not to be difficult, seeing that he was here half an hour ago, and we can hunt up l'Echelle, who will surely know, and who I have reason to hope is on our side." "Do it one way or another. I look to you for that, and let me know the result without loss of time.

Then we will confer again and arrange further. Leave me now." I accepted my dismissal and moved towards the door, but Tiler hung behind, and I heard him say timidly: "May I crave your lordship's pardon--and I trust you rely on my entire devotion to your lordship's service--but there is one thing I most earnestly desire to do." "Go on." "And that is to follow my own clue, at least for a time. It is the right one I firmly believe, and I am satisfied it would be wrong, criminal even to neglect it. That should suffice to settle the point. If, as I hope and believe, I strike the scent, assuredly you will not regret it." "There's something in what you say. "I am willing to wait a day or two until you return or report, or unless something more definite turns up in the other direction. I suppose he can be spared, Falfani?" "He will be no manner of use here, it will be better to let him go; let him run after his red herring, he'll precious soon find out his mistake." "We shall see," said Tiler, elated and cocksure, and I freely confess we did see that he was not quite the fool I thought him. On leaving his lordship I descended to the grand entrance to the hotel with the intention of beating up the Colonel's quarters in Aix. Although the hotels were certain to be crowded at this, the height of the season, the town is not really large, the visitors' lists are well posted with new arrivals, and there are one or two public places where people always turn up at some time or other in the day.

The cercle or casino and its succursale the Villa des Fleurs, with their many spacious rooms, reading-room, concert-room, baccarat-room, their restaurants, their beautiful gardens, are thronged at all hours of the day with the smart folk of all nationalities. I stood on the top of the steps waiting for the private omnibus that plies between the hotel and the town below, when I heard my name called from behind, and turning, was confronted by Jules l'Echelle. "What brings you up here?" "The Colonel, my master--for I have taken service with him, you must know--sent me here to inquire whether we could have rooms." "Why does he choose this hotel of all others?" I asked in a dissatisfied tone, although in my secret heart I was overjoyed.

"It's the best, isn't it? Haven't you come here?" "My Lord Blackadder has, but that's another pair of shoes. There's some difference between him and a beggarly half-pay Colonel who will very likely have to black the boots to work out his bill. They know how to charge here." "The Colonel, I take it, can pay his way as well as most people.

He said something about going through the course, taking the baths, and among the rest asked me to find out the best doctor." "That'll mean a lengthened stay; three weeks at least." "Well, why shouldn't he? He's his own master." "Then he's finished with that foolish business about the lady; had enough of it, I suppose; burnt his fingers and done no earthly good." "How do I know? It will be easy to say there are no rooms. He looks both sides of his money, and pays no fancy prices for a pig in a poke." "Then I'll take my pigs to another market. Suppose I let the Colonel know what you've been at, trying to tamper with me.

This hotel wouldn't be big enough to hold him and your patron together." "Well,"--I hesitated, not willing to appear too anxious,--"let's say, just for argument's sake, that you got what you ask, or something near it. I'm not in a position to promise it, no, not the half of it. Think first of my lord, put his interests before the Colonel's; tell us what the Colonel's doing, his game from day to day, read his letters, and tell us their contents; spy on his actions, watch him at every turn, his comings and his goings; the houses he calls at, the people he meets, every move he makes or has in view?" "If I promise to do all that will you promise not to give me away? You'll keep your own counsel and protect me from the Colonel? If he got a whisper I was selling him I'd lose my place and he'd half kill me into the bargain." "Not a soul shall know but my lord and myself. I must consult him, or you won't get the money." "But there is that other chap, the one who joined us at Culoz, and who was with you at the Commissariat, a new face to me. One of your own party, wasn't he?" "To be sure, Tiler; he's on the job, too, came out when I did from London. He thinks he knows better than any one else; believes the lady has harked back, and is following her to Amberieu, Maçon, Paris, England perhaps. She was seen in the express for Modane, making for the Mont Cenis tunnel. Of course that's the true direction.

She was aiming for Italy from the first; the other sister, the divorced lady, is there; we've always known that. I'd stick to my opinion against fifty fools like Tiler." "It's a bargain, then; I can count upon the cash? I'd like to begin at once; there's something I would tell you here, and now, that would interest you very much. I won't keep you five minutes." My lord gave his consent a little grudgingly, but was presently persuaded that it was to his own advantage to have a spy in the heart of the enemy's camp. That was soon seen when l'Echelle had pocketed his notes and gave us the news in exchange.

"Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly. He'll be off then faster than that," he snapped his fingers, "and you won't find it easy to catch him." "That's good. When I take an employer's pay I serve him faithfully and to the best of my power," he said with an engaging frankness that won me completely. Why should he be more faithful to my lord than to the Colonel? The rest of the first day at Aix passed without any important incident. I was a trifle surprised that the Colonel did not put in an appearance; but it was explained by l'Echelle, whom I met by appointment later in the day. I understood from him that the Colonel had decided to remain down in the town, where he had many friends, and where he was more in the thick of the fun.

For Aix-les-Bains, as every one knows, is a lively little place in the season, and the heart and centre of it all is the Casino.

The Colonel had established himself in a hotel almost next door, and ran up against me continually that afternoon and evening, as I wandered about now under the trees listening to the band, now at the baccarat table, where I occasionally staked a few jetons of the smaller values. If any one was with him, as was generally the case--smart ladies and men of his own stamp, with all of whom he seemed on very familiar terms--he invariably drew their attention to me, and they, too, laughed aloud after a prolonged stare. Once he had the effrontery to accost me as I stood facing the green board on which the telegrams are exposed. Ah, of course, my old friend Falfani, the private detective who appeared in the Blackadder case. I don't know you, I don't wish to know you," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume.

But several of his rowdy friends closed around me and held me there, compelled to listen to his gibes as he rattled on. None the worse for that little contretemps this morning. If there is anything I can do for his lordship, any information I can give him, he knows, I trust, that he can command me. Does he propose to make a lengthened stay here?" "His lordship--" I tried vainly to interrupt him. "Let me urge him most strongly to go through the course. The warm baths are truly delightful and most efficacious in calming the temper and restoring the nerve-power. He should take the Aix treatment, he should indeed. I am the only person who can be of any use to you.

He can choose his own agents." "And in his own sneaking, underhand way," the Colonel answered quickly, and with such a meaning look that I was half-afraid he suspected that we were tampering with his man. "But two can play at that game, as you may find some day." When I met l'Echelle that same evening as arranged, at the Café Amadeo in the Place Carnot, I questioned him closely as to whether his master had any suspicion of him, but he answered me stoutly it was quite impossible. By the way, have you heard anything of your other man?" "Why should I tell you?" "Oh, don't trouble; only if I could pass him on a bit of news either way it might lead him to show his hand. If Tiler is getting 'hot'--you know the old game--he might like to go after him. If Tiler is thrown out the Colonel will want to give help in the other direction." "That's sound sense, I admit. Of all the born idiots!" "Poor devil! The more I saw of l'Echelle the more I liked him. Nothing fresh occurred that night or the next day. I was rather struck by a change in his demeanour.

Half a dozen times to-day he's asked me to inquire if there's a telegram for him, and he haunts the hall porter's box continually in the hope of getting one. Have you heard any more from Tiler?" "Yes, another mad telegram, this time from Marseilles. The folly of it!" "What does my lord say?" "Plenty, and it's not pleasant to bear. He wants to go racing after Tiler now, and if he does he'll give away the whole show. But cheer up, copain, things may mend." They did, as often happens when they seem to be at their worst. I have always been an early riser, and was specially so at Aix, now when the heat was intense, and the pleasantest hours of the day were before the sun had risen high. I was putting the finishing touches to my toilette about 7 A.M. There is not a moment to lose.

I've a fiacre at the door below." He gave the établissement as the address, and we were soon tearing down the hill. As we drove along l'Echelle told me the news. He simply jumped for joy when he read it." "But what was the message? But I mean to see it pretty soon, and so shall you." "You mean to abstract it somehow--pick his pocket, or what?" "Simplest thing in the world.

You see he's gone to have his bath, he likes to be early, and he's undergoing the douche at this very moment, which means naturally that he's taken off his clothes, and they are waiting in the dressing-room for me to take home. I shall have a good quarter of an hour and more to spare before they carry him back to the hotel in his blankets and get him to bed." "Ha!" I said, "that's a brilliant idea. How do you mean to work it out?" "Take the telegram out of his waistcoat pocket, read it, or bring it to you." "Bring it; that will be best," I interrupted, feeling a tinge of suspicion. "But I must put it straight back," continued l'Echelle, "for he is sure to ask for it directly he returns to the hotel." Within a few minutes he had gone in and out again, carrying now one of the black linen bags used by valets de chambres to carry their masters' clothes in.

He winked at me as he passed, and we walked together to a shady, retired spot in the little square where the cab-stand is, and sat in the newspaper kiosk on a couple of straw-bottomed chairs of the Central café. "Read that," he said triumphantly, as he handed me the familiar scrap of blue paper. My lord will be very grateful to you," and I handed him back the telegram, having first copied it word for word in my note-book. "It means, I suppose," suggested l'Echelle, "that you will make for Milan, too?" "No fear--by the first train.

You'll be clever if you get the start of us, for I presume you will be moving." "I haven't the smallest doubt of that; we shall be quite a merry party. I had no reason to complain of the course of events culminating in the affair at Culoz. I defended to myself the assault upon Lord Blackadder as in a measure provoked and justifiable under the circumstances, although I was really sorry for him and at the poor figure he cut before the police magistrate and gendarmes. But I could not forget the part he had played throughout, nor was I at all disposed to turn aside from my set purpose to help the ladies in their distress. Every man of proper feeling would be moved thereto, and I knew in my secret heart that very tender motives impelled me to the unstinting championship of Lady Claire. I was still without definite news of what had happened between the two sisters while I was covering their movements at Culoz. I could not know for certain whether or not the exchange had actually been effected, and I did not dare inquire about the station, for it might betray facts and endanger results. Lady Claire would almost certainly telegraph to me via London at the very earliest opportunity, and I was careful to wire from Culoz to the hall porter of my club, begging him to send on everything without a moment's delay. Then, while still in the dark, I set myself like a prudent general to discover what the enemy was doing. He was here in Aix in the persons of Lord Blackadder and his two devoted henchmen, Falfani and Tiler.

I had heard the appointment he had given them at the Hôtel Hautecombe, and I cast about me to consider how I might gain some inkling of their intentions.

Luckily I had desired l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, to stick to me on leaving the police office, and I put it to him whether or not he was willing to enter my service. It is likely that I may wander about the Continent for some time, and it may suit you to come with me." He seemed pleased at the idea, and we quickly agreed as to terms. Find out what the other side is at, and contrive somehow to become acquainted with Lord Blackadder's plans." "How far may I go?" he asked me plump. "They are pretty sure to try and win me over, they've done so already. Shall I accept their bid? It would be the easiest way to know all you want." "It's devilish underhand," I protested.

"You'll be paying them back in their own coin," he returned. "A corsaire fieffé corsaire et demi. It will be to my advantage, and you won't lose." "Upon my soul, I don't quite like it." I still hung back, but his arguments seemed so plausible that they overcame my scruples, and I was not sorry for it in the long run.

[The reader has already been told how Falfani craftily approached l'Echelle, and found him, as he thought, an easy prey. We know how the communication was kept up between the two camps, how Falfani was fooled into believing that he kept close watch over Colonel Annesley through l'Echelle, how the latter told his real master the true news of the progress made by Tiler. When there could be little doubt that the chase was growing warm and had gone as far as Lyons, the Colonel felt that there was danger and that he must take more active steps to divert the pursuit and mislead the pursuers. The Colonel shall continue in his own words.] I was much disturbed when I learnt that Tiler had wired from Lyons. The next message would disclose the whereabouts of the Lady Claire, at that time the only lady, as they thought, in the case, and the lady with the real child. It would soon be impossible for me to make use of the second with the sham child to draw the pursuers after her. In this it must be understood that, although I had no certainty of it, I took it for granted that the little Lord Aspdale was with his aunt and not with his mother, who, as I sincerely believed, had already reached Fuentellato. It was essential now to persuade my Lord Blackadder and his people that this was the case, and induce them to embark upon a hasty expedition into Italy.

I therefore concocted a cunning plan with l'Echelle for leading them astray.

It was easy enough to arrange for the despatch of a telegram from Milan to me at Aix, a despatch to be handed in at the former place by a friend of l'Echelle's, but purporting to come from Lady Claire. My man had any number of acquaintances in the railway service, one or more passed daily through Aix with the express trains going east or west; and with the payment of a substantial douceur the trick was done. The spurious message reached me in Aix early on the third morning, and the second act in the fraud was that l'Echelle should allow Falfani to see the telegram. He carried out the deception with consummate skill, pretending to pick my pocket of the telegram, which he then put under Falfani's eyes. The third act was to be my immediate exit from Aix. I made no secret of this, very much the reverse. Notice was given at the hotel bureau to prepare my bill, and insert my name on the list of departures by the afternoon express, the 1.41 P.M. And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, came a complete change in the situation.

Not long after I had consumed my morning café au lait and rolls, the conventional petit déjeuner of French custom, a letter was brought to my bedside, where, again according to rule, I was resting after my bath. I expected no letters, no one except the porter of my London club knew my present address, and the interval was too short since my telegram to him to allow of letters reaching me in the ordinary course of the post. I turned over the strange missive, the address in a lady's hand quite unknown to me, examining it closely, as one does when mystified, guessing vainly at a solution instead of settling it by instantly breaking the seal. When at last I opened it my eye went first to the signature. To my utter amazement I read the name, "Henriette Standish." It was dated from the Hôtel de Modena, Aix-les-Bains, a small private hotel quite in the suburbs in the direction of the Grand Port, and it ran as follows: "DEAR COLONEL ANNESLEY:--I have only just seen in the Gazette des Etrangers that you are staying in Aix. I thought of remaining here a few days longer, but I have also read Lord Blackadder's name in the list. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, your extreme kindness to Claire emboldens me to make this appeal to you. I shall be at home all the morning.

Indeed, I have hardly left the house yet, and certainly shall not do so now that I know he is here. Was there ever such a broken reed of a woman? Already she had spoilt her sister's nice combinations by turning back from Amberieu when the road to safety with her darling child lay open to her. Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. How could I hope to lure her pursuers away to a distance when she was here actually on the spot, and might be run into at any moment? For the present all my movements were in abeyance. I had reason to fear--how much reason I did not even then realize--they would be interfered with, and that a terrible collapse threatened us. I dressed hurriedly and walked down to the Hôtel Modena, where I was instantly received. Blair" had given orders that I should be admitted the moment I appeared. I had had one glimpse of this tall, graceful creature, who so exactly reproduced the beautiful traits of her twin sister that she might indeed at a distance be taken for her double.

There was the same proud carriage of her head, the same lithe figure, even her musical voice when she greeted me with shy cordiality might have been the voice of Lady Claire. But the moment I looked into her face I saw a very distinct difference, not in outward feature, but in the inward character that is revealed by the eyes, the lines of the mouth, the shape of the lower jaw. In Lady Claire the first were steady and spoke of high courage, of firm, fixed purpose; the mouth, as perfectly curved as Cupid's bow, was resolute and determined, the well-shaped, rounded chin was held erect, and might easily become defiant, even aggressive. Lady Henriette was evidently cast in another mould. Her eyes, of the same violet blue, were pretty, pleading, soft in expression, but often downcast and deprecating; the mouth and chin were weak and irresolute. It was the same lovely face as Lady Claire's, and to some might seem the sweeter, indicating the tender, clinging, yielding nature that commonly appeals to the stronger sex; but to me she lost in every respect by comparison with her more energetic, self-reliant sister.

I heard the explanation, such as it was, without the smallest surprise; it was very much what I expected now when I was permitted to know and appreciate her better. "But the moment I found I had to part with my child my courage broke down. I am not brave, you know, like my dearest Claire, or strong-minded, and I quite collapsed." "But I hope and trust you have made the exchange. Lady Claire has little Lord Aspdale and has left you the dummy? Tell me, I beg." "Oh, yes, yes, we made the exchange," she replied, in such a faltering, undecided voice that I doubted, and yet could not bring myself to believe that she was not telling the truth. It would be a very serious matter if--if--" "The contrary was the case," I wanted to say, yet how could I? "But what will happen now?" she said, her voice faltering, her eyes filling, and seemingly on the very verge of hysterics. "What if Blackadder should find that I am here, and--and--" "He can do nothing to you unless he has a right to act, unless," I answered unhesitatingly and a little cruelly perhaps, regardless of the scared look in her face, "you have good reason to dread his interference. Where is little Lord Aspdale?" "In there!" she pointed to an inner room, and burst into uncontrollable tears.

To say that I was aghast at the discovery of Lady Blackadder, or, as she preferred to call herself, Lady Henriette Standish, in Aix, and with the precious child, would but imperfectly express my feelings. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action. I sat there helplessly staring at the poor creature, so full of grief and remorse that I was quite unable to rise to the occasion. The most essential thing was to get Lord Blackadder away from Aix. So long as he remained he was an ever present danger; our game was up directly he awoke to the true state of affairs. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. Clearly I must go, and that not alone, but take them with me, following me under the positive impression that I was leading them straight to their goal. Not one hint, not the slightest suspicion must be permitted to reach them that their quarry was here, just under their feet. When I had gone on with the others at my heels, the coast would be clear for Lady Henriette, and she must double back once more and go into safe hiding somewhere, while the hunt overshot its quarry and rolled on. But the idea of parting from me now that she had laid hold of me was so repugnant to her that she yielded once more to her nerves.

I'll do what you like, disguise myself, go third class, anything; but for goodness' sake don't desert me, or I don't know what will happen." "There is simply no help for it, Lady Henriette. It is imperative that you should remain here at least for a day or two while the others clear out of your way. It would be quite fatal if they saw you or you came across them." "Oh, you're too cruel, it is perfectly inhuman. I think I am the most wretched and ill-used woman alive." These lamentations and indirect reproaches rather hardened my heart.

The woman was so unreasonable, so little mindful of what was being done for her, that I lost my patience, and said very stiffly: "Lady Henriette, let us quite understand one another. I tell you candidly there is only one way to save it." "My darling Aspdale! You ought never to have kept it--it was madness to come here and run straight into the jaws of danger." "How was I to know?" she retorted, now quite angrily. You are most unkind." "Dear, dear," I said fretfully, "this is all beside the question. What is most urgent is to shield and save you now when the peril is most pressing." "And yet you propose to leave me to fight it out alone? I have explained the necessity. Surely you must see that it would be madness, quite fatal for us, to be seen together, or for you to be seen at all. I must still hoodwink them by going off this afternoon." "And leave me without protection, with all I have at stake?

If only Claire was here." "It wouldn't mend matters much, except that Lady Claire would side with me." "Oh, yes, you say that, you believe she thinks so much of you and your opinion that she would agree to anything you suggest." "Mine is the safest and the only course," I replied, I am afraid with some heat. "Really, Lady Henriette, you will drive me to wash my hands of the whole business. Unless you are disposed to change your views, I shall stick to mine; and I do not see the use of prolonging this interview. I will bid you good day." I moved towards the door, still keeping an eye on her, believing her to be quite set in her fatuous refusal to hear reason. She still held herself erect and defiant, and there seemed to be small hope of doing anything with her.

Then suddenly I saw symptoms of giving way. Signals of distress were hung out in her quivering lip and the nervous twitching of her hands. The situation was awkward, embarrassing. At another time I might have been puzzled how to deal with it, but this was a moment of supreme emergency. A great crisis was imminent, the ruin of our scheme and the downfall of our hopes were certainly at hand if I gave way to her. Everything depended upon my action, and I knew that the only chance of safety lay in the execution of my design.

I counted, at any rate, and with some assurance, on the approval of Lady Claire if the details of this painful scene should ever come to her ears. Time was too precious to be wasted in any attempts to win her back to common sense, and without waiting for permission I crossed the room, rang the bell, and begged the waiter to summon the lady's maid. I will not go with you; certainly not in the dark. Is it likely that I should trust myself alone with an almost complete stranger--a man who has shown me so little consideration, who has been so unkind, so cruel, and who now wants to carry me off goodness knows where, because he is so obstinately determined that his is the right way to proceed." "Lady Henriette," I said civilly but very coldly, and putting the drag on myself, for I confess she was trying me very hard, "let there be no misunderstanding between us. Either you consent to my proposals absolutely and unhesitatingly, or I shall withdraw altogether from your service. Of course you must have your own way, and every one else must give in to you," she cried with aggravating emphasis, giving me no credit for trying to choose the wisest course. "I know I'm right," I urged, a little feebly perhaps, for I was nearly worn out by her prejudice and utterly illogical refusal to see how the land lay.

Have everything packed, please, and the bill paid. I returned to my hotel vexed and irritated beyond measure by my passage at arms with Lady Henriette Standish, and hating the prospect of any further dealings with her. Matters would have been very different had her strong-minded sister been on the spot to use her influence and help us with her counsel. What a contrast between the two women! I was more and more drawn to the one, and more and more heartily despised the other. With my mind full of the beautiful creature who had made me a willing captive to her charms, her gracious presence was recalled to me by a message from under her own hand. As I passed the threshold of my hotel, the hall porter gave me a telegram from Lady Claire.

It had come via London, but the office of origin was Marseilles. "One of them turned up this morning--have no fear--exchange not effected--shall remain here for the present--Hotel Terminus. She told me just exactly all that it was essential to know: of the pursuit, of the absence of pressing danger, of the abortive attempt to exchange babies, and where she was to be found. It was now barely 10 A.M., and the time intervening before the departure of the eastward bound express (three and a half hours) was none too much to carry out my intentions as to Lady Henriette. I first of all ordered a covered landau to be harnessed as speedily as possible, and to be sent to await me in a side street near the Hôtel Modena; then I summoned l'Echelle and bade him make all ready for the journey. I also told him that I should be busily engaged that forenoon; but that as I might be obliged to run it very close for the train, he was to make all preparations, to take the tickets, and await me on the platform. I had debated anxiously with myself how far I should betray the presence of Lady Henriette in Aix to l'Echelle, and decided that, although I had no particular reason to doubt him, I felt that it would be more prudent to keep the fact to myself. For the same reason I kept him busily engaged in my bedroom packing, lest he should spy upon my movements. There was still the fear that Falfani might be on the watch, but I had been assured by l'Echelle that the Blackadder party were so satisfied by the news he gave them that they left the business of shadowing almost entirely to him.

I was pretty sure that I reached the Hôtel Modena unobserved. I came upon the carriage by the way, and as I passed briefly desired the driver to follow me to the Hôtel Modena.

Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room. She was there, dressed in hat and jacket, and so far disposed to comply with my wishes. Her maid, Victorine, was with her, the baby on her knee. Her baggage, happily light enough, was there, packed and all ready for a start. But if I thought that Lady Henriette meant to yield without another skirmish I was sadly mistaken. "The carriage is at the door," I said as pleasantly as possible. "Very much the reverse indeed.

The more I think over it the more outrageous and preposterous your behaviour seems. I must have a plain categorical answer or I will not move an inch." Her dogged, determined air was belied by her dress and the obvious preparations already made for departure. Her present attitude I set down to the vacillation of her character. She might make up her mind one moment and one way, and yet be quite prepared to change it the next.

"You are fully entitled to know where you are going, and I have not the smallest desire to keep it from you," I replied, still speaking in a smooth, courteous voice. "I propose that you should take up your residence for a time--the very shortest time possible--at Le Bourget, a small place at the head of the lake. You may know it; there is a snug little hotel in the village, the Dent du Chat. I dislike the whole idea exceedingly. Why should I be buried alive in such an out-of-the-way spot?" "It will be no worse than Fuentellato, a place you chose for yourself." "I have a house of my own there--my own servants. It is perfectly safe." "Not now, believe me, they will come upon you there; trace you easily and quickly, and they are capable of any violence to capture and deprive you of your treasure." I pointed to the child on the maid's knee. "I shall be more at their mercy here in Aix." "Be guided by me. All will be well if you will only keep out of the way now for a few hours, perhaps at most a couple of days.

If they do not find you at once they will never find you. Only let me have a short start ahead and I'll lead them a pretty dance, and take them further and further away. You may rely on it, and I assure you they will never be able to find you or do you any harm." "I wish I could believe you," she said. "If I could only believe in you and trust you as Claire does," she murmured pathetically, still tortured by doubt. If she were only here, or I knew where to find her!" I was on the point of imparting my last news, but I checked myself. Lady Henriette had seen her last, and must be well aware of the direction she was taking to Lyons and Marseilles. She would be mad to join her, and it was my most earnest wish that, for the present at least, Lady Henriette should keep quiet in the background with her charge.

We had words--" "Ah!" I had heard enough to know that there had been a strong difference of opinion, a sharp quarrel probably, and that Lady Claire had not spared her sister at this fresh exhibition of ridiculous weakness. "May I ask, please, whether you were to believe in me or not?" I resumed, taking up the discussion where I had left it. I will go, but under protest." She led the way herself and entered the carriage first, motioning to Victorine to hand her the baby and take her seat inside. But I also got in without invitation, only explaining that it might not be wise to show myself on the box. The coachman had his orders, and he drove off briskly along the Marlioz road till he reached the turning towards the head of the lake. In less than an hour we pulled up before the Hôtel Dent du Chat, a simple, unpretending hostelry, to which I had telegraphed in advance, stating my needs. We were received with profuse civility, the best of everything placed at our disposal, a best at which Lady Henriette, as I might have expected, turned up her nose, sniffing and scornful. She uttered no complaint, she would not address a word to me; her air was one of lofty, contemptuous reserve; she intimated plainly that we were "dead cuts." Only at the last, just as I was driving away and lifted my hat in farewell, she yielded to an impulse of despair, and seized my arm in almost frenzied appeal.

I can never face this place alone." Her last appeal touched me to the quick. Once more I sought to explain the dire necessity for this act that seemed so barbarous, but she was deaf to all my arguments, and still clung to me nervously as I climbed into the carriage. When at length I got away, and I persisted in leaving, being so fully satisfied it was for the best, her piteous, reproachful accents still rung in my ears, and I shall count that return drive to Aix as the most miserable hour I have passed in my life. The whole episode had occupied much time, and it was already past one when I reëntered the town. I drove straight to the railway station, and was met outside it by the faithful l'Echelle.

They have gone half an hour ago, and not by the eastern but the western express." "You saw them?" "I spoke to them. Falfani himself told me of the change in their plans. The latest news from their man in the south was so positive, and has so convinced my lord, that he is hastening full speed to join Tiler, and they are only too delighted to leave you behind." I laughed aloud with intense satisfaction. You have no reason to fear them?" "Not the least in the world, they are playing into my hands. I shall be glad to go on with the baths." But I was thinking really of that poor creature I had abandoned at Le Bourget, and overjoyed to think that I might now meet her wishes, and perchance regain something of her good-will. Once more I took the road to Le Bourget, driving over by the first fiacre I could pick up on the stand, a much slower journey than the first, and it was nearly 3 P.M.

when I reached the little hotel. "Madame went very soon after monsieur," said the patronne, in high dudgeon. She called me up and said I was to bring her the Indicateur. Then she must have a carriage as soon as it could be prepared to drive her to Culoz, fifteen miles away, meaning to take the train from there." "Not to Aix?" "Assuredly not, for when I suggested that she could more easily find the train there she told me to hold my tongue, that she knew very well what she was about, and wanted no observations from me." To Culoz? She was bound then to follow her sister, I felt sure of it; and I was aghast, foreshadowing the new dangers opening before her.

It was as much as I could do to restrain myself when I saw my gallant knight, the Colonel, rush at that despicable creature, Lord Blackadder, and shake him. I wanted to put my head out of the window and cry, "Well done!" But I saw the folly of it, much as I was delighted, and checked any demonstration of joy. I had no time to spare for anything outside our settled plan, so I jumped out on to the platform at once, and closely followed by Philpotts joined Henriette, and cried: "Quick, quick, dear, the train goes on in less than ten minutes. Give me the child, we must exchange again." "What do you mean?" she gasped, and looked at me dazed and bewildered. Why?" "Because Blackadder is over there, and in another minute or two the child will be taken forcibly from you. I do not understand, not in the least. I haven't heard, I do not know." "Go on to Fuentellato with the dummy. It is the easiest thing in the world. They will follow you, Colonel Annesley will see to that, while I carry our darling to some secure hiding-place and keep out of sight until we can meet.

There, do not, for heaven's sake, delay. Give me the child." "I can't, I can't. To think that now at the eleventh hour you should fail me and break down. Let me take little Ralph;" and I put out my arms for the child, which Victorine held. But the mother stood between us, seized the baby convulsively, and with a gesture of repulsion cried: "Go away, go away, you shall not have him. I don't care what happens, I will keep him against all the world." I pleaded and stormed in turn, I tried everything but force, all without avail. My foolish sister seemed to have taken leave of her senses; she thought nothing of the nearly certain collapse of our schemes, her one overmastering idea was, like any tigress, to resist all attempts to deprive her of her cub. Meanwhile the time ran on. Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M. If I lingered I should lose it, no great matter perhaps, seeing that the exchange, my principal object, had not been made; but if I remained with Henriette, she with her baby and I with mine, the whole of the artifice might at any moment be laid bare.

I had to decide then and there, and all I could think of at the time was to keep the enemy in the dark as to the doubled part of the baby. That was clearly the wisest course, and I should have taken it, but I was sorely vexed and put out by her obstinate refusal to play her part; and I told her so. "Once more and for the last time, Henriette, will you do what I want?" I asked her peremptorily. She only hugged her baby the closer and whispered a soft lullaby. "Then I shall go on with the other. They may still be drawn after me, and leave you to your own devices. The only thing for you to do is to take the first train the other way,--it will be here in ten minutes,--keep low and you may get through into Italy unobserved." "Are you really deserting me?" she cried piteously. "When shall I see you again?" "I shall go round the long journey to Marseilles, by the South of France, and will join you at Fuentellato. There is no reason why you should not get there.

Colonel Annesley will detain the others here, you may be sure of that. Good-bye, now," and without another word Philpotts and I ran round, regained the up platform, resumed our seats by the narrowest margin and proceeded on our way to Amberieu. The reaction from this agitating scene was little less than despair and collapse. Hardly, she had not the nerve, I had almost said the wit, to escape alone from the toils and snares that encompassed her. I blamed myself, I became a prey to the bitterest self-reproach for having abandoned her, for allowing myself to give way to temper, and treat her so cruelly. As the train rattled on, one thought took possession of me. I must get out and go back instantly, at least at the very first opportunity. I must retrace my steps and return again to Culoz, where I hoped to be in time to support and strengthen her, please God save her from the consequences of my unkind and ill-considered action.

Accordingly, at the very next station, Virieu, I alighted. In less than an hour I was in the return train and once more at Culoz, where, sending Philpotts to hide with her charge in the inmost recesses of the ladies' waiting-room, I vainly explored the station for any signs of Henriette, but to my delight she was nowhere in sight. The place was still in a turmoil, the consequences no doubt of the affray expressly begun by Colonel Annesley to befriend me. I narrowly escaped being seen by some of my enemies, but they were evidently too much preoccupied by their indignation at the outrage put upon that great personage, Lord Blackadder. I passed within an inch or two of my gallant Colonel and was sorely tempted to speak to him, but was deterred by the possible mischief it might entail. I was relieved when they all took seats in the eastward bound train, going only as far as Aix-les-Bains, where, as I heard it stated by the Culoz officials, the case was to be submitted to the Commissary of Police. Although not fully satisfied as to Henriette, I was so far satisfied by coming upon all the parties, Ralph, Blackadder, and the rest, at Culoz, that she had disappeared from the scene without interference. I debated with myself whether I should not follow my sister to Fuentellato, to which I made sure she had gone, and I had every reason to hope that I could eventually join her there. But it seemed to be throwing away that same chance of mystification which I had always kept in view, which might have served me so well but for her weakness, and I still clung to my hope of drawing them after me on the wrong scent. At one time I thought of venturing boldly into their midst and appearing openly at Aix; but this would probably end in abruptly pricking the bubble, and nothing more was to be done.

I thought of sending Philpotts to hunt up the Colonel and convey a letter to him detailing my situation, and was much taken with this idea, which I presently rejected because I did not clearly see what good could come of it. I was tortured with doubts, unable to decide for the best, and at last, from sheer inability to choose, resolved to adhere to my original plan of travelling south. I would at least go to Marseilles, which I could reach that very night, and once there would be guided by circumstances, seeking only to control them to the extent of reporting my whereabouts to Henriette at Fuentellato, and to the Colonel via London as arranged. This as it proved was the very wisest course I could have adopted, as will presently appear. There was no train due westward till 12.40, and I had to put in nearly three solid hours, which I spent in wandering into the village, where I found an unpretending auberge and a rather uneatable breakfast.

A slow train to Amberieu, a still slower cross journey to Lyons, which I did not reach till nearly 4 P.M., and learnt that another hour or more must elapse before the departure of the next Marseilles express. The journey seemed interminable, but just as I was losing all patience, I received a fillip that awoke me to alertness, and set all my nerves tingling. The man Tiler, the second detective, the man whom I had already befooled more than once, was there now on the platform, waiting like myself to embark upon the 5.19 train south to Marseilles. Ludovic Tiler he was busily engaged in conversation with one of the guards and a couple of porters. From his gestures, no doubt, he was describing our party, and I was half-inclined to walk up to him and say "Behold!" But then I drew back hesitating. I did not fear him in the least, but he would be sure to draw the others to him, and I did not quite like the idea of having three of them on my hands at once, and with no Colonel on my side. I could only communicate with Colonel Annesley by a roundabout process, and it might take him some time to reach me, even if he was not otherwise engaged by Henriette. This Tiler man would of course stick to me and follow me if he had the faintest clue, and I let him have that by directing Philpotts to show herself, passing quite close to him and walking on towards the train. She was to return then to the waiting-room, where together we made some change in our appearance.

There were other cloaks in the bundle of rugs, which we put on over those we were wearing. More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. Tiler certainly did not recognize us as we walked separately to the train. He had his suspicions, however, for as soon as we started he walked through the long line of couloir carriages, deliberately peering and prying, examining the passengers of every compartment. He passed us at first, and was much put out, I could see, disappointed no doubt, but he came back presently and stood for some time at our window, while I hid my face in among the rugs, and Philpotts cowered in a corner. He came back more than once during the journey and stared. He was evidently in great doubt, so much so that I began to fear he would sheer off altogether. That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby?

I could enter into the workings of his mind on that point. Hidden it, left it somewhere on the road in the lost property office or at a foundling hospital? All sorts of suggestions probably presented themselves to him, but none would satisfy him; for why, he would reason, were we travelling to Marseilles or anywhere else without it? To tie him still to our heels, I took the opportunity of having the compartment to ourselves to revive and reconstitute the dummy. The baby was quickly reborn behind the drawn blinds of the carriage, and when at last we arrived at Marseilles at 10.30 P.M. we sallied forth and marched in solemn procession to the Terminus Hotel under the very eyes of our watchful detective.

I almost laughed in his face as we entered the lift near the outer door, and were carried up to our rooms upon the second floor. I slept late, and when I woke, refreshed and fortified against anything that might come, I looked out on to the little square with its fringe of plane-trees, and saw my friend Mr. He had the hotel under observation that was clear, and it was little I should be able to do that day unknown to him. It did not worry me in the least, for in the early hours of calm reflection that followed deep, restful sleep, I had thought out the course I should pursue. I no longer dreaded pursuit; let them all come, the more the merrier, and I meant to fully justify Mr. Tiler in calling them to him. I dressed slowly, lingered leisurely over my luncheon-déjeuner, and then ordered a carriage, a comfortable landau and pair.

I meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing. It was a brilliant day, the Southern sun struck with semi-tropical fervour, the air was soft and sleepy in the oppressive heat. I brought out the baby undeterred, and installed it, slumbering peacefully, on Philpotts's knees in the seat before me, and lying back with ostentatious indifference, drove off in full view of the detective. I shot one glance back as I turned down the long slope leading to the Grâce-à-Dieu Street, and was pleased to see that he had jumped into a fiacre and was coming on after me. I led him up and down and round and round, street after street, all along the great Cannebière and out towards the Reserve, where Roubion's Restaurant offers his celebrated fish stew, bouillabaise, to all comers.

Then when Mr. Tiler's weedy horse began to show signs of distress, for my sturdy pair had outpaced him sorely, I relented and reëntered the town, meaning to make a long halt at the office of Messrs. Cook and Son, the universal friends of all travellers far and near. I had long had an idea in my mind that the most promising, if not the only effective method of ending our trouble would be to put the seas between us and the myrmidons of the Courts. I had always hoped to escape to some far-off country where the King's writ does not run, where we could settle down under genial skies, amid pleasant surroundings, at a distance from the worries and miseries of life.

Now, with the enemy close at hand, and the real treasure in my foolish sister's care, I could not expect to evade them, but I might surely beguile and lead them astray. This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices.

The object I had in view was to get a list of steamers leaving the port of Marseilles within the next two or three days, and their destination. As everybody knows, there is a constant moving of shipping East, West, and South, and it ought not to be difficult to pick out something to suit me. The obliging clerk at the counter gave me abundant, almost unending, information. "To the East?

Why, surely, there are several opportunities. The P. has half a dozen steamers for the East, pointing first for Port Said and Suez Canal, and bound to India, Ceylon, China, and the Antipodes; the same line for Gibraltar and the West. The Messagéries Maritime, for all Mediterranean ports, the General Navigation of Italy for Genoa and Naples, the Transatlantique for various Algerian ports, Tunis, Bône, Philippeville, and Algiers, other companies serving the coast of Morocco and especially Tangier." Truly an embarrassing choice!

I took a note of all that suited, and promised to return after I had made a round of the shipping offices,--another jaunt for Tiler, and a pretty plain indication of what was in my mind. That it was somewhat out of the way, neither easy to reach nor to leave, as the steamers came and went rarely, served my purpose well. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked. Accordingly, I secured a good cabin on board the S.S. Oasis of the Transatlantique, leaving Marseilles for Tripoli at 8 A.M. the following Sunday, and paid the necessary deposit on the passage ticket.

It was a satisfaction to me to see my "shadow's" fiacre draw up at the door soon after I left, and Mr.

Ludovic Tiler enter the office. I made no doubt he would contrive, very cleverly as he thought, to find out exactly what I had been doing with regard to the Oasis. Later in the day, out of mere curiosity, I walked down to the offices to ask a trivial question about my baggage. It was easy to turn the talk to other matters connected with the voyage and my fellow passengers. Several other cabins had been engaged, two of them in the name of Ludovic Tiler. There was nothing left for me but to bide my time. We were really waiting for each other, and we knew enough of each other's plans to bide in tranquil expectation of what we thought must certainly follow. When I was at dinner in the hotel restaurant he calmly came into the room, merely to pass his eye over me as it were, and I took it so much as a matter of course that I looked up, and felt half-inclined to give him a friendly nod.

We were like duellists saluting each other before we crossed swords, each relying upon his own superior skill. [We need not reproduce in detail the rest of the matters set forth by Lady Claire Standish while she and the detective watched each other at Marseilles.

Tiler, on the Saturday morning, made it plain, from his arrogance and self-sufficient air as he walked through the hotel restaurant, that all was going well, and he had indeed heard from Falfani that he would arrive with Lord Blackadder that night. Later on that Saturday a telegram from Culoz reached Lady Claire from Colonel Annesley giving the latest news, and bringing down Lady Henriette's movements to the time of her departure for Marseilles. He promised a later message from somewhere along the road with later information, and soon after 9 P.M. Lady Claire was told they were coming through by the night train, due at Marseilles at 4 A.M. Thus all the parties to this imbroglio were about to be concentrated in the same place, and it must depend upon the skill and determination of one clever woman to turn events her way.] She goes on to say: It was a shock to me to hear that Henriette still lingered on the fringe of danger, and I was very much disturbed at finding she might be running into the very teeth of it. But I trusted to my good fortune, and, better still, to good management, to keep her out of harm's way until the coast was clear. I was on the platform at 10 P.M. watching for the Blackadder lot when they appeared. Tiler was there to receive them and spoke a few words to my lord, who instantly looked round, for me no doubt, and I slipped away.

I did not wish to anticipate a crisis, and he was quite capable of making a scene, even at the hotel at that time of night. I was relieved at seeing him pass on, and the more so that he did not take the turn into the Terminus Hotel, my hotel, but went towards the entrance where a carriage was waiting for him. He meant of course to put up in the town, either at the Noailles or the Louvre. I lay down to take a short rest, but was roused in time to be again on the platform at 4 A.M. The Colonel came to the rescue as usual, and said briefly, after we had shaken hands: "Take charge of her, Lady Claire, I will see to everything now.

We can talk later." "Can you be at the entrance to the hotel in a couple of hours' time? I shall want your advice, probably your assistance." "You know you have only to ask," he answered, with the prompt, soldierlike obedience, and the honest, unflinching look in his eyes that I knew so well and loved in him. I felt now that I should succeed in the difficult task I had set myself. The plan I had conceived and hoped to work out was to send Lord Blackadder to sea, all the way to Tripoli, with Philpotts and the sham child. We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. The Oasis had her blue peter flying, and a long gangway stretched from her side to the shore, up and down which a crowd passed ceaselessly, passengers embarking, porters with luggage, and dock hands with freight. At the top of the slope was the chief steward and his men, in full dress, white shirts, white ties, and white gloves, who welcomed us, asking the number of our stateroom, and offering to relieve us of our light baggage. One put out his arms to take the baby from Philpotts, but she shook her head vigorously, and I cried in French that it was too precious. Next moment a voice I recognized said: "Certainly they are there, and they have it with them. "No violence, if you please, or you may make the acquaintance of another police commissary." I had heard the whole story of the affair at Aix from the Colonel, who I may say at once I had seen shortly before, and who was at no great distance now.

I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us. Let me pass; I cannot stay here, it would poison me to breathe the same air. Down-stairs I found Philpotts in the cabin, busily engaged in putting her "doll" to bed in the third berth. "Are you at all afraid of being left with these wretches?" I asked a little doubtfully, counting upon her devotion, but loth to lay too great a burden on her. What can they do to me? They will be furiously angry, of course, but the laugh will be against them. If the worst comes to the worst they will appeal to the captain, and they will get no satisfaction from him. You shall hear from Tripoli to the same hotel in Marseilles." "If we go on your letter will follow us. Come back there as soon as you possibly can and you will find further instructions.

Now it must be good-bye, there goes the bell to warn people ashore.

One last word: I advise you when well out to sea to go to my lord and offer to go over to his side and desert me altogether. Tell him you will help him to get the child,--that you will put it into his hands indeed,--at a price." "As if I would touch his dirty money, my lady!" "It will be only spoiling the Egyptians! You know I shall always be your firm friend whatever you do, and that I shall never forget what I owe you." I should have said much more, but now the second bell was ringing, and if I was to carry out my scheme it was time for me to go.

On leaving the cabin I walked forward along the lower deck seeking another issue, the position of which I had fixed the day before, having visited the Oasis on purpose. In a minute I had emerged into the open air, and found myself in the midst of the sailors sending down cargo into the forehold. "This way, Lady Claire, only a couple of steps," said the Colonel as he led me to the side of the steamer farthest from the shore. A ladder was fixed here and a boat was made fast to the lowest rung. Carefully, tenderly guided by my ever trusty henchman I made the descent, took my seat in the stern of the small boat, it was cast loose, and we pushed off into the waterway. Half an hour later we were back at the Terminus Hotel.

For the first time in all that stirring and eventful week I breathed freely. At any rate the present peril was overpast, we had eluded pursuit, and had a clear time of perfect security to consider our situation and look ahead. She was very humble and apologetic, and disarmed me if I had intended to take her to task for all the trouble and anxiety she had caused us. I have been scolded quite enough these last twenty-four hours. I never met a man I disliked so much as your fine friend, that Colonel Annesley, the rudest, most presuming, overbearing wretch. He talked to me and ordered me about as if I was still in the schoolroom, he actually dared to find fault with my actions, and dictated to me what I should do next. He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice? "Why, of course, he thinks all the world of you.

You know of your latest conquest, I suppose?" "There are things one does not care to discuss, my dear, even with one's sister," I answered, rather coldly.

You are free to choose, I was not," and her eyes filled with tears at the sad shipwreck of her married life.

But how can I keep him after that wicked decision of the Court, and with such a persistent enemy as Ralph Blackadder? For the moment we are safe, but by and by he will come back, he will leave no stone unturned until he finds me, and I shall lose my darling for ever." The hopelessness of evading pursuit for any time sorely oppressed me, too. There seemed no safety but in keeping continually on the move, in running to and fro and changing our hiding place so soon as danger of discovery loomed near. Yet, after a pleasant déjeuner, the three of us held a council of war.

"The thing is perfectly simple," said my dear Colonel, in his peremptory, but to me reassuring fashion. You must go as quickly as you can get there, to Tangier." "Tangier!" I cried, amazed. It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on. "You have broken the law, you are flying from the law, and you are amenable to it all the world over, save and except in Morocco alone. You must go to Tangier, there is no extradition, the King's warrant does not run there. You will be perfectly safe if you elect to stay there, safe for the rest of your days." "You seem very anxious to get rid of us and bury us at the back of beyond," I said, nettled and unable to conceal my chagrin at the matter-of-fact way in which he wished to dispose of us.

"I venture to hope I may be permitted to accompany you, and remain with you--" It was now Henriette's turn to laugh outright at this rather blunt proposal, and I regret to add that I blushed a rosy red. "To remain with you and near you so long as my services may be required," he went on, gravely, by no means the interpretation my sister had put upon his remark; for he fixed his eyes on me with unmistakable meaning, and held them so fixedly that I could not look away. There could no longer be any doubt how "it stood with us;" my heart went out to him then and there, and I nodded involuntarily, more in answer to his own thoughts than his suggestion. I knew from the gladness on his frank, handsome face that he understood and rejoiced. "You see," he went on, quickly, dealing with the pressing matter in hand, "I know all about the place. Sport in the season, and plenty of galloping ground. The point is, how we should travel?" I could be of service in this; my inquiries at Cook's had qualified me to act as a shipping clerk, and we soon settled to take a steamer of the Bibby Line due that afternoon, which would land us at Gibraltar in two or three days. Thence to Tangier was only like crossing a ferry. The Colonel's man, l'Echelle, was sent to secure cabins, and we caught the ship in due course.

Three days later we were soon comfortably settled in the Hotel Atlas, just above the wide sweep of sands that encircle the bay. It was the season of fierce heat, but we faced the northern breezes full of invigorating ozone. Tangier, the wildest, quaintest, most savage spot on the face of the globe, was to me the most enchanting.

Our impressions take their colour from the passing mood; we like or loathe a place according to the temper in which we view it. I was so utterly and foolishly happy in this most Eastern city located in the West that I have loved it deeply ever since. After the trying and eventful episodes of the past week I had passed into a tranquil haven filled with perfect peace. The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. I could calmly await the issue, content to enjoy the moment and forget the past like a bad dream.

It was sufficient to bask in the sunshine, revelling in the free air, rejoicing in the sweetness of my nascent love. We were much together, Basil and I; we walked together, exploring the recesses of the native town, and the ancient citadel, with its memories of British dominion; we lingered in the Soko or native market, crowded with wild creatures from the far interior; we rode together, for his first care was to secure horses, and scoured the country as far as the Marshan and Cape Spartel. But even she brightened as the days ran on and brought no fresh disquiet, while her boy, sweet little Ralph, developed in health and strength. A week passed thus, a week of unbroken quiet, flawless as the unchanging blue of a summer sky; not a cloud in sight, not a suspicion of coming disturbance and unrest. To imagine it was to fall asleep in a fool's paradise, lulled into false serenity by the absence of portents so often shrouded and unseen until they break upon us. They had recrossed the Mediterranean together in the same ship, the Oasis. "So far all well," she said, "but am watched closely, will certainly follow me--send instructions--better not join you at present." This message fell on us two poor women like a bolt from the blue.

Basil looked serious for a moment, but then laughed scornfully. There is not the slightest fear. He may bluster and bully as much as he pleases, or rather, as far as he is permitted to go.

We will place ourselves under the protection of the Moorish bashaw. At the same time he can give you no protection. He will follow with his men, they are well-trained detectives, and it will be mere child's play for them to track us to Tangier. You may look for them here any day. We must be ready for them at all points." "There is no saying what Ralph Blackadder may not attempt." "Indeed, yes, he is equal to anything, guile of course, treachery, cunning, stratagem, absolute violence if the opportunity offers. It is of the utmost importance not to play into his hands, not to give him the smallest chance. The child must be watched continually in the house, awake and asleep, wherever he goes and whatever he does." "Then I think Henriette must be warned not to wander about the town and on the sands in the way she's been doing with Victorine and the child, all of them on donkey back. I grudged her the smallest pleasure, while I was racing up and down flirting and philandering with Basil Annesley all day and every day; she was to sit indoors, bored to extinction and suffering torments in the unbearable heat. Basil and I agreed that it was cruel to restrict her movements even with such a good excuse, and had she been willing to accept the irksome conditions, which she certainly was not.

We arranged a surveillance, therefore, unknown to her. The Colonel, his man, or myself invariably accompanied her or followed her within eyeshot; and we hired two or three stalwart Moors, who were always to be near enough to render help if required. Then came confirmations of our worst fears. L'Echelle, who had been unaccountably absent one morning, returned about midday with news from the port. Lord Blackadder and his two henchmen had just landed from the José Pielago, the steamer that runs regularly between Cadiz and Algeçiras, Gibraltar, and Tangier. He had seen them in the custom-house, fighting their way through the crowd of ragged Jew porters, the Moorish egg merchants, and dealers in luscious fruit.

They had mounted donkeys, the only means of conveyance in a town with no wheeled vehicles; and l'Echelle made us laugh at the sorry picture presented by the indignant peer, with his legs dangling down on each side of the red leather saddle. Their baggage was also piled on donkeys, and the whole procession, familiar enough in the narrow streets of Tangier, climbed the hill to the Soko, and made for the Shereef Hotel, reputed one of the best in Tangier, and lying outside the walls in the immediate neighbourhood of the British Legation. L'Echelle, who seems an honest, loyal fellow, thought he would serve us best by marking them down, and, if possible, renewing his acquaintance with the detectives, one or both of whom he knew. After hanging about the outside of the hotel, he entered the garden boldly and went up to the shady trellised verandah where they were seated together, smoking and refreshing themselves after their journey. Falfani, my friend of the Calais train, believed he had suborned him at Aix, and now hailed his appearance with much satisfaction. L'Echelle might again be most useful; at least, he could lead them to us, and he wisely decided to let Falfani know where we were to be found in Tangier. The fact would surely be discovered without him. It was better, he thought, to appear frank, and, by instilling confidence, learn all there was to know of their plans and movements. My lord had gone to the Legation, Falfani told him at once, bombastically boasting that everything would yield before him. He had but to express his wishes, and there would be an end of the hunt.

But my lord came back in a furious rage, and, regardless of l'Echelle's--a comparative stranger's--presence, burst forth into passionate complaint against the Minister. He would teach Sir Arthur to show proper respect to a peer of the realm; he would cable at once to the Foreign Office and insist on this second-rate diplomatist's recall. The upshot of it all was that his lordship's demand for help had been refused pointblank, and no doubt, after what the Colonel had heard, in rather abrupt, outspoken terms. All this and more l'Echelle brought back to us at the Atlas Hotel.

He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property. As the fitting end of his violent declamation, Ralph Blackadder had left the hotel hurriedly, calling upon his creatures to follow him, bent, as it seemed, to perpetrate some mad act.

I confess I shuddered at the thought of this reckless, unprincipled man loose about Tangier, vowing vengeance, and resolved to go to any lengths to secure it. But even he quailed at the sudden shock that fell upon us at the very same moment. After the first excitement, we desired to pass on the news brought by l'Echelle to her, and renew our entreaties for extreme caution in her comings and goings; and with much misgiving we learnt that she was not in the hotel. It had been l'Echelle's turn to accompany her, but he had been diverted from his duty by the pressing necessity of following Lord Blackadder. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour.

Could she have fallen a victim to the machinations of Lord Blackadder? Was the boy captured and she detained while he was spirited away? We doubted the more when the man turned up in person at the Atlas Hotel and had the effrontery to ask for her. Basil went out to him in the outer hall, and, as I listened from within, I immediately heard high words. It was like a spark applied to tinder; a fierce quarrel blazed up instantly between them. I come to demand the restoration of that which belongs to me. It is the most impudent pretence; you know perfectly well he is not here." "I will not bandy words with you. Go in, you men, both of you, Tiler and Falfani, and seize the child. I could not possibly hold aloof, but called for help from the hotel people, and, with them at my back, rushed out to add my protest against this intemperate conduct.

The three assailants, Ralph Blackadder behind egging them on, had thrown themselves upon Basil, who stood sturdily at bay with his back to the wall, daring them to come on, and prepared to strike out at the first man who touched him. But even as he spoke his voice weakened, he halted abruptly; his hands went up into the air, his body swayed to and fro, his strength left him completely, and he fell to the ground in sudden and complete collapse. When they picked him up, there was froth mixed with blood upon his lips, he breathed once or twice heavily, stertorously, and then with one long-drawn gasp died in the arms of his two men. It was an apoplectic seizure, the doctors told us later, brought on by excessive nervous irritation of the brain.

Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. While the servants of the hotel attended to the stricken man, Basil Annesley plied the detectives with eager questions. He urged them to tell all they knew; it should be made worth their while; they no longer owed allegiance to their late employer. He entreated them to withhold nothing. We could get nothing out of these men; they refused to answer our questions from sheer mulish obstinacy, as we thought at first, but we saw at length that they did not understand us. They assured us they had seen no lady, nor had the unfortunate peer accosted any one, or interfered with any one on his way between the two hotels. He had come straight from the Villa Shereef to the Hotel Atlas, racing down at a run, pausing nowhere, addressing no one on the road. If not Lord Blackadder, what then?

Full of anxiety, Basil called for a horse, and was about to ride off to institute a hue and cry, when my sister appeared in person upon the scene. Not on my account, surely?" I took her aside, and in a few words told her of the terrible catastrophe that had just occurred, and for a time she was silent and seemed quite overcome.

Have you taken leave of your senses?" "Know that I have discovered the whole plot of which I was the victim. They were bribed to go away, and they have been here hiding in Tangier." "Go on, go on. Tell me, please, all about it." "You must know we went out, the three of us, on our donkeys, and the fancy seized me to explore some of the dark, narrow streets where the houses all but join overhead. I could not even see the sky, and at last desired Achmet to get me out into the open, anywhere. After one or two sharp turns, we emerged upon a sort of plateau or terrace high above the sea, and in full view of it. "There was a small hotel in front of it, and above the door was the name of the proprietor, would you believe it, Domenico Bruel! "It was the name of Susan's husband, and no doubt Susan was there. I thought of sending Achmet back for you or the Colonel, but I could not bear parting with him. Then, while I was still hesitating, Susan herself came out and rushed across to where I was, with her hands outstretched and fairly beside herself, laughing and crying by turns.

It is you, then? He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here. Can you forgive me?' "All this she poured forth, and much more of the same sort. Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed. It will be put right now, now that Ralph can no longer oppose it." I bowed my head silently, thankful and deeply impressed with the strange turn taken by events and the sudden light let in upon the darkness that had surrounded us. The rest of the adventures that began in the sleeping-car between Calais and Basle, and came abruptly to an end on the North African shore, may soon be told. Our first act was to return to England at the very earliest opportunity, and we embarked that evening on a Forwood steamer direct for London, which port we reached in less than five days. Town was empty, and we did not linger there. Nothing could be done in the Courts, as it was the legal vacation, but Henriette's solicitors arranged to send out a commission to take the Bruels' evidence at Tangier, and to bring the matter before The President at the earliest opportunity.

As for ourselves, I persuaded Henriette to take a cottage at Marlow on the Upper Thames, where Colonel Annesley was a constant guest, and Charlie Forrester. We four passed many idle halcyon days on the quiet river, far from the noise of trains, and content to leave Bradshaw in the bottom of the travelling-bag, where it had been thrown at the end of our feverish wanderings. Once more we found ourselves at Calais with Philpotts, but no encumbrances, bound on a second, a far happier, and much less eventful journey by the Engadine express. /

send Ernest here!” Ernest was his own valet, the clever artist to whom he was indebted for the roses of his complexion.send Ernest here!” Ernest was his own valet, the clever artist to whom he was indebted for the roses of his complexion. Then, turning again to the valet, he asked,-- “How did it happen?” “Very naturally. Ernest, the count’s valet, who called out,-- “Salts, quick! Ernest, his valet, accompanied her, with express orders not to let her speak to any one whatsoever, and to “apprehend” her (this was the count’s own expression), and to bring her back forcibly, if needs be, if she should try to escape. They have only kept two servants,--Ernest, the count’s valet, and a certain Clarissa.” The name of the vile creature whose treachery had been one of the principal causes of Henrietta’s misfortunes did not strike her ear. He went, therefore, in search of some employment; and his godfather, the valet, found one for him at the house of a banker, who was in want of a reliable young man to be trained for his business, and hereafter to be intrusted with the management of his funds.” Papa Ravinet’s voice changed so perceptibly as he uttered these last words, that Daniel and Henrietta, with one impulse, asked him,-- “Is anything the matter, sir?” He did not make any reply; but his sister, Mrs.

Through his godfather, the valet, who had died before his trial, Justin Chevassat knew the history of the Brevan family in its minutest details. /

Had she seen me talking to Falfani? The crossing from Dover to Calais had been rough; a drizzling rain fell all the time, and most of the passengers had remained below. When I reached the siding where this train de luxe was drawn up, I saw that I was not merely the first but the only passenger. Five sleeping-cars and a dining-car attached, with the full staff, attendants, chef, waiters--all lay there waiting for me, and me alone. "I never saw the like before." "I shall have a compartment to myself, then?" "Monsieur may have the whole carriage if he wishes--the whole five carriages. It is but to arrange." His eyes glistened at the prospect of something special in this obvious scarcity of coming tips. Stay, what have we here?" We stood talking together on the platform, and at some little distance from the railway station, the road to which was clear and open all the way, so that I could see a little party of four approaching us, and distinguish them. As they came up I discreetly withdrew to my own compartment, the window of which was open, so that I could hear and see all that passed. "Madame can have fifty." "What did I tell madame?" put in the official who had escorted her. A separate compartment for myself and maid; the child can come in with us." Now for the first time I noticed that the maid was carrying a bundle in her arms, the nature of which was unmistakable. "If madame prefers, the maid and infant can be accommodated apart," suggested the obliging conductor.

"I wish them to be with me. I have told you so already; did you not hear?" "Parfaitement, as madame pleases. At first a look of satisfaction came into her face, but it was quickly succeeded by one of nervous apprehension, amounting to positive fear. I saw him, the gentleman, as we came up. He's quite a gentleman, a good-looking military-looking man, not at all the other sort--you know the sort I mean." Now while I accepted the compliment to myself, I was greatly mystified by the allusion to the "other sort of man." "You think we can go on, that it's safe, even in this empty train? We should have passed unobserved among a lot of people." "But then there would have been a lot of people to observe us; some one, perhaps, who knew you, some one who might send word." "I wish I knew who this passenger is. It would make me much easier in my mind. The mere thought makes me shiver.

Me, a common thief!" "Stealing is common enough, and it don't matter greatly, so long as you're not found out. You might have been at it all your life," said the maid, with affectionate familiarity, that of a humble performer paying tribute to a great artist in crime. The very opposite of the younger woman (about her more directly), a neatly dressed unassuming person, short and squat in figure, with a broad, plain, and, to the casual observer, honest face, slow in movement and of no doubt sluggish temperament, not likely to be moved or distressed by conscience, neither at the doing or the memory of evil deeds. Now the conductor came up and civilly bowed them towards their carriage, mine, which they entered at the other end as I left it making for the restaurant, not a little interested in what I had heard. I had it from her own lips, she had acknowledged it with some show of remorse. There must surely have been some excuse for her, some overmastering temptation, some extreme pressure exercised irresistibly through her emotions, her affections, her fears. As I still hesitated, puzzled and bewildered, still anxious to give her the benefit of the doubt, she came to the door of the buffet where I was now seated at lunch, and allowed me to survey her more curiously and more at leisure. "A daughter of the gods, divinely tall and most divinely fair." The height and slimness of her graceful figure enhanced by the tight-fitting tailor-made ulster that fell straight from collar to heel; her head well poised, a little thrown back with chin in the air, and a proud defiant look in her undeniably handsome face. As she faced me, looking straight at me, she conveyed the impression of a determined unyielding character, a woman who would do much, dare much, who would go her own road if so resolved, undismayed and undeterred by any difficulties that might beset her.

Then, to my surprise, although I might have expected it, she came and seated herself at a table close to my elbow. She had told her companion that she wanted to know more about me, that she would like to enlist me in her service, questionable though it might be, and here she was evidently about to make the attempt. It was a little barefaced, but I admit that I was amused by it, and not at all unwilling to measure swords with her.

She was presumably an adventuress, clever, designing, desirous of turning me round her finger, but she was also a pretty woman. "You will think it strange of me," she went on, "but I am rather awkwardly situated, in fact in a position of difficulty, even of danger, and I venture to appeal to you as a countryman, an English officer." "How do you know that?" I asked, quickly concluding that my light baggage had been subjected to scrutiny, and wondering what subterfuge she would adopt to explain it. Gentlemen of your cloth are as easily recognizable as if your names were printed on your back." "And as they are generally upon our travelling belongings." I looked at her steadily with a light laugh, and a crimson flush came on her face. "Let me introduce myself in full," I said, pitying her obvious confusion; and I handed her my card, which she took with a shamefaced air, rather foreign to her general demeanour.

"What was your regiment?" "The Princess Ulrica Rifles, but I left it on promotion.

I am unattached for the moment, and waiting for reëmployment." "Your own master then?" "Practically, until I am called upon to serve. I hope to get a staff appointment.

Meanwhile I am loafing about Europe." "Do you go beyond Lucerne?" "Across the St. Am I right in supposing we are to be fellow travellers by the Engadine express?" I went on by way of saying something. The idea of going all that way in an empty train quite terrifies me." "I don't see why it should." "But just think. We two lone women and you, single-handed. They might rob and murder us." "Oh, come, come. I believe they are decent, respectable men, the employes of a great company, carefully selected. And yet something dreadful might happen; I feel we are quite at their mercy." "I don't. Wait over for another train, I mean?" I am free to confess that, although my curiosity had been aroused, I would much rather have washed my hands of her, and left her and her belongings, especially the more compromising part, the mysterious treasure, behind at Calais. I think about 6 P.M." "Will that not lose time?" "Undoubtedly you will be two hours later at Basle, and you may lose the connection with Lucerne and the St.

"I did not mention my ultimate destination." "Perhaps not. But I do not presume to inquire where you are going, and I myself am certainly not bound for Naples. It is time for me to get back to the train, and for my part I don't in the least want to lose the Engadine express." She got up too, and walked out of the buffet by my side. "I shall go on, at any rate as far as Boulogne," she volunteered, without my asking the question; and we got into our car together, she entering her compartment and I mine. A young man would have sworn she was perfectly straight, that there could be no guile in this sweet-faced, gentle, well-mannered woman; and I, with my greater experience of life and the sex, was much tempted to do the same. But what else could I conclude from the words I had heard drop from her own lips, strengthened and confirmed as they were by the incriminating language of her companion? I wish I'd never come across her. I hope to heaven she will really leave the train at Boulogne; we ought to be getting near there by now." I had travelled the road often enough to know it by heart, and I recognized our near approach only to realize that the train did not mean to stop. That ought to suit her just as well." But it would not; at least, she lost no time in expressing her disappointment at not being able to alight at Boulogne. We had hardly passed the place when her maid's (or companion's) square figure filled the open doorway of my compartment, and in her strong deep voice she addressed a brief summons to me brusquely and peremptorily: "My lady wishes to speak to you." "And pray what does 'my lady' want with me?" I replied carelessly, using the expression as a title of rank.

If she had been in any trouble, any serious trouble, such as she anticipated when talking to me at the buffet, and a prey to imaginary alarms since become real, I should have been ready to serve her or any woman in distress, but nothing of this could have happened in the short hour's run so far." "I thought you were a gentleman," was the scornful rejoinder. "A nice sort of gentleman, indeed, to sit there like a stock or a stone when a lady sends for you!" "A lady!" There was enough sarcasm in my tone to bring a flush upon her impassive face, a fierce gleam of anger in her stolid eyes; and when I added, "A fine sort of lady!" I thought she would have struck me. You're not the kind of people I like to deal with or wish to know." She stared at me open-mouthed, her hands clenched, her eyes half out of her head. Now came a sudden change of scene. "Wait, do not speak, Philpotts, leave him to me.... Blair turned on me fiercely, "will you be so good as to explain how I find you quarrelling with my maid, permitting yourself to cast aspersions, to make imputations upon two unprotected women?" "How much have you overheard?" I asked, feeling very small already.

What you may imagine, what unworthy idea you may have formed, is beyond me to guess, but you can know nothing.

You can have no real reason for condemning me." "Let me admit that, and leave the matter there," I pleaded. She looked at me very keenly, her eyes piercing me through and through. I felt that she was penetrating my inmost thoughts and turning me inside out. Come, please, let there be no more evasion.

I shall stay here until you tell me what you think of me, and why." She seated herself by my side in the narrow velvet seat of the small compartment, so close that the folds of her tweed skirt (she had removed her ulster) touched and rubbed against me. I was invaded by the sweet savour of her gracious presence (she used some delightful scent, violette ideale, I believe), by putting forth my hand a few inches I might have taken hers in mine. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. "Come, Colonel Annesley, how long is this to go on?

Why have you formed such a bad opinion of me?" "How do you know I have done so?" I tried to fence and fight with her, but in vain. I saw she guessed I knew something. Not how much, perhaps, but something to her discredit. She still was not satisfied; she would penetrate my reserve, overcome my reticence, have it out of me willy nilly, whether I would or no.

"You cannot surely refuse me?

I have my reasons for desiring to know the very worst." "Why drive me to that?" I schooled myself to seem hard and uncompromising. "If you will only tell me why you think such evil I may be able to justify myself, or at least explain away appearances that are against me." "You admit there are such appearances? Remember, I never said so." "Then on what do you condemn me? You do condemn me, I am certain of it," she insisted, seeing my gesture of negation. "Are you treating me fairly, chivalrously, as a gentleman and a man of honour should?

How can you reconcile it to your conscience?" "Some people talk very lightly of conscience, or use it when it is an empty meaningless word," I said severely. What do you know of it, or what led me to do it?

How dare you judge me without knowing the facts, without a shadow of proof?" She sprang to her feet and passed to the door, where she turned, as it were, at bay. Faugh!" "It was forced on me. I did not want to know; your secrets are your own affair." "And my actions, I presume?" she put in with superb indifference. She merely smiled and shook her head recklessly, contemptuously. Was she so old a hand, so hardened in crime, that the fears of detection, arrest, reprisals, the law and its penalties had no effect upon her? Undoubtedly at Calais she was afraid; some misgiving, some haunting terror possessed her. Now, when standing before me fully confessed for what she was, and practically at my mercy, she could laugh with cool and unabashed levity and make little of the whole affair. She had some further designs on me, I was sure. She wanted to make use of me, how or in what way I could not imagine; but I soon perceived that she was anxious to be friends. Suddenly, and quite without my invitation or encouragement, she reseated herself by my side.

"See, Colonel Annesley, let us come to an understanding." She said it quite gaily and with no shadow of apprehension left in her, not a sign of shame or remorse in her voice. She was débonnaire, frolicsome, overflowing with fun. "What do you mean to do? Give me into custody? Call in the gendarmes at the next station?

Have me taken red-handed with the--stolen property--the 'swag,' you know the word, perhaps, in my possession?" "I am not a police officer; it's not my business," I answered gruffly. Blair,'" she cried, laughing merrily as at a tremendous joke.

I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs. Mortimer, and--" "Oh, please, please spare me. "You shall hear, you must know all about me and my famous exploits. I have swept a dozen country-houses clean; I have picked pockets and lifted old lace from the shop counters, and embezzled and forged--" "And turned pirate, and held up trains, and robbed the Bank of England," I added, falling into her humour and laughing as she rose to her full height; and again her mood changed, dominating me with imperious air, her voice icily cold in manner, grave and repellent. I am a thief; you believe me to be a common thief." CHAPTER IV.

I was too much taken aback to do better than stammer out helplessly, hopelessly, almost unintelligibly, a few words striving to remind her of her own admission. Nothing, indeed, could take the sting out of this, and yet it was all but impossible to accuse her, to blame her even for what she had done. "Crimes, offences, misdeeds, call them as you please, are not absolutely unpardonable; in some respects they are excusable, if not justifiable. We are absolute strangers, I owe you no explanation, and I would give you none, even if you asked." "I have not asked and shall not ask anything." "Then you are willing to take it so, to put the best construction on what you have heard, to forget my words, to surrender your suspicions?" "If you will tell me only this: that I may have confidence in you, that I may trust you, some day, to enlighten me and explain what seems so incomprehensible to-day." "I am sorely tempted to do so now," she paused, lost for a time in deep and anxious thought; and then, after subjecting me to a long and intent scrutiny, she shook her head. You must earn the right to my confidence, you must prove to me that you will not misuse it. You must have faith in me, believe in me or let it be." She had beaten me, conquered me. Tell me all or nothing. If the first I will help you, if the latter I will also help you as far as lies in my power." "Without conditions?" And when I nodded assent such a smile lit up her face that more than repaid me, and stifled the doubts and qualms that still oppressed me.

Do with me what you please." "Will you give me your hand on it?" She held out hers, gloveless, white and warm, and it lay in mine just a second while I pressed it to my lips in token of fealty and submission. I may call you to fight for me, at least to defend and protect me in my present undertaking.

The way is by no means clear. There are risks, dangers before me. Do you repent already?" She had been watching me closely for any sign of wavering, but I showed none, whatever I might feel in my inmost heart. "You expect to be pursued, I presume?" She held up a warning finger. Ask me no questions, please, but wait on events. For the present you must be satisfied so, and there is nothing more to be said." "I shall see you again, I trust," I pleaded, as she rose to leave me. "If you wish, by all means. Become one of us, belong to a gang of thieves, liable like the rest of us to the law?

I would gladly help you, see you through any difficulty by the way, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at active partnership," I answered a little lamely under her mocking eyes. "I'll have nothing more to say to her," I cried in great heat, vexed and irritated beyond measure at her capricious temper. I should only be dragged into some pitfall, some snare, some dire unpleasantness.

She had by no means dispelled them. She had only bamboozled me by her insinuating ways, had drawn me on by her guileful cleverness to pity and promises to befriend her. I had accorded her an active sympathy which in my more sober moments I felt she did not, could not, deserve; if I were not careful she would yet involve me in some inextricable mess. The fit lasted for quite half an hour, and then came the reaction. I heard her rich deep voice singing in my ears, I felt the haunting glamour of her eyes, remembered her gracious presence, and my heart went out to her.

I knew, of course, that I ought not to stand between her and the inevitable Nemesis that awaits upon misdeeds, but what if I helped her to avoid or escape it? My kindly intentions, bred of my latest sentiments towards Mrs. I had not expected to see any passengers come on board the train, a through express, made up of sleeping-cars and a supplementary charge on the tickets. Evidently the newcomer was bound for Lucerne via Basle. Curiosity and something more led me to examine this man closely; it was a strange, undefined, inexplicable sense of foreboding, of fateful forecast, that he and I were destined to be thrown together unpleasantly, to be much mixed up with one another, and to the comfort and satisfaction of neither. His position in life, his business, trade or calling were not to be easily fixed; a commercial man, an agent or "traveller" on his own account, well-to-do and prosperous, was the notion borne out by his dress, his white waistcoat and coloured shirt of amazing pattern (a hint of his Italian origin), his rings and the showy diamond pin in his smart necktie. When the train moved on, he came and took his seat on the flap seat (or strapontin) just opposite my compartment.

My cabin or compartment, it will be remembered, was the last but one; the newcomer had been given the one behind mine, and here from his seat he commanded the whole length of the carriage forward, which included the compartment occupied by Mrs. Fair, with a flaccid unwholesome complexion, foxy haired, his beard cut to a point, small moustaches curled upward showing thin pale lips, and giving his mouth a disagreeable curve also upwards, a sort of set smile that was really a sardonic sneer, conveying distrust and disbelief in all around. He would take no offence; I was cold to positive rudeness, I snubbed him unmercifully; I did not answer his remarks or his questions, which were incessant and shamelessly inquisitorial. I had all but shut the door of my compartment in his face, but it suddenly occurred to me that he was capable of wandering on, and when he found the ladies inflicting his greasy attentions upon them. How right I was in this became at once apparent.

He had taken out a cigar-case and pressed one upon me with such pertinacious, offensive familiarity that I could see no way out of it than by saying peremptorily: "You cannot smoke here. There are ladies in that compartment yonder." "Ladies indeed! You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there. "Does monsieur, tell me quickly, I--I--beg--know them! Can he describe them to me?" "I shall tell you nothing about them. What the mischief do you mean by asking me questions? At this moment the conductor appeared upon the scene, and began to expostulate loudly. "Don't let this chap annoy your passengers." "I have done nothing to annoy them," stammered the other.

Get in there and stay there;" and with that I forced him, almost flung him, into his compartment, where he fell panting upon the velvet sofa. Blair's face peering out beyond her door a little nervously, but she ventured to come right out and along the passage towards me. I heard some noise, high words, a scuffle." "Some ruffian who got in at Amiens, and who has had to be taught manners. In here?" and she followed the indication of my thumb as I jerked it back, and looked over my shoulder into the compartment. "He must not see me; let me go, let me go!" But her strength failed her, and but for my supporting arm she would have fallen to the ground. Half-fainting, I led her back to her own compartment, where her maid received her tenderly and with comforting words.

There was clearly a strong bond of affection between these two, possibly companions and confederates in wrong-doing; the delicate and refined woman, tormented by the inner qualms of outraged conscience, relied and leant upon the stronger and more resolute nature.

"What's come to you, ma'am? The man, of course, was a detective, an officer or private agent, and his dirty business--you see, I was already shaken in my honesty, and now with increasing demoralization under seductive influences I was already inclined to cross over to the other side of the frontier of crime--his dirty business was the persecution of my sweet friend. "We must devise something, some way, of outwitting this Falfani. Wouldn't it be better to slip out of the train at the first station and run away?" "He would do the same. It would be far worse; we should be much more at his mercy if we left the train. We cannot hide it from him, nor where we have taken it; we shall never be able to keep it, they will come and claim it and recover it;" and she cried hysterically: "I cannot see my way; it's all dark, black as night. It is not regret that tortures me, but the fear of failure when so near success." "We will succeed yet.

[The Statement of Domenico Falfani, confidential agent, made to his employers, Messrs. Martin's Lane, W.C.] I propose, gentlemen, to set down here at length the story of my mission, and the events which befell me from the time I first received my instructions. You desired me to pursue and call to strict account a certain lady of title, who had fallen away from her high estate and committed an act of rank felony. The only indication given me, as you are aware, was that I might take it for granted that she would go abroad and probably by the most direct route to the South, to Switzerland and across the Alps into Italy.

