The Idler, Volume III., Issue XIII., February 1893

Part 1 out of 2

Produced by Jonathan Ingram and PG Distributed Proofreaders




XIII. FEB. 1893.


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Is Love a Practical Reality or a Pleasing Fiction?

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They say that a union of opposites makes the happiest marriage, and
perhaps it is on the same principle that men who chum are always so
oddly assorted. You shall find a man of letters sharing diggings with an
auctioneer, and a medical student pigging with a stockbroker's clerk.
Perhaps each thus escapes the temptation to talk "shop" in his hours of
leisure, while he supplements his own experiences of life by his

[Illustration: TOM PETERS.]
[Illustration: EVERARD G. ROXDAL.]

There could not be an odder couple than Tom Peters and Everard G.
Roxdal--the contrast began with their names, and ran through the entire
chapter. They had a bedroom and a sitting-room in common, but it would
not be easy to find what else. To his landlady, worthy Mrs. Seacon, Tom
Peters's profession was a little vague, but everybody knew that Roxdal
was the manager of the City and Suburban Bank, and it puzzled her to
think why a bank manager should live with such a seedy-looking person,
who smoked clay pipes and sipped whiskey and water all the evening when
he was at home. For Roxdal was as spruce and erect as his fellow-lodger
was round-shouldered and shabby; he never smoked, and he confined
himself to a small glass of claret at dinner.

It is possible to live with a man and see very little of him. Where each
of the partners lives his own life in his own way, with his own circle
of friends and external amusements, days may go by without the men
having five minutes together. Perhaps this explains why these
partnerships jog along so much more peaceably than marriages, where the
chain is drawn so much tighter, and galls the partners rather than links
them. Diverse, however, as were the hours and habits of the chums, they
often breakfasted together, and they agreed in one thing--they never
stayed out at night. For the rest Peters sought his diversions in the
company of journalists, and frequented debating rooms, where he
propounded the most iconoclastic views; while Roxdal had highly
respectable houses open to him in the suburbs, and was, in fact, engaged
to be married to Clara Newell, the charming daughter of a retired corn
merchant, a widower with no other child.


Clara naturally took up a good deal of Roxdal's time, and he often
dressed to go to the play with her, while Peters stayed at home in a
faded dressing-gown and loose slippers. Mrs. Seacon liked to see
gentlemen about the house in evening dress, and made comparisons not
favourable to Peters. And this in spite of the fact that he gave her
infinitely less trouble than the younger man. It was Peters who first
took the apartments, and it was characteristic of his easy-going
temperament that he was so openly and naively delighted with the view of
the Thames obtainable from the bedroom window, that Mrs. Seacon was
emboldened to ask twenty-five per cent. more than she had intended. She
soon returned to her normal terms, however, when his friend Roxdal
called the next day to inspect the rooms, and overwhelmed her with a
demonstration of their numerous shortcomings. He pointed out that their
being on the ground floor was not an advantage, but a disadvantage,
since they were nearer the noises of the street--in fact, the house
being a corner one, the noises of two streets. Roxdal continued to
exhibit the same finicking temperament in the petty details of the
_menage_. His shirt fronts were never sufficiently starched, nor his
boots sufficiently polished. Tom Peters, having no regard for rigid
linen, was always good-tempered and satisfied, and never acquired the
respect of his landlady. He wore blue check shirts and loose ties even
on Sundays. It is true he did net go to church, but slept on till Roxdal
returned from morning service, and even then it was difficult to get him
out of bed, or to make him hurry up his toilette operations. Often the
mid-day meal would be smoking on the table while Peters would smoke in
the bed, and Roxdal, with his head thrust through the folding doors that
separated the bedroom from the sitting-room, would be adjuring the
sluggard to arise and shake off his slumbers, and threatening to sit
down without him, lest the dinner be spoilt. In revenge, Tom was usually
up first on week-days, sometimes at such unearthly hours that Polly had
not yet removed the boots from outside the bedroom door, and would bawl
down to the kitchen for his shaving water. For Tom, lazy and indolent as
he was, shaved with the unfailing regularity of a man to whom shaving
has become an instinct. If he had not kept fairly regular hours, Mrs.
Seacon would have set him down as an actor, so clean shaven was he.
Roxdal did not shave. He wore a full beard, and, being a fine figure of
a man to boot, no uneasy investor could look upon him without being
reassured as to the stability of the bank he managed so successfully.
And thus the two men lived in an economical comradeship, all the firmer,
perhaps, for their mutual incongruities.

