The Dynamiter
Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny van de Grift Stevenson

Part 1 out of 5

Transcribed from the 1903 Longmans, Green And Co. edition by David
Price, email



Gentlemen,--In the volume now in your hands, the authors have
touched upon that ugly devil of crime, with which it is your glory
to have contended. It were a waste of ink to do so in a serious
spirit. Let us dedicate our horror to acts of a more mingled
strain, where crime preserves some features of nobility, and where
reason and humanity can still relish the temptation. Horror, in
this case, is due to Mr. Parnell: he sits before posterity silent,
Mr. Forster's appeal echoing down the ages. Horror is due to
ourselves, in that we have so long coquetted with political crime;
not seriously weighing, not acutely following it from cause to
consequence; but with a generous, unfounded heat of sentiment, like
the schoolboy with the penny tale, applauding what was specious.
When it touched ourselves (truly in a vile shape), we proved false
to the imaginations; discovered, in a clap, that crime was no less
cruel and no less ugly under sounding names; and recoiled from our
false deities.

But seriousness comes most in place when we are to speak of our
defenders. Whoever be in the right in this great and confused war
of politics; whatever elements of greed, whatever traits of the
bully, dishonour both parties in this inhuman contest;--your side,
your part, is at least pure of doubt. Yours is the side of the
child, of the breeding woman, of individual pity and public trust.
If our society were the mere kingdom of the devil (as indeed it
wears some of his colours) it yet embraces many precious elements
and many innocent persons whom it is a glory to defend. Courage
and devotion, so common in the ranks of the police, so little
recognised, so meagrely rewarded, have at length found their
commemoration in an historical act. History, which will represent
Mr. Parnell sitting silent under the appeal of Mr. Forster, and
Gordon setting forth upon his tragic enterprise, will not forget
Mr. Cole carrying the dynamite in his defenceless hands, nor Mr.
Cox coming coolly to his aid.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Fanny Van De Grift Stevenson


It is within the bounds of possibility that you may take up this
volume, and yet be unacquainted with its predecessor: the first
series of NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS. The loss is yours--and mine; or to
be more exact, my publishers'. But if you are thus unlucky, the
least I can do is to pass you a hint. When you shall find a
reference in the following pages to one Theophilus Godall of the
Bohemian Cigar Divan in Rupert Street, Soho, you must be prepared
to recognise, under his features, no less a person than Prince
Florizel of Bohemia, formerly one of the magnates of Europe, now
dethroned, exiled, impoverished, and embarked in the tobacco trade.

R. L. S.





In the city of encounters, the Bagdad of the West, and, to be more
precise, on the broad northern pavement of Leicester Square, two
young men of five- or six-and-twenty met after years of separation.
The first, who was of a very smooth address and clothed in the best
fashion, hesitated to recognise the pinched and shabby air of his

'What!' he cried, 'Paul Somerset!'

'I am indeed Paul Somerset,' returned the other, 'or what remains
of him after a well-deserved experience of poverty and law. But in
you, Challoner, I can perceive no change; and time may be said,
without hyperbole, to write no wrinkle on your azure brow.'

'All,' replied Challoner, 'is not gold that glitters. But we are
here in an ill posture for confidences, and interrupt the movement
of these ladies. Let us, if you please, find a more private

'If you will allow me to guide you,' replied Somerset, 'I will
offer you the best cigar in London.'

And taking the arm of his companion, he led him in silence and at a
brisk pace to the door of a quiet establishment in Rupert Street,
Soho. The entrance was adorned with one of those gigantic
Highlanders of wood which have almost risen to the standing of
antiquities; and across the window-glass, which sheltered the usual
display of pipes, tobacco, and cigars, there ran the gilded legend:
'Bohemian Cigar Divan, by T. Godall.' The interior of the shop was
small, but commodious and ornate; the salesman grave, smiling, and
urbane; and the two young men, each puffing a select regalia, had
soon taken their places on a sofa of mouse-coloured plush and
proceeded to exchange their stories.

'I am now,' said Somerset, 'a barrister; but Providence and the
attorneys have hitherto denied me the opportunity to shine. A
select society at the Cheshire Cheese engaged my evenings; my
afternoons, as Mr. Godall could testify, have been generally passed
in this divan; and my mornings, I have taken the precaution to
abbreviate by not rising before twelve. At this rate, my little
patrimony was very rapidly, and I am proud to remember, most
agreeably expended. Since then a gentleman, who has really nothing
else to recommend him beyond the fact of being my maternal uncle,
deals me the small sum of ten shillings a week; and if you behold
me once more revisiting the glimpses of the street lamps in my
favourite quarter, you will readily divine that I have come into a

'I should not have supposed so,' replied Challoner. 'But doubtless
I met you on the way to your tailors.'

'It is a visit that I purpose to delay,' returned Somerset, with a
smile. 'My fortune has definite limits. It consists, or rather
this morning it consisted, of one hundred pounds.'

'That is certainly odd,' said Challoner; 'yes, certainly the
coincidence is strange. I am myself reduced to the same margin.'

'You!' cried Somerset. 'And yet Solomon in all his glory--'

'Such is the fact. I am, dear boy, on my last legs,' said
Challoner. 'Besides the clothes in which you see me, I have
scarcely a decent trouser in my wardrobe; and if I knew how, I
would this instant set about some sort of work or commerce. With a
hundred pounds for capital, a man should push his way.'

'It may be,' returned Somerset; 'but what to do with mine is more
than I can fancy. Mr. Godall,' he added, addressing the salesman,
'you are a man who knows the world: what can a young fellow of
reasonable education do with a hundred pounds?'

'It depends,' replied the salesman, withdrawing his cheroot. 'The
power of money is an article of faith in which I profess myself a
sceptic. A hundred pounds will with difficulty support you for a
year; with somewhat more difficulty you may spend it in a night;
and without any difficulty at all you may lose it in five minutes
on the Stock Exchange. If you are of that stamp of man that rises,
a penny would be as useful; if you belong to those that fall, a
penny would be no more useless. When I was myself thrown
unexpectedly upon the world, it was my fortune to possess an art:
I knew a good cigar. Do you know nothing, Mr. Somerset?'

'Not even law,' was the reply.

'The answer is worthy of a sage,' returned Mr. Godall. 'And you,
sir,' he continued, turning to Challoner, 'as the friend of Mr.
Somerset, may I be allowed to address you the same question?'

'Well,' replied Challoner, 'I play a fair hand at whist.'

'How many persons are there in London,' returned the salesman, 'who
have two-and-thirty teeth? Believe me, young gentleman, there are
more still who play a fair hand at whist. Whist, sir, is wide as
the world; 'tis an accomplishment like breathing. I once knew a
youth who announced that he was studying to be Chancellor of
England; the design was certainly ambitious; but I find it less
excessive than that of the man who aspires to make a livelihood by

'Dear me,' said Challoner, 'I am afraid I shall have to fall to be
a working man.'

'Fall to be a working man?' echoed Mr. Godall. 'Suppose a rural
dean to be unfrocked, does he fall to be a major? suppose a captain
were cashiered, would he fall to be a puisne judge? The ignorance
of your middle class surprises me. Outside itself, it thinks the
world to lie quite ignorant and equal, sunk in a common
degradation; but to the eye of the observer, all ranks are seen to
stand in ordered hierarchies, and each adorned with its particular
aptitudes and knowledge. By the defects of your education you are
more disqualified to be a working man than to be the ruler of an
empire. The gulf, sir, is below; and the true learned arts--those
which alone are safe from the competition of insurgent laymen--are
those which give his title to the artisan.'

'This is a very pompous fellow,' said Challoner, in the ear of his

'He is immense,' said Somerset.

Just then the door of the divan was opened, and a third young
fellow made his appearance, and rather bashfully requested some
tobacco. He was younger than the others; and, in a somewhat
meaningless and altogether English way, he was a handsome lad.
When he had been served, and had lighted his pipe and taken his
place upon the sofa, he recalled himself to Challoner by the name
of Desborough.

'Desborough, to be sure,' cried Challoner. 'Well, Desborough, and
what do you do?'

'The fact is,' said Desborough, 'that I am doing nothing.'

'A private fortune possibly?' inquired the other.

'Well, no,' replied Desborough, rather sulkily. 'The fact is that
I am waiting for something to turn up.'

'All in the same boat!' cried Somerset. 'And have you, too, one
hundred pounds?'

'Worse luck,' said Mr. Desborough.

'This is a very pathetic sight, Mr. Godall,' said Somerset: 'Three

'A character of this crowded age,' returned the salesman.

'Sir,' said Somerset, 'I deny that the age is crowded; I will admit
one fact, and one fact only: that I am futile, that he is futile,
and that we are all three as futile as the devil. What am I? I
have smattered law, smattered letters, smattered geography,
smattered mathematics; I have even a working knowledge of judicial
astrology; and here I stand, all London roaring by at the street's
end, as impotent as any baby. I have a prodigious contempt for my
maternal uncle; but without him, it is idle to deny it, I should
simply resolve into my elements like an unstable mixture. I begin
to perceive that it is necessary to know some one thing to the
bottom--were it only literature. And yet, sir, the man of the
world is a great feature of this age; he is possessed of an
extraordinary mass and variety of knowledge; he is everywhere at
home; he has seen life in all its phases; and it is impossible but
that this great habit of existence should bear fruit. I count
myself a man of the world, accomplished, CAP-A-PIE. So do you,
Challoner. And you, Mr. Desborough?'

'Oh yes,' returned the young man.

'Well then, Mr. Godall, here we stand, three men of the world,
without a trade to cover us, but planted at the strategic centre of
the universe (for so you will allow me to call Rupert Street), in
the midst of the chief mass of people, and within ear-shot of the
most continuous chink of money on the surface of the globe. Sir,
as civilised men, what do we do? I will show you. You take in a

'I take,' said Mr. Godall solemnly, 'the best paper in the world,
the Standard.'

'Good,' resumed Somerset. 'I now hold it in my hand, the voice of
the world, a telephone repeating all men's wants. I open it, and
where my eye first falls--well, no, not Morrison's Pills--but here,
sure enough, and but a little above, I find the joint that I was
seeking; here is the weak spot in the armour of society. Here is a
want, a plaint, an offer of substantial gratitude: "TWO HUNDRED
POUNDS REWARD.--The above reward will be paid to any person giving
information as to the identity and whereabouts of a man observed
yesterday in the neighbourhood of the Green Park. He was over six
feet in height, with shoulders disproportionately broad, close
shaved, with black moustaches, and wearing a sealskin great-coat."
There, gentlemen, our fortune, if not made, is founded.'

'Do you then propose, dear boy, that we should turn detectives?'
inquired Challoner.

'Do I propose it? No, sir,' cried Somerset. 'It is reason,
destiny, the plain face of the world, that commands and imposes it.
Here all our merits tell; our manners, habit of the world, powers
of conversation, vast stores of unconnected knowledge, all that we
are and have builds up the character of the complete detective. It
is, in short, the only profession for a gentleman.'