My orders having only reached me in the early morning, the theft having presumably been committed during the night previous to Sunday, September 21, I was unable to ascertain through the tourist agencies whether any and what tickets had been booked in the directions indicated. I had no difficulty in satisfying myself that the lady and her party were not in this train, and I returned at once to Charing Cross in time for the second Continental train, the 10 A.M. There remained, of course, the route via Dover by Ostend and through Brussels; but I had been informed by you that Ludovic Tiler, my colleague and coworker, was to undertake the inquiry on that line. It is part of my business to be thoroughly familiar with the Continental Bradshaw, and I soon ticked off the different trains that interested me. Then came the 2.20 P.M. from Charing Cross to Folkestone, and so to Boulogne, Amiens and the rest, travelling the same road as the Engadine express. This was the last of the day service, as it gave most time, allowing people to start at the very latest moment, and I felt it quite probable that my lady would prefer to take it. I was greatly disappointed when at last it appeared issuing from the tunnel, and passed me where I stood at the commencement of the platform, taking stock of each carriage as it passed. The train seemed to be quite empty; there were no passengers, so the officials, the conductors, informed me when I talked to them, sad and unhappy at the certain loss of tips.

I questioned him not very hopefully, but was agreeably surprised when he told me that his clients consisted of two ladies with a child, and one gentleman. The lady, quite a lady, a grande dame belle personne, tall, fine figure, well dressed; her companion no doubt her servant; the child, well, an ordinary child, an infant in arms. Here they were in this car, and it would be all my own fault if they escaped me. It would be necessary only to verify my conclusions, to identify the lady according to the description and photograph given me. I regret to say that he met me in a very hostile spirit. the hundred), and he not only refused it, but positively forbade me to smoke. There were ladies in the carriage, he said (this was the first reference made to them), and, when declining to be ordered about, I proposed to refer the question to themselves, he threw himself violently upon me and assaulted me brutally. Fortunately the attendant came to my rescue or I should have been seriously injured. He lifted me into my compartment very kindly, and acted like an old friend, as indeed he was, for I remembered him as the Jules l'Echelle with whom I served some time back as an assistant at the Baths of Bormio. It was, of course, clear to my mind that my assailant was associated in some way with the lady, and probably a confederate.

I saw that I must know more about him, with the least possible delay, and as soon as Jules had left me, promising to return later and talk of old times, and the changes that had come over us since then, I ventured to look out and get a glimpse of the other man, I will not call him gentleman after his conduct. No doubt he had joined his friends in their compartment, and the moment seemed opportune to visit his. A few minutes, seconds even, would be enough to tell me something of his identity, perhaps all I wanted to. At least he made no pretence at mystery; his light baggage lay about, a dressing bag, a roll of rugs, a couple of sticks and an umbrella strapped together, all very neat and precise and respectable, and all alike furnished with a parchment tag or label bearing in plain language all that I wanted to know. His name was printed "Lieut.-Col. In my great contentment at the discovery I had been wanting in caution, and I lingered too long on forbidden ground. "You infernal scoundrel," cried some one from the door, and once more I felt an angry hand on my shoulder. "How come you here?

But he still held me in a grip of iron, and it was not until my friend Jules appeared that I got out of the enemy's clutches. I shall have to lodge a complaint against you for brawling." "Complaint, by George!" he replied, shaking his fist at me. How is it that I find this chap in my compartment? "Oho, so you know my name! You've been messing about and overhauling my things. I saw at once that it would be terrible for me to have any trouble with the police. They could do me no harm, but I might be delayed, obliged to leave the train, and I should lose sight of the lady, possibly fail altogether. "Come, come," he said. "And if you stop me I will have the law of you for false imprisonment, and bring heavy damages.

You will be doing me a great injury in my business." "Precisely what I should like to do, my fine fellow.

Nothing reputable, I feel sure." "I'm not ashamed of it, and I have powerful friends behind me. I am acting for--" "Yes?" he asked me mockingly, for I had checked my tongue, fearing to say too much. Enough that you will feel the weight of their hands if you interfere with me in carrying out their instructions." "Well, anyhow, tell me who you are. You chose to help yourself to my name; now I insist upon knowing yours." I told him, not very readily, as may be supposed. "Domenico Falfani? Is that your own or a 'purser's' name?

Come, you know what I mean. Is that the name he has given you?"--this to the conductor. "Show me your way-bill, your feuille de route." Jules at a nod from me produced it, and no doubt understood my reason when in my turn I claimed to see it. "I have a clear right," I insisted, overruling all objections raised by the Colonel; and taking it into my hands I read the names aloud, "Colonel Annesley, Mrs. Blair, maid and child." I pronounced the name with great contempt. "You talk of purser's names," I said sneeringly. No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. Blair; you may take that from me," I said as impressively as a judge on the bench. "And what's more, Colonel, I wouldn't press charges you can't substantiate against me, or I may hit back with another not so easy to meet.

Try to stop me at the next station, and I'll stop your pal--ah, don't"--he had a cruelly strong hand--"your Mrs. Whatever may have been the Colonel's intentions when he caught me in his compartment, something, and I think my last words, led him to modify them. He felt, probably, that if he attacked me I might retaliate unpleasantly. I ought to be able to hold my own with him, although in truth I was not over happy at the course events had taken, and I could not compliment myself on my good management. I could only surmise that the lady was the one I was in search of, for I had not as yet clapt eyes on her, and I had been to some extent driven to show my hand before I had made my ground good. So the first thing I did on regaining my own compartment was to ring for Jules, the conductor, and put before him the photograph with which I was provided, and ask him if he recognized it.

Ah, your own; and what have you to do with her?" "I may tell you some day, Jules. For the present you must know that I am after her; I have to watch her, stick to her like her shadow until it is time to act." "An adventuress, eh?" "She is in possession of what does not belong to her; something she abstracted from--from--Never mind where, and it must be recovered from her here, or after she leaves the car." "Afterwards, please. We can't have any scandal on board here." "Five hundred francs wouldn't tempt you to let me have a free hand for just half an hour? I could do it, say somewhere short of Basle, and on reaching there make off. No one should be any the wiser, and they, the women, wouldn't dare to make a fuss." "It's I who do not dare--not for twice five hundred francs. Besides, there's her friend the Colonel, he'll be on the alert, you may depend." "So must I be, and I must find some way to circumvent him.

He sha'n't beat me, the overbearing, hectoring brute. It's between him and me, and I think I'm a match for him." I spoke this confidently to my friend, who engaged for his part to do all in his power to assist, or at least to do nothing against me, and I was content to bide my time.

The first and most serious danger was that the lady should succeed in leaving the train at any of the intermediate stations at Basle, and so give me the slip. Meanwhile I kept quiet and made no sign beyond showing that I was there and on the spot ready to act if it should be necessary. The Colonel always got out too, but he never accosted me; indeed, he seemed disposed to despise me, to ignore my existence, or dare me to the worst I could do. I suppose the lady must have been of the same mind, for when dinner-time arrived, she came boldly out of her compartment, and I met her face to face for the first time, on her way to the restaurant. I was standing at the door of my compartment. "Dinner is ready," the Colonel said to me significantly, but I did not choose to understand, and shook my head, holding my ground. One moment," he whispered to the lady, who walked on, and turned again to me: "Now see here, my friend, I do not mean to leave you behind. You will come to the dining-car with us, and no two ways about it, even if I have to carry you." "I won't dine with you," I cried. "I never asked you to dine with me, but you shall dine when I do.

So come along, sharp's the word, see? He was capable of again assaulting me. There was something in his manner that cowed me, and I was obliged in spite of myself to give way. There were only three of us in the dining-car, and we were not a very merry company. Our tables were laid almost adjoining, and there was no conversation between us, except when the Colonel asked me with contemptuous civility what wine I preferred. He did not talk to the lady, or the merest commonplaces, for I was within earshot. He was to call me a little before reaching Basle, and, like an ass that I was, I fully relied on his doing so, believing him to be my friend. The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt. Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle. I thought I recognized the station, but I soon made out for certain the name "Basilea" (Basle), and saw the clock with the fingers at five-thirty.

People were already on the move, work-people, the thrifty, industrious Swiss, forestalling time, travellers in twos and threes arriving and departing by the early train through this great junction on the frontier of Switzerland. Right under my eyes, a little party of four, two females, two men accompanying them, escorting them, carrying rugs and parcels. He had sold me!

All doubt of his treachery disappeared when on rushing to the door I found I had been locked into my compartment. I got no answer; I threw up the window and thrust my head out, shouting for help, but got none, only one or two sluggish porters came up and asked what was amiss, answering stolidly, when they heard, that it was none of their business. The conductor would explain, I must wait till he came." Presently Jules arrived, walking very leisurely from the direction of the restaurant, and he stood right under my window with a grin on his face and mockery in his voice. "No, no; let me out first.

I must get out, I tell you, or they will escape me," I cried.

That was the Colonel's idea; you'd better talk to him about it next time you see him." "And that will be never, I expect. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was.

"Here he comes. The railway officials at Basle might have interfered, but Jules answered for me, declaring with a significant gesture that I was in drink and that he would see to me. Already the train was moving out of the station, when, to my intense joy, I caught sight of Ludovic Tiler, who came down the platform running alongside us, and crying, "Falfani, Falfani," as he recognized me. "Don't mind me," I shouted to him. Get away with you, don't let her see you talking with me. Be off, I tell you, only let me hear of you; wire to Lucerne what you're doing. Send me a second message at Goeschenen. The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot.

Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler's intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side. But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment.

Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler's existence. I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l'Echelle came with the Colonel to release me. "If you dare to utter a single word against that lady, I'll break every bone in your body." "I'm saying nothing--it's not me, it's all the world. It was in the papers, you must have read them, the most awful story, such--such depravity there never was--such treachery, such gross misconduct." He caught me by the arm so violently and looked so fierce that for a moment I was quite alarmed. You've collared me for a bit, but I'm not the only one in the show." "The only one that counts," he said sneering.

"Am I?" I answered in the same tone. "What if I had a pal waiting for me at Basle, who received my instructions there--just when you thought you had me safe--and has now taken up the running?" He was perfectly staggered at this, I could see plainly. I thought at first he would have struck me, he was so much upset. I am a confidential agent." He seemed impressed by this, for when he spoke again it was more quietly. But he looked me very straight in the eyes. "Well, I suppose I cannot expect you to tell me things.

He has been made the victim of an abominable outrage, and will spare no effort, no means, no money to recover his own." "Lord Blackadder is a cad--a cruel, cowardly ruffian. It would give me the greatest pleasure to kick him down the street. Failing that, I shall do my best to upset and spoil his schemes, and so you know." I smiled contemptuously. "A mere Colonel against an Earl! Those laugh longest who laugh last." By this time our talk was done, for we were approaching Lucerne, and I began to think over my next plans.

All must depend on what I heard there--upon what news, if any, came from Ludovic Tiler. So on my arrival I made my way straight to the telegraph-office in the corner of the great station, and on showing my card an envelope was handed to me. Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola? Wire me from all places along the route, giving your movements.

Address me in my train No. I had my Bradshaw in my bag, and proceeded at once to verify the itinerary by the time-table, while I drank my early coffee in the restaurant upon the station platform. My first idea was to retrace my steps to Basle and follow him by the same road. My first chance, if I caught the very next train back from Lucerne, would only get me to Brieg by the eleven o'clock the following morning. Then I remembered that by getting off the St. Gothard railway at Goeschenen I should strike the old Furka diligence route by the Devil's Bridge, Hospenthal, and the Rhone Glacier, a drive of fifty miles, more or less, but at least it would get me to Brieg that same night by 10 or 11 o'clock. By the time I reached Brieg they would be halfway across the Alps, and I must take the same road, making a stern chase, proverbially the longest. There would be no difficulty as to that, and I found I could be there in good time the same evening.

Thence a branch line would take me to Locarno and into touch with the steamboat service on Lake Maggiore. Every carriage that came down the Simplon must come under my eye. I meant to advise Tiler of my plans, and at the same time arrange with him to look out for me just outside the terminus station at Domo Dossola, or to communicate with me there at the Hôtel de la Poste. It was the Colonel, who greeted me with a loud laugh, and gave me a slap on the back. There are police about, and the Swiss police do not approve of brawling," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. "Come, Falfani, tell me what you mean to do now," he went on in the same tone. I do not choose to know you, and I beg you will leave me alone." "Don't think of it, my fine fellow. We are inseparables, you and I, as much united as the Siamese twins. Falfani?" "I have my credentials from my employers; I have letters, testimonials, recommendations from the best people." "Including the Earl of Blackadder, I presume?

You may get the best of it in the long run, but you'll lose a good deal of time. I'm not in a hurry," he said with emphasis, and promptly recalled me to my senses, for I realized that I could not fight him that way. I must throw dust in his eyes, put him off the scent, mislead, befool, elude him somehow. How was I to shake him off now I saw that he was determined to stick to me? He would not let me out of his sight; wherever I went he was coming too. The time was drawing on for the departure of the St. I felt sure I was unobserved as I took my place in the crowd at the ticket-window, but when I had asked and paid for my place to Locarno I heard, to my disgust, some one else applying for a ticket to exactly the same place, and in a voice that was strangely familiar. "I have business at Locarno, and have got a few days' leave to attend to it." I felt he was lying to me. His business was the Colonel's, who had set him to assist in watching me. I had two enemies then to encounter, and I realized with some misgiving that the Colonel was not a man to be despised.

Within five minutes Jules had verified the fact and taken seats in the immediate neighbourhood, to which he and the Colonel presently came. Many excursions, especially by steamer; the Borromean islands well worth seeing, and Baveno and Stresa and the road to the Simplon." I refused to be drawn, and only muttered that I hated excursions and steamers and lakes, and wished to be left in peace. You would do too much last night." He still kept up his hateful babble, and Jules maddened me by his sniggering enjoyment of my discomfiture.

More than ever did I set my brain to puzzle out some way of escaping this horrible infliction. Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? It must have been in my dreams that an idea came to me, a simple idea, easy of execution with luck and determination. It was suggested to me by the short tunnels that succeed so frequently in the ascent of the St. I nursed my project with eyes shut, still feigning sleep; and my extreme quiescence had, as I hoped, the effect of throwing them off their guard. Jules, like all in the same employment, was always ready for forty winks, and I saw that he was sound and snoring just as we entered the last tunnel before reaching the entrance of the final great tunnel at Goeschenen. Now was my time.

Fortunately we sat at the extreme end of a coach, in the last places, and besides we three there was only one other occupant in the compartment of six. I expected to hear the alarm given at my disappearance, but none reached my ears, as the train rattled past me with its twinkling lights and noisy road. I held myself close against the side of the tunnel in perfect safety, although the hot wind of the passing cars fanned my cheek and rather terrified me. The moment the train was well gone I faced the glimmering light that showed the entrance to the tunnel at the further end from the station, and ran to it with all speed. I altogether avoided the Goeschenen station, fearing any inconvenient inquiries, and abandoned all idea of getting the telegram from Tiler that might be possibly awaiting me. I should be obliged now to send him fresh news, news of the changed plans that took me direct into Brieg; and on entering Andermatt I came upon the post-office, just where I wanted it, both to send my message and order an extra post carriage from Brieg.

Long before I reached Hospenthal, a mile or so from Andermatt, I was disturbed by strange cries to the accompaniment of harness bells. "Yo-icks, Yo-icks, G-o-ne away!" was borne after me with all the force of stentorian lungs, and looking round I saw to my horror a second carriage coming on at top speed, and beyond all question aiming to overtake us. Soon they drew nearer, near enough for speech, and the accursed Colonel hailed me.

"Why, you cunning fox, so you broke cover and got away all in a moment! When I drove on they came along too, laughing. We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St.

They still stuck to me. My heart sank within me. He had collared me, he was on my back, and I felt that I must throw up the sponge. "I gave you fair notice that you would not get rid of me, and by heaven you shall not," he cried fiercely, putting off all at once the lighter mockery of his tone. You sha'n't, not if I can prevent you by any means in my power; understand that, and look out for squalls if you try." I confess he cowed me; he was so strong, so masterful, and, as I began to fear, so unscrupulous, that I felt I could not make head against him. I must get in touch with him at the earliest possible moment and my nearest way to him, situated as I was now, must be at or through Brieg. So I resigned myself to my fate, and suffered myself to be driven on with my pertinacious escort hanging on to me mile after mile of my wearing and interminable journey. I drove straight to the Hôtel de la Poste, careless that my tormentors were accompanying me; they could do me no more harm, and Tiler was at hand to help in vindicating our position. Only a brief telegram from him conveying unwelcome and astounding intelligence.

It had been despatched from Vevey about 2 P.M., and it said: "Lost her somewhere between this and Lausanne. I travelled via Ostend, Brussels and Strasburg, and was due at Basle from that side at 4.35 A.M.

We were "on time," and the answer to my first question was that the Lucerne express was still at the platform, but on the point of departure. "I'm not jealous, as you often are, but it's deuced hard on me.

Hurry now; you'll pick her up in the waiting-room or restaurant, and can't miss her." He gave me the description, and I left him, promising him a wire at the telegraph office, Lucerne. Few people were about at that time in the morning, and there was not a soul among the plain-headed, commonplace Swiss folk to compare with her, an English lady with her belongings. She was quite a beauty, tall, straight, lissom, in her tight-fitting ulster; her piquante-looking heather cap perched on chestnut curls, and setting off as handsome a face as I have ever seen. And I have seen and admired many, for I don't deny that I've a strong penchant for pretty women, and this was the pick of the basket. I need not be disagreeable; it might help matters and pass the time pleasantly, even if in the end I might have to show my teeth. I saw her looking me over as I walked into the waiting-room, curiously, critically, and for a moment I fancied she guessed who I was.

Had she seen me talking to Falfani? If so--if she thought me one of her persecutors--she would hardly look upon me without repugnance, yet I almost believed it was all the other way. I had an idea that she did not altogether dislike me, that she was pleased with my personal appearance. I had had my successes in my time, and may say, although it sounds conceited, that I had won the approval of other ladies quite as high-toned. In the meantime it would be amusing, enjoyable, to make friends. (Everyone knows that the idiotic and uncomfortable practice still prevails in Switzerland of shutting passengers off from the train till the very last moment.) This waiting-room served for many lines, and I could only wait patiently to enter the particular train for which she would be summoned. After getting my ticket I found time to telegraph to Falfani at Lucerne, giving him my latest news, and then proceeded to the train. I found the lady easily enough, and got into the same carriage with her. It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope.

He began to shift them, and, despite her indignant protests in imperfect German, threw some of them on the floor. I hurried to the rescue, and, being fluent in German as in several other languages--it is part of my stock in trade--I sharply reproved the guard and called him an unmannerly boor for his cowardly treatment of an unprotected lady. "Perhaps you can tell me, you see I am strange on this line," she answered with a perfectly innocent air, "do you happen to know at what time we are due at Lausanne?" "Not to the minute," I replied.

Let me fetch my bag." I went off in perfect good faith, anxious to oblige so charming a lady. I had not the slightest suspicion that she was playing with me.

When I got back with the Bradshaw I came upon them for just one moment unawares. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity. Be so good as to leave it to me. It is the only way." Then she caught sight of me as I stood before her, and her manner instantly changed. She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. "Oh, how very good of you, I feel quite ashamed of myself." "Why should you? I only wanted to know whether there would be time for déjeuner at Lausanne. I think there is no dining-car on this train?" "No, it is on the next, which is extraordinarily bad mismanagement. That will be enough, I presume?

It depends upon my meeting friends somewhere on the lake, either there or further on. If they come on board we shall run on to Brieg so as to drop over the Alps to Lake Maggiore by the Simplon route." I threw this out carelessly but with deliberate intention, and the shot told. A crimson flush came over her face and her hands trembled violently. The first stop was at Biel or Bienne, its French name, and there was a halt of ten minutes or more. I made my way to the telegraph office in the station, where to my great satisfaction I found a message from Falfani, informing me that he should make the best of his way to Brieg, unless I could suggest something better. Come on there anyhow and await further from me. I had no need to attract her attention, for I caught her eyes fixed on me and believe she was watching me furtively. The smile that came upon her lips was so pleasant and sweet that it might have overjoyed a more conceited man than myself.

"But I will send or bring you something. This gentleman will perhaps escort me to the refreshment-room." I agreed, of course, and saying, "Only too charmed," I led the way--a long way, for the restaurant is at the far end of the platform. At last we sat down tête-à-tête and prepared to do full justice to the meal. "I shall perhaps like something else better," and she went carefully through the whole menu, so that the time slipped away, and we were within five minutes of departure. Come and help me choose," and in duty bound I gallantly carried the food back to the train. The seats were empty, and as the compartment was quite empty, too, no one could tell me when they had left or where they had gone. I turned quickly round to my companion, who was, I thought, following close at my heels, and found to my utter amazement that she also had disappeared. For the moment I was dazed and dumfounded, but I took a pull on myself quickly.

Had they sold me completely?

Nein, nein, verboten." A hand caught me roughly by the collar and dragged me back. It was the enemy I had made in championing my lady, the guard of the train, who gladly seized the chance of being disagreeable to me. I fought hard to be free, but by the time I had shaken him off the speed had so increased that it would have been unsafe to leave the train. But much may happen in that brief space of time. It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. Had they separated, these two women, for good and all? They would surely feel safer, happier, together, and this encouraged me to ask first for two people, two females, a lady and her servant, one of them, the latter, carrying a child.

One shrugged his shoulders, another stared at me in insolent silence, a third answered me abruptly that he was too occupied to bother himself, and a fourth peremptorily ordered me not to hang any longer about the station. Foiled thus by the railway staff--and I desire to place on record here my deliberate opinion after many years' experience in many lands, that for rudeness and overbearing manners the Swiss functionary has no equal in the whole world--I went outside the station and sought information among the cabmen and touts who hang about waiting to take up travellers. They were dull, stupid men, these, only intent on their own business, who would pay little attention to humble persons on foot showing no desire to hire a cab. A confidential agent who will not take infinite pains in his researches had better seek some other line of business. As I stood there in front of the great station belonging to the Jura-Simplon, I saw facing me a small façade of the Gare Sainte Luce, one of the intermediate stations on the Ficelle or cable railway that connects Ouchy on the lake with Lausanne above. It was not a hundred yards distant; it could be easily and quickly reached, and without much observation, if a person waited till the immediate neighbourhood had been cleared by the general exodus after the arrival of the chief express of the day. I was only too conscious of my great loss of time, now at the outset, which might efface all tracks and cut me off hopelessly from any clue.

"A lady, handsome, tall, distinguished, comme il faut, with a companion, a servant, a nurse carrying a child?" He repeated my description, adding, "Parfaitement, I saw her. She was not one to forget quickly." "And she was going to Lausanne?" "Ma foi, yes, I believe so; or was it to Ouchy?" He seemed overwhelmed with sudden doubt. Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not--" he dropped his voice--"not for five francs." I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue.

He had especially admired her; dame! he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, "diable, who could say?" I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry. She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand. It would take time and trouble, but it was essential. I was ashamed to confess to Falfani that I had been outwitted and befooled. I would send him no more telegrams until I had something more satisfactory to say. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address--Eugène Falloon, Rue Pré Fleuri--where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus. On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news.

The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy." "And on board the steamer? I strongly suspected that this new evidence had been produced in order to bleed me further. Would he describe her appearance to me, and that of her companion? Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse? It was for that they summoned me. Handbags, sacs de nuit, rugs, wrappers, bonnet-boxes, many things, like all travellers." "And you noticed nothing big, no parcel for which they were particularly concerned?" "They were anxious about everything, and worried me about everything, but about no one thing especially that I can remember." This did not tally with my own observation and the extreme care taken of the child in the woman's arms. I began to believe that my friend was a humbug and could tell me nothing of his own knowledge. "What time was it?" I went on.

"Some hours ago. I did not look at the clock." "But you know by the steamers that arrive. You men must know which are due, and when they pass through." "Come, come, Antoine," broke in the conductor, determined to give him a lead, "you must know that; there are not so many. It would be about 2 P.M., wouldn't it, when the express boat comes from Vevey and Bouveret?" "Yes, I make no doubt of that," said the man, with a gleam of intelligence upon his stolid face. You are sure?" "It must have been so; I certainly carried their traps on board." "Now, are you quite positive it was the two o'clock going that way, and not the quarter past two returning from Geneva?" I had my Bradshaw handy, and was following the time-table with my fingers.

You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier. You've swindled me out of it, thief and liar that you are." "Come, come, don't speak so freely. The conductor's insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Help must have come to him very speedily and to good purpose, for I soon found myself in custody, two colossal gendarmes holding me tight on each side. I was quickly removed like any malefactor to the lock-up in the town above, and was thus for the moment effectively precluded from continuing my pursuit. The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. I was not permitted to answer the charge against me, but was at once consigned to a cell, having been first searched and despoiled of all my possessions.

My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it. It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? No, no, there was no chance for me; nothing could save me. Such a brutal assault as mine would be avenged handsomely. I was a British subject and claimed to be treated with proper respect. When they laughed at me, saying that he would not interfere with the course of justice on behalf of such an unknown vagabond, I told them roundly that I was travelling under the special protection of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, the illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne. Let them bring me my wallet. All of us in the employ of Messrs. When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release.

I had summoned Eugène Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened.

I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke's have friends and correspondents in every city of the world. He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice. All that forenoon, and quite late into the next day, I was left brooding and chafing at my misfortune, self-inflicted I will confess, but not the less irksome to bear.

Several visitors came, claiming to see me, and were presently admitted in turn. First came the Consul, and with him an intelligent Swiss advocate, who declared he would soon put matters right. It would only be a question of a fine, and binding me over to good behaviour on bail. Falloon had come upon undoubted evidence that she had never left the great Jura-Simplon station, but had remained quietly out of sight in the "ladies' waiting-room" until the next train left for Geneva. This was at 1.35 P.M., and she must have slipped away right under my eyes into the very train which had brought me back from Vevey.

So my search was carried now to Geneva, and it might be possible to come upon my people there, although I was not oversanguine. I knew something of the place. I had been there more than once, had stayed some time, and I knew too well that it is a city with many issues, many facilities for travelling, and, as they had so much reason for moving on rapidly, the chances were that they would have already escaped me. We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. Meanwhile I meant to take all the hotels in regular order, and began with those of the first class on the right bank, the Beau Rivage, the Russie, de la Paix, National, Des Bergues, and the rest.

As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole.

Now my luck again greatly favoured me. Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction. She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot. She looked hurriedly to right and left, as if seeking some loophole of escape.

At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. I took my place, not ill pleased, for she had already seen me, and I was anxious to know how my sudden reappearance would affect her. It was clear she did not relish it, or she would not have turned tail at our unexpected meeting. She chose her line at once, and without hesitation addressed me, smiling and unabashed. Her self-possession, I had almost said her effrontery, took me quite aback.

"Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. "I am afraid you must have thought me very rude. She had only just time to catch me and prevent me from going on.

What could this mean?

Some fresh trick? Her perfect frankness amazed me. There was surely some pitfall, some trap concealed for my abounding credulity. "I also propose to stay some days, but am not yet established." I made so bold as to suggest that I had a great mind to try her Hôtel Cornavin. The tram-car by this time had run through the Place Molard, the Allemand Marché, and was turning into the Rue de la Corraterie, pointing upward for the theatre and the Promenade des Bastions. I cannot say whether she realized that I was following, but she led me a pretty dance. At last she paused and looked back, and thinking she had shaken me off (for knowing the game well I had hastily effaced myself in a doorway) plunged into the entrance of a small unpretending hotel in a quiet, retired square--the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, certainly not the Cornavin. The door in which I had taken shelter was that of a dark third-rate café well suited to my purpose, and well placed, for I was in full view of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, which I was resolved to watch at least until my lady came out again. As I slowly absorbed an absinthe, revolving events past and to come, I thought it would be well to draw Falloon to me. It was past the hour for our meeting.

I scribbled three lines of a note and despatched it to the Café de la Couronne by a messenger to whom I fully described my colleague's appearance, desiring him to show the addressed envelope before delivery, but having no doubt that it would reach its destination. Presently Falloon joined me, and as my lady had as yet made no sign, I bade him continue the watch, while I left the café openly and ostentatiously, so that it might be seen by any one curious to know that I had given up the game. She was not at home for the moment. I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand. Come instantly, Hôtel Cornavin. "LUDOVIC." I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M.

It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. No one had come out of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio. All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me.

The time ran on, and I thought it would be prudent to return to my own hotel. Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying. "Already her carriage enters the station--without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere." I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. There she was ahead of me, quite unmistakable, walking quickly, with her fine upright figure clad in the same pearl gray ulster she had worn in the tram-car. "The 7.35 for Culoz and beyond by Amberieu to Paris," I was informed on inquiry. She had had enough of it, and was going home again. In another minute or two she would have eluded me once more. I chose a carriage at no great distance from that she had entered; a through carriage to Maçon, and which I was resolved to watch closely, but yet I did not mean to show myself to its occupants if it could be helped.

At the same time I handed Falloon a substantial fee, but desired him to offer his services to Falfani. But as I was dozing in my place and the train slowed on entering Amberieu, the guard whom I had suborned came to me with a hurried call. Madame has descended and is just leaving the station. (How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. She was so closely veiled that I could not see her face, but it was the same figure, the same costume, the same air. "It won't do, madame," I insisted.

No fear." I meant to spend the night on guard, watching and waiting till I was relieved by the arrival of the others, to whom I telegraphed without delay. I left my narrative at the moment when I had promised my help to the lady I found in such distress in the Engadine express. As may be supposed I rejoiced greatly on reaching Brieg to find that Falfani had been bitterly disappointed. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne. I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out.

I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room. When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed.

"I'll appeal to the law, I'll denounce you to the authorities, I'll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment. I'll be rid of you somehow, you shall not stay here, you shall leave Brieg." "With all my heart--when you do. I've told you before now what I think of Lord Blackadder, and if it be necessary I'll tell him to his face when he gets here." This conversation took place just before the table-d'hôte luncheon, and immediately afterwards Falfani went out in the direction of the railway station. It would have been enough for me had I not already known Lord Blackadder by sight. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me. "Earl of Blackadder" was the name engraved, and written just below in pencil were the words, "would like to speak to Colonel Annesley at once." "Well, I've no objection," I began, stiffly. "Where is he?" The waiter pointed back to the hotel, and I saw a white, evil face glowering at me from a window on the ground floor of the hotel.

"Will monsieur come?" he asked. Tell his lordship he will find me here if he wants me. Soon afterwards Lord Blackadder came out. Mahomet came to the mountain. "That is my name," I responded, without returning the salute. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel. "May I hope you will accompany me to my rooms? There can be nothing between you and me, Lord Blackadder, that concerns me very closely; nothing that the whole world may not hear." "What I have to say might prove very unpleasant to you in the telling, Colonel Annesley.

I wish to tell you, Colonel Annesley, that you have taken a most unwarrantable liberty in mixing yourself up with my affairs." "I am not aware that I have done so." "You shall not trifle with me, sir. "People who forget themselves so far as you have done must accept the responsibility of their own actions; and I tell you, here and now, that I shall call you to strict account for yours." The man was trying me hard, but still I strove to keep my temper. No one would do so who had read the public prints lately." "How dare you, sir, refer to my conduct, or presume to criticize or question it?" he burst out. It is a real pleasure to me to tell you what I think of you, Lord Blackadder; and as I am ready to give you every satisfaction, I shall not stint myself." "I insist upon satisfaction." "By all means. "I will swear the peace against you." "Do so by all means.

You have chosen to come into my life--" "I should be extremely sorry to do so." "Will you deny that you have sided with my enemies, that you have joined and abetted them in a base plot to defraud and rob me of my--my--property, of that which I most highly value and cherish of all my possessions?" "I don't know what you are talking about, Lord Blackadder, but whatever your grievance I tell you candidly that I do not like your tone or your manner, and I shall hold no further converse with you." I turned my back on him and walked away. You must and shall hear me out. I've not done with you." He came hurrying after me, following close and raising his voice higher and higher. "It is not your ground to warn me off." "I tell you you shall not remain here to annoy me and work against me. I shall go my own road, and I defy you to do your worst." Here, when I was on the threshold of the hotel, I met Falfani full, as he came running out excitedly, holding in his hand the telltale blue envelope, which, with his elated air, indicated clearly that he had just received important news.

I paused for a moment, hoping he might commit himself, and was rewarded by hearing him say aloud: "It is from Geneva, my lord, from Ludovic Tiler," he began indiscreetly, and was angrily silenced by my lord, who called him "a triple-dyed idiot," and with a significant gesture towards me bade him walk away to some distance from the hotel. It might be thought that I was too hard on my Lord Blackadder, but only those few indeed who were unacquainted with the circumstances of his divorce would find fault with me. It had been an unhappy marriage, an ill-assorted match, mercenary, of mere convenience, forced upon an innocent and rather weak girl by careless and callous guardians, eager to rid themselves of responsibility for the two twin sisters, Ladies Claire and Henriette Standish, orphans, and with no near relations. Lord Blackadder was immensely rich, but a man of indifferent moral character, a roué and a voluptuary, with a debilitated constitution and an unattractive person, possessing none of the gifts that take a maiden's fancy. Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. Distrust grew into strong suspicion, and presently consumed him when an old flame of Lady Henriette's, Charlie Forrester, of the Dark Horse, turned up from foreign service, and their names came to be bracketed together by the senseless gossiping busybodies ever ready to tear a pretty woman's reputation to tatters.

It was clearly shown in evidence that she had made up her mind to leave Lord Blackadder; more, that she meant to elope with Major Forrester. It was said, but not so positively, that she had met him at Victoria Station; they were seen there together, had travelled by the same train, and there was a strong presumption that they had arrived together at Brighton; one or two railway officials deposed to the fact.

It was interpreted into guilt of the most heinous kind; the evidence in support of it seemed overwhelming. Witnesses swore positively to the companionship of Major Forrester, both at Victoria and Brighton, and it was to be fairly assumed that they were at the latter place together. The maid, a woman married to an ex-French or Swiss courier, by name Bruel, could not be produced, simply because she could not be found in Brighton. It was more than hinted that they had been spirited away, and they were not the first material witnesses, it was hinted, in an intricate case, conducted by Messrs. I had not the smallest doubt when I realized with whom I had to do that the unhappy mother had made a desperate effort to redress her wrongs, as she thought them, and had somehow contrived to carry off her baby before she could be deprived of it.

I had met her in full flight upon the Engadine express. I was full of these thoughts, and still firmly resolved to help Lady Blackadder, when l'Echelle, the conductor whose services I still retained, sought me out hurriedly, and told me that he believed the others were on the point of leaving Brieg.

I think they mean to take the next train along the lake shore." "Not a doubt of it," I assented; "so will we. He chafed, he raged up and down, grimacing and apostrophizing Falfani; once or twice he approached me with clenched fists, and I really thought would have struck me at last. Seeing me enter the same carriage with him, with the obvious intention of keeping him under my eye, he threw himself back among the cushions and yielded himself with the worst grace to the inevitable. I expected them to take a carriage and drive off, and was prepared to give chase, when I found they started on foot, evidently to some destination close at hand. I heard them ask for a person named Tiler, and without consulting his books the clerk replied angrily: "Tiler! He has gone off from the dinner-table and without paying his bill." "That shall be made all right," replied Lord Blackadder loftily, as he detailed his name and quality, before which the employé bowed low. They have been here some days. Thick-headed dolt, unable to keep awake, I suppose." At that moment a shabbily dressed person approached Falfani, touched his hat, and offered him a note, saying: "This must be for you, monsieur.

I heard your name--" "From Tiler, my lord, aha! I don't understand it, by Gad!" "There is some fresh trick, my lord, you may be sure. When did you come on duty? Blair holds it still." "But she may not be in it, all the same. Lord Blackadder had not seen her, and now his eye, for the first time, fell upon me. He turned on me furiously. Several people ran up, and they might have sided against me, when I heard a voice whisper into my ear: "Come, sir, come. I was received with great warmth and cordiality by my friend, and it was made clear to me that my opportune appearance brought her great comfort and support.

Now you appear in the very nick of time, just when I was almost in despair.

Can I still count upon your help?" "Why, most certainly, Lady Blackadder." "Lady Black--" She was looking at me very keenly, and, as I thought, was much startled and surprised. "Of course, I might have guessed you would penetrate my disguise, but you must not call me Lady Blackadder. I hope you will believe that I am, and ever shall be, at your orders and devoted to your service." "Yes, yes, I am sure of it; I know I can depend upon you fully, and I mean to do so now at once. You know, you have heard, that Lord Blackadder is here, and actually in this hotel?" "I came with him. I was watching that fellow, the detective Falfani, when his lordship came upon the scene.

How are you to manage it?" "There would not have been the slightest difficulty; it was all but done, and then some one, something, failed me. I expected too much perhaps, but I have been bitterly disappointed, and the danger has revived." "Come, come, Lady Blackadder, keep up your courage. We can surely devise some fresh plan.

Will you listen to me? First let me clear the ground a little. I am not Lady Blackadder--no, no, do not misunderstand me--not on account of the divorce, but I never was Lady Blackadder. But let me go on. If the jury had but seen her pretty, pathetic face, and heard from her own sweet lips all she had endured, they would have come to a very different verdict. "But she would not come forward on her own behalf. "It fell upon me with crushing effect, although towards the end of the trial I had had my forebodings. "I had braced myself to listen to all that came out in court, a whole tissue of lies told by perjured wretches whose evidence was accepted as gospel--one of them was the same Falfani whom you know, and who had acted the loathsome part of spy on several occasions.

"Directly the judge had issued his cruel fiat, I slipped out, hurried down-stairs into the Strand, jumped into a hansom, and was driven at top speed to Hamilton Terrace, bent upon giving instant effect to a scheme I had long since devised. "I found my faithful Philpotts awaiting me with everything prepared as I had arranged. When I first saw you at Calais I was seized with a terrible fear, which was soon allayed; you did not look much like a detective, and you were already my good friend when the real ruffian, Falfani, came on board the train at Amiens." "On reaching Geneva I at once opened communications with Henriette. I felt satisfied, now that I had come so far, it would be well that she should join me, and that we should concert together as to our next proceedings. Our first and principal aim was to retain the child at all costs and against all comers.

We should be really safe nowhere if we once came within his reach, and, the best plan to keep out of his clutches was to hide our whereabouts from him. "Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her. If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. Lord Blackadder, we might be sure, would hunt high and low to recover his lost heir, sparing no expense, neglecting no means.

"It was, however, essential to elude his agents, who were so near at hand and likely to press me close.

That was another reason for drawing my sister to me. When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry. If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday. My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. I had taken up my quarters in this hotel because it was so near the station, but I thought it prudent that Henriette should lodge somewhere else, the farther the better, and she went to a small place, the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, at the other end of the town. "It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come. "We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help. There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required--the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment. I felt sure they would soon hear of me and run me down.

I hoped they would attach themselves to me, and meant to lead them a fine dance as a blind for Henriette, who, meanwhile, would have crossed to Lyons and gone south to Marseilles. Everything was cut and dried and this evening we scored the first point in the game. "For I must tell you that to-day one of the detectives appeared in Geneva, not the first man, but a second, who attached himself to me at Basle. I met him plump on the Mont Blanc Bridge and turned tail, but he came after me. I jumped into a passing tram, so did he, and to throw him off his guard I talked to him, and made friends with him, and advised him to come and stay at this hotel. But I suppose he followed me, he must have, and found out something, for I know now that he went to Amberieu after Henriette--" "You are perfectly sure?" "She has telegraphed to me from Amberieu; I got it not an hour ago. The man accosted her, taking her for me. Blair, and told her to her face that he did not mean to lose sight of her again. So you see--" "If she goes round by Lyons to Marseilles, then, he would be at her heels, and the scheme breaks down in that respect?" "Not only that, I don't see that he could interfere with her, or do her much harm, and at Marseilles she might change her plans entirely.

She might take ship and embark on board the first steamer bound to the East, for India or Ceylon, the Antipodes or far Cathay." "Well, why not?" "Henriette, my sister, has given way.

Her courage has failed her at this, the most critical moment, when she is within a hair's breadth of success. She is afraid to go on alone with little Ralph, and is running back to me by the first train to-morrow morning, at five or six o'clock." "Coming here? Into the very mouths of all the others!" "Just so, and all my great scheme will be ruined.

What can I do?" She looked at me in piteous appeal, the tears brimming over, her hands stretched towards me with a gesture at once pathetic and enchanting. "This is my business, too, if you will allow me to say so, and I offer you my advice for what it is worth." "Yes, I will take it thankfully, I promise you." "The only safe course now is the boldest. She has dropped the other entirely." "By all means.

You must, if possible, exchange babies, and at the same time exchange rôles. "But Henriette--what is to become of her?" "That shall be my affair. The other detective, this Tiler--I have heard them call him by that name--will have told them of her ladyship's movements, and will have summoned them, Falfani at least, to his side." "If I go on by that early train they will, no doubt, do the same.

Cannot I go across to the station before them and hide in some compartment specially reserved for us?" "It might be managed. Leave it to me, Lady Claire. All you have to do is to be ready to-morrow morning, very early, remember.

I'll knock at your door and see you get some coffee." "Philpotts shall make it; no one in the hotel must know. I'll come back after you're ensconced, with the blinds drawn.

It won't matter my being seen on the road, all the better really if my lord is there, for I have a little plan of my own, Lady Claire--no, please don't ask me yet--but it will help matters, I think." "You are, indeed, my true and faithful friend," she said, as she put out her hand and wished me good night. She left it in mine for just a second, and I flattered myself that its warm pressure was meant to assure me that I had established a substantial claim to her regard. 17 I descended to the ground floor, seeking the smoking-room and a little stimulant to assist me in deciding the best course of action for the following day. They could hardly have seen me, at least l'Echelle made no reference to the fact when he came to me presently and asked if I had any orders for the morning. The truth, please, or you get nothing more from me." "He is a vaurien and fainéant, and thinks others as bad as himself; said my lord would give me five hundred francs to know what you were doing, and find out whether the lady who travelled with us to Basle last Sunday is here in this house." "I've no objection to your taking his money if you will tell me something. How long does my lord mean to stay here? A pressing telegram has come from their man at Amberieu." "Ah! They're not going to shake me off very easily. I was met at a private door and escorted, with my precious party, by a circuitous route to where the 5.48 was shunted, waiting the moment to run back to the departure platform.

As for me, I walked boldly to the hotel and hung about the hall till the Blackadder party appeared and had left for the station. Then I asked the hotel clerk for Lady Claire's bill, paid it, with my own, and went over to the train, selecting a compartment close to the coupé. I do not think that Lord Blackadder saw me then, at the start. But at Bellegarde, the Swiss frontier, where there was a wait of half an hour for the Customs examination, an irritating performance always, but carried out here with the most maddening and overbearing particularity, everyone was obliged to alight from the train, and for the moment I trembled for Lady Claire. But the appeal addressed to the French brigadier, "un galant homme," of an invalid lady, too ill to be disturbed, was effectual, especially when backed by two five-franc pieces. Lord Blackadder was on the platform with the rest, and directly he saw me he came up with the same arrogant air, curiously blended with aggrieved helplessness.

We shall be on French soil directly, and I know something of French law. It affords protection to all who claim it against such people as you." "If you talk like that I'll give you some reason to seek the protection of the gendarmes or police," I cried, but checked myself at once. I had made up my mind how to deal with him, but the time was not yet. Lord Blackadder hurried to his compartment at the end of the train some way from mine and the coupé. She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask. "The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously. I count upon that as part of my programme." "But they will catch her, stop her, deprive her of our dear little Ralph." "Wait, wait. It will be settled in a moment now. But before it is too late let us arrange how you may communicate with me.

Telegraph to me there to my club, the Mars and Neptune, Piccadilly. I will send instructions there to have all telegrams opened and retelegraphed to me at once. They shall be kept informed of my whereabouts daily. Look out, please." It could not have suited me better. There, standing under the shadow of the dwarf plane-trees, but with not the slightest suggestion of concealment, was the exact counterpart of Lady Claire, her twin sister, Lady Henriette Standish, till lately Lady Blackadder.

"Give me a short start," I said to Lady Claire as I jumped out of the coupé.

Had any doubt remained, it would have been removed by the appearance of a man who ran out from some back part of the station and waved them forward with much gesticulation. Everybody talked at the same time, asking questions, volunteering answers, some laughing shamelessly at my lord's discomfiture, a few expressing indignation, and declaring that such a scandal should not be permitted, and the guilty parties held strictly to account.

The gendarmes on duty--a couple of them are always at hand in a French railway station--soon appeared, and, taking in the situation at the first glance, imposed silence peremptorily. "Let some one, one person only, speak and explain." The brigadier, or sergeant, addressed himself to me, no doubt seeing that I had assumed a prominent place in the forefront, and seemed a person of importance.

He will do my lord some serious injury." "Is one an English milord, hein? "A rank villain; one who outrages all decency, breaks every law, respects no rank--" "Bus, bus," cried the Colonel, in some language of his own, as he put me aside so roughly that I still feel the pain in my shoulder. Let me speak for myself, if you please. "Such as the wolf and the tiger and the snake expect from their victim." It made me sick to hear him currying favour with the gendarme, and still worse that it was affecting the old trooper, who looked on all as pekins, mere civilians, far inferior to military men. "I ask it because these people have made a dead set at me. They have tried to hustle me and, I fear, to rob me, and I have been obliged to act in my own defence." Before I could protest against this shameless misrepresentation of the fact, my lord interposed. He knows it is not true; he is perfectly well aware who I am, Lord Blackadder; and that he has no sort of grievance against me nor any of my people. His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel.

Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. I began to think he had some game of his own. I met his eye as soon as I could, and, in answer to my inquiring glance, he came over to me and whispered: "Don't you see? He," jerking his finger toward the Colonel, "wants us to waste as much time as possible, while my lady slips through our fingers and gets farther and farther on her road." "Where is she?" "Ah, where? No longer here, anyway." The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station. It had gone on, quite unobserved by any of us during the fracas, and it flashed upon me at once that the incident had been planned for this very purpose of occupying our attention while she stole off.

"But, one moment, Ludovic, that train was going to Maçon and Paris. You came with her yourself. She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?" "She only came because I'd tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip," said Tiler. I mean to push this through to the bitter end. You will be careful, sergeant, to bring your prisoner along with you." "Merci bien! I do not want you or any one else to teach me my duty," replied the gendarme, very stiffly. When is it to be?" "Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22," Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way. Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him.

The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him. He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer. Meanwhile Tiler and I thought it our pressing duty to utilize these few moments in seeking news of our lady and her party.

One facteur assured us he had helped her into the train going Amberieu way, but I thought his description very vague, although Tiler swallowed the statement quite greedily. Another man told me quite a different story; he had seen her, and had not the slightest doubt of it, in the down train, that for Aix-les-Bains, the express via Chambery, Modane, and the Mont Cenis tunnel for Italy. L'Echelle, as he came from the direction of the buvette, was a little in the rear of the Colonel and the gendarmes. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together. My lord very liberally provided first-class tickets for the whole of the party, but the Colonel took his own and paid for the gendarmes. He refused to travel in the same carriage with the noble Earl, saying openly and impudently that he preferred the society of honest old soldiers to such a crew as ours. On reaching Aix-les-Bains, we found the omnibus that did the service de la ville, but the Colonel refused to enter it, and declared he would walk; he cared nothing for the degradation of appearing in the public streets as a prisoner marching between a couple of gendarmes.

He met some friends, too,--one was a person rather like himself, with the same swaggering high-handed air, who accosted him as we were passing the corner of the square just by the Hôtel d'Aix. Robbed a church?" "Come on with us and you'll soon know.

No, really, come along, I may want you. There are some more of us here from the old shop--Jack Tyrrell, Bobus Smith--all Mars and Neptune men. Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. "I've got a particular appointment there with Monsieur le Commissaire, and the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder." "Oh!

By-by, you'll see me again, and all the chaps I can pick up at the Cercle and the hotels near." Then our procession passed on, the Colonel and gendarmes leading, Tiler and I with l'Echelle close behind. He had driven on ahead in a fiacre and was standing alone at the entrance to the police office, which is situated on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Ville, a pretty old-fashioned building of gray stone just facing the Etablissement Thermale, the home of the far-famed baths from which Aix-les-Bains takes its name. "In here?" asked my lord; and with a brief wave of his hand he would have passed in first, but the officers of the law put him rather rudely aside and claimed precedence for their prisoner. I--demand justice of you--" "Pardon, monsieur, je vous prie. We must proceed in order, and first allow me to assure you that justice is always done in France.

No one need claim it in the tone you have assumed." The Commissary was a solemn person, full of the stiff formality exhibited by members of the French magistracy, the juniors especially. "Allow me to ask--" he went on coldly. It is the duty of the officers of the law now present, and prepared, I presume, to make their report. Proceed, sergeant." "But you must hear me, M. I have been shamefully ill-used by that man there." He shook his finger at the Colonel. "He has violently assaulted me. I am entitled to your best consideration." "Every individual, the poorest, meanest, is entitled to that in republican France. "You must attend to me--you shall listen to me. le Commissaire," said the treacherous gendarme. "A simple brawl--a blow struck, possibly returned--a mere rixe." "Between gentlemen?

Men of honour settle their disputes differently; they do not come to the police correctionnelle." "Pray do not think it is my desire," broke in the Colonel, with his customary fierceness. "I have offered Lord Blackadder satisfaction as a gentleman, and am ready to meet him when and how he pleases." "I cannot listen to you, sir. But I recommend you to take your quarrels elsewhere, and not to waste my time." "This is quite unheard of," cried my lord, now thoroughly aroused. "You are shamefully neglecting your duty, M. le Commissaire, and it cannot be tolerated." "I am not responsible to you, sir, and will account for my action à qui de droit, to those who have the right to question me.

Gendarmes, release your prisoner, and let everyone withdraw." We all trooped out into the square, where a number of persons had assembled, evidently the Colonel's friends, for they greeted him uproariously. Perhaps some of you know him. We had a difference of opinion, and I was compelled to administer chastisement." A lot of impudent chaff followed. really, pray introduce me to his lordship," said one. Can we be of any use to you?" "You mustn't mind Basil Annesley; he's always full of his games." "Hope he didn't hurt you. He didn't mean it really;" and I could see that the Earl could hardly contain himself in his rage. Then, suddenly muttering something about "bounders" and "cads," he forced his way through and hurried off, shouting his parting instructions to us to join him as soon as possible at the Hôtel Hautecombe on the hill. We followed quickly, and were ushered at once into his private apartment. It was essential to confer and decide upon some plan of action; but when I asked him what he proposed to do next, he received my harmless request with a storm of invective and reproach.

Don't expect me to tell you your business. Nothing you have done has been of the very slightest use; on the contrary, through your beastly mismanagement I have been dragged into this degrading position, held up to ridicule and contempt before all the world.

What has become of that abominable woman who stole it from under your very noses? "I think I can assure your lordship that matters will soon mend. The situation is not hopeless, believe me.

It is pure assumption, without any good evidence to support it." "Let me hear this precious clue," said his lordship. How can I decide as to the best course if you give me no help?" "Perhaps your lordship will allow me to make a suggestion?" I said gravely, and I flatter myself with some dignity, for I wished to show I was not pleased with the way he treated us. "Whether the lady has gone north or south, east or west, may be uncertain; and although I am satisfied in my own mind as to the direction she took, I am willing to await further developments before embarking on any further chase.

If we have only a little patience, this Colonel Annesley will act as a sign-post." "You think that some communication will reach him from the fugitives?" "Most decidedly I do. I firmly believe that the lady relies upon him greatly, and will in all probability call him to her, or if not that she will wish to let him know how she has got on." For the first time in this unpleasant interview his lordship looked at me approvingly. Take immediate steps, if you please, to set a close watch on this pestilent villain Annesley; keep him continually under your eye." "We've got to find him first," objected Tiler gruffly and despondently. I look to you for that, and let me know the result without loss of time. Leave me now." I accepted my dismissal and moved towards the door, but Tiler hung behind, and I heard him say timidly: "May I crave your lordship's pardon--and I trust you rely on my entire devotion to your lordship's service--but there is one thing I most earnestly desire to do." "Go on." "And that is to follow my own clue, at least for a time. Will you allow me to absent myself if only for a few days?

If, as I hope and believe, I strike the scent, assuredly you will not regret it." "There's something in what you say. "I am willing to wait a day or two until you return or report, or unless something more definite turns up in the other direction. Although the hotels were certain to be crowded at this, the height of the season, the town is not really large, the visitors' lists are well posted with new arrivals, and there are one or two public places where people always turn up at some time or other in the day.

I stood on the top of the steps waiting for the private omnibus that plies between the hotel and the town below, when I heard my name called from behind, and turning, was confronted by Jules l'Echelle. "What brings you up here?" "The Colonel, my master--for I have taken service with him, you must know--sent me here to inquire whether we could have rooms." "Why does he choose this hotel of all others?" I asked in a dissatisfied tone, although in my secret heart I was overjoyed.

Haven't you come here?" "My Lord Blackadder has, but that's another pair of shoes. There's some difference between him and a beggarly half-pay Colonel who will very likely have to black the boots to work out his bill. Anyhow, he's coming to stop here." "For any time?" "Likely enough. He said something about going through the course, taking the baths, and among the rest asked me to find out the best doctor." "That'll mean a lengthened stay; three weeks at least." "Well, why shouldn't he?

I'll do just as you please." "You're very obliging." "I'm willing enough to oblige, as I've always told you--at a price." "Put a name to it; but don't forget you've had something on account. Suppose I let the Colonel know what you've been at, trying to tamper with me. This hotel wouldn't be big enough to hold him and your patron together." "Well,"--I hesitated, not willing to appear too anxious,--"let's say, just for argument's sake, that you got what you ask, or something near it.

But we'll agree what you'd do for us in return?" "Anything you chose to ask." "Would you come over to us, belong to us body and soul? Think first of my lord, put his interests before the Colonel's; tell us what the Colonel's doing, his game from day to day, read his letters, and tell us their contents; spy on his actions, watch him at every turn, his comings and his goings; the houses he calls at, the people he meets, every move he makes or has in view?" "If I promise to do all that will you promise not to give me away? You'll keep your own counsel and protect me from the Colonel? If he got a whisper I was selling him I'd lose my place and he'd half kill me into the bargain." "Not a soul shall know but my lord and myself.

I must consult him, or you won't get the money." "But there is that other chap, the one who joined us at Culoz, and who was with you at the Commissariat, a new face to me. One of your own party, wasn't he?" "To be sure, Tiler; he's on the job, too, came out when I did from London. Sacked, dropped out, or what?" "Gone to follow up a game of his own. I'd like to begin at once; there's something I would tell you here, and now, that would interest you very much. But money down is my rule." "Let me run up and ask his lordship. "Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly.

He wants you to think he's a fixture here, but he means to cut and run after my lady whenever she sends to him. Only be diligent, watch closely, and keep us fully informed. When I take an employer's pay I serve him faithfully and to the best of my power," he said with an engaging frankness that won me completely. what liars men are and what fools! I was a trifle surprised that the Colonel did not put in an appearance; but it was explained by l'Echelle, whom I met by appointment later in the day. The Colonel had established himself in a hotel almost next door, and ran up against me continually that afternoon and evening, as I wandered about now under the trees listening to the band, now at the baccarat table, where I occasionally staked a few jetons of the smaller values.

He never failed to meet my eye when it rested on him; he seemed to know intuitively when I watched him, and he always looked back and laughed. If any one was with him, as was generally the case--smart ladies and men of his own stamp, with all of whom he seemed on very familiar terms--he invariably drew their attention to me, and they, too, laughed aloud after a prolonged stare. It was a little embarrassing; he had so evidently disclosed my business, in scornful terms no doubt, and held me up to ridicule, describing in his own way and much to my discredit all that had happened between us. Once he had the effrontery to accost me as I stood facing the green board on which the telegrams are exposed. "Where have we met?" he began, with a mocking laugh. And I think I have come across you more recently." "I beg you will not address yourself to me.

I don't know you, I don't wish to know you," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. But several of his rowdy friends closed around me and held me there, compelled to listen to his gibes as he rattled on. If there is anything I can do for his lordship, any information I can give him, he knows, I trust, that he can command me. "Let me urge him most strongly to go through the course. He should take the Aix treatment, he should indeed. Leave me in peace, I'll have no more truck with you." "And yet it would be wiser. You will have to come to me yet.

He can choose his own agents." "And in his own sneaking, underhand way," the Colonel answered quickly, and with such a meaning look that I was half-afraid he suspected that we were tampering with his man. "But two can play at that game, as you may find some day." When I met l'Echelle that same evening as arranged, at the Café Amadeo in the Place Carnot, I questioned him closely as to whether his master had any suspicion of him, but he answered me stoutly it was quite impossible. If Tiler is getting 'hot'--you know the old game--he might like to go after him. I was rather struck by a change in his demeanour.

He wore an air of preoccupation that spoke to me of an uneasy mind.

He was unhappy about something; some doubt, some secret dread oppressed him, and more than once I thought he wished to keep out of sight and avoid my searching interrogative eyes. He's dying for news that don't seem in a hurry to come. Half a dozen times to-day he's asked me to inquire if there's a telegram for him, and he haunts the hall porter's box continually in the hope of getting one. Have you heard any more from Tiler?" "Yes, another mad telegram, this time from Marseilles. I hope to heaven your boss will show his hand soon." "It's not for me to make him, you must admit that. But cheer up, copain, things may mend." They did, as often happens when they seem to be at their worst.

There is not a moment to lose. Come along. I've a fiacre at the door below." He gave the établissement as the address, and we were soon tearing down the hill. As we drove along l'Echelle told me the news. "It's come, that satanic telegram, and just what he wanted, I'm prepared to swear. He simply jumped for joy when he read it." "But what was the message? Go on, go on, out with it!" I shouted almost mad with excitement. "I can't tell you that, for I haven't seen it yet." "Are you making a fool of me?" "How could I see it? But I mean to see it pretty soon, and so shall you." "You mean to abstract it somehow--pick his pocket, or what?" "Simplest thing in the world.

You see he's gone to have his bath, he likes to be early, and he's undergoing the douche at this very moment, which means naturally that he's taken off his clothes, and they are waiting in the dressing-room for me to take home.

How do you mean to work it out?" "Take the telegram out of his waistcoat pocket, read it, or bring it to you." "Bring it; that will be best," I interrupted, feeling a tinge of suspicion. He winked at me as he passed, and we walked together to a shady, retired spot in the little square where the cab-stand is, and sat in the newspaper kiosk on a couple of straw-bottomed chairs of the Central café. "Read that," he said triumphantly, as he handed me the familiar scrap of blue paper. "It means, I suppose," suggested l'Echelle, "that you will make for Milan, too?" "No fear--by the first train. You'll be clever if you get the start of us, for I presume you will be moving." "I haven't the smallest doubt of that; we shall be quite a merry party. It will be quite like old times." CHAPTER XXIII. I defended to myself the assault upon Lord Blackadder as in a measure provoked and justifiable under the circumstances, although I was really sorry for him and at the poor figure he cut before the police magistrate and gendarmes.

Every man of proper feeling would be moved thereto, and I knew in my secret heart that very tender motives impelled me to the unstinting championship of Lady Claire.

I was still without definite news of what had happened between the two sisters while I was covering their movements at Culoz. I had no hope of a message from Lady Henriette, for she would hardly know where to address me. Lady Claire would almost certainly telegraph to me via London at the very earliest opportunity, and I was careful to wire from Culoz to the hall porter of my club, begging him to send on everything without a moment's delay. He was here in Aix in the persons of Lord Blackadder and his two devoted henchmen, Falfani and Tiler. I had heard the appointment he had given them at the Hôtel Hautecombe, and I cast about me to consider how I might gain some inkling of their intentions. Luckily I had desired l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, to stick to me on leaving the police office, and I put it to him whether or not he was willing to enter my service. "I will take you on entirely," I promised, "if you choose to leave your present employment. It is likely that I may wander about the Continent for some time, and it may suit you to come with me." He seemed pleased at the idea, and we quickly agreed as to terms. Find out what the other side is at, and contrive somehow to become acquainted with Lord Blackadder's plans." "How far may I go?" he asked me plump.

"They are pretty sure to try and win me over, they've done so already. "A corsaire fieffé corsaire et demi. It will be to my advantage, and you won't lose." "Upon my soul, I don't quite like it." I still hung back, but his arguments seemed so plausible that they overcame my scruples, and I was not sorry for it in the long run. I saw clearly what it meant.

The next message would disclose the whereabouts of the Lady Claire, at that time the only lady, as they thought, in the case, and the lady with the real child. It would soon be impossible for me to make use of the second with the sham child to draw the pursuers after her. It was easy enough to arrange for the despatch of a telegram from Milan to me at Aix, a despatch to be handed in at the former place by a friend of l'Echelle's, but purporting to come from Lady Claire. My man had any number of acquaintances in the railway service, one or more passed daily through Aix with the express trains going east or west; and with the payment of a substantial douceur the trick was done. The spurious message reached me in Aix early on the third morning, and the second act in the fraud was that l'Echelle should allow Falfani to see the telegram. The third act was to be my immediate exit from Aix. Notice was given at the hotel bureau to prepare my bill, and insert my name on the list of departures by the afternoon express, the 1.41 P.M.

And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, came a complete change in the situation.

Not long after I had consumed my morning café au lait and rolls, the conventional petit déjeuner of French custom, a letter was brought to my bedside, where, again according to rule, I was resting after my bath. I expected no letters, no one except the porter of my London club knew my present address, and the interval was too short since my telegram to him to allow of letters reaching me in the ordinary course of the post. I turned over the strange missive, the address in a lady's hand quite unknown to me, examining it closely, as one does when mystified, guessing vainly at a solution instead of settling it by instantly breaking the seal. To my utter amazement I read the name, "Henriette Standish." It was dated from the Hôtel de Modena, Aix-les-Bains, a small private hotel quite in the suburbs in the direction of the Grand Port, and it ran as follows: "DEAR COLONEL ANNESLEY:--I have only just seen in the Gazette des Etrangers that you are staying in Aix. I also am here, having been unable to proceed on my journey as I intended after meeting my sister at Culoz. I thought of remaining here a few days longer, but I have also read Lord Blackadder's name in the list. I beg and entreat you will come to me as soon as possible after receipt of this. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, your extreme kindness to Claire emboldens me to make this appeal to you. I shall be at home all the morning.

Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. How could I hope to lure her pursuers away to a distance when she was here actually on the spot, and might be run into at any moment? For the present all my movements were in abeyance. Blair" had given orders that I should be admitted the moment I appeared. There was the same proud carriage of her head, the same lithe figure, even her musical voice when she greeted me with shy cordiality might have been the voice of Lady Claire. But the moment I looked into her face I saw a very distinct difference, not in outward feature, but in the inward character that is revealed by the eyes, the lines of the mouth, the shape of the lower jaw. In Lady Claire the first were steady and spoke of high courage, of firm, fixed purpose; the mouth, as perfectly curved as Cupid's bow, was resolute and determined, the well-shaped, rounded chin was held erect, and might easily become defiant, even aggressive. Her eyes, of the same violet blue, were pretty, pleading, soft in expression, but often downcast and deprecating; the mouth and chin were weak and irresolute. It was the same lovely face as Lady Claire's, and to some might seem the sweeter, indicating the tender, clinging, yielding nature that commonly appeals to the stronger sex; but to me she lost in every respect by comparison with her more energetic, self-reliant sister.

"What shall I say, Colonel Annesley, and what will you think of me?" she began plaintively, almost piteously. "But the moment I found I had to part with my child my courage broke down. I became incapable of doing anything. I seemed quite paralyzed. Tell me, I beg." "Oh, yes, yes, we made the exchange," she replied, in such a faltering, undecided voice that I doubted, and yet could not bring myself to believe that she was not telling the truth.

I should be charging her directly with wilfully misleading me, and deceiving me in this moment of extreme peril. Lady Henriette, you have not been quite straight with me, I fear. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action.

I had counted so securely upon tricking Lord Blackadder into a barren pursuit that my disappointment was overwhelming and paralyzed my inventiveness. So long as he remained he was an ever present danger; our game was up directly he awoke to the true state of affairs. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. By drawing him after me. Clearly I must go, and that not alone, but take them with me, following me under the positive impression that I was leading them straight to their goal. When I had gone on with the others at my heels, the coast would be clear for Lady Henriette, and she must double back once more and go into safe hiding somewhere, while the hunt overshot its quarry and rolled on. But the idea of parting from me now that she had laid hold of me was so repugnant to her that she yielded once more to her nerves. "I beg and implore you, Colonel Annesley, not to leave me again.

Let me go with you, please, please. I'll do what you like, disguise myself, go third class, anything; but for goodness' sake don't desert me, or I don't know what will happen." "There is simply no help for it, Lady Henriette. It would be quite fatal if they saw you or you came across them." "Oh, you're too cruel, it is perfectly inhuman. Oh, why isn't she here, why did I let her leave me? I think I am the most wretched and ill-used woman alive." These lamentations and indirect reproaches rather hardened my heart. Claire told me--never mind what; but please understand that I will never give my baby up." I was nettled by her perverseness, and although I tried hard to school myself to patience, it was exceedingly difficult. You ought never to have kept it--it was madness to come here and run straight into the jaws of danger." "How was I to know?" she retorted, now quite angrily. "I really think it is too bad of you to reproach me. What is most urgent is to shield and save you now when the peril is most pressing." "And yet you propose to leave me to fight it out alone? I must still hoodwink them by going off this afternoon." "And leave me without protection, with all I have at stake?

If only Claire was here." "It wouldn't mend matters much, except that Lady Claire would side with me." "Oh, yes, you say that, you believe she thinks so much of you and your opinion that she would agree to anything you suggest." "Mine is the safest and the only course," I replied, I am afraid with some heat.

"You must, you shall take it." "Upon my word, Colonel Annesley, you speak to me as if I were a private soldier. Be good enough to remember that I am not under your orders. "Really, Lady Henriette, you will drive me to wash my hands of the whole business. But I came into it to oblige your sister, and I owe it to her to do my best without reference to you. She still held herself erect and defiant, and there seemed to be small hope of doing anything with her. All at once she broke down and cried passionately: "No, no, no; you must not leave me--not like that. At another time I might have been puzzled how to deal with it, but this was a moment of supreme emergency. A great crisis was imminent, the ruin of our scheme and the downfall of our hopes were certainly at hand if I gave way to her. This being so, her tears made no great impression on me. I may be called a hard-hearted brute, but I really had no great sympathy with her in her lamentations.

It was not an occasion for tears, I felt; and I must be firm and unwavering, whatever she might think of me. I counted, at any rate, and with some assurance, on the approval of Lady Claire if the details of this painful scene should ever come to her ears. Time was too precious to be wasted in any attempts to win her back to common sense, and without waiting for permission I crossed the room, rang the bell, and begged the waiter to summon the lady's maid.

She was a strongly built, matter-of-fact French woman, probably not easily disturbed; but she glanced apprehensively at her mistress, and turned a suspicious look on me. I've no doubt it will soon pass, but I'm afraid I have imparted some distressing news. Be good enough to tell her when she recovers that I shall come back in half an hour, when I trust she will be ready to accompany me." "What is this?" broke in Lady Henriette, suddenly interposing and evidently roused to deep interest in my words.

You have entreated me not to leave you. Well, we shall not part; I propose to take you away with me. You must tell me first where you think of going, what you mean to do. Is it likely that I should trust myself alone with an almost complete stranger--a man who has shown me so little consideration, who has been so unkind, so cruel, and who now wants to carry me off goodness knows where, because he is so obstinately determined that his is the right way to proceed." "Lady Henriette," I said civilly but very coldly, and putting the drag on myself, for I confess she was trying me very hard, "let there be no misunderstanding between us. Of course you must have your own way, and every one else must give in to you," she cried with aggravating emphasis, giving me no credit for trying to choose the wisest course.

You shall give me my answer when I return. I warn you that I shall bring a carriage in half an hour, and I strongly advise you to be ready to start with me. I will take no denial, remember that." CHAPTER XXV. I returned to my hotel vexed and irritated beyond measure by my passage at arms with Lady Henriette Standish, and hating the prospect of any further dealings with her. What a contrast between the two women! With my mind full of the beautiful creature who had made me a willing captive to her charms, her gracious presence was recalled to me by a message from under her own hand.

As I passed the threshold of my hotel, the hall porter gave me a telegram from Lady Claire. It had come via London, but the office of origin was Marseilles. "CLAIRE." I read and re-read this passage with a delightful feeling that it brought me into touch with my love, and I may be permitted for seeing in it clear proof of her bright wit and intelligence. She told me just exactly all that it was essential to know: of the pursuit, of the absence of pressing danger, of the abortive attempt to exchange babies, and where she was to be found. Suppose that I had not met Lady Henriette, I was fully prepared for anything that might occur.

It was now barely 10 A.M., and the time intervening before the departure of the eastward bound express (three and a half hours) was none too much to carry out my intentions as to Lady Henriette. I first of all ordered a covered landau to be harnessed as speedily as possible, and to be sent to await me in a side street near the Hôtel Modena; then I summoned l'Echelle and bade him make all ready for the journey. I also told him that I should be busily engaged that forenoon; but that as I might be obliged to run it very close for the train, he was to make all preparations, to take the tickets, and await me on the platform. For the same reason I kept him busily engaged in my bedroom packing, lest he should spy upon my movements. I came upon the carriage by the way, and as I passed briefly desired the driver to follow me to the Hôtel Modena. Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room. But if I thought that Lady Henriette meant to yield without another skirmish I was sadly mistaken. "We have nearly an hour's drive before us, and I am delighted to think that you are ready and willing to go with me." "I am ready, as you see, but not willing," she answered, bridling up with a scornful air. She might make up her mind one moment and one way, and yet be quite prepared to change it the next.

"I propose that you should take up your residence for a time--the very shortest time possible--at Le Bourget, a small place at the head of the lake. It is perfectly safe." "Not now, believe me, they will come upon you there; trace you easily and quickly, and they are capable of any violence to capture and deprive you of your treasure." I pointed to the child on the maid's knee. "I shall be more at their mercy here in Aix." "Be guided by me. Only let me have a short start ahead and I'll lead them a pretty dance, and take them further and further away. "Why has Claire deserted me? She was so hard on me when I declared I could not part with my blessed boy. "May I ask, please, whether you were to believe in me or not?" I resumed, taking up the discussion where I had left it. "I suppose I cannot help myself; I am quite at your mercy. You may be sure I shall not easily forget this, or forgive your overbearing treatment.

She made no such sign to me, although I followed close behind. She uttered no complaint, she would not address a word to me; her air was one of lofty, contemptuous reserve; she intimated plainly that we were "dead cuts." Only at the last, just as I was driving away and lifted my hat in farewell, she yielded to an impulse of despair, and seized my arm in almost frenzied appeal. "You must not, you cannot desert me; I will not be left like this. I beg and implore you to remain within reach, somewhere near at any rate. I can never face this place alone." Her last appeal touched me to the quick. Once more I sought to explain the dire necessity for this act that seemed so barbarous, but she was deaf to all my arguments, and still clung to me nervously as I climbed into the carriage. The whole episode had occupied much time, and it was already past one when I reëntered the town. I drove straight to the railway station, and was met outside it by the faithful l'Echelle.

Falfani himself told me of the change in their plans. I shall now remain in Aix for some time longer. I shall be glad to go on with the baths." But I was thinking really of that poor creature I had abandoned at Le Bourget, and overjoyed to think that I might now meet her wishes, and perchance regain something of her good-will. How?" I cried, in utter amazement.

"Madame went very soon after monsieur," said the patronne, in high dudgeon. "She was not complimentary, she said this place was too triste, that it got on her nerves. She called me up and said I was to bring her the Indicateur. Then she must have a carriage as soon as it could be prepared to drive her to Culoz, fifteen miles away, meaning to take the train from there." "Not to Aix?" "Assuredly not, for when I suggested that she could more easily find the train there she told me to hold my tongue, that she knew very well what she was about, and wanted no observations from me." To Culoz? I had no time to spare for anything outside our settled plan, so I jumped out on to the platform at once, and closely followed by Philpotts joined Henriette, and cried: "Quick, quick, dear, the train goes on in less than ten minutes.

Give me the child, we must exchange again." "What do you mean?" she gasped, and looked at me dazed and bewildered. They will follow you, Colonel Annesley will see to that, while I carry our darling to some secure hiding-place and keep out of sight until we can meet. Give me the child." "I can't, I can't.

Nothing will induce me." "Upon my word, Henriette, you are too aggravating and impossible.

To think that now at the eleventh hour you should fail me and break down. Let me take little Ralph;" and I put out my arms for the child, which Victorine held. I don't care what happens, I will keep him against all the world." I pleaded and stormed in turn, I tried everything but force, all without avail. My foolish sister seemed to have taken leave of her senses; she thought nothing of the nearly certain collapse of our schemes, her one overmastering idea was, like any tigress, to resist all attempts to deprive her of her cub. Meanwhile the time ran on. Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M. If I lingered I should lose it, no great matter perhaps, seeing that the exchange, my principal object, had not been made; but if I remained with Henriette, she with her baby and I with mine, the whole of the artifice might at any moment be laid bare. I had to decide then and there, and all I could think of at the time was to keep the enemy in the dark as to the doubled part of the baby.

"Once more and for the last time, Henriette, will you do what I want?" I asked her peremptorily. They may still be drawn after me, and leave you to your own devices. The only thing for you to do is to take the first train the other way,--it will be here in ten minutes,--keep low and you may get through into Italy unobserved." "Are you really deserting me?" she cried piteously. Good-bye, now," and without another word Philpotts and I ran round, regained the up platform, resumed our seats by the narrowest margin and proceeded on our way to Amberieu.

I blamed myself, I became a prey to the bitterest self-reproach for having abandoned her, for allowing myself to give way to temper, and treat her so cruelly. As the train rattled on, one thought took possession of me. I must retrace my steps and return again to Culoz, where I hoped to be in time to support and strengthen her, please God save her from the consequences of my unkind and ill-considered action. The place was still in a turmoil, the consequences no doubt of the affray expressly begun by Colonel Annesley to befriend me. I narrowly escaped being seen by some of my enemies, but they were evidently too much preoccupied by their indignation at the outrage put upon that great personage, Lord Blackadder. I had now to decide upon my own movements. But it seemed to be throwing away that same chance of mystification which I had always kept in view, which might have served me so well but for her weakness, and I still clung to my hope of drawing them after me on the wrong scent.

At one time I thought of venturing boldly into their midst and appearing openly at Aix; but this would probably end in abruptly pricking the bubble, and nothing more was to be done. I thought of sending Philpotts to hunt up the Colonel and convey a letter to him detailing my situation, and was much taken with this idea, which I presently rejected because I did not clearly see what good could come of it. I was doomed to a long wait at Culoz. Everywhere I was met with wearisome delays. The journey seemed interminable, but just as I was losing all patience, I received a fillip that awoke me to alertness, and set all my nerves tingling. He had come after me; that was perfectly clear. Although he owed me a grudge and would certainly be upon his guard, I thought myself strong enough to face and outwit him.

I could only communicate with Colonel Annesley by a roundabout process, and it might take him some time to reach me, even if he was not otherwise engaged by Henriette. This Tiler man would of course stick to me and follow me if he had the faintest clue, and I let him have that by directing Philpotts to show herself, passing quite close to him and walking on towards the train. She was to return then to the waiting-room, where together we made some change in our appearance. More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. He was looking for a party of two and a baby, and all he saw was one woman who might remind him of me, but without her attendant or any encumbrance.

He had his suspicions, however, for as soon as we started he walked through the long line of couloir carriages, deliberately peering and prying, examining the passengers of every compartment. He passed us at first, and was much put out, I could see, disappointed no doubt, but he came back presently and stood for some time at our window, while I hid my face in among the rugs, and Philpotts cowered in a corner. He came back more than once during the journey and stared.

No doubt he would have taken a seat in our compartment, but it was reserved for dames seules or ladies alone. That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby? Hidden it, left it somewhere on the road in the lost property office or at a foundling hospital? To tie him still to our heels, I took the opportunity of having the compartment to ourselves to revive and reconstitute the dummy. I slept late, and when I woke, refreshed and fortified against anything that might come, I looked out on to the little square with its fringe of plane-trees, and saw my friend Mr. It did not worry me in the least, for in the early hours of calm reflection that followed deep, restful sleep, I had thought out the course I should pursue. I no longer dreaded pursuit; let them all come, the more the merrier, and I meant to fully justify Mr. I meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing.

I brought out the baby undeterred, and installed it, slumbering peacefully, on Philpotts's knees in the seat before me, and lying back with ostentatious indifference, drove off in full view of the detective. I shot one glance back as I turned down the long slope leading to the Grâce-à-Dieu Street, and was pleased to see that he had jumped into a fiacre and was coming on after me. I led him up and down and round and round, street after street, all along the great Cannebière and out towards the Reserve, where Roubion's Restaurant offers his celebrated fish stew, bouillabaise, to all comers.

Tiler's weedy horse began to show signs of distress, for my sturdy pair had outpaced him sorely, I relented and reëntered the town, meaning to make a long halt at the office of Messrs. I had long had an idea in my mind that the most promising, if not the only effective method of ending our trouble would be to put the seas between us and the myrmidons of the Courts. I had always hoped to escape to some far-off country where the King's writ does not run, where we could settle down under genial skies, amid pleasant surroundings, at a distance from the worries and miseries of life. This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices. The object I had in view was to get a list of steamers leaving the port of Marseilles within the next two or three days, and their destination. As everybody knows, there is a constant moving of shipping East, West, and South, and it ought not to be difficult to pick out something to suit me.

The obliging clerk at the counter gave me abundant, almost unending, information. has half a dozen steamers for the East, pointing first for Port Said and Suez Canal, and bound to India, Ceylon, China, and the Antipodes; the same line for Gibraltar and the West. The Messagéries Maritime, for all Mediterranean ports, the General Navigation of Italy for Genoa and Naples, the Transatlantique for various Algerian ports, Tunis, Bône, Philippeville, and Algiers, other companies serving the coast of Morocco and especially Tangier." Truly an embarrassing choice! A steamer offered in a couple of days, Sunday, just when I wanted it, although it was by no means my intention to go to Tripoli myself.

That it was somewhat out of the way, neither easy to reach nor to leave, as the steamers came and went rarely, served my purpose well. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked. It was a satisfaction to me to see my "shadow's" fiacre draw up at the door soon after I left, and Mr. Later in the day, out of mere curiosity, I walked down to the offices to ask a trivial question about my baggage.

Several other cabins had been engaged, two of them in the name of Ludovic Tiler. There was nothing left for me but to bide my time. Tiler did not show up nor trouble me, nor did I concern myself about him. When I was at dinner in the hotel restaurant he calmly came into the room, merely to pass his eye over me as it were, and I took it so much as a matter of course that I looked up, and felt half-inclined to give him a friendly nod.

Tiler, on the Saturday morning, made it plain, from his arrogance and self-sufficient air as he walked through the hotel restaurant, that all was going well, and he had indeed heard from Falfani that he would arrive with Lord Blackadder that night. Later on that Saturday a telegram from Culoz reached Lady Claire from Colonel Annesley giving the latest news, and bringing down Lady Henriette's movements to the time of her departure for Marseilles. He promised a later message from somewhere along the road with later information, and soon after 9 P.M. Thus all the parties to this imbroglio were about to be concentrated in the same place, and it must depend upon the skill and determination of one clever woman to turn events her way.] She goes on to say: It was a shock to me to hear that Henriette still lingered on the fringe of danger, and I was very much disturbed at finding she might be running into the very teeth of it.

But I trusted to my good fortune, and, better still, to good management, to keep her out of harm's way until the coast was clear. Tiler was there to receive them and spoke a few words to my lord, who instantly looked round, for me no doubt, and I slipped away. I did not wish to anticipate a crisis, and he was quite capable of making a scene, even at the hotel at that time of night. He meant of course to put up in the town, either at the Noailles or the Louvre. I lay down to take a short rest, but was roused in time to be again on the platform at 4 A.M. to meet my friends. It was a joyful meeting, but we lost little time over it. Henriette was fairly worn out, and all but broke down when she saw me. The Colonel came to the rescue as usual, and said briefly, after we had shaken hands: "Take charge of her, Lady Claire, I will see to everything now.

We can talk later." "Can you be at the entrance to the hotel in a couple of hours' time? We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. At the top of the slope was the chief steward and his men, in full dress, white shirts, white ties, and white gloves, who welcomed us, asking the number of our stateroom, and offering to relieve us of our light baggage. Next moment a voice I recognized said: "Certainly they are there, and they have it with them. "But, Lady Claire, permit me," it was Lord Blackadder behind, speaking with quite insinuating softness. Let me entreat you not to drive me to extremities. I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us.

Give it up to me of your own accord, you shall not regret it. Ask what you choose, anything--a pearl collar or a diamond bracelet--" "Can you really be such a base hound, such an abject and contemptible creature, as to propose terms of that sort to me? How dare you think so ill of me? Let me pass; I cannot stay here, it would poison me to breathe the same air. Never speak to me again," I almost shouted, filled with bitter shame and immeasurable scorn, and I turned and left him. What can they do to me? If the worst comes to the worst they will appeal to the captain, and they will get no satisfaction from him. You shall hear from Tripoli to the same hotel in Marseilles." "If we go on your letter will follow us. Come back there as soon as you possibly can and you will find further instructions. One last word: I advise you when well out to sea to go to my lord and offer to go over to his side and desert me altogether.

You know I shall always be your firm friend whatever you do, and that I shall never forget what I owe you." I should have said much more, but now the second bell was ringing, and if I was to carry out my scheme it was time for me to go. In a minute I had emerged into the open air, and found myself in the midst of the sailors sending down cargo into the forehold. "This way, Lady Claire, only a couple of steps," said the Colonel as he led me to the side of the steamer farthest from the shore. For the first time in all that stirring and eventful week I breathed freely. At any rate the present peril was overpast, we had eluded pursuit, and had a clear time of perfect security to consider our situation and look ahead. She was very humble and apologetic, and disarmed me if I had intended to take her to task for all the trouble and anxiety she had caused us. "Scold me! I never met a man I disliked so much as your fine friend, that Colonel Annesley, the rudest, most presuming, overbearing wretch. He talked to me and ordered me about as if I was still in the schoolroom, he actually dared to find fault with my actions, and dictated to me what I should do next.

He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice? Your word is law to him, your name always on his lips. I was a little hurt by her tone and manner, although what she told me gave me exquisite pleasure. "Come, come," Henriette rallied me. For the moment we are safe, but by and by he will come back, he will leave no stone unturned until he finds me, and I shall lose my darling for ever." The hopelessness of evading pursuit for any time sorely oppressed me, too. There seemed no safety but in keeping continually on the move, in running to and fro and changing our hiding place so soon as danger of discovery loomed near. "The thing is perfectly simple," said my dear Colonel, in his peremptory, but to me reassuring fashion. "I have thought it all out and can promise you immediate escape from all your difficulties.

It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on. "You have broken the law, you are flying from the law, and you are amenable to it all the world over, save and except in Morocco alone. "To remain with you and near you so long as my services may be required," he went on, gravely, by no means the interpretation my sister had put upon his remark; for he fixed his eyes on me with unmistakable meaning, and held them so fixedly that I could not look away. I knew from the gladness on his frank, handsome face that he understood and rejoiced. The point is, how we should travel?" I could be of service in this; my inquiries at Cook's had qualified me to act as a shipping clerk, and we soon settled to take a steamer of the Bibby Line due that afternoon, which would land us at Gibraltar in two or three days. Tangier, the wildest, quaintest, most savage spot on the face of the globe, was to me the most enchanting. The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. I could calmly await the issue, content to enjoy the moment and forget the past like a bad dream. We were much together, Basil and I; we walked together, exploring the recesses of the native town, and the ancient citadel, with its memories of British dominion; we lingered in the Soko or native market, crowded with wild creatures from the far interior; we rode together, for his first care was to secure horses, and scoured the country as far as the Marshan and Cape Spartel.

I sometimes reproached myself with being so happy, while my darling Henriette still sorrowfully repined at her past, with little hope of better days.

A week passed thus, a week of unbroken quiet, flawless as the unchanging blue of a summer sky; not a cloud in sight, not a suspicion of coming disturbance and unrest.

One day a cablegram reached me from Philpotts. They had recrossed the Mediterranean together in the same ship, the Oasis. "So far all well," she said, "but am watched closely, will certainly follow me--send instructions--better not join you at present." This message fell on us two poor women like a bolt from the blue. Basil looked serious for a moment, but then laughed scornfully.

Sir Arthur is an old friend of mine, and he has advised me, privately, of course, and unofficially, to be on our guard. At the same time he can give you no protection. He will follow with his men, they are well-trained detectives, and it will be mere child's play for them to track us to Tangier. I grudged her the smallest pleasure, while I was racing up and down flirting and philandering with Basil Annesley all day and every day; she was to sit indoors, bored to extinction and suffering torments in the unbearable heat. Basil and I agreed that it was cruel to restrict her movements even with such a good excuse, and had she been willing to accept the irksome conditions, which she certainly was not. Then came confirmations of our worst fears. Lord Blackadder and his two henchmen had just landed from the José Pielago, the steamer that runs regularly between Cadiz and Algeçiras, Gibraltar, and Tangier.

He had seen them in the custom-house, fighting their way through the crowd of ragged Jew porters, the Moorish egg merchants, and dealers in luscious fruit. They had mounted donkeys, the only means of conveyance in a town with no wheeled vehicles; and l'Echelle made us laugh at the sorry picture presented by the indignant peer, with his legs dangling down on each side of the red leather saddle. Their baggage was also piled on donkeys, and the whole procession, familiar enough in the narrow streets of Tangier, climbed the hill to the Soko, and made for the Shereef Hotel, reputed one of the best in Tangier, and lying outside the walls in the immediate neighbourhood of the British Legation. It was better, he thought, to appear frank, and, by instilling confidence, learn all there was to know of their plans and movements. But my lord came back in a furious rage, and, regardless of l'Echelle's--a comparative stranger's--presence, burst forth into passionate complaint against the Minister.

He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property. As the fitting end of his violent declamation, Ralph Blackadder had left the hotel hurriedly, calling upon his creatures to follow him, bent, as it seemed, to perpetrate some mad act.

My dear Basil strove hard to console me with brave words inspired by his sturdy, self-reliant spirit. But even he quailed at the sudden shock that fell upon us at the very same moment. After the first excitement, we desired to pass on the news brought by l'Echelle to her, and renew our entreaties for extreme caution in her comings and goings; and with much misgiving we learnt that she was not in the hotel. One Moor, Achmet El Mansur, was with her, we were told, but we did not trust him entirely. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour.

But one o'clock came, and two, and two-thirty, but not a sign of Henriette, nor a word in explanation of her absence. Basil went out to him in the outer hall, and, as I listened from within, I immediately heard high words.

"Who are you to prevent me? I come to demand the restoration of that which belongs to me. Take my message to those two ladies and say I will have my boy," replied my lord. "Do not try to impose on me, Lord Blackadder. Go in, you men, both of you, Tiler and Falfani, and seize the child. The three assailants, Ralph Blackadder behind egging them on, had thrown themselves upon Basil, who stood sturdily at bay with his back to the wall, daring them to come on, and prepared to strike out at the first man who touched him.

When they picked him up, there was froth mixed with blood upon his lips, he breathed once or twice heavily, stertorously, and then with one long-drawn gasp died in the arms of his two men. Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. What had become of my sister and little Ralph? Where and how had Lord Blackadder met Henriette? We could get nothing out of these men; they refused to answer our questions from sheer mulish obstinacy, as we thought at first, but we saw at length that they did not understand us. He had come straight from the Villa Shereef to the Hotel Atlas, racing down at a run, pausing nowhere, addressing no one on the road. "Getting anxious about me?" she asked, with careless, almost childish gaiety. Not on my account, surely?" I took her aside, and in a few words told her of the terrible catastrophe that had just occurred, and for a time she was silent and seemed quite overcome. Tell me, please, all about it." "You must know we went out, the three of us, on our donkeys, and the fancy seized me to explore some of the dark, narrow streets where the houses all but join overhead.

I could not even see the sky, and at last desired Achmet to get me out into the open, anywhere. After one or two sharp turns, we emerged upon a sort of plateau or terrace high above the sea, and in full view of it. "There was a small hotel in front of it, and above the door was the name of the proprietor, would you believe it, Domenico Bruel! "It was the name of Susan's husband, and no doubt Susan was there. I thought of sending Achmet back for you or the Colonel, but I could not bear parting with him.

Then, while I was still hesitating, Susan herself came out and rushed across to where I was, with her hands outstretched and fairly beside herself, laughing and crying by turns. 'We behaved most disgracefully, most wickedly, but indeed it was Domenico's doing. He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here. I have never had one happy moment since. Can you forgive me?' "All this she poured forth, and much more of the same sort. The rest of the adventures that began in the sleeping-car between Calais and Basle, and came abruptly to an end on the North African shore, may soon be told. Our first act was to return to England at the very earliest opportunity, and we embarked that evening on a Forwood steamer direct for London, which port we reached in less than five days.

As for ourselves, I persuaded Henriette to take a cottage at Marlow on the Upper Thames, where Colonel Annesley was a constant guest, and Charlie Forrester. /

She had denied acquaintance with this murdered man, Quadling, and here was positive evidence that they were on intimate terms!"Well, among your acquaintances--he would probably have made himself known to you?" "I suppose so." "And he did not do so? She had denied acquaintance with this murdered man, Quadling, and here was positive evidence that they were on intimate terms! What will you think when I tell you that this very Quadling--this friend, acquaintance, call him what you please, but at least intimate enough to pay her a visit on the eve of a long journey--was the man found murdered in the sleeping-car?" "Can it be possible? Clearly she had kept up her acquaintance, her intimacy to the very last: why otherwise should she have received him, alone, been closeted with him for an hour or more on the very eve of his flight? It was a clandestine acquaintance too, or seemed so, for Sir Charles, although a frequent visitor at her house, had never met Quadling there. I hoped to have begun an acquaintance. He has claimed acquaintance with madame's lady's maid, and he wants to speak to the mistress.

Naturally he drew back with well-feigned indignation, muttering half-unintelligible words in French, denying stoutly both in voice and gesture all acquaintance with the person who thus abruptly addressed him.

The Hôtel Ivoire was a very second-class place, a lodging-house, or hotel with furnished rooms let out by the week to lodgers with whom the proprietor had no very close acquaintance. /

With the first glimpse we obtain of it, the dawn of our success shall begin.A little before four we arrived at the pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as equally as might be, among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again set out for the hut, at which, for the second time, we deposited our golden burthens, just as the first faint streaks of the dawn gleamed from over the tree-tops in the East. But, when I recovered from this stupor, there dawned upon me gradually a conviction which startled me even far more than the coincidence. At the first dawn of the morning we closed all the messy shutters of our old building; lighting a couple of tapers which, strongly perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest of rays. With the first glimpse we obtain of it, the dawn of our success shall begin. /

Whole body dreadfully bruised and discolored.The corpse of the young lady was much bruised and excoriated. Whole body dreadfully bruised and discolored. /

The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt.The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt. /

interest, plus a small commission.” These ideas and recollections were of considerable assistance in restoring Valorsay’s composure.interest, plus a small commission.” These ideas and recollections were of considerable assistance in restoring Valorsay’s composure. /

Rachel Verinder’s first instinct, under similar circumstances, was to shut herself up in her own mind, and to think it over by herself.PROLOGUE THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799) Extracted from a Family Paper I address these lines--written in India--to my relatives in England. The reserve which I have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted by members of my family whose good opinion I cannot consent to forfeit. And I declare, on my word of honour, that what I am now about to write is, strictly and literally, the truth.

The private difference between my cousin and me took its rise in a great public event in which we were both concerned--the storming of Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 4th of May, 1799. The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon. Partly from its peculiar colour, partly from a superstition which represented it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it first gained the name by which it continues to be known in India to this day--the name of THE MOONSTONE. A similar superstition was once prevalent, as I have heard, in ancient Greece and Rome; not applying, however (as in India), to a diamond devoted to the service of a god, but to a semi-transparent stone of the inferior order of gems, supposed to be affected by the lunar influences--the moon, in this latter case also, giving the name by which the stone is still known to collectors in our own time. The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the eleventh century of the Christian era. At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world. Of all the deities worshipped in the temple, the moon-god alone escaped the rapacity of the conquering Mohammedans. Preserved by three Brahmins, the inviolate deity, bearing the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was removed by night, and was transported to the second of the sacred cities of India--the city of Benares.

Here, in a new shrine--in a hall inlaid with precious stones, under a roof supported by pillars of gold--the moon-god was set up and worshipped. The deity breathed the breath of his divinity on the Diamond in the forehead of the god. The deity commanded that the Moonstone should be watched, from that time forth, by three priests in turn, night and day, to the end of the generations of men. The deity predicted certain disaster to the presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the sacred gem, and to all of his house and name who received it after him.

And the Brahmins caused the prophecy to be written over the gates of the shrine in letters of gold. The shrine of the four-handed god was polluted by the slaughter of sacred animals; the images of the deities were broken in pieces; and the Moonstone was seized by an officer of rank in the army of Aurungzebe.

Powerless to recover their lost treasure by open force, the three guardian priests followed and watched it in disguise. The generations succeeded each other; the warrior who had committed the sacrilege perished miserably; the Moonstone passed (carrying its curse with it) from one lawless Mohammedan hand to another; and still, through all chances and changes, the successors of the three guardian priests kept their watch, waiting the day when the will of Vishnu the Preserver should restore to them their sacred gem.

The Diamond fell into the possession of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his armoury. There were three officers of Tippoo’s household, strangers to the rest, who had won their master’s confidence by conforming, or appearing to conform, to the Mussulman faith; and to those three men report pointed as the three priests in disguise.

It made no serious impression on any of us except my cousin--whose love of the marvellous induced him to believe it. On the night before the assault on Seringapatam, he was absurdly angry with me, and with others, for treating the whole thing as a fable. I never saw him when we forded the river; when we planted the English flag in the first breach; when we crossed the ditch beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the town. It was only at dusk, when the place was ours, and after General Baird himself had found the dead body of Tippoo under a heap of the slain, that Herncastle and I met. The camp-followers committed deplorable excesses; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, by a guarded door, into the treasury of the Palace, and loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court outside the treasury that my cousin and I met, to enforce the laws of discipline on our own soldiers. He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the duty that had been entrusted to him.

“Who’s got the Moonstone?” was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering, as soon as it was stopped in one place, to break out in another. The man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John Herncastle, with a torch in one hand, and a dagger dripping with blood in the other. The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle’s hand, and said, in his native language--“The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!” He spoke those words, and fell dead on the floor. “Clear the room!” he shouted to me, “and set a guard on the door!” The men fell back as he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. He held out his hand, as usual, and said, “Good morning.” I waited before I gave him my hand in return. IV I beg it to be understood that what I write here about my cousin (unless some necessity should arise for making it public) is for the information of the family only. It is reported that he means to exchange into another regiment, avowedly for the purpose of separating himself from ME. Whether this be true or not, I cannot prevail upon myself to become his accuser--and I think with good reason. I have not only no proof that he killed the two men at the door; I cannot even declare that he killed the third man inside--for I cannot say that my own eyes saw the deed committed.

It is true that I heard the dying Indian’s words; but if those words were pronounced to be the ravings of delirium, how could I contradict the assertion from my own knowledge? Let our relatives, on either side, form their own opinion on what I have written, and decide for themselves whether the aversion I now feel towards this man is well or ill founded. Although I attach no sort of credit to the fantastic Indian legend of the gem, I must acknowledge, before I conclude, that I am influenced by a certain superstition of my own in this matter. It is my conviction, or my delusion, no matter which, that crime brings its own fatality with it. I am not only persuaded of Herncastle’s guilt; I am even fanciful enough to believe that he will live to regret it, if he keeps the Diamond; and that others will live to regret taking it from him, if he gives the Diamond away. CHAPTER I In the first part of ROBINSON CRUSOE, at page one hundred and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written: “Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly of our own Strength to go through with it.” Only yesterday, I opened my ROBINSON CRUSOE at that place. Franklin Blake, and held a short conversation with me, as follows:-- “Betteredge,” says Mr. Bruff thinks as I think, that the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing--and the sooner the better.” Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always desirable for the sake of peace and quietness to be on the lawyer’s side, I said I thought so too. Bruff and I together have hit on the right way of telling it.” Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt.

But I failed to see what I myself had to do with it, so far. Starting from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn--as far as our own personal experience extends, and no farther. This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the form of an old family paper, which relates the necessary particulars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years ago, and how it came to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterwards. So you must take the pen in hand, and start the story.” In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was with the matter of the Diamond. I modestly declared myself to be quite unequal to the task imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own abilities a fair chance. He declined to believe in my modesty; and he insisted on giving my abilities a fair chance.

As soon as his back was turned, I went to my writing desk to start the story. There I have sat helpless (in spite of my abilities) ever since; seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as quoted above--namely, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it. Please to remember, I opened the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I rashly undertook the business now in hand; and, allow me to ask--if THAT isn’t prophecy, what is? I am not superstitious; I have read a heap of books in my time; I am a scholar in my own way. You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as ROBINSON CRUSOE never was written, and never will be written again.

I have tried that book for years--generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco--and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. When my spirits are bad--ROBINSON CRUSOE. I have worn out six stout ROBINSON CRUSOES with hard work in my service. I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and ROBINSON CRUSOE put me right again.

Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain. Still, this don’t look much like starting the story of the Diamond--does it? We will take a new sheet of paper, if you please, and begin over again, with my best respects to you. Now the Diamond could never have been in our house, where it was lost, if it had not been made a present of to my lady’s daughter; and my lady’s daughter would never have been in existence to have the present, if it had not been for my lady who (with pain and travail) produced her into the world. Consequently, if we begin with my lady, we are pretty sure of beginning far enough back.

Miss Adelaide; Miss Caroline; and Miss Julia--this last being the youngest and the best of the three sisters, in my opinion; and I had opportunities of judging, as you shall presently see. I went into the service of the old lord, their father (thank God, we have got nothing to do with him, in this business of the Diamond; he had the longest tongue and the shortest temper of any man, high or low, I ever met with)--I say, I went into the service of the old lord, as page-boy in waiting on the three honourable young ladies, at the age of fifteen years. An excellent man, who only wanted somebody to manage him; and, between ourselves, he found somebody to do it; and what is more, he throve on it and grew fat on it, and lived happy and died easy on it, dating from the day when my lady took him to church to be married, to the day when she relieved him of his last breath, and closed his eyes for ever. I have omitted to state that I went with the bride to the bride’s husband’s house and lands down here. “Sir John,” she says, “I can’t do without Gabriel Betteredge.” “My lady,” says Sir John, “I can’t do without him, either.” That was his way with her--and that was how I went into his service. It was all one to me where I went, so long as my mistress and I were together. Seeing that my lady took an interest in the out-of-door work, and the farms, and such like, I took an interest in them too--with all the more reason that I was a small farmer’s seventh son myself. Some years later, on the Monday as it might be, my lady says, “Sir John, your bailiff is a stupid old man. Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his place.” On the Tuesday as it might be, Sir John says, “My lady, the bailiff is pensioned liberally; and Gabriel Betteredge has got his place.” You hear more than enough of married people living together miserably. Let it be a warning to some of you, and an encouragement to others.

In the meantime, I will go on with my story. Placed in a position of trust and honour, with a little cottage of my own to live in, with my rounds on the estate to occupy me in the morning, and my accounts in the afternoon, and my pipe and my ROBINSON CRUSOE in the evening--what more could I possibly want to make me happy? Remember what Adam wanted when he was alone in the Garden of Eden; and if you don’t blame it in Adam, don’t blame it in me. I agree with the late William Cobbett about picking a wife. That was the point of view I looked at it from. Economy--with a dash of love. I put it to my mistress, as in duty bound, just as I had put it to myself. “I have been turning Selina Goby over in my mind,” I said, “and I think, my lady, it will be cheaper to marry her than to keep her.” My lady burst out laughing, and said she didn’t know which to be most shocked at--my language or my principles. Some joke tickled her, I suppose, of the sort that you can’t take unless you are a person of quality. Understanding nothing myself but that I was free to put it next to Selina, I went and put it accordingly.

how little you must know of women, if you ask that. I have compared notes with other men as to what they felt while they were in my interesting situation; and they have all acknowledged that, about a week before it happened, they privately wished themselves out of it. I went a trifle further than that myself; I actually rose up, as it were, and tried to get out of it. Compensation to the woman when the man gets out of it, is one of the laws of England.

In obedience to the laws, and after turning it over carefully in my mind, I offered Selina Goby a feather-bed and fifty shillings to be off the bargain. You will hardly believe it, but it is nevertheless true--she was fool enough to refuse. After that it was all over with me, of course. I got the new coat as cheap as I could, and I went through all the rest of it as cheap as I could. How it was I don’t understand, but we always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one another’s way. That is married life, according to my experience of it. After five years of misunderstandings on the stairs, it pleased an all-wise Providence to relieve us of each other by taking my wife. I was left with my little girl Penelope, and with no other child. Shortly afterwards Sir John died, and my lady was left with her little girl, Miss Rachel, and no other child.

I have written to very poor purpose of my lady, if you require to be told that my little Penelope was taken care of, under my good mistress’s own eye, and was sent to school and taught, and made a sharp girl, and promoted, when old enough, to be Miss Rachel’s own maid. As for me, I went on with my business as bailiff year after year up to Christmas 1847, when there came a change in my life.

On that day, my lady invited herself to a cup of tea alone with me in my cottage. She remarked that, reckoning from the year when I started as page-boy in the time of the old lord, I had been more than fifty years in her service, and she put into my hands a beautiful waistcoat of wool that she had worked herself, to keep me warm in the bitter winter weather. I received this magnificent present quite at a loss to find words to thank my mistress with for the honour she had done me. To my great astonishment, it turned out, however, that the waistcoat was not an honour, but a bribe. My lady had discovered that I was getting old before I had discovered it myself, and she had come to my cottage to wheedle me (if I may use such an expression) into giving up my hard out-of-door work as bailiff, and taking my ease for the rest of my days as steward in the house. I made as good a fight of it against the indignity of taking my ease as I could.

But my mistress knew the weak side of me; she put it as a favour to herself. The dispute between us ended, after that, in my wiping my eyes, like an old fool, with my new woollen waistcoat, and saying I would think about it. The perturbation in my mind, in regard to thinking about it, being truly dreadful after my lady had gone away, I applied the remedy which I have never yet found to fail me in cases of doubt and emergency. Before I had occupied myself with that extraordinary book five minutes, I came on a comforting bit (page one hundred and fifty-eight), as follows: “To-day we love, what to-morrow we hate.” I saw my way clear directly. To-day I was all for continuing to be farm-bailiff; to-morrow, on the authority of ROBINSON CRUSOE, I should be all the other way. All quite comfortable, and all through ROBINSON CRUSOE! She remarks that it is beautifully written, and every word of it true. Curious, and quite beyond me to account for. I wonder whether the gentlemen who make a business and a living out of writing books, ever find their own selves getting in the way of their subjects, like me? In the meantime, here is another false start, and more waste of good writing-paper.

Nothing that I know of, except for you to keep your temper, and for me to begin it all over again for the third time. Penelope’s notion is that I should set down what happened, regularly day by day, beginning with the day when we got the news that Mr. Franklin Blake was expected on a visit to the house. When you come to fix your memory with a date in this way, it is wonderful what your memory will pick up for you upon that compulsion. In answer to an improvement on this notion, devised by myself, namely, that she should tell the story instead of me, out of her own diary, Penelope observes, with a fierce look and a red face, that her journal is for her own private eye, and that no living creature shall ever know what is in it but herself. Beginning, then, on Penelope’s plan, I beg to mention that I was specially called one Wednesday morning into my lady’s own sitting-room, the date being the twenty-fourth of May, Eighteen hundred and forty-eight. He has been staying with his father in London, and he is coming to us to-morrow to stop till next month, and keep Rachel’s birthday.” If I had had a hat in my hand, nothing but respect would have prevented me from throwing that hat up to the ceiling. Franklin since he was a boy, living along with us in this house. Miss Rachel, who was present, and to whom I made that remark, observed, in return, that SHE remembered him as the most atrocious tyrant that ever tortured a doll, and the hardest driver of an exhausted little girl in string harness that England could produce.

“I burn with indignation, and I ache with fatigue,” was the way Miss Rachel summed it up, “when I think of Franklin Blake.” Hearing what I now tell you, you will naturally ask how it was that Mr. I answer, because his father had the misfortune to be next heir to a Dukedom, and not to be able to prove it. Blake--equally famous for his great riches, and his great suit at law. When it was all over, and the Duke in possession was left in possession, Mr. Blake discovered that the only way of being even with his country for the manner in which it had treated him, was not to let his country have the honour of educating his son. “How can I trust my native institutions,” was the form in which he put it, “after the way in which my native institutions have behaved to ME?” Add to this, that Mr. Blake disliked all boys, his own included, and you will admit that it could only end in one way. Master Franklin was taken from us in England, and was sent to institutions which his father COULD trust, in that superior country, Germany; Mr. Neither you nor I need trouble our heads any more about Mr. After he had learnt what the institutions of Germany could teach him, he gave the French a turn next, and the Italians a turn after that.

They made him among them a sort of universal genius, as well as I could understand it. He wrote a little; he painted a little; he sang and played and composed a little--borrowing, as I suspect, in all these cases, just as he had borrowed from me. His mother’s fortune (seven hundred a year) fell to him when he came of age, and ran through him, as it might be through a sieve. He lived here, there, and everywhere; his address (as he used to put it himself) being “Post Office, Europe--to be left till called for.” Twice over, he made up his mind to come back to England and see us; and twice over (saving your presence), some unmentionable woman stood in the way and stopped him. Franklin till dinner-time) drove out to lunch with some friends in the neighbourhood. Then, being butler in my lady’s establishment, as well as steward (at my own particular request, mind, and because it vexed me to see anybody but myself in possession of the key of the late Sir John’s cellar)--then, I say, I fetched up some of our famous Latour claret, and set it in the warm summer air to take off the chill before dinner.

Going round to the terrace, I found three mahogany-coloured Indians, in white linen frocks and trousers, looking up at the house. Behind them stood a little delicate-looking light-haired English boy carrying a bag. I judged the fellows to be strolling conjurors, and the boy with the bag to be carrying the tools of their trade. One of the three, who spoke English and who exhibited, I must own, the most elegant manners, presently informed me that my judgment was right. On my side, I returned to my beehive chair, and set myself down on the sunny side of the court, and fell (if the truth must be owned), not exactly into a sleep, but into the next best thing to it.

She wanted to have the three Indian jugglers instantly taken up; for this reason, namely, that they knew who was coming from London to visit us, and that they meant some mischief to Mr. It appeared that Penelope had just come from our lodge, where she had been having a gossip with the lodge-keeper’s daughter. The two girls had seen the Indians pass out, after I had warned them off, followed by their little boy. Taking it into their heads that the boy was ill-used by the foreigners--for no reason that I could discover, except that he was pretty and delicate-looking--the two girls had stolen along the inner side of the hedge between us and the road, and had watched the proceedings of the foreigners on the outer side. Then they all turned to their little English boy, as if they expected HIM to help them. I thought privately that it might have been her stays. All I said, however, was, “You make my flesh creep.” (NOTA BENE: Women like these little compliments.) Well, when the Indian said, “Hold out your hand,” the boy shrunk back, and shook his head, and said he didn’t like it. The Indian, thereupon, asked him (not at all unkindly), whether he would like to be sent back to London, and left where they had found him, sleeping in an empty basket in a market--a hungry, ragged, and forsaken little boy.

This, it seems, ended the difficulty. The little chap unwillingly held out his hand. Upon that, the Indian took a bottle from his bosom, and poured out of it some black stuff, like ink, into the palm of the boy’s hand. The Indian--first touching the boy’s head, and making signs over it in the air--then said, “Look.” The boy became quite stiff, and stood like a statue, looking into the ink in the hollow of his hand. (So far, it seemed to me to be juggling, accompanied by a foolish waste of ink. I was beginning to feel sleepy again, when Penelope’s next words stirred me up.) The Indians looked up the road and down the road once more--and then the chief Indian said these words to the boy; “See the English gentleman from foreign parts.” The boy said, “I see him.” The Indian said, “Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?” The boy said, “It is on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day.” The Indian put a second question--after waiting a little first. He said: “Has the English gentleman got It about him?” The boy answered--also, after waiting a little first--“Yes.” The Indian put a third and last question: “Will the English gentleman come here, as he has promised to come, at the close of day?” The boy said, “I can’t tell.” The Indian asked why. I can see no more to-day.” With that the catechism ended. He then, after making more signs on the boy’s head, blew on his forehead, and so woke him up with a start.

Most things they say have a moral, if you only look for it. Franklin’s arrival talked of among the servants out-of-doors, and saw his way to making a little money by it. Second, that he and his men and boy (with a view to making the said money) meant to hang about till they saw my lady drive home, and then to come back, and foretell Mr. If you know anything of the ways of young women, you won’t be surprised to hear that Penelope wouldn’t take it. She particularly reminded me of the Indian’s third question, Has the English gentleman got It about him? What does ‘It’ mean?” “We’ll ask Mr. Franklin, my dear,” I said, “if you can wait till Mr. Penelope took it quite seriously.

Franklin know about it?” I inquired. “And see whether HE thinks it a laughing matter, too.” With that parting shot, my daughter left me. I settled it with myself, when she was gone, that I really would ask Mr. What was said between us, when I did ask him, later on that same day, you will find set out fully in its proper place.

How seriously, you will understand, when I tell you that, in his opinion, “It” meant the Moonstone. But things must be put down in their places, as things actually happened--and you must please to jog on a little while longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants’ dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing myself once more in my chair. Not my daughter again; only Nancy, the kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in her way out; and I observed, as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face--a thing which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without inquiry.

“What’s wrong now, Nancy?” Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and took her by the ear. She is a nice plump young lass, and it is customary with me to adopt that manner of showing that I personally approve of a girl. Having a kind of pity for our second housemaid (why, you shall presently know), and seeing in Nancy’s face, that she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more hard words than might be needful under the circumstances, it struck me that I had nothing particular to do, and that I might as well fetch Rosanna myself; giving her a hint to be punctual in future, which I knew she would take kindly from ME. “At the sands, of course!” says Nancy, with a toss of her head.

“She had another of her fainting fits this morning, and she asked to go out and get a breath of fresh air. I have no patience with her!” “Go back to your dinner, my girl,” I said. “I have patience with her, and I’ll fetch her in.” Nancy (who has a fine appetite) looked pleased.

It isn’t immorality--it’s only habit. it won’t do to set off yet. How hard I try to get on with my statement without stopping by the way, and how badly I succeed! Let us take it easy, and let us take it short; we shall be in the thick of the mystery soon, I promise you! Rosanna (to put the Person before the Thing, which is but common politeness) was the only new servant in our house. About four months before the time I am writing of, my lady had been in London, and had gone over a Reformatory, intended to save forlorn women from drifting back into bad ways, after they had got released from prison.

The matron, seeing my lady took an interest in the place, pointed out a girl to her, named Rosanna Spearman, and told her a most miserable story, which I haven’t the heart to repeat here; for I don’t like to be made wretched without any use, and no more do you.

The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law. The matron’s opinion of Rosanna was (in spite of what she had done) that the girl was one in a thousand, and that she only wanted a chance to prove herself worthy of any Christian woman’s interest in her. Having fallen a good deal latterly into the late Sir John’s way of always agreeing with my lady, I agreed with her heartily about Rosanna Spearman. None of the servants could cast her past life in her teeth, for none of the servants knew what it had been. Though far from strong, and troubled occasionally with those fainting-fits already mentioned, she went about her work modestly and uncomplainingly, doing it carefully, and doing it well. But, somehow, she failed to make friends among the other women servants, excepting my daughter Penelope, who was always kind to Rosanna, though never intimate with her.

There was certainly no beauty about her to make the others envious; she was the plainest woman in the house, with the additional misfortune of having one shoulder bigger than the other. What the servants chiefly resented, I think, was her silent tongue and her solitary ways. And when it came to her turn to go out, nine times out of ten she quietly put on her bonnet, and had her turn by herself. It might have been in her voice, or it might have been in her face. All I can say is, that the other women pounced on it like lightning the first day she came into the house, and said (which was most unjust) that Rosanna Spearman gave herself airs. It leads, for a quarter of a mile, through a melancholy plantation of firs, and brings you out between low cliffs on the loneliest and ugliest little bay on all our coast. The sand-hills here run down to the sea, and end in two spits of rock jutting out opposite each other, till you lose sight of them in the water. One is called the North Spit, and one the South.

At the turn of the tide, something goes on in the unknown deeps below, which sets the whole face of the quicksand shivering and trembling in a manner most remarkable to see, and which has given to it, among the people in our parts, the name of the Shivering Sand. Winter and summer, when the tide flows over the quicksand, the sea seems to leave the waves behind it on the bank, and rolls its waters in smoothly with a heave, and covers the sand in silence. The very birds of the air, as it seems to me, give the Shivering Sand a wide berth.

That a young woman, with dozens of nice walks to choose from, and company to go with her, if she only said “Come!” should prefer this place, and should sit and work or read in it, all alone, when it’s her turn out, I grant you, passes belief. It’s true, nevertheless, account for it as you may, that this was Rosanna Spearman’s favourite walk, except when she went once or twice to Cobb’s Hole, to see the only friend she had in our neighbourhood, of whom more anon. It’s also true that I was now setting out for this same place, to fetch the girl in to dinner, which brings us round happily to our former point, and starts us fair again on our way to the sands. When I got out, through the sand-hills, on to the beach, there she was, in her little straw bonnet, and her plain grey cloak that she always wore to hide her deformed shoulder as much as might be--there she was, all alone, looking out on the quicksand and the sea. She started when I came up with her, and turned her head away from me. Not looking me in the face being another of the proceedings, which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass without inquiry--I turned her round my way, and saw that she was crying. I took it out, and I said to Rosanna, “Come and sit down, my dear, on the slope of the beach along with me.

I’ll dry your eyes for you first, and then I’ll make so bold as to ask what you have been crying about.” When you come to my age, you will find sitting down on the slope of a beach a much longer job than you think it now. By the time I was settled, Rosanna had dried her own eyes with a very inferior handkerchief to mine--cheap cambric. Rosanna wasn’t Nancy, and that’s the truth of it! Why can’t you forget it?” She took me by one of the lappets of my coat.

The day before, Rosanna had taken out a spot for me on the lappet of my coat, with a new composition, warranted to remove anything.

The grease was gone, but there was a little dull place left on the nap of the cloth where the grease had been. She had nice brown eyes, plain as she was in other ways--and she looked at me with a sort of respect for my happy old age and my good character, as things for ever out of her own reach, which made my heart heavy for our second housemaid. “But thought you might like your scolding better, my dear, if it came from me.” Instead of helping me up, the poor thing stole her hand into mine, and gave it a little squeeze. “I don’t want any dinner to-day--let me bide a little longer here.” “What makes you like to be here?” I asked. “What is it that brings you everlastingly to this miserable place?” “Something draws me to it,” says the girl, making images with her finger in the sand. “I try to keep away from it, and I can’t.

Betteredge, I think that my grave is waiting for me here.” “There’s roast mutton and suet-pudding waiting for you!” says I.

She didn’t seem to hear me: she put her hand on my shoulder, and kept me where I was, sitting by her side. “I dream of it night after night; I think of it when I sit stitching at my work. It’s more lonely to me to be among the other servants, knowing I am not what they are, than it is to be here. “Look!” she said “Isn’t it wonderful? isn’t it terrible? I have seen it dozens of times, and it’s always as new to me as if I had never seen it before!” I looked where she pointed.

The broad brown face of it heaved slowly, and then dimpled and quivered all over. “Do you know what it looks like to ME?” says Rosanna, catching me by the shoulder again. “It looks as if it had hundreds of suffocating people under it--all struggling to get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the dreadful deeps! Throw a stone in, and let’s see the sand suck it down!” Here was unwholesome talk! My answer--a pretty sharp one, in the poor girl’s own interests, I promise you!--was at my tongue’s end, when it was snapped short off on a sudden by a voice among the sand-hills shouting for me by my name. “Betteredge!” cries the voice, “where are you?” “Here!” I shouted out in return, without a notion in my mind of who it was. Her complexion turned of a beautiful red, which I had never seen in it before; she brightened all over with a kind of speechless and breathless surprise. “Who is it?” I asked. who is it?” she said softly, more to herself than to me.

There, coming out on us from among the hills, was a bright-eyed young gentleman, dressed in a beautiful fawn-coloured suit, with gloves and hat to match, with a rose in his button-hole, and a smile on his face that might have set the Shivering Sand itself smiling at him in return. Franklin, a little surprised to all appearance, look up from me to Rosanna. Franklin’s eye; and she turned and left us suddenly, in a confusion quite unaccountable to my mind, without either making her curtsey to the gentleman or saying a word to me. Very unlike her usual self: a civiller and better-behaved servant, in general, you never met with. “I wonder what she sees in me to surprise her?” “I suppose, sir,” I answered, drolling on our young gentleman’s Continental education, “it’s the varnish from foreign parts.” I set down here Mr. Franklin’s careless question, and my foolish answer, as a consolation and encouragement to all stupid people--it being, as I have remarked, a great satisfaction to our inferior fellow-creatures to find that their betters are, on occasions, no brighter than they are.

Neither Mr. Franklin, with his wonderful foreign training, nor I, with my age, experience, and natural mother-wit, had the ghost of an idea of what Rosanna Spearman’s unaccountable behaviour really meant. She was out of our thoughts, poor soul, before we had seen the last flutter of her little grey cloak among the sand-hills. “There is one advantage about this horrid place,” he said; “we have got it all to ourselves. Look as I might, I could see no more of his boy’s rosy cheeks than of his boy’s trim little jacket. His complexion had got pale: his face, at the lower part was covered, to my great surprise and disappointment, with a curly brown beard and mustachios.

He had a lively touch-and-go way with him, very pleasant and engaging, I admit; but nothing to compare with his free-and-easy manners of other times. Franklin, without noticing my question. “It’s just possible, Betteredge, that my stranger and your three jugglers may turn out to be pieces of the same puzzle.” “How do you come to know about the jugglers, sir?” I asked, putting one question on the top of another, which was bad manners, I own. “One of them (if you will pardon my mentioning it) was never keeping to the matter in hand. She was more like a fly than a woman: she couldn’t settle on anything.” “She would just have suited me,” says Mr. “I never settle on anything either. Not even my respect for you prevented me from--never mind; I knew her when she was a child, and she’s none the worse for it. What did the jugglers do?” I was something dissatisfied with my daughter--not for letting Mr. However, there was no help for it now but to mention the circumstances.

He sat knitting his eyebrows, and twisting his beard. “‘Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?’ ‘Has the English gentleman got It about him?’ I suspect,” says Mr. Franklin, pulling a little sealed paper parcel out of his pocket, “that ‘It’ means THIS. “And my father, as the wicked Colonel’s executor, has given it in charge to me to bring down here.” If the sea, then oozing in smoothly over the Shivering Sand, had been changed into dry land before my own eyes, I doubt if I could have been more surprised than I was when Mr. Franklin, that your father wouldn’t have touched the Colonel with a pair of tongs!” “Strong language, Betteredge! Here follows the substance of what I said, written out entirely for your benefit. Pay attention to it, or you will be all abroad, when we get deeper into the story. Try if you can’t forget politics, horses, prices in the City, and grievances at the club. I hope you won’t take this freedom on my part amiss; it’s only a way I have of appealing to the gentle reader.

haven’t I seen you with the greatest authors in your hands, and don’t I know how ready your attention is to wander when it’s a book that asks for it, instead of a person? I spoke, a little way back, of my lady’s father, the old lord with the short temper and the long tongue. Two sons to begin with; then, after a long time, his wife broke out breeding again, and the three young ladies came briskly one after the other, as fast as the nature of things would permit; my mistress, as before mentioned, being the youngest and best of the three. Of the two sons, the eldest, Arthur, inherited the title and estates.

It’s an ill bird, they say, that fouls its own nest. I look on the noble family of the Herncastles as being my nest; and I shall take it as a favour if I am not expected to enter into particulars on the subject of the Honourable John. He went out to India to see whether they were equally strict there, and to try a little active service. In the matter of bravery (to give him his due), he was a mixture of bull-dog and game-cock, with a dash of the savage. He came back with a character that closed the doors of all his family against him, my lady (then just married) taking the lead, and declaring (with Sir John’s approval, of course) that her brother should never enter any house of hers. It was said he had got possession of his Indian jewel by means which, bold as he was, he didn’t dare acknowledge. He never attempted to sell it--not being in need of money, and not (to give him his due again) making money an object. He never gave it away; he never even showed it to any living soul. Some said he was afraid of its getting him into a difficulty with the military authorities; others (very ignorant indeed of the real nature of the man) said he was afraid, if he showed it, of its costing him his life. There was perhaps a grain of truth mixed up with this last report.

It was false to say that he was afraid; but it was a fact that his life had been twice threatened in India; and it was firmly believed that the Moonstone was at the bottom of it. When he came back to England, and found himself avoided by everybody, the Moonstone was thought to be at the bottom of it again. Some men in this mess would have tried to set themselves right with the world. There you have the portrait of the man before you, as in a picture: a character that braved everything; and a face, handsome as it was, that looked possessed by the devil. Anyhow, a solitary, vicious, underground life was the life the Colonel led.

About two years before the time of which I am now writing, and about a year and a half before the time of his death, the Colonel came unexpectedly to my lady’s house in London. It was the night of Miss Rachel’s birthday, the twenty-first of June; and there was a party in honour of it, as usual. “Go up to my sister,” says he; “and say that I have called to wish my niece many happy returns of the day.” He had made attempts by letter, more than once already, to be reconciled with my lady, for no other purpose, I am firmly persuaded, than to annoy her.

I had it on the tip of my tongue to say that my mistress had a party that night. I went up-stairs with his message, and left him, by his own desire, waiting in the hall. The servants stood staring at him, at a distance, as if he was a walking engine of destruction, loaded with powder and shot, and likely to go off among them at a moment’s notice. “Tell Colonel Herncastle,” she said, when I gave her her brother’s message, “that Miss Verinder is engaged, and that I decline to see him.” I tried to plead for a civiller answer than that; knowing the Colonel’s constitutional superiority to the restraints which govern gentlemen in general. Quite useless! “When I want your advice,” says my lady, “you know that I always ask for it. I don’t ask for it now.” I went downstairs with the message, of which I took the liberty of presenting a new and amended edition of my own contriving, as follows: “My lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel; and beg to be excused having the honour of seeing you.” I expected him to break out, even at that polite way of putting it. To my surprise he did nothing of the sort; he alarmed me by taking the thing with an unnatural quiet. His eyes, of a glittering bright grey, just settled on me for a moment; and he laughed, not out of himself, like other people, but INTO himself, in a soft, chuckling, horridly mischievous way.

“I shall remember my niece’s birthday.” With that, he turned on his heel, and walked out of the house. Six months afterwards--that is to say, six months before the time I am now writing of--there came a letter from a highly respectable clergyman to my lady. It communicated two wonderful things in the way of family news. I have myself (in spite of the bishops and the clergy) an unfeigned respect for the Church; but I am firmly persuaded, at the same time, that the devil remained in undisturbed possession of the Honourable John, and that the last abominable act in the life of that abominable man was (saving your presence) to take the clergyman in!

Franklin like a shot that had hit the mark. Though he didn’t acknowledge it, I saw that I had made him uneasy, plainly enough, in his face. “It’s my turn now. You look, my old friend, as if you didn’t quite understand the object to be answered by this consultation of ours. Follow me carefully, Betteredge; and count me off on your fingers, if it will help you,” says Mr. Franklin, with a certain pleasure in showing how clear-headed he could be, which reminded me wonderfully of old times when he was a boy. Don’t let me frighten you.” It was all very well to say that, but he HAD frightened me. If he was right, here was our quiet English house suddenly invaded by a devilish Indian Diamond--bringing after it a conspiracy of living rogues, set loose on us by the vengeance of a dead man. There was our situation as revealed to me in Mr.

Who ever heard the like of it--in the nineteenth century, mind; in an age of progress, and in a country which rejoices in the blessings of the British constitution? Nobody ever heard the like of it, and, consequently, nobody can be expected to believe it. I shall go on with my story, however, in spite of that.

When you get a sudden alarm, of the sort that I had got now, nine times out of ten the place you feel it in is your stomach. When you feel it in your stomach, your attention wanders, and you begin to fidget.

Franklin noticed me, contending with a perturbed stomach or mind--which you please; they mean the same thing--and, checking himself just as he was starting with his part of the story, said to me sharply, “What do you want?” What did I want? Our young gentleman’s first words informed me that his discoveries, concerning the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, had begun with a visit which he had paid (before he came to us) to the family lawyer, at Hampstead. Franklin, when the two were alone, one day, after dinner, revealed that he had been charged by his father with a birthday present to be taken to Miss Rachel. One thing led to another; and it ended in the lawyer mentioning what the present really was, and how the friendly connexion between the late Colonel and Mr. Blake, senior, had taken its rise. “You remember the time, Betteredge,” he said, “when my father was trying to prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom? My father discovered that his brother-in-law was in possession of certain papers which were likely to be of service to him in his lawsuit. ‘You want something,’ he said, ‘or you would never have compromised your reputation by calling on ME.’ My father saw that the one chance for him was to show his hand; he admitted, at once, that he wanted the papers.

The fortune of war (that was the expression he used) had placed him in possession of one of the largest Diamonds in the world; and he had reason to believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was safe in any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied together. He might deposit the precious stone in any place especially guarded and set apart--like a banker’s or jeweller’s strong-room--for the safe custody of valuables of high price. His main personal responsibility in the matter was to be of the passive kind. He was to undertake either by himself, or by a trustworthy representative--to receive at a prearranged address, on certain prearranged days in every year, a note from the Colonel, simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that date. In the event of the date passing over without the note being received, the Colonel’s silence might be taken as a sure token of the Colonel’s death by murder. In that case, and in no other, certain sealed instructions relating to the disposal of the Diamond, and deposited with it, were to be opened, and followed implicitly. Somewhere in his Indian wanderings, the Colonel had picked up with some wretched crystal which he took for a diamond. The Colonel had been a notorious opium-eater for years past; and, if the only way of getting at the valuable papers he possessed was by accepting a matter of opium as a matter of fact, my father was quite willing to take the ridiculous responsibility imposed on him--all the more readily that it involved no trouble to himself. No sensible person, in a similar position, could have viewed the matter in any other way. Nothing in this world, Betteredge, is probable unless it appeals to our own trumpery experience; and we only believe in a romance when we see it in a newspaper.” It was plain to me from this, that Mr.

“There is a curious want of system, Betteredge, in the English mind; and your question, my old friend, is an instance of it. I have seen the letters, in a heap, all of them written in the same brief, business-like form of words: ‘Sir,--This is to certify that I am still a living man. It ran now: ‘Sir,--They tell me I am dying. Bruff went, and found him, in the little suburban villa, surrounded by its own grounds, in which he had lived alone, ever since he had left India. The second founded a professorship of experimental chemistry at a northern university. The third bequeathed the Moonstone as a birthday present to his niece, on condition that my father would act as executor.

Bruff suggested, in Rachel’s interest, that the Diamond might be worth something, after all.” “Did the Colonel give any reason, sir,” I inquired, “why he left the Diamond to Miss Rachel?” “He not only gave the reason--he had the reason written in his will,” said Mr. It was formally necessary to have the Diamond valued, before the Will could be proved.

The question of accurately valuing it presented some serious difficulties. Its size made it a phenomenon in the diamond market; its colour placed it in a category by itself; and, to add to these elements of uncertainty, there was a defect, in the shape of a flaw, in the very heart of the stone. Even with this last serious draw-back, however, the lowest of the various estimates given was twenty thousand pounds. He had been within a hair’s-breadth of refusing to act as executor, and of allowing this magnificent jewel to be lost to the family.

The interest he took in the matter now, induced him to open the sealed instructions which had been deposited with the Diamond. Bruff showed this document to me, with the other papers; and it suggests (to my mind) a clue to the nature of the conspiracy which threatened the Colonel’s life.” “Then you do believe, sir,” I said, “that there was a conspiracy?” “Not possessing my father’s excellent common sense,” answered Mr. The sealed instructions, as I think, explain how it was that he died, after all, quietly in his bed. It was to be deposited in that city with a famous diamond-cutter, and it was to be cut up into from four to six separate stones. Now, Betteredge, exert those sharp wits of yours, and observe the conclusion to which the Colonel’s instructions point!” I instantly exerted my wits. They were of the slovenly English sort; and they consequently muddled it all, until Mr. Franklin, “that the integrity of the Diamond, as a whole stone, is here artfully made dependent on the preservation from violence of the Colonel’s life. He is not satisfied with saying to the enemies he dreads, ‘Kill me--and you will be no nearer to the Diamond than you are now; it is where you can’t get at it--in the guarded strong-room of a bank.’ He says instead, ‘Kill me--and the Diamond will be the Diamond no longer; its identity will be destroyed.’ What does that mean?” Here I had (as I thought) a flash of the wonderful foreign brightness.

“It means lowering the value of the stone, and cheating the rogues in that way!” “Nothing of the sort,” says Mr. The flawed Diamond, cut up, would actually fetch more than the Diamond as it now is; for this plain reason--that from four to six perfect brilliants might be cut from it, which would be, collectively, worth more money than the large--but imperfect single stone. More money could have been got for it, and the disposal of it in the diamond market would have been infinitely easier, if it had passed through the hands of the workmen of Amsterdam.” “Lord bless us, sir!” I burst out. Franklin--“a plot with some old Hindoo superstition at the bottom of it. That is my opinion, confirmed by a family paper which I have about me at this moment.” I saw, now, why the appearance of the three Indian jugglers at our house had presented itself to Mr. “The idea of certain chosen servants of an old Hindoo superstition devoting themselves, through all difficulties and dangers, to watching the opportunity of recovering their sacred gem, appears to me to be perfectly consistent with everything that we know of the patience of Oriental races, and the influence of Oriental religions. But then I am an imaginative man; and the butcher, the baker, and the tax-gatherer, are not the only credible realities in existence to my mind. Let the guess I have made at the truth in this matter go for what it is worth, and let us get on to the only practical question that concerns us.

And did the Colonel know it, when he left the birthday gift to his niece?” I began to see my lady and Miss Rachel at the end of it all, now. Franklin, “to be the means of bringing it here. Bruff reminded me that somebody must put my cousin’s legacy into my cousin’s hands--and that I might as well do it as anybody else. I went back to the bank with the Diamond, and thought I saw the shabby man again.

Here I am, with the Diamond safe and sound--and what is the first news that meets me? I don’t waste time and words on their pouring the ink into the boy’s hand, and telling him to look in it for a man at a distance, and for something in that man’s pocket. The thing (which I have often seen done in the East) is ‘hocus-pocus’ in my opinion, as it is in yours.

or whether we really have evidence of the Indians being on the track of the Moonstone, the moment it is removed from the safe keeping of the bank?” Neither he nor I seemed to fancy dealing with this part of the inquiry. Franklin, “say so, Betteredge, and in it goes!” It’s curious to note, when your mind’s anxious, how very far in the way of relief a very small joke will go. We found a fund of merriment, at the time, in the notion of making away with Miss Rachel’s lawful property, and getting Mr. Blake, as executor, into dreadful trouble--though where the merriment was, I am quite at a loss to discover now. He took an envelope out of his pocket, opened it, and handed to me the paper inside.

I have got it by me while I write these words; and I copy it, as follows, for your benefit: “Thirdly, and lastly, I give and bequeath to my niece, Rachel Verinder, daughter and only child of my sister, Julia Verinder, widow--if her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living on the said Rachel Verinder’s next Birthday after my death--the yellow Diamond belonging to me, and known in the East by the name of The Moonstone: subject to this condition, that her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living at the time. And I hereby desire my executor to give my Diamond, either by his own hands or by the hands of some trustworthy representative whom he shall appoint, into the personal possession of my said niece Rachel, on her next birthday after my death, and in the presence, if possible, of my sister, the said Julia Verinder. And I desire that my said sister may be informed, by means of a true copy of this, the third and last clause of my Will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter Rachel, in token of my free forgiveness of the injury which her conduct towards me has been the means of inflicting on my reputation in my lifetime; and especially in proof that I pardon, as becomes a dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and a gentleman, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of her house against me, on the occasion of her daughter’s birthday.” More words followed these, providing if my lady was dead, or if Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testator’s decease, for the Diamond being sent to Holland, in accordance with the sealed instructions originally deposited with it. The proceeds of the sale were, in that case, to be added to the money already left by the Will for the professorship of chemistry at the university in the north. I don’t say the copy from his Will actually converted me from that opinion: I only say it staggered me. In bringing the Moonstone to my aunt’s house, am I serving his vengeance blindfold, or am I vindicating him in the character of a penitent and Christian man?” “It seems hard to say, sir,” I answered, “that he died with a horrid revenge in his heart, and a horrid lie on his lips.

Franklin sat twisting and turning the extract from the Will in his fingers, as if he expected to squeeze the truth out of it in that manner. He altered quite remarkably, at the same time. And now (as well as I could make out) the other was taking its place. It is one of my rules in life, never to notice what I don’t understand. Why didn’t he leave it to my aunt?” “That’s not beyond guessing, sir, at any rate,” I said. “Colonel Herncastle knew my lady well enough to know that she would have refused to accept any legacy that came to her from HIM.” “How did he know that Rachel might not refuse to accept it, too?” “Is there any young lady in existence, sir, who could resist the temptation of accepting such a birthday present as The Moonstone?” “That’s the Subjective view,” says Mr. “It does you great credit, Betteredge, to be able to take the Subjective view. How are we to explain his only giving Rachel her birthday present conditionally on her mother being alive?” “I don’t want to slander a dead man, sir,” I answered. “But if he HAS purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister, by the means of her child, it must be a legacy made conditional on his sister’s being alive to feel the vexation of it.” “Oh! That’s your interpretation of his motive, is it?

Franklin, “that the Colonel’s object may, quite possibly, have been--not to benefit his niece, whom he had never even seen--but to prove to his sister that he had died forgiving her, and to prove it very prettily by means of a present made to her child. There is a totally different explanation from yours, Betteredge, taking its rise in a Subjective-Objective point of view. He had been so clever, and clear-headed (before he began to talk the foreign gibberish), and had so completely taken the lead in the business up to the present time, that I was quite unprepared for such a sudden change as he now exhibited in this helpless leaning upon me. It was not till later that I learned--by assistance of Miss Rachel, who was the first to make the discovery--that these puzzling shifts and transformations in Mr. At the age when we are all of us most apt to take our colouring, in the form of a reflection from the colouring of other people, he had been sent abroad, and had been passed on from one nation to another, before there was time for any one colouring more than another to settle itself on him firmly. As a consequence of this, he had come back with so many different sides to his character, all more or less jarring with each other, that he seemed to pass his life in a state of perpetual contradiction with himself. He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side--the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as much as to say, “Here I am, sorely transmogrified, as you see, but there’s something of me left at the bottom of him still.” Miss Rachel used to remark that the Italian side of him was uppermost, on those occasions when he unexpectedly gave in, and asked you in his nice sweet-tempered way to take his own responsibilities on your shoulders. You will do him no injustice, I think, if you conclude that the Italian side of him was uppermost now.

“Isn’t it your business, sir,” I asked, “to know what to do next? Surely it can’t be mine?” Mr. Franklin didn’t appear to see the force of my question--not being in a position, at the time, to see anything but the sky over his head. “I don’t want to alarm my aunt without reason,” he said. “And I don’t want to leave her without what may be a needful warning. If you were in my place, Betteredge, tell me, in one word, what would you do?” In one word, I told him: “Wait.” “With all my heart,” says Mr. “As I understand it, sir,” I said, “somebody is bound to put this plaguy Diamond into Miss Rachel’s hands on her birthday--and you may as well do it as another.

Let’s wait and see what happens in that time; and let’s warn my lady, or not, as the circumstances direct us.” “Perfect, Betteredge, as far as it goes!” says Mr. “But between this and the birthday, what’s to be done with the Diamond?” “What your father did with it, to be sure, sir!” I answered. “Your father put it in the safe keeping of a bank in London. You put in the safe keeping of the bank at Frizinghall.” (Frizinghall was our nearest town, and the Bank of England wasn’t safer than the bank there.) “If I were you, sir,” I added, “I would ride straight away with it to Frizinghall before the ladies come back.” The prospect of doing something--and, what is more, of doing that something on a horse--brought Mr. He sprang to his feet, and pulled me up, without ceremony, on to mine. “Come along, and saddle the best horse in the stables directly.” Here (God bless it!) was the original English foundation of him showing through all the foreign varnish at last!

CHAPTER VII While I was in this bewildered frame of mind, sorely needing a little quiet time by myself to put me right again, my daughter Penelope got in my way (just as her late mother used to get in my way on the stairs), and instantly summoned me to tell her all that had passed at the conference between Mr. Under present circumstances, the one thing to be done was to clap the extinguisher upon Penelope’s curiosity on the spot. Franklin and I had both talked of foreign politics, till we could talk no longer, and had then mutually fallen asleep in the heat of the sun. Try that sort of answer when your wife or your daughter next worries you with an awkward question at an awkward time, and depend on the natural sweetness of women for kissing and making it up again at the next opportunity. Needless also to say, that THEY asked awkward questions directly, and that the “foreign politics” and the “falling asleep in the sun” wouldn’t serve a second time over with THEM. Franklin’s freaks, I said, “Yes, it was;” and slipped out of it--I think very cleverly--in that way. Having got over my difficulties with the ladies, I found more difficulties waiting for me when I went back to my own room. In came Penelope--with the natural sweetness of women--to kiss and make it up again; and--with the natural curiosity of women--to ask another question.

This time she only wanted me to tell her what was the matter with our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand, Rosanna, it appeared, had returned to the house in a very unaccountable state of mind.

She had been merry without reason, and sad without reason. Franklin Blake, and in another breath she had been angry with Penelope for presuming to suppose that a strange gentleman could possess any interest for her. Quite impossible! Penelope could speak to the girl’s inquisitiveness as genuine, when she asked questions about Mr. The conference between us, conducted in this way, was tiresome enough, until my daughter suddenly ended it by bursting out with what I thought the most monstrous supposition I had ever heard in my life.

“Father!” says Penelope, quite seriously, “there’s only one explanation of it. Rosanna has fallen in love with Mr. Franklin Blake at first sight!” You have heard of beautiful young ladies falling in love at first sight, and have thought it natural enough. But a housemaid out of a reformatory, with a plain face and a deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight, with a gentleman who comes on a visit to her mistress’s house, match me that, in the way of an absurdity, out of any story-book in Christendom, if you can!

I was savage with myself, for feeling uneasy in myself the moment she had spoken them--but so it was. I am sorry I drifted into writing about it; and not without reason, as you will see when we have gone on together a little longer. He had not met with the Indians, either going or returning. He had deposited the Moonstone in the bank--describing it merely as a valuable of great price--and he had got the receipt for it safe in his pocket. I went down-stairs, feeling that this was rather a flat ending, after all our excitement about the Diamond earlier in the day. I would have given something to have waited at table that day. But, in my position in the household, waiting at dinner (except on high family festivals) was letting down my dignity in the eyes of the other servants--a thing which my lady considered me quite prone enough to do already, without seeking occasions for it.

The footman’s report was, that the preservation of a respectful composure in the presence of his betters, and the waiting on Mr. Franklin Blake at dinner, were two of the hardest things to reconcile with each other that had ever tried his training in service. Franklin piping high, Miss Rachel piping higher, and my lady, on the piano, following them as it were over hedge and ditch, and seeing them safe through it in a manner most wonderful and pleasant to hear through the open windows, on the terrace at night.

Franklin in the smoking-room, with the soda-water and brandy, and found that Miss Rachel had put the Diamond clean out of his head. It was so silent out of doors, that I heard from time to time, very faint and low, the fall of the sea, as the ground-swell heaved it in on the sand-bank near the mouth of our little bay.

As it was, I went back to set a-going a younger pair of legs than mine. Without disturbing anybody, Samuel and I got a couple of guns, and went all round the house and through the shrubbery. Passing over the walk where I had seen the shadow, I now noticed, for the first time, a little bright object, lying on the clean gravel, under the light of the moon. Picking the object up, I discovered it was a small bottle, containing a thick sweet-smelling liquor, as black as ink. But, remembering what Penelope had told me about the jugglers, and the pouring of the little pool of ink into the palm of the boy’s hand, I instantly suspected that I had disturbed the three Indians, lurking about the house, and bent, in their heathenish way, on discovering the whereabouts of the Diamond that night. CHAPTER VIII Here, for one moment, I find it necessary to call a halt. For the greater part of that time the days passed, and brought nothing with them worth recording. With your good leave, then, and with Penelope’s help, I shall notice certain dates only in this place; reserving to myself to tell the story day by day, once more, as soon as we get to the time when the business of the Moonstone became the chief business of everybody in our house. This said, we may now go on again--beginning, of course, with the bottle of sweet-smelling ink which I found on the gravel walk at night. Franklin informed me, there are people who practise this curious hocus-pocus (without the ink, however); and who call it by a French name, signifying something like brightness of sight.

“Depend upon it,” says Mr. Franklin, “the Indians took it for granted that we should keep the Diamond here; and they brought their clairvoyant boy to show them the way to it, if they succeeded in getting into the house last night.” “Do you think they’ll try again, sir?” I asked. “It depends,” says Mr.

If he can see the Diamond through the iron safe of the bank at Frizinghall, we shall be troubled with no more visits from the Indians for the present. If he can’t, we shall have another chance of catching them in the shrubbery, before many more nights are over our heads.” I waited pretty confidently for that latter chance; but, strange to relate, it never came. Franklin having been seen at the bank, and drew their conclusions accordingly; or whether the boy really did see the Diamond where the Diamond was now lodged (which I, for one, flatly disbelieve); or whether, after all, it was a mere effect of chance, this at any rate is the plain truth--not the ghost of an Indian came near the house again, through the weeks that passed before Miss Rachel’s birthday. Franklin and I remained waiting to see what might happen, and resolute not to put the rogues on their guard by showing our suspicions of them too soon. With this report of the proceedings on either side, ends all that I have to say about the Indians for the present. Franklin hit on a new method of working their way together through the time which might otherwise have hung heavy on their hands.

You will find it has a bearing on something that is still to come. Their lives being, for the most part, passed in looking about them for something to do, it is curious to see--especially when their tastes are of what is called the intellectual sort--how often they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit. I have seen them (ladies, I am sorry to say, as well as gentlemen) go out, day after day, for example, with empty pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into little pieces.

You see my young master, or my young mistress, poring over one of their spiders’ insides with a magnifying-glass; or you meet one of their frogs walking downstairs without his head--and when you wonder what this cruel nastiness means, you are told that it means a taste in my young master or my young mistress for natural history.

Sometimes, again, you see them occupied for hours together in spoiling a pretty flower with pointed instruments, out of a stupid curiosity to know what the flower is made of. Is its colour any prettier, or its scent any sweeter, when you DO know? In the one case and in the other, the secret of it is, that you have got nothing to think of in your poor empty head, and nothing to do with your poor idle hands. And so it ends in your spoiling canvas with paints, and making a smell in the house; or in keeping tadpoles in a glass box full of dirty water, and turning everybody’s stomach in the house; or in chipping off bits of stone here, there, and everywhere, and dropping grit into all the victuals in the house; or in staining your fingers in the pursuit of photography, and doing justice without mercy on everybody’s face in the house. It often falls heavy enough, no doubt, on people who are really obliged to get their living, to be forced to work for the clothes that cover them, the roof that shelters them, and the food that keeps them going. But compare the hardest day’s work you ever did with the idleness that splits flowers and pokes its way into spiders’ stomachs, and thank your stars that your head has got something it MUST think of, and your hands something that they MUST do. Franklin’s universal genius, dabbling in everything, dabbled in what he called “decorative painting.” He had invented, he informed us, a new mixture to moisten paint with, which he described as a “vehicle.” What it was made of, I don’t know. What it did, I can tell you in two words--it stank. Franklin sent to London for the materials; mixed them up, with accompaniment of a smell which made the very dogs sneeze when they came into the room; put an apron and a bib over Miss Rachel’s gown, and set her to work decorating her own little sitting-room--called, for want of English to name it in, her “boudoir.” They began with the inside of the door. Franklin scraped off all the nice varnish with pumice-stone, and made what he described as a surface to work on.

Miss Rachel then covered the surface, under his directions and with his help, with patterns and devices--griffins, birds, flowers, cupids, and such like--copied from designs made by a famous Italian painter, whose name escapes me: the one, I mean, who stocked the world with Virgin Maries, and had a sweetheart at the baker’s. Viewed as work, this decoration was slow to do, and dirty to deal with.

But our young lady and gentleman never seemed to tire of it. When they were not riding, or seeing company, or taking their meals, or piping their songs, there they were with their heads together, as busy as bees, spoiling the door. If he had occupied my place in the family, and had seen Miss Rachel with her brush, and Mr. Franklin with his vehicle, he could have written nothing truer of either of them than that.

On that evening we, in the servants’ hall, debated a domestic question for the first time, which, like the decoration of the door, has its bearing on something that is still to come.

Franklin and Miss Rachel took in each other’s society, and noting what a pretty match they were in all personal respects, we naturally speculated on the chance of their putting their heads together with other objects in view besides the ornamenting of a door. Others (led by me) admitted it was likely enough Miss Rachel might be married; but we doubted (for reasons which will presently appear) whether her bridegroom would be Mr. Let me do myself the honour of making you acquainted with her; after which, I will leave you to fathom for yourself--if you can. To see her sit down, to see her get up, and specially to see her walk, was enough to satisfy any man in his senses that the graces of her figure (if you will pardon me the expression) were in her flesh and not in her clothes. Her nose was not quite large enough, I admit. Franklin) morsels for the gods; and her complexion (on the same undeniable authority) was as warm as the sun itself, with this great advantage over the sun, that it was always in nice order to look at. Add to the foregoing that she carried her head as upright as a dart, in a dashing, spirited, thoroughbred way--that she had a clear voice, with a ring of the right metal in it, and a smile that began very prettily in her eyes before it got to her lips--and there behold the portrait of her, to the best of my painting, as large as life! And what about her disposition next? She had just as many faults as you have, ma’am--neither more nor less.

To put it seriously, my dear pretty Miss Rachel, possessing a host of graces and attractions, had one defect, which strict impartiality compels me to acknowledge. She was unlike most other girls of her age, in this--that she had ideas of her own, and was stiff-necked enough to set the fashions themselves at defiance, if the fashions didn’t suit her views. In trifles, this independence of hers was all well enough; but in matters of importance, it carried her (as my lady thought, and as I thought) too far. She judged for herself, as few women of twice her age judge in general; never asked your advice; never told you beforehand what she was going to do; never came with secrets and confidences to anybody, from her mother downwards.

In little things and great, with people she loved, and people she hated (and she did both with equal heartiness), Miss Rachel always went on a way of her own, sufficient for herself in the joys and sorrows of her life. With all her secrecy, and self-will, there was not so much as the shadow of anything false in her. I can call to mind, in her childhood, more than one occasion when the good little soul took the blame, and suffered the punishment, for some fault committed by a playfellow whom she loved. Nobody ever knew her to confess to it, when the thing was found out, and she was charged with it afterwards. But nobody ever knew her to lie about it, either. She looked you straight in the face, and shook her little saucy head, and said plainly, “I won’t tell you!” Punished again for this, she would own to being sorry for saying “won’t;” but, bread and water notwithstanding, she never told you.

If your good lady doesn’t exhibit something in the shape of a contradiction in that time, Heaven help you!--you have married a monster. I have now brought you acquainted with Miss Rachel, which you will find puts us face to face, next, with the question of that young lady’s matrimonial views. On June the twelfth, an invitation from my mistress was sent to a gentleman in London, to come and help to keep Miss Rachel’s birthday. Godfrey Ablewhite. Ablewhite, the banker at Frizinghall. That’s the modern way of looking at it--and I keep up with the modern way. The Ablewhites lived in a fine house and grounds, a little out of Frizinghall. We shall not be much troubled with them in these pages--excepting Mr. Ablewhite’s second son, and who must take his proper place here, if you please, for Miss Rachel’s sake. With all his brightness and cleverness and general good qualities, Mr.

He stood over six feet high; he had a beautiful red and white colour; a smooth round face, shaved as bare as your hand; and a head of lovely long flaxen hair, falling negligently over the poll of his neck. If you ever subscribed to a Ladies’ Charity in London, you know Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite as well as I do. He was a barrister by profession; a ladies’ man by temperament; and a good Samaritan by choice. Female benevolence and female destitution could do nothing without him. Wherever there was a table with a committee of ladies sitting round it in council there was Mr. Godfrey at the bottom of the board, keeping the temper of the committee, and leading the dear creatures along the thorny ways of business, hat in hand.

As a speaker at charitable meetings the like of him for drawing your tears and your money was not easy to find. He was quite a public character. The lady did it, with a band of music. The gentleman did it, with a handkerchief and a glass of water.

Crowds at the performance with the legs. Ditto at the performance with the tongue. And with all this, the sweetest tempered person (I allude to Mr. Godfrey)--the simplest and pleasantest and easiest to please--you ever met with. Franklin--what chance had anybody of average reputation and capacities--against such a man as this? He accepted my mistress’s invitation, from the Wednesday of the birthday to the evening of Friday--when his duties to the Ladies’ Charities would oblige him to return to town. Wait till Mr. Ablewhite’s verses are followed by Mr.

Ablewhite himself.” My daughter replied, that Mr. Though one of the most inveterate smokers I ever met with, he gave up his cigar, because she said, one day, she hated the stale smell of it in his clothes. he would take to nothing again that could cause her a moment’s annoyance; he would fight it out resolutely, and get back his sleep, sooner or later, by main force of patience in waiting for it. Such devotion as this, you may say (as some of them said downstairs), could never fail of producing the right effect on Miss Rachel--backed up, too, as it was, by the decorating work every day on the door. Godfrey in her bed-room; represented speaking at a public meeting, with all his hair blown out by the breath of his own eloquence, and his eyes, most lovely, charming the money out of your pockets. Every morning--as Penelope herself owned to me--there was the man whom the women couldn’t do without, looking on, in effigy, while Miss Rachel was having her hair combed. He would be looking on, in reality, before long--that was my opinion of it. A strange gentleman, speaking English with a foreign accent, came that morning to the house, and asked to see Mr. The business could not possibly have been connected with the Diamond, for these two reasons--first, that Mr. Franklin told me nothing about it; secondly, that he communicated it (when the gentleman had gone, as I suppose) to my lady.

She probably hinted something about it next to her daughter. Franklin’s on the Continent--with a woman or a debt at the bottom of it--had followed him to England. Franklin had seized the opportunity of the reconciliation to make an offer to Miss Rachel, and had neither been accepted nor refused. My girl was sure (from signs and tokens which I need not trouble you with) that her young mistress had fought Mr. Though Penelope was admitted to more familiarity with her young mistress than maids generally are--for the two had been almost brought up together as children--still I knew Miss Rachel’s reserved character too well to believe that she would show her mind to anybody in this way. This poor girl--who had puzzled me, as you know already, at the Shivering Sand--puzzled me more than once again, in the interval time of which I am now writing. Penelope’s notion that her fellow-servant was in love with Mr.