'The proposition is perhaps excessive,' replied Challoner; 'for
hitherto I own I have regarded it as of all dirty, sneaking, and
ungentlemanly trades, the least and lowest.'

'To defend society?' asked Somerset; 'to stake one's life for
others? to deracinate occult and powerful evil? I appeal to Mr.
Godall. He, at least, as a philosophic looker-on at life, will
spit upon such philistine opinions. He knows that the policeman,
as he is called upon continually to face greater odds, and that
both worse equipped and for a better cause, is in form and essence
a more noble hero than the soldier. Do you, by any chance, deceive
yourself into supposing that a general would either ask or expect,
from the best army ever marshalled, and on the most momentous
battle-field, the conduct of a common constable at Peckham Rye?'

'I did not understand we were to join the force,' said Challoner.

'Nor shall we. These are the hands; but here--here, sir, is the
head,' cried Somerset. 'Enough; it is decreed. We shall hunt down
this miscreant in the sealskin coat.'

'Suppose that we agreed,' retorted Challoner, 'you have no plan, no
knowledge; you know not where to seek for a beginning.'

'Challoner!' cried Somerset, 'is it possible that you hold the
doctrine of Free Will? And are you devoid of any tincture of
philosophy, that you should harp on such exploded fallacies?
Chance, the blind Madonna of the Pagan, rules this terrestrial
bustle; and in Chance I place my sole reliance. Chance has brought
us three together; when we next separate and go forth our several
ways, Chance will continually drag before our careless eyes a
thousand eloquent clues, not to this mystery only, but to the
countless mysteries by which we live surrounded. Then comes the
part of the man of the world, of the detective born and bred. This
clue, which the whole town beholds without comprehension, swift as
a cat, he leaps upon it, makes it his, follows it with craft and
passion, and from one trifling circumstance divines a world.'

'Just so,' said Challoner; 'and I am delighted that you should
recognise these virtues in yourself. But in the meanwhile, dear
boy, I own myself incapable of joining. I was neither born nor
bred as a detective, but as a placable and very thirsty gentleman;
and, for my part, I begin to weary for a drink. As for clues and
adventures, the only adventure that is ever likely to occur to me
will be an adventure with a bailiff.'

'Now there is the fallacy,' cried Somerset. 'There I catch the
secret of your futility in life. The world teems and bubbles with
adventure; it besieges you along the street: hands waving out of
windows, swindlers coming up and swearing they knew you when you
were abroad, affable and doubtful people of all sorts and
conditions begging and truckling for your notice. But not you:
you turn away, you walk your seedy mill round, you must go the
dullest way. Now here, I beg of you, the next adventure that
offers itself, embrace it in with both your arms; whatever it
looks, grimy or romantic, grasp it. I will do the like; the devil
is in it, but at least we shall have fun; and each in turn we shall
narrate the story of our fortunes to my philosophic friend of the
divan, the great Godall, now hearing me with inward joy. Come, is
it a bargain? Will you, indeed, both promise to welcome every
chance that offers, to plunge boldly into every opening, and,
keeping the eye wary and the head composed, to study and piece
together all that happens? Come, promise: let me open to you the
doors of the great profession of intrigue.'

'It is not much in my way,' said Challoner, 'but, since you make a
point of it, amen.'

'I don't mind promising,' said Desborough, 'but nothing will happen
to me.'

'O faithless ones!' cried Somerset. 'But at least I have your
promises; and Godall, I perceive, is transported with delight.'

'I promise myself at least much pleasure from your various
narratives,' said the salesman, with the customary calm polish of
his manner.

'And now, gentlemen,' concluded Somerset, 'let us separate. I
hasten to put myself in fortune's way. Hark how, in this quiet
corner, London roars like the noise of battle; four million
destinies are here concentred; and in the strong panoply of one
hundred pounds, payable to the bearer, I am about to plunge into
that web.'


Mr. Edward Challoner had set up lodgings in the suburb of Putney,
where he enjoyed a parlour and bedroom and the sincere esteem of
the people of the house. To this remote home he found himself, at
a very early hour in the morning of the next day, condemned to set
forth on foot. He was a young man of a portly habit; no lover of
the exercises of the body; bland, sedentary, patient of delay, a
prop of omnibuses. In happier days he would have chartered a cab;
but these luxuries were now denied him; and with what courage he
could muster he addressed himself to walk.

It was then the height of the season and the summer; the weather
was serene and cloudless; and as he paced under the blinded houses
and along the vacant streets, the chill of the dawn had fled, and
some of the warmth and all the brightness of the July day already
shone upon the city. He walked at first in a profound abstraction,
bitterly reviewing and repenting his performances at whist; but as
he advanced into the labyrinth of the south-west, his ear was
gradually mastered by the silence. Street after street looked down
upon his solitary figure, house after house echoed upon his passage
with a ghostly jar, shop after shop displayed its shuttered front
and its commercial legend; and meanwhile he steered his course,
under day's effulgent dome and through this encampment of diurnal
sleepers, lonely as a ship.

'Here,' he reflected, 'if I were like my scatter-brained companion,
here were indeed the scene where I might look for an adventure.
Here, in broad day, the streets are secret as in the blackest night
of January, and in the midst of some four million sleepers,
solitary as the woods of Yucatan. If I but raise my voice I could
summon up the number of an army, and yet the grave is not more
silent than this city of sleep.'

He was still following these quaint and serious musings when he
came into a street of more mingled ingredients than was common in
the quarter. Here, on the one hand, framed in walls and the green
tops of trees, were several of those discreet, bijou residences on
which propriety is apt to look askance. Here, too, were many of
the brick-fronted barracks of the poor; a plaster cow, perhaps,
serving as ensign to a dairy, or a ticket announcing the business
of the mangler. Before one such house, that stood a little
separate among walled gardens, a cat was playing with a straw, and
Challoner paused a moment, looking on this sleek and solitary
creature, who seemed an emblem of the neighbouring peace. With the
cessation of the sound of his own steps the silence fell dead; the
house stood smokeless: the blinds down, the whole machinery of
life arrested; and it seemed to Challoner that he should hear the
breathing of the sleepers.

As he so stood, he was startled by a dull and jarring detonation
from within. This was followed by a monstrous hissing and
simmering as from a kettle of the bigness of St. Paul's; and at the
same time from every chink of door and window spirted an ill-
smelling vapour. The cat disappeared with a cry. Within the
lodging-house feet pounded on the stairs; the door flew back,
emitting clouds of smoke; and two men and an elegantly dressed
young lady tumbled forth into the street and fled without a word.
The hissing had already ceased, the smoke was melting in the air,
the whole event had come and gone as in a dream, and still
Challoner was rooted to the spot. At last his reason and his fear
awoke together, and with the most unwonted energy he fell to

Little by little this first dash relaxed, and presently he had
resumed his sober gait and begun to piece together, out of the
confused report of his senses, some theory of the occurrence. But
the occasion of the sounds and stench that had so suddenly assailed
him, and the strange conjunction of fugitives whom he had seen to
issue from the house, were mysteries beyond his plummet. With an
obscure awe he considered them in his mind, continuing, meanwhile,
to thread the web of streets, and once more alone in morning

In his first retreat he had entirely wandered; and now, steering
vaguely west, it was his luck to light upon an unpretending street,
which presently widened so as to admit a strip of gardens in the
midst. Here was quite a stir of birds; even at that hour, the
shadow of the leaves was grateful; instead of the burnt atmosphere
of cities, there was something brisk and rural in the air; and
Challoner paced forward, his eyes upon the pavement and his mind
running upon distant scenes, till he was recalled, upon a sudden,
by a wall that blocked his further progress. This street, whose
name I have forgotten, is no thoroughfare.

He was not the first who had wandered there that morning; for as he
raised his eyes with an agreeable deliberation, they alighted on
the figure of a girl, in whom he was struck to recognise the third
of the incongruous fugitives. She had run there, seemingly,
blindfold; the wall had checked her career: and being entirely
wearied, she had sunk upon the ground beside the garden railings,
soiling her dress among the summer dust. Each saw the other in the
same instant of time; and she, with one wild look, sprang to her
feet and began to hurry from the scene.

Challoner was doubly startled to meet once more the heroine of his
adventure, and to observe the fear with which she shunned him.
Pity and alarm, in nearly equal forces, contested the possession of
his mind; and yet, in spite of both, he saw himself condemned to
follow in the lady's wake. He did so gingerly, as fearing to
increase her terrors; but, tread as lightly as he might, his
footfalls eloquently echoed in the empty street. Their sound
appeared to strike in her some strong emotion; for scarce had he
begun to follow ere she paused. A second time she addressed
herself to flight; and a second time she paused. Then she turned
about, and with doubtful steps and the most attractive appearance
of timidity, drew near to the young man. He on his side continued
to advance with similar signals of distress and bashfulness. At
length, when they were but some steps apart, he saw her eyes brim
over, and she reached out both her hands in eloquent appeal.

'Are you an English gentleman?' she cried.

The unhappy Challoner regarded her with consternation. He was the
spirit of fine courtesy, and would have blushed to fail in his
devoirs to any lady; but, in the other scale, he was a man averse
from amorous adventures. He looked east and west; but the houses
that looked down upon this interview remained inexorably shut; and
he saw himself, though in the full glare of the day's eye, cut off
from any human intervention. His looks returned at last upon the
suppliant. He remarked with irritation that she was charming both
in face and figure, elegantly dressed and gloved; a lady
undeniable; the picture of distress and innocence; weeping and lost
in the city of diurnal sleep.

'Madam,' he said, 'I protest you have no cause to fear intrusion;
and if I have appeared to follow you, the fault is in this street,
which has deceived us both.' An unmistakable relief appeared upon
the lady's face. 'I might have guessed it!' she exclaimed. 'Thank
you a thousand times! But at this hour, in this appalling silence,
and among all these staring windows, I am lost in terrors--oh, lost
in them!' she cried, her face blanching at the words. 'I beg you
to lend me your arm,' she added with the loveliest, suppliant
inflection. 'I dare not go alone; my nerve is gone--I had a shock,
oh, what a shock! I beg of you to be my escort.'

'My dear madam,' responded Challoner heavily, 'my arm is at your

'She took it and clung to it for a moment, struggling with her
sobs; and the next, with feverish hurry, began to lead him in the
direction of the city. One thing was plain, among so much that was
obscure: it was plain her fears were genuine. Still, as she went,
she spied around as if for dangers; and now she would shiver like a
person in a chill, and now clutch his arm in hers. To Challoner
her terror was at once repugnant and infectious; it gained and
mastered, while it still offended him; and he wailed in spirit and
longed for release.

'Madam,' he said at last, 'I am, of course, charmed to be of use to
any lady; but I confess I was bound in a direction opposite to that
you follow, and a word of explanation--'

'Hush!' she sobbed, 'not here--not here!'

The blood of Challoner ran cold. He might have thought the lady
mad; but his memory was charged with more perilous stuff; and in
view of the detonation, the smoke and the flight of the ill-
assorted trio, his mind was lost among mysteries. So they
continued to thread the maze of streets in silence, with the speed
of a guilty flight, and both thrilling with incommunicable terrors.
In time, however, and above all by their quick pace of walking, the
pair began to rise to firmer spirits; the lady ceased to peer about
the corners; and Challoner, emboldened by the resonant tread and
distant figure of a constable, returned to the charge with more of
spirit and directness.