But I must own that what I myself saw, and what my daughter saw also, of our second housemaid’s conduct, began to look mysterious, to say the least of it. Franklin’s way--very slyly and quietly, but she did it.

He took about as much notice of her as he took of the cat; it never seemed to occur to him to waste a look on Rosanna’s plain face. The poor thing’s appetite, never much, fell away dreadfully; and her eyes in the morning showed plain signs of waking and crying at night. Franklin’s dressing-table, secretly removing a rose which Miss Rachel had given him to wear in his button-hole, and putting another rose like it, of her own picking, in its place. My lady noticed the change, and asked me what I thought about it. I tried to screen the girl by answering that I thought she was out of health; and it ended in the doctor being sent for, as already mentioned, on the nineteenth. He said it was her nerves, and doubted if she was fit for service.

She begged and prayed, with the tears in her eyes, to be let to stop; and, in an evil hour, I advised my lady to try her for a little longer. If I could only have looked a little way into the future, I would have taken Rosanna Spearman out of the house, then and there, with my own hand. An elegant little casket in China accompanied the note, presented to Miss Rachel, with her cousin’s love and best wishes. You will own, I think, that I have got you over the ground this time, without much loitering by the way. I’ll ease you with another new chapter here--and, what is more, that chapter shall take you straight into the thick of the story. CHAPTER IX June twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy and unsettled at sunrise, but towards noon it cleared up bravely. We, in the servants’ hall, began this happy anniversary, as usual, by offering our little presents to Miss Rachel, with the regular speech delivered annually by me as the chief.

Before it is delivered, my speech (like the Queen’s) is looked for as eagerly as if nothing of the kind had ever been heard before. When it is delivered, and turns out not to be the novelty anticipated, though they grumble a little, they look forward hopefully to something newer next year. An easy people to govern, in the Parliament and in the Kitchen--that’s the moral of it. Franklin and I had a private conference on the subject of the Moonstone--the time having now come for removing it from the bank at Frizinghall, and placing it in Miss Rachel’s own hands. But certain it is, that Mr. Franklin to put it in his cousin’s possession. That was my view of the matter; and, twist and turn it as he might, he was forced in the end to make it his view too. We arranged that he was to ride over, after lunch, to Frizinghall, and bring the Diamond back, with Mr. Godfrey and the two young ladies, in all probability, to keep him company on the way home again. They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon, in the everlasting business of decorating the door, Penelope standing by to mix the colours, as directed; and my lady, as luncheon time drew near, going in and out of the room, with her handkerchief to her nose (for they used a deal of Mr.

It was three o’clock before they took off their aprons, and released Penelope (much the worse for the vehicle), and cleaned themselves of their mess. But they had done what they wanted--they had finished the door on the birthday, and proud enough they were of it.

The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must own, most beautiful to behold; though so many in number, so entangled in flowers and devices, and so topsy-turvy in their actions and attitudes, that you felt them unpleasantly in your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them. If I add that Penelope ended her part of the morning’s work by being sick in the back-kitchen, it is in no unfriendly spirit towards the vehicle.

It left off stinking when it dried; and if Art requires these sort of sacrifices--though the girl is my own daughter--I say, let Art have them! Having seen to the wine, and reviewed my men and women who were to wait at dinner, I retired to collect myself before the company came. Ablewhite’s grooms. Franklin in this respect--that he did not seem to be in his customary spirits. He kindly shook hands with me as usual, and was most politely glad to see his old friend Betteredge wearing so well. But there was a sort of cloud over him, which I couldn’t at all account for; and when I asked how he had found his father in health, he answered rather shortly, “Much as usual.” However, the two Miss Ablewhites were cheerful enough for twenty, which more than restored the balance. They were nearly as big as their brother; spanking, yellow-haired, rosy lasses, overflowing with super-abundant flesh and blood; bursting from head to foot with health and spirits. The legs of the poor horses trembled with carrying them; and when they jumped from their saddles (without waiting to be helped), I declare they bounced on the ground as if they were made of india-rubber.

Everything the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large O; everything they did was done with a bang; and they giggled and screamed, in season and out of season, on the smallest provocation. Under cover of the noise made by the young ladies, I had an opportunity of saying a private word to Mr. “Have you seen anything of the Indians?” “Not a glimpse.” With that answer, he asked for my lady, and, hearing she was in the small drawing-room, went there straight.

I can’t say I was at all alarmed; for I recognised in the screams the favourite large O of the Miss Ablewhites. There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fascinated, with the Colonel’s unlucky Diamond in her hand. There, on either side of her, knelt the two Bouncers, devouring the jewel with their eyes, and screaming with ecstasy every time it flashed on them in a new light. There, at the opposite side of the table, stood Mr. Godfrey, clapping his hands like a large child, and singing out softly, “Exquisite! exquisite!” There sat Mr.

She faced me, when I asked for my instructions; and I saw the family frown gathering over her eyes, and the family temper twitching at the corners of her mouth.

“I shall have something to say to you then.” With those words she went out. It was plain enough that she was posed by the same difficulty which had posed Mr. Was the legacy of the Moonstone a proof that she had treated her brother with cruel injustice? or was it a proof that he was worse than the worst she had ever thought of him? Serious questions those for my lady to determine, while her daughter, innocent of all knowledge of the Colonel’s character, stood there with the Colonel’s birthday gift in her hand. it WAS a Diamond! The light that streamed from it was like the light of the harvest moon. When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else. It seemed unfathomable; this jewel, that you could hold between your finger and thumb, seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves. We set it in the sun, and then shut the light out of the room, and it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark.

The Diamond laid such a hold on ME that I burst out with as large an “O” as the Bouncers themselves. I hobbled off to my army of waiters downstairs. Godfrey said, “Dear old Betteredge, I have the truest regard for him!” He was embracing his sisters, and ogling Miss Rachel, while he honoured me with that testimony of affection. Franklin was a perfect savage by comparison with him. What passed between my mistress and me, on this occasion, was, in the main, a repetition of what had passed between Mr. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand--with this difference, that I took care to keep my own counsel about the jugglers, seeing that nothing had happened to justify me in alarming my lady on this head. When I received my dismissal, I could see that she took the blackest view possible of the Colonel’s motives, and that she was bent on getting the Moonstone out of her daughter’s possession at the first opportunity. He tugged hard at his beard, and went and shut himself up in the library with a bang of the door that had a world of meaning in it.

I was interrupted no more in the business of preparing for the birthday dinner till it was time for me to smarten myself up for receiving the company. Just as I had got my white waistcoat on, Penelope presented herself at my toilet, on pretence of brushing what little hair I have got left, and improving the tie of my white cravat. My girl was in high spirits, and I saw she had something to say to me.

“The ladies’ committee-man, father,” says Penelope. But my daughter happened to be improving the tie of my cravat at that moment, and the whole strength of her feelings found its way into her fingers. “And I waited behind the holly to see how they came back. Godfrey Ablewhite, at any rate; and, if I was a lady, I should be another!” Here I should have protested again. If you are not, skip this bit, and thank God you have got something in the way of a defence between your hair-brush and your head. ‘You have accepted my mother’s invitation,’ she said; ‘and you are here to meet her guests. Unless you wish to make a scandal in the house, you will remain, of course!’ She went on a few steps, and then seemed to relent a little. He kissed it, which I should have considered taking a liberty, and then she left him. He waited a little by himself, with his head down, and his heel grinding a hole slowly in the gravel walk; you never saw a man look more put out in your life. ‘Awkward!’ he said between his teeth, when he looked up, and went on to the house--‘very awkward!’ If that was his opinion of himself, he was quite right.

And the end of it is, father, what I told you all along,” cries Penelope, finishing me off with a last scarification, the hottest of all. Ablewhite. CHAPTER X One on the top of the other the rest of the company followed the Ablewhites, till we had the whole tale of them complete. It was a noble sight to see, when they were settled in their places round the dinner-table, and the Rector of Frizinghall (with beautiful elocution) rose and said grace. There is no need to worry you with a list of the guests. You will meet none of them a second time--in my part of the story, at any rate--with the exception of two. Those two sat on either side of Miss Rachel, who, as queen of the day, was naturally the great attraction of the party. It was without any setting when it had been placed in her hands; but that universal genius, Mr. Franklin, had contrived, with the help of his neat fingers and a little bit of silver wire, to fix it as a brooch in the bosom of her white dress. But the only two of the company who said anything out of the common way about it were those two guests I have mentioned, who sat by Miss Rachel on her right hand and her left.

This was a pleasant, companionable little man, with the drawback, however, I must own, of being too fond, in season and out of season, of his joke, and of his plunging in rather a headlong manner into talk with strangers, without waiting to feel his way first. He gravely entreated her (in the interests of science) to let him take it home and burn it. “We will first heat it, Miss Rachel,” says the doctor, “to such and such a degree; then we will expose it to a current of air; and, little by little--puff!--we evaporate the Diamond, and spare you a world of anxiety about the safe keeping of a valuable precious stone!” My lady, listening with rather a careworn expression on her face, seemed to wish that the doctor had been in earnest, and that he could have found Miss Rachel zealous enough in the cause of science to sacrifice her birthday gift. Murthwaite, who, at risk of his life, had penetrated in disguise where no European had ever set foot before. It was rumoured that he was tired of the humdrum life among the people in our parts, and longing to go back and wander off on the tramp again in the wild places of the East. The fame of it seemed to have reached him, in some of those perilous Indian places where his wanderings had lain. After looking at it silently for so long a time that Miss Rachel began to get confused, he said to her in his cool immovable way, “If you ever go to India, Miss Verinder, don’t take your uncle’s birthday gift with you. I know a certain city, and a certain temple in that city, where, dressed as you are now, your life would not be worth five minutes’ purchase.” Miss Rachel, safe in England, was quite delighted to hear of her danger in India.

The Bouncers were more delighted still; they dropped their knives and forks with a crash, and burst out together vehemently, “O! As the dinner got on, I became aware, little by little, that this festival was not prospering as other like festivals had prospered before it. I plied them well with wine; and being a privileged character, followed the unpopular dishes round the table, and whispered to the company confidentially, “Please to change your mind and try it; for I know it will do you good.” Nine times out of ten they changed their minds--out of regard for their old original Betteredge, they were pleased to say--but all to no purpose.

Take one sample of the way in which he went on, and you will understand what I had to put up with at the sideboard, officiating as I was in the character of a man who had the prosperity of the festival at heart.

Threadgall straightway brought in her late husband as usual, without mentioning that he was dead. Anatomy she described as the Professor’s favourite recreation in his leisure hours. As ill-luck would have it, Mr. Candy, sitting opposite (who knew nothing of the deceased gentleman), heard her. Being the most polite of men, he seized the opportunity of assisting the Professor’s anatomical amusements on the spot. “I strongly recommend the Professor, ma’am, when he next has an hour to spare, to pay them a visit.” You might have heard a pin fall. Threadgall at the time, plying her confidentially with a glass of hock.

Candy, hearing nothing, and miles away from suspecting the truth, went on across the table louder and politer than ever. “The Professor may not be aware,” says he, “that the card of a member of the College will admit him, on any day but Sunday, between the hours of ten and four.” Mrs. Quite useless! On he went, with a cordiality that there was no stopping anyhow.

Threadgall, suddenly losing her temper, and speaking with an emphasis and fury that made the glasses ring again. Whether he was sulky, or whether he was bashful, after his discomfiture in the rose-garden, I can’t say. She was one of his committee-women--a spiritually-minded person, with a fine show of collar-bone and a pretty taste in champagne; liked it dry, you understand, and plenty of it. What they said about their Charities I didn’t hear.

And earth was heaven a little the worse for wear. Earth had some very objectionable people in it; but, to make amends for that, all the women in heaven would be members of a prodigious committee that never quarrelled, with all the men in attendance on them as ministering angels. Godfrey keep it all to his lady and himself? Franklin stirred the company up into making a pleasant evening of it? He had quite recovered himself, and he was in wonderful force and spirits, Penelope having informed him, I suspect, of Mr. But, talk as he might, nine times out of ten he pitched on the wrong subject, or he addressed himself to the wrong person; the end of it being that he offended some, and puzzled all of them. That foreign training of his--those French and German and Italian sides of him, to which I have already alluded--came out, at my lady’s hospitable board, in a most bewildering manner. What do you think, for instance, of his discussing the lengths to which a married woman might let her admiration go for a man who was not her husband, and putting it in his clear-headed witty French way to the maiden aunt of the Vicar of Frizinghall?

What do you think, when he shifted to the German side, of his telling the lord of the manor, while that great authority on cattle was quoting his experience in the breeding of bulls, that experience, properly understood counted for nothing, and that the proper way to breed bulls was to look deep into your own mind, evolve out of it the idea of a perfect bull, and produce him? Franklin answering, from the Italian point of view: “We have got three things left, sir--Love, Music, and Salad”?

He not only terrified the company with such outbreaks as these, but, when the English side of him turned up in due course, he lost his foreign smoothness; and, getting on the subject of the medical profession, said such downright things in ridicule of doctors, that he actually put good-humoured little Mr. Candy, hitting back smartly, said that Mr Franklin himself was, constitutionally speaking, groping in the dark after sleep, and that nothing but medicine could help him to find it. Franklin, keeping the ball up on his side, said he had often heard of the blind leading the blind, and now, for the first time, he knew what it meant. In this way, they kept it going briskly, cut and thrust, till they both of them got hot--Mr. This necessary act of authority put the last extinguisher on the spirits of the company. The talk spurted up again here and there, for a minute or two at a time; but there was a miserable lack of life and sparkle in it. The Devil (or the Diamond) possessed that dinner-party; and it was a relief to everybody when my mistress rose, and gave the ladies the signal to leave the gentlemen over their wine.

Ablewhite (who represented the master of the house), when there came a sound from the terrace which, startled me out of my company manners on the instant. Franklin and I looked at each other; it was the sound of the Indian drum. As I live by bread, here were the jugglers returning to us with the return of the Moonstone to the house! But, as ill-luck would have it, the two Bouncers were beforehand with me.

They whizzed out on to the terrace like a couple of skyrockets, wild to see the Indians exhibit their tricks. Before you could say, “Lord bless us!” the rogues were making their salaams; and the Bouncers were kissing the pretty little boy.

I can’t tell you what tricks they performed, or how they did it. What with the vexation about the dinner, and what with the provocation of the rogues coming back just in the nick of time to see the jewel with their own eyes, I own I lost my head. Murthwaite. If he had pricked them with a bayonet, I doubt if the Indians could have started and turned on him with a more tigerish quickness than they did, on hearing the first words that passed his lips.

The next moment they were bowing and salaaming to him in their most polite and snaky way. After a few words in the unknown tongue had passed on either side, Mr. Murthwaite withdrew as quietly as he had approached. Murthwaite had spoken to him. He bowed to my lady, and informed her that the exhibition was over. The Bouncers, indescribably disappointed, burst out with a loud “O!” directed against Mr. Murthwaite for stopping the performance.

The little boy went round with the hat. The ladies withdrew to the drawing-room; and the gentlemen (excepting Mr. Murthwaite) returned to their wine. Murthwaite (the latter smoking a cheroot) walking slowly up and down among the trees. Murthwaite took his cheroot out of his mouth, and leaned, in his weary way, against the trunk of a tree. I naturally asked the traveller if he had ever met with the Indians before. Murthwaite; “but I know what Indian juggling really is. All you have seen to-night is a very bad and clumsy imitation of it. I charged them with being disguised, and you saw how it told on them, clever as the Hindoo people are in concealing their feelings.

There must be some very serious motive at the bottom of it, and some justification of no ordinary kind to plead for them, in recovery of their caste, when they return to their own country.” I was struck dumb. Murthwaite went on with his cheroot. Franklin, after what looked to me like a little private veering about between the different sides of his character, broke the silence as follows: “I feel some hesitation, Mr. Murthwaite, in troubling you with family matters, in which you can have no interest and which I am not very willing to speak of out of our own circle.

I speak to you in confidence; you will oblige me, I am sure, by not forgetting that?” With this preface, he told the Indian traveller all that he had told me at the Shivering Sand. Murthwaite was so interested in what he heard, that he let his cheroot go out. Franklin Blake, than I have had of mine; and that is saying a great deal.” It was Mr. “Is it really as serious as that?” he asked.

“In my opinion it is,” answered Mr.

Murthwaite. “I can’t doubt, after what you have told me, that the restoration of the Moonstone to its place on the forehead of the Indian idol, is the motive and the justification of that sacrifice of caste which I alluded to just now. Those men will wait their opportunity with the patience of cats, and will use it with the ferocity of tigers. Let us try and account for it. It was daylight, both times, I suppose, when you took the jewel out of the bank in London?” “Broad daylight,” says Mr. It’s a lonely country between this and the station. When did you take the Diamond to the bank at the town here?” “I took it an hour after I had brought it to this house--and three hours before anybody was prepared for seeing me in these parts.” “I beg to congratulate you again! Did you bring it back here alone?” “No. I happened to ride back with my cousins and the groom.” “I beg to congratulate you for the third time!

If you ever feel inclined to travel beyond the civilised limits, Mr. Blake, let me know, and I will go with you. This sort of thing didn’t at all square with my English ideas. “Do you care much for the ashes left in your pipe when you empty it?” “No, sir.” “In the country those men came from, they care just as much about killing a man, as you care about emptying the ashes out of your pipe. If a thousand lives stood between them and the getting back of their Diamond--and if they thought they could destroy those lives without discovery--they would take them all. Murthwaite expressed HIS opinion that they were a wonderful people. Murthwaite. “Colonel Herncastle understood the people he had to deal with. Make half a dozen diamonds of it, instead of one. There is an end of its sacred identity as The Moonstone--and there is an end of the conspiracy.” Mr.

“There is no help for it,” he said. Murthwaite answered me before Mr. Murthwaite, “let the dogs loose. Betteredge, the mastiff and the bloodhound have one great merit--they are not likely to be troubled with your scruples about the sanctity of human life.” The strumming of the piano reached us from the drawing-room, as he fired that shot at me. Murthwaite noticed it too. Betteredge, to-night!” It was all very well for HIM to joke. But I was not an eminent traveller--and my way in this world had not led me into playing ducks and drakes with my own life, among thieves and murderers in the outlandish places of the earth. I went into my own little room, and sat down in my chair in a perspiration, and wondered helplessly what was to be done next. I lit my pipe, and took a turn at ROBINSON CRUSOE. Before I had been at it five minutes, I came to this amazing bit--page one hundred and sixty-one--as follows: “Fear of Danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than Danger itself, when apparent to the Eyes; and we find the Burthen of Anxiety greater, by much, than the Evil which we are anxious about.” The man who doesn’t believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE, after THAT, is a man with a screw loose in his understanding, or a man lost in the mist of his own self-conceit!

Argument is thrown away upon him; and pity is better reserved for some person with a livelier faith.

I was far on with my second pipe, and still lost in admiration of that wonderful book, when Penelope (who had been handing round the tea) came in with her report from the drawing-room.

She had left the Bouncers singing a duet--words beginning with a large “O,” and music to correspond. Franklin sharpening his wits on Mr. Godfrey, at the expense of Ladies’ Charities in general; and she had noticed that Mr. Godfrey hit him back again rather more smartly than became a gentleman of his benevolent character. Candy, the doctor, who had mysteriously disappeared from the drawing-room, and had then mysteriously returned, and entered into conversation with Mr. Instead of taking the footman, whose nose was human, and therefore useless in any emergency, I took the bloodhound with me. It poured as if it meant to pour all night. With the exception of the doctor, whose gig was waiting for him, the rest of the company went home snugly, under cover, in close carriages.

He told me, in return, that he wondered I had arrived at my time of life, without knowing that a doctor’s skin was waterproof. So he drove away in the rain, laughing over his own little joke; and so we got rid of our dinner company. “Rachel,” she asked, “where are you going to put your Diamond to-night?” Miss Rachel was in high good spirits, just in that humour for talking nonsense, and perversely persisting in it as if it was sense, which you may sometimes have observed in young girls, when they are highly wrought up, at the end of an exciting day. Then she said, “on her dressing-table, of course, along with her other things.” Then she remembered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with its awful moony light in the dark--and that would terrify her in the dead of night.

Then she bethought herself of an Indian cabinet which stood in her sitting-room; and instantly made up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet, for the purpose of permitting two beautiful native productions to admire each other. Having let her little flow of nonsense run on as far as that point, her mother interposed and stopped her. your Indian cabinet has no lock to it,” says my lady. Are there thieves in the house?” Without taking notice of this fantastic way of talking, my lady wished the gentlemen good-night. My lady saw there was no reasoning with her that night. “I shall have something to say to you.” With those last words she left us slowly; thinking her own thoughts, and, to all appearance, not best pleased with the way by which they were leading her.

She shook hands first with Mr. Franklin, still sitting weary and silent in a corner. But standing near the old oak frame which holds our large looking-glass, I saw her reflected in it, slyly slipping the locket which Mr. Franklin had given to her, out of the bosom of her dress, and showing it to him for a moment, with a smile which certainly meant something out of the common, before she tripped off to bed. This incident staggered me a little in the reliance I had previously felt on my own judgment. As soon as Miss Rachel left him eyes to see with, Mr. Murthwaite too seriously, when we had that talk in the shrubbery. Do you really mean to let the dogs loose?” “I’ll relieve them of their collars, sir,” I answered, “and leave them free to take a turn in the night, if they smell a reason for it.” “All right,” says Mr. I am not at all disposed to alarm my aunt, Betteredge, without a very pressing reason for it.

I only note these trifling circumstances, because, after all I had seen and heard, that day, it pleased me to observe that our two gentlemen were on just as good terms as ever. And there is certainly this merit in people of station, that they are not nearly so quarrelsome among each other as people of no station at all. Franklin declined the brandy-and-water, and went up-stairs with Mr.

On the landing, however, either his cousin persuaded him, or he veered about and changed his mind as usual. “Perhaps I may want it in the night,” he called down to me. “Send up some brandy-and-water into my room.” I sent up Samuel with the brandy-and-water; and then went out and unbuckled the dogs’ collars.

They both lost their heads with astonishment on being set loose at that time of night, and jumped upon me like a couple of puppies!

For the present, it still poured heavily, and the ground was in a perfect sop. The worries of the day had been a little too much for me, I suppose. It was sunrise before I fell off at last into a sleep.

Not a sound stirred but the splash of the rain, and the sighing of the wind among the trees as a breeze sprang up with the morning. Come up and see.” She dragged me after her into our young lady’s sitting-room, which opened into her bedroom. There, on the threshold of her bedroom door, stood Miss Rachel, almost as white in the face as the white dressing-gown that clothed her.

One, of the drawers inside was pulled out as far as it would go. With a look that was not like herself, with a voice that was not like her own, Miss Rachel answered as my daughter had answered: “The Diamond is gone!” Having said those words, she withdrew into her bedroom, and shut and locked the door. Before we knew which way to turn next, my lady came in, hearing my voice in her daughter’s sitting-room, and wondering what had happened. She went straight to Miss Rachel’s bedroom, and insisted on being admitted. However, when he had swallowed his cup of coffee--which he always took, on the foreign plan, some hours before he ate any breakfast--his brains brightened; the clear-headed side of him turned up, and he took the matter in hand, resolutely and cleverly, much as follows: He first sent for the servants, and told them to leave all the lower doors and windows (with the exception of the front door, which I had opened) exactly as they had been left when we locked up over night. He next proposed to his cousin and to me to make quite sure, before we took any further steps, that the Diamond had not accidentally dropped somewhere out of sight--say at the back of the cabinet, or down behind the table on which the cabinet stood. Having searched in both places, and found nothing--having also questioned Penelope, and discovered from her no more than the little she had already told me--Mr. The moment after we heard it locked inside by Miss Rachel. “The loss of the Diamond seems to have quite overwhelmed Rachel,” she said, in reply to Mr.

“She shrinks, in the strangest manner, from speaking of it, even to ME. It is impossible you can see her for the present.” Having added to our perplexities by this account of Miss Rachel, my lady, after a little effort, recovered her usual composure, and acted with her usual decision. “I suppose there is no help for it?” she said, quietly. Give me a letter of introduction,” says he, addressing my lady, “to one of the magistrates at Frizinghall--merely telling him that I represent your interests and wishes, and let me ride off with it instantly. Our chance of catching the thieves may depend on our not wasting one unnecessary minute.” (Nota bene: Whether it was the French side or the English, the right side of Mr.

The only question was, How long would it last?) He put pen, ink, and paper before his aunt, who (as it appeared to me) wrote the letter he wanted a little unwillingly. If it had been possible to overlook such an event as the loss of a jewel worth twenty thousand pounds, I believe--with my lady’s opinion of her late brother, and her distrust of his birthday-gift--it would have been privately a relief to her to let the thieves get off with the Moonstone scot free. I went out with Mr. Franklin to the stables, and took the opportunity of asking him how the Indians (whom I suspected, of course, as shrewdly as he did) could possibly have got into the house.

He would only have to wait till the house was quiet, and there it would be in the cabinet, to be had for the taking.” With those words, he called to the groom to open the gate, and galloped off. I had found the front door locked and bolted, as I had left it at night, when I went to open it, after getting up. Had he come provided for them with drugged meat? As the doubt crossed my mind, the dogs themselves came galloping at me round a corner, rolling each other over on the wet grass, in such lively health and spirits that it was with no small difficulty I brought them to reason, and chained them up again. The more I turned it over in my mind, the less satisfactory Mr.

We had our breakfasts--whatever happens in a house, robbery or murder, it doesn’t matter, you must have your breakfast. When we had done, my lady sent for me; and I found myself compelled to tell her all that I had hitherto concealed, relating to the Indians and their plot. Who would have thought that horrible Diamond could have laid such a hold on her in so short a time?” It was certainly strange. It is but fair to add that she was not the only one of us in the house who was thrown out of the regular groove. Having no company to amuse him, and getting no chance of trying what his experience of women in distress could do towards comforting Miss Rachel, he wandered hither and thither about the house and gardens in an aimless uneasy way. He was in two different minds about what it became him to do, after the misfortune that had happened to us. Ought he to relieve the family, in their present situation, of the responsibility of him as a guest, or ought he to stay on the chance that even his humble services might be of some use? A little before eleven Mr.

The resolute side of him had, to all appearance, given way, in the interval since his departure, under the stress that had been laid on it. When he returned, he was stuffed with cotton, as limp as limp could be. It’s been proved,” says Mr. Franklin, dwelling with great relish on his own incapacity, “to be simply impossible.” After astonishing us by announcing this totally new turn in the matter of the Moonstone, our young gentleman, at his aunt’s request, took a seat, and explained himself. It appeared that the resolute side of him had held out as far as Frizinghall. The first inquiries instituted about the Indians showed that they had not so much as attempted to leave the town. Further questions addressed to the police, proved that all three had been seen returning to Frizinghall with their boy, on the previous night between ten and eleven--which (regard being had to hours and distances) also proved that they had walked straight back after performing on our terrace.

Later still, at midnight, the police, having occasion to search the common lodging-house where they lived, had seen them all three again, and their little boy with them, as usual. But, as it was just possible, when the police came to investigate the matter, that discoveries affecting the jugglers might be made, he would contrive, by committing them as rogues and vagabonds, to keep them at our disposal, under lock and key, for a week. They had ignorantly done something (I forget what) in the town, which barely brought them within the operation of the law.

Every human institution (justice included) will stretch a little, if you only pull it the right way. The worthy magistrate was an old friend of my lady’s, and the Indians were “committed” for a week, as soon as the court opened that morning. Ten minutes later, to our infinite relief; Superintendent Seegrave arrived at the house. Franklin on the terrace, sitting in the sun (I suppose with the Italian side of him uppermost), and warning the police, as they went by, that the investigation was hopeless, before the investigation had begun. For a family in our situation, the Superintendent of the Frizinghall police was the most comforting officer you could wish to see. Seegrave was tall and portly, and military in his manners. “I’m the man you want!” was written all over his face; and he ordered his two inferior police men about with a severity which convinced us all that there was no trifling with HIM. He began by going round the premises, outside and in; the result of that investigation proving to him that no thieves had broken in upon us from outside, and that the robbery, consequently, must have been committed by some person in the house. At the same time, he posted one of his men on the staircase which led to the servants’ bedrooms, with instructions to let nobody in the house pass him, till further orders.

Superintendent proved equal to the occasion; he looked at them with his resolute eye, and he cowed them with his military voice. Superintendent, suddenly pointing to a little smear of the decorative painting on Miss Rachel’s door, at the outer edge, just under the lock. clear out!” Rosanna Spearman, who was nearest to him, and nearest to the little smear on the door, set the example of obedience, and slipped off instantly to her work. The Superintendent finished his examination of the room, and, making nothing of it, asked me who had first discovered the robbery.

My daughter had first discovered it. Superintendent proved to be a little too sharp with Penelope at starting. She had gone in with Miss Rachel’s cup of tea at eight the next morning, and had found the drawer open and empty. I told him my young lady was ill, and begged him to wait a little and see her later. Neither of them knew anything about it. Had I, lying awake longer than either of them, heard nothing either?

Betteredge, I have the greatest faith in him!” Many men, many opinions, as one of the ancients said, before my time.

Superintendent’s next proceeding took him back to the “boudoir” again, with my daughter and me at his heels. His object was to discover whether any of the furniture had been moved, during the night, out of its customary place--his previous investigation in the room having, apparently, not gone quite far enough to satisfy his mind on this point. She took up her garden hat from a chair, and then went straight to Penelope with this question:-- “Mr. Franklin Blake sent you with a message to me this morning?” “Yes, miss.” “He wished to speak to me, didn’t he?” “Yes, miss.” “Where is he now?” Hearing voices on the terrace below, I looked out of window, and saw the two gentlemen walking up and down together. Franklin is on the terrace, miss.” Without another word, without heeding Mr. It showed a want of due respect, it showed a breach of good manners, on my part, but, for the life of me, I couldn’t help looking out of window when Miss Rachel met the gentlemen outside. Franklin without appearing to notice Mr. It lasted but for a short time, and, judging by what I saw of his face from the window, seemed to astonish him beyond all power of expression.

Franklin--and suddenly went back into the house again, before her mother came up with her. Franklin walked away a little between the two, telling them what had happened I suppose, for they both stopped short, after taking a few steps, like persons struck with amazement. I had just seen as much as this, when the door of the sitting-room was opened violently.

Miss Rachel walked swiftly through to her bed-room, wild and angry, with fierce eyes and flaming cheeks. Neither you nor anybody else will ever find it!” With those words she went in, and locked the door in our faces. Penelope, standing nearest to it, heard her burst out crying the moment she was alone again. What did it mean? I told the Superintendent it meant that Miss Rachel’s temper was upset by the loss of her jewel. Being anxious for the honour of the family, it distressed me to see my young lady forget herself--even with a police-officer--and I made the best excuse I could, accordingly. If this guess was right, why--having lost her Diamond--should she object to the presence in the house of the very people whose business it was to recover it for her? Franklin appeared to think it a point of honour to forbear repeating to a servant--even to so old a servant as I was--what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace. Godfrey, who, as a gentleman and a relative, had been probably admitted into Mr.

Seegrave was fast approaching the condition of a superintendent at his wits’ end.

Having ferreted about all over the “boudoir,” without making any discoveries among the furniture, our experienced officer applied to me to know, whether the servants in general were or were not acquainted with the place in which the Diamond had been put for the night. “I knew where it was put, sir,” I said, “to begin with. Superintendent’s suspicions to range over, he tried to narrow it by asking about the servants’ characters next. But it was neither my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a poor girl, whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as I had known her. The matron at the Reformatory had reported her to my lady as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly trustworthy girl. It was the Superintendent’s business to discover reason for suspecting her first--and then, and not till then, it would be my duty to tell him how she came into my lady’s service.

One after another, they proved to have nothing to say--and said it (so far as the women were concerned) at great length, and with a very angry sense of the embargo laid on their bed-rooms. My daughter’s little outbreak of temper in the “boudoir,” and her readiness to think herself suspected, appeared to have produced an unfavourable impression on Superintendent Seegrave. It seemed also to dwell a little on his mind, that she had been the last person who saw the Diamond at night. There was no doubt of it any longer--the police-officer had almost as good as told her she was the thief! Franklin’s view) to be quite such an ass as that. But, though he said nothing, the eye with which he looked at my daughter was not a very pleasant eye to see. I laughed it off with poor Penelope, as something too ridiculous to be treated seriously--which it certainly was. It was a little trying--it was, indeed. My girl sat down in a corner, with her apron over her head, quite broken-hearted. She might have waited till he openly accused her.

Well, being a man of just an equal temper, I admit that. The officer had an interview (at which I was present) with my lady. “I will never consent to make such a return as that,” she said, “for all I owe to the faithful servants who are employed in my house.” Mr. Superintendent made his bow, with a look in my direction, which said plainly, “Why employ me, if you are to tie my hands in this way?” As head of the servants, I felt directly that we were bound, in justice to all parties, not to profit by our mistress’s generosity. There are my keys, to begin with!” My lady took me by the hand, and thanked me with the tears in her eyes. The search over, and no Diamond or sign of a Diamond being found, of course, anywhere, Superintendent Seegrave retired to my little room to consider with himself what he was to do next. While the police-officer was still pondering in solitude, I was sent for to see Mr. To my unutterable astonishment, just as my hand was on the door, it was suddenly opened from the inside, and out walked Rosanna Spearman! After the library had been swept and cleaned in the morning, neither first nor second housemaid had any business in that room at any later period of the day. I stopped Rosanna Spearman, and charged her with a breach of domestic discipline on the spot.

Franklin Blake dropped one of his rings up-stairs,” says Rosanna; “and I have been into the library to give it to him.” The girl’s face was all in a flush as she made me that answer; and she walked away with a toss of her head and a look of self-importance which I was quite at a loss to account for. Franklin writing at the library-table. Don’t breathe a word of it to anybody as yet; but either Rosanna Spearman’s head is not quite right, or I am afraid she knows more about the Moonstone than she ought to know.” I can hardly tell whether I was more startled or distressed at hearing him say that. But when you are old, you acquire one excellent habit. “She came in here with a ring I dropped in my bed-room,” Mr.

Instead of that, she stood opposite to me at the table, looking at me in the oddest manner--half frightened, and half familiar--I couldn’t make it out. I said, ‘Yes, it was,’ and wondered what was coming next. nor the person who took it--I’ll answer for that.’ She actually nodded and smiled at me! What on earth does it mean?” I could not bring myself to tell him the girl’s story, even then. It would have been almost as good as telling him that she was the thief. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast of it, and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why she should let out her secret to Mr. “I can’t bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a scrape, merely because she has a flighty way with her, and talks very strangely,” Mr. “The best way, sir,” I said, “will be for me to say two words privately to my mistress about it at the first opportunity. When there’s a mess of any kind in a house, sir, the women-servants like to look at the gloomy side--it gives the poor wretches a kind of importance in their own eyes. If it’s a jewel lost, trust them for prophesying that it will never be found again.” This view (which I am bound to say, I thought a probable view myself, on reflection) seemed to relieve Mr.

If it was possible for Penelope to be right, the explanation of Rosanna’s strange language and behaviour might have been all in this--that she didn’t care what she said, so long as she could surprise Mr. Granting that to be the right reading of the riddle, it accounted, perhaps, for her flighty, self-conceited manner when she passed me in the hall. In the infernal network of mysteries and uncertainties that now surrounded us, I declare it was a relief to observe how well the buckles and straps understood each other! Going round with the chaise to the front door, I found not only Mr. Godfrey and Superintendent Seegrave also waiting for me on the steps. Superintendent’s reflections (after failing to find the Diamond in the servants’ rooms or boxes) had led him, it appeared, to an entirely new conclusion. Still sticking to his first text, namely, that somebody in the house had stolen the jewel, our experienced officer was now of the opinion that the thief (he was wise enough not to name poor Penelope, whatever he might privately think of her!) had been acting in concert with the Indians; and he accordingly proposed shifting his inquiries to the jugglers in the prison at Frizinghall. Seegrave, and greatly interested in witnessing the examination of the Indians, had begged leave to accompany the officer to Frizinghall. The other was to go back with the Superintendent to the town. “I will wait to telegraph to London,” he said, “till I see what comes of our examination of the Indians.

The idea of any of the servants being in league with the Indians is a preposterous absurdity, in my opinion. We will make as light of it as we can before my aunt--but this is a more important matter than you may suppose.” “It is a matter of twenty thousand pounds, sir,” I said, thinking of the value of the Diamond. “It’s a matter of quieting Rachel’s mind,” answered Mr. I was ready enough, in the girl’s own interest, to have a little talk with Rosanna in private. But the needful opportunity failed to present itself.

When she did appear, she was flighty and excited, had what they call an hysterical attack, took a dose of sal-volatile by my lady’s order, and was sent back to her bed. The day wore on to its end drearily and miserably enough, I can tell you. My lady was in such low spirits about her daughter, that I could not bring myself to make her additionally anxious, by reporting what Rosanna Spearman had said to Mr. Penelope persisted in believing that she was to be forthwith tried, sentenced, and transported for theft. I went out into the yard, and, being hard up for a little cheerful society, set my chair by the kennels, and talked to the dogs. Half an hour before dinner-time, the two gentlemen came back from Frizinghall, having arranged with Superintendent Seegrave that he was to return to us the next day. Murthwaite, the Indian traveller, at his present residence, near the town.

Franklin’s request, he had kindly given them the benefit of his knowledge of the language, in dealing with those two, out of the three Indians, who knew nothing of English. The examination, conducted carefully, and at great length, had ended in nothing; not the shadow of a reason being discovered for suspecting the jugglers of having tampered with any of our servants. A day or two after, however, the darkness lifted a little. How, and with what result, you shall presently see.

With the Friday morning came two pieces of news.

Item the first: the baker’s man declared he had met Rosanna Spearman, on the previous afternoon, with a thick veil on, walking towards Frizinghall by the foot-path way over the moor. It seemed strange that anybody should be mistaken about Rosanna, whose shoulder marked her out pretty plainly, poor thing--but mistaken the man must have been; for Rosanna, as you know, had been all the Thursday afternoon ill up-stairs in her room. Item the second came through the postman. In spite of his skin, the wet had got through him. He had caught a chill that night, and was now down with a fever.

The last accounts, brought by the postman, represented him to be light-headed--talking nonsense as glibly, poor man, in his delirium as he often talked it in his sober senses. We were all sorry for the little doctor; but Mr. It informed us that he had laid hands (by help of his friend, the Commissioner) on the right man to help us. It seems that he had heard some curious anecdotes about Sergeant Cuff, from his father’s lawyer, during his stay in London. “If half the stories I have heard are true, when it comes to unravelling a mystery, there isn’t the equal in England of Sergeant Cuff!” We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near for the appearance of this renowned and capable character. Superintendent Seegrave, returning to us at his appointed time, and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly shut himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make notes of the Report which would be certainly expected from him. But on Friday night he must be in town, having a Ladies’ Charity, in difficulties, waiting to consult him on Saturday morning.

He was dressed all in decent black, with a white cravat round his neck. His face was as sharp as a hatchet, and the skin of it was as yellow and dry and withered as an autumn leaf. A more complete opposite to Superintendent Seegrave than Sergeant Cuff, and a less comforting officer to look at, for a family in distress, I defy you to discover, search where you may. “Yes, sir.” “I am Sergeant Cuff.” “This way, sir, if you please.” On our road to the house, I mentioned my name and position in the family, to satisfy him that he might speak to me about the business on which my lady was to employ him.

While we were waiting, Sergeant Cuff looked through the evergreen arch on our left, spied out our rosery, and walked straight in, with the first appearance of anything like interest that he had shown yet. To the gardener’s astonishment, and to my disgust, this celebrated policeman proved to be quite a mine of learning on the trumpery subject of rose-gardens. “Ah, you’ve got the right exposure here to the south and sou’-west,” says the Sergeant, with a wag of his grizzled head, and a streak of pleasure in his melancholy voice. Yes, yes; with walks between all the beds. That’s a sweet pretty bed of white roses and blush roses. Here’s the white musk rose, Mr.

Betteredge--our old English rose holding up its head along with the best and the newest of them. Pretty dear!” says the Sergeant, fondling the Musk Rose with his lanky fingers, and speaking to it as if he was speaking to a child. This was a nice sort of man to recover Miss Rachel’s Diamond, and to find out the thief who stole it! Betteredge, the roses get it. “It seems an odd taste, sir,” I ventured to say, “for a man in your line of life.” “If you will look about you (which most people won’t do),” says Sergeant Cuff, “you will see that the nature of a man’s tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of a man’s business. Show me any two things more opposite one from the other than a rose and a thief; and I’ll correct my tastes accordingly--if it isn’t too late at my time of life. Is it Lady Verinder?” He had seen her before either I or the gardener had seen her, though we knew which way to look, and he didn’t. The Sergeant’s appearance, or the Sergeant’s errand--one or both--seemed to cause my lady some little embarrassment. She was, for the first time in all my experience of her, at a loss what to say at an interview with a stranger.

“Get her ladyship to try grass,” he said, with a sour look at the paths. Superintendent was excited, and Mr. “The Sergeant wishes to see Miss Verinder’s sitting-room,” says Mr. Seegrave, addressing me with great pomp and eagerness. I can’t affirm that he was on the watch for his brother officer’s speedy appearance in the character of an Ass--I can only say that I strongly suspected it. In due time, his course brought him to the door, and put him face to face with the decorative painting that you know of. “That’s a pity,” says Sergeant Cuff.

“How did it happen?” He put the question to me. Superintendent in his military way. The petticoats did it, Sergeant--the petticoats did it.” “Did you notice which petticoat did it?” asked Sergeant Cuff, still addressing himself, not to his brother-officer, but to me. Superintendent looked a little taken aback; but he made the best of it.

Seegrave, as he had looked at the gravel walks in the rosery, and gave us, in his melancholy way, the first taste of his quality which we had had yet. In all my experience along the dirtiest ways of this dirty little world, I have never met with such a thing as a trifle yet. It’s a question of Yes or No with the paint--which is short. It’s a question of petticoats with the women--which is long.

What o’clock was it when the servants were in this room yesterday morning? Franklin was as close at hand as could be--waiting for his first chance of being introduced to the great Cuff. In half a minute he was in the room, and was giving his evidence as follows: “That door, Sergeant,” he said, “has been painted by Miss Verinder, under my inspection, with my help, and in a vehicle of my own composition. The vehicle dries whatever colours may be used with it, in twelve hours.” “Do you remember when the smeared bit was done, sir?” asked the Sergeant. We wanted to get it done, on Wednesday last--and I myself completed it by three in the afternoon, or soon after.” “To-day is Friday,” said Sergeant Cuff, addressing himself to Superintendent Seegrave. At three on the Wednesday afternoon, that bit of the painting was completed. The vehicle dried it in twelve hours--that is to say, dried it by three o’clock on Thursday morning. Superintendent, when you supposed that the women-servants’ petticoats smeared it.” First knock-down blow for Mr. If he had not suspected poor Penelope, I should have pitied him. “It’s quite on the cards, sir,” he said, “that you have put the clue into our hands.” As the words passed his lips, the bedroom door opened, and Miss Rachel came out among us suddenly.

She addressed herself to the Sergeant, without appearing to notice (or to heed) that he was a perfect stranger to her. Franklin, “that HE had put the clue into your hands?” (“This is Miss Verinder,” I whispered, behind the Sergeant.) “That gentleman, miss,” says the Sergeant--with his steely-grey eyes carefully studying my young lady’s face--“has possibly put the clue into our hands.” She turned for one moment, and tried to look at Mr. With the paleness, there came a new look into her face--a look which it startled me to see. Do you happen to know when it was done? or who did it?” Instead of making any reply, Miss Rachel went on with her questions, as if he had not spoken, or as if she had not heard him. “I am Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the Detective Police.” “Do you think a young lady’s advice worth having?” “I shall be glad to hear it, miss.” “Do your duty by yourself--and don’t allow Mr Franklin Blake to help you!” She said those words so spitefully, so savagely, with such an extraordinary outbreak of ill-will towards Mr. Might you have done it by accident yourself?” “I know nothing about the smear.” With that answer, she turned away, and shut herself up again in her bed-room. “And now you see why.” “Miss Verinder appears to be a little out of temper about the loss of her Diamond,” remarked the Sergeant. “It’s a valuable jewel.

natural enough!” Here was the excuse that I had made for her (when she forgot herself before Superintendent Seegrave, on the previous day) being made for her over again, by a man who couldn’t have had MY interest in making it--for he was a perfect stranger!

“Let us forget what has passed, and go straight on with this business. The next thing to discover is when the paint was last seen without that smear. Franklin composed himself, and came back with an effort from Miss Rachel to the matter in hand. “The more we narrow the question of time, the more we also narrow the field of inquiry.” “That’s it, sir,” said the Sergeant. “Did you notice your work here, on the Wednesday afternoon, after you had done it?” Mr. “I can’t say I did either, sir.” “Who was the last person in the room, the last thing on Wednesday night?” “Miss Rachel, I suppose, sir.” Mr.

It’s very important to smooth them down again.

Tell your daughter, and tell the rest of them, these two things, with my compliments: First, that I have no evidence before me, yet, that the Diamond has been stolen; I only know that the Diamond has been lost. Second, that my business here with the servants is simply to ask them to lay their heads together and help me to find it.” My experience of the women-servants, when Superintendent Seegrave laid his embargo on their rooms, came in handy here. “Are they free (with your compliments) to fidget up and downstairs, and whisk in and out of their bed-rooms, if the fit takes them?” “Perfectly free,” said the Sergeant. “THAT will smooth them down, sir,” I remarked, “from the cook to the scullion.” “Go, and do it at once, Mr. Betteredge.” I did it in less than five minutes. There was only one difficulty when I came to the bit about the bed-rooms. It took a pretty stiff exertion of my authority, as chief, to prevent the whole of the female household from following me and Penelope up-stairs, in the character of volunteer witnesses in a burning fever of anxiety to help Sergeant Cuff. He became a trifle less dreary; and he looked much as he had looked when he noticed the white musk rose in the flower-garden. She gave it, I think, very prettily--but, there! Noticed the bit of work under the lock, because it was the last bit done.

Had seen it, some hours afterwards, without a smear. Had left it, as late as twelve at night, without a smear. Had, at that hour, wished her young lady good night in the bedroom; had heard the clock strike in the “boudoir”; had her hand at the time on the handle of the painted door; knew the paint was wet (having helped to mix the colours, as aforesaid); took particular pains not to touch it; could swear that she held up the skirts of her dress, and that there was no smear on the paint then; could not swear that her dress mightn’t have touched it accidentally in going out; remembered the dress she had on, because it was new, a present from Miss Rachel; her father remembered, and could speak to it, too; could, and would, and did fetch it; dress recognised by her father as the dress she wore that night; skirts examined, a long job from the size of them; not the ghost of a paint-stain discovered anywhere. The Sergeant’s next proceeding was to question me about any large dogs in the house who might have got into the room, and done the mischief with a whisk of their tails. All the signs visible--signs which told that the paint had been smeared by some loose article of somebody’s dress touching it in going by. Having brought his investigation to this point, Sergeant Cuff discovered that such a person as Superintendent Seegrave was still left in the room, upon which he summed up the proceedings for his brother-officer’s benefit, as follows: “This trifle of yours, Mr. Superintendent,” says the Sergeant, pointing to the place on the door, “has grown a little in importance since you noticed it last. At the present stage of the inquiry there are, as I take it, three discoveries to make, starting from that smear. Find out (first) whether there is any article of dress in this house with the smear of the paint on it. Hit hard by the celebrated Cuff, he hit back smartly, to the best of his ability, on leaving the room.

Superintendent, with his military voice still in good working order. Good morning.” “There is also such a thing as making nothing out of a molehill, in consequence of your head being too high to see it.” Having returned his brother-officer’s compliments in those terms, Sergeant Cuff wheeled about, and walked away to the window by himself. Franklin and I waited to see what was coming next. The Sergeant stood at the window with his hands in his pockets, looking out, and whistling the tune of “The Last Rose of Summer” softly to himself. Later in the proceedings, I discovered that he only forgot his manners so far as to whistle, when his mind was hard at work, seeing its way inch by inch to its own private ends, on which occasions “The Last Rose of Summer” evidently helped and encouraged him. I suppose it fitted in somehow with his character.

It reminded him, you see, of his favourite roses, and, as HE whistled it, it was the most melancholy tune going.

Turning from the window, after a minute or two, the Sergeant walked into the middle of the room, and stopped there, deep in thought, with his eyes on Miss Rachel’s bed-room door. After a little he roused himself, nodded his head, as much as to say, “That will do,” and, addressing me, asked for ten minutes’ conversation with my mistress, at her ladyship’s earliest convenience. Leaving the room with this message, I heard Mr. “Wait a little,” said the Sergeant. “The pieces of the puzzle are not all put together yet.” CHAPTER XIII I found my lady in her own sitting room. “Can’t you represent me, Gabriel?” I felt at a loss to understand this, and showed it plainly, I suppose, in my face. “I am afraid my nerves are a little shaken,” she said.

I have a presentiment that he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. Very foolish, and very unlike ME--but so it is.” I hardly knew what to say to this. My lady rallied a little after having opened her heart to me--being, naturally, a woman of a high courage, as I have already told you. She was so good as to add, that I was her trusted adviser, as well as her old servant, and that in anything which related to the household I was the person whom it might be most profitable to consult. The Sergeant politely answered that he would take my presence as a favour, having something to say about the servants in general, and having found my experience in that quarter already of some use to him. My business now is to mention what I have discovered upstairs in Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, and what I have decided (with your ladyship’s leave) on doing next.” He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated the conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them (only with greater respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave. The discovery of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it.” Her ladyship looked at me. “Sergeant Cuff understands it, my lady,” I answered. “My good servants, who have been with me for years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their boxes and rooms searched already by the other officer.

I can’t and won’t permit them to be insulted in that way a second time!” (There was a mistress to serve! I quite agree with you, my lady, that the servants’ feelings ought to be consulted. “I have got a plan to meet the difficulty,” said Sergeant Cuff, “if your ladyship will consent to it. It’s a mere formality,” he added, with a side look at my mistress; “but the servants will accept it as even dealing between them and their betters; and, instead of hindering the investigation, they will make a point of honour of assisting it.” I saw the truth of that. My lady, after her first surprise was over, saw the truth of it also. “It’s the shortest way that I can see, my lady, to the end we have in view.” My mistress rose to ring the bell for her maid. “You shall speak to the servants,” she said, “with the keys of my wardrobe in your hand.” Sergeant Cuff stopped her by a very unexpected question. “Hadn’t we better make sure first,” he asked, “that the other ladies and gentlemen in the house will consent, too?” “The only other lady in the house is Miss Verinder,” answered my mistress, with a look of surprise. Ablewhite. Franklin, who was going with him to the station.

Godfrey settled it directly. “My luggage can follow me to London,” he said, “when the inquiry is over.” The Sergeant received the key with a becoming apology. “I am sorry to put you to any inconvenience, sir, for a mere formality; but the example of their betters will do wonders in reconciling the servants to this inquiry.” Mr. Godfrey, after taking leave of my lady, in a most sympathising manner, left a farewell message for Miss Rachel, the terms of which made it clear to my mind that he had not taken No for an answer, and that he meant to put the marriage question to her once more, at the next opportunity. His views, you will observe, had been met with the utmost readiness by my lady, by Mr. If there is an article missing, there will be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on it, and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday or to-day, by the person owning it. She remained with us until it was produced, in case Sergeant Cuff had any further request to make of her after looking at it. The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it perfectly in half a minute, and shut it up again.

“I venture to trouble your ladyship with one last question,” he said. “The last time I saw her,” answered the Sergeant, “she was in prison for theft.” After that, there was no help for it, but to tell him the truth. The Sergeant was before-hand with me in opening the door for her. We waited, and waited, and no keys appeared.

At last, Samuel came in, not with the keys, but with a morsel of paper for me. I got at my spectacles, with some fumbling and difficulty, feeling the Sergeant’s dismal eyes fixed on me all the time. There were two or three lines on the paper, written in pencil by my lady. I must yield to force if you use it, but I will yield to nothing else.” I understood my lady’s disinclination to face Sergeant Cuff with such an answer from her daughter as that. His voice was not quite in such a perfect state of discipline as his face. When he said “Ah!” he said it in the tone of a man who had heard something which he expected to hear. He half angered and half frightened me--why, I couldn’t tell, but he did it. “Yes,” said the Sergeant, “the search must be given up, because your young lady refuses to submit to it like the rest. Ablewhite’s portmanteau to London by the next train, and return the washing-book, with my compliments and thanks, to the young woman who brought it in.” He laid the washing-book on the table, and taking out his penknife, began to trim his nails.

“Isn’t it her interest to help you?” “Wait a little, Mr. Betteredge--wait a little.” Cleverer heads than mine might have seen his drift. My lady’s horror of him might (as I have since thought) have meant that she saw his drift (as the scripture says) “in a glass darkly.” I didn’t see it yet--that’s all I know. Sergeant Cuff finished the nail on which he was then at work, looked at it for a moment with a melancholy interest, and put up his penknife. “Come out into the garden,” he said, “and let’s have a look at the roses.” CHAPTER XIV The nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady’s sitting-room, was by the shrubbery path, which you already know of. Franklin’s favourite walk. “As things are now,” I said, “if I was in your place, I should be at my wits’ end.” “If you were in my place,” answered the Sergeant, “you would have formed an opinion--and, as things are now, any doubt you might previously have felt about your own conclusions would be completely set at rest.

You might have given it to me no doubt, in the house, instead of out of it. I gave in--and waited as patiently as I could to hear what was coming next. “We won’t enter into your young lady’s motives,” the Sergeant went on; “we will only say it’s a pity she declines to assist me, because, by so doing, she makes this investigation more difficult than it might otherwise have been. We must now try to solve the mystery of the smear on the door--which, you may take my word for it, means the mystery of the Diamond also--in some other way. Any one of them not in his or her usual spirits? “It isn’t very likely, with her personal appearance, that she has got a lover. But, for the girl’s own sake, I must ask you at once whether SHE has provided herself with a sweetheart, poor wretch, like the rest of them?” What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances, by putting such a question to me as that? If there isn’t--as things are in this house--the hiding is a highly suspicious circumstance, and it will be my painful duty to act on it accordingly.” What, in God’s name, was I to say to him? Franklin’s favourite walk; I knew he would most likely turn that way when he came back from the station; I knew that Penelope had over and over again caught her fellow-servant hanging about there, and had always declared to me that Rosanna’s object was to attract Mr.

If my daughter was right, she might well have been lying in wait for Mr. I was put between the two difficulties of mentioning Penelope’s fanciful notion as if it was mine, or of leaving an unfortunate creature to suffer the consequences, the very serious consequences, of exciting the suspicion of Sergeant Cuff. Out of pure pity for the girl--on my soul and my character, out of pure pity for the girl--I gave the Sergeant the necessary explanations, and told him that Rosanna had been mad enough to set her heart on Mr. On the few occasions when anything amused him, he curled up a little at the corners of the lips, nothing more. “The falling in love with a gentleman of Mr. However, I’m glad the thing is cleared up: it relieves one’s mind to have things cleared up. Yes, I’ll keep it a secret, Mr. I like to be tender to human infirmity--though I don’t get many chances of exercising that virtue in my line of life.

he would have found it out fast enough if she had been nice-looking. The ugly women have a bad time of it in this world; let’s hope it will be made up to them in another. See for yourself how much better the flowers look with grass about them instead of gravel. It goes to my heart to break them off the stem. Just as it goes to your heart, you know, when there’s something wrong in the servants’ hall. Did you notice anything you couldn’t account for in any of the servants when the loss of the Diamond was first found out?” I had got on very fairly well with Sergeant Cuff so far. But the slyness with which he slipped in that last question put me on my guard.

In plain English, I didn’t at all relish the notion of helping his inquiries, when those inquiries took him (in the capacity of snake in the grass) among my fellow-servants. “I noticed nothing,” I said, “except that we all lost our heads together, myself included.” “Oh,” says the Sergeant, “that’s all you have to tell me, is it?” I answered, with (as I flattered myself) an unmoved countenance, “That is all.” Sergeant Cuff’s dismal eyes looked me hard in the face. I felt a little proud--I really did feel a little proud of having been one too many at last for the celebrated Cuff!) We went back to the house; the Sergeant requesting that I would give him a room to himself, and then send in the servants (the indoor servants only), one after another, in the order of their rank, from first to last. Report, on coming out: “Sergeant Cuff is depressed in his spirits; but Sergeant Cuff is a perfect gentleman.” My lady’s own maid followed.

Report, on coming out: “Sergeant Cuff is much to be pitied. Report, on coming out: “Whoever blacks Sergeant Cuff’s boots ought to be ashamed of himself.” Nancy, the kitchen-maid, went last. Betteredge, with a poor hard-working girl.” Going into the Court of Justice, when it was all over, to hear if there were any further commands for me, I found the Sergeant at his old trick--looking out of window, and whistling “The Last Rose of Summer” to himself. It was plain enough; the unfortunate girl had fallen under Sergeant Cuff’s suspicions, in spite of all I could do to prevent it. It was rather a relief to me that we were interrupted here by a knock at the door, and a message from the cook.

Left alone, under those circumstances, a devouring curiosity pushed me on to make some discoveries for myself.

It was plain that Sergeant Cuff’s suspicions of Rosanna had been roused by something that he had found out at his examination of the servants in my room. Reaching these conclusions, I looked in on them, casually as it might be, in the servants’ hall, and, finding tea going forward, instantly invited myself to that meal. My lady’s maid and the housemaid, had, it appeared, neither of them believed in Rosanna’s illness of the previous day. These two devils--I ask your pardon; but how else CAN you describe a couple of spiteful women?--had stolen up-stairs, at intervals during the Thursday afternoon; had tried Rosanna’s door, and found it locked; had knocked, and not been answered; had listened, and not heard a sound inside.

When the girl had come down to tea, and had been sent up, still out of sorts, to bed again, the two devils aforesaid had tried her door once more, and found it locked; had looked at the keyhole, and found it stopped up; had seen a light under the door at midnight, and had heard the crackling of a fire (a fire in a servant’s bed-room in the month of June!) at four in the morning. All this they had told Sergeant Cuff, who, in return for their anxiety to enlighten him, had eyed them with sour and suspicious looks, and had shown them plainly that he didn’t believe either one or the other. Hence, the unfavourable reports of him which these two women had brought out with them from the examination. Hence, also (without reckoning the influence of the tea-pot), their readiness to let their tongues run to any length on the subject of the Sergeant’s ungracious behaviour to them. Having had some experience of the great Cuff’s round-about ways, and having last seen him evidently bent on following Rosanna privately when she went out for her walk, it seemed clear to me that he had thought it unadvisable to let the lady’s maid and the housemaid know how materially they had helped him. They were just the sort of women, if he had treated their evidence as trustworthy, to have been puffed up by it, and to have said or done something which would have put Rosanna Spearman on her guard. After returning from seeing his cousin off at the station, he had been with my lady, holding a long conversation with her. She had told him of Miss Rachel’s unaccountable refusal to let her wardrobe be examined; and had put him in such low spirits about my young lady that he seemed to shrink from speaking on the subject. “Well, Betteredge,” he said, “how does the atmosphere of mystery and suspicion in which we are all living now, agree with you? Do you remember that morning when I first came here with the Moonstone?

I wish to God we had thrown it into the quicksand!” After breaking out in that way, he abstained from speaking again until he had composed himself. It was impossible to put Mr. Franklin off with the excuse of the Sergeant being in my room, composing his mind. “Didn’t you tell me this morning,” he said, “that one of the tradespeople declared he had met Rosanna yesterday, on the footway to Frizinghall, when we supposed her to be ill in her room?” “Yes, sir.” “If my aunt’s maid and the other woman have spoken the truth, you may depend upon it the tradesman did meet her. The paint-stained dress is a dress of hers; and the fire heard crackling in her room at four in the morning was a fire lit to destroy it. We both turned about, and found ourselves face to face with Sergeant Cuff. Franklin said those words with a sudden heat and vehemence, as if the Sergeant had mortally offended him.

“Do you think it’s wise, sir,” said Sergeant Cuff, quietly, “to put such a question as that to me--at such a time as this?” There was a moment’s silence between them: Mr. Franklin spoke first, dropping his voice as suddenly as he had raised it. Cuff,” he said, “that you are treading on delicate ground?” “It isn’t the first time, by a good many hundreds, that I find myself treading on delicate ground,” answered the other, as immovable as ever. “I am to understand that you forbid me to tell my aunt what has happened?” “You are to understand, if you please, sir, that I throw up the case, if you tell Lady Verinder, or tell anybody, what has happened, until I give you leave.” That settled it. Franklin had no choice but to submit. Second, that they thoroughly understood each other, without having previously exchanged a word of explanation on either side. You have done a little detective business on your own account. For the future, perhaps you will be so obliging as to do your detective business along with me.” He took me by the arm, and walked me away with him along the road by which he had come.

Thief or no thief, legal or not legal, I don’t care--I pitied her. “Only a little information about the country round here,” said the Sergeant. “Yes,” I said, “there is a path.” “Show it to me.” Side by side, in the grey of the summer evening, Sergeant Cuff and I set forth for the Shivering Sand. You are determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman, because she has been a good girl to YOU, and because you pity her heartily. Those humane considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away.

Rosanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble--no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond, on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!” “Do you mean that my lady won’t prosecute?” I asked. Betteredge?” “No.” Sergeant Cuff stood stock still, and surveyed me with a look of melancholy interest. “It’s always a pleasure to me to be tender towards human infirmity,” he said. And you, with the same excellent motive, feel particularly tender towards Rosanna Spearman, don’t you? Do you happen to know whether she has had a new outfit of linen lately?” What he meant by slipping in this extraordinary question unawares, I was at a total loss to imagine. Seeing no possible injury to Rosanna if I owned the truth, I answered that the girl had come to us rather sparely provided with linen, and that my lady, in recompense for her good conduct (I laid a stress on her good conduct), had given her a new outfit not a fortnight since.

Betteredge, is a sort of target--misfortune is always firing at it, and always hitting the mark. But for that outfit, we should have discovered a new nightgown or petticoat among Rosanna’s things, and have nailed her in that way. Oh dear me, it’s as plain as that strip of light there, at the end of the trees. At eleven, on Thursday morning, Superintendent Seegrave (who is a mass of human infirmity) points out to all the women servants the smear on the door.

Rosanna has her own reasons for suspecting her own things; she takes the first opportunity of getting to her room, finds the paint-stain on her night-gown, or petticoat, or what not, shams ill and slips away to the town, gets the materials for making a new petticoat or nightgown, makes it alone in her room on the Thursday night lights a fire (not to destroy it; two of her fellow-servants are prying outside her door, and she knows better than to make a smell of burning, and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of)--lights a fire, I say, to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out, keeps the stained dress hidden (probably ON her), and is at this moment occupied in making away with it, in some convenient place, on that lonely bit of beach ahead of us. I have traced her this evening to your fishing village, and to one particular cottage, which we may possibly have to visit, before we go back. She stopped in the cottage for some time, and she came out with (as I believe) something hidden under her cloak. A cloak (on a woman’s back) is an emblem of charity--it covers a multitude of sins. “Looking at it from my point of view, I never saw a marine landscape that I admired less. I had to choose between taking Rosanna in custody on suspicion, or leaving her, for the time being, with her little game in her own hands. For reasons which I won’t trouble you with, I decided on making any sacrifice rather than give the alarm as soon as to-night to a certain person who shall be nameless between us. Sand--in respect of its printing off people’s footsteps--is one of the best detective officers I know.

If we don’t meet with Rosanna Spearman by coming round on her in this way, the sand may tell us what she has been at, if the light only lasts long enough. If you will excuse my suggesting it--suppose you hold your tongue, and let me go first?” If there is such a thing known at the doctor’s shop as a DETECTIVE-FEVER, that disease had now got fast hold of your humble servant. I followed him (with my heart in my mouth); and waited at a little distance for what was to happen next. As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the same place where Rosanna Spearman and I had been talking together when Mr. While my eyes were watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite of me to what had passed, on that former occasion, between Rosanna and me. I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her hand again into mine, and give it a little grateful squeeze to thank me for speaking kindly to her. I declare I almost heard her voice telling me again that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her own will, whenever she went out--almost saw her face brighten again, as it brightened when she first set eyes upon Mr. My spirits fell lower and lower as I thought of these things--and the view of the lonesome little bay, when I looked about to rouse myself, only served to make me feel more uneasy still. The inner sea lay lost and dim, without a breath of wind to stir it.

Patches of nasty ooze floated, yellow-white, on the dead surface of the water. Scum and slime shone faintly in certain places, where the last of the light still caught them on the two great spits of rock jutting out, north and south, into the sea. It was now the time of the turn of the tide: and even as I stood there waiting, the broad brown face of the quicksand began to dimple and quiver--the only moving thing in all the horrid place.

After looking at it for a minute or so, he turned and came back to me. And can we get to it--now it’s low water--by the beach?” I answered, “Yes,” to both those questions. “If you’ll excuse my suggesting it, we’ll step out briskly,” said the Sergeant. “I want to find the place where she left the shore, before it gets dark.” We had walked, I should say, a couple of hundred yards towards Cobb’s Hole, when Sergeant Cuff suddenly went down on his knees on the beach, to all appearance seized with a sudden frenzy for saying his prayers. Here’s one footstep going FROM Cobb’s Hole; and here is another going back to it. It looks as if she had determined to get to that place you and I have just come from, without leaving any marks on the sand to trace her by.

It seems to fit in with my notion that she had something under her cloak, when she left the cottage. and how much of that rarity you possess! If I go with you, I go introduced by a justly respected neighbour, and a flow of conversation is the necessary result. It strikes me in that light; how does it strike you?” Not having an answer of the needful smartness as ready as I could have wished, I tried to gain time by asking him what cottage he wanted to go to. On the Sergeant describing the place, I recognised it as a cottage inhabited by a fisherman named Yolland, with his wife and two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. If you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting Rosanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her as occasionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand, by a visit to some friends of hers at Cobb’s Hole. Those friends were the Yollands--respectable, worthy people, a credit to the neighbourhood. Rosanna’s acquaintance with them had begun by means of the daughter, who was afflicted with a misshapen foot, and who was known in our parts by the name of Limping Lucy. The fact of Sergeant Cuff having traced the girl to THEIR cottage, set the matter of my helping his inquiries in quite a new light. Rosanna had merely gone where she was in the habit of going; and to show that she had been in company with the fisherman and his family was as good as to prove that she had been innocently occupied so far, at any rate.

It would be doing the girl a service, therefore, instead of an injury, if I allowed myself to be convinced by Sergeant Cuff’s logic. I professed myself convinced by it accordingly. Yolland received us alone in her kitchen. I sat quiet in a corner, waiting to hear how the Sergeant would find his way to the subject of Rosanna Spearman. How he managed it is more than I could tell at the time, and more than I can tell now. But this is certain, he began with the Royal Family, the Primitive Methodists, and the price of fish; and he got from that (in his dismal, underground way) to the loss of the Moonstone, the spitefulness of our first house-maid, and the hard behaviour of the women-servants generally towards Rosanna Spearman. Having reached his subject in this fashion, he described himself as making his inquiries about the lost Diamond, partly with a view to find it, and partly for the purpose of clearing Rosanna from the unjust suspicions of her enemies in the house. In about a quarter of an hour from the time when we entered the kitchen, good Mrs. Yolland was persuaded that she was talking to Rosanna’s best friend, and was pressing Sergeant Cuff to comfort his stomach and revive his spirits out of the Dutch bottle.

The great Cuff showed a wonderful patience; trying his luck drearily this way and that way, and firing shot after shot, as it were, at random, on the chance of hitting the mark. Everything to Rosanna’s credit, nothing to Rosanna’s prejudice--that was how it ended, try as he might; with Mrs. she will never get on in her present place; and my advice to her is--leave it.” “Bless your heart alive! she is GOING to leave it!” cries Mrs. It seemed strange, to say the least of it, that she should have given no warning, in the first place, to my lady or to me. A certain doubt came up in my mind whether Sergeant Cuff’s last random shot might not have hit the mark.

I began to question whether my share in the proceedings was quite as harmless a one as I had thought it. It might be all in the way of the Sergeant’s business to mystify an honest woman by wrapping her round in a network of lies but it was my duty to have remembered, as a good Protestant, that the father of lies is the Devil--and that mischief and the Devil are never far apart. He sat down again instantly, and asked for a little drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle. Mrs Yolland sat down opposite to him, and gave him his nip. “She came in here, as I told you, this evening; and, after sitting and talking a little with my girl Lucy and me she asked to go up-stairs by herself, into Lucy’s room. It’s the only room in our place where there’s pen and ink. ‘I want to write a letter to a friend,’ she says ‘and I can’t do it for the prying and peeping of the servants up at the house.’ Who the letter was written to I can’t tell you: it must have been a mortal long one, judging by the time she stopped up-stairs over it. A little close, poor soul (as you know), about herself and her doings. But a friend she has got somewhere, I can tell you; and to that friend you may depend upon it, she will go.” “Soon?” asked the Sergeant. As chief of my lady’s establishment, I couldn’t allow this sort of loose talk about a servant of ours going, or not going, to proceed any longer in my presence, without noticing it.

“If she had been going to leave her present situation, she would have mentioned it, in the first place, to me.” “Mistaken?” cries Mrs. And that reminds me,” says the wearisome woman, suddenly beginning to feel in her pocket, “of something I have got it on my mind to say about Rosanna and her money. Are you either of you likely to see her when you go back to the house?” “I’ll take a message to the poor thing, with the greatest pleasure,” answered Sergeant Cuff, before I could put in a word edgewise. Yolland produced out of her pocket, a few shillings and sixpences, and counted them out with a most particular and exasperating carefulness in the palm of her hand. She offered the money to the Sergeant, looking mighty loth to part with it all the while. “Might I ask you to give this back to Rosanna, with my love and respects?” says Mrs. “She insisted on paying me for the one or two things she took a fancy to this evening--and money’s welcome enough in our house, I don’t deny it. Still, I’m not easy in my mind about taking the poor thing’s little savings.

Yolland, putting it down suddenly before the Sergeant, as if it burnt her fingers--“don’t, there’s a good man! For times are hard, and flesh is weak; and I MIGHT feel tempted to put it back in my pocket again.” “Come along!” I said, “I can’t wait any longer: I must go back to the house.” “I’ll follow you directly,” says Sergeant Cuff.

“It’s a delicate matter, ma’am,” I heard the Sergeant say, “giving money back. “Come and judge for yourself.” She took up the candle and led the Sergeant to a corner of the kitchen. Yolland dived into this rubbish, and brought up an old japanned tin case, with a cover to it, and a hasp to hang it up by--the sort of thing they use, on board ship, for keeping their maps and charts, and such-like, from the wet. ‘It will just do,’ she says, ‘to put my cuffs and collars in, and keep them from being crumpled in my box.’ One and ninepence, Mr. As I live by bread, not a halfpenny more!” “Dirt cheap!” says the Sergeant, with a heavy sigh. I thought I heard a note or two of “The Last Rose of Summer” as he looked at it. “We really must go.” Without paying the least attention to me, Mrs. Yolland took another dive into the rubbish, and came up out of it, this time, with a dog-chain. “Weigh it in your hand, sir,” she said to the Sergeant. ‘What can you want, my dear, with a couple of dog’s chains?’ says I.

‘Who ever heard of a box corded with chain,’ says I. Cuff--good as gold, and kinder than a sister to my Lucy--but always a little strange. Yolland, getting back sideways to the little heap of silver on the table, as if it drew her in spite of herself. With my love and respects--and I can’t find it in my conscience to take a poor girl’s savings, when she may want them herself.” “I can’t find it in MY conscience, ma’am, to give the money back,” says Sergeant Cuff. “There can’t be a doubt about it,” answered the Sergeant.

Betteredge.” It was no use asking ME.

With these words, she appeared to lose all command over herself; and, making a sudden snatch at the heap of silver, put it back, holus-bolus, in her pocket. “It upsets one’s temper, it does, to see it lying there, and nobody taking it,” cries this unreasonable woman, sitting down with a thump, and looking at Sergeant Cuff, as much as to say, “It’s in my pocket again now--get it out if you can!” This time, I not only went to the door, but went fairly out on the road back. Explain it how you may, I felt as if one or both of them had mortally offended me. Yolland has puzzled me.” It was on the tip of my tongue to have given him a sharp answer, for no better reason than this--that I was out of temper with him, because I was out of temper with myself. I waited in discreet silence to hear more. “Instead of putting me on the scent, it may console you to know, Mr. Betteredge (with your interest in Rosanna), that you have been the means of throwing me off. And she will leave the case secure at its anchorage till the present proceedings have come to an end; after which she can privately pull it up again out of its hiding-place, at her own leisure and convenience. But,” says the Sergeant, with the first tone of impatience in his voice that I had heard yet, “the mystery is--what the devil has she hidden in the tin case?” I thought to myself, “The Moonstone!” But I only said to Sergeant Cuff, “Can’t you guess?” “It’s not the Diamond,” says the Sergeant.

“Light or heavy whatever goes into the Shivering Sand is sucked down, and seen no more.” “Does Rosanna Spearman know that?” “She knows it as well as I do.” “Then,” says the Sergeant, “what on earth has she got to do but to tie up a bit of stone in the stained dress and throw it into the quicksand? There isn’t the shadow of a reason why she should have hidden it--and yet she must have hidden it.

or is it something else which there is a reason for preserving at any risk? Betteredge, if nothing occurs to prevent it, I must go to Frizinghall to-morrow, and discover what she bought in the town, when she privately got the materials for making the substitute dress. It’s a risk to leave the house, as things are now--but it’s a worse risk still to stir another step in this matter in the dark. Excuse my being a little out of temper; I’m degraded in my own estimation--I have let Rosanna Spearman puzzle me.” When we got back, the servants were at supper.

She had gone up-stairs to take off her bonnet and cloak--and she was now at supper quietly with the rest. Without making any remark, Sergeant Cuff walked on, sinking lower and lower in his own estimation, to the back of the house. Missing the entrance in the dark, he went on (in spite of my calling to him) till he was stopped by a wicket-gate which led into the garden. I replied that it was, and invited him to go in with me to supper. And my young lady’s window was at the bottom of it this time! The latter reflection took me back again to the Sergeant, with a polite intimation that I could not find it in my heart to leave him by himself. If I won on that event, I should offer to lay another sovereign, that the idea has occurred to her within the last hour.” The first of the Sergeant’s guesses startled me.

The second mixed itself up somehow in my head with the report we had heard from the policeman, that Rosanna Spearman had returned from the sands with in the last hour. “Her ladyship is waiting to see you and Sergeant Cuff,” he said, before I could put any questions to him. “How long has she been waiting?” asked the Sergeant’s voice behind me. “For the last hour, sir.” There it was again! Rosanna had come back; Miss Rachel had taken some resolution out of the common; and my lady had been waiting to see the Sergeant--all within the last hour! It was not pleasant to find these very different persons and things linking themselves together in this way. I went on upstairs, without looking at Sergeant Cuff, or speaking to him. My hand took a sudden fit of trembling as I lifted it to knock at my mistress’s door. CHAPTER XVI We found my lady with no light in the room but the reading-lamp.

“Officer,” she said, “is it important to the inquiry you are conducting, to know beforehand if any person now in this house wishes to leave it?” “Most important, my lady.” “I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes going to stay with her aunt, Mrs. Ablewhite, of Frizinghall. I made a step forward to speak to my mistress--and, feeling my heart fail me (if I must own it), took a step back again, and said nothing.