'I thought,' said he, in the tone of conversation, 'that I had
indistinctly perceived you leaving a villa in the company of two

'Oh!' she said, 'you need not fear to wound me by the truth. You
saw me flee from a common lodging-house, and my companions were not
gentlemen. In such a case, the best of compliments is to be

'I thought,' resumed Challoner, encouraged as much as he was
surprised by the spirit of her reply, 'to have perceived, besides,
a certain odour. A noise, too--I do not know to what I should
compare it--'

'Silence!' she cried. 'You do not know the danger you invoke.
Wait, only wait; and as soon as we have left those streets, and got
beyond the reach of listeners, all shall be explained. Meanwhile,
avoid the topic. What a sight is this sleeping city!' she
exclaimed; and then, with a most thrilling voice, '"Dear God," she
quoted, "the very houses seem asleep, and all that mighty heart is
lying still."'

'I perceive, madam,' said he, 'you are a reader.'

'I am more than that,' she answered, with a sigh. 'I am a girl
condemned to thoughts beyond her age; and so untoward is my fate,
that this walk upon the arm of a stranger is like an interlude of

They had come by this time to the neighbourhood of the Victoria
Station and here, at a street corner, the young lady paused,
withdrew her arm from Challoner's, and looked up and down as though
in pain or indecision. Then, with a lovely change of countenance,
and laying her gloved hand upon his arm -

'What you already think of me,' she said, 'I tremble to conceive;
yet I must here condemn myself still further. Here I must leave
you, and here I beseech you to wait for my return. Do not attempt
to follow me or spy upon my actions. Suspend yet awhile your
judgment of a girl as innocent as your own sister; and do not,
above all, desert me. Stranger as you are, I have none else to
look to. You see me in sorrow and great fear; you are a gentleman,
courteous and kind: and when I beg for a few minutes' patience, I
make sure beforehand you will not deny me.'

Challoner grudgingly promised; and the young lady, with a grateful
eye-shot, vanished round the corner. But the force of her appeal
had been a little blunted; for the young man was not only destitute
of sisters, but of any female relative nearer than a great-aunt in
Wales. Now he was alone, besides, the spell that he had hitherto
obeyed began to weaken; he considered his behaviour with a sneer;
and plucking up the spirit of revolt, he started in pursuit. The
reader, if he has ever plied the fascinating trade of the
noctambulist, will not be unaware that, in the neighbourhood of the
great railway centres, certain early taverns inaugurate the
business of the day. It was into one of these that Challoner,
coming round the corner of the block, beheld his charming companion
disappear. To say he was surprised were inexact, for he had long
since left that sentiment behind him. Acute disgust and
disappointment seized upon his soul; and with silent oaths, he
damned this commonplace enchantress. She had scarce been gone a
second, ere the swing-doors reopened, and she appeared again in
company with a young man of mean and slouching attire. For some
five or six exchanges they conversed together with an animated air;
then the fellow shouldered again into the tap; and the young lady,
with something swifter than a walk, retraced her steps towards
Challoner. He saw her coming, a miracle of grace; her ankle, as
she hurried, flashing from her dress; her movements eloquent of
speed and youth; and though he still entertained some thoughts of
flight, they grew miserably fainter as the distance lessened.
Against mere beauty he was proof: it was her unmistakable
gentility that now robbed him of the courage of his cowardice.
With a proved adventuress he had acted strictly on his right; with
one who, in spite of all, he could not quite deny to be a lady, he
found himself disarmed. At the very corner from whence he had
spied upon her interview, she came upon him, still transfixed, and-
-'Ah!' she cried, with a bright flush of colour. 'Ah!

The sharpness of the attack somewhat restored the Squire of Dames
to the possession of himself.

'Madam,' he returned, with a fair show of stoutness, 'I do not
think that hitherto you can complain of any lack of generosity; I
have suffered myself to be led over a considerable portion of the
metropolis; and if I now request you to discharge me of my office
of protector, you have friends at hand who will be glad of the

She stood a moment dumb.

'It is well,' she said. 'Go! go, and may God help me! You have
seen me--me, an innocent girl! fleeing from a dire catastrophe and
haunted by sinister men; and neither pity, curiosity, nor honour
move you to await my explanation or to help in my distress. Go!'
she repeated. 'I am lost indeed.' And with a passionate gesture
she turned and fled along the street.

Challoner observed her retreat and disappear, an almost intolerable
sense of guilt contending with the profound sense that he was being
gulled. She was no sooner gone than the first of these feelings
took the upper hand; he felt, if he had done her less than justice,
that his conduct was a perfect model of the ungracious; the
cultured tone of her voice, her choice of language, and the elegant
decorum of her movements, cried out aloud against a harsh
construction; and between penitence and curiosity he began slowly
to follow in her wake. At the corner he had her once more full in
view. Her speed was failing like a stricken bird's. Even as he
looked, she threw her arm out gropingly, and fell and leaned
against the wall. At the spectacle, Challoner's fortitude gave
way. In a few strides he overtook her and, for the first time
removing his hat, assured her in the most moving terms of his
entire respect and firm desire to help her. He spoke at first
unheeded; but gradually it appeared that she began to comprehend
his words; she moved a little, and drew herself upright; and
finally, as with a sudden movement of forgiveness, turned on the
young man a countenance in which reproach and gratitude were
mingled. 'Ah, madam,' he cried, 'use me as you will!' And once
more, but now with a great air of deference, he offered her the
conduct of his arm. She took it with a sigh that struck him to the
heart; and they began once more to trace the deserted streets. But
now her steps, as though exhausted by emotion, began to linger on
the way; she leaned the more heavily upon his arm; and he, like the
parent bird, stooped fondly above his drooping convoy. Her
physical distress was not accompanied by any failing of her
spirits; and hearing her strike so soon into a playful and charming
vein of talk, Challoner could not sufficiently admire the
elasticity of his companion's nature. 'Let me forget,' she had
said, 'for one half hour, let me forget;' and sure enough, with the
very word, her sorrows appeared to be forgotten. Before every
house she paused, invented a name for the proprietor, and sketched
his character: here lived the old general whom she was to marry on
the fifth of the next month, there was the mansion of the rich
widow who had set her heart on Challoner; and though she still hung
wearily on the young man's arm, her laughter sounded low and
pleasant in his ears. 'Ah,' she sighed, by way of commentary, 'in
such a life as mine I must seize tight hold of any happiness that I
can find.'

When they arrived, in this leisurely manner, at the head of
Grosvenor Place, the gates of the park were opening and the
bedraggled company of night-walkers were being at last admitted
into that paradise of lawns. Challoner and his companion followed
the movement, and walked for awhile in silence in that
tatterdemalion crowd; but as one after another, weary with the
night's patrolling of the city pavement, sank upon the benches or
wandered into separate paths, the vast extent of the park had soon
utterly swallowed up the last of these intruders; and the pair
proceeded on their way alone in the grateful quiet of the morning.

Presently they came in sight of a bench, standing very open on a
mound of turf. The young lady looked about her with relief.

'Here,' she said, 'here at last we are secure from listeners.
Here, then, you shall learn and judge my history. I could not bear
that we should part, and that you should still suppose your
kindness squandered upon one who was unworthy.'

Thereupon she sat down upon the bench, and motioning Challoner to
take a place immediately beside her, began in the following words,
and with the greatest appearance of enjoyment, to narrate the story
of her life.


My father was a native of England, son of a cadet of a great,
ancient, but untitled family; and by some event, fault or
misfortune, he was driven to flee from the land of his birth and to
lay aside the name of his ancestors. He sought the States; and
instead of lingering in effeminate cities, pushed at once into the
far West with an exploring party of frontiersmen. He was no
ordinary traveller; for he was not only brave and impetuous by
character, but learned in many sciences, and above all in botany,
which he particularly loved. Thus it fell that, before many
months, Fremont himself, the nominal leader of the troop, courted
and bowed to his opinion.

They had pushed, as I have said, into the still unknown regions of
the West. For some time they followed the track of Mormon
caravans, guiding themselves in that vast and melancholy desert by
the skeletons of men and animals. Then they inclined their route a
little to the north, and, losing even these dire memorials, came
into a country of forbidding stillness.

I have often heard my father dwell upon the features of that ride:
rock, cliff, and barren moor alternated; the streams were very far
between; and neither beast nor bird disturbed the solitude. On the
fortieth day they had already run so short of food that it was
judged advisable to call a halt and scatter upon all sides to hunt.
A great fire was built, that its smoke might serve to rally them;
and each man of the party mounted and struck off at a venture into
the surrounding desert.

My father rode for many hours with a steep range of cliffs upon the
one hand, very black and horrible; and upon the other an unwatered
vale dotted with boulders like the site of some subverted city. At
length he found the slot of a great animal, and from the claw-marks
and the hair among the brush, judged that he was on the track of a
cinnamon bear of most unusual size. He quickened the pace of his
steed, and still following the quarry, came at last to the division
of two watersheds. On the far side the country was exceeding
intricate and difficult, heaped with boulders, and dotted here and
there with a few pines, which seemed to indicate the neighbourhood
of water. Here, then, he picketed his horse, and relying on his
trusty rifle, advanced alone into that wilderness.

Presently, in the great silence that reigned, he was aware of the
sound of running water to his right; and leaning in that direction,
was rewarded by a scene of natural wonder and human pathos
strangely intermixed. The stream ran at the bottom of a narrow and
winding passage, whose wall-like sides of rock were sometimes for
miles together unscalable by man. The water, when the stream was
swelled with rains, must have filled it from side to side; the
sun's rays only plumbed it in the hour of noon; the wind, in that
narrow and damp funnel, blew tempestuously. And yet, in the bottom
of this den, immediately below my father's eyes as he leaned over
the margin of the cliff, a party of some half a hundred men, women,
and children lay scattered uneasily among the rocks. They lay some
upon their backs, some prone, and not one stirring; their upturned
faces seemed all of an extraordinary paleness and emaciation; and
from time to time, above the washing of the stream, a faint sound
of moaning mounted to my father's ears.

While he thus looked, an old man got staggering to his feet,
unwound his blanket, and laid it, with great gentleness, on a young
girl who sat hard by propped against a rock. The girl did not seem
to be conscious of the act; and the old man, after having looked
upon her with the most engaging pity, returned to his former bed
and lay down again uncovered on the turf. But the scene had not
passed without observation even in that starving camp. From the
very outskirts of the party, a man with a white beard and seemingly
of venerable years, rose upon his knees, and came crawling
stealthily among the sleepers towards the girl; and judge of my
father's indignation, when he beheld this cowardly miscreant strip
from her both the coverings and return with them to his original
position. Here he lay down for a while below his spoils, and, as
my father imagined, feigned to be asleep; but presently he had
raised himself again upon one elbow, looked with sharp scrutiny at
his companions, and then swiftly carried his hand into his bosom
and thence to his mouth. By the movement of his jaws he must be
eating; in that camp of famine he had reserved a store of
nourishment; and while his companions lay in the stupor of
approaching death, secretly restored his powers.

My father was so incensed at what he saw that he raised his rifle;
and but for an accident, he has often declared, he would have shot
the fellow dead upon the spot. How different would then have been
my history! But it was not to be: even as he raised the barrel,
his eye lighted on the bear, as it crawled along a ledge some way
below him; and ceding to the hunters instinct, it was at the brute,
not at the man, that he discharged his piece. The bear leaped and
fell into a pool of the river; the canyon re-echoed the report; and
in a moment the camp was afoot. With cries that were scarce human,
stumbling, falling and throwing each other down, these starving
people rushed upon the quarry; and before my father, climbing down
by the ledge, had time to reach the level of the stream, many were
already satisfying their hunger on the raw flesh, and a fire was
being built by the more dainty.

His arrival was for some time unremarked. He stood in the midst of
these tottering and clay-faced marionettes; he was surrounded by
their cries; but their whole soul was fixed on the dead carcass;
even those who were too weak to move, lay, half-turned over, with
their eyes riveted upon the bear; and my father, seeing himself
stand as though invisible in the thick of this dreary hubbub, was
seized with a desire to weep. A touch upon the arm restrained him.
Turning about, he found himself face to face with the old man he
had so nearly killed; and yet, at the second glance, recognised him
for no old man at all, but one in the full strength of his years,
and of a strong, speaking, and intellectual countenance stigmatised
by weariness and famine. He beckoned my father near the cliff, and
there, in the most private whisper, begged for brandy. My father
looked at him with scorn: 'You remind me,' he said, 'of a
neglected duty. Here is my flask; it contains enough, I trust, to
revive the women of your party; and I will begin with her whom I
saw you robbing of her blankets.' And with that, not heeding his
appeals, my father turned his back upon the egoist.

The girl still lay reclined against the rock; she lay too far sunk
in the first stage of death to have observed the bustle round her
couch; but when my father had raised her head, put the flask to her
lips, and forced or aided her to swallow some drops of the
restorative, she opened her languid eyes and smiled upon him
faintly. Never was there a smile of a more touching sweetness;
never were eyes more deeply violet, more honestly eloquent of the
soul! I speak with knowledge, for these were the same eyes that
smiled upon me in the cradle. From her who was to be his wife, my
father, still jealously watched and followed by the man with the
grey beard, carried his attentions to all the women of the party,
and gave the last drainings of his flask to those among the men who
seemed in the most need.

'Is there none left? not a drop for me?' said the man with the

'Not one drop,' replied my father; 'and if you find yourself in
want, let me counsel you to put your hand into the pocket of your

'Ah!' cried the other, 'you misjudge me. You think me one who
clings to life for selfish and commonplace considerations. But let
me tell you, that were all this caravan to perish, the world would
but be lightened of a weight. These are but human insects,
pullulating, thick as May-flies, in the slums of European cities,
whom I myself have plucked from degradation and misery, from the
dung-heap and gin-palace door. And you compare their lives with

'You are then a Mormon missionary?' asked my father.

'Oh!' cried the man, with a strange smile, 'a Mormon missionary if
you will! I value not the title. Were I no more than that, I
could have died without a murmur. But with my life as a physician
is bound up the knowledge of great secrets and the future of man.
This it was, when we missed the caravan, tried for a short cut and
wandered to this desolate ravine, that ate into my soul, and, in
five days, has changed my beard from ebony to silver.'

'And you are a physician,' mused my father, looking on his face,
'bound by oath to succour man in his distresses.'

'Sir,' returned the Mormon, 'my name is Grierson: you will hear
that name again; and you will then understand that my duty was not
to this caravan of paupers, but to mankind at large.'

My father turned to the remainder of the party, who were now
sufficiently revived to hear; told them that he would set off at
once to bring help from his own party; 'and,' he added, 'if you be
again reduced to such extremities, look round you, and you will see
the earth strewn with assistance. Here, for instance, growing on
the under side of fissures in this cliff, you will perceive a
yellow moss. Trust me, it is both edible and excellent.'

'Ha!' said Doctor Grierson, 'you know botany!'

'Not I alone,' returned my father, lowering his voice; 'for see
where these have been scraped away. Am I right? Was that your
secret store?'

My father's comrades, he found, when he returned to the signal-
fire, had made a good day's hunting. They were thus the more
easily persuaded to extend assistance to the Mormon caravan; and
the next day beheld both parties on the march for the frontiers of
Utah. The distance to be traversed was not great; but the nature
of the country, and the difficulty of procuring food, extended the
time to nearly three weeks; and my father had thus ample leisure to
know and appreciate the girl whom he had succoured. I will call my
mother Lucy. Her family name I am not at liberty to mention; it is
one you would know well. By what series of undeserved calamities
this innocent flower of maidenhood, lovely, refined by education,
ennobled by the finest taste, was thus cast among the horrors of a
Mormon caravan, I must not stay to tell you. Let it suffice, that
even in these untoward circumstances, she found a heart worthy of
her own. The ardour of attachment which united my father and
mother was perhaps partly due to the strange manner of their
meeting; it knew, at least, no bounds either divine or human; my
father, for her sake, determined to renounce his ambitions and
abjure his faith; and a week had not yet passed upon the march
before he had resigned from his party, accepted the Mormon
doctrine, and received the promise of my mother's hand on the
arrival of the party at Salt Lake.

The marriage took place, and I was its only offspring. My father
prospered exceedingly in his affairs, remained faithful to my
mother; and though you may wonder to hear it, I believe there were
few happier homes in any country than that in which I saw the light
and grew to girlhood. We were, indeed, and in spite of all our
wealth, avoided as heretics and half-believers by the more precise
and pious of the faithful: Young himself, that formidable tyrant,
was known to look askance upon my father's riches; but of this I
had no guess. I dwelt, indeed, under the Mormon system, with
perfect innocence and faith. Some of our friends had many wives;
but such was the custom; and why should it surprise me more than
marriage itself? From time to time one of our rich acquaintances
would disappear, his family be broken up, his wives and houses
shared among the elders of the Church, and his memory only recalled
with bated breath and dreadful headshakings. When I had been very
still, and my presence perhaps was forgotten, some such topic would
arise among my elders by the evening fire; I would see them draw
the closer together and look behind them with scared eyes; and I
might gather from their whisperings how some one, rich, honoured,
healthy, and in the prime of his days, some one, perhaps, who had
taken me on his knees a week before, had in one hour been spirited
from home and family, and vanished like an image from a mirror,
leaving not a print behind. It was terrible, indeed; but so was
death, the universal law. And even if the talk should wax still
bolder, full of ominous silences and nods, and I should hear named
in a whisper the Destroying Angels, how was a child to understand
these mysteries? I heard of a Destroying Angel as some more happy
child might hear in England of a bishop or a rural dean, with vague
respect and without the wish for further information. Life
anywhere, in society as in nature, rests upon dread foundations; I
beheld safe roads, a garden blooming in the desert, pious people
crowding to worship; I was aware of my parents' tenderness and all
the harmless luxuries of my existence; and why should I pry beneath
this honest seeming surface for the mysteries on which it stood?

We dwelt originally in the city; but at an early date we moved to a
beautiful house in a green dingle, musical with splashing water,
and surrounded on almost every side by twenty miles of poisonous
and rocky desert. The city was thirty miles away; there was but
one road, which went no further than my father's door; the rest
were bridle-tracks impassable in winter; and we thus dwelt in a
solitude inconceivable to the European. Our only neighbour was Dr.
Grierson. To my young eyes, after the hair-oiled, chin-bearded
elders of the city, and the ill-favoured and mentally stunted women
of their harems, there was something agreeable in the correct
manner, the fine bearing, the thin white hair and beard, and the
piercing looks of the old doctor. Yet, though he was almost our
only visitor, I never wholly overcame a sense of fear in his
presence; and this disquietude was rather fed by the awful solitude
in which he lived and the obscurity that hung about his
occupations. His house was but a mile or two from ours, but very
differently placed. It stood overlooking the road on the summit of
a steep slope, and planted close against a range of overhanging
bluffs. Nature, you would say, had here desired to imitate the
works of man; for the slope was even, like the glacis of a fort,
and the cliffs of a constant height, like the ramparts of a city.
Not even spring could change one feature of that desolate scene;
and the windows looked down across a plain, snowy with alkali, to
ranges of cold stone sierras on the north. Twice or thrice I
remember passing within view of this forbidding residence; and
seeing it always shuttered, smokeless, and deserted, I remarked to
my parents that some day it would certainly be robbed.

'Ah, no,' said my father, 'never robbed;' and I observed a strange
conviction in his tone.

At last, and not long before the blow fell on my unhappy family, I
chanced to see the doctor's house in a new light. My father was
ill; my mother confined to his bedside; and I was suffered to go,
under the charge of our driver, to the lonely house some twenty
miles away, where our packages were left for us. The horse cast a
shoe; night overtook us halfway home; and it was well on for three
in the morning when the driver and I, alone in a light waggon, came
to that part of the road which ran below the doctor's house. The
moon swam clear; the cliffs and mountains in this strong light lay
utterly deserted; but the house, from its station on the top of the
long slope and close under the bluff, not only shone abroad from
every window like a place of festival, but from the great chimney
at the west end poured forth a coil of smoke so thick and so
voluminous, that it hung for miles along the windless night air,
and its shadow lay far abroad in the moonlight upon the glittering
alkali. As we continued to draw near, besides, a regular and
panting throb began to divide the silence. First it seemed to me
like the beating of a heart; and next it put into my mind the
thought of some giant, smothered under mountains and still, with
incalculable effort, fetching breath. I had heard of the railway,
though I had not seen it, and I turned to ask the driver if this
resembled it. But some look in his eye, some pallor, whether of
fear or moonlight on his face, caused the words to die upon my
lips. We continued, therefore, to advance in silence, till we were
close below the lighted house; when suddenly, without one
premonitory rustle, there burst forth a report of such a bigness
that it shook the earth and set the echoes of the mountains
thundering from cliff to cliff. A pillar of amber flame leaped
from the chimney-top and fell in multitudes of sparks; and at the
same time the lights in the windows turned for one instant ruby red
and then expired. The driver had checked his horse instinctively,
and the echoes were still rumbling farther off among the mountains,
when there broke from the now darkened interior a series of yells--
whether of man or woman it was impossible to guess--the door flew
open, and there ran forth into the moonlight, at the top of the
long slope, a figure clad in white, which began to dance and leap
and throw itself down, and roll as if in agony, before the house.
I could no more restrain my cries; the driver laid his lash about
the horse's flank, and we fled up the rough track at the peril of
our lives; and did not draw rein till, turning the corner of the
mountain, we beheld my father's ranch and deep, green groves and
gardens, sleeping in the tranquil light.