My heart couldn’t have thumped much harder than it did now, if I had been five-and-twenty again! If Miss Verinder is surprised at this change in the arrangements, please not to mention Me as being the cause of putting off her journey.” My mistress lifted her head suddenly from her book as if she was going to say something--checked herself by a great effort--and, looking back again at the open page, dismissed us with a sign of her hand. “Damn you!” I cried out, “there’s something wrong about Miss Rachel--and you have been hiding it from me all this time!” Sergeant Cuff looked up at me--flat against the wall--without stirring a hand, or moving a muscle of his melancholy face. “Ah,” he said, “you’ve guessed it at last.” My hand dropped from his collar, and my head sunk on my breast. Miss Rachel, with all her faults, had been, to my mind, the dearest and prettiest and best young mistress that ever an old servant waited on, and loved.

I begged Sergeant’s Cuff’s pardon, but I am afraid I did it with watery eyes, and not in a very becoming way. Betteredge,” says the Sergeant, with more kindness than I had any right to expect from him. If it’s any comfort to you, collar me again. You don’t in the least know how to do it; but I’ll overlook your awkwardness in consideration of your feelings.” He curled up at the corners of his lips, and, in his own dreary way, seemed to think he had delivered himself of a very good joke. I led him into my own little sitting-room, and closed the door.

It’s no kindness to hide it from me now.” “I don’t suspect,” said Sergeant Cuff. If it’s any vent to your feelings, collar me again.” God help me! “If Miss Verinder refuses to put off her visit to her aunt (which you will find Miss Verinder will do), I shall be obliged to lay the whole case before your mistress to-morrow. And, as I don’t know what may come of it, I shall request you to be present, and to hear what passes on both sides. That’s one of the many human infirmities which I always treat tenderly. ‘For what we are going to receive----’” “I wish you a good appetite to it, Sergeant,” I said.

“My appetite is gone. I’ll wait and see you served, and then I’ll ask you to excuse me, if I go away, and try to get the better of this by myself.” I saw him served with the best of everything--and I shouldn’t have been sorry if the best of everything had choked him. Begbie) came in at the same time, with his weekly account. The Sergeant got on the subject of roses and the merits of grass walks and gravel walks immediately. I left the two together, and went out with a heavy heart. Being restless and miserable, and having no particular room to go to, I took a turn on the terrace, and thought it over in peace and quietness by myself. It doesn’t much matter what my thoughts were. I felt wretchedly old, and worn out, and unfit for my place--and began to wonder, for the first time in my life, when it would please God to take me. With all this, I held firm, notwithstanding, to my belief in Miss Rachel.

If Sergeant Cuff had been Solomon in all his glory, and had told me that my young lady had mixed herself up in a mean and guilty plot, I should have had but one answer for Solomon, wise as he was, “You don’t know her; and I do.” My meditations were interrupted by Samuel. He brought me a written message from my mistress. Going into the house to get a light to read it by, Samuel remarked that there seemed a change coming in the weather. My troubled mind had prevented me from noticing it before. The message from my lady informed me, that the magistrate at Frizinghall had written to remind her about the three Indians.

I found Sergeant Cuff and the gardener, with a bottle of Scotch whisky between them, head over ears in an argument on the growing of roses. As far as I could understand it, the question between them was, whether the white moss rose did, or did not, require to be budded on the dog-rose to make it grow well. “Gentlemen,” I remarked, “there is much to be said on both sides.” In the temporary lull produced by that impartial sentence, I laid my lady’s written message on the table, under the eyes of Sergeant Cuff. In half a minute after he had read the message, he had looked back into his memory for Superintendent Seegrave’s report; had picked out that part of it in which the Indians were concerned; and was ready with his answer. Would I write them on the back of my lady’s message? “Do you expect anything to come of it?” I asked. “It may be worth while to find out to-morrow whether Superintendent Seegrave was wrong about the Indians as well.” With that he turned to Mr. Begbie, and took up the argument again exactly at the place where it had left off. Now let me put it to you from another point of view. You take your white moss rose----” By that time, I had closed the door on them, and was out of hearing of the rest of the dispute.

In the passage, I met Penelope hanging about, and asked what she was waiting for. She was waiting for her young lady’s bell, when her young lady chose to call her back to go on with the packing for the next day’s journey. Further inquiry revealed to me, that Miss Rachel had given it as a reason for wanting to go to her aunt at Frizinghall, that the house was unendurable to her, and that she could bear the odious presence of a policeman under the same roof with herself no longer. My girl was in wretchedly low spirits about the changed state of things in the house. “Nothing goes right, father; nothing is like what it used to be. But I put a good face on it, before my daughter. Penelope ran up the back stairs to go on with the packing. Just as I approached the swing-door leading into the hall from the servants’ offices, it was violently opened from the other side, and Rosanna Spearman ran by me, with a miserable look of pain in her face, and one of her hands pressed hard over her heart, as if the pang was in that quarter.

I called to the cook (who was within hearing) to look after the poor girl. Two other persons proved to be within hearing, as well as the cook.

“She has just passed me, sir, with a very disturbed face, and in a very odd manner.” “I am afraid I am innocently the cause of that disturbance, Betteredge.” “You, sir!” “I can’t explain it,” says Mr. Franklin; “but, if the girl IS concerned in the loss of the Diamond, I do really believe she was on the point of confessing everything--to me, of all the people in the world--not two minutes since.” Looking towards the swing-door, as he said those last words, I fancied I saw it opened a little way from the inner side. The door fell to, before I could get to it. Under those circumstances, it was quite in his character to help himself, and to do it by the underground way. I confess it made me uncomfortable. I had no wish to invite the girl’s confidence. It was an awkward position; and I dare say I got out of it awkwardly enough.

I said to her, ‘I don’t quite understand you. As it turned out, I only made matters worse still. I’m afraid I mortified her without meaning it!

I am not quite easy about it, Betteredge. I have been a little hard on her, perhaps, in my own thoughts--I have almost hoped that the loss of the Diamond might be traced to her. After what had passed between the Sergeant and me, I knew what it was that he had left unspoken as well as he knew it himself. It was no longer a question of quieting my young lady’s nervous excitement; it was a question of proving her innocence. Franklin’s way of looking at the matter was neither unnatural nor unreasonable, in Mr. Franklin’s position. “But there is just a chance--a very poor one, certainly--that Rosanna’s conduct may admit of some explanation which we don’t see at present.

And if she wants to speak to me--I don’t care whether I get into a scrape or not--send her to me in the library.” With those kind words he laid down the cue and left me. She had declined all offers of assistance with thanks, and had only asked to be left to rest in quiet. I was putting the lights out, and making the windows fast, when Samuel came in with news of the two guests whom I had left in my room. The argument about the white moss rose had apparently come to an end at last. Quite true--nothing was to be discovered there but a couple of empty tumblers and a strong smell of hot grog. My left-hand side led to the corridor which communicated with Miss Rachel’s room. I looked in, and there, coiled up on three chairs placed right across the passage--there, with a red handkerchief tied round his grizzled head, and his respectable black coat rolled up for a pillow, lay and slept Sergeant Cuff! “And mind, if you ever take to growing roses, the white moss rose is all the better for not being budded on the dog-rose, whatever the gardener may say to the contrary!” “What are you doing here?” I asked. Whatever Rosanna may have hidden, it’s clear to my mind that your young lady couldn’t go away until she knew that it WAS hidden. If they try to communicate again, when the house is quiet, I want to be in the way, and stop it.

Betteredge--blame the Diamond.” “I wish to God the Diamond had never found its way into this house!” I broke out. Sergeant Cuff looked with a rueful face at the three chairs on which he had condemned himself to pass the night. He waited about, however, as if he had something else to do first. Franklin on his favourite walk by the shrubbery side. “Have you anything to say to me?” was all the return he got for politely wishing Mr. Naturally enough, in your position, you are shocked and distressed. Naturally enough, also, you visit your own angry sense of your own family scandal upon Me.” “What do you want?” Mr. Under these circumstances, is it, or is it not, your duty as a good citizen, to assist me with any special information which you may happen to possess?” “I possess no special information,” says Mr. Franklin was not alone, Rosanna came to a standstill, evidently in great perplexity what to do next. Penelope waited behind her.

The Sergeant, with his devilish cunning, took on not to have noticed them at all. Before either Mr. Franklin or I could say a word, Sergeant Cuff struck in smoothly, with an appearance of continuing the previous conversation. “On the contrary, I recommend you to honour me with your confidence, if you feel any interest in Rosanna Spearman.” Mr. Franklin instantly took on not to have noticed the girls either. The breakfast-bell rang as the two girls disappeared--and even Sergeant Cuff was now obliged to give it up as a bad job!

Betteredge; and I shall be back before two.” He went his way without a word more--and for some few hours we were well rid of him. “You must make it right with Rosanna,” Mr.

If he could confuse ME, or irritate HER into breaking out, either she or I might have said something which would answer his purpose. On the spur of the moment, I saw no better way out of it than the way I took. It stopped the girl from saying anything, and it showed the Sergeant that I saw through him. He had remembered my telling him that the girl was in love with Mr. Prying, and peeping, and listening are the natural occupations of people situated as we are. Franklin, we shall all be struck dumb together--for this reason, that we shall all be listening to surprise each other’s secrets, and all know it.

I’ll take the first opportunity of making it right with Rosanna Spearman.” “You haven’t said anything to her yet about last night, have you?” Mr. I had better not invite the girl’s confidence, with the Sergeant on the look-out to surprise us together. My conduct is not very consistent, Betteredge--is it? But it was my state of mind as well. The state of things, indoors and out, while Sergeant Cuff was on his way to Frizinghall, was briefly this: Miss Rachel waited for the time when the carriage was to take her to her aunt’s, still obstinately shut up in her own room.

Franklin took one of his sudden resolutions, and went out precipitately to quiet his mind by a long walk.

It was blowing fresh, as the day got on.

It was not a bad day for a walk, if you were young and strong, and could breast the great gusts of wind which came sweeping in from the sea. She only once alluded to the matter of the Moonstone, and that was in the way of forbidding any present mention of it between us. “Wait till that man comes back,” she said, meaning the Sergeant. “We MUST speak of it then: we are not obliged to speak of it now.” After leaving my mistress, I found Penelope waiting for me in my room. But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women--if they can.

When a woman wants me to do anything (my daughter, or not, it doesn’t matter), I always insist on knowing why. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them. Franklin has hurt Rosanna cruelly, without intending it.” “What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?” I asked. “Her own madness,” says Penelope; “I can call it nothing else. Franklin, this morning, come what might of it. Franklin said he took no interest whatever in her--and, oh, he said it in such a cruel voice!” “He said it to stop the Sergeant’s mouth,” I answered. Franklin isn’t to blame), he’s been mortifying and disappointing her for weeks and weeks past; and now this comes on the top of it all! It’s quite monstrous that she should forget herself and her station in that way. A sudden quiet came over her, and she has gone about her work, ever since, like a woman in a dream.” I began to feel a little uneasy.

There was something in the way Penelope put it which silenced my superior sense. She looked cut to the heart on that occasion; and now, as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung again, poor soul, on the tender place. sad!--all the more sad because the girl had no reason to justify her, and no right to feel it.

Franklin to speak to Rosanna, and this seemed the fittest time for keeping my word. Possibly, it was a misty something raised by her own thoughts. But somehow or other, when I come face to face with the women, my practice (I own) is not conformable. I doubted if her mind was in a fit condition to take in what I had said to her.

“Are you quite sure, Rosanna, that you understand me?” I asked. “Quite sure.” She echoed me, not like a living woman, but like a creature moved by machinery. Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna--make a clean breast of it!” The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way would have brought the tears into her eyes.

“Yes,” she said, “I’ll make a clean breast of it.” “To my lady?” I asked. She was in no condition to understand the caution against speaking to him in private, which Mr. Feeling my way, little by little, I only told her Mr.

“It doesn’t matter,” she answered. “The way to relieve your mind is to speak to the merciful and Christian mistress who has always been kind to you.” She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady attention, as if she was fixing what I said in her mind.

Then she took the broom out of my hands and moved off with it slowly, a little way down the corridor. “No,” she said, going on with her sweeping, and speaking to herself; “I know a better way of relieving my mind than that.” “What is it?” “Please to let me go on with my work.” Penelope followed her, and offered to help her. I signed to Penelope to come away with me. “It’s beyond me.” My daughter reminded me of Mr. But, remembering the heavy weight of anxiety which she already had on her mind, I hesitated to add to all the other vexations this new trouble.

Still, there was a necessity for doing something. The girl’s state was, to my thinking, downright alarming--and my mistress ought to be informed of it. Unwilling enough, I went to her sitting-room. My lady was shut up with Miss Rachel. It was impossible for me to see her till she came out again. I waited in vain till the clock on the front staircase struck the quarter to two. It went against the grain with me, after what had passed between us, to show him that I felt any sort of interest in his proceedings.

In spite of myself, however, I felt an interest that there was no resisting. My sense of dignity sank from under me, and out came the words: “What news from Frizinghall?” “I have seen the Indians,” answered Sergeant Cuff. Murthwaite’s mind, that they came to this place to steal the Moonstone. Their calculations were all thrown out, of course, by what happened in the house on Wednesday night; and they have no more to do with the actual loss of the jewel than you have. Governing his curiosity better than I had governed mine, he passed us without a word, and went on into the house. As for me, having already dropped my dignity, I determined to have the whole benefit of the sacrifice. She was very particular in choosing a certain quality. As to quantity, she bought enough to make a nightgown.” “Whose nightgown?” I asked. She couldn’t wash out the stain; and she couldn’t safely destroy the night-gown without first providing another like it, to make the inventory of her linen complete.” “What proves that it was Rosanna’s nightgown?” I objected.

“The material she bought for making the substitute dress,” answered the Sergeant. “If it had been Miss Verinder’s nightgown, she would have had to buy lace, and frilling, and Lord knows what besides; and she wouldn’t have had time to make it in one night. The pinch of the question is--why, after having provided the substitute dress, does she hide the smeared nightgown, instead of destroying it? “I am sorry to disappoint you,” said the Sergeant--“but that’s a secret which I mean to keep to myself.” (Not to irritate your curiosity, as he irritated mine, I may here inform you that he had come back from Frizinghall provided with a search-warrant.

His experience in such matters told him that Rosanna was in all probability carrying about her a memorandum of the hiding-place, to guide her, in case she returned to it, under changed circumstances and after a lapse of time. Possessed of this memorandum, the Sergeant would be furnished with all that he could desire.) “Now, Mr. “I must attend to Miss Verinder first.” As the rain was still threatening, it was the close carriage that had been appointed to take Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. “You will see a friend of mine waiting among the trees, on this side of the lodge gate,” he said. “My friend, without stopping the carriage, will get up into the rumble with you. Otherwise, you will get into trouble.” With that advice, he sent the footman back to his place. It was plain, to my mind, that Miss Rachel was to be privately kept in view from the time when she left our house--if she did leave it. Not a word did she say, either to the Sergeant or to me. With her lips closed, and her arms folded in the light garden cloak which she had wrapped round her on coming into the air, there she stood, as still as a statue, waiting for her daughter to appear.

She had a smart little straw hat on her head, with a white veil twisted round it. She had primrose-coloured gloves that fitted her hands like a second skin. Her little ears were like rosy shells--they had a pearl dangling from each of them.

She came swiftly out to us, as straight as a lily on its stem, and as lithe and supple in every movement she made as a young cat. She said, “Try to forgive me, mamma”--and then pulled down her veil over her face so vehemently that she tore it. In another moment she had run down the steps, and had rushed into the carriage as if it was a hiding-place. He put Samuel back, and stood before Miss Rachel, with the open carriage-door in his hand, at the instant when she settled herself in her place. I can’t presume to stop your paying a visit to your aunt. Without another word, the Sergeant shut the carriage-door. Just as he closed it, Mr. My lady, with anger and sorrow and shame all struggling together in her face, made him a sign to start the horses, and then turned back hastily into the house.

you were quite right. Franklin, turning to me, with the tears in his eyes. The Sergeant stood with his face set towards a gap in the trees, commanding a view of one of the windings of the drive which led from the house. “This isn’t a time for whistling.” At that moment, the carriage appeared in the distance, through the gap, on its way to the lodge-gate. “It’s no time for whistling, Mr.

It’s time to take this business in hand, now, without sparing anybody. We’ll begin with Rosanna Spearman.

“You heard what I said to Miss Verinder?” remarked the Sergeant, while we were waiting. “And you saw how she received it? Betteredge--and the name of it is, the Moonstone.” I said nothing.

The stable-boy came back, followed--very unwillingly, as it appeared to me--by Joyce. “I can’t account for it, sir,” Joyce began; “and I am very sorry. But somehow or other----” “Before I went to Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, cutting him short, “I told you to keep your eyes on Rosanna Spearman, without allowing her to discover that she was being watched. Do you mean to tell me that you have let her give you the slip?” “I am afraid, sir,” says Joyce, beginning to tremble, “that I was perhaps a little TOO careful not to let her discover me.

There are such a many passages in the lower parts of this house----” “How long is it since you missed her?” “Nigh on an hour since, sir.” “You can go back to your regular business at Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, speaking just as composedly as ever, in his usual quiet and dreary way. I find it very difficult to describe how I was affected by the discovery that Rosanna Spearman was missing. I seemed to be in fifty different minds about it, all at the same time. In that state, I stood staring at Sergeant Cuff--and my powers of language quite failed me. Betteredge,” said the Sergeant, as if he had discovered the uppermost thought in me, and was picking it out to be answered, before all the rest. The present inquiry must be simply shifted (rather sooner than I had anticipated) from this house, to the house at which Miss Verinder is visiting. In the meantime, I’m afraid I must trouble you to call the servants together again.” I went round with him to the servants’ hall. It is very disgraceful, but it is not the less true, that I had another attack of the detective-fever, when he said those last words. I said, “For goodness’ sake, tell us what you are going to do with the servants now?” The great Cuff stood stock still, and addressed himself in a kind of melancholy rapture to the empty air. “This is how it stands,” he said, dropping down again to business.

She has either gone direct to Frizinghall (before I can get there), or she has gone first to visit her hiding-place at the Shivering Sand. The first thing to find out is, which of the servants saw the last of her before she left the house.” On instituting this inquiry, it turned out that the last person who had set eyes on Rosanna was Nancy, the kitchenmaid. Nancy had seen her slip out with a letter in her hand, and stop the butcher’s man who had just been delivering some meat at the back door. The man had looked at the address, and had said it was a roundabout way of delivering a letter directed to Cobb’s Hole, to post it at Frizinghall--and that, moreover, on a Saturday, which would prevent the letter from getting to its destination until Monday morning, Rosanna had answered that the delivery of the letter being delayed till Monday was of no importance. The man had promised to do it, and had driven away.

Nancy had been called back to her work in the kitchen. If it is the address I suspect, I shall pay our friend, Mrs. Yolland, another visit on Monday next.” I went with the Sergeant to order the pony-chaise. CHAPTER XIX The news of Rosanna’s disappearance had, as it appeared, spread among the out-of-door servants. They too had made their inquiries; and they had just laid hands on a quick little imp, nicknamed “Duffy”--who was occasionally employed in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna Spearman as lately as half-an-hour since. If you do, come along with me. Little Duffy, as the way is with the young savages in our parts when they are in high spirits, gave a howl, and trotted off at the Sergeant’s heels. Here again, I find it impossible to give anything like a clear account of the state of my mind in the interval after Sergeant Cuff had left us. I don’t even know how long it was after the Sergeant had gone to the sands, when Duffy came running back with a message for me. Sergeant Cuff had given the boy a leaf torn out of his pocket-book, on which was written in pencil, “Send me one of Rosanna Spearman’s boots, and be quick about it.” I despatched the first woman-servant I could find to Rosanna’s room; and I sent the boy back to say that I myself would follow him with the boot.

As I got near the shore, the clouds gathered black, and the rain came down, drifting in great white sheets of water before the wind. A little further on, I passed the boy crouching for shelter under the lee of the sand hills.

Then I saw the raging sea, and the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and the driven rain sweeping over the waters like a flying garment, and the yellow wilderness of the beach with one solitary black figure standing on it--the figure of Sergeant Cuff.

“And come on down here to me!” I went down to him, choking for breath, with my heart leaping as if it was like to leap out of me. He snatched the boot out of my hand, and set it in a footmark on the sand, bearing south from us as we stood, and pointing straight towards the rocky ledge called the South Spit. The mark was not yet blurred out by the rain--and the girl’s boot fitted it to a hair. The Sergeant pointed to the boot in the footmark, without saying a word. The South Spit was just awash with the flowing tide; the waters heaved over the hidden face of the Shivering Sand. Now this way and now that, with an obstinate patience that was dreadful to see, Sergeant Cuff tried the boot in the footsteps, and always found it pointing the same way--straight TO the rocks. He gave it up at last. The dumb trembling held me in its grip. I heard her again, telling me that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her will, and wondering whether her grave was waiting for her THERE. The horror of it struck at me, in some unfathomable way, through my own child.

With that relief, I began to fetch my breath again, and to see things about me, as things really were. “Could a boat have taken her off, in such weather as this, from those rocks where her footmarks stop?” The fisherman pointed to the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and to the great waves leaping up in clouds of foam against the headlands on either side of us.

Call it, altogether, an hour ago. “As the tide makes to-day,” said the fisherman, “there wouldn’t have been water enough to drown a kitten on that side of the Spit, an hour since.” Sergeant Cuff turned about northward, towards the quicksand. “When she came to this place, she came weary of her life, to end it here.” He started back from me. He put them back from me; he said I was an old man; he said the discovery had shaken me; he said, “Let him alone a little.” Then he turned to Yolland, and asked, “Is there any chance of finding her, when the tide ebbs again?” And Yolland answered, “None. Four foot out, broadwise, along the side of the Spit, there’s a shelf of rock, about half fathom down under the sand. If she slipped, by accident, from off the Spit, she fell in where there’s foothold at the bottom, at a depth that would barely cover her to the waist. With one accord, we all turned back up the slope of the beach.

He handed me a little note, with a decent sorrow in his face.

“Penelope sent me with this, Mr. “She found it in Rosanna’s room.” It was her last farewell word to the old man who had done his best--thank God, always done his best--to befriend her. I have found my grave where my grave was waiting for me. Little as it was, I hadn’t manhood enough to hold up against it. Your tears come easy, when you’re old, and leaving it. “It’s the dread of you, that has driven her to it.” “You are wrong, Mr. “But there will be time enough to speak of it when we are indoors again.” I followed the rest of them, with the help of the groom’s arm.

Through the driving rain we went back--to meet the trouble and the terror that were waiting for us at the house. As we passed my lady’s door, it was thrown open violently from the inner side.

My mistress came out among us (with Mr. Franklin following, and trying vainly to compose her), quite beside herself with the horror of the thing.

“You are answerable for this!” she cried out, threatening the Sergeant wildly with her hand. give that wretch his money--and release me from the sight of him!” The Sergeant was the only one among us who was fit to cope with her--being the only one among us who was in possession of himself. “I am no more answerable for this distressing calamity, my lady, than you are,” he said. “If, in half an hour from this, you still insist on my leaving the house, I will accept your ladyship’s dismissal, but not your ladyship’s money.” It was spoken very respectfully, but very firmly at the same time--and it had its effect on my mistress as well as on me. Penelope came in to us to hear what the Sergeant wanted with her. I don’t think I ever felt what a good dutiful daughter I had, so strongly as I felt it at that moment. She hid her head on my bosom, and put her arms round my neck--and we waited a little while in silence. The poor dead girl must have been at the bottom of it, I think, with my daughter and with me.

I thought it right to thank him for considering us both in this way--and I did. Necessity, which spares our betters, has no pity on us. We learn to put our feelings back into ourselves, and to jog on with our duties as patiently as may be. I don’t complain of this--I only notice it. Asked if she knew what had led her fellow-servant to destroy herself, my daughter answered (as you will foresee) that it was for love of Mr. Asked next, if she had mentioned this notion of hers to any other person, Penelope answered, “I have not mentioned it, for Rosanna’s sake.” I felt it necessary to add a word to this.

If Rosanna HAS died for love of him, it is not with his knowledge or by his fault. Let him leave the house to-day, if he does leave it, without the useless pain of knowing the truth.” Sergeant Cuff said, “Quite right,” and fell silent again; comparing Penelope’s notion (as it seemed to me) with some other notion of his own which he kept to himself. On my way to answer it, I met Mr. Franklin coming out of his aunt’s sitting-room. But it was not so. Franklin had taken his resolution--the one resolution which a man of any spirit COULD take--to leave the house. I decline to take it, until my duty is done.” “I don’t understand you,” says Mr. I am now ready, and waiting to redeem my pledge. When I have stated the case to Lady Verinder as the case now stands, and when I have told her plainly what course of action to take for the recovery of the Moonstone, the responsibility will be off my shoulders. Franklin answered, “Not unless Lady Verinder desires it.” He added, in a whisper to me, as I was following the Sergeant out, “I know what that man is going to say about Rachel; and I am too fond of her to hear it, and keep my temper.

Leave me by myself.” I left him, miserable enough, leaning on the sill of my window, with his face hidden in his hands and Penelope peeping through the door, longing to comfort him. When you are ill-used by one woman, there is great comfort in telling it to another--because, nine times out of ten, the other always takes your side. In that case it is only doing my daughter justice to declare that she would stick at nothing, in the way of comforting Mr. At the last conference we had held with her, we had found her not over willing to lift her eyes from the book which she had on the table. She met the Sergeant’s eye with an eye that was as steady as his own. The family spirit showed itself in every line of her face; and I knew that Sergeant Cuff would meet his match, when a woman like my mistress was strung up to hear the worst he could say to her. I say, with perfect sincerity, that I regret it, if I wronged you.” The grace of voice and manner with which she made him that atonement had its due effect on the Sergeant. It was impossible, he said, that he could be in any way responsible for the calamity, which had shocked us all, for this sufficient reason, that his success in bringing his inquiry to its proper end depended on his neither saying nor doing anything that could alarm Rosanna Spearman. I could, and did, bear witness that he had. Sergeant Cuff, however, took it a step further, evidently (as you shall now judge) with the purpose of forcing the most painful of all possible explanations to take place between her ladyship and himself.

It is a motive quite unconnected with the case which I am conducting here. Some unbearable anxiety in connexion with the missing Diamond, has, I believe, driven the poor creature to her own destruction. But I think (with your ladyship’s permission) I can lay my hand on a person who is capable of deciding whether I am right or wrong.” “Is the person now in the house?” my mistress asked, after waiting a little. how the wind howled, and how the rain drove at the window, as I sat there waiting for one or other of them to speak again! She now put it back in the drawer. It went to my heart to see how her poor hand trembled--the hand that had loaded her old servant with benefits; the hand that, I pray God, may take mine, when my time comes, and I leave my place for ever! “I had hoped,” said my lady, very slowly and quietly, “to have recompensed your services, and to have parted with you without Miss Verinder’s name having been openly mentioned between us as it has been mentioned now. Blake a reason----” “It is needless to tell me your reason. I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my child, to insist on your remaining here, and to insist on your speaking out.” The Sergeant looked at his watch.

“If there had been time, my lady,” he answered, “I should have preferred writing my report, instead of communicating it by word of mouth. But, if this inquiry is to go on, time is of too much importance to be wasted in writing.

It is a very painful matter for me to speak of, and for you to hear.” There my mistress stopped him once more. “I may possibly make it less painful to you, and to my good servant and friend here,” she said, “if I set the example of speaking boldly, on my side. Is that true?” “Quite true, my lady.” “Very well.

State your suspicion of her as strongly as you please--it is impossible that you can offend me by doing so.

I am sure, beforehand, that (with all your experience) the circumstances have fatally misled you in this case. My one reason for speaking positively, is the reason you have heard already. I kissed it in silence. As to shaking him in his own conviction, it was plain to see that she had not moved him by a single inch. Will you please to suppose yourself coming down here, in my place, and with my experience? The Sergeant went on: “For the last twenty years,” he said, “I have been largely employed in cases of family scandal, acting in the capacity of confidential man. It is well within my experience, that young ladies of rank and position do occasionally have private debts which they dare not acknowledge to their nearest relatives and friends.

Sometimes, the milliner and the jeweller are at the bottom of it. Bear in mind what I have said, my lady--and now let us see how events in this house have forced me back on my own experience, whether I liked it or not!” He considered with himself for a moment, and went on--with a horrid clearness that obliged you to understand him; with an abominable justice that favoured nobody. The one thing he said which struck me as worth listening to, was this--that Miss Verinder had declined to be questioned by him, and had spoken to him with a perfectly incomprehensible rudeness and contempt. I thought this curious--but I attributed it mainly to some clumsiness on the Superintendent’s part which might have offended the young lady. After that, I put it by in my mind, and applied myself, single-handed, to the case. It ended, as you are aware, in the discovery of the smear on the door, and in Mr. She is still violently agitated, though more than four-and-twenty hours have passed since the Diamond was lost. And she is mortally offended with Mr. Under these circumstances, and with that character, what does she do? It associates her with those other young ladies that I know of.

It tells me she has debts she daren’t acknowledge, that must be paid. And it sets me asking myself, whether the loss of the Diamond may not mean--that the Diamond must be secretly pledged to pay them. What does your ladyship’s experience say against it?” “What I have said already,” answered my mistress. If Sergeant Cuff had found himself, at that moment, transported to a desert island, without a man Friday to keep him company, or a ship to take him off--he would have found himself exactly where I wished him to be! (Nota bene:--I am an average good Christian, when you don’t push my Christianity too far. And all the rest of you--which is a great comfort--are, in this respect, much the same as I am.) Sergeant Cuff went on: “Right or wrong, my lady,” he said, “having drawn my conclusion, the next thing to do was to put it to the test. It was a means of finding the article of dress which had, in all probability, made the smear; and it was a means of putting my conclusion to the test. How did it turn out? Ablewhite consented.

Betteredge persist in not agreeing with me, you must be blind to what happened before you this very day. It was downright frightful to hear him piling up proof after proof against Miss Rachel, and to know, while one was longing to defend her, that there was no disputing the truth of what he said. I am (thank God!) constitutionally superior to reason. This roused my spirit, and made me put a bold face on it before Sergeant Cuff. Profit, good friends, I beseech you, by my example. It will save you from many troubles of the vexing sort. Cultivate a superiority to reason, and see how you pare the claws of all the sensible people when they try to scratch you for your own good! how it did enrage me to notice that he was not in the least put out by our silence! “There is the case, my lady, as it stands against Miss Verinder alone,” he said. “The next thing is to put the case as it stands against Miss Verinder and the deceased Rosanna Spearman taken together.

After carefully thinking it over, I determined to conduct the inquiry in, what we should call at our office, a highly irregular manner. For this reason: I had a family scandal to deal with, which it was my business to keep within the family limits. As to the usual course of taking people in custody on suspicion, going before the magistrate, and all the rest of it--nothing of the sort was to be thought of, when your ladyship’s daughter was (as I believed) at the bottom of the whole business. Betteredge’s character and position in the house--knowing the servants as he did, and having the honour of the family at heart--would be safer to take as an assistant than any other person whom I could lay my hand on. HE saw the drift of my proceedings at a very early date; and, with his interest in Miss Verinder, any mutual understanding was impossible between him and me. I trouble your ladyship with these particulars to show you that I have kept the family secret within the family circle. I am the only outsider who knows it--and my professional existence depends on holding my tongue.” Here I felt that my professional existence depended on not holding my tongue. To be held up before my mistress, in my old age, as a sort of deputy-policeman, was, once again, more than my Christianity was strong enough to bear.

Her ladyship honoured me by a little friendly pat on the shoulder. I looked with righteous indignation at the Sergeant, to see what he thought of such a testimony as THAT.

If this had been a common case of thieving, I should have given Rosanna the benefit of the doubt just as freely as I should have given it to any of the other servants in the house. Our experience of the Reformatory woman is, that when tried in service--and when kindly and judiciously treated--they prove themselves in the majority of cases to be honestly penitent, and honestly worthy of the pains taken with them. It was a case--in my mind--of a deeply planned fraud, with the owner of the Diamond at the bottom of it. Holding this view, the first consideration which naturally presented itself to me, in connection with Rosanna, was this: Would Miss Verinder be satisfied (begging your ladyship’s pardon) with leading us all to think that the Moonstone was merely lost? In the latter event there was Rosanna Spearman--with the character of a thief--ready to her hand; the person of all others to lead your ladyship off, and to lead me off, on a false scent.” Was it possible (I asked myself) that he could put his case against Miss Rachel and Rosanna in a more horrid point of view than this? It WAS possible, as you shall now see. No young lady in Miss Verinder’s position could manage such a risky matter as that by herself. A go-between she must have, and who so fit, I ask again, as Rosanna Spearman?

She had relations, to my certain knowledge, with one of the few men in London (in the money-lending line) who would advance a large sum on such a notable jewel as the Moonstone, without asking awkward questions, or insisting on awkward conditions. You are already as well acquainted with those proceedings as I am; and you will understand how unanswerably this part of his report fixed the guilt of being concerned in the disappearance of the Moonstone on the memory of the poor dead girl. It didn’t seem to matter to the Sergeant whether he was answered or not.

“Having stated the whole case as I understand it,” he said, “I have only to tell your ladyship, now, what I propose to do next. The other, I admit, is a bold experiment, and nothing more. “We’ll begin with the certainty, as your ladyship is so good as to leave it to me. Whether Miss Verinder remains at Frizinghall, or whether she returns here, I propose, in either case, to keep a careful watch on all her proceedings--on the people she sees, on the rides and walks she may take, and on the letters she may write and receive.” “What next?” asked my mistress.

“Next,” proceeded the Sergeant, “and last, I propose to send one of my brother-officers to make an arrangement with that money-lender in London, whom I mentioned just now as formerly acquainted with Rosanna Spearman--and whose name and address, your ladyship may rely on it, have been communicated by Rosanna to Miss Verinder.

We run a line round the Moonstone, and we draw that line closer and closer till we find it in Miss Verinder’s possession, supposing she decides to keep it. If her debts press, and she decides on sending it away, then we have our man ready, and we meet the Moonstone on its arrival in London.” To hear her own daughter made the subject of such a proposal as this, stung my mistress into speaking angrily for the first time. She is quite capable (according to my belief) of committing a daring fraud. But she is too hot and impetuous in temper, and too little accustomed to deceit as a habit, to act the hypocrite in small things, and to restrain herself under all provocations. Her feelings, in this case, have repeatedly got beyond her control, at the very time when it was plainly her interest to conceal them. It is on this peculiarity in her character that I now propose to act.

In plain English, I want to tell Miss Verinder, without a word of warning, of Rosanna’s death--on the chance that her own better feelings will hurry her into making a clean breast of it. You will remain here, if you please; and I will go to Frizinghall.” For once in his life, the great Cuff stood speechless with amazement, like an ordinary man. It was still pouring with rain; and the close carriage had gone, as you know, with Miss Rachel to Frizinghall.

I tried to dissuade her ladyship from facing the severity of the weather. Quite useless! I asked leave to go with her, and hold the umbrella. She wouldn’t hear of it. The pony-chaise came round, with the groom in charge.

“I will try the experiment on Miss Verinder as boldly as you could try it yourself. And I will inform you of the result, either personally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London to-night.” With that, she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins herself, drove off to Frizinghall. I found him sitting in a snug corner of the hall, consulting his memorandum book, and curling up viciously at the corners of the lips. “You think it’s all over then, here?” “I think,” answered Sergeant Cuff, “that Lady Verinder is one of the cleverest women in England. An hour afterwards, I heard them at high words in the conservatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the dispute. In the meantime, it was my business to find out whether Mr.

After having been informed of the conference in my lady’s room, and of how it had ended, he immediately decided on waiting to hear the news from Frizinghall. This very natural alteration in his plans--which, with ordinary people, would have led to nothing in particular--proved, in Mr. It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his hands, and, in so doing, it let out all the foreign sides of his character, one on the top of another, like rats out of a bag. Now as an Italian-Englishman, now as a German-Englishman, and now as a French-Englishman, he drifted in and out of all the sitting-rooms in the house, with nothing to talk of but Miss Rachel’s treatment of him; and with nobody to address himself to but me. I found him (for example) in the library, sitting under the map of Modern Italy, and quite unaware of any other method of meeting his troubles, except the method of talking about them.

“I have several worthy aspirations, Betteredge; but what am I to do with them now? I am full of dormant good qualities, if Rachel would only have helped me to bring them out!” He was so eloquent in drawing the picture of his own neglected merits, and so pathetic in lamenting over it when it was done, that I felt quite at my wits’ end how to console him, when it suddenly occurred to me that here was a case for the wholesome application of a bit of ROBINSON CRUSOE. I hobbled out to my own room, and hobbled back with that immortal book. The map of Modern Italy stared at ME; and I stared at the map of Modern Italy. I tried the dining-room, and discovered Samuel with a biscuit and a glass of sherry, silently investigating the empty air. Franklin had rung furiously for a little light refreshment.

On its production, in a violent hurry, by Samuel, Mr. Franklin had vanished before the bell downstairs had quite done ringing with the pull he had given to it. There he was at the window, drawing hieroglyphics with his finger in the damp on the glass. “Your sherry is waiting for you, sir,” I said to him. I might as well have addressed myself to one of the four walls of the room; he was down in the bottomless deep of his own meditations, past all pulling up.

Not being ready with the needful reply, I produced ROBINSON CRUSOE, in which I am firmly persuaded some explanation might have been found, if we had only searched long enough for it. “Why not look into it?” he said, as if I had personally objected to looking into it. Rachel’s conduct is perfectly intelligible, if you will only do her the common justice to take the Objective view first, and the Subjective view next, and the Objective-Subjective view to wind up with. We know that the loss of the Moonstone, on Thursday morning last, threw her into a state of nervous excitement, from which she has not recovered yet. Now, being in a state of nervous excitement, how are we to expect that she should behave as she might otherwise have behaved to any of the people about her? Arguing in this way, from within-outwards, what do we reach?

Then how does it end? It ends, in spite of your confounded English narrowness and prejudice, in my being perfectly happy and comfortable.

Where’s the sherry?” My head was by this time in such a condition, that I was not quite sure whether it was my own head, or Mr. Franklin his sherry; I retired to my own room; and I solaced myself with the most composing pipe of tobacco I ever remember to have smoked in my life. Don’t suppose, however, that I was quit of Mr. In the twinkling of an eye, he burst in on me with his cigar-case, and came out strong on the one everlasting subject, in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way. Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? Follow me carefully, and I will prove it in two words.

You choose a cigar, you try it, and it disappoints you. You throw it away and try another.

Wonderfully clever, I dare say, but my own experience was dead against it. But the law insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you have once chosen it.” I pointed that observation with a wink. So things went on with my young master and me; and so (while the Sergeant and the gardener were wrangling over the roses) we two spent the interval before the news came back from Frizinghall.

The pony-chaise returned a good half hour before I had ventured to expect it. A cheque, which dropped out when I opened it, informed me (before I had mastered the contents) that Sergeant Cuff’s dismissal from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing. He appeared, with his mind full of the gardener and the dog-rose, declaring that the equal of Mr. Have I anything to do with it, Mr. Betteredge?” “You shall judge for yourself, Sergeant.” I thereupon read him the letter (with my best emphasis and discretion), in the following words: “MY GOOD GABRIEL,--I request that you will inform Sergeant Cuff, that I have performed the promise I made to him; with this result, so far as Rosanna Spearman is concerned. After telling my daughter suddenly, and in so many words, of Rosanna Spearman’s suicide--this is what has come of it.” Having reached that point, I looked up, and asked Sergeant Cuff what he thought of the letter, so far? Betteredge,” he said, with the most exasperating resignation, “go on.” When I remembered that this man had had the audacity to complain of our gardener’s obstinacy, my tongue itched to “go on” in other words than my mistress’s.

This time, however, my Christianity held firm. I proceeded steadily with her ladyship’s letter: “Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which the officer thought most desirable, I spoke to her next in the manner which I myself thought most likely to impress her. In the second place, the Diamond is not now, and never has been, in her possession, since she put it into her cabinet on Wednesday night. She refuses, with tears, when I appeal to her to speak out for my sake. I have done much to make my mother pity me--nothing to make my mother blush for me.’ Those are my daughter’s own words. “After what has passed between the officer and me, I think--stranger as he is--that he should be made acquainted with what Miss Verinder has said, as well as you. “It’s no part of my duty, Mr. Betteredge,” he answered, “to make remarks on a case, when I have done with it.” I tossed the cheque across the table to him. The Sergeant looked at the cheque, and lifted up his dismal eyebrows in acknowledgment of her ladyship’s liberality.

“This is such a generous estimate of the value of my time,” he said, “that I feel bound to make some return for it. Betteredge, when the occasion comes round for remembering it.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “But THIS family scandal is of the sort that bursts up again when you least expect it. We shall have more detective-business on our hands, sir, before the Moonstone is many months older.” If those words meant anything, and if the manner in which he spoke them meant anything--it came to this. Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and you will be nearer the mark.” Hot and angry as I was, the infernal confidence with which he gave me that answer closed my lips. Begbie, the gardener, waiting outside to continue the dog-rose controversy with Sergeant Cuff. “If he’s minded to walk to the station, I’m agreeable to go with him.” “What!” cries the Sergeant, behind me, “are you not convinced yet?” “The de’il a bit I’m convinced!” answered Mr. Sergeant Cuff noticed the change in me, and encouraged it by a word in season. come!” he said, “why not treat my view of the case as her ladyship treats it?

Why not say, the circumstances have fatally misled me?” To take anything as her ladyship took it was a privilege worth enjoying--even with the disadvantage of its having been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff. I regarded any other opinion of Miss Rachel, than my lady’s opinion or mine, with a lofty contempt. Sergeant Cuff had hit me on the raw, and, though I did look down upon him with contempt, the tender place still tingled for all that. The end of it was that I perversely led him back to the subject of her ladyship’s letter. “I am quite satisfied myself,” I said. “Back your opinion.” Instead of taking offence, Sergeant Cuff seized my hand, and shook it till my fingers ached again.

Betteredge, if I had a chance of being employed along with You! You shall have it out of me on easier terms than that. I have warned you already that you haven’t done with the Moonstone yet. Now I’ll tell you, at parting, of three things which will happen in the future, and which, I believe, will force themselves on your attention, whether you like it or not.” “Go on!” I said, quite unabashed, and just as airy as ever. “First,” said the Sergeant, “you will hear something from the Yollands--when the postman delivers Rosanna’s letter at Cobb’s Hole, on Monday next.” If he had thrown a bucket of cold water over me, I doubt if I could have felt it much more unpleasantly than I felt those words. Miss Rachel’s assertion of her innocence had left Rosanna’s conduct--the making the new nightgown, the hiding the smeared nightgown, and all the rest of it--entirely without explanation. And this had never occurred to me, till Sergeant Cuff forced it on my mind all in a moment! Give me your pocket-book, and I’ll make a note for you of his name and address--so that there may be no mistake about it if the thing really happens.” He wrote accordingly on a blank leaf--“Mr. Septimus Luker, Middlesex-place, Lambeth, London.” “There,” he said, pointing to the address, “are the last words, on the subject of the Moonstone, which I shall trouble you with for the present.

In the meanwhile, sir, I carry away with me a sincere personal liking for you, which I think does honour to both of us. If we don’t meet again before my professional retirement takes place, I hope you will come and see me in a little house near London, which I have got my eye on. And as for the white moss rose----” “The de’il a bit ye’ll get the white moss rose to grow, unless you bud him on the dogue-rose first,” cried a voice at the window. Begbie, too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at the gate. Away they went together, fighting the battle of the roses without asking or giving quarter on either side. If you are as tired of reading this narrative as I am of writing it--Lord, how we shall enjoy ourselves on both sides a few pages further on! “Why not wait a day or two longer, and give Miss Rachel another chance?” The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr.

The greater part of it said over again what had been said already in the other communication received by me. But there was a bit about Miss Rachel added at the end, which will account for the steadiness of Mr. Franklin’s determination, if it accounts for nothing else. A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost--and I am left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance is no mystery to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible obligation of silence has been laid on her, by some person or persons utterly unknown to me, with some object in view at which I cannot even guess. Is it conceivable that I should allow myself to be trifled with in this way? It is quite conceivable, in Rachel’s present state. She is in a condition of nervous agitation pitiable to see. To help this end, I have not hesitated to dismiss the police-officer.

My dear Franklin, you, in your way, must imitate my patience, and wait, as I do, for a fitter time. Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with discovery, through your exertions.

It is impossible for me to excuse the perversity that holds you responsible for consequences which neither you nor I could imagine or foresee. She is not to be reasoned with--she can only be pitied. I am grieved to have to say it, but for the present, you and Rachel are better apart. Franklin folded up his aunt’s letter, without appearing to be much comforted by the remark which I had ventured on addressing to him. “When I came here from London with that horrible Diamond,” he said, “I don’t believe there was a happier household in England than this. Scattered, disunited--the very air of the place poisoned with mystery and suspicion! The Moonstone has served the Colonel’s vengeance, Betteredge, by means which the Colonel himself never dreamt of!” With that he shook me by the hand, and went out to the pony chaise.

It was very miserable to see him leaving the old place, where he had spent the happiest years of his life, in this way. “I am going to the devil!” The pony started at the word, as if he had felt a Christian horror of it. With all his faults and follies, a sweet and pleasant gentleman! It was dull and dreary enough, when the long summer evening closed in, on that Saturday night. I kept my spirits from sinking by sticking fast to my pipe and my ROBINSON CRUSOE.

It left Rosanna’s secret journey to Frizinghall, and Rosanna’s proceedings in the matter of the nightgown entirely unaccounted for.

The truth is, my daughter inherits my superiority to reason--and, in respect to that accomplishment, has got a long way ahead of her own father. Ablewhite’s, came back to us empty. The coachman brought a message for me, and written instructions for my lady’s own maid and for Penelope. The written instructions informed the two maids of the clothing that was wanted, and directed them to meet their mistresses in town at a given hour. My lady had found Miss Rachel so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened in it, that she had decided on going to London direct from Frizinghall. The servants left with me were to be put on board wages.

Franklin had said about our being a scattered and disunited household, my mind was led naturally to Mr. It ended in my writing, by the Sunday’s post, to his father’s valet, Mr. We ended the day of rest, as hundreds of thousands of people end it regularly, once a week, in these islands--that is to say, we all anticipated bedtime, and fell asleep in our chairs. I had seen Penelope and my lady’s maid off in the railway with the luggage for London, and was pottering about the grounds, when I heard my name called.

Turning round, I found myself face to face with the fisherman’s daughter, Limping Lucy. Bating her lame foot and her leanness (this last a horrid draw-back to a woman, in my opinion), the girl had some pleasing qualities in the eye of a man. A dark, keen, clever face, and a nice clear voice, and a beautiful brown head of hair counted among her merits. “Well, my dear,” I said, “what do you want with me?” “Where’s the man you call Franklin Blake?” says the girl, fixing me with a fierce look, as she rested herself on her crutch. “Murderer Franklin Blake would be a fitter name for him.” My practice with the late Mrs. One word does it as well as a hundred; and one word did it with Limping Lucy. She poised herself on her sound foot, and she took her crutch, and beat it furiously three times on the ground. One or two of the people at work in the grounds near us looked up--saw it was Limping Lucy--knew what to expect from that quarter--and looked away again. if she had only thought of the men as I think, she might have been living now!” “She always thought kindly of ME, poor soul,” I said; “and, to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly by HER.” I spoke those words in as comforting a manner as I could.

The truth is, I hadn’t the heart to irritate the girl by another of my smart replies. She bent her head down, and laid it on the top of her crutch. Betteredge--vile people had ill-treated her and led her wrong--and it hadn’t spoiled her sweet temper. She might have been happy with me. That man came here, and spoilt it all. He bewitched her. Don’t tell me he didn’t mean it, and didn’t know it. He ought to have known it.

He ought to have taken pity on her. ‘I can’t live without him--and, oh, Lucy, he never even looks at me.’ That’s what she said.

I said, ‘No man is worth fretting for in that way.’ And she said, ‘There are men worth dying for, Lucy, and he is one of them.’ I had saved up a little money.

I had settled things with father and mother.

We should have had a little lodging in London, and lived together like sisters. I have a good education, and I write a good hand.

Her letter comes and tells me that she has done with the burden of her life. “Where’s this gentleman that I mustn’t speak of, except with respect? I pray Heaven they may begin with HIM. I pray Heaven they may begin with HIM.” Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual break-down, consequent on that same average Christianity being pushed too far! “What do you want with Mr. I was obliged to wait a moment. Without a word more, she turned about again instantly towards Cobb’s Hole.

Give me your letter, and I’ll send it on to him by the post.” Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked back at me over her shoulder. “I am to give it from my hands into his hands,” she said. “And I am to give it to him in no other way.” “Shall I write, and tell him what you have said?” “Tell him I hate him.

But about the letter?” “If he wants the letter, he must come back here, and get it from Me.” With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb’s Hole. The detective-fever burnt up all my dignity on the spot. It was my misfortune to be a man--and Limping Lucy enjoyed disappointing me. Later in the day, I tried my luck with her mother. He said it was “a bad job,” and went on mending his net. Neither father nor mother knew more than I knew.

The one way left to try was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writing to Mr. Franklin had, it appeared, gone straight to his father’s residence.

Blake, the elder, was up to his eyes in the business of the House of Commons, and was amusing himself at home that night with the favourite parliamentary plaything which they call “a private bill.” Mr. Anything wrong?” “Yes; something wrong with Rachel; I am dreadfully distressed about it.” “Grieved to hear it. Penelope’s belief that her fellow-servant had destroyed herself through unrequited love for Mr. Franklin had suspected her of trying to make to him in her life-time, it was impossible to say. It might be only a farewell word, telling nothing but the secret of her unhappy fancy for a person beyond her reach. Or it might own the whole truth about the strange proceedings in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from the time when the Moonstone was lost, to the time when she rushed to her own destruction at the Shivering Sand. A sealed letter it had been placed in Limping Lucy’s hand, and a sealed letter it remained to me and to every one about the girl, her own parents included.

Now one, and now another, of the servants--still holding to the belief that Rosanna had stolen the Diamond and had hidden it--peered and poked about the rocks to which she had been traced, and peered and poked in vain.

Franklin’s departure from England on the Sunday morning, and the news of my lady’s arrival in London with Miss Rachel on the Monday afternoon, had reached me, as you are aware, by the Tuesday’s post. Flower-shows, operas, balls--there was a whole round of gaieties in prospect; and Miss Rachel, to her mother’s astonishment, eagerly took to it all. Godfrey had called; evidently as sweet as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception he had met with, when he tried his luck on the occasion of the birthday. To Penelope’s great regret, he had been most graciously received, and had added Miss Rachel’s name to one of his Ladies’ Charities on the spot. My mistress was reported to be out of spirits, and to have held two long interviews with her lawyer. Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor relation of the family--one Miss Clack, whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr. This would not have been worth mentioning, I admit, but for one reason.

I hear you are likely to be turned over to Miss Clack, after parting with me. It has slipped in somehow. Pass it over please.

The handwriting on the direction puzzled me. I compared it with the money-lender’s name and address as recorded in my pocket-book, and identified it at once as the writing of Sergeant Cuff.

Here it is, at your service. Read it as I read it, and you will set the right value on the Sergeant’s polite attention in sending me the news of the day: “LAMBETH--Shortly before the closing of the court, Mr.

Septimus Luker, the well-known dealer in ancient gems, carvings, intagli, &c., &c., applied to the sitting magistrate for advice. After having been sent away by the police, they had returned again and again, and had attempted to enter the house on pretence of asking for charity. It might be their object to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance in the street, and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain access to the house. Luker admitted that he had no evidence to produce of any attempt at robbery being in contemplation.

He could speak positively to the annoyance and interruption caused by the Indians, but not to anything else. The magistrate remarked that, if the annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the Indians to that court, where they might easily be dealt with under the Act. He would do well perhaps to communicate with the police, and to adopt such additional precautions as their experience might suggest. The applicant thanked his worship, and withdrew.” One of the wise ancients is reported (I forget on what occasion) as having recommended his fellow-creatures to “look to the end.” Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and wondering for some days past how I should manage to write it, I find my plain statement of facts coming to a conclusion, most appropriately, of its own self. We have gone on, in this matter of the Moonstone, from one marvel to another; and here we end with the greatest marvel of all--namely, the accomplishment of Sergeant Cuff’s three predictions in less than a week from the time when he had made them.

If you desert me, and side with the Sergeant, on the evidence before you--if the only rational explanation you can see is, that Miss Rachel and Mr. In the dark I am compelled to leave you, with my best respects. it may be asked. Why not take the persons who have gone along with me, so far, up into those regions of superior enlightenment in which I sit myself? Or, to put it plainer, I am to keep strictly within the limits of my own experience, and am not to inform you of what other persons told me--for the very sufficient reason that you are to have the information from those other persons themselves, at first hand. In this matter of the Moonstone the plan is, not to present reports, but to produce witnesses. what a compliment he will feel it, to be asked to take nothing on hear-say, and to be treated in all respects like a Judge on the bench. At this place, then, we part--for the present, at least--after long journeying together, with a companionable feeling, I hope, on both sides. The devil’s dance of the Indian Diamond has threaded its way to London; and to London you must go after it, leaving me at the country-house.

Please to excuse the faults of this composition--my talking so much of myself, and being too familiar, I am afraid, with you. I mean no harm; and I drink most respectfully (having just done dinner) to your health and prosperity, in a tankard of her ladyship’s ale. May you find in these leaves of my writing, what ROBINSON CRUSOE found in his experience on the desert island--namely, “something to comfort yourselves from, and to set in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side of the Account.”--Farewell.

FIRST NARRATIVE Contributed by MISS CLACK; niece of the late SIR JOHN VERINDER CHAPTER I I am indebted to my dear parents (both now in heaven) for having had habits of order and regularity instilled into me at a very early age. An entry of the day’s events in my little diary invariably preceded the folding up. And the sweet sleep of childhood invariably followed the “Evening Hymn.” In later life (alas!) the Hymn has been succeeded by sad and bitter meditations; and the sweet sleep has been but ill exchanged for the broken slumbers which haunt the uneasy pillow of care.

On the other hand, I have continued to fold my clothes, and to keep my little diary. The former habit links me to my happy childhood--before papa was ruined. The latter habit--hitherto mainly useful in helping me to discipline the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam--has unexpectedly proved important to my humble interests in quite another way. It has enabled poor Me to serve the caprice of a wealthy member of the family into which my late uncle married. I am now living, for economy’s sake, in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by a select circle of serious English friends, and possessed of the inestimable advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market.

My wealthy relative--would that I could add my spiritually-wealthy relative!--writes, without even an attempt at disguising that he wants something of me. The whim has seized him to stir up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone: and I am to help him by writing the account of what I myself witnessed while visiting at Aunt Verinder’s house in London.

Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me--with the want of feeling peculiar to the rich. It cost me a hard struggle, before Christian humility conquered sinful pride, and self-denial accepted the cheque. Without my diary, I doubt--pray let me express it in the grossest terms!--if I could have honestly earned my money. With my diary, the poor labourer (who forgives Mr. Nothing escaped me at the time I was visiting dear Aunt Verinder. Everything was entered (thanks to my early training) day by day as it happened; and everything down to the smallest particular, shall be told here. It will be easy for Mr. ADDED BY FRANKLIN BLAKE.--Miss Clack may make her mind quite easy on this point. Whatever opinions any of the writers may express, whatever peculiarities of treatment may mark, and perhaps in a literary sense, disfigure the narratives which I am now collecting, not a line will be tampered with anywhere, from first to last. As genuine documents they are sent to me--and as genuine documents I shall preserve them, endorsed by the attestations of witnesses who can speak to the facts.

It only remains to be added that “the person chiefly concerned” in Miss Clack’s narrative, is happy enough at the present moment, not only to brave the smartest exercise of Miss Clack’s pen, but even to recognise its unquestionable value as an instrument for the exhibition of Miss Clack’s character. Seeing the shutters opened, and the blinds drawn up, I felt that it would be an act of polite attention to knock, and make inquiries.

The person who answered the door, informed me that my aunt and her daughter (I really cannot call her my cousin!) had arrived from the country a week since, and meditated making some stay in London. I sat down in the hall to wait for my answer--and, having always a few tracts in my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite providentially applicable to the person who answered the door. The hall was dirty, and the chair was hard; but the blessed consciousness of returning good for evil raised me quite above any trifling considerations of that kind.

In style it was devoutly familiar. Its title was, “A Word With You On Your Cap-Ribbons.” “My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and lunch to-morrow at two.” I passed over the manner in which she gave her message, and the dreadful boldness of her look. I thanked this young castaway; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest, “Will you favour me by accepting a tract?” She looked at the title. “Is it written by a man or a woman, Miss? If it’s written by a woman, I had rather not read it on that account. If it’s written by a man, I beg to inform him that he knows nothing about it.” She handed me back the tract, and opened the door. I waited till the door was shut on me, and slipped the tract into the letter-box.

When I had dropped another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved, in some small degree, of a heavy responsibility towards others. We had a meeting that evening of the Select Committee of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. The object of this excellent Charity is--as all serious people know--to rescue unredeemed fathers’ trousers from the pawnbroker, and to prevent their resumption, on the part of the irreclaimable parent, by abridging them immediately to suit the proportions of the innocent son. I was a member, at that time, of the select committee; and I mention the Society here, because my precious and admirable friend, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, was associated with our work of moral and material usefulness. I had expected to see him in the boardroom, on the Monday evening of which I am now writing, and had proposed to tell him, when we met, of dear Aunt Verinder’s arrival in London.

On my expressing a feeling of surprise at his absence, my sisters of the Committee all looked up together from their trousers (we had a great pressure of business that night), and asked in amazement, if I had not heard the news. On the previous Friday, two gentlemen--occupying widely-different positions in society--had been the victims of an outrage which had startled all London. Godfrey Ablewhite. Godfrey Ablewhite.

Everything shall be put neatly, and everything shall be put in its place. These lines are written by a poor weak woman. The date--thanks to my dear parents, no dictionary that ever was written can be more particular than I am about dates--was Friday, June 30th, 1848.

A momentary contest of politeness ensued between them as to who should be the first to pass through the door of the bank. Thoughtless and superficial people may say, Here is surely a very trumpery little incident related in an absurdly circumstantial manner. Let your faith be as your stockings, and your stockings as your faith. Merely premising that the polite stranger was Mr. He found waiting for him, in the hall, a poorly clad but delicate and interesting-looking little boy. The boy handed him a letter, merely mentioning that he had been entrusted with it by an old lady whom he did not know, and who had given him no instructions to wait for an answer. Godfrey’s large experience as a promoter of public charities. The handwriting was entirely unfamiliar to him. It requested his attendance, within an hour’s time, at a house in Northumberland Street, Strand, which he had never had occasion to enter before. The object sought was to obtain from the worthy manager certain details on the subject of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and the information was wanted by an elderly lady who proposed adding largely to the resources of the charity, if her questions were met by satisfactory replies.

Ordinary people might have hesitated before setting aside their own engagements to suit the convenience of a stranger. The Christian Hero never hesitates where good is to be done. The other was an ancient Oriental manuscript, richly illuminated with Indian figures and devices, that lay open to inspection on a table.

He was looking at the book, the position of which caused him to stand with his back turned towards the closed folding doors communicating with the front room, when, without the slightest previous noise to warn him, he felt himself suddenly seized round the neck from behind. A third rifled his pockets, and--if, as a lady, I may venture to use such an expression--searched him, without ceremony, through and through to his skin. Perhaps, however, the position and appearance of my admirable friend at the culminating period of the outrage (as above described) are hardly within the proper limits of female discussion. At the end of it some words were exchanged, among the invisible wretches, in a language which he did not understand, but in tones which were plainly expressive (to his cultivated ear) of disappointment and rage. It advanced up the stairs, and stopped. He looked in amazement at two respectable strangers, and faintly articulated, “What does it mean?” The two respectable strangers looked back, and said, “Exactly the question we were going to ask YOU.” The inevitable explanation followed. It appeared from the statement of the landlord and landlady of the house (persons of good repute in the neighbourhood), that their first and second floor apartments had been engaged, on the previous day, for a week certain, by a most respectable-looking gentleman--the same who has been already described as answering the door to Mr. The gentleman had paid the week’s rent and all the week’s extras in advance, stating that the apartments were wanted for three Oriental noblemen, friends of his, who were visiting England for the first time. The third was expected to join them shortly; and the luggage (reported as very bulky) was announced to follow when it had passed through the Custom-house, late in the afternoon. Godfrey’s visit, the third foreigner had arrived.

Nothing out of the common had happened, to the knowledge of the landlord and landlady down-stairs, until within the last five minutes--when they had seen the three foreigners, accompanied by their respectable English friend, all leave the house together, walking quietly in the direction of the Strand.

Remembering that a visitor had called, and not having seen the visitor also leave the house, the landlady had thought it rather strange that the gentleman should be left by himself up-stairs. After a short discussion with her husband, she had considered it advisable to ascertain whether anything was wrong. The result had followed, as I have already attempted to describe it; and there the explanation of the landlord and the landlady came to an end.

What did it mean? Taking the worldly point of view, it appeared to mean that Mr. Godfrey had been the victim of some incomprehensible error, committed by certain unknown men. A dark conspiracy was on foot in the midst of us; and our beloved and innocent friend had been entangled in its meshes. When the Christian hero of a hundred charitable victories plunges into a pitfall that has been dug for him by mistake, oh, what a warning it is to the rest of us to be unceasingly on our guard! I could write pages of affectionate warning on this one theme, but (alas!) I am not permitted to improve--I am condemned to narrate. My wealthy relative’s cheque--henceforth, the incubus of my existence--warns me that I have not done with this record of violence yet. Luker had visited various parts of London on business errands. Returning to his own residence, he found a letter waiting for him, which was described as having been left a short time previously by a boy. Godfrey’s case, the handwriting was strange; but the name mentioned was the name of one of Mr.

His correspondent announced (writing in the third person--apparently by the hand of a deputy) that he had been unexpectedly summoned to London. The gentleman was an enthusiastic collector of Oriental antiquities, and had been for many years a liberal patron of the establishment in Lambeth.

Once more the respectable man answered the door, and showed the visitor up-stairs into the back drawing-room. Godfrey; but it had ended as before, in the persons of the house suspecting something wrong, and going up-stairs to see what had happened. This document would be useless for purposes of fraud, inasmuch as it provided that the valuable should only be given up on the personal application of the owner. Luker hurried to the bank, on the chance that the thieves who had robbed him might ignorantly present themselves with the receipt. Their respectable English friend had (in the opinion of the bankers) looked the receipt over before they attempted to make use of it, and had given them the necessary warning in good time. Information of both outrages was communicated to the police, and the needful investigations were pursued, I believe, with great energy. The authorities held that a robbery had been planned, on insufficient information received by the thieves. Luker had, or had not, trusted the transmission of his precious gem to another person; and poor polite Mr. Godfrey’s absence from our Monday evening meeting had been occasioned by a consultation of the authorities, at which he was requested to assist--and all the explanations required being now given, I may proceed with the simpler story of my own little personal experiences in Montagu Square. Reference to my diary shows this to have been a chequered day--much in it to be devoutly regretted, much in it to be devoutly thankful for.

Dear Aunt Verinder received me with her usual grace and kindness. But I noticed, after a little while, that something was wrong. I never see Rachel myself without wondering how it can be that so insignificant-looking a person should be the child of such distinguished parents as Sir John and Lady Verinder.

She was possessed by some feverish excitement which made her distressingly loud when she laughed, and sinfully wasteful and capricious in what she ate and drank at lunch. Luncheon over, my aunt said: “Remember what the doctor told you, Rachel, about quieting yourself with a book after taking your meals.” “I’ll go into the library, mamma,” she answered. “But if Godfrey calls, mind I am told of it. When we were left by ourselves, my aunt told me the whole horrible story of the Indian Diamond, which, I am happy to know, it is not necessary to repeat here. But when her own servants all knew of the loss of the Moonstone, and when some of the circumstances had actually found their way into the newspapers--when strangers were speculating whether there was any connection between what had happened at Lady Verinder’s country-house, and what had happened in Northumberland Street and Alfred Place--concealment was not to be thought of; and perfect frankness became a necessity as well as a virtue. Some persons, hearing what I now heard, would have been probably overwhelmed with astonishment. For my own part, knowing Rachel’s spirit to have been essentially unregenerate from her childhood upwards, I was prepared for whatever my aunt could tell me on the subject of her daughter.

It might have gone on from bad to worse till it ended in Murder; and I should still have said to myself, The natural result! Lady Verinder had thought it a case for a physician.

Rachel has been incessantly restless and excited since she first heard of it. She left me no peace till I had written and asked my nephew Ablewhite to come here. May there not be something in these recent events which threatens her secret with discovery?” “Discovery?” repeated my aunt. Godfrey Ablewhite. It is in the completeness of his daily life that the true Christian appears. Ablewhite is here.” We both inquired after his health. With perfect tact, he contrived to answer us at the same moment. “What,” he cried, with infinite tenderness, “have I done to deserve all this sympathy? Just think how much worse it might have been! If I could have had my own way, I would have kept my adventure to myself--I shrink from all this fuss and publicity.

I am very sick indeed of it myself. So glad to hear it! I am sadly behind-hand with my Committee Work and my dear Ladies. Did you make cheering progress at Monday’s Committee? The richness of his deep voice added its own indescribable charm to the interesting business question which he had just addressed to me. In truth, we were almost TOO nicely off for Trousers; we were quite overwhelmed by them. Godfrey at a most unladylike rate of speed, with her hair shockingly untidy, and her face, what I should call, unbecomingly flushed. Luker with you.

You and he (as long as our present excitement lasts) are the two most interesting men in all London. It’s morbid to say this; it’s unhealthy; it’s all that a well-regulated mind like Miss Clack’s most instinctively shudders at. I know the newspapers have left some of it out.” Even dear Mr. Godfrey partakes of the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam--it is a very small share of our human legacy, but, alas! he has it. I confess it grieved me to see him take Rachel’s hand in both of his own hands, and lay it softly on the left side of his waistcoat. It was a direct encouragement to her reckless way of talking, and her insolent reference to me. “Dearest Rachel,” he said, in the same voice which had thrilled me when he spoke of our prospects and our trousers, “the newspapers have told you everything--and they have told it much better than I can.” “Godfrey thinks we all make too much of the matter,” my aunt remarked.

“He has just been saying that he doesn’t care to speak of it.” “Why?” She put the question with a sudden flash in her eyes, and a sudden look up into Mr. On his side, he looked down at her with an indulgence so injudicious and so ill-deserved, that I really felt called on to interfere.

“But I am quite sure you are not great; I don’t believe you possess any extraordinary courage; and I am firmly persuaded--if you ever had any modesty--that your lady-worshippers relieved you of that virtue a good many years since. You have some private reason for not talking of your adventure in Northumberland Street; and I mean to know it.” “My reason is the simplest imaginable, and the most easily acknowledged,” he answered, still bearing with her. My dear Godfrey, I am going to make a remark.” “What is it?” “You live a great deal too much in the society of women. And you have contracted two very bad habits in consequence. You can’t go straight with your lady-worshippers. I mean to make you go straight with me. Come, and sit down. It was, perhaps, the reaction after the trying time she had had in the country. Not a pleasant symptom to remark, be it what it might, at dear Lady Verinder’s age, and with dear Lady Verinder’s autumnal exuberance of figure. In the meantime, Rachel had settled herself at the window with our amiable and forbearing--our too forbearing--Mr.

She began the string of questions with which she had threatened him, taking no more notice of her mother, or of myself, than if we had not been in the room. “Have the police done anything, Godfrey?” “Nothing whatever.” “It is certain, I suppose, that the three men who laid the trap for you were the same three men who afterwards laid the trap for Mr. Luker?” “Humanly speaking, my dear Rachel, there can be no doubt of it.” “And not a trace of them has been discovered?” “Not a trace.” “It is thought--is it not?--that these three men are the three Indians who came to our house in the country.” “Some people think so.” “Do you think so?” “My dear Rachel, they blindfolded me before I could see their faces. How can I offer an opinion on it?” Even the angelic gentleness of Mr. Whether unbridled curiosity, or ungovernable dread, dictated Miss Verinder’s questions I do not presume to inquire. She went on with her questions, unabashed. Earnest Biblical students will perhaps be reminded--as I was reminded--of the blinded children of the devil, who went on with their orgies, unabashed, in the time before the Flood. It may be enough for the general reader; but it is not enough for me. The banker’s receipt must have mentioned what the gem was?” “The banker’s receipt, Rachel--as I have heard it described--mentioned nothing of the kind. Luker; deposited by Mr.

Luker; sealed with Mr. That was the form, and that is all I know about it.” She waited a moment, after he had said that. “Some of our private affairs, at home,” she said, “seem to have got into the newspapers?” “I grieve to say, it is so.” “And some idle people, perfect strangers to us, are trying to trace a connexion between what happened at our house in Yorkshire and what has happened since, here in London?” “The public curiosity, in certain quarters, is, I fear, taking that turn.” “The people who say that the three unknown men who ill-used you and Mr. She had become gradually, within the last few moments, whiter and whiter in the face. I followed my aunt with a modest medicinal peace-offering, in the shape of a bottle of salts. Clack, you’re dying to hear the end of it--I won’t faint, expressly to oblige YOU.” Those were the exact words she used--taken down in my diary the moment I got home.

With an obstinacy dreadful to see, she went back again to the place where she had checked herself, and completed her question in these words: “I spoke to you, a minute since, about what people were saying in certain quarters. He lost the genial suavity of manner which is one of his greatest charms. “They DO say it,” he answered. “There are people who don’t hesitate to accuse Mr.

And these vile people reply, without a shadow of proof to justify them, He has his reasons for concealment; we decline to believe him on his oath. I blush to record it--she sneered at him to his face. “Keep your noble sentiments for your Ladies’ Committees, Godfrey. Have a moment’s patience with me, and you will see.” She looked back at Mr. Godfrey, with what appeared to be a sudden pity for him. An unlucky accident has associated you in people’s minds with Mr. “It’s better forgotten, Rachel--it is, indeed.” “I WILL hear it!” she cried out, fiercely, at the top of her voice. Godfrey’s fine eyes filled with tears. He cast one last appealing look at her--and then he spoke the fatal words: “If you will have it, Rachel--scandal says that the Moonstone is in pledge to Mr.

Luker, and that I am the man who has pawned it.” She started to her feet with a scream. I must set it right. But to let an innocent man be ruined; to keep a secret which destroys his character for life--Oh, good God, it’s too horrible! I can’t bear it!” My aunt half rose from her chair, then suddenly sat down again. She called to me faintly, and pointed to a little phial in her work-box. It will be all forgotten in another week. Let us never speak of it again.” She was perfectly inaccessible, even to such generosity as this. “I must, and will, stop it,” she said.

I know--” she laid a strong emphasis on the words; she stamped her foot in the rage that possessed her--“I KNOW THAT GODFREY ABLEWHITE IS INNOCENT. Take me to the magistrate, and I will swear it!” My aunt caught me by the hand, and whispered, “Stand between us for a minute or two. “The drops will put me right in a minute or two,” she said, and so closed her eyes, and waited a little. “YOUR reputation, dearest Rachel, is something too pure and too sacred to be trifled with.” “MY reputation!” She burst out laughing. I must be mad--mustn’t I?--not to own the truth NOW?” She was too vehement to notice her mother’s condition--she was on her feet again, and back with Mr. If you won’t take me before the magistrate, draw out a declaration of your innocence on paper, and I will sign it. Do as I tell you, Godfrey, or I’ll write it to the newspapers I’ll go out, and cry it in the streets!” We will not say this was the language of remorse--we will say it was the language of hysterics.

She signed it in a feverish hurry. “Show it everywhere--don’t think of ME,” she said, as she gave it to him. “I am afraid, Godfrey, I have not done you justice, hitherto, in my thoughts.

He not only forgot himself so far as to kiss her hand--he adopted a gentleness of tone in answering her which, in such a case, was little better than a compromise with sin. “I will come, dearest,” he said, “on condition that we don’t speak of this hateful subject again.” Never had I seen and heard our Christian Hero to less advantage than on this occasion. I looked through the window, and saw the World, the Flesh, and the Devil waiting before the house--as typified in a carriage and horses, a powdered footman, and three of the most audaciously dressed women I ever beheld in my life. I have not distressed you, have I?” (Is the bluntness of moral feeling which could ask such a question as that, after what had just happened, to be pitied or condemned? Let us pity it.) The drops had produced their effect. My poor aunt’s complexion was like itself again. “Go with our friends, and enjoy yourself.” Her daughter stooped, and kissed her. I had left the window, and was near the door, when Rachel approached it to go out. I looked with interest at the momentary softening of that obdurate heart. “What do you mean by pitying me?” she asked in a bitter whisper, as she passed to the door.

But I am almost as poorly provided with words as with money. Permit me to say--my heart bled for her. He came back to my aunt and me, with his declaration of innocence in one hand, and with a box of matches in the other. “Dear aunt, a little conspiracy!” he said. “Dear Miss Clack, a pious fraud which even your high moral rectitude will excuse! And will you kindly bear witness that I destroy it in your presence, before I leave the house?” He kindled a match, and, lighting the paper, laid it to burn in a plate on the table. “Any trifling inconvenience that I may suffer is as nothing,” he remarked, “compared with the importance of preserving that pure name from the contaminating contact of the world.

We have reduced it to a little harmless heap of ashes; and our dear impulsive Rachel will never know what we have done! For my poor part, I am as light-hearted as a boy!” He beamed on us with his beautiful smile; he held out a hand to my aunt, and a hand to me. I closed my eyes; I put his hand, in a kind of spiritual self-forgetfulness, to my lips. I sat--I hardly know on what--quite lost in my own exalted feelings.

When I opened my eyes again, it was like descending from heaven to earth. I should like to stop here--I should like to close my narrative with the record of Mr.

The painful disclosures which were to reveal themselves in my presence, during that Tuesday’s visit to Montagu Square, were not at an end yet. Finding myself alone with Lady Verinder, I turned naturally to the subject of her health; touching delicately on the strange anxiety which she had shown to conceal her indisposition, and the remedy applied to it, from the observation of her daughter. “Drusilla,” she said (if I have not already mentioned that my Christian name is Drusilla, permit me to mention it now), “you are touching quite innocently, I know--on a very distressing subject.” I rose immediately.

Lady Verinder stopped me, and insisted on my sitting down again. Ablewhite, and to my lawyer Mr. or is your time your own this afternoon?” It is needless to say that my time was entirely at my aunt’s disposal. And I shall have a service to ask of you afterwards, if you don’t object to assist me.” It is again needless to say that, so far from objecting, I was all eagerness to assist her. “You can wait here,” she went on, “till Mr. And you can be one of the witnesses, Drusilla, when I sign my Will.” Her Will! I waited her pleasure in silence; and, having privately arranged to say a few sustaining words at the first convenient opportunity, felt prepared for any duty that could claim me, no matter how painful it might be. “And, strange to say, without knowing it myself.” I thought of the thousands and thousands of perishing human creatures who were all at that moment spiritually ill, without knowing it themselves. “I thought it right to consult two doctors.” Two doctors! To my surprise, he took me gravely by the hand, and said, ‘I have been looking at you, Lady Verinder, with a professional as well as a personal interest.

It ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, accompanied by a medical friend, on the next day, at an hour when Rachel would not be at home. The result of that visit--most kindly and gently conveyed to me--satisfied both the physicians that there had been precious time lost, which could never be regained, and that my case had now passed beyond the reach of their art. For more than two years I have been suffering under an insidious form of heart disease, which, without any symptoms to alarm me, has, by little and little, fatally broken me down. I may live for some months, or I may die before another day has passed over my head--the doctors cannot, and dare not, speak more positively than this. It would be vain to say, my dear, that I have not had some miserable moments since my real situation has been made known to me. If she knew it, she would at once attribute my broken health to anxiety about the Diamond, and would reproach herself bitterly, poor child, for what is in no sense her fault.

Oh, what Pagan emotions to expect from a Christian Englishwoman anchored firmly on her faith! Little did my poor aunt imagine what a gush of devout thankfulness thrilled through me as she approached the close of her melancholy story. Here was a beloved relative and perishing fellow-creature, on the eve of the great change, utterly unprepared; and led, providentially led, to reveal her situation to Me! How can I describe the joy with which I now remembered that the precious clerical friends on whom I could rely, were to be counted, not by ones or twos, but by tens and twenties. I took my aunt in my arms--my overflowing tenderness was not to be satisfied, now, with anything less than an embrace.

“Oh!” I said to her, fervently, “the indescribable interest with which you inspire me! Poor Lady Verinder looked puzzled and frightened, and met everything I could say to her with the purely worldly objection that she was not strong enough to face strangers. My large experience (as Reader and Visitor, under not less, first and last, than fourteen beloved clerical friends) informed me that this was another case for preparation by books. I possessed a little library of works, all suitable to the present emergency, all calculated to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify my aunt. She said, “I will do what I can, Drusilla, to please you,” with a look of surprise, which was at once instructive and terrible to see. The clock on the mantel-piece informed me that I had just time to hurry home; to provide myself with a first series of selected readings (say a dozen only); and to return in time to meet the lawyer, and witness Lady Verinder’s Will. Promising faithfully to be back by five o’clock, I left the house on my errand of mercy. Permit me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt’s interests by recording that, on this occasion, I committed the prodigality of taking a cab. I drove home, selected and marked my first series of readings, and drove back to Montagu Square, with a dozen works in a carpet-bag, the like of which, I firmly believe, are not to be found in the literature of any other country in Europe.

He received it with an oath; upon which I instantly gave him a tract. If I had presented a pistol at his head, this abandoned wretch could hardly have exhibited greater consternation. He jumped up on his box, and, with profane exclamations of dismay, drove off furiously. Quite useless, I am happy to say! I sowed the good seed, in spite of him, by throwing a second tract in at the window of the cab. The servant who answered the door--not the person with the cap-ribbons, to my great relief, but the foot-man--informed me that the doctor had called, and was still shut up with Lady Verinder. Bruff, the lawyer, had arrived a minute since and was waiting in the library. I was shown into the library to wait too.

He is the family solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occasions, under Lady Verinder’s roof. “Have you come to stay here, Miss Clack?” he asked, with a look at my carpet-bag. To reveal the contents of my precious bag to such a person as this would have been simply to invite an outburst of profanity. “She has been so good as to ask me to be one of the witnesses.” “Aye?

If my aunt, possessed of thousands, had remembered poor Me, to whom five pounds is an object--if my name had appeared in the Will, with a little comforting legacy attached to it--my enemies might have doubted the motive which had loaded me with the choicest treasures of my library, and had drawn upon my failing resources for the prodigal expenses of a cab. Much better as it was! Oh, surely, surely, much better as it was! My meditative silence appeared to weigh upon the spirits of this worldling, and to force him, as it were, into talking to me against his own will. “Well, Miss Clack, what’s the last news in the charitable circles? Godfrey Ablewhite, after the mauling he got from the rogues in Northumberland Street? they’re telling a pretty story about that charitable gentleman at my club!” I had passed over the manner in which this person had remarked that I was more than twenty-one, and that I had no pecuniary interest in my aunt’s Will. Feeling bound, after what had passed in my presence that afternoon, to assert the innocence of my admirable friend, whenever I found it called in question--I own to having also felt bound to include in the accomplishment of this righteous purpose, a stinging castigation in the case of Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, won’t find the world in general quite so easy to convince as a committee of charitable ladies.

Godfrey’s innocence, offered by the only person who was undeniably competent to speak from a positive knowledge of the subject.

the temptation to lead the lawyer artfully on to his own discomfiture was too much for me. I asked what he meant by “later events”--with an appearance of the utmost innocence. He lodges it privately (under a general description) in his bankers’ strong-room.

They have their suspicions that the ‘valuable of great price’ is being shifted from one place to another; and they hit on a singularly bold and complete way of clearing those suspicions up.

Godfrey Ablewhite as well. Ablewhite’s explanation is, that they acted on blind suspicion, after seeing him accidentally speaking to Mr. Ablewhite had his private interest in the ‘valuable’ as well as Mr. Luker, and that the Indians were so uncertain as to which of the two had the disposal of it, that there was no alternative but to search them both. And public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily refuted.” He said those last words, looking so wonderfully wise in his own worldly conceit, that I really (to my shame be it spoken) could not resist leading him a little farther still, before I overwhelmed him with the truth. “I don’t presume to argue with a clever lawyer like you,” I said. “But is it quite fair, sir, to Mr. Ablewhite to pass over the opinion of the famous London police officer who investigated this case? Not the shadow of a suspicion rested upon anybody but Miss Verinder, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff.” “Do you mean to tell me, Miss Clack, that you agree with the Sergeant?” “I judge nobody, sir, and I offer no opinion.” “And I commit both those enormities, ma’am. I judge the Sergeant to have been utterly wrong; and I offer the opinion that, if he had known Rachel’s character as I know it, he would have suspected everybody in the house but HER.

I admit that she has her faults--she is secret, and self-willed; odd and wild, and unlike other girls of her age. Strong language, Miss Clack; but I mean it.” “Would you object to illustrate your meaning, Mr. Bruff, so that I may be sure I understand it? Suppose you found Miss Verinder quite unaccountably interested in what has happened to Mr. Ablewhite and Mr. Suppose she asked the strangest questions about this dreadful scandal, and displayed the most ungovernable agitation when she found out the turn it was taking?” “Suppose anything you please, Miss Clack, it wouldn’t shake my belief in Rachel Verinder by a hair’s-breadth.” “She is so absolutely to be relied on as that?” “So absolutely to be relied on as that.” “Then permit me to inform you, Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite was in this house not two hours since, and that his entire innocence of all concern in the disappearance of the Moonstone was proclaimed by Miss Verinder herself, in the strongest language I ever heard used by a young lady in my life.” I enjoyed the triumph--the unholy triumph, I fear I must admit--of seeing Mr. I kept my seat, undisturbed, and related the whole scene as it had occurred. Ablewhite now?” I asked, with the utmost possible gentleness, as soon as I had done. “If Rachel has testified to his innocence, Miss Clack, I don’t scruple to say that I believe in his innocence as firmly as you do: I have been misled by appearances, like the rest of the world; and I will make the best atonement I can, by publicly contradicting the scandal which has assailed your friend wherever I meet with it. In the meantime, allow me to congratulate you on the masterly manner in which you have opened the full fire of your batteries on me at the moment when I least expected it. You would have done great things in my profession, ma’am, if you had happened to be a man.” With those words he turned away from me, and began walking irritably up and down the room. Certain expressions dropped from his lips, as he became more and more absorbed in his own thoughts, which suggested to my mind the abominable view that he had hitherto taken of the mystery of the lost Moonstone.

On Miss Verinder’s own authority--a perfectly unassailable authority, as you are aware, in the estimation of Mr. The perplexity into which I had plunged this high legal authority was so overwhelming that he was quite unable to conceal it from notice.

“What a case!” I heard him say to himself, stopping at the window in his walk, and drumming on the glass with his fingers. “It not only defies explanation, it’s even beyond conjecture.” There was nothing in these words which made any reply at all needful, on my part--and yet, I answered them! It seems hardly credible that I should not have been able to let Mr. It seems almost beyond mere mortal perversity that I should have discovered, in what he had just said, a new opportunity of making myself personally disagreeable to him. nothing is beyond mortal perversity; and anything is credible when our fallen natures get the better of us!

I own I don’t know what it is.” “Before I was so fortunate, sir, as to convince you of Mr. Ablewhite’s innocence, you mentioned it as one of the reasons for suspecting him, that he was in the house at the time when the Diamond was lost. Permit me to remind you that Mr. Franklin Blake was also in the house at the time when the Diamond was lost.” The old worldling left the window, took a chair exactly opposite to mine, and looked at me steadily, with a hard and vicious smile.

“You are not so good a lawyer, Miss Clack,” he remarked in a meditative manner, “as I supposed. “It won’t do, Miss Clack--it really won’t do a second time. Franklin Blake is a prime favourite of mine, as you are well aware. You’re quite right, ma’am. Ablewhite, on grounds which abstractedly justify suspecting Mr. It’s quite in his character, we will say, to be capable of stealing the Moonstone. The only question is, whether it was his interest to do so.” “Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite’s debts have not arrived at that stage of development yet. Quite true.

I manage Franklin Blake’s affairs, and I beg to inform you that the vast majority of his creditors (knowing his father to be a rich man) are quite content to charge interest on their debts, and to wait for their money. I have it on the authority of Lady Verinder herself, that her daughter was ready to marry Franklin Blake, before that infernal Indian Diamond disappeared from the house. She had drawn him on and put him off again, with the coquetry of a young girl. But she had confessed to her mother that she loved cousin Franklin, and her mother had trusted cousin Franklin with the secret. So there he was, Miss Clack, with his creditors content to wait, and with the certain prospect before him of marrying an heiress. “Who is to fathom it?” “In other words, ma’am--though he hadn’t the shadow of a reason for taking the Diamond--he might have taken it, nevertheless, through natural depravity.

Why--even supposing he did take the Diamond--should Franklin Blake make himself the most prominent person in the house in trying to recover it? He first steals the Moonstone (without the slightest reason) through natural depravity; and he then acts a part, in relation to the loss of the jewel, which there is not the slightest necessity to act, and which leads to his mortally offending the young lady who would otherwise have married him. That is the monstrous proposition which you are driven to assert, if you attempt to associate the disappearance of the Moonstone with Franklin Blake. Ablewhite’s innocence is equally certain--or Rachel would never have testified to it.

And Franklin Blake’s innocence, as you have just seen, unanswerably asserts itself. Luker, or his banker, is in private possession of it at this moment. It baffles me; it baffles you, it baffles everybody.” No--not everybody. It had not baffled Sergeant Cuff. I was about to mention this, with all possible mildness, and with every necessary protest against being supposed to cast a slur upon Rachel--when the servant came in to say that the doctor had gone, and that my aunt was waiting to receive us. Bruff collected his papers, looking a little exhausted by the demands which our conversation had made on him. Permit me to add here, before my narrative advances to other events, that I have not described what passed between the lawyer and me, without having a definite object in view. A report of my conversation in the library with Mr. Bruff appeared to me to be exactly what was wanted to answer this purpose--while, at the same time, it possessed the great moral advantage of rendering a sacrifice of sinful self-esteem essentially necessary on my part.

The moral balance is restored; the spiritual atmosphere feels clear once more.

It was hurried over, to my thinking, in indecent haste. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act as second witness--and the pen was put at once into my aunt’s hand. Bruff’s manner convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he was in the room. In less than two minutes it was all over--and Samuel (unbenefited by what I might have said) had gone downstairs again. Bruff folded up the Will, and then looked my way; apparently wondering whether I did or did not mean to leave him alone with my aunt. Paul’s Cathedral by looking at it, as to move Me. There was one merit about him (due no doubt to his worldly training) which I have no wish to deny.

HE too uttered a profane expression, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress of the field. As soon as we were alone, my aunt reclined on the sofa, and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the subject of her Will. “I mean to GIVE you your little legacy, my dear, with my own hand.” Here was a golden opportunity! I seized it on the spot. It proved to be an early edition--only the twenty-fifth--of the famous anonymous work (believed to be by precious Miss Bellows), entitled THE SERPENT AT HOME. The design of the book--with which the worldly reader may not be acquainted--is to show how the Evil One lies in wait for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily lives. “Give your attention, dear aunt, to this precious book--and you will give me all I ask.” With those words, I handed it to her open, at a marked passage--one continuous burst of burning eloquence!

Poor Lady Verinder (reclining thoughtlessly on her own sofa cushions) glanced at the book, and handed it back to me looking more confused than ever. “I’m afraid, Drusilla,” she said, “I must wait till I am a little better, before I can read that. Precisely the same blinded materialism (working treacherously behind my back) now sought to rob me of the only right of property that my poverty could claim--my right of spiritual property in my perishing aunt. ‘Do nothing, Lady Verinder, to weary your head, or to quicken your pulse’--those were his last words, Drusilla, when he left me to-day.” There was no help for it but to yield again--for the moment only, as before. Any open assertion of the infinitely superior importance of such a ministry as mine, compared with the ministry of the medical man, would only have provoked the doctor to practise on the human weakness of his patient, and to threaten to throw up the case. “Or you might wake, to-morrow morning, with a sense of something wanting, and even this unpretending volume might be able to supply it. The doctor can hardly object to that!” I slipped it under the sofa cushions, half in, and half out, close by her handkerchief, and her smelling-bottle. Every time her hand searched for either of these, it would touch the book; and, sooner or later (who knows?) the book might touch HER. After making this arrangement, I thought it wise to withdraw.

It was full of flowers, in boxes and pots. Lady Verinder was extravagantly fond of these perishable treasures, and had a habit of rising every now and then, and going to look at them and smell them. I instantly covered them from sight with two of my own precious publications. In the breakfast-room I found my aunt’s favourite canary singing in his cage.

She was always in the habit of feeding the bird herself. In the drawing-room I found more cheering opportunities of emptying my bag. My aunt’s favourite musical pieces were on the piano. A third little room opened out of the back drawing-room, from which it was shut off by curtains instead of a door. The question then came, whether I should go higher still, and try the bed-room floor--at the risk, undoubtedly, of being insulted, if the person with the cap-ribbons happened to be in the upper regions of the house, and to find me out. It is a poor Christian that is afraid of being insulted. All was silent and solitary--it was the servants’ tea-time, I suppose. The miniature of my late dear uncle, Sir John, hung on the wall opposite the bed. It seemed to smile at me; it seemed to say, “Drusilla!

deposit a book.” There were tables on either side of my aunt’s bed. Whether she wanted a light, or whether she wanted a drop, there was a precious publication to meet her eye, or to meet her hand, and to say with silent eloquence, in either case, “Come, try me! It had a pocket in it, and in that pocket I put my last book. Can words express my exquisite sense of duty done, when I had slipped out of the house, unsuspected by any of them, and when I found myself in the street with my empty bag under my arm? Oh, my worldly friends, pursuing the phantom, Pleasure, through the guilty mazes of Dissipation, how easy it is to be happy, if you will only be good! When I folded up my things that night--when I reflected on the true riches which I had scattered with such a lavish hand, from top to bottom of the house of my wealthy aunt--I declare I felt as free from all anxiety as if I had been a child again. Quite like a child again! quite like a child again!

The front parlour was my sitting-room. It was the young footman, Samuel--a civil fresh-coloured person, with a teachable look and a very obliging manner. I had always felt a spiritual interest in Samuel, and a wish to try him with a few serious words. On this occasion, I invited him into my sitting-room. He came in, with a large parcel under his arm. When he put the parcel down, it appeared to frighten him. Miss Rachel had gone with her, and Mr. Ablewhite had taken a seat in the carriage, too. Godfrey’s charitable work was in arrear, I thought it odd that he should be going out driving, like an idle man. Ablewhite had arranged to come to coffee, and go with her.

Ablewhite. “All the tickets may be gone, Miss,” said this innocent youth, “if I don’t run and get them at once!” He ran as he said the words--and I found myself alone again, with some anxious thoughts to occupy me. We had a special meeting of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion Society that night, summoned expressly with a view to obtaining Mr.

Instead of sustaining our sisterhood, under an overwhelming flow of Trousers which quite prostrated our little community, he had arranged to take coffee in Montagu Square, and to goto a ball afterwards! The afternoon of the next day had been selected for the Festival of the British-Ladies’-Servants’-Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision Society. Instead of being present, the life and soul of that struggling Institution, he had engaged to make one of a party of worldlings at a morning concert! I asked myself what did it mean? it meant that our Christian Hero was to reveal himself to me in a new character, and to become associated in my mind with one of the most awful backslidings of modern times. and had it taken the form of cast-off clothes, or worn-out silver spoons, or unfashionable jewellery, or anything of that sort? As to my aunt’s letter, it simply amounted, poor soul, to this--that she dare not disobey her medical man. With my training and my principles, I never had a moment’s doubt. Neither public nor private influences produce the slightest effect on us, when we have once got our mission. Taxation may be the consequence of a mission; riots may be the consequence of a mission; wars may be the consequence of a mission: we go on with our work, irrespective of every human consideration which moves the world outside us.

We are above reason; we are beyond ridicule; we see with nobody’s eyes, we hear with nobody’s ears, we feel with nobody’s hearts, but our own. And how is it earned? We are the only people who can earn it--for we are the only people who are always right.

In the case of my misguided aunt, the form which pious perseverance was next to take revealed itself to me plainly enough. So be it!

The next thing to try was--Preparation by Little Notes. As letters they would excite no suspicion; as letters they would be opened--and, once opened, might be read. Other letters were written for me by my valued fellow-workers, the sisterhood at the Mothers’-Small-Clothes. She was again in the room in which I had witnessed her Will, resting on the sofa, and trying to get a little sleep. I said I would wait in the library, on the chance of seeing her.

In the fervour of my zeal to distribute the letters, it never occurred to me to inquire about Rachel. The house was quiet, and it was past the hour at which the musical performance began. I took it for granted that she and her party of pleasure-seekers (Mr. included) were all at the concert, and eagerly devoted myself to my good work, while time and opportunity were still at my own disposal. She had evidently not felt herself equal to dealing with a large mass of letters--and she might be daunted by the number of them, if she entered the library later in the day. I put one of my second set of six letters on the chimney-piece by itself; leaving it to attract her curiosity, by means of its solitary position, apart from the rest. The first servant who went in after me would conclude that my aunt had dropped it, and would be specially careful to restore it to her.

Just as I entered the front room, I heard a double knock at the street-door--a soft, fluttering, considerate little knock. Before I could think of slipping back to the library (in which I was supposed to be waiting), the active young footman was in the hall, answering the door. It mattered little, as I thought. In my aunt’s state of health, visitors in general were not admitted. To my horror and amazement, the performer of the soft little knock proved to be an exception to general rules. Who could this favoured male visitor possibly be? Who COULD it be but the doctor? In the case of any other visitor, I should have allowed myself to be discovered in the drawing-room. I slipped into the little third room, which I have mentioned as communicating with the back drawing-room, and dropped the curtains which closed the open doorway. If I only waited there for a minute or two, the usual result in such cases would take place.

I waited a minute or two, and more than a minute or two. I heard the visitor walking restlessly backwards and forwards.

Was it not the doctor, but somebody else?

an unerring instinct told me it was not Mr. I parted the heavy curtains the least little morsel in the world, and listened. The words I heard were, “I’ll do it to-day!” And the voice that spoke them was Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite’s. But don’t suppose--oh, don’t suppose--that the dreadful embarrassment of my situation was the uppermost idea in my mind! He would do it to-day. He had said, in a tone of terrible resolution, he would do it to-day. Would he apostatise from the faith? Had we seen the last of his angelic smile in the committee-room?

I was so wrought up by the bare idea of such awful eventualities as these in connection with such a man, that I believe I should have rushed from my place of concealment, and implored him in the name of all the Ladies’ Committees in London to explain himself--when I suddenly heard another voice in the room. It penetrated through the curtains; it was loud, it was bold, it was wanting in every female charm.

“You are quite right, Godfrey. And then I met my martyrdom, with the spirit of a primitive Christian. “Don’t sit on the ottoman,” the young lady proceeded. I like people to be opposite to me when I talk to them.” He took the nearest seat.

It was a low chair. He was very tall, and many sizes too large for it. And that I didn’t quite like leaving her to go to the concert?” “Those were the words. They were grieved to lose you at the concert, but they quite understood. All sent their love; and all expressed a cheering belief that Lady Verinder’s indisposition would soon pass away.” “YOU don’t think it’s serious, do you, Godfrey?” “Far from it! In a few days, I feel quite sure, all will be well again.” “I think so, too. I was a little frightened at first, but I think so too. It was very kind to go and make my excuses for me to people who are almost strangers to you. But why not have gone with them to the concert?

It seems very hard that you should miss the music too.” “Don’t say that, Rachel! If you only knew how much happier I am--here, with you!” He clasped his hands, and looked at her.

In the position which he occupied, when he did that, he turned my way. Can words describe how I sickened when I noticed exactly the same pathetic expression on his face, which had charmed me when he was pleading for destitute millions of his fellow-creatures on the platform at Exeter Hall! “It’s hard to get over one’s bad habits, Godfrey. But do try to get over the habit of paying compliments--do, to please me.” “I never paid you a compliment, Rachel, in my life. Successful love may sometimes use the language of flattery, I admit. I thought I now understood the words which had dropped from him when he was alone in the drawing-room, “I’ll do it to-day.” Alas! the most rigid propriety could hardly have failed to discover that he was doing it now. We agreed that we were to be cousins, and nothing more.” “I break the agreement, Rachel, every time I see you.” “Then don’t see me.” “Quite useless! how kindly you told me, only the other day, that my place in your estimation was a higher place than it had ever been yet!

I must have THAT to cherish, and to comfort me, if I have nothing else!” His voice trembled, and he put his white handkerchief to his eyes. I saw her lean a little nearer to him. Would you believe it? My charitable business is an unendurable nuisance to me; and when I see a Ladies’ Committee now, I wish myself at the uttermost ends of the earth!” If the annals of apostasy offer anything comparable to such a declaration as that, I can only say that the case in point is not producible from the stores of my reading. My young female friends will feel encouraged to persevere, when I mention that it tried even My discipline before I could devour my own righteous indignation in silence. At the same time, it is only justice to myself to add, that I didn’t lose a syllable of the conversation.

“I wonder whether it would cure you of your unhappy attachment to me, if I made mine?” He started. It’s true, Godfrey. it’s impossible you can have any reason to speak of yourself in that way!” “How do you know I have no reason?” “Can you ask me the question!

I know it, because I know you. The disappearance of your precious birthday gift may seem strange; your unexplained connection with that event may seem stranger still.” “Are you speaking of the Moonstone, Godfrey----” “I certainly thought that you referred----” “I referred to nothing of the sort. I can hear of the loss of the Moonstone, let who will speak of it, without feeling degraded in my own estimation.

If the story of the Diamond ever comes to light, it will be known that I accepted a dreadful responsibility; it will be known that I involved myself in the keeping of a miserable secret--but it will be as clear as the sun at noon-day that I did nothing mean! It’s my fault for not speaking more plainly. Cost me what it may, I will be plainer now. Suppose you were not in love with me? Suppose you were in love with some other woman?” “Yes?” “Suppose you discovered that woman to be utterly unworthy of you? Suppose you were quite convinced that it was a disgrace to you to waste another thought on her? Suppose the bare idea of ever marrying such a person made your face burn, only with thinking of it.” “Yes?” “And, suppose, in spite of all that--you couldn’t tear her from your heart? Oh, how can I find words to say it in! It’s the breath of my life, Godfrey, and it’s the poison that kills me--both in one! What does it matter?

Don’t pity me! Will it be credited that he fell on his knees at her feet?--on BOTH knees, I solemnly declare!

And may reluctant admiration acknowledge that he electrified her with two words? But he did it with one of the bursts which have made his fame as a public speaker. She sat, either quite thunderstruck, or quite fascinated--I don’t know which--without even making an effort to put his arms back where his arms ought to have been. I was so painfully uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still able to hold the curtain in the right position for looking and listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed hysterics, it is admitted, even by the doctors, that one must hold something. “Yes,” he said, with all the fascination of his evangelical voice and manner, “you are a noble creature! Is it not your duty to yourself to forget this ill-fated attachment?

You have tried that life, and you are wearying of it already. Surround yourself with nobler interests than the wretched interests of the world. I don’t ask for your love--I will be content with your affection and regard.

“Don’t tempt me, Godfrey,” she said; “I am wretched enough and reckless enough as it is. How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there? And yet it doesn’t end unhappily--somehow or other the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is, that women try marriage as a Refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit; and, what is more, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. At your age, and with your attractions, is it possible for you to sentence yourself to a single life? It is merely a question of time. You are tempting me with a new prospect, when all my other prospects are closed before me. Take the warning, and go!” “I won’t even rise from my knees, till you have said yes!” “If I say yes you will repent, and I shall repent, when it is too late!” “We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and when you yielded.” “Do you feel as confidently as you speak?” “You shall judge for yourself. Do my father and mother live unhappily together?” “Far from it--so far as I can see.” “When my mother was a girl, Rachel (it is no secret in the family), she had loved as you love--she had given her heart to a man who was unworthy of her. Is there no encouragement in it for you and for me?” * * See Betteredge’s Narrative, chapter viii.

Let me only say, that I tried to close my eyes before it happened, and that I was just one moment too late. She submitted. Even my innocence in such matters began to see its way to the end of the interview now. Godfrey’s next words, to be one more trifling formality which it was necessary to observe. “Let my mother hear nothing from either of us, until she is better. I wish it to be kept a secret for the present, Godfrey. We have been here alone together quite long enough.” She rose, and in rising, looked for the first time towards the little room in which my martyrdom was going on. “The room is close enough, as it is, without keeping the air out of it in that way.” She advanced to the curtains. At the moment when she laid her hand on them--at the moment when the discovery of me appeared to be quite inevitable--the voice of the fresh-coloured young footman, on the stairs, suddenly suspended any further proceedings on her side or on mine.

It was unmistakably the voice of a man in great alarm. My lady has fainted, and we can’t bring her to again.” In a moment more I was alone, and free to go down-stairs in my turn, quite unobserved. I found Rachel on her knees by the sofa, with her mother’s head on her bosom. It was not long before he arrived. My aunt had died without opening one of the letters which I had addressed to her. I was so shocked at this, that it never occurred to me, until some days afterwards, that she had also died without giving me my little legacy. Franklin Blake; and, in sending him the fifth chapter of her humble narrative, begs to say that she feels quite unequal to enlarge as she could wish on an event so awful, under the circumstances, as Lady Verinder’s death. In returning the extracts sent with it, he will refrain from mentioning any personal objection which he may entertain to this species of literature, and will merely say that the proposed additions to the manuscript are not necessary to the fulfilment of the purpose that he has in view.” (3.) “Miss Clack begs to acknowledge the return of her Extracts. Franklin Blake that she is a Christian, and that it is, therefore, quite impossible for him to offend her. In the meanwhile she would be glad to know, before beginning the final chapters of her narrative, whether she may be permitted to make her humble contribution complete, by availing herself of the light which later discoveries have thrown on the mystery of the Moonstone.” (4.) “Mr.

She is requested to limit herself to her own individual experience of persons and events, as recorded in her diary. Later discoveries she will be good enough to leave to the pens of those persons who can write in the capacity of actual witnesses.” (5.) “Miss Clack is extremely sorry to trouble Mr. Franklin Blake with another letter. has learnt Perseverance in the School of Adversity. Her object in writing is to know whether Mr. Blake (who prohibits everything else) prohibits the appearance of the present correspondence in Miss Clack’s narrative? Some explanation of the position in which Mr.

Franklin Blake agrees to Miss Clack’s proposal, on the understanding that she will kindly consider this intimation of his consent as closing the correspondence between them.” (7.) “Miss Clack feels it an act of Christian duty (before the correspondence closes) to inform Mr. Franklin Blake that his last letter--evidently intended to offend her--has not succeeded in accomplishing the object of the writer. Blake to retire to the privacy of his own room, and to consider with himself whether the training which can thus elevate a poor weak woman above the reach of insult, be not worthy of greater admiration than he is now disposed to feel for it. On being favoured with an intimation to that effect, Miss C. (Signed) DRUSILLA CLACK.] CHAPTER VII The foregoing correspondence will sufficiently explain why no choice is left to me but to pass over Lady Verinder’s death with the simple announcement of the fact which ends my fifth chapter. Keeping myself for the future strictly within the limits of my own personal experience, I have next to relate that a month elapsed from the time of my aunt’s decease before Rachel Verinder and I met again. That meeting was the occasion of my spending a few days under the same roof with her.

In the course of my visit, something happened, relative to her marriage-engagement with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, which is important enough to require special notice in these pages. When this last of many painful family circumstances has been disclosed, my task will be completed; for I shall then have told all that I know, as an actual (and most unwilling) witness of events.

My aunt’s remains were removed from London, and were buried in the little cemetery attached to the church in her own park. I was invited to the funeral with the rest of the family. But it was impossible (with my religious views) to rouse myself in a few days only from the shock which this death had caused me. Having myself in past times seen this clerical castaway making one of the players at Lady Verinder’s whist-table, I doubt, even if I had been fit to travel, whether I should have felt justified in attending the ceremony. Ablewhite the elder. At any rate, in ten days from my aunt’s death, the secret of the marriage-engagement was no secret at all within the circle of the family, and the grand question for Mr.

Ablewhite senior--another confirmed castaway!--was how to make himself and his authority most agreeable to the wealthy young lady who was going to marry his son. The house in Montagu Square was associated with the calamity of her mother’s death. The house in Yorkshire was associated with the scandalous affair of the lost Moonstone. Her guardian’s own residence at Frizinghall was open to neither of these objections. But Rachel’s presence in it, after her recent bereavement, operated as a check on the gaieties of her cousins, the Miss Ablewhites--and she herself requested that her visit might be deferred to a more favourable opportunity.

It ended in a proposal, emanating from old Mr. Ablewhite, to try a furnished house at Brighton. His wife, an invalid daughter, and Rachel were to inhabit it together, and were to expect him to join them later in the season.

I describe this aimless flitting about from one place of residence to another--this insatiate restlessness of body and appalling stagnation of soul--merely with the view to arriving at results. My Aunt Ablewhite is a large, silent, fair-complexioned woman, with one noteworthy point in her character. A more hopeless person, in a spiritual point of view, I have never met with--there is absolutely, in this perplexing case, no obstructive material to work upon. Aunt Ablewhite would listen to the Grand Lama of Thibet exactly as she listens to Me, and would reflect his views quite as readily as she reflects mine. She discovered the necessary servants by breakfasting in bed one morning (still at the hotel), and giving her maid a holiday on condition that the girl “would begin enjoying herself by fetching Miss Clack.” I found her placidly fanning herself in her dressing-gown at eleven o’clock. Is the passage from time to eternity to be made in THIS manner?” My aunt answered, “I’ll put on my gown, Drusilla, if you will be kind enough to help me.” What was to be said after that? I have done wonders with murderesses--I have never advanced an inch with Aunt Ablewhite. “Rachel has got it, dear,” she said, “in the next room.” I went into the next room, and so saw Rachel again for the first time since we had parted in Montagu Square.

She looked pitiably small and thin in her deep mourning. If I attached any serious importance to such a perishable trifle as personal appearance, I might be inclined to add that hers was one of those unfortunate complexions which always suffer when not relieved by a border of white next the skin. Hindrances and pitfalls, dear girls, which beset us on our way to higher things! Greatly to my surprise, Rachel rose when I entered the room, and came forward to meet me with outstretched hand.

“Drusilla, I have been in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to you, on former occasions. Try to be friends with me, Drusilla, if you can.” To any rightly-constituted mind, the motive thus acknowledged was simply shocking. Here in Christian England was a young woman in a state of bereavement, with so little idea of where to look for true comfort, that she actually expected to find it among her mother’s friends! Godfrey Ablewhite. Having first met her advances with all possible cordiality, I sat by her on the sofa, at her own request.

This was, of itself, enough to encourage me to take her future conversion in hand--beginning with a few words of earnest warning directed against the hasty formation of the marriage tie, and so getting on to higher things. Looking at her, now, with this new interest--and calling to mind the headlong suddenness with which she had met Mr. Godfrey’s matrimonial views--I felt the solemn duty of interfering with a fervour which assured me that I should achieve no common results. Rapidity of proceeding was, as I believed, of importance in this case. “Where is the list, dear?” Rachel produced it. “Cook, kitchen-maid, housemaid, and footman,” I read. We shall have great difficulty in finding persons of character and capacity to accept a temporary engagement of that sort, if we try in London. Godfrey has taken it; and persons in the house wanted him to hire them as servants. He thought they would hardly do for us, and came back having settled nothing.” “And you have no experience yourself in these matters, Rachel?” “None whatever.” “And Aunt Ablewhite won’t exert herself?” “No, poor dear. I think she is the only really happy woman I have ever met with.” “There are degrees in happiness, darling.

We must have a little talk, some day, on that subject. Your aunt will write a letter to the people of the house----” “She will sign a letter, if I write it for her, which comes to the same thing.” “Quite the same thing. Brighton is so lively; you are sure to enjoy it.” In those words the invitation was given, and the glorious prospect of interference was opened before me. It was then the middle of the week. One of them--a clerical friend--kindly helped me to take sittings for our little party in the church in which he himself ministered. I borrowed half-a-dozen works, all carefully chosen with a view to Rachel. Sound doctrine in the servants who waited on her; sound doctrine in the minister who preached to her; sound doctrine in the books that lay on her table--such was the treble welcome which my zeal had prepared for the motherless girl! A heavenly composure filled my mind, on that Saturday afternoon, as I sat at the window waiting the arrival of my relatives.

how many of them felt my exquisite sense of duty done?

Let us not pursue it. “I mean to stay this time.” That reference to the occasion on which I had obliged him to postpone his business to mine, when we were both visiting in Montagu Square, satisfied me that the old worldling had come to Brighton with some object of his own in view. I had prepared quite a little Paradise for my beloved Rachel--and here was the Serpent already! “Godfrey was very much vexed, Drusilla, not to be able to come with us,” said my Aunt Ablewhite. Bruff volunteered to take his place, and make a holiday of it till Monday morning. Bruff, I’m ordered to take exercise, and I don’t like it. That,” added Aunt Ablewhite, pointing out of window to an invalid going by in a chair on wheels, drawn by a man, “is my idea of exercise. If it’s air you want, you get it in your chair. And if it’s fatigue you want, I am sure it’s fatigue enough to look at the man.” Rachel stood silent, at a window by herself, with her eyes fixed on the sea. Only a little out of spirits,” she answered.

“I have often seen the sea, on our Yorkshire coast, with that light on it. He maintained the same appearance of ease, and talked the same godless gossip, hour after hour, until it was time to take leave. As he shook hands with Rachel, I caught his hard and cunning eyes resting on her for a moment with a peculiar interest and attention. He invited himself to luncheon the next day, and then he went away to his hotel. It was impossible the next morning to get my Aunt Ablewhite out of her dressing-gown in time for church. Her invalid daughter (suffering from nothing, in my opinion, but incurable laziness, inherited from her mother) announced that she meant to remain in bed for the day. A magnificent sermon was preached by my gifted friend on the heathen indifference of the world to the sinfulness of little sins. I said to Rachel, when we came out, “Has it found its way to your heart, dear?” And she answered, “No; it has only made my head ache.” This might have been discouraging to some people; but, once embarked on a career of manifest usefulness, nothing discourages Me. We found Aunt Ablewhite and Mr. When Rachel declined eating anything, and gave as a reason for it that she was suffering from a headache, the lawyer’s cunning instantly saw, and seized, the chance that she had given him.

I am entirely at your service, if you will honour me by accepting my arm.” “With the greatest pleasure.

A walk is the very thing I was longing for.” “It’s past two,” I gently suggested. “And the afternoon service, Rachel, begins at three.” “How can you expect me to go to church again,” she asked, petulantly, “with such a headache as mine?” Mr. I don’t know when I have felt the solemn duty of interfering so strongly as I felt it at that moment. Nothing was to be done but to interfere at the first opportunity, later in the day. Bruff pay her such devoted attention, and look at her with such marked respect. “Quite sure,” she answered--and so they parted. The moment his back was turned, Rachel withdrew to her own room. Her maid (the person with the cap-ribbons) was sent down-stairs to announce that her headache had returned.

It was locked, and she kept it locked.

When her cup of tea went up to her the next morning, I followed it in. She listened with languid civility. She gave these answers, with her attention apparently absorbed in folding and refolding the frilling on her nightgown. It was plainly necessary to rouse her by some reference to those worldly interests which she still had at heart.

I thought, when I saw you after your walk with him, that he had been telling you some bad news.” Her fingers dropped from the frilling of her nightgown, and her fierce black eyes flashed at me. “Quite the contrary!” she said. “It was news I was interested in hearing--and I am deeply indebted to Mr. Bruff for telling me of it.” “Yes?” I said, in a tone of gentle interest. Godfrey Ablewhite?” She started up in the bed, and turned deadly pale. It was evidently on the tip of her tongue to retort on me with the unbridled insolence of former times. GODFREY ABLEWHITE.” It was my turn to start at that.

Godfrey Ablewhite is expected here to-day,” she said doggedly. “Wait till he comes--and you will see.” “But my dear Rachel----” She rang the bell at the head of her bed. The person with the cap-ribbons appeared.

In the state of my feelings at that moment, I do sincerely believe that she had hit on the only possible way of forcing me to leave the room. By the mere worldly mind my position towards Rachel might have been viewed as presenting difficulties of no ordinary kind. I had reckoned on leading her to higher things by means of a little earnest exhortation on the subject of her marriage.

a working Christian of my experience (with an evangelising prospect before her) takes broader views than these. Supposing Rachel really broke off the marriage, on which the Ablewhites, father and son, counted as a settled thing, what would be the result?

It could only end, if she held firm, in an exchanging of hard words and bitter accusations on both sides. Her pride would be exhausted, her stubbornness would be exhausted, by the resolute resistance which it was in her character to make under the circumstances. And I was that nearest person--brimful of comfort, charged to overflowing with seasonable and reviving words. Never had the evangelising prospect looked brighter, to my eyes, than it looked now. The music she selected to play was of the most scandalously profane sort, associated with performances on the stage which it curdles one’s blood to think of.

It would have been premature to interfere with her at such a time as this. Godfrey Ablewhite was expected, and then I escaped the music by leaving the house. Being out alone, I took the opportunity of calling upon my two resident friends. It was an indescribable luxury to find myself indulging in earnest conversation with serious persons. Infinitely encouraged and refreshed, I turned my steps back again to the house, in excellent time to await the arrival of our expected visitor.

I entered the dining-room, always empty at that hour of the day, and found myself face to face with Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite! Quite the contrary. He advanced to meet me with the utmost eagerness. “Dear Miss Clack, I have been only waiting to see you! Chance set me free of my London engagements to-day sooner than I had expected, and I have got here, in consequence, earlier than my appointed time.” Not the slightest embarrassment encumbered his explanation, though this was his first meeting with me after the scene in Montagu Square. He was not aware, it is true, of my having been a witness of that scene. But he knew, on the other hand, that my attendances at the Mothers’ Small-Clothes, and my relations with friends attached to other charities, must have informed me of his shameless neglect of his Ladies and of his Poor.

I should certainly have snatched my hand away, if the manner in which he gave his answer had not paralysed me with astonishment. “I have seen Rachel,” he said with perfect tranquillity. “Have you submitted.” “Yes,” he said with the most unruffled composure, “I have submitted.” His conduct, under the circumstances, was so utterly inconceivable, that I stood bewildered with my hand in his.

It is a piece of rudeness to stare at anybody, and it is an act of indelicacy to stare at a gentleman. I committed both those improprieties. And I said, as if in a dream, “What does it mean?” “Permit me to tell you,” he replied.

“And suppose we sit down?” He led me to a chair. I was quite helpless, and his ways with ladies were very endearing. CHAPTER VIII “I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position, and a handsome income,” Mr. Godfrey began; “and I have submitted to it without a struggle. You are greatly struck by it, and you attempt to get at the motive. The dear little thing is incapable of telling you its motive. You might as well ask the grass why it grows, or the birds why they sing.

in this matter, I am like the dear little thing--like the grass--like the birds. And the little angel puts its finger into its mouth, and doesn’t know.

I couldn’t confess it to anybody else. I feel impelled to confess it to YOU!” I began to recover myself. I am deeply interested in mental problems--and I am not, it is thought, without some skill in solving them.

Why does it suddenly occur to me that my true happiness is in helping my dear Ladies, in going my modest round of useful work, in saying my few earnest words when called on by my Chairman? What do I want with a position? I have got a position!

What do I want with an income? I can pay for my bread and cheese, and my nice little lodging, and my two coats a year. What do I want with Miss Verinder? She has told me with her own lips (this, dear lady, is between ourselves) that she loves another man, and that her only idea in marrying me is to try and put that other man out of her head. I approach Rachel with the feeling of a criminal who is going to receive his sentence. When I find that she has changed her mind too--when I hear her propose to break the engagement--I experience (there is no sort of doubt about it) a most overpowering sense of relief. I have lost a beautiful girl, an excellent social position, and a handsome income; and I have submitted to it without a struggle. Can you account for it, dear friend?

It’s quite beyond ME.” His magnificent head sank on his breast, and he gave up his own mental problem in despair. The case (if I may speak as a spiritual physician) was now quite plain to me. It is no uncommon event, in the experience of us all, to see the possessors of exalted ability occasionally humbled to the level of the most poorly-gifted people about them. The object, no doubt, in the wise economy of Providence, is to remind greatness that it is mortal and that the power which has conferred it can also take it away. It was now--to my mind--easy to discern one of these salutary humiliations in the deplorable proceedings on dear Mr. Godfrey’s part, of which I had been the unseen witness.

And it was equally easy to recognise the welcome reappearance of his own finer nature in the horror with which he recoiled from the idea of a marriage with Rachel, and in the charming eagerness which he showed to return to his Ladies and his Poor. Overwhelmed by the exquisite triumph of having got him back among us, I let him do what he liked with my hands. I felt my head, in an ecstasy of spiritual self-forgetfulness, sinking on his shoulder. “How time flies with YOU!” he exclaimed. “Business obliges him to leave Frizinghall for London to-day, and he proposes coming on here, either this evening or to-morrow. Best and dearest of friends, we shall meet again!” With those words he hurried out. In equal haste on my side, I ran upstairs to compose myself in my own room before meeting Aunt Ablewhite and Rachel at the luncheon-table. Godfrey--that the all-profaning opinion of the world has charged him with having his own private reasons for releasing Rachel from her engagement, at the first opportunity she gave him.

It has also reached my ears, that his anxiety to recover his place in my estimation has been attributed in certain quarters, to a mercenary eagerness to make his peace (through me) with a venerable committee-woman at the Mothers’ Small-Clothes, abundantly blessed with the goods of this world, and a beloved and intimate friend of my own. In obedience to my instructions, I have exhibited the fluctuations in my opinion of our Christian Hero, exactly as I find them recorded in my diary. I write with the tears in my eyes, burning to say more.

But no--I am cruelly limited to my actual experience of persons and things. In less than a month from the time of which I am now writing, events in the money-market (which diminished even my miserable little income) forced me into foreign exile, and left me with nothing but a loving remembrance of Mr. It appeared to me--but I own I am a poor authority in such matters--that the recovery of her freedom had set her thinking again of that other man whom she loved, and that she was furious with herself for not being able to control a revulsion of feeling of which she was secretly ashamed. I had my suspicions--but it was needless to waste time in idle speculation. If I had had no higher object in stirring her up to a sense of spiritual things, the motive of relieving her mind of its guilty secrets would have been enough of itself to encourage me to go on. Aunt Ablewhite took her exercise in the afternoon in an invalid chair. I discovered in one of my friend’s precious publications--the Life, Letters, and Labours of Miss Jane Ann Stamper, forty-fourth edition--passages which bore with a marvellous appropriateness on Rachel’s present position. Conceive how little she must have known of serious people, if she supposed that my patience was to be exhausted in that way!

I kept Miss Jane Ann Stamper by me, and waited for events with the most unfaltering trust in the future. Ablewhite never made his appearance that night. But I knew the importance which his worldly greed attached to his son’s marriage with Miss Verinder--and I felt a positive conviction (do what Mr. Godfrey might to prevent it) that we should see him the next day. With his interference in the matter, the storm on which I had counted would certainly come, and the salutary exhaustion of Rachel’s resisting powers would as certainly follow. Ablewhite has the reputation generally (especially among his inferiors) of being a remarkably good-natured man.

The next day, exactly as I had foreseen, Aunt Ablewhite was as near to being astonished as her nature would permit, by the sudden appearance of her husband. I never remember feeling the presence of the lawyer to be more unwelcome than I felt it at that moment. He looked ready for anything in the way of an obstructive proceeding--capable even of keeping the peace with Rachel for one of the combatants! Ablewhite, addressing himself with his deceptive cordiality to Mr. “And it occurred to me that I might perhaps be of some use on this occasion. I was just in time to catch the train, and I had no opportunity of discovering the carriage in which you were travelling.” Having given that explanation, he seated himself by Rachel.

I retired modestly to a corner--with Miss Jane Ann Stamper on my lap, in case of emergency. Ablewhite stood up in the middle of the room, with his bald head much pinker than I had ever seen it yet, and addressed himself in the most affectionate manner to his niece.

And I am here to inquire about it. You have a sitting-room of your own in this house. Will you honour me by showing me the way to it?” Rachel never moved. Ablewhite the honour of conducting him into her sitting-room. Ablewhite.

The rest of them looked at his face--as if they expected it, after seventy years of worldly training, to speak the truth. I looked at the top of his bald head; having noticed on other occasions that the temper which was really in him had a habit of registering itself THERE. Is it possible, Rachel, that he can have misinterpreted--or presumed upon--what you really said to him?” “Certainly not,” she replied. Ablewhite.

I begin to see it now. You and he have had a lovers’ quarrel--and my foolish son has interpreted it seriously. Ablewhite,” she said.

Ablewhite’s bald head began to indicate a rise of temper. Ablewhite, I have either expressed myself very badly, or you are purposely mistaking me. Once for all, it is a settled thing between your son and myself that we remain, for the rest of our lives, cousins and nothing more. Is that plain enough?” The tone in which she said those words made it impossible, even for old Mr.

Ablewhite, to mistake her any longer. Ablewhite, if you please.” “I am also to take it as a matter of fact that the proposal to withdraw from the engagement came, in the first instance, from YOU?” “It came, in the first instance, from me. And it met, as I have told you, with your son’s consent and approval.” The thermometer went up to the top of the register.

“My son is a mean-spirited hound!” cried this furious old worldling. Godfrey Ablewhite?” Here Mr. Ablewhite fastened on him instantly. “Don’t forget, sir,” he said, “that you are a self-invited guest here.

Your interference would have come with a better grace if you had waited until it was asked for.” Mr. Ablewhite--preserving her composure in a manner which (having regard to her age and her sex) was simply awful to see.

Ablewhite. “You have had the only explanation which I think it necessary to give to you, or to him,” she answered. “In plain English, it’s your sovereign will and pleasure, Miss Verinder, to jilt my son?” Rachel was silent for a moment.

Sitting close behind her, I heard her sigh. Bruff took her hand, and gave it a little squeeze. Ablewhite as boldly as ever. “And I have borne it patiently. The time has gone by, when you could mortify me by calling me a jilt.” She spoke with a bitterness of tone which satisfied me that the scandal of the Moonstone had been in some way recalled to her mind. Ablewhite got upon his feet, and pushed away his chair so violently that it toppled over and fell on the floor. “I have something more to say on my side,” he announced, bringing down the flat of his hand on the table with a bang. “What do you mean?” “Insult!” reiterated Mr.

Ablewhite. I know it as certainly as if you had confessed it in so many words. Your cursed family pride is insulting Godfrey, as it insulted ME when I married your aunt. I couldn’t point to the time when the Ablewhites hadn’t a shirt to their backs, and couldn’t sign their own names. And now, it comes to the pinch, my son isn’t good enough for YOU. I suspected it, all along. I suspected it all along.” “A very unworthy suspicion,” remarked Mr. “I am astonished that you have the courage to acknowledge it.” Before Mr.

Ablewhite could find words to answer in, Rachel spoke in a tone of the most exasperating contempt. Ablewhite was now becoming purple. Bruff in such a frenzy of rage with both of them that he didn’t know which to attack first. His wife, who had sat impenetrably fanning herself up to this time, began to be alarmed, and attempted, quite uselessly, to quiet him. I had, throughout this distressing interview, felt more than one inward call to interfere with a few earnest words, and had controlled myself under a dread of the possible results, very unworthy of a Christian Englishwoman who looks, not to what is meanly prudent, but to what is morally right. If I had contemplated interposing any remonstrance of my own humble devising, I might possibly have still hesitated.

Ablewhite,” I said, “one word!” When I first attracted the attention of the company by rising, I could see that he was on the point of saying something rude to me. “As an affectionate well-wisher and friend,” I proceeded, “and as one long accustomed to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify others, permit me to take the most pardonable of all liberties--the liberty of composing your mind.” He began to recover himself; he was on the point of breaking out--he WOULD have broken out, with anybody else. But my voice (habitually gentle) possesses a high note or so, in emergencies. I held up my precious book before him; I rapped the open page impressively with my forefinger. Ablewhite! Before I could recover myself, this monster in human form shouted out furiously, “Miss Jane Ann Stamper be----!” It is impossible for me to write the awful word, which is here represented by a blank. I shrieked as it passed his lips; I flew to my little bag on the side table; I shook out all my tracts; I seized the one particular tract on profane swearing, entitled, “Hush, for Heaven’s Sake!”; I handed it to him with an expression of agonised entreaty. He tore it in two, and threw it back at me across the table. I waited, inspired by HER spirit, for a repetition of HER martyrdom. But no--it was not to be.

“Who--who--who,” he said, stammering with rage, “who asked this impudent fanatic into the house? Did you?” Before Aunt Ablewhite could say a word, Rachel answered for her. Ablewhite. It was plain to everybody that Rachel had said something--short and plain as her answer had been--which gave him the upper hand of her at last. “Miss Clack is here as YOUR guest--in MY house?” It was Rachel’s turn to lose her temper at that. Ablewhite, asked haughtily, “What does he mean?” Mr. Ablewhite, “that you took this house as Miss Verinder’s guardian, for Miss Verinder’s use.” “Not quite so fast,” interposed Mr. Ablewhite. Understand, if you please, that I refuse to accept the position which is offered to me by Lady Verinder’s will.

I take the entire responsibility of it on my shoulders. It is my house. I can keep it, or let it, just as I please. Ablewhite’s revenge on Rachel, for refusing to marry his son! The instant the door closed, Aunt Ablewhite exhibited a phenomenon which silenced us all. She became endowed with energy enough to cross the room! “My dear,” she said, taking Rachel by the hand, “I should be ashamed of my husband, if I didn’t know that it is his temper which has spoken to you, and not himself. You,” continued Aunt Ablewhite, turning on me in my corner with another endowment of energy, in her looks this time instead of her limbs--“you are the mischievous person who irritated him. “If I may be permitted to answer for Miss Verinder,” said Mr. Ablewhite, to send Penelope down with her mistress’s bonnet and shawl.

Without a word more, on her side, Aunt Ablewhite left the room. “The Herncastle blood has its drawbacks, I admit. My interest in Rachel--an infinitely higher interest than his--riveted me to my chair. Bruff gave it up, exactly as he had given it up at Aunt Verinder’s, in Montagu Square. Ablewhite’s conduct has naturally shocked you, and taken you by surprise.

If it was worth while to contest the question with such a man, we might soon show him that he is not to have things all his own way. But it isn’t worth while. You were quite right in what you said just now; he is beneath our notice.” He stopped, and looked round at my corner. I sat there quite immovable, with my tracts at my elbow and with Miss Jane Ann Stamper on my lap. “You know,” he resumed, turning back again to Rachel, “that it was part of your poor mother’s fine nature always to see the best of the people about her, and never the worst. She named her brother-in-law your guardian because she believed in him, and because she thought it would please her sister. Ablewhite myself, and I induced your mother to let me insert a clause in the will, empowering her executors, in certain events, to consult with me about the appointment of a new guardian. One of those events has happened to-day; and I find myself in a position to end all these dry business details, I hope agreeably, with a message from my wife. Ablewhite for Rachel’s bonnet and shawl. Before I could interpose a word, Rachel had accepted his invitation in the warmest terms.

The bare idea of such a calamity as this quite overwhelmed me. I cast the miserable trammels of worldly discretion to the winds, and spoke with the fervour that filled me, in the words that came first. I invite her--I summon the executors to appoint me guardian. Rachel, dearest Rachel, I offer you my modest home; come to London by the next train, love, and share it with me!” Mr. Rachel looked at me with a cruel astonishment which she made no effort to conceal. “I shall hope to visit you whenever I happen to be in London.

Bruff’s invitation, and I think it will be best, for the present, if I remain under Mr. “I can’t part with you, Rachel--I can’t part with you!” I tried to fold her in my arms. My fervour did not communicate itself; it only alarmed her. “Surely,” she said, “this is a very unnecessary display of agitation? I don’t understand it.” “No more do I,” said Mr. Bruff aside indignantly with my own hand, and, in solemn and suitable language, I stated the view with which sound doctrine does not scruple to regard the awful calamity of dying unprepared. Rachel started back from me--I blush to write--with a scream of horror. Don’t stop to talk about it!

It stifles me to breathe the same air with her! It frightens me to feel that we are in the same room together!” Deaf to all remonstrance, she ran to the door. At the same moment, her maid entered with her bonnet and shawl.

Bruff’s.” I attempted to approach her--I was shocked and grieved, but, it is needless to say, not offended. I bore the insult with my customary fortitude.

I remember it now with my customary superiority to all feeling of offence. The person with the cap-ribbons followed. “It’s easy to see who has set them all by the ears together,” she said. SECOND NARRATIVE Contributed by MATHEW BRUFF, Solicitor, of Gray’s Inn Square CHAPTER I My fair friend, Miss Clack, having laid down the pen, there are two reasons for my taking it up next, in my turn. In the first place, I am in a position to throw the necessary light on certain points of interest which have thus far been left in the dark. Miss Verinder had her own private reason for breaking her marriage engagement--and I was at the bottom of it. Godfrey Ablewhite had his own private reason for withdrawing all claim to the hand of his charming cousin--and I discovered what it was. In the second place, it was my good or ill fortune, I hardly know which, to find myself personally involved--at the period of which I am now writing--in the mystery of the Indian Diamond. I had the honour of an interview, at my own office, with an Oriental stranger of distinguished manners, who was no other, unquestionably, than the chief of the three Indians.

Add to this, that I met with the celebrated traveller, Mr. Murthwaite, the day afterwards, and that I held a conversation with him on the subject of the Moonstone, which has a very important bearing on later events. And there you have the statement of my claims to fill the position which I occupy in these pages. Tracing my way back along the chain of events, from one end to the other, I find it necessary to open the scene, oddly enough as you will think, at the bedside of my excellent client and friend, the late Sir John Verinder. Sir John had his share--perhaps rather a large share--of the more harmless and amiable of the weaknesses incidental to humanity.

Among these, I may mention as applicable to the matter in hand, an invincible reluctance--so long as he enjoyed his usual good health--to face the responsibility of making his will. He admitted the justice of our views--but he went no further than that, until he found himself afflicted with the illness which ultimately brought him to his grave. And then I’ll go to sleep again.” He looked on with great interest while I collected pens, ink, and paper. I bowed and took a dip of ink, and waited for my instructions. “Only, I put it shorter.

Why can’t you put it shorter, and let me go to sleep again? In the majority of cases, I am afraid I should have felt it my duty to my client to ask him to reconsider his Will. The view she took of her position was so thoroughly sound and sensible, that I was relieved of all necessity for advising her. My responsibility began and ended with shaping her instructions into the proper legal form. The Will remained in its fireproof box at my office, through more years than I like to reckon up. It was not till the summer of eighteen hundred and forty-eight that I found occasion to look at it again under very melancholy circumstances. At the date I have mentioned, the doctors pronounced the sentence on poor Lady Verinder, which was literally a sentence of death.

I was the first person whom she informed of her situation; and I found her anxious to go over her Will again with me. It was impossible to improve the provisions relating to her daughter. But, in the lapse of time, her wishes in regard to certain minor legacies, left to different relatives, had undergone some modification; and it became necessary to add three or four Codicils to the original document. My object was to avoid certain inevitable confusions and repetitions which now disfigured the original document, and which, to own the truth, grated sadly on my professional sense of the fitness of things. The execution of this second Will has been described by Miss Clack, who was so obliging as to witness it. So far as regarded Rachel Verinder’s pecuniary interests, it was, word for word, the exact counterpart of the first Will. I happened to be looking in at my friend the proctor’s office, and I observed that he received me with an appearance of greater interest than usual. There was absolutely nothing which could be contested in the Will; and there was nobody I could think of who had the slightest interest in examining it. (I shall perhaps do well if I explain in this place, for the benefit of the few people who don’t know it already, that the law allows all Wills to be examined at Doctors’ Commons by anybody who applies, on the payment of a shilling fee.) “Did you hear who asked for the Will?” I asked. “Yes; the clerk had no hesitation in telling ME.

Smalley, of the firm of Skipp and Smalley, asked for it. He looked it over carefully, and made a note in his pocket-book. Have you any idea of what he wanted with it?” I shook my head.

“I shall find out,” I answered, “before I am a day older.” With that I went back at once to my own office. If any other firm of solicitors had been concerned in this unaccountable examination of my deceased client’s Will, I might have found some difficulty in making the necessary discovery. Smalley’s; and, owing to this sort of indirect connection with me, Skipp and Smalley had, for some years past, picked up the crumbs that fell from my table, in the shape of cases brought to my office, which, for various reasons, I did not think it worth while to undertake. The moment I got back I spoke to my clerk; and, after telling him what had happened, I sent him to his brother’s office, “with Mr. Skipp and Smalley had found it necessary to examine Lady Verinder’s will.” This message brought Mr. Smalley back to my office in company with his brother. And then he put it to me, whether it would not be a breach of professional confidence on his part to say more. Worse still, I declined to consider any additional information offered me, as a secret placed in my keeping: I claimed perfect freedom to use my own discretion. Worse even than that, I took an unwarrantable advantage of my position.

Smalley, “between the risk of losing your client’s business and the risk of losing Mine.” Quite indefensible, I admit--an act of tyranny, and nothing less. Smalley chose his alternative, without a moment’s hesitation. Godfrey Ablewhite. Having reached this point in my narrative, it now becomes necessary to place the reader of these lines--so far as Lady Verinder’s Will is concerned--on a footing of perfect equality, in respect of information, with myself. Her mother’s excellent sense, and my long experience, had combined to relieve her of all responsibility, and to guard her from all danger of becoming the victim in the future of some needy and unscrupulous man. Neither she, nor her husband (if she married), could raise sixpence, either on the property in land, or on the property in money. Godfrey Ablewhite. But would you think of it quite as lightly as you do, if the thing was done (let us say) with your own sister?

Godfrey Ablewhite hold to his engagement, after what his lawyer had discovered for him? It depended entirely on his pecuniary position, of which I knew nothing. If that position was not a desperate one, it would be well worth his while to marry Miss Verinder for her income alone. Ablewhite and Miss Verinder to be staying. Godfrey Ablewhite from accompanying them. While I was only thinking of Rachel Verinder, it was possible to hesitate. When I actually saw her, my mind was made up directly, come what might of it, to tell her the truth. I found my opportunity, when I was out walking with her, on the day after my arrival.

But I had my own object in view, and I declined (as we lawyers say) to pursue the question into its side issues. Godfrey Ablewhite can hardly be of your way of thinking,” I said. “It sounds strangely,” I went on, “in my old-fashioned ears----” “What sounds strangely?” she asked. “To hear you speak of your future husband as if you were not quite sure of the sincerity of his attachment.

Are you conscious of any reason in your own mind for doubting him?” Her astonishing quickness of perception, detected a change in my voice, or my manner, when I put that question, which warned her that I had been speaking all along with some ulterior object in view. Bruff,” she said, “you have something to tell me about Godfrey Ablewhite. Tell it.” I knew her well enough to take her at her word. I told it. She put her arm again into mine, and walked on with me slowly. I felt her hand tightening its grasp mechanically on my arm, and I saw her getting paler and paler as I went on--but, not a word passed her lips while I was speaking. Her head drooped a little, and she walked by my side, unconscious of my presence, unconscious of everything about her; lost--buried, I might almost say--in her own thoughts. My experience of her disposition warned me, on this, as on former occasions, to give her time. The first instinct of girls in general, on being told of anything which interests them, is to ask a multitude of questions, and then to run off, and talk it all over with some favourite friend. Rachel Verinder’s first instinct, under similar circumstances, was to shut herself up in her own mind, and to think it over by herself.

In a woman it has a serious drawback of morally separating her from the mass of her sex, and so exposing her to misconstruction by the general opinion. The self-dependence in HER character, was one of its virtues in my estimation; partly, no doubt, because I sincerely admired and liked her; partly, because the view I took of her connexion with the loss of the Moonstone was based on my own special knowledge of her disposition. Badly as appearances might look, in the matter of the Diamond--shocking as it undoubtedly was to know that she was associated in any way with the mystery of an undiscovered theft--I was satisfied nevertheless that she had done nothing unworthy of her, because I was also satisfied that she had not stirred a step in the business, without shutting herself up in her own mind, and thinking it over first.

She suddenly looked up at me with a faint reflection of her smile of happier times--the most irresistible smile I have ever seen on a woman’s face. “And I feel more deeply indebted to it now than ever. If you hear any rumours of my marriage when you get back to London contradict them at once, on my authority.” “Have you resolved to break your engagement?” I asked. “Can you doubt it?” she returned proudly, “after what you have told me!” “My dear Miss Rachel, you are very young--and you may find more difficulty in withdrawing from your present position than you anticipate. It distressed me, it did indeed distress me, to hear her say that. She was so young and so lonely--and she bore it so well! The impulse to help her got the better of any sense of my own unfitness which I might have felt under the circumstances; and I stated such ideas on the subject as occurred to me on the spur of the moment, to the best of my ability.

I have advised a prodigious number of clients, and have dealt with some exceedingly awkward difficulties, in my time. Godfrey Ablewhite--at a private interview, of course--that he had, to her certain knowledge, betrayed the mercenary nature of the motive on his side.

She was then to add that their marriage, after what she had discovered, was a simple impossibility--and she was to put it to him, whether he thought it wisest to secure her silence by falling in with her views, or to force her, by opposing them, to make the motive under which she was acting generally known. She then thanked me very prettily for my advice, but informed me at the same time that it was impossible for her to follow it. “May I ask,” I said, “what objection you see to following it?” She hesitated--and then met me with a question on her side. Godfrey Ablewhite’s conduct?” she began. “Yes?” “What would you call it?” “I should call it the conduct of a meanly deceitful man.” “Mr. The shame of it would be nothing to HIM. But the shame of it would be unendurable to me.” Here was another of the marked peculiarities in her character disclosing itself to me without reserve.

Here was her sensitive horror of the bare contact with anything mean, blinding her to every consideration of what she owed to herself, hurrying her into a false position which might compromise her in the estimation of all her friends! Up to this time, I had been a little diffident about the propriety of the advice I had given to her. But, after what she had just said, I had no sort of doubt that it was the best advice that could have been offered; and I felt no sort of hesitation in pressing it on her again. “He has been intimate enough with me to ask me to be his wife. I can’t tell him to his face that he is the most contemptible of living creatures, after that!” “But, my dear Miss Rachel,” I remonstrated, “it’s equally impossible for you to tell him that you withdraw from your engagement without giving some reason for it.” “I shall say that I have thought it over, and that I am satisfied it will be best for both of us if we part. “No more than that?” “No more.” “Have you thought of what he may say, on his side?” “He may say what he pleases.” It was impossible not to admire her delicacy and her resolution, and it was equally impossible not to feel that she was putting herself in the wrong. I entreated her to consider her own position. “I have done it already.” “What do you mean?” “You have forgotten the Moonstone, Mr. Have I not braved public opinion, THERE, with my own private reasons for it?” Her answer silenced me for the moment.

It set me trying to trace the explanation of her conduct, at the time of the loss of the Moonstone, out of the strange avowal which had just escaped her. I might perhaps have done it when I was younger. I certainly couldn’t do it now. She was interesting; she was admirable; she was deeply to be pitied. I made her promise to write to me the moment she had any news to send. And I went back to my business in London, with a mind exceedingly ill at ease.

On the evening of my return, before it was possible for me to receive my promised letter, I was surprised by a visit from Mr. Ablewhite the elder, and was informed that Mr. Godfrey had got his dismissal--AND HAD ACCEPTED IT--that very day. With the view I already took of the case, the bare fact stated in the words that I have underlined, revealed Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite’s motive for submission as plainly as if he had acknowledged it himself. He needed a large sum of money; and he needed it by a given time. Rachel’s income, which would have helped him to anything else, would not help him here; and Rachel had accordingly released herself, without encountering a moment’s serious opposition on his part. Any exultation I might otherwise have felt at the lucky turn which things had now taken, was effectually checked by what passed at my interview with old Mr.

Ablewhite. It is needless to say that I was quite unable to afford him the information he wanted.

The annoyance which I thus inflicted, following on the irritation produced by a recent interview with his son, threw Mr. Ablewhite off his guard. Both his looks and his language convinced me that Miss Verinder would find him a merciless man to deal with, when he joined the ladies at Brighton the next day. Ablewhite proved to be, are items of information which (as I am told) have already been put tidily in their proper places, by that exemplary person, Miss Clack.

My wife and daughters were charmed with her; and, when the executors decided on the appointment of a new guardian, I feel sincere pride and pleasure in recording that my guest and my family parted like old friends, on either side. CHAPTER II The next thing I have to do, is to present such additional information as I possess on the subject of the Moonstone, or, to speak more correctly, on the subject of the Indian plot to steal the Diamond. The little that I have to tell is (as I think I have already said) of some importance, nevertheless, in respect of its bearing very remarkably on events which are still to come. About a week or ten days after Miss Verinder had left us, one of my clerks entered the private room at my office, with a card in his hand, and informed me that a gentleman was below, who wanted to speak to me. There was a foreign name written on it, which has escaped my memory.

It was followed by a line written in English at the bottom of the card, which I remember perfectly well: “Recommended by Mr. Septimus Luker.” The audacity of a person in Mr. Luker’s position presuming to recommend anybody to me, took me so completely by surprise, that I sat silent for the moment, wondering whether my own eyes had not deceived me. The clerk, observing my bewilderment, favoured me with the result of his own observation of the stranger who was waiting downstairs. So dark in the complexion that we all set him down in the office for an Indian, or something of that sort.” Associating the clerk’s idea with the line inscribed on the card in my hand, I thought it possible that the Moonstone might be at the bottom of Mr. Luker’s recommendation, and of the stranger’s visit at my office. In justification of the highly unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity which I thus made, permit me to remind anybody who may read these lines, that no living person (in England, at any rate) can claim to have had such an intimate connexion with the romance of the Indian Diamond as mine has been.

I was trusted with the secret of Colonel Herncastle’s plan for escaping assassination. I persuaded his executor to act, on the chance that the jewel might prove to be a valuable acquisition to the family. If anyone can claim a prescriptive right of interest in the Moonstone, and in everything connected with it, I think it is hardly to be denied that I am the man. But his swarthy complexion, his long lithe figure, and his grave and graceful politeness of manner were enough to betray his Oriental origin to any intelligent eyes that looked at him.

I pointed to a chair, and begged to be informed of the nature of his business with me. Removing this and a second wrapping of some silken fabric, he placed a little box, or casket, on my table, most beautifully and richly inlaid in jewels, on an ebony ground. “May I ask how it is that Mr. “It is written there,” he said.

If the Moonstone had been in my possession, this Oriental gentleman would have murdered me, I am well aware, without a moment’s hesitation. Luker is quite mistaken in sending you here. I am trusted, like other men in my profession, with money to lend. But I never lend it to strangers, and I never lend it on such a security as you have produced.” Far from attempting, as other people would have done, to induce me to relax my own rules, the Indian only made me another bow, and wrapped up his box in its two coverings without a word of protest. “Supposing, sir, it had been possible (and customary) for you to lend me the money,” he said, “in what space of time would it have been possible (and customary) for me to pay it back?” “According to the usual course pursued in this country,” I answered, “you would have been entitled to pay the money back (if you liked) in one year’s time from the date at which it was first advanced to you.” The Indian made me a last bow, the lowest of all--and suddenly and softly walked out of the room. It was done in a moment, in a noiseless, supple, cat-like way, which a little startled me, I own. As soon as I was composed enough to think, I arrived at one distinct conclusion in reference to the otherwise incomprehensible visitor who had favoured me with a call.

He had not shown the slightest sign of attempting to fix anything that I had said to him in his mind, until I mentioned the time at which it was customary to permit the earliest repayment, on the part of a debtor, of money that had been advanced as a loan. The inference I drew from this was--that he had a special purpose in asking me his last question, and a special interest in hearing my answer to it. The more carefully I reflected on what had passed between us, the more shrewdly I suspected the production of the casket, and the application for the loan, of having been mere formalities, designed to pave the way for the parting inquiry addressed to me. He asked my pardon in terms of sickening servility, and assured me that he could explain matters to my satisfaction, if I would honour him by consenting to a personal interview. I made another unprofessional sacrifice to mere curiosity. Luker was, in every respect, such an inferior creature to the Indian--he was so vulgar, so ugly, so cringing, and so prosy--that he is quite unworthy of being reported, at any length, in these pages. The substance of what he had to tell me may be fairly stated as follows: The day before I had received the visit of the Indian, Mr. Luker had been favoured with a call from that accomplished gentleman. In spite of his European disguise, Mr.

Luker had instantly identified his visitor with the chief of the three Indians, who had formerly annoyed him by loitering about his house, and who had left him no alternative but to consult a magistrate. The result was that he became quite paralysed with terror, and that he firmly believed his last hour had come. He produced the little casket, and made exactly the same application which he had afterwards made to me.

Luker had answered that the best and safest person, in such cases, was usually a respectable solicitor. Luker had mentioned me--for the one simple reason that, in the extremity of his terror, mine was the first name which occurred to him. And I hope you’ll look over it, Mr.

Bruff, sir, in consideration of my having been really and truly frightened out of my wits.” I excused the fellow graciously enough. It was the readiest way of releasing myself from the sight of him. Had the Indian said anything noticeable, at the moment of quitting Mr. What did it mean? My own unaided ingenuity, consulted next, proved quite unequal to grapple with the difficulty. I had a dinner engagement that evening; and I went upstairs, in no very genial frame of mind, little suspecting that the way to my dressing-room and the way to discovery, meant, on this particular occasion, one and the same thing.

Murthwaite. He had now announced his intention of returning to the scene of his exploits, and of penetrating into regions left still unexplored. It is not every day that we can meet an eminent person at dinner, and feel that there is a reasonable prospect of the news of his murder being the news that we hear of him next. When the gentlemen were left by themselves in the dining-room, I found myself sitting next to Mr. Murthwaite.

The guests present being all English, it is needless to say that, as soon as the wholesome check exercised by the presence of the ladies was removed, the conversation turned on politics as a necessary result. As a general rule, political talk appears to me to be of all talk the most dreary and the most profitless. Murthwaite, when the bottles had made their first round of the table, I found that he was apparently of my way of thinking. He was doing it very dexterously--with all possible consideration for the feelings of his host--but it is not the less certain that he was composing himself for a nap. It struck me as an experiment worth attempting, to try whether a judicious allusion to the subject of the Moonstone would keep him awake, and, if it did, to see what HE thought of the last new complication in the Indian conspiracy, as revealed in the prosaic precincts of my office.

Murthwaite,” I began, “you were acquainted with the late Lady Verinder, and you took some interest in the strange succession of events which ended in the loss of the Moonstone?” The eminent traveller did me the honour of waking up in an instant, and asking me who I was. I informed him of my professional connection with the Herncastle family, not forgetting the curious position which I had occupied towards the Colonel and his Diamond in the bygone time. Murthwaite shifted round in his chair, so as to put the rest of the company behind him (Conservatives and Liberals alike), and concentrated his whole attention on plain Mr. “I have every reason to believe,” I answered, “that one of them had an interview with me, in my office, yesterday.” Mr.

Murthwaite was not an easy man to astonish; but that last answer of mine completely staggered him. Luker, and what had happened to myself, exactly as I have described it here. “It is clear that the Indian’s parting inquiry had an object,” I added. “Why should he be so anxious to know the time at which a borrower of money is usually privileged to pay the money back?” “Is it possible that you don’t see his motive, Mr. Bruff?” “I am ashamed of my stupidity, Mr. Murthwaite--but I certainly don’t see it.” The great traveller became quite interested in sounding the immense vacuity of my dulness to its lowest depths. “In what position does the conspiracy to seize the Moonstone now stand?” “I can’t say,” I answered. Bruff, can only be a mystery to you, because you have never seriously examined it. Shall we run it over together, from the time when you drew Colonel Herncastle’s Will, to the time when the Indian called at your office?

In your position, it may be of very serious importance to the interests of Miss Verinder, that you should be able to take a clear view of this matter in case of need. or whether you wish me to save you the trouble of making any inquiry into it?” It is needless to say that I thoroughly appreciated the practical purpose which I now saw that he had in view, and that the first of the two alternatives was the alternative I chose. Murthwaite. I will only say, it is clear that these present Indians, at their age, must be the successors of three other Indians (high caste Brahmins all of them, Mr. I should reckon it up as including the command of money; the services, when needed, of that shady sort of Englishman, who lives in the byways of foreign life in London; and, lastly, the secret sympathy of such few men of their own country, and (formerly, at least) of their own religion, as happen to be employed in ministering to some of the multitudinous wants of this great city. But worth notice at starting, because we may find occasion to refer to this modest little Indian organisation as we go on. Having now cleared the ground, I am going to ask you a question; and I expect your experience to answer it. As a lawyer, you can be at no loss to know what course the Indians would take (under English advice) after THAT.” “They would provide themselves with a copy of the Will from Doctors’ Commons,” I said. Blake the elder, or some person appointed by him, was to place it in her hands. You will agree with me that the necessary information about persons in the position of Lady Verinder and Mr.

The one difficulty for the Indians would be to decide whether they should make their attempt on the Diamond when it was in course of removal from the keeping of the bank, or whether they should wait until it was taken down to Yorkshire to Lady Verinder’s house. The second way would be manifestly the safest way--and there you have the explanation of the appearance of the Indians at Frizinghall, disguised as jugglers, and waiting their time. In London, it is needless to say, they had their organisation at their disposal to keep them informed of events. Two men would do it. And one to treat the lower men servants with beer, and to hear the news of the house. Franklin Blake was the only person in the house who was going to visit Lady Verinder. What actually followed upon that discovery, you remember, no doubt, quite as correctly as I do.” I remembered that Franklin Blake had detected one of the spies, in the street--that he had, in consequence, advanced the time of his arrival in Yorkshire by some hours--and that (thanks to old Betteredge’s excellent advice) he had lodged the Diamond in the bank at Frizinghall, before the Indians were so much as prepared to see him in the neighbourhood. But the Indians being ignorant of the precautions thus taken, how was it that they had made no attempt on Lady Verinder’s house (in which they must have supposed the Diamond to be) through the whole of the interval that elapsed before Rachel’s birthday? Murthwaite, I thought it right to add that I had heard of the little boy, and the drop of ink, and the rest of it, and that any explanation based on the theory of clairvoyance was an explanation which would carry no conviction whatever with it, to MY mind. “Nor to mine either,” said Mr.