This was the one adventure of my life, until my father had climbed
to the very topmost point of material prosperity, and I myself had
reached the age of seventeen. I was still innocent and merry like
a child; tended my garden or ran upon the hills in glad simplicity;
gave not a thought to coquetry or to material cares; and if my eye
rested on my own image in a mirror or some sylvan spring, it was to
seek and recognise the features of my parents. But the fears which
had long pressed on others were now to be laid on my youth. I had
thrown myself, one sultry, cloudy afternoon, on a divan; the
windows stood open on the verandah, where my mother sat with her
embroidery; and when my father joined her from the garden, their
conversation, clearly audible to me, was of so startling a nature
that it held me enthralled where I lay.

'The blow has come,' my father said, after a long pause.

I could hear my mother start and turn, but in words she made no

'Yes,' continued my father, 'I have received to-day a list of all
that I possess; of all, I say; of what I have lent privately to men
whose lips are sealed with terror; of what I have buried with my
own hand on the bare mountain, when there was not a bird in heaven.
Does the air, then, carry secrets? Are the hills of glass? Do the
stones we tread upon preserve the footprint to betray us? Oh,
Lucy, Lucy, that we should have come to such a country!'

'But this,' returned my mother, 'is no very new or very threatening
event. You are accused of some concealment. You will pay more
taxes in the future, and be mulcted in a fine. It is disquieting,
indeed, to find our acts so spied upon, and the most private known.
But is this new? Have we not long feared and suspected every blade
of grass?'

'Ay, and our shadows!' cried my father. 'But all this is nothing.
Here is the letter that accompanied the list.'

I heard my mother turn the pages, and she was some time silent.

'I see,' she said at last; and then, with the tone of one reading:
'"From a believer so largely blessed by Providence with this
world's goods,"' she continued, '"the Church awaits in confidence
some signal mark of piety." There lies the sting. Am I not right?
These are the words you fear?'

'These are the words,' replied my father. 'Lucy, you remember
Priestley? Two days before he disappeared, he carried me to the
summit of an isolated butte; we could see around us for ten miles;
sure, if in any quarter of this land a man were safe from spies, it
were in such a station; but it was in the very ague-fit of terror
that he told me, and that I heard, his story. He had received a
letter such as this; and he submitted to my approval an answer, in
which he offered to resign a third of his possessions. I conjured
him, as he valued life, to raise his offering; and, before we
parted, he had doubled the amount. Well, two days later he was
gone--gone from the chief street of the city in the hour of noon--
and gone for ever. O God!' cried my father, 'by what art do they
thus spirit out of life the solid body? What death do they command
that leaves no traces? that this material structure, these strong
arms, this skeleton that can resist the grave for centuries, should
be thus reft in a moment from the world of sense? A horror dwells
in that thought more awful than mere death.'

'Is there no hope in Grierson?' asked my mother.

'Dismiss the thought,' replied my father. 'He now knows all that I
can teach, and will do naught to save me. His power, besides, is
small, his own danger not improbably more imminent than mine; for
he, too, lives apart; he leaves his wives neglected and unwatched;
he is openly cited for an unbeliever; and unless he buys security
at a more awful price--but no; I will not believe it: I have no
love for him, but I will not believe it.'

'Believe what?' asked my mother; and then, with a change of note,
'But oh, what matters it?' she cried. 'Abimelech, there is but one
way open: we must fly!'

'It is in vain,' returned my father. 'I should but involve you in
my fate. To leave this land is hopeless: we are closed in it as
men are closed in life; and there is no issue but the grave.'

'We can but die then,' replied my mother. 'Let us at least die
together. Let not Asenath {2} and myself survive you. Think to
what a fate we should be doomed!'

My father was unable to resist her tender violence; and though I
could see he nourished not one spark of hope, he consented to
desert his whole estate, beyond some hundreds of dollars that he
had by him at the moment, and to flee that night, which promised to
be dark and cloudy. As soon as the servants were asleep, he was to
load two mules with provisions; two others were to carry my mother
and myself; and, striking through the mountains by an unfrequented
trail, we were to make a fair stroke for liberty and life. As soon
as they had thus decided, I showed myself at the window, and,
owning that I had heard all, assured them that they could rely on
my prudence and devotion. I had no fear, indeed, but to show
myself unworthy of my birth; I held my life in my hand without
alarm; and when my father, weeping upon my neck, had blessed Heaven
for the courage of his child, it was with a sentiment of pride and
some of the joy that warriors take in war, that I began to look
forward to the perils of our flight.

Before midnight, under an obscure and starless heaven, we had left
far behind us the plantations of the valley, and were mounting a
certain canyon in the hills, narrow, encumbered with great rocks,
and echoing with the roar of a tumultuous torrent. Cascade after
cascade thundered and hung up its flag of whiteness in the night,
or fanned our faces with the wet wind of its descent. The trail
was breakneck, and led to famine-guarded deserts; it had been long
since deserted for more practicable routes; and it was now a part
of the world untrod from year to year by human footing. Judge of
our dismay, when turning suddenly an angle of the cliffs, we found
a bright bonfire blazing by itself under an impending rock; and on
the face of the rock, drawn very rudely with charred wood, the
great Open Eye which is the emblem of the Mormon faith. We looked
upon each other in the firelight; my mother broke into a passion of
tears; but not a word was said. The mules were turned about; and
leaving that great eye to guard the lonely canyon, we retraced our
steps in silence. Day had not yet broken ere we were once more at
home, condemned beyond reprieve.

What answer my father sent I was not told; but two days later, a
little before sundown, I saw a plain, honest-looking man ride
slowly up the road in a great pother of dust. He was clad in
homespun, with a broad straw hat; wore a patriarchal beard; and had
an air of a simple rustic farmer, that was, in my eyes, very
reassuring. He was, indeed, a very honest man and pious Mormon;
with no liking for his errand, though neither he nor any one in
Utah dared to disobey; and it was with every mark of diffidence
that he had had himself announced as Mr. Aspinwall, and entered the
room where our unhappy family was gathered. My mother and me, he
awkwardly enough dismissed; and as soon as he was alone with my
father laid before him a blank signature of President Young's, and
offered him a choice of services: either to set out as a
missionary to the tribes about the White Sea, or to join the next
day, with a party of Destroying Angels, in the massacre of sixty
German immigrants. The last, of course, my father could not
entertain, and the first he regarded as a pretext: even if he
could consent to leave his wife defenceless, and to collect fresh
victims for the tyranny under which he was himself oppressed, he
felt sure he would never be suffered to return. He refused both;
and Aspinwall, he said, betrayed sincere emotion, part religious,
at the spectacle of such disobedience, but part human, in pity for
my father and his family. He besought him to reconsider his
decision; and at length, finding he could not prevail, gave him
till the moon rose to settle his affairs, and say farewell to wife
and daughter. 'For,' said he, 'then, at the latest, you must ride
with me.'

I dare not dwell upon the hours that followed: they fled all too
fast; and presently the moon out-topped the eastern range, and my
father and Mr. Aspinwall set forth, side by side, on their
nocturnal journey. My mother, though still bearing an heroic
countenance, had hastened to shut herself in her apartment,
thenceforward solitary; and I, alone in the dark house, and
consumed by grief and apprehension, made haste to saddle my Indian
pony, to ride up to the corner of the mountain, and to enjoy one
farewell sight of my departing father. The two men had set forth
at a deliberate pace; nor was I long behind them, when I reached
the point of view. I was the more amazed to see no moving creature
in the landscape. The moon, as the saying is, shone bright as day;
and nowhere, under the whole arch of night, was there a growing
tree, a bush, a farm, a patch of tillage, or any evidence of man,
but one. From the corner where I stood, a rugged bastion of the
line of bluffs concealed the doctor's house; and across the top of
that projection the soft night wind carried and unwound about the
hills a coil of sable smoke. What fuel could produce a vapour so
sluggish to dissipate in that dry air, or what furnace pour it
forth so copiously, I was unable to conceive; but I knew well
enough that it came from the doctor's chimney; I saw well enough
that my father had already disappeared; and in despite of reason, I
connected in my mind the loss of that dear protector with the
ribbon of foul smoke that trailed along the mountains.

Days passed, and still my mother and I waited in vain for news; a
week went by, a second followed, but we heard no word of the father
and husband. As smoke dissipates, as the image glides from the
mirror, so in the ten or twenty minutes that I had spent in getting
my horse and following upon his trail, had that strong and brave
man vanished out of life. Hope, if any hope we had, fled with
every hour; the worst was now certain for my father, the worst was
to be dreaded for his defenceless family. Without weakness, with a
desperate calm at which I marvel when I look back upon it, the
widow and the orphan awaited the event. On the last day of the
third week we rose in the morning to find ourselves alone in the
house, alone, so far as we searched, on the estate; all our
attendants, with one accord, had fled: and as we knew them to be
gratefully devoted, we drew the darkest intimations from their
flight. The day passed, indeed, without event; but in the fall of
the evening we were called at last into the verandah by the
approaching clink of horse's hoofs.

The doctor, mounted on an Indian pony, rode into the garden,
dismounted, and saluted us. He seemed much more bent, and his hair
more silvery than ever; but his demeanour was composed, serious,
and not unkind.

'Madam,' said he, 'I am come upon a weighty errand; and I would
have you recognise it as an effect of kindness in the President,
that he should send as his ambassador your only neighbour and your
husband's oldest friend in Utah.'

'Sir,' said my mother, 'I have but one concern, one thought. You
know well what it is. Speak: my husband?'

'Madam,' returned the doctor, taking a chair on the verandah, 'if
you were a silly child, my position would now be painfully
embarrassing. You are, on the other hand, a woman of great
intelligence and fortitude: you have, by my forethought, been
allowed three weeks to draw your own conclusions and to accept the
inevitable. Farther words from me are, I conceive, superfluous.'

My mother was as pale as death, and trembled like a reed; I gave
her my hand, and she kept it in the folds of her dress and wrung it
till I could have cried aloud. 'Then, sir,' said she at last, 'you
speak to deaf ears. If this be indeed so, what have I to do with
errands? What do I ask of Heaven but to die?'

'Come,' said the doctor, 'command yourself. I bid you dismiss all
thoughts of your late husband, and bring a clear mind to bear upon
your own future and the fate of that young girl.'

'You bid me dismiss--' began my mother. 'Then you know!' she

'I know,' replied the doctor.

'You know?' broke out the poor woman. 'Then it was you who did the
deed! I tear off the mask, and with dread and loathing see you as
you are--you, whom the poor fugitive beholds in nightmares, and
awakes raving--you, the Destroying Angel!'

'Well, madam, and what then?' returned the doctor. 'Have not my
fate and yours been similar? Are we not both immured in this
strong prison of Utah? Have you not tried to flee, and did not the
Open Eye confront you in the canyon? Who can escape the watch of
that unsleeping eye of Utah? Not I, at least. Horrible tasks
have, indeed, been laid upon me; and the most ungrateful was the
last; but had I refused my offices, would that have spared your
husband? You know well it would not. I, too, had perished along
with him; nor would I have been able to alleviate his last moments,
nor could I to-day have stood between his family and the hand of
Brigham Young.'

'Ah!' cried I, 'and could you purchase life by such concessions?'

'Young lady,' answered the doctor, 'I both could and did; and you
will live to thank me for that baseness. You have a spirit,
Asenath, that it pleases me to recognise. But we waste time. Mr.
Fonblanque's estate reverts, as you doubtless imagine, to the
Church; but some part of it has been reserved for him who is to
marry the family; and that person, I should perhaps tell you
without more delay, is no other than myself.'

At this odious proposal my mother and I cried out aloud, and clung
together like lost souls.

'It is as I supposed,' resumed the doctor, with the same measured
utterance. 'You recoil from this arrangement. Do you expect me to
convince you? You know very well that I have never held the Mormon
view of women. Absorbed in the most arduous studies, I have left
the slatterns whom they call my wives to scratch and quarrel among
themselves; of me, they have had nothing but my purse; such was not
the union I desired, even if I had the leisure to pursue it. No:
you need not, madam, and my old friend'--and here the doctor rose
and bowed with something of gallantry--'you need not apprehend my
importunities. On the contrary, I am rejoiced to read in you a
Roman spirit; and if I am obliged to bid you follow me at once, and
that in the name, not of my wish, but of my orders, I hope it will
be found that we are of a common mind.'

So, bidding us dress for the road, he took a lamp (for the night
had now fallen) and set off to the stable to prepare our horses.

'What does it mean?--what will become of us?' I cried.

'Not that, at least,' replied my mother, shuddering. 'So far we
can trust him. I seem to read among his words a certain tragic
promise. Asenath, if I leave you, if I die, you will not forget
your miserable parents?'

Thereupon we fell to cross-purposes: I beseeching her to explain
her words; she putting me by, and continuing to recommend the
doctor for a friend. 'The doctor!' I cried at last; 'the man who
killed my father?'

'Nay,' said she, 'let us be just. I do believe before, Heaven, he
played the friendliest part. And he alone, Asenath, can protect
you in this land of death.'

At this the doctor returned, leading our two horses; and when we
were all in the saddle, he bade me ride on before, as he had matter
to discuss with Mrs. Fonblanque. They came at a foot's pace,
eagerly conversing in a whisper; and presently after the moon rose
and showed them looking eagerly in each other's faces as they went,
my mother laying her hand upon the doctor's arm, and the doctor
himself, against his usual custom, making vigorous gestures of
protest or asseveration.

At the foot of the track which ascended the talus of the mountain
to his door, the doctor overtook me at a trot.

'Here,' he said, 'we shall dismount; and as your mother prefers to
be alone, you and I shall walk together to my house.'

'Shall I see her again?' I asked.

'I give you my word,' he said, and helped me to alight. 'We leave
the horses here,' he added. 'There are no thieves in this stone

The track mounted gradually, keeping the house in view. The
windows were once more bright; the chimney once more vomited smoke;
but the most absolute silence reigned, and, but for the figure of
my mother very slowly following in our wake, I felt convinced there
was no human soul within a range of miles. At the thought, I
looked upon the doctor, gravely walking by my side, with his bowed
shoulders and white hair, and then once more at his house, lit up
and pouring smoke like some industrious factory. And then my
curiosity broke forth. 'In Heaven's name,' I cried, 'what do you
make in this inhuman desert?'

He looked at me with a peculiar smile, and answered with an evasion

'This is not the first time,' said he, 'that you have seen my
furnaces alight. One morning, in the small hours, I saw you
driving past; a delicate experiment miscarried; and I cannot acquit
myself of having startled either your driver or the horse that drew

'What!' cried I, beholding again in fancy the antics of the figure,
'could that be you?'

'It was I,' he replied; 'but do not fancy that I was mad. I was in
agony. I had been scalded cruelly.'

We were now near the house, which, unlike the ordinary houses of
the country, was built of hewn stone and very solid. Stone, too,
was its foundation, stone its background. Not a blade of grass
sprouted among the broken mineral about the walls, not a flower
adorned the windows. Over the door, by way of sole adornment, the
Mormon Eye was rudely sculptured; I had been brought up to view
that emblem from my childhood; but since the night of our escape,
it had acquired a new significance, and set me shrinking. The
smoke rolled voluminously from the chimney top, its edges ruddy
with the fire; and from the far corner of the building, near the
ground, angry puffs of steam shone snow-white in the moon and

The doctor opened the door and paused upon the threshold. 'You ask
me what I make here,' he observed. 'Two things: Life and Death.'
And he motioned me to enter.

'I shall await my mother,' said I.

'Child,' he replied, 'look at me: am I not old and broken? Of us
two, which is the stronger, the young maiden or the withered man?'

I bowed, and passing by him, entered a vestibule or kitchen, lit by
a good fire and a shaded reading-lamp. It was furnished only with
a dresser, a rude table, and some wooden benches; and on one of
these the doctor motioned me to take a seat; and passing by another
door into the interior of the house, he left me to myself.
Presently I heard the jar of iron from the far end of the building;
and this was followed by the same throbbing noise that had startled
me in the valley, but now so near at hand as to be menacing by
loudness, and even to shake the house with every recurrence of the
stroke. I had scarce time to master my alarm when the doctor
returned, and almost in the same moment my mother appeared upon the
threshold. But how am I to describe to you the peace and
ravishment of that face? Years seemed to have passed over her head
during that brief ride, and left her younger and fairer; her eyes
shone, her smile went to my heart; she seemed no more a woman but
the angel of ecstatic tenderness. I ran to her in a kind of
terror; but she shrank a little back and laid her finger on her
lips, with something arch and yet unearthly. To the doctor, on the
contrary, she reached out her hand as to a friend and helper; and
so strange was the scene that I forgot to be offended.

'Lucy,' said the doctor, 'all is prepared. Will you go alone, or
shall your daughter follow us?'

'Let Asenath come,' she answered, 'dear Asenath! At this hour,
when I am purified of fear and sorrow, and already survive myself
and my affections, it is for your sake, and not for mine, that I
desire her presence. Were she shut out, dear friend, it is to be
feared she might misjudge your kindness.'

'Mother,' I cried wildly, 'mother, what is this?'

But my mother, with her radiant smile, said only 'Hush!' as though
I were a child again, and tossing in some fever-fit; and the doctor
bade me be silent and trouble her no more. 'You have made a
choice,' he continued, addressing my mother, 'that has often
strangely tempted me. The two extremes: all, or else nothing;
never, or this very hour upon the clock--these have been my
incongruous desires. But to accept the middle term, to be content
with a half-gift, to flicker awhile and to burn out--never for an
hour, never since I was born, has satisfied the appetite of my
ambition.' He looked upon my mother fixedly, much of admiration
and some touch of envy in his eyes; then, with a profound sigh, he
led the way into the inner room.

It was very long. From end to end it was lit up by many lamps,
which by the changeful colour of their light, and by the incessant
snapping sounds with which they burned, I have since divined to be
electric. At the extreme end an open door gave us a glimpse into
what must have been a lean-to shed beside the chimney; and this, in
strong contrast to the room, was painted with a red reverberation
as from furnace-doors. The walls were lined with books and glazed
cases, the tables crowded with the implements of chemical research;
great glass accumulators glittered in the light; and through a hole
in the gable near the shed door, a heavy driving-belt entered the
apartment and ran overhead upon steel pulleys, with clumsy activity
and many ghostly and fluttering sounds. In one corner I perceived
a chair resting upon crystal feet, and curiously wreathed with
wire. To this my mother advanced with a decisive swiftness.

'Is this it?' she asked.

The doctor bowed in silence.

'Asenath,' said my mother, 'in this sad end of my life I have found
one helper. Look upon him: it is Doctor Grierson. Be not, oh my
daughter, be not ungrateful to that friend!'

She sate upon the chair, and took in her hands the globes that
terminated the arms.

'Am I right?' she asked, and looked upon the doctor with such a
radiancy of face that I trembled for her reason. Once more the
doctor bowed, but this time leaning hard against the wall. He must
have touched a spring. The least shock agitated my mother where
she sat; the least passing jar appeared to cross her features; and
she sank back in the chair like one resigned to weariness. I was
at her knees that moment; but her hands fell loosely in my grasp;
her face, still beatified with the same touching smile, sank
forward on her bosom: her spirit had for ever fled.

I do not know how long may have elapsed before, raising for a
moment my tearful face, I met the doctor's eyes. They rested upon
mine with such a depth of scrutiny, pity, and interest, that even
from the freshness of my sorrow, I was startled into attention.

'Enough,' he said, 'to lamentation. Your mother went to death as
to a bridal, dying where her husband died. It is time, Asenath, to
think of the survivors. Follow me to the next room.'

I followed him, like a person in a dream; he made me sit by the
fire, he gave me wine to drink; and then, pacing the stone floor,
he thus began to address me -

'You are now, my child, alone in the world, and under the immediate
watch of Brigham Young. It would be your lot, in ordinary
circumstances, to become the fiftieth bride of some ignoble elder,
or by particular fortune, as fortune is counted in this land, to
find favour in the eyes of the President himself. Such a fate for
a girl like you were worse than death; better to die as your mother
died than to sink daily deeper in the mire of this pit of woman's
degradation. But is escape conceivable? Your father tried; and
you beheld yourself with what security his jailers acted, and how a
dumb drawing on a rock was counted a sufficient sentry over the
avenues of freedom. Where your father failed, will you be wiser or
more fortunate? or are you, too, helpless in the toils?'

I had followed his words with changing emotion, but now I believed
I understood.

'I see,' I cried; 'you judge me rightly. I must follow where my
parents led; and oh! I am not only willing, I am eager!'

'No,' replied the doctor, 'not death for you. The flawed vessel we
may break, but not the perfect. No, your mother cherished a
different hope, and so do I. I see,' he cried, 'the girl develop
to the completed woman, the plan reach fulfilment, the promise--ay,
outdone! I could not bear to arrest so lively, so comely a
process. It was your mother's thought,' he added, with a change of
tone, 'that I should marry you myself.' I fear I must have shown a
perfect horror of aversion from this fate, for he made haste to
quiet me. 'Reassure yourself, Asenath,' he resumed. 'Old as I am,
I have not forgotten the tumultuous fancies of youth. I have
passed my days, indeed, in laboratories; but in all my vigils I
have not forgotten the tune of a young pulse. Age asks with
timidity to be spared intolerable pain; youth, taking fortune by
the beard, demands joy like a right. These things I have not
forgotten; none, rather, has more keenly felt, none more jealously
considered them; I have but postponed them to their day. See,
then: you stand without support; the only friend left to you, this
old investigator, old in cunning, young in sympathy. Answer me but
one question: Are you free from the entanglement of what the world
calls love? Do you still command your heart and purposes? or are
you fallen in some bond-slavery of the eye and ear?'

I answered him in broken words; my heart, I think I must have told
him, lay with my dead parents.