Murthwaite. It would be refreshment and an encouragement to those men--quite inconceivable, I grant you, to the English mind--to surround their wearisome and perilous errand in this country with a certain halo of the marvellous and the supernatural. Their boy is unquestionably a sensitive subject to the mesmeric influence--and, under that influence, he has no doubt reflected what was already in the mind of the person mesmerising him. The Indians don’t investigate the matter in this way; the Indians look upon their boy as a Seer of things invisible to their eyes--and, I repeat, in that marvel they find the source of a new interest in the purpose that unites them. I only notice this as offering a curious view of human character, which must be quite new to you. We have nothing whatever to do with clairvoyance, or with mesmerism, or with anything else that is hard of belief to a practical man, in the inquiry that we are now pursuing. Have I succeeded to your satisfaction so far?” “Not a doubt of it, Mr. Murthwaite! I am waiting, however, with some anxiety, to hear the rational explanation of the difficulty which I have just had the honour of submitting to you.” Mr.

Murthwaite smiled. “It’s the easiest difficulty to deal with of all,” he said.

“Permit me to begin by admitting your statement of the case as a perfectly correct one. Franklin Blake had done with the Diamond--for we find them making their first mistake, on the first night of Mr. However, they had the merit of seeing for themselves that they had taken a false step--for, as you say, again, with plenty of time at their disposal, they never came near the house for weeks afterwards.” “Why, Mr. Murthwaite? The clause you drew in Colonel Herncastle’s Will, informed them (didn’t it?) that the Moonstone was to pass absolutely into Miss Verinder’s possession on her birthday. Tell me which was the safest course for men in their position? To make their attempt on the Diamond while it was under the control of Mr. Franklin Blake, who had shown already that he could suspect and outwit them?

Or to wait till the Diamond was at the disposal of a young girl, who would innocently delight in wearing the magnificent jewel at every possible opportunity? They appeared at the house, after waiting all those weeks, on Miss Verinder’s birthday; and they were rewarded for the patient accuracy of their calculations by seeing the Moonstone in the bosom of her dress! Franklin Blake had run (they would have certainly attacked him, if he had not happened to ride back to Lady Verinder’s in the company of other people); and I was so strongly convinced of the worse risk still, in store for Miss Verinder, that I recommended following the Colonel’s plan, and destroying the identity of the gem by having it cut into separate stones. How its extraordinary disappearance that night, made my advice useless, and utterly defeated the Hindoo plot--and how all further action on the part of the Indians was paralysed the next day by their confinement in prison as rogues and vagabonds--you know as well as I do. Before we go on to the second, may I ask whether I have met your difficulty, with an explanation which is satisfactory to the mind of a practical man?” It was impossible to deny that he had met my difficulty fairly; thanks to his superior knowledge of the Indian character--and thanks to his not having had hundreds of other Wills to think of since Colonel Herncastle’s time! Murthwaite.

“The first chance the Indians had of seizing the Diamond was a chance lost, on the day when they were committed to the prison at Frizinghall. When did the second chance offer itself? The second chance offered itself--as I am in a condition to prove--while they were still in confinement.” He took out his pocket-book, and opened it at a particular leaf, before he went on. “I was staying,” he resumed, “with some friends at Frizinghall, at the time. A day or two before the Indians were set free (on a Monday, I think), the governor of the prison came to me with a letter. It had been left for the Indians by one Mrs. Macann, of whom they had hired the lodging in which they lived; and it had been delivered at Mrs. The prison authorities had noticed that the postmark was ‘Lambeth,’ and that the address on the outside, though expressed in correct English, was, in form, oddly at variance with the customary method of directing a letter. On opening it, they had found the contents to be written in a foreign language, which they rightly guessed at as Hindustani. It was all written in one paragraph, without any attempt at punctuation, thus: “To the three Indian men living with the lady called Macann at Frizinghall in Yorkshire.” The Hindoo characters followed; and the English translation appeared at the end, expressed in these mysterious words: “In the name of the Regent of the Night, whose seat is on the Antelope, whose arms embrace the four corners of the earth.

“My own eyes have seen it.” There the letter ended, without either date or signature. I handed it back to Mr.

Murthwaite, and owned that this curious specimen of Hindoo correspondence rather puzzled me. The god of the moon is represented, in the Hindoo mythology, as a four-armed deity, seated on an antelope; and one of his titles is the regent of the night. Here, then, to begin with, is something which looks suspiciously like an indirect reference to the Moonstone. Now, let us see what the Indians did, after the prison authorities had allowed them to receive their letter. We all thought it a pity at Frizinghall that their proceedings were not privately watched.

Luker,” I answered, “by loitering about the house at Lambeth.” “Did you read the report of Mr. Luker’s application to the magistrate?” “Yes.” “In the course of his statement he referred, if you remember, to a foreign workman in his employment, whom he had just dismissed on suspicion of attempted theft, and whom he also distrusted as possibly acting in collusion with the Indians who had annoyed him.

I had never doubted that the Moonstone had found its way into Mr. Murthwaite alluded to. This question (the most difficult to deal with of all, as I had thought) had now received its answer, like the rest. Murthwaite to lead me blindfold through the last windings of the labyrinth, along which he had guided me thus far. I paid him the compliment of telling him this, and found my little concession very graciously received. And somebody must have raised money on it, or it would never have been in Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite. I am told he is an eminent philanthropist--which is decidedly against him, to begin with.” I heartily agreed in this with Mr. Murthwaite.

At the same time, I felt bound to inform him (without, it is needless to say, mentioning Miss Verinder’s name) that Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite had been cleared of all suspicion, on evidence which I could answer for as entirely beyond dispute. Murthwaite, quietly, “let us leave it to time to clear the matter up. By the prompt transport of the Moonstone to his banker’s, he took the conspirators by surprise before they were prepared with a new plan for robbing him. Let it be enough to say that they know the Moonstone to be once more out of their reach; deposited (under the general description of ‘a valuable of great price’) in a banker’s strong room. and when will it come?” As the question passed his lips, I penetrated the motive of the Indian’s visit to my office at last! “I see it!” I exclaimed.

“The Indians take it for granted, as we do, that the Moonstone has been pledged; and they want to be certainly informed of the earliest period at which the pledge can be redeemed--because that will be the earliest period at which the Diamond can be removed from the safe keeping of the bank!” “I told you you would find it out for yourself, Mr. Luker’s own lips have told them how long they will have to wait, and your respectable authority has satisfied them that Mr. When do we suppose, at a rough guess, that the Diamond found its way into the money-lender’s hands?” “Towards the end of last June,” I answered, “as well as I can reckon it.” “And we are now in the year ‘forty-eight. If the unknown person who has pledged the Moonstone can redeem it in a year, the jewel will be in that person’s possession again at the end of June, ‘forty-nine. But it may be worth YOUR while to take a note of it, and to arrange to be in London at the time.” “You think something serious will happen?” I said. “I think I shall be safer,” he answered, “among the fiercest fanatics of Central Asia than I should be if I crossed the door of the bank with the Moonstone in my pocket. It’s my firm belief that they won’t be defeated a third time.” Those were the last words he said on the subject. I made a note of the date, and it may not be amiss if I close my narrative by repeating that note here: JUNE, ‘FORTY-NINE.

And that done, I hand the pen, which I have now no further claim to use, to the writer who follows me next. This change made it necessary for me to send one of my servants to obtain my letters and remittances from the English consul in a certain city, which was no longer included as one of my resting-places in my new travelling scheme. For a week I and my people waited, encamped on the borders of a desert. At the end of that time the missing man made his appearance, with the money and the letters, at the entrance of my tent. “I am afraid I bring you bad news, sir,” he said, and pointed to one of the letters, which had a mourning border round it, and the address on which was in the handwriting of Mr. The letter with the mourning border was the letter that I opened first. It informed me that my father was dead, and that I was heir to his great fortune.

The wealth which had thus fallen into my hands brought its responsibilities with it, and Mr. The picture presented of me, by my old friend Betteredge, at the time of my departure from England, is (as I think) a little overdrawn. He has, in his own quaint way, interpreted seriously one of his young mistress’s many satirical references to my foreign education; and has persuaded himself that he actually saw those French, German, and Italian sides to my character, which my lively cousin only professed to discover in jest, and which never had any real existence, except in our good Betteredge’s own brain.

But, barring this drawback, I am bound to own that he has stated no more than the truth in representing me as wounded to the heart by Rachel’s treatment, and as leaving England in the first keenness of suffering caused by the bitterest disappointment of my life. It is, I am persuaded, no true view of human nature which denies that change and absence DO help a man under these circumstances; they force his attention away from the exclusive contemplation of his own sorrow. I never forgot her; but the pang of remembrance lost its worst bitterness, little by little, as time, distance, and novelty interposed themselves more and more effectually between Rachel and me. On the other hand, it is no less certain that, with the act of turning homeward, the remedy which had gained its ground so steadily, began now, just as steadily, to drop back. The nearer I drew to the country which she inhabited, and to the prospect of seeing her again, the more irresistibly her influence began to recover its hold on me. Bruff did not, at that time, feel himself at liberty to inform me of the motives which had privately influenced Rachel and Godfrey Ablewhite in recalling the marriage promise, on either side.

I troubled him with no embarrassing questions on this delicate subject. It was relief enough to me, after the jealous disappointment caused by hearing that she had ever contemplated being Godfrey’s wife, to know that reflection had convinced her of acting rashly, and that she had effected her own release from her marriage engagement. Half an hour after receiving this information, I was on my way to Portland Place--without having had the courage to own it to Mr. I sent him upstairs with my card, as the speediest way of setting the question at rest. The man came down again with an impenetrable face, and informed me that Miss Verinder was out. But it was impossible to suspect Rachel. The servant begged my pardon--Miss Verinder HAD received it. On my side, I declined to be treated in this way, without making an attempt, at least, to discover a reason for it. Merridew, and requested her to favour me with a personal interview at any hour which it might be most convenient to her to name.

I was shown into a comfortable little sitting-room, and found myself in the presence of a comfortable little elderly lady. She was at the same time, however, not in a position to offer me any explanation, or to press Rachel on a matter which appeared to relate to a question of private feeling alone. This was said over and over again, with a polite patience that nothing could tire; and this was all I gained by applying to Mrs. My last chance was to write to Rachel. My servant took a letter to her the next day, with strict instructions to wait for an answer. The answer came back, literally in one sentence.

“Miss Verinder begs to decline entering into any correspondence with Mr. I took out of my pocket-book the letter which poor Lady Verinder had written to me from Frizinghall, on the day when I left her house in Yorkshire. Bruff’s attention to these two sentences in it: “The valuable assistance which you rendered to the inquiry after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offence, in the present dreadful state of Rachel’s mind. Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with discovery through your exertions.” “Is it possible,” I asked, “that the feeling towards me which is there described, is as bitter as ever against me now?” Mr. Bruff, the assistance I innocently rendered to the inquiry after the Diamond was an unpardoned offence, in Rachel’s mind, nearly a year since; and it remains an unpardoned offence still. I won’t accept that position! I am determined to find out the secret of her silence towards her mother, and her enmity towards me. If time, pains, and money can do it, I will lay my hand on the thief who took the Moonstone!” The worthy old gentleman attempted to remonstrate--to induce me to listen to reason--to do his duty towards me, in short. “I shall take up the inquiry again,” I went on, “at the point where I dropped it; and I shall follow it onwards, step by step, till I come to the present time. There are missing links in the evidence, as I left it, which Gabriel Betteredge can supply, and to Gabriel Betteredge I go!” Towards sunset that evening I stood again on the well-remembered terrace, and looked once more at the peaceful old country house.

I knew it well; and I said I would go and seek him myself. There he was--the dear old friend of the happy days that were never to come again--there he was in the old corner, on the old beehive chair, with his pipe in his mouth, and his ROBINSON CRUSOE on his lap, and his two friends, the dogs, dozing on either side of him! In the position in which I stood, my shadow was projected in front of me by the last slanting rays of the sun. Either the dogs saw it, or their keen scent informed them of my approach; they started up with a growl. Starting in his turn, the old man quieted them by a word, and then shaded his failing eyes with his hand, and looked inquiringly at the figure at the gate. I was obliged to wait a moment before I could trust myself to speak to him.

Franklin!” cried the old man, “that’s exactly what ROBINSON CRUSOE has done!” He struggled to his feet with my assistance, and stood for a moment, looking backwards and forwards between ROBINSON CRUSOE and me, apparently at a loss to discover which of us had surprised him most. Holding it open before him in both hands, he surveyed the wonderful volume with a stare of unutterable anticipation--as if he expected to see Robinson Crusoe himself walk out of the pages, and favour us with a personal interview. “Here’s the bit, Mr. “As I live by bread, sir, here’s the bit I was reading, the moment before you came in! Page one hundred and fifty-six as follows:--‘I stood like one Thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an Apparition.’ If that isn’t as much as to say: ‘Expect the sudden appearance of Mr. Franklin Blake’--there’s no meaning in the English language!” said Betteredge, closing the book with a bang, and getting one of his hands free at last to take the hand which I offered him. I had expected him, naturally enough under the circumstances, to overwhelm me with questions. But no--the hospitable impulse was the uppermost impulse in the old servant’s mind, when a member of the family appeared (no matter how!) as a visitor at the house. Franklin,” he said, opening the door behind him, with his quaint old-fashioned bow. I bid you heartily welcome!” said the poor old fellow, fighting manfully against the gloom of the deserted house, and receiving me with the sociable and courteous attention of the bygone time.

It vexed me to disappoint him. Could I eat in it, or sleep in it, after what had happened in London? There was no help for it.

His opinion, when he expressed it, was given in his usual downright manner, and was agreeably redolent of the most positive philosophy I know--the philosophy of the Betteredge school. “Miss Rachel has her faults--I’ve never denied it,” he began. She has been trying to ride over you--and you have put up with it.

Betteredge pretty often--invariably producing her as his one undeniable example of the inbred frailty and perversity of the other sex. In that capacity he exhibited her now. Betteredge took her exercise on that favourite female animal whenever I happened to deny her anything that she had set her heart on. So sure as I came home from my work on these occasions, so sure was my wife to call to me up the kitchen stairs, and to say that, after my brutal treatment of her, she hadn’t the heart to cook me my dinner. I put up with it for some time--just as you are putting up with it now from Miss Rachel. I said ‘That’s the right place for you, my dear,’ and so went back to the kitchen. When it was done, I served it up in my best manner, and enjoyed it most heartily. ‘I’ve had my dinner, my dear,’ I said; ‘and I hope you will find that I have left the kitchen all that your fondest wishes can desire.’ For the rest of that woman’s life, Mr.

Moral: You have put up with Miss Rachel in London; don’t put up with her in Yorkshire. Come back to the house!” Quite unanswerable! “It’s a lovely evening,” I said. “I shall walk to Frizinghall, and stay at the hotel, and you must come to-morrow morning and breakfast with me. It’s to be had nearer than that.

Franklin, on his own freehold.” I remembered the place the moment Betteredge mentioned it. Hotherstone herself, sir, asked for my good word to recommend the rooms, yesterday.” “I’ll take them, Betteredge, with the greatest pleasure.” We went back to the yard, in which I had left my travelling-bag. Franklin, will be to pay me back that seven-and-sixpence you borrowed of me when you were a boy.” This stroke of sarcasm put him in a better humour with himself and with me. Once clear of the grounds, the duties of hospitality (in Betteredge’s code of morals) ceased, and the privileges of curiosity began. He dropped back, so as to let me get on a level with him.

“Supposing you had gone to the hotel at Frizinghall, sir?” “Yes?” “I should have had the honour of breakfasting with you, to-morrow morning.” “Come and breakfast with me at Hotherstone’s Farm, instead.” “Much obliged to you for your kindness, Mr. But it wasn’t exactly breakfast that I was driving at. If it’s no secret, sir,” said Betteredge, suddenly abandoning the crooked way, and taking the straight one, “I’m burning to know what’s brought you down here, if you please, in this sudden way.” “What brought me here before?” I asked.

“If that’s a joke, sir,” he said, “I’m afraid I’m getting a little dull in my old age. I don’t take it.” “It’s no joke,” I answered. That cursed Indian jewel has misguided everybody who has come near it. Don’t waste your money and your temper--in the fine spring time of your life, sir--by meddling with the Moonstone. How can YOU hope to succeed (saving your presence), when Sergeant Cuff himself made a mess of it? He has got a little cottage at Dorking; and he’s up to his eyes in the growing of roses. I have it in his own handwriting, Mr. He has grown the white moss rose, without budding it on the dog-rose first. Begbie the gardener is to go to Dorking, and own that the Sergeant has beaten him at last.” “It doesn’t much matter,” I said. “I must do without Sergeant Cuff’s help.

And I must trust to you, at starting.” It is likely enough that I spoke rather carelessly. Franklin--I can tell you that,” he said a little sharply. The tone in which he retorted, and a certain disturbance, after he had spoken, which I detected in his manner, suggested to me that he was possessed of some information which he hesitated to communicate. Can you do no more?” “What more can you expect from me, sir?” asked Betteredge, with an appearance of the utmost humility. “Some people are born boasters, and they never get over it to their dying day. I’m one of them.” There was only one way to take with him. “Betteredge, would you be glad to hear that Rachel and I were good friends again?” “I have served your family, sir, to mighty little purpose, if you doubt it!” “Do you remember how Rachel treated me, before I left England?” “As well as if it was yesterday! My lady herself wrote you a letter about it; and you were so good as to show the letter to me. It said that Miss Rachel was mortally offended with you, for the part you had taken in trying to recover her jewel. And neither my lady, nor you, nor anybody else could guess why.

“Quite true, Betteredge! And I come back from my travels, and find her mortally offended with me still. I knew that the Diamond was at the bottom of it, last year, and I know that the Diamond is at the bottom of it now. I have tried to write to her, and she won’t answer me. The chance of searching into the loss of the Moonstone, is the one chance of inquiry that Rachel herself has left me.” Those words evidently put the case before him, as he had not seen it yet. I want to make Rachel come to an understanding with me--and I want nothing more.” “You don’t feel any fear, sir--supposing you make any discoveries--in regard to what you may find out about Miss Rachel?” I understood the jealous belief in his young mistress which prompted those words. Franklin,” he exclaimed, “all I can say is--I am as innocent of seeing it as the babe unborn!

Franklin, whenever you please.” It was my turn to come to a standstill now. In the surprise of the moment, I asked a little impatiently what he meant. Rosanna Spearman left a sealed letter behind her--a letter addressed to YOU.” “Where is it?” “In the possession of a friend of hers, at Cobb’s Hole. You must have heard tell, when you were here last, sir, of Limping Lucy--a lame girl with a crutch.” “The fisherman’s daughter?” “The same, Mr. She wouldn’t give it into any hands but yours. And you had left England before I could write to you.” “Let’s go back, Betteredge, and get it at once!” “Too late, sir, to-night. Make yourself comfortable for to-night, and come to me to-morrow morning if you’ll be so kind?’” “You will go with me to the fisherman’s cottage?” “Yes, sir.” “Early?” “As early, Mr. I remember a hearty welcome; a prodigious supper, which would have fed a whole village in the East; a delightfully clean bedroom, with nothing in it to regret but that detestable product of the folly of our fore-fathers--a feather-bed; a restless night, with much kindling of matches, and many lightings of one little candle; and an immense sensation of relief when the sun rose, and there was a prospect of getting up.

It had been arranged over-night with Betteredge, that I was to call for him, on our way to Cobb’s Hole, as early as I liked--which, interpreted by my impatience to get possession of the letter, meant as early as I could. Without waiting for breakfast at the Farm, I took a crust of bread in my hand, and set forth, in some doubt whether I should not surprise the excellent Betteredge in his bed. To my great relief he proved to be quite as excited about the coming event as I was. I found him ready, and waiting for me, with his stick in his hand. “How are you this morning, Betteredge?” “Very poorly, sir.” “Sorry to hear it. I don’t want to alarm you, but you’re certain to catch it before the morning is out.” “The devil I am!” “Do you feel an uncomfortable heat at the pit of your stomach, sir? It will lay hold of you at Cobb’s Hole, Mr. I call it the detective-fever; and I first caught it in the company of Sergeant Cuff.” “Aye! Come along, and let’s get it.” Early as it was, we found the fisherman’s wife astir in her kitchen.

She put a bottle of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table, and opened the conversation by saying, “What news from London, sir?” Before I could find an answer to this immensely comprehensive question, an apparition advanced towards me, out of a dark corner of the kitchen. A wan, wild, haggard girl, with remarkably beautiful hair, and with a fierce keenness in her eyes, came limping up on a crutch to the table at which I was sitting, and looked at me as if I was an object of mingled interest and horror, which it quite fascinated her to see. Betteredge,” she said, without taking her eyes off me, “mention his name again, if you please.” “This gentleman’s name,” answered Betteredge (with a strong emphasis on GENTLEMAN), “is Mr. Yolland--as I believe--made some apologies for her daughter’s odd behaviour, and Betteredge (probably) translated them into polite English. Thump-thump, up the wooden stairs; thump-thump across the room above our heads; thump-thump down the stairs again--and there stood the apparition at the open door, with a letter in its hand, beckoning me out! I inspired her with the strongest emotions of abhorrence and disgust.

I will only venture on the more modest assertion that no woman had ever let me perceive it yet. There is a limit to the length of the inspection which a man can endure, under certain circumstances. “Is it the letter there, in your hand?” “Say that again,” was the only answer I received. I repeated the words, like a good child learning its lesson. I did my best to preserve my gravity, and answered, “Yes.” “Can you sleep?” “Yes.” “When you see a poor girl in service, do you feel no remorse?” “Certainly not. “Take it!” she exclaimed furiously. God Almighty forbid I should ever set eyes on you again.” With those parting words she limped away from me at the top of her speed.

Having reached that inevitable conclusion, I turned to the more interesting object of investigation which was presented to me by Rosanna Spearman’s letter. The address was written as follows:--“For Franklin Blake, Esq. The envelope contained a letter: and this, in its turn, contained a slip of paper. I read the letter first:-- “Sir,--If you are curious to know the meaning of my behaviour to you, whilst you were staying in the house of my mistress, Lady Verinder, do what you are told to do in the memorandum enclosed with this--and do it without any person being present to overlook you. Here is the literal copy of it, word for word: “Memorandum:--To go to the Shivering Sand at the turn of the tide. To walk out on the South Spit, until I get the South Spit Beacon, and the flagstaff at the Coast-guard station above Cobb’s Hole in a line together. To run my hand along the Chain, when found, until I come to the part of it which stretches over the edge of the rocks, down into the quicksand. “I can’t stand it any longer, Mr. He read the first without appearing to be much interested in it. “The Sergeant said it!” cried Betteredge.

And here it is! Franklin, here is the secret that puzzled everybody, from the great Cuff downwards, ready and waiting, as one may say, to show itself to YOU! It’s the ebb now, sir, as anybody may see for themselves. How long will it be till the turn of the tide?” He looked up, and observed a lad at work, at some little distance from us, mending a net.

Franklin,” said Betteredge; “and get to the quicksand in that way with plenty of time to spare. With my old friend’s help, I soon had the succession of circumstances clearly registered in my mind.

Rosanna’s journey to Frizinghall, when the whole household believed her to be ill in her own room--Rosanna’s mysterious employment of the night-time with her door locked, and her candle burning till the morning--Rosanna’s suspicious purchase of the japanned tin case, and the two dog’s chains from Mrs. Yolland--the Sergeant’s positive conviction that Rosanna had hidden something at the Shivering Sand, and the Sergeant’s absolute ignorance as to what that something might be--all these strange results of the abortive inquiry into the loss of the Moonstone were clearly present to me again, when we reached the quicksand, and walked out together on the low ledge of rocks called the South Spit. With Betteredge’s help, I soon stood in the right position to see the Beacon and the Coast-guard flagstaff in a line together. It wanted nearly twenty minutes yet of the turn of the tide. I suggested waiting through this interval on the beach, instead of on the wet and slippery surface of the rocks. Having reached the dry sand, I prepared to sit down; and, greatly to my surprise, Betteredge prepared to leave me. “Look at the letter again, sir, and you will see.” A glance at the letter reminded me that I was charged, when I made my discovery, to make it alone. “It’s hard enough for me to leave you, at such a time as this,” said Betteredge. I’ll hang about in the fir plantation, and wait till you pick me up. The detective-fever isn’t an easy disease to deal with, under THESE circumstances.” With that parting caution, he left me.

The interval of expectation, short as it was when reckoned by the measure of time, assumed formidable proportions when reckoned by the measure of suspense. This was one of the occasions on which the invaluable habit of smoking becomes especially precious and consolatory. I lit a cigar, and sat down on the slope of the beach. The sunlight poured its unclouded beauty on every object that I could see. The exquisite freshness of the air made the mere act of living and breathing a luxury.

Even the lonely little bay welcomed the morning with a show of cheerfulness; and the bared wet surface of the quicksand itself, glittering with a golden brightness, hid the horror of its false brown face under a passing smile. It was the finest day I had seen since my return to England. I saw the preliminary heaving of the Sand, and then the awful shiver that crept over its surface--as if some spirit of terror lived and moved and shuddered in the fathomless deeps beneath. My directions in the memorandum instructed me to feel along the line traced by the stick, beginning with the end which was nearest to the beacon. I advanced, in this manner, more than half way along the stick, without encountering anything but the edges of the rocks. In a narrow little fissure, just within reach of my forefinger, I felt the chain.

Attempting, next, to follow it, by touch, in the direction of the quicksand, I found my progress stopped by a thick growth of seaweed--which had fastened itself into the fissure, no doubt, in the time that had elapsed since Rosanna Spearman had chosen her hiding-place.

It was equally impossible to pull up the seaweed, or to force my hand through it. My idea was to “sound” immediately under the rocks, on the chance of recovering the lost trace of the chain at the point at which it entered the sand. I took up the stick, and knelt down on the brink of the South Spit.

In this position, my face was within a few feet of the surface of the quicksand. The sight of it so near me, still disturbed at intervals by its hideous shivering fit, shook my nerves for the moment. A horrible fancy that the dead woman might appear on the scene of her suicide, to assist my search--an unutterable dread of seeing her rise through the heaving surface of the sand, and point to the place--forced itself into my mind, and turned me cold in the warm sunlight.

The instant afterwards, before the stick could have been submerged more than a few inches, I was free from the hold of my own superstitious terror, and was throbbing with excitement from head to foot. Taking a firm hold of the roots of the seaweed with my left hand, I laid myself down over the brink, and felt with my right hand under the overhanging edges of the rock. I drew it up without the slightest difficulty. And there was the japanned tin case fastened to the end of it. The action of the water had so rusted the chain, that it was impossible for me to unfasten it from the hasp which attached it to the case. Some white substance filled the whole interior when I looked in. I put in my hand, and found it to be linen. In drawing out the linen, I also drew out a letter crumpled up with it. After looking at the direction, and discovering that it bore my name, I put the letter in my pocket, and completely removed the linen.

It came out in a thick roll, moulded, of course, to the shape of the case in which it had been so long confined, and perfectly preserved from any injury by the sea. I carried the linen to the dry sand of the beach, and there unrolled and smoothed it out. There was no mistaking it as an article of dress. It was a nightgown. The uppermost side, when I spread it out, presented to view innumerable folds and creases, and nothing more. “Find out whether there is any article of dress in this house with the stain of paint on it. If the person can’t satisfy you, you haven’t far to look for the hand that took the Diamond.” One after another those words travelled over my memory, repeating themselves again and again with a wearisome, mechanical reiteration. The old man’s appearance recalled me, the moment I perceived it, to my sense of present things, and reminded me that the inquiry which I had pursued thus far still remained incomplete. As I raised my hand to take it out, I remembered that there was a shorter way to discovery than this. The nightgown itself would reveal the truth, for, in all probability, the nightgown was marked with its owner’s name.

I took it up from the sand, and looked for the mark. There was the sun; there were the glittering waters of the bay; there was old Betteredge, advancing nearer and nearer to me. “If time, pains, and money can do it, I will lay my hand on the thief who took the Moonstone.”--I had left London, with those words on my lips. I certainly could not have known what I was about when Betteredge joined me--for I have it on his authority that I laughed, when he asked what was the matter, and putting the nightgown into his hands, told him to read the riddle for himself. Betteredge and I are walking back together to the house; and Betteredge is telling me that I shall be able to face it, and he will be able to face it, when we have had a glass of grog.

The scene shifts from the plantation, to Betteredge’s little sitting-room. I drink the grog (a perfectly new luxury to me, at that time of day), which my good old friend mixes with icy-cold water from the well. As things are, it strings up my nerves. I begin to “face it,” as Betteredge has predicted.

And Betteredge, on his side, begins to “face it,” too. The picture which I am now presenting of myself, will, I suspect, be thought a very strange one, to say the least of it. Placed in a situation which may, I think, be described as entirely without parallel, what is the first proceeding to which I resort? Do I set my mind to analyse the abominable impossibility which, nevertheless, confronts me as an undeniable fact? Do I hurry back to London by the first train to consult the highest authorities, and to set a searching inquiry on foot immediately? I accept the shelter of a house which I had resolved never to degrade myself by entering again; and I sit, tippling spirits and water in the company of an old servant, at ten o’clock in the morning. Is this the conduct that might have been expected from a man placed in my horrible position? I can only offer this excuse for myself; and I can only admire that invariable preservation of dignity, and that strictly logical consistency of conduct which distinguish every man and woman who may read these lines, in every emergency of their lives from the cradle to the grave.

Franklin, there’s one thing certain, at any rate,” said Betteredge, throwing the nightgown down on the table between us, and pointing to it as if it was a living creature that could hear him.

“HE’S a liar, to begin with.” This comforting view of the matter was not the view that presented itself to my mind. “But there is the witness against me! The paint on the nightgown, and the name on the nightgown are facts.” Betteredge lifted my glass, and put it persuasively into my hand. Foul play somewhere--and you and I must find it out.

Was there nothing else in the tin case, when you put your hand into it?” The question instantly reminded me of the letter in my pocket. I took it out, and opened it. It was a letter of many pages, closely written. What of it now, if you please?” “What of it now?

How do we know she may not have smeared my nightgown purposely with the paint?” Betteredge laid his hand on my arm, and stopped me before I could say any more.

In justice to the girl’s memory, see what it says.” I felt the earnestness with which he spoke--felt it as a friendly rebuke to me. “I will read it out.” I began--and read these lines: “Sir--I have something to own to you. “In the name of Heaven,” I said, “what does it mean?” He seemed to shrink from answering the question. I tell you plainly, I can’t find it in my heart to distress you, after what you have had to bear already. And get on with your grog. For your own sake, get on with your grog.” I resumed the reading of the letter. “It would be very disgraceful to me to tell you this, if I was a living woman when you read it.

It is that which makes me bold. I may own the truth--with the quicksand waiting to hide me when the words are written. “Besides, you will find your nightgown in my hiding-place, with the smear of the paint on it; and you will want to know how it came to be hidden by me? and why I said nothing to you about it in my life-time? “I won’t trouble you with much about myself, or my life, before you came to my lady’s house. I was a thief, because my mother went on the streets when I was quite a little girl.

It is told quite often enough in the newspapers. Those two, and the matron at the reformatory, are the only good people I have ever met with in all my life. I might have got on in my place--not happily--but I might have got on, if you had not come visiting. It’s my fault--all my fault. Don’t laugh at this if you can help it. Oh, if I could only make you feel how serious it is to ME! If you had known how I used to cry at night with the misery and the mortification of your never taking any notice of me, you would have pitied me perhaps, and have given me a look now and then to live on. “It would have been no very kind look, perhaps, if you had known how I hated Miss Rachel.

I believe I found out you were in love with her, before you knew it yourself. Franklin, you wore my roses oftener than either you or she thought!

“If she had been really as pretty as you thought her, I might have borne it better.

No; I believe I should have been more spiteful against her still.

I don’t know what is the use of my writing in this way.

It can’t be denied that she had a bad figure; she was too thin. It’s no business of mine. I can’t expect you to read my letter, if I write it in this way. But it does stir one up to hear Miss Rachel called pretty, when one knows all the time that it’s her dress does it, and her confidence in herself. “Try not to lose patience with me, sir. “But there is one thing which I have got it on my mind to tell you first. It was only when they had taught me at the reformatory to feel my own degradation, and to try for better things, that the days grew long and weary. A heart-breaking sensation of loneliness kept with me, go where I might, and do what I might, and see what persons I might. It was my duty, I know, to try and get on with my fellow-servants in my new place. Somehow, I couldn’t make friends with them.

I don’t regret, far from it, having been roused to make the effort to be a reformed woman--but, indeed, indeed it was a weary life. You had come across it like a beam of sunshine at first--and then you too failed me. In those days of bitterness, I went two or three times, when it was my turn to go out, to my favourite place--the beach above the Shivering Sand. And I said to myself, ‘I think it will end here. When I can bear it no longer, I think it will end here.’ You will understand, sir, that the place had laid a kind of spell on me before you came. But I had never looked at it, with the thought of its being the means of my making away with myself, till the time came of which I am now writing. “I was so aggravated by the foolish talk among the women servants, all wondering who was to be suspected first; and I was so angry with you (knowing no better at that time) for the pains you took in hunting for the jewel, and sending for the police, that I kept as much as possible away by myself, until later in the day, when the officer from Frizinghall came to the house. I went with the rest, because if I had done anything different from the rest, Mr.

Penelope Betteredge (the only one of the women with whom I was on friendly terms) passed, and noticed what I was about. “‘I was with Miss Rachel, and Mr. I heard Miss Rachel ask whether the door would be dry that evening, in time for the birthday company to see it. Franklin shook his head, and said it wouldn’t be dry in less than twelve hours. It was long past luncheon-time--it was three o’clock before they had done. What does your arithmetic say, Rosanna? Mine says the door was dry by three this morning.’ “‘Did some of the ladies go up-stairs yesterday evening to see it?’ I asked. And I noticed the door, and there was nothing wrong with it then.’ “‘Oughtn’t you to mention this to Mr. It was the happiest hour I had in the whole day.

No matter who has done it since, you have never had your clothes folded as nicely as I folded them for you. Of all the little knick-knacks in your dressing-case, there wasn’t one that had so much as a speck on it. You never noticed it, any more than you noticed me. There was your nightgown tossed across the bed, just as you had thrown it off. I took it up to fold it--and I saw the stain of the paint from Miss Rachel’s door! “I was so startled by the discovery that I ran out with the nightgown in my hand, and made for the back stairs, and locked myself into my own room, to look at it in a place where nobody could intrude and interrupt me. “As soon as I got my breath again, I called to mind my talk with Penelope, and I said to myself, ‘Here’s the proof that he was in Miss Rachel’s sitting-room between twelve last night, and three this morning!’ “I shall not tell you in plain words what was the first suspicion that crossed my mind, when I had made that discovery. You would only be angry--and, if you were angry, you might tear my letter up and read no more of it.

“Let it be enough, if you please, to say only this. After thinking it over to the best of my ability, I made it out that the thing wasn’t likely, for a reason that I will tell you. If you had been in Miss Rachel’s sitting-room, at that time of night, with Miss Rachel’s knowledge (and if you had been foolish enough to forget to take care of the wet door) SHE would have reminded you--SHE would never have let you carry away such a witness against her, as the witness I was looking at now!

Try to think, if you can, that there was a little of that hatred in all this. It ended in my determining to keep the nightgown, and to wait, and watch, and see what use I might make of it. I had read those portions of the miserable woman’s confession which related to myself, with unaffected surprise, and, I can honestly add, with sincere distress. But when I had advanced as far as the passage which is quoted above, I own I felt my mind growing bitterer and bitterer against Rosanna Spearman as I went on. “If there is anything in it that I must look at, you can tell me as you go on.” “I understand you, Mr.

“It’s natural, sir, in YOU. And, God help us all!” he added, in a lower tone, “it’s no less natural in HER.” I proceed to copy the continuation of the letter from the original, in my own possession:-- “Having determined to keep the nightgown, and to see what use my love, or my revenge (I hardly know which) could turn it to in the future, the next thing to discover was how to keep it without the risk of being found out. “There was only one way--to make another nightgown exactly like it, before Saturday came, and brought the laundry-woman and her inventory to the house. “I was afraid to put it off till next day (the Friday); being in doubt lest some accident might happen in the interval. The first thing to do (after locking up your nightgown in my drawer) was to go back to your bed-room--not so much to put it to rights (Penelope would have done that for me, if I had asked her) as to find out whether you had smeared off any of the paint-stain from your nightgown, on the bed, or on any piece of furniture in the room. “I examined everything narrowly, and at last, I found a few streaks of the paint on the inside of your dressing-gown--not the linen dressing-gown you usually wore in that summer season, but a flannel dressing-gown which you had with you also. Seegrave, along with the rest of the servants. “Penelope returned to us quite beside herself with rage at the manner in which Mr.

He had hinted, beyond the possibility of mistaking him, that he suspected her of being the thief. “‘Because the Diamond was in Miss Rachel’s sitting-room,” Penelope answered. “And because I was the last person in the sitting-room at night!” “Almost before the words had left her lips, I remembered that another person had been in the sitting-room later than Penelope. In the midst of it all, something in my mind whispered to me that the smear on your nightgown might have a meaning entirely different to the meaning which I had given to it up to that time. I made up my mind, on the spot, that you had shown yourself the busiest of anybody in fetching the police, as a blind to deceive us all; and that the hand which had taken Miss Rachel’s jewel could by no possibility be any other hand than yours. “The excitement of this new discovery of mine must, I think, have turned my head for a while.

I felt such a devouring eagerness to see you--to try you with a word or two about the Diamond, and to MAKE you look at me, and speak to me, in that way--that I put my hair tidy, and made myself as nice as I could, and went to you boldly in the library where I knew you were writing. if you have ever loved, you will understand how it was that all my courage cooled, when I walked into the room, and found myself in your presence. When you had thanked me, you looked back, if you remember, at your writing. I was so mortified at being treated in this way, that I plucked up spirit enough to speak. I said, ‘This is a strange thing about the Diamond, sir.’ And you looked up again, and said, ‘Yes, it is!’ You spoke civilly (I can’t deny that); but still you kept a distance--a cruel distance between us. nor the person who took it--I’ll answer for that.’ I nodded, and smiled at you, as much as to say, ‘I know!’ THIS time, you looked up at me with something like interest in your eyes; and I felt that a few more words on your side and mine might bring out the truth.

Betteredge spoilt it all by coming to the door. I knew his footstep, and I also knew that it was against his rules for me to be in the library at that time of day--let alone being there along with you. I was angry and disappointed; but I was not entirely without hope for all that. “It didn’t matter then; it doesn’t matter now. And not a living creature knew it--yourself included! Franklin,” said the old man, taking off his heavy tortoiseshell spectacles, and pushing Rosanna Spearman’s confession a little away from him. “Have you come to any conclusion, sir, in your own mind, while I have been reading?” “Finish the letter first, Betteredge; there may be something to enlighten us at the end of it.

“Come in,” he called out, irritably, “whoever you are!” The door opened, and there entered to us, quietly, the most remarkable-looking man that I had ever seen.

Judging him by his face, and comparing him with Betteredge, he looked the elder of the two. From this strange face, eyes, stranger still, of the softest brown--eyes dreamy and mournful, and deeply sunk in their orbits--looked out at you, and (in my case, at least) took your attention captive at their will.

Add to this a quantity of thick closely-curling hair, which, by some freak of Nature, had lost its colour in the most startlingly partial and capricious manner. Over the top of his head it was still of the deep black which was its natural colour. Round the sides of his head--without the slightest gradation of grey to break the force of the extraordinary contrast--it had turned completely white. The line between the two colours preserved no sort of regularity. At one place, the white hair ran up into the black; at another, the black hair ran down into the white. I looked at the man with a curiosity which, I am ashamed to say, I found it quite impossible to control. His soft brown eyes looked back at me gently; and he met my involuntary rudeness in staring at him, with an apology which I was conscious that I had not deserved. Betteredge was engaged.” He took a slip of paper from his pocket, and handed it to Betteredge.

His eyes just rested on me again--and he left the room as quietly as he had entered it. Franklin, you will be sorry to hear that the little doctor has never recovered that illness he caught, going home from the birthday dinner. He’s pretty well in health; but he lost his memory in the fever, and he has never recovered more than the wreck of it since.

Not much of it now, except among the poor. THEY must put up with the man with the piebald hair, and the gipsy complexion--or they would get no doctoring at all.” “You don’t seem to like him, Betteredge?” “Nobody likes him, sir.” “Why is he so unpopular?” “Well, Mr. Franklin, his appearance is against him, to begin with. Candy took him with a very doubtful character. How can you expect one to like him, after that?” “Quite impossible, of course!

May I ask what he wanted with you, when he gave you that bit of paper?” “Only to bring me the weekly list of the sick people about here, sir, who stand in need of a little wine. Now it’s Mr. I’ll go on with the letter, if you will allow me, sir,” said Betteredge, drawing Rosanna Spearman’s confession back to him. “It isn’t lively reading, I grant you. it keeps me from getting sour with thinking of the past.” He put on his spectacles, and wagged his head gloomily. I passed over the last unanswerable utterance of the Betteredge philosophy; and returned to the subject of the man with the piebald hair. On my side, I sat at the window, waiting until he had done.

Little by little, the impression produced on me by Ezra Jennings--it seemed perfectly unaccountable, in such a situation as mine, that any human being should have produced an impression on me at all!--faded from my mind. Once more, I forced myself to look my own incredible position resolutely in the face. Bruff; and, last and most important, to obtain (no matter by what means or at what sacrifice) a personal interview with Rachel--this was my plan of action, so far as I was capable of forming it at the time.

And there was the bare chance that Betteredge might discover something in the unread portion of Rosanna Spearman’s letter, which it might be useful for me to know before I left the house in which the Diamond had been lost. For that chance I was now waiting. Franklin, even if I did feel some little triumph at knowing that I held all your prospects in life in my own hands. With the view Sergeant Cuff took of the loss of the Diamond, he would be sure to end in examining our linen and our dresses. How to hide the nightgown so that not even the Sergeant could find it? and how to do that without losing one moment of precious time?--these were not easy questions to answer. You had worn it--and I had another little moment of pleasure in wearing it after you. “I found it, and took it to him in my lady’s sitting-room. In this suspense, I felt it would be a relief to me to get the meeting between us over, and to know the worst of it at once.

“He looked at me as if I was a stranger, when I handed him the washing-book; and he was very specially polite in thanking me for bringing it.

It was then time for your return from seeing Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite off by the railway; and I went to your favourite walk in the shrubbery, to try for another chance of speaking to you--the last chance, for all I knew to the contrary, that I might have. You were making straight for the shrubbery, when you saw me--I am certain, sir, you saw me--and you turned away as if I had got the plague, and went into the house.* * NOTE: by Franklin Blake.--The writer is entirely mistaken, poor creature. I wondered in myself which it would be harder to do, if things went on in this manner--to bear Mr. Franklin Blake’s indifference to me, or to jump into the quicksand and end it for ever in that way? “It’s useless to ask me to account for my own conduct, at this time. I try--and I can’t understand it myself. Franklin, I have got something to say to you; it concerns yourself, and you must, and shall, hear it?’ You were at my mercy--I had got the whip-hand of you, as they say. Of course, I never supposed that you--a gentleman--had stolen the Diamond for the mere pleasure of stealing it. It was plain enough to me that you had taken the Diamond to sell it, or pledge it, and so to get the money of which you stood in need. I could have told you of a man in London who would have advanced a good large sum on the jewel, and who would have asked no awkward questions about it either.

“I wonder whether the risks and difficulties of keeping the nightgown were as much as I could manage, without having other risks and difficulties added to them? This might have been the case with some women--but how could it be the case with me? Was such a little thing as the keeping of the nightgown likely to weigh on my spirits, and to set my heart sinking within me, at the time when I ought to have spoken to you? Behind your back, I loved you with all my heart and soul.

Before your face--there’s no denying it--I was frightened of you; frightened of making you angry with me; frightened of what you might say to me (though you HAD taken the Diamond) if I presumed to tell you that I had found it out. I had gone as near to it as I dared when I spoke to you in the library. I tried to provoke myself into feeling angry with you, and to rouse up my courage in that way. I couldn’t feel anything but the misery and the mortification of it.

Franklin; but you said it all to me, nevertheless! There is nothing to be done but to confess it, and let it be. There is no fear of its happening again. She had found out my secret long since, and she had done her best to bring me to my senses--and done it kindly too. “‘Ah!’ she said, ‘I know why you’re sitting here, and fretting, all by yourself. Franklin’s visit here to come to an end. It’s my belief that he won’t be long now before he leaves the house.” “In all my thoughts of you I had never thought of your going away. ‘And a hard matter I have had of it to put up with her temper. She says the house is unbearable to her with the police in it; and she’s determined to speak to my lady this evening, and to go to her Aunt Ablewhite to-morrow. Franklin will be the next to find a reason for going away, you may depend on it!’ “I recovered the use of my tongue at that.

Franklin will go with her?’ I asked.

If they don’t make it up before to-morrow, you will see Miss Rachel go one way, and Mr. To own the truth, I saw a little glimpse of hope for myself if there was really a serious disagreement between Miss Rachel and you. ‘Do you know,’ I asked, ‘what the quarrel is between them?’ “‘It is all on Miss Rachel’s side,’ Penelope said. ‘And, for anything I know to the contrary, it’s all Miss Rachel’s temper, and nothing else. I am loth to distress you, Rosanna; but don’t run away with the notion that Mr. Franklin is ever likely to quarrel with HER. “It came to my turn to go in, after her ladyship’s maid and the upper housemaid had been questioned first. Sergeant Cuff’s inquiries--though he wrapped them up very cunningly--soon showed me that those two women (the bitterest enemies I had in the house) had made their discoveries outside my door, on the Tuesday afternoon, and again on the Thursday night. I felt satisfied of another thing, from what he said, which it puzzled me to understand. “I quite despair of making you understand the distress and terror which pressed upon me now.

It was impossible for me to risk wearing your nightgown any longer. While Sergeant Cuff still left me free, I had to choose--and at once--between destroying the nightgown, or hiding it in some safe place, at some safe distance from the house. “If I had only been a little less fond of you, I think I should have destroyed it. If we did come to an explanation together, and if you suspected me of having some bad motive, and denied it all, how could I win upon you to trust me, unless I had the nightgown to produce? Was it wronging you to believe, as I did and do still, that you might hesitate to let a poor girl like me be the sharer of your secret, and your accomplice in the theft which your money-troubles had tempted you to commit? Think of your cold behaviour to me, sir, and you will hardly wonder at my unwillingness to destroy the only claim on your confidence and your gratitude which it was my fortune to possess. “I determined to hide it; and the place I fixed on was the place I knew best--the Shivering Sand. Don’t suppose I trusted them with your secret--I have trusted nobody.

All I wanted was to write this letter to you, and to have a safe opportunity of taking the nightgown off me. Suspected as I was, I could do neither of those things with any sort of security, at the house.

“And now I have nearly got through my long letter, writing it alone in Lucy Yolland’s bedroom. When it is done, I shall go downstairs with the nightgown rolled up, and hidden under my cloak. I shall find the means I want for keeping it safe and dry in its hiding-place, among the litter of old things in Mrs. Yolland’s kitchen. And then I shall go to the Shivering Sand--don’t be afraid of my letting my footmarks betray me!--and hide the nightgown down in the sand, where no living creature can find it without being first let into the secret by myself. If you leave the house, as Penelope believes you will leave it, and if I haven’t spoken to you before that, I shall lose my opportunity forever. If these two together don’t harden my heart against the coldness which has hitherto frozen it up (I mean the coldness of your treatment of me), there will be the end of my efforts--and the end of my life. If I miss my next opportunity--if you are as cruel as ever, and if I feel it again as I have felt it already--good-bye to the world which has grudged me the happiness that it gives to others. Good-bye to life, which nothing but a little kindness from you can ever make pleasurable to me again. Don’t blame yourself, sir, if it ends in this way.

I shall take care that you find out what I have done for you, when I am past telling you of it myself. If you do that, and if there are such things as ghosts, I believe my ghost will hear it, and tremble with the pleasure of it. “It’s time I left off. Why not believe, while I can, that it will end well after all? They will go, for safety’s sake (never mind now for what other reason) into the hiding-place along with the nightgown. It has been hard, hard work writing my letter. if we only end in understanding each other, how I shall enjoy tearing it up! After carefully putting it back in the envelope, he sat thinking, with his head bowed down, and his eyes on the ground. “Betteredge,” I said, “is there any hint to guide me at the end of the letter?” He looked up slowly, with a heavy sigh.

It will sorely distress you, whenever you read it. Don’t read it now.” I put the letter away in my pocket-book.

A glance back at the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of Betteredge’s Narrative will show that there really was a reason for my thus sparing myself, at a time when my fortitude had been already cruelly tried. And twice over, it had been my misfortune (God knows how innocently!) to repel the advances she had made to me. On the Friday night, as Betteredge truly describes it, she had found me alone at the billiard-table. On the Saturday again--on the day when she must have foreseen, after what Penelope had told her, that my departure was close at hand--the same fatality still pursued us. She had once more attempted to meet me in the shrubbery walk, and she had found me there in company with Betteredge and Sergeant Cuff. In her hearing, the Sergeant, with his own underhand object in view, had appealed to my interest in Rosanna Spearman. Again for the poor creature’s own sake, I had met the police-officer with a flat denial, and had declared--loudly declared, so that she might hear me too--that I felt “no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman.” At those words, solely designed to warn her against attempting to gain my private ear, she had turned away and left the place: cautioned of her danger, as I then believed; self-doomed to destruction, as I know now. I may leave the miserable story of Rosanna Spearman--to which, even at this distance of time, I cannot revert without a pang of distress--to suggest for itself all that is here purposely left unsaid. I may pass from the suicide at the Shivering Sand, with its strange and terrible influence on my present position and future prospects, to interests which concern the living people of this narrative, and to events which were already paving my way for the slow and toilsome journey from the darkness to the light.

CHAPTER VI I walked to the railway station accompanied, it is needless to say, by Gabriel Betteredge. I had the letter in my pocket, and the nightgown safely packed in a little bag--both to be submitted, before I slept that night, to the investigation of Mr. For the first time in my experience of him, I found old Betteredge in my company without a word to say to me. Franklin, they may do anything else they like with me. “Why it’s the great defect of your character, Mr. Franklin that you only drink with your dinner, and never touch a drop of liquor afterwards!” “But the birthday was a special occasion.

I might have abandoned my regular habits, on that night of all others.” Betteredge considered for a moment. “You did go out of your habits, sir,” he said. You looked wretchedly ill--and we persuaded you to have a drop of brandy and water to cheer you up a little.” “I am not used to brandy and water. It is quite possible----” “Wait a bit, Mr. A child couldn’t have got drunk on it--let alone a grown man!” I knew I could depend on his memory, in a matter of this kind. It was plainly impossible that I could have been intoxicated. Franklin!” he said “You’re trying to account for how you got the paint on your nightgown, without knowing it yourself. It won’t do, sir. Neither at home nor abroad had my life ever been of the solitary sort. If I had been a sleep-walker, there were hundreds on hundreds of people who must have discovered me, and who, in the interest of my own safety, would have warned me of the habit, and have taken precautions to restrain it.

Still, admitting all this, I clung--with an obstinacy which was surely natural and excusable, under the circumstances--to one or other of the only two explanations that I could see which accounted for the unendurable position in which I then stood. “Let’s try it another way, sir,” he said. “Keep your own opinion, and see how far it will take you towards finding out the truth. If we are to believe the nightgown--which I don’t for one--you not only smeared off the paint from the door, without knowing it, but you also took the Diamond without knowing it. Is that right, so far?” “Quite right. But how does it account for what has happened since that time? Did you do those two things, without knowing it, too?

Excuse me for saying it, Mr. Franklin, but this business has so upset you, that you’re not fit yet to judge for yourself. Bruff’s head, the sooner you will see your way out of the dead-lock that has got you now.” We reached the station, with only a minute or two to spare. I hurriedly gave Betteredge my address in London, so that he might write to me, if necessary; promising, on my side, to inform him of any news which I might have to communicate. It was a relief to my mind, I suppose, to dwell on any subject which appeared to be, personally, of no sort of importance to me. Bruff, wondering--absurdly enough, I admit--that I should have seen the man with the piebald hair twice in one day! I drove from the railway to his private residence at Hampstead, and disturbed the old lawyer dozing alone in his dining-room, with his favourite pug-dog on his lap, and his bottle of wine at his elbow. Bruff by relating his proceedings when he had heard it to the end.

In my opinion, it concerns Rachel quite as nearly as it concerns you. But it had forced itself on me, nevertheless. My resolution to obtain a personal interview with Rachel, rested really and truly on the ground just stated by Mr. It is impossible, after what has happened, to submit to that silence any longer.

The chances are, that the whole of this case, serious as it seems now, will tumble to pieces, if we can only break through Rachel’s inveterate reserve, and prevail upon her to speak out.” “That is a very comforting opinion for me,” I said. “I own I should like to know.” “You would like to know how I can justify it,” inter-posed Mr. It’s a question of evidence, with me. I admit that the mark of the name proves the nightgown to be yours. I admit that the mark of the paint proves the nightgown to have made the smear on Rachel’s door.

But what evidence is there to prove that you are the person who wore it, on the night when the Diamond was lost?” The objection struck me, all the more forcibly that it reflected an objection which I had felt myself. I can understand that you may hesitate to analyse it from a purely impartial point of view. But I am not in your position. I can bring my professional experience to bear on this document, just as I should bring it to bear on any other.

Without alluding to the woman’s career as a thief, I will merely remark that her letter proves her to have been an adept at deception, on her own showing; and I argue from that, that I am justified in suspecting her of not having told the whole truth. I will only say that, if Rachel has suspected you ON THE EVIDENCE OF THE NIGHTGOWN ONLY, the chances are ninety-nine to a hundred that Rosanna Spearman was the person who showed it to her. I don’t stop to ask who took the Moonstone (as a means to her end, Rosanna Spearman would have taken fifty Moonstones)--I only say that the disappearance of the jewel gave this reclaimed thief who was in love with you, an opportunity of setting you and Rachel at variance for the rest of your lives. She had not decided on destroying herself, THEN, remember; and, having the opportunity, I distinctly assert that it was in her character, and in her position at the time, to take it. And when you had read the letter, you pitied the poor creature, and couldn’t find it in your heart to suspect her. Does you credit, my dear sir--does you credit!” “But suppose it turns out that I did wear the nightgown? Let us wait and see whether Rachel hasn’t suspected you on the evidence of the nightgown only.” “Good God, how coolly you talk of Rachel suspecting me!” I broke out. Did anything happen while you were staying at the house--not, of course, to shake Rachel’s belief in your honour--but, let us say, to shake her belief (no matter with how little reason) in your principles generally?” I started, in ungovernable agitation, to my feet. I had been foolish enough (being, as usual, straitened for money at the time) to accept a loan from the keeper of a small restaurant in Paris, to whom I was well known as a customer. A time was settled between us for paying the money back; and when the time came, I found it (as thousands of other honest men have found it) impossible to keep my engagement.

My name was unfortunately too well known on such documents: he failed to negotiate it.

He was a man of violent temper; and he took the wrong way with me. But she was shocked at my carelessness, and justly angry with me for placing myself in a position, which, but for her interference, might have become a very disgraceful one. Either her mother told her, or Rachel heard what passed--I can’t say which. The day after, I succeeded in making my peace, and thought no more of it. Had Rachel reverted to this unlucky accident, at the critical moment when my place in her estimation was again, and far more seriously, assailed?

“It would have its effect on her mind,” he said gravely. Twice, I was on the point of telling him that I had determined on seeing Rachel personally; and twice, having regard to his age and his character, I hesitated to take him by surprise at an unfavourable moment.

“The grand difficulty is,” he resumed, “how to make her show her whole mind in this matter, without reserve. “Wait a little,” he said. “This is how it stands,” he said. But I do trust in Rachel’s still preserving, in some remote little corner of her heart, a certain perverse weakness for YOU. With that one word of comment on the reply that I had made to him, he took another turn up and down the room. “In plain English,” he said, “my house is to be turned into a trap to catch Rachel; with a bait to tempt her, in the shape of an invitation from my wife and daughters. If you were anybody else but Franklin Blake, and if this matter was one atom less serious than it really is, I should refuse point-blank. As things are, I firmly believe Rachel will live to thank me for turning traitor to her in my old age. Rachel shall be asked to spend the day here; and you shall receive due notice of it.” “When?

Say the day after.” “How shall I hear from you?” “Stay at home all the morning and expect me to call on you.” I thanked him for the inestimable assistance which he was rendering to me, with the gratitude that I really felt; and, declining a hospitable invitation to sleep that night at Hampstead, returned to my lodgings in London. Of the day that followed, I have only to say that it was the longest day of my life. I believe it to be infinitely the truer axiom of the two that innocence can look like guilt. I caused myself to be denied all day, to every visitor who called; and I only ventured out under cover of the night. “Is she coming?” “She is coming to-day, to lunch and spend the afternoon with my wife and my girls.” “Are Mrs. Bruff, and your daughters, in the secret?” “Inevitably. The end being to bring you and Rachel together again, my wife and daughters pass over the means employed to gain it, as composedly as if they were Jesuits.” “I am infinitely obliged to them. Don’t blame me for what happens afterwards.” With those words, he went out.

I had many weary hours still to wait through. I opened it eagerly. To my surprise and disappointment, it began with an apology warning me to expect no news of any importance. The warm-hearted, faithful old man acknowledged that he had written “mainly for the pleasure of writing to me.” I crumpled up the letter in my pocket, and forgot it the moment after, in the all-absorbing interest of my coming interview with Rachel. I looked furtively on either side of me; suspicious of the presence of some unexpected witness in some unknown corner of the garden. The walks were, one and all, solitudes; and the birds and the bees were the only witnesses.

As I laid my hand on the door opposite, I heard a few plaintive chords struck on the piano in the room within. I was obliged to wait a little, to steady myself. We confronted each other in silence, with the full length of the room between us. She advanced, on her side, still without speaking. I could resist it no longer--I caught her in my arms, and covered her face with kisses.

There was a moment when I thought the kisses were returned; a moment when it seemed as if she, too might have forgotten. Almost before the idea could shape itself in my mind, her first voluntary action made me feel that she remembered. With a cry which was like a cry of horror--with a strength which I doubt if I could have resisted if I had tried--she thrust me back from her. I beg your pardon.” Something of the bitterness that I felt may have communicated itself to my voice. She answered in a low tone, with a sullen submission of manner which was quite new in my experience of her. “After what you have done, is it a manly action, on your part, to find your way to me as you have found it to-day? It seems a cowardly experiment, to try an experiment on my weakness for you. It seems a cowardly surprise, to surprise me into letting you kiss me. I ought to have known it couldn’t be your view. The most degraded man living would have felt humiliated by it.

YOU ask that question of ME?” “I ask it.” “I have kept your infamy a secret,” she answered. “And I have suffered the consequences of concealing it. Is ALL sense of gratitude dead in you? She dropped into a chair, and turned her back on me, and covered her face with her hands. I waited a little before I trusted myself to say any more.

In that moment of silence, I hardly know which I felt most keenly--the sting which her contempt had planted in me, or the proud resolution which shut me out from all community with her distress. I have come here with something serious to say to you. Will you do me the common justice of listening while I say it?” She neither moved, nor answered. With a pride which was as obstinate as her pride, I told her of my discovery at the Shivering Sand, and of all that had led to it. The narrative, of necessity, occupied some little time.

My whole future depended, in all probability, on my not losing possession of myself at that moment. “It obliges me to refer again to a painful subject. I said quietly, “Rachel, will you answer my question?” She went on, without heeding me. I have a right to know, and I WILL know, the reason why!” “Suspect you!” she exclaimed, her anger rising with mine. “YOU VILLAIN, I SAW YOU TAKE THE DIAMOND WITH MY OWN EYES!” The revelation which burst upon me in those words, the overthrow which they instantly accomplished of the whole view of the case on which Mr. “I would have spared you now, if you had not forced me to speak.” She moved away as if to leave the room--and hesitated before she got to the door. “Let go of it,” she said faintly. I can only speak the truth as you have spoken it. You saw me--with your own eyes, you saw me take the Diamond. Before God who hears us, I declare that I now know I took it for the first time!

Do you doubt me still?” She had neither heeded nor heard me. Her head sank on my shoulder; and her hand unconsciously closed on mine, at the moment when she asked me to release it. I own I spoke to her with all that I could summon back of the sympathy and confidence of the bygone time. “Oh, why go back to it!” she said.

“Why go back to it!” “I will tell you why, Rachel. Have I not tried to see it, as you are trying now?” “You have tried by yourself,” I answered. “You have not tried with me to help you.” Those words seemed to awaken in her something of the hope which I felt myself when I uttered them. She replied to my questions with more than docility--she exerted her intelligence; she willingly opened her whole mind to me. “Let us begin,” I said, “with what happened after we had wished each other good night. or did you sit up?” “I went to bed.” “Did you notice the time? Was it late?” “Not very. It was only after pausing a little first that I was able to go on. “None--until I got up again, and lit my candle.” “How long was that, after you had gone to bed?” “About an hour after, I think.

About one o’clock.” “Did you leave your bedroom?” “I was going to leave it. I had put on my dressing-gown; and I was going into my sitting-room to get a book----” “Had you opened your bedroom door?” “I had just opened it.” “But you had not gone into the sitting-room?” “No--I was stopped from going into it.” “What stopped you? “I saw a light, under the door; and I heard footsteps approaching it.” “Were you frightened?” “Not then. She was unreasonably anxious about it, as I thought; and I fancied she was coming to me to see if I was in bed, and to speak to me about the Diamond again, if she found that I was up.” “What did you do?” “I blew out my candle, so that she might think I was in bed.

At the moment when I blew the candle out, the sitting-room door opened, and I saw----” “You saw?” “You.” “Dressed as usual?” “No.” “In my nightgown?” “In your nightgown--with your bedroom candle in your hand.” “Alone?” “Alone.” “Could you see my face?” “Yes.” “Plainly?” “Quite plainly. The candle in your hand showed it to me.” “Were my eyes open?” “Yes.” “Did you notice anything strange in them? It’s useless to ask the question.

Don’t make me talk of that part of it! How did you see what I was doing?” “When you moved, I moved.” “So as to see what I was about with my hands?” “There are three glasses in my sitting-room. And I saw the gleam of the stone between your finger and thumb, when you took your hand out.” “Did my hand approach the drawer again--to close it, for instance?” “No. You had the Diamond in your right hand; and you took the candle from the top of the cabinet with your left hand.” “Did I look about me again, after that?” “No.” “Did I leave the room immediately?” “No. You stood quite still, for what seemed a long time. You looked like a man thinking, and dissatisfied with his own thoughts.” “What happened next?” “You roused yourself on a sudden, and you went straight out of the room.” “Did I close the door after me?” “No. I had even reverted to the idea of sleep-walking, and the idea of intoxication; and, again, the worthlessness of the one theory and the other had been proved--on the authority, this time, of the witness who had seen me. You have made me hope something from all this, because you hoped something from it. Have we done that?” She waited pitilessly for my reply.

In answering her I committed a fatal error--I let the exasperating helplessness of my situation get the better of my self-control. “If you had spoken when you ought to have spoken,” I began; “if you had done me the common justice to explain yourself----” She broke in on me with a cry of fury. After believing in him as I did, after loving him as I did, after thinking of him by day, and dreaming of him by night--he wonders I didn’t charge him with his disgrace the first time we met: ‘My heart’s darling, you are a Thief!

You villain, you mean, mean, mean villain, I would have lost fifty diamonds, rather than see your face lying to me, as I see it lying now!” I took up my hat.

I can honestly say it--in mercy to HER, I turned away without a word, and opened the door by which I had entered the room. She followed, and snatched the door out of my hand; she closed it, and pointed back to the place that I had left. It seems that I owe a justification of my conduct to you. You shall stay and hear it. Or you shall stoop to the lowest infamy of all, and force your way out.” It wrung my heart to see her; it wrung my heart to hear her. I answered by a sign--it was all I could do--that I submitted myself to her will. She waited a little, and steadied herself. She spoke without looking at me. I told you just now that I never slept, and never returned to my bed, after you had left my sitting-room. It’s useless to trouble you by dwelling on what I thought--you would not understand my thoughts--I will only tell you what I did, when time enough had passed to help me to recover myself.

In spite of what I had seen, I was fond enough of you to believe--no matter what!--any impossibility, rather than admit it to my own mind that you were deliberately a thief. I thought and thought--and I ended in writing to you.” “I never received the letter.” “I know you never received it.

Wait a little, and you shall hear why. It would not have ruined you for life, if it had fallen into some other person’s hands. It would only have said--in a manner which you yourself could not possibly have mistaken--that I had reason to know you were in debt, and that it was in my experience and in my mother’s experience of you, that you were not very discreet, or very scrupulous about how you got money when you wanted it. You would have remembered the visit of the French lawyer, and you would have known what I referred to. If you had read on with some interest after that, you would have come to an offer I had to make to you--the offer, privately (not a word, mind, to be said openly about it between us!), of the loan of as large a sum of money as I could get.--And I would have got it!” she exclaimed, her colour beginning to rise again, and her eyes looking up at me once more. Wait! I arranged with Penelope to give you the letter when nobody was near. I planned to shut myself into my bedroom, and to have the sitting-room left open and empty all the morning. And I hoped--with all my heart and soul I hoped!--that you would take the opportunity, and put the Diamond back secretly in the drawer.” I attempted to speak.

I tore it up. I preferred tearing it up to throwing it away upon such a man as you!

Just as my little plan was complete, what did I hear?

You even carried your audacity far enough to ask to speak to ME about the loss of the Diamond--the Diamond which you yourself had stolen; the Diamond which was all the time in your own hands! Let me try if he can play it before me.’ Somebody told me you were on the terrace. Have you forgotten what I said?” I might have answered that I remembered every word of it. How could I tell her that what she had said had astonished me, had distressed me, had suggested to me that she was in a state of dangerous nervous excitement, had even roused a moment’s doubt in my mind whether the loss of the jewel was as much a mystery to her as to the rest of us--but had never once given me so much as a glimpse at the truth?

Without the shadow of a proof to produce in vindication of my innocence, how could I persuade her that I knew no more than the veriest stranger could have known of what was really in her thoughts when she spoke to me on the terrace?

“It may suit your convenience to forget; it suits my convenience to remember,” she went on. “I know what I said--for I considered it with myself, before I said it. I gave you one opportunity after another of owning the truth. I left nothing unsaid that I COULD say--short of actually telling you that I knew you had committed the theft. And all the return you made, was to look at me with your vile pretence of astonishment, and your false face of innocence--just as you have looked at me to-day; just as you are looking at me now! I left you, that morning, knowing you at last for what you were--for what you are--as base a wretch as ever walked the earth!” “If you had spoken out at the time, you might have left me, Rachel, knowing that you had cruelly wronged an innocent man.” “If I had spoken out before other people,” she retorted, with another burst of indignation, “you would have been disgraced for life! If I had spoken out to no ears but yours, you would have denied it, as you are denying it now!

Would a man hesitate at a lie, who had done what I saw YOU do--who had behaved about it afterwards, as I saw YOU behave? the thing is just where it was.

You stole it--I saw you! You pledged the Diamond to the money-lender in London--I am sure of it! You fled to the Continent with your plunder the next morning! You could come here with a last falsehood on your lips--you could come here, and tell me that I have wronged you!” If I had stayed a moment more, I know not what words might have escaped me which I should have remembered with vain repentance and regret. For the second time--with the frantic perversity of a roused woman--she caught me by the arm, and barred my way out.

“It will be better for both of us. She struggled with them fiercely; she held me more and more firmly.

I despise myself even more heartily than I despise HIM!” The tears were forcing their way into my eyes in spite of me--the horror of it was to be endured no longer. “Or you shall never see me again!” With those words, I left her. She started up from the chair on which she had dropped the moment before: she started up--the noble creature!--and followed me across the outer room, with a last merciful word at parting. The next moment, the worst bitterness of it was over. CHAPTER VIII Late that evening, I was surprised at my lodgings by a visit from Mr. It had lost its usual confidence and spirit.

He shook hands with me, for the first time in his life, in silence. But, I tell you plainly, if I could have foreseen the price that was to be paid for it, I should have preferred leaving you in the dark.” “You have seen Rachel?” “I have come here after taking her back to Portland Place; it was impossible to let her return in the carriage by herself. All I can do is to provide against a repetition of the mischief. She is young--she has a resolute spirit--she will get over this, with time and rest to help her. May I depend on your making no second attempt to see her--except with my sanction and approval?” “After what she has suffered, and after what I have suffered,” I said, “you may rely on me.” “I have your promise?” “You have my promise.” Mr.

In the first place, we are sure that Rachel has told you the whole truth, as plainly as words can tell it. “And even then, I doubt if a girl of any delicacy, whose heart had been set on marrying you, could have brought herself to charge you to your face with being a thief.

Anyhow, it was not in Rachel’s nature to do it. In a very different matter to this matter of yours--which placed her, however, in a position not altogether unlike her position towards you--I happen to know that she was influenced by a similar motive to the motive which actuated her conduct in your case. Besides, as she told me herself, on our way to town this evening, if she had spoken plainly, she would no more have believed your denial then than she believes it now. There is no answer to be made to it. my view of the case has been proved to be all wrong, I admit--but, as things are now, my advice may be worth having for all that. “Is the Moonstone at the bottom of all the mischief--or is it not?” “It is--of course.” “Very good. What do we believe was done with the Moonstone, when it was taken to London?” “It was pledged to Mr. Luker.” “We know that you are not the person who pledged it. Do we know who did?” “No.” “Where do we believe the Moonstone to be now?” “Deposited in the keeping of Mr. There is a chance--to say the least--that the person who pawned it, may be prepared to redeem it when the year’s time has expired.

If he redeems it, Mr. Do you see it now?” I admitted (a little unwillingly) that the idea was a new one, at any rate. “It’s Mr. Murthwaite’s idea quite as much as mine,” said Mr. “It might have never entered my head, but for a conversation we had together some time since. Murthwaite is right, the Indians are likely to be on the lookout at the bank, towards the end of the month too--and something serious may come of it.

What comes of it doesn’t matter to you and me except as it may help us to lay our hands on the mysterious Somebody who pawned the Diamond.

That person, you may rely on it, is responsible (I don’t pretend to know how) for the position in which you stand at this moment; and that person alone can set you right in Rachel’s estimation.” “I can’t deny,” I said, “that the plan you propose meets the difficulty in a way that is very daring, and very ingenious, and very new. My objection is, that your proposal obliges us to wait.” “Granted. As I reckon the time, it requires you to wait about a fortnight--more or less. Is that so very long?” “It’s a life-time, Mr. Bruff, in such a situation as mine. It’s useless to expect the Sergeant to help you.” “I know where to find him; and I can but try.” “Try,” said Mr. In the meanwhile,” he continued, rising, “if you make no discoveries between this, and the end of the month, am I free to try, on my side, what can be done by keeping a lookout at the bank?” “Certainly,” I answered--“unless I relieve you of all necessity for trying the experiment in the interval.” Mr.

Early the next morning, I set forth for the little town of Dorking--the place of Sergeant Cuff’s retirement, as indicated to me by Betteredge.

It was approached by a quiet bye-road, a little way out of the town, and it stood snugly in the middle of its own plot of garden ground, protected by a good brick wall at the back and the sides, and by a high quickset hedge in front. After ringing at the bell, I peered through the trellis-work, and saw the great Cuff’s favourite flower everywhere; blooming in his garden, clustering over his door, looking in at his windows. Far from the crimes and the mysteries of the great city, the illustrious thief-taker was placidly living out the last Sybarite years of his life, smothered in roses! Cuff’s away to inquire into it.” “Do you know when he will be back?” “It’s quite uncertain, sir. If you have any message to leave for him, I’ll take care, sir, that he gets it.” I gave her my card, having first written on it in pencil: “I have something to say about the Moonstone.

Let me hear from you as soon as you get back.” That done, there was nothing left but to submit to circumstances, and return to London. In the irritable condition of my mind, at the time of which I am now writing, the abortive result of my journey to the Sergeant’s cottage simply aggravated the restless impulse in me to be doing something. To speak seriously, it is perhaps possible that my German training was in some degree responsible for the labyrinth of useless speculations in which I now involved myself. I rose the next morning, with Objective-Subjective and Subjective-Objective inextricably entangled together in my mind; and I began the day which was to witness my next effort at practical action of some kind, by doubting whether I had any sort of right (on purely philosophical grounds) to consider any sort of thing (the Diamond included) as existing at all. How long I might have remained lost in the mist of my own metaphysics, if I had been left to extricate myself, it is impossible for me to say. I happened to wear, that morning, the same coat which I had worn on the day of my interview with Rachel. Searching for something else in one of the pockets, I came upon a crumpled piece of paper, and, taking it out, found Betteredge’s forgotten letter in my hand.

It seemed hard on my good old friend to leave him without a reply. I went to my writing-table, and read his letter again. A letter which has nothing of the slightest importance in it, is not always an easy letter to answer. Betteredge’s present effort at corresponding with me came within this category. What was to be said in answer to that, which would be worth the paper it was written on?

Candy’s remarkable-looking assistant, on the sheet of paper which I had vowed to dedicate to Betteredge--until it suddenly occurred to me that here was the irrepressible Ezra Jennings getting in my way again! I threw a dozen portraits, at least, of the man with the piebald hair (the hair in every case, remarkably like), into the waste-paper basket--and then and there, wrote my answer to Betteredge. It was a perfectly commonplace letter--but it had one excellent effect on me. The effort of writing a few sentences, in plain English, completely cleared my mind of the cloudy nonsense which had filled it since the previous day. Devoting myself once more to the elucidation of the impenetrable puzzle which my own position presented to me, I now tried to meet the difficulty by investigating it from a plainly practical point of view. The events of the memorable night being still unintelligible to me, I looked a little farther back, and searched my memory of the earlier hours of the birthday for any incident which might prove of some assistance to me in finding the clue. or afterwards, when I went back with Godfrey Ablewhite and his sisters? I was not even capable of accurately remembering the number of the guests who had sat at the same table with me. I believe other people, in a similar situation, would have reasoned as I did. When the pursuit of our own interests causes us to become objects of inquiry to ourselves, we are naturally suspicious of what we don’t know.

Once in possession of the names of the persons who had been present at the dinner, I resolved--as a means of enriching the deficient resources of my own memory--to appeal to the memory of the rest of the guests; to write down all that they could recollect of the social events of the birthday; and to test the result, thus obtained, by the light of what had happened afterwards, when the company had left the house. This last and newest of my many contemplated experiments in the art of inquiry--which Betteredge would probably have attributed to the clear-headed, or French, side of me being uppermost for the moment--may fairly claim record here, on its own merits. Unlikely as it may seem, I had now actually groped my way to the root of the matter at last. With the plan of proceeding which I now had in view, it was first necessary to possess the complete list of the guests. It was just too late to start by the train which left London before noon. There was no alternative but to wait, nearly three hours, for the departure of the next train.

Though I had forgotten the numbers, and, in many cases, the names of the guests, I remembered readily enough that by far the larger proportion of them came from Frizinghall, or from its neighbourhood. Murthwaite was another. Godfrey Ablewhite was a third. I could only remember Miss Clack as coming within this latter category. However, here were three of the guests, at any rate, whom it was clearly advisable for me to see before I left town. Bruff’s office; not knowing the addresses of the persons of whom I was in search, and thinking it probable that he might put me in the way of finding them. Murthwaite was now on his way back to the scene of his past adventures; Miss Clack had suffered losses, and had settled, from motives of economy, in France; Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite might, or might not, be discoverable somewhere in London. The field of inquiry in London, being now so narrowed as only to include the one necessity of discovering Godfrey’s address, I took the lawyer’s hint, and drove to his club.