'It is enough,' he said. 'It has been my fate to be called on
often, too often, for those services of which we spoke to-night;
none in Utah could carry them so well to a conclusion; hence there
has fallen into my hands a certain share of influence which I now
lay at your service, partly for the sake of my dead friends, your
parents; partly for the interest I bear you in your own right. I
shall send you to England, to the great city of London, there to
await the bridegroom I have selected. He shall be a son of mine, a
young man suitable in age and not grossly deficient in that quality
of beauty that your years demand. Since your heart is free, you
may well pledge me the sole promise that I ask in return for much
expense and still more danger: to await the arrival of that
bridegroom with the delicacy of a wife.'

I sat awhile stunned. The doctor's marriages, I remembered to have
heard, had been unfruitful; and this added perplexity to my
distress. But I was alone, as he had said, alone in that dark
land; the thought of escape, of any equal marriage, was already
enough to revive in me some dawn of hope; and in what words I know
not, I accepted the proposal.

He seemed more moved by my consent than I could reasonably have
looked for. 'You shall see,' he cried; 'you shall judge for
yourself.' And hurrying to the next room he returned with a small
portrait somewhat coarsely done in oils. It showed a man in the
dress of nearly forty years before, young indeed, but still
recognisable to be the doctor. 'Do you like it?' he asked. 'That
is myself when I was young. My--my boy will be like that, like but
nobler; with such health as angels might condescend to envy; and a
man of mind, Asenath, of commanding mind. That should be a man, I
think; that should be one among ten thousand. A man like that--one
to combine the passions of youth with the restraint, the force, the
dignity of age--one to fill all the parts and faculties, one to be
man's epitome--say, will that not satisfy the needs of an ambitious
girl? Say, is not that enough?' And as he held the picture close
before my eyes, his hands shook.

I told him briefly I would ask no better, for I was transpierced
with this display of fatherly emotion; but even as I said the
words, the most insolent revolt surged through my arteries. I held
him in horror, him, his portrait, and his son; and had there been
any choice but death or a Mormon marriage, I declare before Heaven
I had embraced it.

'It is well,' he replied, 'and I had rightly counted on your
spirit. Eat, then, for you have far to go.' So saying, he set
meat before me; and while I was endeavouring to obey, he left the
room and returned with an armful of coarse raiment. 'There,' said
he, 'is your disguise. I leave you to your toilet.'

The clothes had probably belonged to a somewhat lubberly boy of
fifteen; and they hung about me like a sack, and cruelly hampered
my movements. But what filled me with uncontrollable shudderings,
was the problem of their origin and the fate of the lad to whom
they had belonged. I had scarcely effected the exchange when the
doctor returned, opened a back window, helped me out into the
narrow space between the house and the overhanging bluffs, and
showed me a ladder of iron footholds mortised in the rock.
'Mount,' he said, 'swiftly. When you are at the summit, walk, so
far as you are able, in the shadow of the smoke. The smoke will
bring you, sooner or later, to a canyon; follow that down, and you
will find a man with two horses. Him you will implicitly obey.
And remember, silence! That machinery, which I now put in motion
for your service, may by one word be turned against you. Go;
Heaven prosper you!'

The ascent was easy. Arrived at the top of the cliff, I saw before
me on the other side a vast and gradual declivity of stone, lying
bare to the moon and the surrounding mountains. Nowhere was any
vantage or concealment; and knowing how these deserts were beset
with spies, I made haste to veil my movements under the blowing
trail of smoke. Sometimes it swam high, rising on the night wind,
and I had no more substantial curtain than its moon-thrown shadow;
sometimes again it crawled upon the earth, and I would walk in it,
no higher than to my shoulders, like some mountain fog. But, one
way or another, the smoke of that ill-omened furnace protected the
first steps of my escape, and led me unobserved to the canyon.

There, sure enough, I found a taciturn and sombre man beside a pair
of saddle-horses; and thenceforward, all night long, we wandered in
silence by the most occult and dangerous paths among the mountains.
A little before the dayspring we took refuge in a wet and gusty
cavern at the bottom of a gorge; lay there all day concealed; and
the next night, before the glow had faded out of the west, resumed
our wanderings. About noon we stopped again, in a lawn upon a
little river, where was a screen of bushes; and here my guide,
handing me a bundle from his pack, bade me change my dress once
more. The bundle contained clothing of my own, taken from our
house, with such necessaries as a comb and soap. I made my toilet
by the mirror of a quiet pool; and as I was so doing, and smiling
with some complacency to see myself restored to my own image, the
mountains rang with a scream of far more than human piercingness;
and while I still stood astonished, there sprang up and swiftly
increased a storm of the most awful and earth-rending sounds.
Shall I own to you, that I fell upon my face and shrieked? And yet
this was but the overland train winding among the near mountains:
the very means of my salvation: the strong wings that were to
carry me from Utah!

When I was dressed, the guide gave me a bag, which contained, he
said, both money and papers; and telling me that I was already over
the borders in the territory of Wyoming, bade me follow the stream
until I reached the railway station, half a mile below. 'Here,' he
added, 'is your ticket as far as Council Bluffs. The East express
will pass in a few hours.' With that, he took both horses, and,
without further words or any salutation, rode off by the way that
we had come.

Three hours afterwards, I was seated on the end platform of the
train as it swept eastward through the gorges and thundered in
tunnels of the mountain. The change of scene, the sense of escape,
the still throbbing terror of pursuit--above all, the astounding
magic of my new conveyance, kept me from any logical or melancholy
thought. I had gone to the doctor's house two nights before
prepared to die, prepared for worse than death; what had passed,
terrible although it was, looked almost bright compared to my
anticipations; and it was not till I had slept a full night in the
flying palace car, that I awoke to the sense of my irreparable loss
and to some reasonable alarm about the future. In this mood, I
examined the contents of the bag. It was well supplied with gold;
it contained tickets and complete directions for my journey as far
as Liverpool, and a long letter from the doctor, supplying me with
a fictitious name and story, recommending the most guarded silence,
and bidding me to await faithfully the coming of his son. All then
had been arranged beforehand: he had counted upon my consent, and
what was tenfold worse, upon my mother's voluntary death. My
horror of my only friend, my aversion for this son who was to marry
me, my revolt against the whole current and conditions of my life,
were now complete. I was sitting stupefied by my distress and
helplessness, when, to my joy, a very pleasant lady offered me her
conversation. I clutched at the relief; and I was soon glibly
telling her the story in the doctor's letter: how I was a Miss
Gould, of Nevada City, going to England to an uncle, what money I
had, what family, my age, and so forth, until I had exhausted my
instructions, and, as the lady still continued to ply me with
questions, began to embroider on my own account. This soon carried
one of my inexperience beyond her depth; and I had already remarked
a shadow on the lady's face, when a gentleman drew near and very
civilly addressed me.

'Miss Gould, I believe?' said he; and then, excusing himself to the
lady by the authority of my guardian, drew me to the fore platform
of the Pullman car. 'Miss Gould,' he said in my ear, 'is it
possible that you suppose yourself in safety? Let me completely
undeceive you. One more such indiscretion and you return to Utah.
And, in the meanwhile, if this woman should again address you, you
are to reply with these words: "Madam, I do not like you, and I
will be obliged if you will suffer me to choose my own

Alas, I had to do as I was bid; this lady, to whom I already felt
myself drawn with the strongest cords of sympathy, I dismissed with
insult; and thenceforward, through all that day, I sat in silence,
gazing on the bare plains and swallowing my tears. Let that
suffice: it was the pattern of my journey. Whether on the train,
at the hotels, or on board the ocean steamer, I never exchanged a
friendly word with any fellow-traveller but I was certain to be
interrupted. In every place, on every side, the most unlikely
persons, man or woman, rich or poor, became protectors to forward
me upon my journey, or spies to observe and regulate my conduct.
Thus I crossed the States, thus passed the ocean, the Mormon Eye
still following my movements; and when at length a cab had set me
down before that London lodging-house from which you saw me flee
this morning, I had already ceased to struggle and ceased to hope.

The landlady, like every one else through all that journey, was
expecting my arrival. A fire was lighted in my room, which looked
upon the garden; there were books on the table, clothes in the
drawers; and there (I had almost said with contentment, and
certainly with resignation) I saw month follow month over my head.
At times my landlady took me for a walk or an excursion, but she
would never suffer me to leave the house alone; and I, seeing that
she also lived under the shadow of that widespread Mormon terror,
felt too much pity to resist. To the child born on Mormon soil, as
to the man who accepts the engagements of a secret order, no escape
is possible; so I had clearly read, and I was thankful even for
this respite. Meanwhile, I tried honestly to prepare my mind for
my approaching nuptials. The day drew near when my bridegroom was
to visit me, and gratitude and fear alike obliged me to consent. A
son of Doctor Grierson's, be he what he pleased, must still be
young, and it was even probable he should be handsome; on more than
that, I felt I dared not reckon; and in moulding my mind towards
consent I dwelt the more carefully on these physical attractions
which I felt I might expect, and averted my eyes from moral or
intellectual considerations. We have a great power upon our
spirits; and as time passed I worked myself into a frame of
acquiescence, nay, and I began to grow impatient for the hour. At
night sleep forsook me; I sat all day by the fire, absorbed in
dreams, conjuring up the features of my husband, and anticipating
in fancy the touch of his hand and the sound of his voice. In the
dead level and solitude of my existence, this was the one eastern
window and the one door of hope. At last, I had so cultivated and
prepared my will, that I began to be besieged with fears upon the
other side. How if it was I that did not please? How if this
unseen lover should turn from me with disaffection? And now I
spent hours before the glass, studying and judging my attractions,
and was never weary of changing my dress or ordering my hair.

When the day came I was long about my toilet; but at last, with a
sort of hopeful desperation, I had to own that I could do no more,
and must now stand or fall by nature. My occupation ended, I fell
a prey to the most sickening impatience, mingled with alarms;
giving ear to the swelling rumour of the streets, and at each
change of sound or silence, starting, shrinking, and colouring to
the brow. Love is not to be prepared, I know, without some
knowledge of the object; and yet, when the cab at last rattled to
the door and I heard my visitor mount the stairs, such was the
tumult of hopes in my poor bosom that love itself might have been
proud to own their parentage. The door opened, and it was Doctor
Grierson that appeared. I believe I must have screamed aloud, and
I know, at least, that I fell fainting to the floor.

When I came to myself he was standing over me, counting my pulse.
'I have startled you,' he said. 'A difficulty unforeseen--the
impossibility of obtaining a certain drug in its full purity--has
forced me to resort to London unprepared. I regret that I should
have shown myself once more without those poor attractions which
are much, perhaps, to you, but to me are no more considerable than
rain that falls into the sea. Youth is but a state, as passing as
that syncope from which you are but just awakened, and, if there be
truth in science, as easy to recall; for I find, Asenath, that I
must now take you for my confidant. Since my first years, I have
devoted every hour and act of life to one ambitious task; and the
time of my success is at hand. In these new countries, where I was
so long content to stay, I collected indispensable ingredients; I
have fortified myself on every side from the possibility of error;
what was a dream now takes the substance of reality; and when I
offered you a son of mine I did so in a figure. That son--that
husband, Asenath, is myself--not as you now behold me, but restored
to the first energy of youth. You think me mad? It is the
customary attitude of ignorance. I will not argue; I will leave
facts to speak. When you behold me purified, invigorated, renewed,
restamped in the original image--when you recognise in me (what I
shall be) the first perfect expression of the powers of mankind--I
shall be able to laugh with a better grace at your passing and
natural incredulity. To what can you aspire--fame, riches, power,
the charm of youth, the dear-bought wisdom of age--that I shall not
be able to afford you in perfection? Do not deceive yourself. I
already excel you in every human gift but one: when that gift also
has been restored to me you will recognise your master.'

Hereupon, consulting his watch, he told me he must now leave me to
myself; and bidding me consult reason, and not girlish fancies, he
withdrew. I had not the courage to move; the night fell and found
me still where he had laid me during my faint, my face buried in my
hands, my soul drowned in the darkest apprehensions. Late in the
evening he returned, carrying a candle, and, with a certain
irritable tremor, bade me rise and sup. 'Is it possible,' he
added, 'that I have been deceived in your courage? A cowardly girl
is no fit mate for me.'

I flung myself before him on my knees, and with floods of tears
besought him to release me from this engagement, assuring him that
my cowardice was abject, and that in every point of intellect and
character I was his hopeless and derisible inferior.

'Why, certainly,' he replied. 'I know you better than yourself;
and I am well enough acquainted with human nature to understand
this scene. It is addressed to me,' he added with a smile, 'in my
character of the still untransformed. But do not alarm yourself
about the future. Let me but attain my end, and not you only,
Asenath, but every woman on the face of the earth becomes my
willing slave.'

Thereupon he obliged me to rise and eat; sat down with me to table;
helped and entertained me with the attentions of a fashionable
host; and it was not till a late hour, that, bidding me courteously
good-night, he once more left me alone to my misery.

In all this talk of an elixir and the restoration of his youth, I
scarce knew from which hypothesis I should the more eagerly recoil.
If his hopes reposed on any base of fact, if indeed, by some
abhorrent miracle, he should discard his age, death were my only
refuge from that most unnatural, that most ungodly union. If, on
the other hand, these dreams were merely lunatic, the madness of a
life waxed suddenly acute, my pity would become a load almost as
heavy to bear as my revolt against the marriage. So passed the
night, in alternations of rebellion and despair, of hate and pity;
and with the next morning I was only to comprehend more fully my
enslaved position. For though he appeared with a very tranquil
countenance, he had no sooner observed the marks of grief upon my
brow than an answering darkness gathered on his own. 'Asenath.' he
said, 'you owe me much already; with one finger I still hold you
suspended over death; my life is full of labour and anxiety; and I
choose,' said he, with a remarkable accent of command, 'that you
shall greet me with a pleasant face.' He never needed to repeat
the recommendation; from that day forward I was always ready to
receive him with apparent cheerfulness; and he rewarded me with a
good deal of his company, and almost more than I could bear of his
confidence. He had set up a laboratory in the back part of the
house, where he toiled day and night at his elixir, and he would
come thence to visit me in my parlour: now with passing humours of
discouragement; now, and far more often, radiant with hope. It was
impossible to see so much of him, and not to recognise that the
sands of his life were running low; and yet all the time he would
be laying out vast fields of future, and planning, with all the
confidence of youth, the most unbounded schemes of pleasure and
ambition. How I replied I know not; but I found a voice and words
to answer, even while I wept and raged to hear him.

A week ago the doctor entered my room with the marks of great
exhilaration contending with pitiful bodily weakness. 'Asenath,'
said he, 'I have now obtained the last ingredient. In one week
from now the perilous moment of the last projection will draw nigh.
You have once before assisted, although unconsciously, at the
failure of a similar experiment. It was the elixir which so
terribly exploded one night when you were passing my house; and it
is idle to deny that the conduct of so delicate a process, among
the million jars and trepidations of so great a city, presents a
certain element of danger. From this point of view, I cannot but
regret the perfect stillness of my house among the deserts; but, on
the other hand, I have succeeded in proving that the singularly
unstable equilibrium of the elixir, at the moment of projection, is
due rather to the impurity than to the nature of the ingredients;
and as all are now of an equal and exquisite nicety, I have little
fear for the result. In a week then from to-day, my dear Asenath,
this period of trial will be ended.' And he smiled upon me in a
manner unusually paternal.

I smiled back with my lips, but at my heart there raged the
blackest and most unbridled terror. What if he failed? And oh,
tenfold worse! what if he succeeded? What detested and unnatural
changeling would appear before me to claim my hand? And could
there, I asked myself with a dreadful sinking, be any truth in his
boasts of an assured victory over my reluctance? I knew him,
indeed, to be masterful, to lead my life at a sign. Suppose, then,
this experiment to succeed; suppose him to return to me, hideously
restored, like a vampire in a legend; and suppose that, by some
devilish fascination . . . My head turned; all former fears
deserted me: and I felt I could embrace the worst in preference to

My mind was instantly made up. The doctor's presence in London was
justified by the affairs of the Mormon polity. Often, in our
conversation, he would gloat over the details of that great
organisation, which he feared even while yet he wielded it; and
would remind me, that even in the humming labyrinth of London, we
were still visible to that unsleeping eye in Utah. His visitors,
indeed, who were of every sort, from the missionary to the
destroying angel, and seemed to belong to every rank of life, had,
up to that moment, filled me with unmixed repulsion and alarm. I
knew that if my secret were to reach the ear of any leader my fate
were sealed beyond redemption; and yet in my present pass of horror
and despair, it was to these very men that I turned for help. I
waylaid upon the stair one of the Mormon missionaries, a man of a
low class, but not inaccessible to pity; told him I scarce remember
what elaborate fable to explain my application; and by his
intermediacy entered into correspondence with my father's family.
They recognised my claim for help, and on this very day I was to
begin my escape.

Last night I sat up fully dressed, awaiting the result of the
doctor's labours, and prepared against the worst. The nights at
this season and in this northern latitude are short; and I had soon
the company of the returning daylight. The silence in and around
the house was only broken by the movements of the doctor in the
laboratory; to these I listened, watch in hand, awaiting the hour
of my escape, and yet consumed by anxiety about the strange
experiment that was going forward overhead. Indeed, now that I was
conscious of some protection for myself, my sympathies had turned
more directly to the doctor's side; I caught myself even praying
for his success; and when some hours ago a low, peculiar cry
reached my ears from the laboratory, I could no longer control my
impatience, but mounted the stairs and opened the door.

The doctor was standing in the middle of the room; in his hand a
large, round-bellied, crystal flask, some three parts full of a
bright amber-coloured liquid; on his face a rapture of gratitude
and joy unspeakable. As he saw me he raised the flask at arm's
length. 'Victory!' he cried. 'Victory, Asenath!' And then--
whether the flask escaped his trembling fingers, or whether the
explosion were spontaneous, I cannot tell--enough that we were
thrown, I against the door-post, the doctor into the corner of the
room; enough that we were shaken to the soul by the same explosion
that must have startled you upon the street; and that, in the brief
space of an indistinguishable instant, there remained nothing of
the labours of the doctor's lifetime but a few shards of broken
crystal and those voluminous and ill-smelling vapours that pursued
me in my flight.


What with the lady's animated manner and dramatic conduct of her
voice, Challoner had thrilled to every incident with genuine
emotion. His fancy, which was not perhaps of a very lively
character, applauded both the matter and the style; but the more
judicial functions of his mind refused assent. It was an excellent
story; and it might be true, but he believed it was not. Miss
Fonblanque was a lady, and it was doubtless possible for a lady to
wander from the truth; but how was a gentleman to tell her so? His
spirits for some time had been sinking, but they now fell to zero;
and long after her voice had died away he still sat with a troubled
and averted countenance, and could find no form of words to thank
her for her narrative. His mind, indeed, was empty of everything
beyond a dull longing for escape. From this pause, which grew the
more embarrassing with every second, he was roused by the sudden
laughter of the lady. His vanity was alarmed; he turned and faced
her; their eyes met; and he caught from hers a spark of such frank
merriment as put him instantly at ease.

'You certainly,' he said, 'appear to bear your calamities with
excellent spirit.'

'Do I not?' she cried, and fell once more into delicious laughter.
But from this access she more speedily recovered. 'This is all
very well,' said she, nodding at him gravely, 'but I am still in a
most distressing situation, from which, if you deny me your help, I
shall find it difficult indeed to free myself.'

At this mention of help Challoner fell back to his original gloom.

'My sympathies are much engaged with you,' he said, 'and I should
be delighted, I am sure. But our position is most unusual; and
circumstances over which I have, I can assure you, no control,
deprive me of the power--the pleasure--Unless, indeed,' he added,
somewhat brightening at the thought, 'I were to recommend you to
the care of the police?'

She laid her hand upon his arm and looked hard into his eyes; and
he saw with wonder that, for the first time since the moment of
their meeting, every trace of colour had faded from her cheek.

'Do so,' she said, 'and--weigh my words well--you kill me as
certainly as with a knife.'

'God bless me!' exclaimed Challoner.

'Oh,' she cried, 'I can see you disbelieve my story and make light
of the perils that surround me; but who are you to judge? My
family share my apprehensions; they help me in secret; and you saw
yourself by what an emissary, and in what a place, they have chosen
to supply me with the funds for my escape. I admit that you are
brave and clever and have impressed me most favourably; but how are
you to prefer your opinion before that of my uncle, an ex-minister
of state, a man with the ear of the Queen, and of a long political
experience? If I am mad, is he? And you must allow me, besides, a
special claim upon your help. Strange as you may think my story,
you know that much of it is true; and if you who heard the
explosion and saw the Mormon at Victoria, refuse to credit and
assist me, to whom am I to turn?'

'He gave you money then?' asked Challoner, who had been dwelling
singly on that fact.

'I begin to interest you,' she cried. 'But, frankly, you are
condemned to help me. If the service I had to ask of you were
serious, were suspicious, were even unusual, I should say no more.
But what is it? To take a pleasure trip (for which, if you will
suffer me, I propose to pay) and to carry from one lady to another
a sum of money! What can be more simple?'

'Is the sum,' asked Challoner, 'considerable?'

She produced a packet from her bosom; and observing that she had
not yet found time to make the count, tore open the cover and
spread upon her knees a considerable number of Bank of England
notes. It took some time to make the reckoning, for the notes were
of every degree of value; but at last, and counting a few loose
sovereigns, she made out the sum to be a little under 710 pounds
sterling. The sight of so much money worked an immediate
revolution in the mind of Challoner.

'And you propose, madam,' he cried, 'to intrust that money to a
perfect stranger?'

'Ah!' said she, with a charming smile, 'but I no longer regard you
as a stranger.'

'Madam,' said Challoner, 'I perceive I must make you a confession.
Although of a very good family--through my mother, indeed, a lineal
descendant of the patriot Bruce--I dare not conceal from you that
my affairs are deeply, very deeply involved. I am in debt; my
pockets are practically empty; and, in short, I am fallen to that
state when a considerable sum of money would prove to many men an


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