In the hall, I met with one of the members, who was an old friend of my cousin’s, and who was also an acquaintance of my own. It appeared that Godfrey, far from being discouraged by Rachel’s withdrawal from her engagement to him had made matrimonial advances soon afterwards to another young lady, reputed to be a great heiress. His suit had prospered, and his marriage had been considered as a settled and certain thing. But, here again, the engagement had been suddenly and unexpectedly broken off--owing, it was said, on this occasion, to a serious difference of opinion between the bridegroom and the lady’s father, on the question of settlements. A rich old lady--highly respected at the Mothers’ Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and a great friend of Miss Clack’s (to whom she left nothing but a mourning ring)--had bequeathed to the admirable and meritorious Godfrey a legacy of five thousand pounds. After receiving this handsome addition to his own modest pecuniary resources, he had been heard to say that he felt the necessity of getting a little respite from his charitable labours, and that his doctor prescribed “a run on the Continent, as likely to be productive of much future benefit to his health.” If I wanted to see him, it would be advisable to lose no time in paying my contemplated visit. I went, then and there, to pay my visit. The same fatality which had made me just one day too late in calling on Sergeant Cuff, made me again one day too late in calling on Godfrey. I went back to my lodgings a little depressed in spirits.

Three of the guests at the birthday dinner--and those three all exceptionally intelligent people--were out of my reach, at the very time when it was most important to be able to communicate with them. I arrived too late in the evening to be able to communicate with Betteredge. The next morning, I sent a messenger with a letter, requesting him to join me at the hotel, at his earliest convenience. Having taken the precaution--partly to save time, partly to accommodate Betteredge--of sending my messenger in a fly, I had a reasonable prospect, if no delays occurred, of seeing the old man within less than two hours from the time when I had sent for him. During this interval, I arranged to employ myself in opening my contemplated inquiry, among the guests present at the birthday dinner who were personally known to me, and who were easily within my reach. These were my relatives, the Ablewhites, and Mr. But I was utterly unprepared for such a change as I saw in him when he entered the room and shook hands with me. I looked at the once lively, rattlepated, humorous little doctor--associated in my remembrance with the perpetration of incorrigible social indiscretions and innumerable boyish jokes--and I saw nothing left of his former self, but the old tendency to vulgar smartness in his dress. If there is anything I can do for you, pray command my services, sir--pray command my services!” He said those few commonplace words with needless hurry and eagerness, and with a curiosity to know what had brought me to Yorkshire, which he was perfectly--I might say childishly--incapable of concealing from notice.

With the object that I had in view, I had of course foreseen the necessity of entering into some sort of personal explanation, before I could hope to interest people, mostly strangers to me, in doing their best to assist my inquiry. On the journey to Frizinghall I had arranged what my explanation was to be--and I seized the opportunity now offered to me of trying the effect of it on Mr.

“It is a matter, Mr. Circumstances have lately happened which lead to the hope that it may yet be found--and I am interesting myself, as one of the family, in recovering it. Among the obstacles in my way, there is the necessity of collecting again all the evidence which was discovered at the time, and more if possible. There are peculiarities in this case which make it desirable to revive my recollection of everything that happened in the house, on the evening of Miss Verinder’s birthday. The little doctor sat restlessly picking at the points of his fingers all the time I was speaking. His dim watery eyes were fixed on my face with an expression of vacant and wistful inquiry very painful to see. What he was thinking of, it was impossible to divine.

Candy, it’s your turn. “That’s it!

I sent you a message!” “And Betteredge duly communicated it by letter,” I went on. “And Betteredge was quite right.

Recollecting what I had heard from Betteredge about the effect of the fever on his memory, I went on with the conversation, in the hope that I might help him at starting. “It’s a long time since we met,” I said. “We last saw each other at the last birthday dinner my poor aunt was ever to give.” “That’s it!” cried Mr. It was plain, pitiably plain, that he was aware of his own defect of memory, and that he was bent on hiding it from the observation of his friends. But the words he had just said--few as they were--roused my curiosity instantly to the highest pitch. The birthday dinner had already become the one event in the past, at which I looked back with strangely-mixed feelings of hope and distrust. And here was the birthday dinner unmistakably proclaiming itself as the subject on which Mr.

But, this time, my own interests were at the bottom of my compassionate motive, and they hurried me on a little too abruptly, to the end I had in view. “It’s nearly a year now,” I said, “since we sat at that pleasant table. Candy understood the suggestion, and showed me that he understood it, as an insult.

“I am not such a very old man, yet--and my memory (thank God) is to be thoroughly depended on!” It is needless to say that I declined to understand that he was offended with me. “When I try to think of matters that are a year old, I seldom find my remembrance as vivid as I could wish it to be. “I have got something to say to you about that.” His eyes looked at me again with the painful expression of inquiry, so wistful, so vacant, so miserably helpless to see. “It was a very pleasant dinner,” he burst out suddenly, with an air of saying exactly what he wanted to say. Blake, wasn’t it?” He nodded and smiled, and appeared to think, poor fellow, that he had succeeded in concealing the total failure of his memory, by a well-timed exertion of his own presence of mind. It was so distressing that I at once shifted the talk--deeply as I was interested in his recovering the lost remembrance--to topics of local interest. Trumpery little scandals and quarrels in the town, some of them as much as a month old, appeared to recur to his memory readily. He chattered on, with something of the smooth gossiping fluency of former times. But there were moments, even in the full flow of his talkativeness, when he suddenly hesitated--looked at me for a moment with the vacant inquiry once more in his eyes--controlled himself--and went on again. I submitted patiently to my martyrdom (it is surely nothing less than martyrdom to a man of cosmopolitan sympathies, to absorb in silent resignation the news of a country town?) until the clock on the chimney-piece told me that my visit had been prolonged beyond half an hour.

“I had it on my mind--I really had it on my mind, Mr. A pleasant dinner--really a pleasant dinner now, wasn’t it?” On repeating the phrase, he seemed to feel hardly as certain of having prevented me from suspecting his lapse of memory, as he had felt on the first occasion. I went slowly down the doctor’s stairs, feeling the disheartening conviction that he really had something to say which it was vitally important to me to hear, and that he was morally incapable of saying it. Candy sadly changed?” I turned round, and found myself face to face with Ezra Jennings. CHAPTER IX The doctor’s pretty housemaid stood waiting for me, with the street door open in her hand. It was impossible to dispute Betteredge’s assertion that the appearance of Ezra Jennings, speaking from a popular point of view, was against him. And yet--feeling this as I certainly did--it is not to be denied that Ezra Jennings made some inscrutable appeal to my sympathies, which I found it impossible to resist. Candy sadly changed, and then to proceed on my way out of the house--my interest in Ezra Jennings held me rooted to the place, and gave him the opportunity of speaking to me in private about his employer, for which he had been evidently on the watch.

Ablewhite.” Ezra Jennings replied that he had a patient to see, and that he was walking my way. I observed that the pretty servant girl--who was all smiles and amiability, when I wished her good morning on my way out--received a modest little message from Ezra Jennings, relating to the time at which he might be expected to return, with pursed-up lips, and with eyes which ostentatiously looked anywhere rather than look in his face. The poor wretch was evidently no favourite in the house.

Out of the house, I had Betteredge’s word for it that he was unpopular everywhere. Candy’s illness on his side, Ezra Jennings now appeared determined to leave it to me to resume the subject. His silence said significantly, “It’s your turn now.” I, too, had my reasons for referring to the doctor’s illness: and I readily accepted the responsibility of speaking first. Candy’s illness must have been far more serious that I had supposed?” “It is almost a miracle,” said Ezra Jennings, “that he lived through it.” “Is his memory never any better than I have found it to-day?

He has been trying to speak to me----” “Of something which happened before he was taken ill?” asked the assistant, observing that I hesitated. “It is almost to be deplored, poor fellow, that even the wreck of it remains. He is painfully conscious of his own deficiency, and painfully anxious, as you must have seen, to hide it from observation. Perhaps we should all be happier,” he added, with a sad smile, “if we could but completely forget!” “There are some events surely in all men’s lives,” I replied, “the memory of which they would be unwilling entirely to lose?” “That is, I hope, to be said of most men, Mr. I am afraid it cannot truly be said of ALL. Candy tried to recover--while you were speaking to him just now--was a remembrance which it was important to YOU that he should recall?” In saying those words, he had touched, of his own accord, on the very point upon which I was anxious to consult him. The interest I felt in this strange man had impelled me, in the first instance, to give him the opportunity of speaking to me; reserving what I might have to say, on my side, in relation to his employer, until I was first satisfied that he was a person in whose delicacy and discretion I could trust. The little that he had said, thus far, had been sufficient to convince me that I was speaking to a gentleman. Whatever the object which he had in view, in putting the question that he had just addressed to me, I felt no doubt that I was justified--so far--in answering him without reserve.

May I ask whether you can suggest to me any method by which I might assist his memory?” Ezra Jennings looked at me, with a sudden flash of interest in his dreamy brown eyes. “I have tried to help it often enough since his recovery, to be able to speak positively on that point.” This disappointed me; and I owned it. “It may not, perhaps, be a final answer, Mr. It may be possible to trace Mr. Candy’s lost recollection, without the necessity of appealing to Mr. Is it an indiscretion, on my part, to ask how?” “By no means. Candy’s illness: and if I speak of it this time without sparing you certain professional details?” “Pray go on! “How beautiful they are!” he said, simply, showing his little nosegay to me. Blake; and it is my fault. The truth is, I have associations with these modest little hedgeside flowers--It doesn’t matter; we were speaking of Mr.

Candy let us return.” Connecting the few words about himself which thus reluctantly escaped him, with the melancholy view of life which led him to place the conditions of human happiness in complete oblivion of the past, I felt satisfied that the story which I had read in his face was, in two particulars at least, the story that it really told. My employer drove home through it in his gig, and reached the house wetted to the skin. He found an urgent message from a patient, waiting for him; and he most unfortunately went at once to visit the sick person, without stopping to change his clothes. Candy’s groom waiting in great alarm to take me to his master’s room. They agreed with me that it looked serious; but they both strongly dissented from the view I took of the treatment. The two doctors, arguing from the rapidity of the beat, declared that a lowering treatment was the only treatment to be adopted.

On my side, I admitted the rapidity of the pulse, but I also pointed to its alarming feebleness as indicating an exhausted condition of the system, and as showing a plain necessity for the administration of stimulants. Its rapidity was unchecked, and its feebleness had increased. Jennings, either we manage this case, or you manage it.

Which is it to be?’ I said, ‘Gentlemen, give me five minutes to consider, and that plain question shall have a plain reply.’ When the time expired, I was ready with my answer.

I said, ‘You positively refuse to try the stimulant treatment?’ They refused in so many words.

‘I mean to try it at once, gentlemen.’--‘Try it, Mr. Jennings, and we withdraw from the case.’ I sent down to the cellar for a bottle of champagne; and I administered half a tumbler-full of it to the patient with my own hand. The two physicians took up their hats in silence, and left the house.” “You had assumed a serious responsibility,” I said. “In your place, I am afraid I should have shrunk from it.” “In my place, Mr. Don’t suppose that I had no sense of the terrible position in which I had placed myself! There were moments when I felt all the misery of my friendlessness, all the peril of my dreadful responsibility. But I had no happy time to look back at, no past peace of mind to force itself into contrast with my present anxiety and suspense--and I held firm to my resolution through it all.

I took an interval in the middle of the day, when my patient’s condition was at its best, for the repose I needed. It lasted more or less through the night; and then intermitted, at that terrible time in the early morning--from two o’clock to five--when the vital energies even of the healthiest of us are at their lowest. It is then that Death gathers in his human harvest most abundantly.

It was then that Death and I fought our fight over the bed, which should have the man who lay on it.

I never hesitated in pursuing the treatment on which I had staked everything. After an interval of suspense--the like of which I hope to God I shall never feel again--there came a day when the rapidity of the pulse slightly, but appreciably, diminished; and, better still, there came also a change in the beat--an unmistakable change to steadiness and strength. Physiology says, and says truly, that some men are born with female constitutions--and I am one of them!” He made that bitterly professional apology for his tears, speaking quietly and unaffectedly, as he had spoken throughout.

“You may well ask, why I have wearied you with all these details?” he went on. “It is the only way I can see, Mr. Now you know exactly what my position was, at the time of Mr.

Candy’s illness, you will the more readily understand the sore need I had of lightening the burden on my mind by giving it, at intervals, some sort of relief. I have had the presumption to occupy my leisure, for some years past, in writing a book, addressed to the members of my profession--a book on the intricate and delicate subject of the brain and the nervous system. My work will probably never be finished; and it will certainly never be published. It has none the less been the friend of many lonely hours; and it helped me to while away the anxious time--the time of waiting, and nothing else--at Mr. I won’t trouble you at any length with my theory on the subject--I will confine myself to telling you only what it is your present interest to know. It has often occurred to me in the course of my medical practice, to doubt whether we can justifiably infer--in cases of delirium--that the loss of the faculty of speaking connectedly, implies of necessity the loss of the faculty of thinking connectedly as well. Candy’s illness gave me an opportunity of putting this doubt to the test. I understand the art of writing in shorthand; and I was able to take down the patient’s ‘wanderings’, exactly as they fell from his lips.--Do you see, Mr.

Blake, what I am coming to at last?” I saw it clearly, and waited with breathless interest to hear more. “At odds and ends of time,” Ezra Jennings went on, “I reproduced my shorthand notes, in the ordinary form of writing--leaving large spaces between the broken phrases, and even the single words, as they had fallen disconnectedly from Mr. I then treated the result thus obtained, on something like the principle which one adopts in putting together a child’s ‘puzzle.’ It is all confusion to begin with; but it may be all brought into order and shape, if you can only find the right way.

Acting on this plan, I filled in each blank space on the paper, with what the words or phrases on either side of it suggested to me as the speaker’s meaning; altering over and over again, until my additions followed naturally on the spoken words which came before them, and fitted naturally into the spoken words which came after them. The result was, that I not only occupied in this way many vacant and anxious hours, but that I arrived at something which was (as it seemed to me) a confirmation of the theory that I held. In plainer words, after putting the broken sentences together I found the superior faculty of thinking going on, more or less connectedly, in my patient’s mind, while the inferior faculty of expression was in a state of almost complete incapacity and confusion.” “One word!” I interposed eagerly. Among my written proofs of the assertion which I have just advanced--or, I ought to say, among the written experiments, tending to put my assertion to the proof--there IS one, in which your name occurs. Candy’s mind was occupied with SOMETHING between himself and you. The product (as the arithmeticians would say) is an intelligible statement--first, of something actually done in the past; secondly, of something which Mr. The question is whether this does, or does not, represent the lost recollection which he vainly attempted to find when you called on him this morning?” “Not a doubt of it!” I answered. “Let us go back directly, and look at the papers!” “Quite impossible, Mr.

Blake.” “Why?” “Put yourself in my position for a moment,” said Ezra Jennings. “Would you disclose to another person what had dropped unconsciously from the lips of your suffering patient and your helpless friend, without first knowing that there was a necessity to justify you in opening your lips?” I felt that he was unanswerable, here; but I tried to argue the question, nevertheless. “My conduct in such a delicate matter as you describe,” I replied, “would depend greatly on whether the disclosure was of a nature to compromise my friend or not.” “I have disposed of all necessity for considering that side of the question, long since,” said Ezra Jennings. My manuscript experiments at my friend’s bedside, include nothing, now, which he would have hesitated to communicate to others, if he had recovered the use of his memory.

In your case, I have every reason to suppose that my notes contain something which he actually wished to say to you.” “And yet, you hesitate?” “And yet, I hesitate. Harmless as it is, I cannot prevail upon myself to give it up to you, unless you first satisfy me that there is a reason for doing so. Is it too much to ask, if I request you only to hint to me what your interest is in the lost recollection--or what you believe that lost recollection to be?” To have answered him with the frankness which his language and his manner both claimed from me, would have been to commit myself to openly acknowledging that I was suspected of the theft of the Diamond. Strongly as Ezra Jennings had intensified the first impulsive interest which I had felt in him, he had not overcome my unconquerable reluctance to disclose the degrading position in which I stood. I took refuge once more in the explanatory phrases with which I had prepared myself to meet the curiosity of strangers. The matter with which I heard him connect your name has, I can assure you, no discoverable relation whatever with the loss or the recovery of Miss Verinder’s jewel.” We arrived, as he said those words, at a place where the highway along which we had been walking branched off into two roads. Ablewhite’s house, and the other to a moorland village some two or three miles off. His soft brown eyes rested on me for a moment with a look of melancholy interest.

He bowed, and went, without another word, on his way to the village. For a minute or more I stood and watched him, walking farther and farther away from me; carrying farther and farther away with him what I now firmly believed to be the clue of which I was in search. He turned, after walking on a little way, and looked back. There was no time for me to reason out my own situation--to remind myself that I was losing my opportunity, at what might be the turning point of my life, and all to flatter nothing more important than my own self-esteem! I called him back--and then I said to myself, “Now there is no help for it. “I have not treated you quite fairly. A serious personal matter is at the bottom of my visit to Yorkshire. I have but one excuse for not having dealt frankly with you in this matter.

It is more painful to me than I can say, to mention to anybody what my position really is.” Ezra Jennings looked at me with the first appearance of embarrassment which I had seen in him yet. How can I expect to be taken into your confidence if I decline to admit you into mine? His gipsy complexion had altered to a livid greyish paleness; his eyes had suddenly become wild and glittering; his voice had dropped to a tone--low, stern, and resolute--which I now heard for the first time. The latent resources in the man, for good or for evil--it was hard, at that moment, to say which--leapt up in him and showed themselves to me, with the suddenness of a flash of light. It won’t take long. My story will die with me. All I ask, is to be permitted to tell you, what I have told Mr. After advancing a few hundred yards, Ezra Jennings stopped at a gap in the rough stone wall which shut off the moor from the road, at this part of it. “Do you mind resting a little, Mr. He led the way through the gap to a patch of turf on the heathy ground, screened by bushes and dwarf trees on the side nearest to the road, and commanding in the opposite direction a grandly desolate view over the broad brown wilderness of the moor.

The clouds had gathered, within the last half hour. The lovely face of Nature met us, soft and still colourless--met us without a smile. Ezra Jennings laid aside his hat, and passed his hand wearily over his forehead, wearily through his startling white and black hair. He tossed his little nosegay of wild flowers away from him, as if the remembrances which it recalled were remembrances which hurt him now. Don’t commit yourself to expressions of sympathy which you may afterwards wish to recall. There are circumstances in connexion with it that tell against me. I assert it, sir, on my oath, as a Christian.

It is useless to appeal to my honour as a man.” He paused again. “There is much that I might say,” he went on, “about the merciless treatment of me by my own family, and the merciless enmity to which I have fallen a victim. I decline to weary or distress you, sir, if I can help it. I resigned my aspirations in my profession--obscurity was the only hope left for me. I parted with the woman I loved--how could I condemn her to share my disgrace? A medical assistant’s place offered itself, in a remote corner of England.

It promised me peace; it promised me obscurity, as I thought. Evil report, with time and chance to help it, travels patiently, and travels far. I got warning of its approach. I was able to leave my situation voluntarily, with the testimonials that I had earned. They got me another situation in another remote district. It’s useless to dwell on what I suffered after that. Look at my face, and let it tell for me the story of some miserable years. It ended in my drifting to this place, and meeting with Mr. I referred him, on the question of capacity, to my last employer.

‘Here, as elsewhere,’ I said ‘I scorn the guilty evasion of living under an assumed name: I am no safer at Frizinghall than at other places from the cloud that follows me, go where I may.’ He answered, ‘I don’t do things by halves--I believe you, and I pity you. If you will risk what may happen, I will risk it too.’ God Almighty bless him! He has given me shelter, he has given me employment, he has given me rest of mind--and I have the certain conviction (I have had it for some months past) that nothing will happen now to make him regret it.” “The slander has died out?” I said. But when it follows me here, it will come too late.” “You will have left the place?” “No, Mr. I don’t disguise from you that I should have let the agony of it kill me long since, but for one last interest in life, which makes my existence of some importance to me still. My own little patrimony is hardly sufficient to make her independent of the world. The hope, if I could only live long enough, of increasing it to a certain sum, has impelled me to resist the disease by such palliative means as I could devise. To that all-potent and all-merciful drug I am indebted for a respite of many years from my sentence of death.

But even the virtues of opium have their limit. The progress of the disease has gradually forced me from the use of opium to the abuse of it. Let it come--I have not lived and worked in vain.

The little sum is nearly made up; and I have the means of completing it, if my last reserves of life fail me sooner than I expect. I don’t think I am mean enough to appeal to your pity. Perhaps, I fancy you may be all the readier to believe me, if you know that what I have said to you, I have said with the certain knowledge in me that I am a dying man. I have attempted to make my poor friend’s loss of memory the means of bettering my acquaintance with you. I have speculated on the chance of your feeling a passing curiosity about what he wanted to say, and of my being able to satisfy it. A man who has lived as I have lived has his bitter moments when he ponders over human destiny. You, and such as you, show me the sunny side of human life, and reconcile me with the world that I am leaving, before I go. It rests with you, sir, to say what you proposed saying, or to wish me good morning.” I had but one answer to make to that appeal. Without a moment’s hesitation I told him the truth, as unreservedly as I have told it in these pages. He started to his feet, and looked at me with breathless eagerness as I approached the leading incident of my story.

“It is certain that I went into the room,” I said; “it is certain that I took the Diamond. I can only meet those two plain facts by declaring that, do what I might, I did it without my own knowledge----” Ezra Jennings caught me excitedly by the arm. Have you ever been accustomed to the use of opium?” “I never tasted it in my life.” “Were your nerves out of order, at this time last year? Were you unusually restless and irritable?” “Yes.” “Did you sleep badly?” “Wretchedly. I slept soundly.” He dropped my arm as suddenly as he had taken it--and looked at me with the air of a man whose mind was relieved of the last doubt that rested on it. Wait! What do you mean?” In the excitement of our colloquy, we had walked on a few steps, beyond the clump of dwarf trees which had hitherto screened us from view. Before Ezra Jennings could answer me, he was hailed from the high road by a man, in great agitation, who had been evidently on the look-out for him. “There is an urgent case waiting for me at the village yonder; I ought to have been there half an hour since--I must attend to it at once.

Candy’s again--and I will engage to be ready for you.” “How am I to wait!” I exclaimed, impatiently. I am not wilfully trying your patience--I should only be adding to your suspense, if I attempted to relieve it as things are now. CHAPTER X How the interval of suspense in which I was now condemned might have affected other men in my position, I cannot pretend to say. In this frame of mind, I not only abandoned my contemplated visit to Mrs. Ablewhite--I even shrank from encountering Gabriel Betteredge himself. This done, I made the best of my way out of the town again, and roamed the lonely moorland country which surrounds Frizinghall, until my watch told me that it was time, at last, to return to Mr. I found Ezra Jennings ready and waiting for me. He was sitting alone in a bare little room, which communicated by a glazed door with a surgery. A book-case filled with dingy medical works, and ornamented at the top with a skull, in place of the customary bust; a large deal table copiously splashed with ink; wooden chairs of the sort that are seen in kitchens and cottages; a threadbare drugget in the middle of the floor; a sink of water, with a basin and waste-pipe roughly let into the wall, horribly suggestive of its connection with surgical operations--comprised the entire furniture of the room. The bees were humming among a few flowers placed in pots outside the window; the birds were singing in the garden, and the faint intermittent jingle of a tuneless piano in some neighbouring house forced itself now and again on the ear.

“It is the only room in the house, at this hour of the day, in which we can feel quite sure of being left undisturbed. One leaf contained writing which only covered the surface at intervals. The other presented writing, in red and black ink, which completely filled the page from top to bottom.

In the irritated state of my curiosity, at that moment, I laid aside the second sheet of paper in despair. Do you mind my asking you one or two more questions?” “Ask me anything you like!” He looked at me with the sad smile on his lips, and the kindly interest in his soft brown eyes. “You will understand directly why I speak with that reservation. At this time, last year, you were suffering from nervous irritation, and you slept wretchedly at night. Am I right, so far?” “Quite right!” “Can you assign any cause for the nervous suffering, and your want of sleep?” “I can assign no cause. To what?” “To my leaving off smoking.” “Had you been an habitual smoker?” “Yes.” “Did you leave off the habit suddenly?” “Yes.” “Betteredge was perfectly right, Mr. When smoking is a habit a man must have no common constitution who can leave it off suddenly without some temporary damage to his nervous system. Do you remember having entered into anything like a dispute with him--at the birthday dinner, or afterwards--on the subject of his profession?” The question instantly awakened one of my dormant remembrances in connection with the birthday festival. Candy and myself, will be found described at much greater length than it deserves in the tenth chapter of Betteredge’s Narrative.

The details there presented of the dispute--so little had I thought of it afterwards--entirely failed to recur to my memory. All that I could now recall, and all that I could tell Ezra Jennings was, that I had attacked the art of medicine at the dinner-table with sufficient rashness and sufficient pertinacity to put even Mr. I also remembered that Lady Verinder had interfered to stop the dispute, and that the little doctor and I had “made it up again,” as the children say, and had become as good friends as ever, before we shook hands that night. “There is one thing more,” said Ezra Jennings, “which it is very important I should know. I knew it to be the object of a conspiracy; and I was warned to take measures for Miss Verinder’s protection, as the possessor of the stone.” “Was the safety of the Diamond the subject of conversation between you and any other person, immediately before you retired to rest on the birthday night?” “It was the subject of a conversation between Lady Verinder and her daughter----” “Which took place in your hearing?” “Yes.” Ezra Jennings took up his notes from the table, and placed them in my hands. You will find--First, that you entered Miss Verinder’s sitting-room and took the Diamond, in a state of trance, produced by opium. Candy--without your own knowledge--as a practical refutation of the opinions which you had expressed to him at the birthday dinner.” I sat with the papers in my hand completely stupefied. “He has done dreadful mischief, I own; but he has done it innocently.

Miss Verinder would have heard of it, and Miss Verinder would have questioned him--and the truth which has laid hidden for a year would have been discovered in a day.” I began to regain my self-possession. I may forgive, but I shall not forget it.” “Every medical man commits that act of treachery, Mr. I only plead with you for a more accurate and more merciful construction of motives.” “How was it done?” I asked. “Who gave me the laudanum, without my knowing it myself?” “I am not able to tell you. Perhaps your own memory may point to the person to be suspected.” “No.” “It is useless, in that case, to pursue the inquiry. Let us leave it there, and go on to matters of more immediate importance.

Familiarise your mind with what has happened in the past. The paper which contained the smaller quantity of writing was the uppermost of the two.

know what it means... witty... a night’s rest in spite of his teeth... without his knowing it... without it... without it...

I handed it back to Ezra Jennings. “Literally and exactly what I heard,” he answered--“except that the repetitions are not transferred here from my short-hand notes. He reiterated certain words and phrases a dozen times over, fifty times over, just as he attached more or less importance to the idea which they represented. The repetitions, in this sense, were of some assistance to me in putting together those fragments. I only say that I have penetrated through the obstacle of the disconnected expression, to the thought which was underlying it connectedly all the time.

I reproduce the result here, in one plain form; the original language and the interpretation of it coming close enough together in these pages to be easily compared and verified. I say to him, you are groping after sleep, and nothing but medicine can help you to find it. He says to me, I have heard of the blind leading the blind, and now I know what it means. Witty--but I can give him a night’s rest in spite of his teeth. Give him five-and-twenty minims of laudanum to-night, without his knowing it; and then call to-morrow morning. Blake, will you try a little medicine to-day? You will never sleep without it.’--‘There you are out, Mr. Candy: I have had an excellent night’s rest without it.’ Then, come down on him with the truth!

What do you say to the art of medicine, now?’” Admiration of the ingenuity which had woven this smooth and finished texture out of the ravelled skein was naturally the first impression that I felt, on handing the manuscript back to Ezra Jennings. He modestly interrupted the first few words in which my sense of surprise expressed itself, by asking me if the conclusion which he had drawn from his notes was also the conclusion at which my own mind had arrived. Quite useless, as they stand now for three unanswerable reasons. Against them, to begin with! Your innocence is to be vindicated; and they show how it can be done. We must put our conviction to the proof--and You are the man to prove it!” “How?” I asked. “Are you willing to try a bold experiment?” “I will do anything to clear myself of the suspicion that rests on me now.” “Will you submit to some personal inconvenience for a time?” “To any inconvenience, no matter what it may be.” “Will you be guided implicitly by my advice? It may expose you to the ridicule of fools; it may subject you to the remonstrances of friends whose opinions you are bound to respect.” “Tell me what to do!” I broke out impatiently. “And, come what may, I’ll do it.” “You shall do this, Mr.

“You shall steal the Diamond, unconsciously, for the second time, in the presence of witnesses whose testimony is beyond dispute.” I started to my feet. “I believe it CAN be done,” he went on. “And it shall be done--if you will only help me. Try to compose yourself--sit down, and hear what I have to say to you. You have resumed the habit of smoking; I have seen that for myself. How long have you resumed it.” “For nearly a year.” “Do you smoke more or less than you did?” “More.” “Will you give up the habit again?

Suddenly, mind!--as you gave it up before.” I began dimly to see his drift. “I will give it up, from this moment,” I answered. We shall have put you back again into something assimilating to your nervous condition on the birthday night. If we can next revive, or nearly revive, the domestic circumstances which surrounded you; and if we can occupy your mind again with the various questions concerning the Diamond which formerly agitated it, we shall have replaced you, as nearly as possible in the same position, physically and morally, in which the opium found you last year. In that case we may fairly hope that a repetition of the dose will lead, in a greater or lesser degree, to a repetition of the result. You shall now see what reasons I have to justify me in making it.” He turned to one of the books at his side, and opened it at a place marked by a small slip of paper. “Don’t suppose that I am going to weary you with a lecture on physiology,” he said. Admitted principles, and recognised authorities, justify me in the view that I take.

Give me five minutes of your attention; and I will undertake to show you that Science sanctions my proposal, fanciful as it may seem. Read it for yourself.” He handed me the slip of paper which had marked the place in the book. It contained a few lines of writing, as follows:-- “There seems much ground for the belief, that every sensory impression which has once been recognised by the perceptive consciousness, is registered (so to speak) in the brain, and may be reproduced at some subsequent time, although there may be no consciousness of its existence in the mind during the whole intermediate period.” “Is that plain, so far?” asked Ezra Jennings. “Now,” he said, “read that account of a case, which has--as I believe--a direct bearing on your own position, and on the experiment which I am tempting you to try. The book in your hand is Doctor Elliotson’s HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY; and the case which the doctor cites rests on the well-known authority of Mr. On one occasion, being drunk, he had lost a parcel of some value, and in his sober moments could give no account of it.

Next time he was intoxicated, he recollected that he had left the parcel at a certain house, and there being no address on it, it had remained there safely, and was got on his calling for it.” “Plain again?” asked Ezra Jennings. “As plain as need be.” He put back the slip of paper in its place, and closed the book. “Are you satisfied that I have not spoken without good authority to support me?” he asked. “If not, I have only to go to those bookshelves, and you have only to read the passages which I can point out to you.” “I am quite satisfied,” I said, “without reading a word more.” “In that case, we may return to your own personal interest in this matter. I am bound to tell you that there is something to be said against the experiment as well as for it. If we could, this year, exactly reproduce, in your case, the conditions as they existed last year, it is physiologically certain that we should arrive at exactly the same result. But this--there is no denying it--is simply impossible. We can only hope to approximate to the conditions; and if we don’t succeed in getting you nearly enough back to what you were, this venture of ours will fail. Blake, I have now stated the question, on both sides of it, as fairly as I can, within the limits that I have imposed on myself.

If there is anything that I have not made clear to you, tell me what it is--and if I can enlighten you, I will.” “All that you have explained to me,” I said, “I understand perfectly. I am, at this moment, exerting my intelligence (such as it is) in your service, under the influence of a dose of laudanum, some ten times larger than the dose Mr. But don’t trust to my authority--even on a question which comes within my own personal experience. I anticipated the objection you have just made: and I have again provided myself with independent testimony which will carry its due weight with it in your own mind, and in the minds of your friends.” He handed me the second of the two books which he had by him on the table. Take the book away with you, and read it. At the passage which I have marked, you will find that when De Quincey had committed what he calls ‘a debauch of opium,’ he either went to the gallery at the Opera to enjoy the music, or he wandered about the London markets on Saturday night, and interested himself in observing all the little shifts and bargainings of the poor in providing their Sunday’s dinner. So much for the capacity of a man to occupy himself actively, and to move about from place to place under the influence of opium.” “I am answered so far,” I said; “but I am not answered yet as to the effect produced by the opium on myself.” “I will try to answer you in a few words,” said Ezra Jennings. “The action of opium is comprised, in the majority of cases, in two influences--a stimulating influence first, and a sedative influence afterwards. Under the stimulating influence, the latest and most vivid impressions left on your mind--namely, the impressions relating to the Diamond--would be likely, in your morbidly sensitive nervous condition, to become intensified in your brain, and would subordinate to themselves your judgment and your will exactly as an ordinary dream subordinates to itself your judgment and your will.

Little by little, under this action, any apprehensions about the safety of the Diamond which you might have felt during the day would be liable to develop themselves from the state of doubt to the state of certainty--would impel you into practical action to preserve the jewel--would direct your steps, with that motive in view, into the room which you entered--and would guide your hand to the drawers of the cabinet, until you had found the drawer which held the stone. In the spiritualised intoxication of opium, you would do all that. Have I made it tolerably clear to you so far?” “You have made it so clear,” I said, “that I want you to go farther. But Miss Verinder saw me leave the room again, with the jewel in my hand. “It is a question with me whether the experiment which I propose as a means of vindicating your innocence, may not also be made a means of recovering the lost Diamond as well. When you left Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, with the jewel in your hand, you went back in all probability to your own room----” “Yes? and what then?” “It is possible, Mr. Blake--I dare not say more--that your idea of preserving the Diamond led, by a natural sequence, to the idea of hiding the Diamond, and that the place in which you hid it was somewhere in your bedroom.

You may remember, under the influence of the second dose of opium, the place in which you hid the Diamond under the influence of the first.” It was my turn, now, to enlighten Ezra Jennings. “How did it get to London from Lady Verinder’s house?” “Nobody knows.” “You removed it with your own hand from Miss Verinder’s room.

How was it taken out of your keeping?” “I have no idea how it was taken out of my keeping.” “Did you see it, when you woke in the morning?” “No.” “Has Miss Verinder recovered possession of it?” “No.” “Mr. He showed plainly that he was not satisfied with my reply. “With all deference to you,” he said, “and with all deference to your legal adviser, I maintain the opinion which I expressed just now. It rests, I am well aware, on a mere assumption. I waited anxiously to hear how he would defend it. “I assume,” pursued Ezra Jennings, “that the influence of the opium--after impelling you to possess yourself of the Diamond, with the purpose of securing its safety--might also impel you, acting under the same influence and the same motive, to hide it somewhere in your own room. YOU assume that the Hindoo conspirators could by no possibility commit a mistake.

You can’t even guess how, or by whom, it was removed from Lady Verinder’s house!

He declares that he never heard of the Moonstone; and his bankers’ receipt acknowledges nothing but the deposit of a valuable of great price. All I say, in differing with you, is--that my view is possible. Blake, either logically, or legally, can be said for yours?” It was put strongly; but there was no denying that it was put truly as well. “Do you object to my writing to Mr. Bruff, and telling him what you have said?” “On the contrary, I shall be glad if you will write to Mr. For the present, let us return to our experiment with the opium. We have decided that you leave off the habit of smoking from this moment.” “From this moment?” “That is the first step. Godfrey Ablewhite was away travelling on the Continent. It was simply impossible to reassemble the people who had inhabited the house, when I had slept in it last.

He attached very little importance, he said, to reassembling the same people--seeing that it would be vain to expect them to reassume the various positions which they had occupied towards me in the past times. On the other hand, he considered it essential to the success of the experiment, that I should see the same objects about me which had surrounded me when I was last in the house. “Above all things,” he said, “you must sleep in the room which you slept in, on the birthday night, and it must be furnished in the same way. The stairs, the corridors, and Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, must also be restored to what they were when you saw them last. It is absolutely necessary, Mr. Blake, to replace every article of furniture in that part of the house which may now be put away. “Is it not possible for you to apply?” “Quite out of the question. After what has passed between us on the subject of the lost Diamond, I can neither see her, nor write to her, as things are now.” Ezra Jennings paused, and considered for a moment. Blake, in fancying (from one or two things which have dropped from you) that you felt no common interest in Miss Verinder, in former times?” “Quite right.” “Was the feeling returned?” “It was.” “Do you think Miss Verinder would be likely to feel a strong interest in the attempt to prove your innocence?” “I am certain of it.” “In that case, I will write to Miss Verinder--if you will give me leave.” “Telling her of the proposal that you have made to me?” “Telling her of everything that has passed between us to-day.” It is needless to say that I eagerly accepted the service which he had offered to me. “I shall have time to write by to-day’s post,” he said, looking at his watch.

“If I can do you this little service, Mr. Blake, I shall feel it like a last gleam of sunshine, falling on the evening of a long and clouded day.” We parted. It was then the fifteenth of June. The events of the next ten days--every one of them more or less directly connected with the experiment of which I was the passive object--are all placed on record, exactly as they happened, in the Journal habitually kept by Mr. Let Ezra Jennings tell how the venture with the opium was tried, and how it ended. With some interruption from patients, and some interruption from pain, I finished my letter to Miss Verinder in time for to-day’s post. I failed to make it as short a letter as I could have wished. But I think I have made it plain. It leaves her entirely mistress of her own decision.

At one time I was whirling through empty space with the phantoms of the dead, friends and enemies together. It dispelled the visions--and it was bearable because it did that. My bad night made it late in the morning, before I could get to Mr. I found him stretched on the sofa, breakfasting on brandy and soda-water, and a dry biscuit. “A miserable, restless night; and a total failure of appetite this morning. The sooner I am ready for my second dose of laudanum, the better I shall be pleased.” “You shall have it on the earliest possible day,” I answered. You must get an appetite for your dinner.

Have you written to Miss Verinder?” “Yes--by last night’s post.” “Very good. You appeared to think, yesterday, that our experiment with the opium was not likely to be viewed very favourably by some of my friends. You were quite right. Blake, to go my rounds among my patients; feeling the better and the happier even for the short interview that I had had with him. Does it only mean that I feel the contrast between the frankly kind manner in which he has allowed me to become acquainted with him, and the merciless dislike and distrust with which I am met by other people? Or is there really something in him which answers to the yearning that I have for a little human sympathy--the yearning, which has survived the solitude and persecution of many years; which seems to grow keener and keener, as the time comes nearer and nearer when I shall endure and feel no more? Let that be enough, without seeking to know what the new interest is. Candy informed me that he was going away for a fortnight, on a visit to a friend in the south of England. The practice is worth little enough now! Other doctors have superseded HIM; and nobody who can help it will employ me.

It is perhaps fortunate that he is to be away just at this time. He would have been mortified if I had not informed him of the experiment which I am going to try with Mr. Better as it is. Unquestionably, better as it is. It gives me the highest opinion of her.

Blake’s innocence, without the slightest need (so far as she is concerned) of putting my assertion to the proof. It is plain that she has loved him, throughout the estrangement between them. In more than one place the rapture of discovering that he has deserved to be loved, breaks its way innocently through the stoutest formalities of pen and ink, and even defies the stronger restraint still of writing to a stranger.

Is it possible (I ask myself, in reading this delightful letter) that I, of all men in the world, am chosen to be the means of bringing these two young people together again? Oh merciful Death, let me see it before your arms enfold me, before your voice whispers to me, “Rest at last!” There are two requests contained in the letter. One of them prevents me from showing it to Mr. So far, it is easy to comply with her wishes. Not content with having written to Mr. Betteredge, instructing him to carry out whatever directions I may have to give, Miss Verinder asks leave to assist me, by personally superintending the restoration of her own sitting-room. She only waits a word of reply from me to make the journey to Yorkshire, and to be present as one of the witnesses on the night when the opium is tried for the second time. Here, again, there is a motive under the surface; and, here again, I fancy that I can find it out. Franklin Blake, she is (as I interpret it) eager to tell him with her own lips, BEFORE he is put to the test which is to vindicate his character in the eyes of other people.

I understand and admire this generous anxiety to acquit him, without waiting until his innocence may, or may not, be proved. It is the atonement that she is longing to make, poor girl, after having innocently and inevitably wronged him.

I have no sort of doubt that the agitation which a meeting between them would produce on both sides--reviving dormant feelings, appealing to old memories, awakening new hopes--would, in their effect on the mind of Mr. It is hard enough, as things are, to reproduce in him the conditions as they existed, or nearly as they existed, last year. With new interests and new emotions to agitate him, the attempt would be simply useless. And yet, knowing this, I cannot find it in my heart to disappoint her. I must try if I can discover some new arrangement, before post-time, which will allow me to say Yes to Miss Verinder, without damage to the service which I have bound myself to render to Mr.

Two o’clock.--I have just returned from my round of medical visits; having begun, of course, by calling at the hotel. But he feels it less to-day, having slept after yesterday’s dinner. It is a case (as a sailor would say) of very fine steering. I told him exactly what I was permitted to tell, and no more. It was quite needless to invent excuses for not showing him the letter. He told me bitterly enough, poor fellow, that he understood the delicacy which disinclined me to produce it. “But she keeps her own opinion of me, and waits to see the result.” I was sorely tempted to hint that he was now wronging her as she had wronged him. My visit was a very short one. It only lasted a quarter of an hour this time, and it left me strength enough to go on with my work.

Five o’clock.--I have written my reply to Miss Verinder.

The arrangement I have proposed reconciles the interests on both sides, if she will only consent to it. When that has been done, there can be no objection to her watching the result, with the rest of us. Blake (if she likes) her correspondence with me, and shall satisfy him in that way that he was acquitted in her estimation, before the question of his innocence was put to the proof. In that sense, I have written to her. I foresee, in spite of the penalties which it exacts from me, that I shall have to return to the opium for the hundredth time.

If I let myself sink, it may end in my becoming useless to Mr.

It was nearly one o’clock before I could get to the hotel to-day. The visit, even in my shattered condition, proved to be a most amusing one--thanks entirely to the presence on the scene of Gabriel Betteredge. He withdrew to the window and looked out, while I put my first customary question to my patient. Blake had slept badly again, and he felt the loss of rest this morning more than he had felt it yet. It was mischievous--for it excited hopes that might never be realised. It was quite unintelligible to HIS mind, except that it looked like a piece of trickery, akin to the trickery of mesmerism, clairvoyance, and the like. It unsettled Miss Verinder’s house, and it would end in unsettling Miss Verinder herself. He had put the case (without mentioning names) to an eminent physician; and the eminent physician had smiled, had shaken his head, and had said--nothing. Bruff entered his protest, and left it there.

Murthwaite (whose consummate knowledge of the Indian character no one could deny), was satisfied also. Under these circumstances, and with the many demands already made on him, he must decline entering into any disputes on the subject of evidence.

Bruff was willing to wait for time. It was quite plain--even if Mr. Blake had not made it plainer still by reporting the substance of the letter, instead of reading what was actually written--that distrust of me was at the bottom of all this. Having myself foreseen that result, I was neither mortified nor surprised. He answered emphatically, that it had not produced the slightest effect on his mind. “Can you favour me with your attention, sir?” he inquired, addressing himself to me. “I am quite at your service,” I answered.

He produced a huge old-fashioned leather pocket-book, with a pencil of dimensions to match.

And what does it all end in? It ends, Mr. Franklin Blake, by a doctor’s assistant with a bottle of laudanum--and by the living jingo, I’m appointed, in my old age, to be conjurer’s boy!” Mr. Jennings!” he said, “It don’t want a word, sir, from you. If an order comes to me, which is own brother to an order come from Bedlam, it don’t matter. So long as I get it from my master or mistress, as the case may be, I obey it. “It don’t matter; I withdraw my opinion, for all that.

My young lady says, ‘Do it.’ And I say, ‘Miss, it shall be done.’ Here I am, with my book and my pencil--the latter not pointed so well as I could wish, but when Christians take leave of their senses, who is to expect that pencils will keep their points? I’ll have them in writing, sir.

A blind agent!” repeated Betteredge, with infinite relish of his own description of himself. “I am very sorry,” I began, “that you and I don’t agree----” “Don’t bring ME, into it!” interposed Betteredge. “This is not a matter of agreement, it’s a matter of obedience. “I wish certain parts of the house to be reopened,” I said, “and to be furnished, exactly as they were furnished at this time last year.” Betteredge gave his imperfectly-pointed pencil a preliminary lick with his tongue. “Impossible to furnish that, sir, as it was furnished last year--to begin with.” “Why?” “Because there was a stuffed buzzard, Mr. When the family left, the buzzard was put away with the other things. But that can’t be done either.” “Why not?” “Because the man who laid that carpet down is dead, Mr. “Miss Verinder’s sitting-room to be restored exactly to what it was last year.

Also, the corridor leading from the sitting-room to the first landing. “Go on, sir,” he said, with sardonic gravity. “There’s a deal of writing left in the point of this pencil yet.” I told him that I had no more directions to give. “I’ll ring for the waiter.” “----of certain responsibilities,” pursued Betteredge, impenetrably declining to see anybody in the room but himself and me. “As to Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, to begin with. Jennings, we found a surprising quantity of pins.

“There having been nothing in it, last year, but the doors of the rooms (to every one of which I can swear, if necessary), my mind is easy, I admit, respecting that part of the house only. Franklin’s bedroom (if THAT is to be put back to what it was before), I want to know who is responsible for keeping it in a perpetual state of litter, no matter how often it may be set right--his trousers here, his towels there, and his French novels everywhere. Blake declared that he would assume the whole responsibility with the greatest pleasure. Betteredge obstinately declined to listen to any solution of the difficulty, without first referring it to my sanction and approval. “You will find me at work, with the necessary persons to assist me. I respectfully beg to thank you, sir, for overlooking the case of the stuffed buzzard, and the other case of the Cupid’s wing--as also for permitting me to wash my hands of all responsibility in respect of the pins on the carpet, and the litter in Mr. The maggots notwithstanding, sir, you shall be obeyed.

If it ends in your setting the house on fire, Damme if I send for the engines, unless you ring the bell and order them first!” With that farewell assurance, he made me a bow, and walked out of the room. “Implicitly,” answered Mr. Merridew presents her compliments, and does not pretend to understand the subject on which I have been corresponding with Miss Verinder, in its scientific bearings. Viewed in its social bearings, however, she feels free to pronounce an opinion. To allow a young lady, at her time of life, to be present (without a “chaperone”) in a house full of men among whom a medical experiment is being carried on, is an outrage on propriety which Mrs. Merridew cannot possibly permit.

If the matter is allowed to proceed, she will feel it to be her duty--at a serious sacrifice of her own personal convenience--to accompany Miss Verinder to Yorkshire.

Merridew and myself of a very unpleasant responsibility. Translated from polite commonplace into plain English, the meaning of this is, as I take it, that Mrs. She has unfortunately appealed to the very last man in existence who has any reason to regard that opinion with respect. Translated from plain English into polite commonplace, this means that Mr. To-morrow will be time enough for our first visit of inspection. On our way to the house, this morning, he consulted me, with some nervous impatience and irresolution, about a letter (forwarded to him from London) which he had received from Sergeant Cuff.

The Sergeant writes from Ireland. In the meantime, he requests to be favoured with Mr. Blake can convict him of having made any serious mistake, in the course of his last year’s inquiry concerning the Diamond, he will consider it a duty (after the liberal manner in which he was treated by the late Lady Verinder) to place himself at that gentleman’s disposal. After reading the letter, I had no hesitation in advising Mr.

On second thoughts I also suggested inviting the Sergeant to be present at the experiment, in the event of his returning to England in time to join us. He would be a valuable witness to have, in any case; and, if I proved to be wrong in believing the Diamond to be hidden in Mr. Blake had foretold that the work was advancing as rapidly and as intelligently as it was possible to desire. It seemed doubtful whether the house would be ready for us before the end of the week. Blake); and having promised to return for a second visit of inspection in a day or two, we prepared to leave the house, going out by the back way. Blake walked on to wait for me in the garden, while I accompanied Betteredge into his room. Jennings, do you happen to be acquainted with ROBINSON CRUSOE?” I answered that I had read ROBINSON CRUSOE when I was a child. “Not since then.” He fell back a few steps, and looked at me with an expression of compassionate curiosity, tempered by superstitious awe. “In respect to this hocus-pocus of yours, sir, with the laudanum and Mr.

Jennings, it was borne in powerfully on my mind that this new medical enterprise of yours would end badly. If I had yielded to that secret Dictate, I should have put all the furniture away again with my own hand, and have warned the workmen off the premises when they came the next morning.” “I am glad to find, from what I have seen up-stairs,” I said, “that you resisted the secret Dictate.” “Resisted isn’t the word,” answered Betteredge. I wrostled, sir, between the silent orders in my bosom pulling me one way, and the written orders in my pocket-book pushing me the other, until (saving your presence) I was in a cold sweat. In that dreadful perturbation of mind and laxity of body, to what remedy did I apply? To the remedy, sir, which has never failed me yet for the last thirty years and more--to This Book!” He hit the book a sounding blow with his open hand, and struck out of it a stronger smell of stale tobacco than ever. This awful bit, sir, page one hundred and seventy-eight, as follows.--‘Upon these, and many like Reflections, I afterwards made it a certain rule with me, That whenever I found those secret Hints or Pressings of my Mind, to doing, or not doing any Thing that presented; or to going this Way, or that Way, I never failed to obey the secret Dictate.’ As I live by bread, Mr. He closed the book with great deliberation; he locked it up again in the cupboard with extraordinary care; he wheeled round, and stared hard at me once more.

I wish you good morning.” He opened his door with a low bow, and left me at liberty to find my own way into the garden. Have you humoured his favourite delusion? Men of his sensitive organisation are fortunately quick in feeling the effect of remedial measures. Otherwise, I should be inclined to fear that he will be totally unfit for the experiment when the time comes to try it. As for myself, after some little remission of my pains for the last two days I had an attack this morning, of which I shall say nothing but that it has decided me to return to the opium. He slept a little last night. I can’t say that I woke this morning; the fitter expression would be, that I recovered my senses. It will be completed to-morrow--Saturday. From first to last, he was ominously polite, and ominously silent. My medical enterprise (as Betteredge calls it) must now, inevitably, be delayed until Monday next.

On the next day, the established Sunday tyranny which is one of the institutions of this free country, so times the trains as to make it impossible to ask anybody to travel to us from London. In the meanwhile, I have prevailed on him to write to Mr. Bruff, making a point of it that he shall be present as one of the witnesses. If we convince HIM, we place our victory beyond the possibility of dispute. Blake has also written to Sergeant Cuff; and I have sent a line to Miss Verinder. With these, and with old Betteredge (who is really a person of importance in the family) we shall have witnesses enough for the purpose--without including Mrs. No matter; I must go on with it now till Monday is past and gone. He only succeeded in locking it up again by a violent effort. The waiter brought it in this morning, discovered at the bottom of an empty cistern--such is Fate! I dined with him at the hotel.

To my great relief--for I found him in an over-wrought, over-excited state this morning--he had two hours’ sound sleep on the sofa after dinner. It is five o’clock in the afternoon. So far as it is possible for me to judge, he promises (physically speaking) to be quite as susceptible to the action of the opium to-night as he was at this time last year. He is, this afternoon, in a state of nervous sensitiveness which just stops short of nervous irritation. He changes colour readily; his hand is not quite steady; and he starts at chance noises, and at unexpected appearances of persons and things. These results have all been produced by deprivation of sleep, which is in its turn the nervous consequence of a sudden cessation in the habit of smoking, after that habit has been carried to an extreme.

While I write these lines, Mr. I have brought my journal here, partly with a view to occupying the idle hours which I am sure to have on my hands between this and to-morrow morning; partly in the hope that something may happen which it may be worth my while to place on record at the time. Have I omitted anything, thus far? The note hints that the old lady’s generally excellent temper is a little ruffled, and requests all due indulgence for her, in consideration of her age and her habits. I will endeavour, in my relations with Mrs. Merridew, to emulate the moderation which Betteredge displays in his relations with me. He received us to-day, portentously arrayed in his best black suit, and his stiffest white cravat. Whenever he looks my way, he remembers that I have not read ROBINSON CRUSOE since I was a child, and he respectfully pities me. Bruff accepts the invitation--under protest. It is, he thinks, clearly necessary that a gentleman possessed of the average allowance of common sense, should accompany Miss Verinder to the scene of, what we will venture to call, the proposed exhibition.

Bruff himself will be that gentleman.--So here is poor Miss Verinder provided with two “chaperones.” It is a relief to think that the opinion of the world must surely be satisfied with this! Blake’s favourite walk when he was here last. The laudanum must find the process of digestion, as nearly as may be, where the laudanum found it last year. At a reasonable time after dinner I propose to lead the conversation back again--as inartificially as I can--to the subject of the Diamond, and of the Indian conspiracy to steal it. When I have filled his mind with these topics, I shall have done all that it is in my power to do, before the time comes for giving him the second dose. * * * * * Half-past eight.--I have only this moment found an opportunity of attending to the most important duty of all; the duty of looking in the family medicine chest, for the laudanum which Mr. Without a word of objection, without so much as an attempt to produce his pocket-book, he led the way (making allowances for me at every step) to the store-room in which the medicine chest is kept. I discovered the bottle, carefully guarded by a glass stopper tied over with leather.

The preparation which it contained was, as I had anticipated, the common Tincture of Opium. Finding the bottle still well filled, I have resolved to use it, in preference to employing either of the two preparations with which I had taken care to provide myself, in case of emergency.

The question of the quantity which I am to administer presents certain difficulties. I have thought it over, and have decided on increasing the dose. This is a small dose to have produced the results which followed--even in the case of a person so sensitive as Mr. I think it highly probable that Mr. Blake knows beforehand that he is going to take the laudanum--which is equivalent, physiologically speaking, to his having (unconsciously to himself) a certain capacity in him to resist the effects. If my view is right, a larger quantity is therefore imperatively required, this time, to repeat the results which the smaller quantity produced, last year. * * * * * Ten o’clock.--The witnesses, or the company (which shall I call them?) reached the house an hour since. A little before nine o’clock, I prevailed on Mr. Blake to accompany me to his bedroom; stating, as a reason, that I wished him to look round it, for the last time, in order to make quite sure that nothing had been forgotten in the refurnishing of the room. I had previously arranged with Betteredge, that the bedchamber prepared for Mr.

Being well used to producing this effect on strangers, I did not hesitate a moment in saying what I wanted to say, before the lawyer found his way into Mr. “You have travelled here, I believe, in company with Mrs.

“Being habitually silent on the subject of human folly, I am all the readier to keep my lips closed on this occasion. Jennings--and the name of him is Bruff.” It was next necessary to get the meeting over with the two ladies. I descended the stairs--a little nervously, I confess--on my way to Miss Verinder’s sitting-room. The gardener’s wife (charged with looking after the accommodation of the ladies) met me in the first-floor corridor. This excellent woman treats me with an excessive civility which is plainly the offspring of down-right terror.

On my asking for Miss Verinder, she stared, trembled, and would no doubt have curtseyed next, if Miss Verinder herself had not cut that ceremony short, by suddenly opening her sitting-room door. At the first sight of me, Miss Verinder stopped, and hesitated. She recovered herself instantly, coloured for a moment--and then, with a charming frankness, offered me her hand. “Oh, if you only knew how happy your letters have made me!” She looked at my ugly wrinkled face, with a bright gratitude so new to me in my experience of my fellow-creatures, that I was at a loss how to answer her. I was as awkward and as shy with her, as if I had been a lad in my teens. Is he in good spirits? How does he bear the sight of the house, after what happened in it last year? May I see you pour it out? I am so interested; I am so excited--I have ten thousand things to say to you, and they all crowd together so that I don’t know what to say first.

“I venture to think that I thoroughly understand it.” She was far above the paltry affectation of being confused. I hope there is--I am afraid it is the only excuse I have. Her fingers trifled nervously with a flower which I had picked in the garden, and which I had put into the button-hole of my coat. “I am quite certain of what will happen to-morrow.

I wish I could feel as certain of what will happen to-night.” At that point in the conversation, we were interrupted by the appearance of Betteredge with the tea-tray. He gave me another significant look as he passed on into the sitting-room. A little old lady, in a corner, very nicely dressed, and very deeply absorbed over a smart piece of embroidery, dropped her work in her lap, and uttered a faint little scream at the first sight of my gipsy complexion and my piebald hair. If it interferes with Mr. Jennings’s medical views, I shall be happy to put it away of course.” I hastened to sanction the presence of the embroidery, exactly as I had sanctioned the absence of the burst buzzard and the Cupid’s wing. it was not to be done. Jennings will permit me,” pursued the old lady, “I should like to ask a favour. With a view to getting it over, if possible, before I go to bed.” I attempted to assure Mrs. I am quite resigned to the explosion--but I DO want to get it over, if possible, before I go to bed.” Here the door opened, and Mrs.

Merridew uttered another little scream. “What does it mean?” “Only the protest of the world, Miss Verinder--on a very small scale--against anything that is new.” “What are we to do with Mrs. Merridew?” “Tell her the explosion will take place at nine to-morrow morning.” “So as to send her to bed?” “Yes--so as to send her to bed.” Miss Verinder went back to the sitting-room, and I went upstairs to Mr. To my surprise I found him alone; restlessly pacing his room, and a little irritated at being left by himself. Upon this, the lawyer had taken refuge in a black leather bag, filled to bursting with professional papers. “The serious business of life,” he admitted, “was sadly out of place on such an occasion as the present. Blake would perhaps kindly make allowance for the old-fashioned habits of a practical man.

Jennings, he might depend on it that Mr. Bruff would be forthcoming when called upon.” With that apology, the lawyer had gone back to his own room, and had immersed himself obstinately in his black bag. “You must wait a little longer,” I said. “I will stay and keep you company till the time comes.” It was then not ten o’clock.

We talked a little; but both our minds were preoccupied by the coming ordeal. THE GUARDIAN; THE TATLER; Richardson’s PAMELA; Mackenzie’s MAN OF FEELING; Roscoe’s LORENZO DE MEDICI; and Robertson’s CHARLES THE FIFTH--all classical works; all (of course) immeasurably superior to anything produced in later times; and all (from my present point of view) possessing the one great merit of enchaining nobody’s interest, and exciting nobody’s brain. Blake to the composing influence of Standard Literature, and occupied myself in making this entry in my journal.

My watch informs me that it is close on eleven o’clock. With what result, I am now to describe. It was mild and rainy, resembling, in this respect, the night of the birthday--the twenty-first of June, last year. Without professing to believe in omens, it was at least encouraging to find no direct nervous influences--no stormy or electric perturbations--in the atmosphere. Betteredge joined me at the window, and mysteriously put a little slip of paper into my hand. It contained these lines: “Mrs. She has no idea that the chief scene of the experiment is my sitting-room--or she would have remained in it for the whole night! Pray let me see you measure out the laudanum; I want to have something to do with it, even in the unimportant character of a mere looker-on.--R.V.” I followed Betteredge out of the room, and told him to remove the medicine-chest into Miss Verinder’s sitting-room.

“Might I presume to ask,” he said, “what my young lady and the medicine-chest have got to do with each other?” “Stay in the sitting-room, and you will see.” Betteredge appeared to doubt his own unaided capacity to superintend me effectually, on an occasion when a medicine-chest was included in the proceedings. Bruff into this part of the business?” “Quite the contrary! Bruff to accompany me down-stairs.” Betteredge withdrew to fetch the medicine-chest, without another word.

Bruff opened it, with his papers in his hand--immersed in Law; impenetrable to Medicine. Bruff, with nine-tenths of his attention riveted on his papers, and with one-tenth unwillingly accorded to me. “Anything else?” “I must trouble you to return here with me, and to see me administer the dose.” “Anything else?” “One thing more. Blake’s room, and of waiting to see what happens.” “Oh, very good!” said Mr.

Blake’s room--it doesn’t matter which; I can go on with my papers anywhere. With that reply he followed me out of the room, still keeping his papers in his hand. We found Miss Verinder, pale and agitated, restlessly pacing her sitting-room from end to end. Do you think it will succeed?

Are you sure it will do no harm?” “Quite sure. Come, and see me measure it out.” “One moment! It is past eleven now.

How long will it be before anything happens?” “It is not easy to say.

An hour perhaps.” “I suppose the room must be dark, as it was last year?” “Certainly.” “I shall wait in my bedroom--just as I did before. I shall keep the door a little way open. It was a little way open last year. I will watch the sitting-room door; and the moment it moves, I will blow out my light. It all happened in that way, on my birthday night.

And it must all happen again in the same way, musn’t it?” “Are you sure you can control yourself, Miss Verinder?” “In HIS interests, I can do anything!” she answered fervently.

“Oh, certainly!” He got up with a start--as if I had disturbed him at a particularly interesting place--and followed me to the medicine-chest. There, deprived of the breathless excitement incidental to the practice of his profession, he looked at Betteredge--and yawned wearily. Miss Verinder joined me with a glass jug of cold water, which she had taken from a side-table. “I must have a hand in it!” I measured out the forty minims from the bottle, and poured the laudanum into a medicine glass. “Fill it till it is three parts full,” I said, and handed the glass to Miss Verinder. I then directed Betteredge to lock up the medicine chest; informing him that I had done with it now.

“When you give it to him,” said the charming girl, “give it to him on that side!” I took the piece of crystal which was to represent the Diamond from my pocket, and gave it to her. “You must put it where you put the Moonstone last year.” She led the way to the Indian cabinet, and put the mock Diamond into the drawer which the real Diamond had occupied on the birthday night.

Bruff witnessed this proceeding, under protest, as he had witnessed everything else. But the strong dramatic interest which the experiment was now assuming, proved (to my great amusement) to be too much for Betteredge’s capacity of self restraint. His hand trembled as he held the candle, and he whispered anxiously, “Are you sure, miss, it’s the right drawer?” I led the way out again, with the laudanum and water in my hand. “And I will wait in my bedroom, with only one candle alight.” She closed the sitting-room door behind us. We found him moving restlessly from side to side of the bed, and wondering irritably whether he was to have the laudanum that night. In the presence of the two witnesses, I gave him the dose, and shook up his pillows, and told him to lie down again quietly and wait.

His bed, provided with light chintz curtains, was placed, with the head against the wall of the room, so as to leave a good open space on either side of it. Bruff and Betteredge, to wait for the result. At the bottom of the bed I half drew the curtains--and placed my own chair at a little distance, so that I might let him see me or not see me, speak to me or not speak to me, just as the circumstances might direct. Having already been informed that he always slept with a light in the room, I placed one of the two lighted candles on a little table at the head of the bed, where the glare of the light would not strike on his eyes. It was twenty minutes past eleven, by my watch, when the preparations were completed, and I took my place on the chair set apart at the bottom of the bed. Bruff resumed his papers, with every appearance of being as deeply interested in them as ever. But looking towards him now, I saw certain signs and tokens which told me that the Law was beginning to lose its hold on him at last.

The suspended interest of the situation in which we were now placed was slowly asserting its influence even on HIS unimaginative mind. As for Betteredge, consistency of principle and dignity of conduct had become, in his case, mere empty words. “For the Lord’s sake, sir,” he whispered to me, “tell us when it will begin to work.” “Not before midnight,” I whispered back. “Say nothing, and sit still.” Betteredge dropped to the lowest depth of familiarity with me, without a struggle to save himself. Blake, I found him as restless as ever in his bed; fretfully wondering why the influence of the laudanum had not begun to assert itself yet. To tell him, in his present humour, that the more he fidgeted and wondered, the longer he would delay the result for which we were now waiting, would have been simply useless. With this view, I encouraged him to talk to me; contriving so to direct the conversation, on my side, as to lead it back again to the subject which had engaged us earlier in the evening--the subject of the Diamond. I took care to revert to those portions of the story of the Moonstone, which related to the transport of it from London to Yorkshire; to the risk which Mr.

Blake had run in removing it from the bank at Frizinghall: and to the unexpected appearance of the Indians at the house, on the evening of the birthday. In this way, I set him talking on the subject with which it was now vitally important to fill his mind--without allowing him to suspect that I was making him talk for a purpose. Little by little, he became so interested in putting me right that he forgot to fidget in the bed. His mind was far away from the question of the opium, at the all-important time when his eyes first told me that the opium was beginning to lay its hold on his brain. It wanted five minutes to twelve, when the premonitory symptoms of the working of the laudanum first showed themselves to me. But, as the minutes of the new morning wore away, the swiftly-subtle progress of the influence began to show itself more plainly. In five minutes more, the talk which he still kept up with me, failed in coherence. A little later, the sentences dropped to single words. Then, still busy with the subject of the Diamond, he began to talk again--not to me, but to himself. In the breathless interest of watching him--in the unutterable triumph of seeing the first result of the experiment declare itself in the manner, and nearly at the time, which I had anticipated--I had utterly forgotten the two companions of my night vigil.

Blake gave us the chance of following him, it was vitally necessary to follow him without noise. He waited. “I wish I had never taken it out of the bank,” he said to himself. “It was safe in the bank.” My heart throbbed fast; the pulses at my temples beat furiously. When I could trust myself to look back at him he was out of his bed, standing erect at the side of it. He turned--waited--came back to the bed.

“It’s not even locked up,” he went on. “It’s in the drawer of her cabinet. “Anybody might take it,” he said. He rose again restlessly, and reiterated his first words.

The Indians may be hidden in the house.” He waited again. He looked about the room, with a vacant glitter in his eyes. It was a breathless moment. Was it possible that the sedative action of the opium was making itself felt already? It was not in my experience that it should do this. Was some constitutional peculiarity in him, feeling the influence in some new way? “How the devil am I to sleep,” he said, “with THIS on my mind?” He looked at the light, burning on the table at the head of his bed. I drew back, with Mr. I signed to them to be silent, as if their lives had depended on it. We waited--seeing and hearing nothing.

We waited, hidden from him by the curtains. The next moment he passed us, swift and noiseless, with the candle in his hand. He never looked back; he never hesitated. He opened the sitting-room door, and went in, leaving it open behind him. When it was opened, a crevice was opened between the door and the post.

I placed myself--outside the door also--on the opposite side. He advanced to the middle of the room, with the candle still in his hand: he looked about him--but he never looked back. The dim white outline of her summer dress was all that I could see. Nobody who had not known it beforehand would have suspected that there was a living creature in the room. It was now ten minutes past one. After waiting irresolute, for a minute or more, in the middle of the room, he moved to the corner near the window, where the Indian cabinet stood. Then he took the mock Diamond out with his right hand. With the other hand, he took the candle from the top of the cabinet. Would he show us what he had done with the Diamond, when he had returned to his own room? He put the candle down on a table, and wandered on a little towards the farther end of the room.

He leaned heavily on the back of it, with his left hand--then roused himself, and returned to the middle of the room. They were getting dull and heavy; the glitter in them was fast dying out. The prevision of a coming disappointment was impressing itself on their minds as well as on mine. We waited, in unutterable expectation, to see what would happen next. It fell on the floor, before the doorway--plainly visible to him, and to everyone. He made no effort to pick it up: he looked down at it vacantly, and, as he looked, his head sank on his breast. He staggered--roused himself for an instant--walked back unsteadily to the sofa--and sat down on it. It was then twenty-five minutes past one o’clock. It was all over now. “The first thing to settle,” I said, “is the question of what we are to do with him.

It is some distance to carry him back to his own room. When I was younger, I could have done it alone.

She met me at the door of her room, with a light shawl, and with the counterpane from her own bed. I can shut my door, and keep in my room.” It was infinitely the simplest and the safest way of disposing of him for the night.

Bruff and Betteredge--who both approved of my adopting it. In five minutes I had laid him comfortably on the sofa, and had covered him lightly with the counterpane and the shawl. At my request, we three then drew round the table in the middle of the room, on which the candle was still burning, and on which writing materials were placed. Two distinct objects were to be gained by it. After what you have both seen, are you both satisfied, so far?” They answered me in the affirmative, without a moment’s hesitation. “The second object,” I went on, “was to discover what he did with the Diamond, after he was seen by Miss Verinder to leave her sitting-room with the jewel in his hand, on the birthday night. I can’t assert that I am not disappointed at the result--but I can honestly say that I am not surprised by it. Blake from the first, that our complete success in this matter depended on our completely reproducing in him the physical and moral conditions of last year--and I warned him that this was the next thing to a downright impossibility. We have only partially reproduced the conditions, and the experiment has been only partially successful in consequence. It is also possible that I may have administered too large a dose of laudanum.

But I myself look upon the first reason that I have given, as the true reason why we have to lament a failure, as well as to rejoice over a success.” After saying those words, I put the writing materials before Mr. He at once took the pen, and produced the statement with the fluent readiness of a practised hand. Jennings,” he said, “when you read ROBINSON CRUSOE again (which I strongly recommend you to do), you will find that he never scruples to acknowledge it, when he turns out to have been in the wrong. Please to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present occasion.” With those words he signed the paper in his turn.

We will only ask, which of us is in a position to put his theory to the test?” “The test, in my case,” I answered, “has been tried to-night, and has failed.” “The test, in my case,” rejoined Mr. Do you admit that, so far?” I admitted it readily. “I may hear, when I return, that a discovery has been made--and it may be of the greatest importance that I should have Franklin Blake at hand to appeal to, if necessary. I intend to tell him, as soon as he wakes, that he must return with me to London. Bruff shook hands with me, and left the room. “Let me watch him with you.” I hesitated--not in the interests of propriety; only in the interest of her night’s rest.

“I can’t sleep; I can’t even sit still, in my own room,” she said. Jennings, if you were me, only think how you would long to sit and look at him. Do!” Is it necessary to mention that I gave way? She fetched her work, and never did a single stitch of it. It lay in her lap--she was not even able to look away from him long enough to thread her needle. In the heaviness of my heart I turned to my Journal for relief, and wrote in it what is written here. One of us absorbed in his writing; the other absorbed in her love. I was obliged to leave her alone with him for a little while.

It was not a long attack, this time. In a little while I was able to venture back, and let her see me again. She was just touching his forehead with her lips. She looked back at me with a bright smile, and a charming colour in her face. “You would have done it,” she whispered, “in my place!” * * * * * It is just eight o’clock. They have arranged it among themselves; they have all gone to London by the ten o’clock train. I have awakened again to the realities of my friendless and lonely life. I dare not trust myself to write down, the kind words that have been said to me especially by Miss Verinder and Mr.

Besides, it is needless. Those words will come back to me in my solitary hours, and will help me through what is left of the end of my life. Blake is to write, and tell me what happens in London. Oh me, how I felt, as the grateful happiness looked at me out of her eyes, and the warm pressure of her hand said, “This is your doing!” My poor patients are waiting for me. I have seen a little sunshine--I have had a happy time.

Of myself, I have only to say that I awoke on the morning of the twenty-sixth, perfectly ignorant of all that I had said and done under the influence of the opium--from the time when the drug first laid its hold on me, to the time when I opened my eyes, in Rachel’s sitting-room. Confining myself merely to results, I have to report that Rachel and I thoroughly understood each other, before a single word of explanation had passed on either side. I decline to account, and Rachel declines to account, for the extraordinary rapidity of our reconciliation. Sir and Madam, look back at the time when you were passionately attached to each other--and you will know what happened, after Ezra Jennings had shut the door of the sitting-room, as well as I know it myself. Merridew instantly permitted herself to be taken by the arm, and led into the garden, out of the way of the impending shock.

Blake, are infinitely milder than they were.

It is only due to him to say that he has managed it beautifully!” So, after vanquishing Betteredge and Mr. The watch kept at the bank, and the result which might yet come of it, appealed so irresistibly to Rachel’s curiosity, that she at once decided (if Mrs. Merridew had no objection) on accompanying us back to town--so as to be within reach of the earliest news of our proceedings. Merridew proved to be all pliability and indulgence, after the truly considerate manner in which the explosion had conducted itself; and Betteredge was accordingly informed that we were all four to travel back together by the morning train. But Rachel had wisely provided her faithful old servant with an occupation that interested him. He was charged with completing the refurnishing of the house, and was too full of his domestic responsibilities to feel the “detective-fever” as he might have felt it under other circumstances. Our one subject of regret, in going to London, was the necessity of parting, more abruptly than we could have wished, with Ezra Jennings.

It was impossible to persuade him to accompany us. I could only promise to write to him--and Rachel could only insist on his coming to see her when she returned to Yorkshire.

The boy with the ill-secured eyes took his place on the box by the driver, and the driver was directed to go to Lombard Street. He is going to take the Diamond out of the bank.” “And we are going to the bank to see what comes of it?” “Yes--or to hear what has come of it, if it is all over by this time. “They call the poor little wretch ‘Gooseberry’ at the office,” he said.

Blake, in spite of his eyes.” It was twenty minutes to five when we drew up before the bank in Lombard Street.

“Two words will do with Gooseberry, where twenty would be wanted with another boy.” We entered the bank. The outer office--with the long counter, behind which the cashiers sat--was crowded with people; all waiting their turn to take money out, or to pay money in, before the bank closed at five o’clock. “Let us wait,” he said. The only person present with a noticeably dark complexion was a tall man in a pilot coat, and a round hat, who looked like a sailor. The man was taller than any of the Indians; and his face, where it was not hidden by a bushy black beard, was twice the breadth of any of their faces at least. “And he may be the man.” Before he could say more, his coat-tail was respectfully pulled by his attendant sprite with the gooseberry eyes.

“If he passes the Diamond to anybody, he will pass it here.” Without noticing either of us, Mr. I distinctly saw his hand move, as he passed a short, stout man, respectably dressed in a suit of sober grey. The man started a little, and looked after him. At the door his guard placed themselves on either side of him. I looked round at the lawyer, and then looked significantly towards the man in the suit of sober grey. Bruff, “I saw it too!” He turned about, in search of his second man.

He looked behind him for his attendant sprite. “What the devil does it mean?” said Mr.

“They have both left us at the very time when we want them most.” It came to the turn of the man in the grey suit to transact his business at the counter.

He paid in a cheque--received a receipt for it--and turned to go out. A nice occupation for a man in my position,” he muttered to himself, as we followed the stranger out of the bank. “For Heaven’s sake don’t mention it. I should be ruined if it was known.” The man in the grey suit got into an omnibus, going westward. I assert it positively--when he took his seat in the omnibus, he blushed! The man in the grey suit stopped the omnibus, and got out in Oxford Street.

The lawyer joined me again, with a very crestfallen face. “It’s greatly to our credit,” he said, as he took my arm, and led me out--“that’s one comfort!” “What is to our credit?” I asked. The man in the grey suit has been thirty years in the chemist’s service. He had been waiting for more than a quarter of an hour. “Either Gooseberry has run away, or he is hunting on his own account. No person whatever had been seen loitering about the premises. Having stated these facts, the man waited to know whether there were any further orders. Luker has taken the Moonstone home with him?” I asked.

“He would never have dismissed his two policemen, if he had run the risk of keeping the Diamond in his own house again.” We waited another half-hour for the boy, and waited in vain. It was then time for Mr. I left my card, in charge of the porter at the chambers, with a line written on it to say that I should be at my lodgings at half past ten, that night.

Add to this, that I passed the evening at Portland Place, on the same seat with Rachel, in a room forty feet long, with Mrs. Merridew at the further end of it.

I read, in a neat legal handwriting, these words--“If you pl