[Illustration: FOR HIS SHAVING WATER.]




It was on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of October, ten days after
Roxdal had settled in his new rooms, that Clara Newell paid her first
visit to him there. She enjoyed a good deal of liberty, and did not mind
accepting his invitation to tea. The corn merchant, himself
indifferently educated, had an exaggerated sense of the value of
culture, and so Clara, who had artistic tastes without much actual
talent, had gone in for painting, and might be seen, in pretty
toilettes, copying pictures in the Museum. At one time it looked as if
she might be reduced to working seriously at her art, for Satan, who
finds mischief still for idle hands to do, had persuaded her father to
embark the fruits of years of toil in bubble companies. However, things
turned out not so bad as they might have been, a little was saved from
the wreck, and the appearance of a suitor, in the person of Everard G.
Roxdal, ensured her a future of competence, if not of the luxury she had
been entitled to expect. She had a good deal of affection for Everard,
who was unmistakably a clever man, as well as a good-looking one. The
prospect seemed fair and cloudless. Nothing presaged the terrible storm
that was about to break over these two lives. Nothing had ever for a
moment come to vex their mutual contentment, till this Sunday afternoon.
The October sky, blue and sunny, with an Indian summer sultriness,
seemed an exact image of her life, with its aftermath of a happiness
that had once seemed blighted.

Everard had always been so attentive, so solicitous, that she was as
much surprised as chagrined to find that he had apparently forgotten the
appointment. Hearing her astonished interrogation of Polly in the
passage, Tom shambled from the sitting-room in his loose slippers and
his blue check shirt, with his eternal clay pipe in his mouth, and
informed her that Roxdal had gone out suddenly earlier in the afternoon.

"G-g-one out," stammered poor Clara; all confused. "But he asked me to
come to tea."

"Oh, you're Miss Newell, I suppose," said Tom.

"Yes, I am Miss Newell."

"He has told me a great deal about you, but I wasn't able honestly to
congratulate him on his choice till now."

Clara blushed uneasily under the compliment, and under the ardour of his
admiring gaze. Instinctively she distrusted the man. The very first
tones of his deep bass voice gave her a peculiar shudder. And then his
impoliteness in smoking that vile clay was so gratuitous.

"Oh, then you must be Mr. Peters," she said in return. "He has often
spoken to me of you."

"Ah!" said Tom, laughingly, "I suppose he's told you all my vices. That
accounts for your not being surprised at my Sunday attire."

She smiled a little, showing a row of pearly teeth. "Everard ascribes to
you all the virtues," she said.

"Now that's what I call a friend!" he cried, ecstatically. "But won't
you come in? He must be back in a moment. He surely would not break an
appointment with _you_." The admiration latent in the accentuation of
the last pronoun was almost offensive.

She shook her head. She had a just grievance against Everard, and would
punish him by going away indignantly.

"Do let _me_ give you a cup of tea," Tom pleaded. "You must be awfully
thirsty this sultry weather. There! I will make a bargain with you! If
you will come in now, I promise to clear out the moment Everard returns,
and not spoil your _tete-a-tete_." But Clara was obstinate; she did not
at all relish this man's society, and besides, she was not going to
throw away her grievance against Everard. "I know Everard will slang me
dreadfully when he comes in if I let you go," Tom urged. "Tell me at
least where he can find you."

"I am going to take the 'bus at Charing Cross, and I'm going straight
home," Clara announced determinedly. She put up her parasol in a pet,
and went up the street into the Strand. A cold shadow seemed to have
fallen over all things. But just as she was getting into the 'bus, a
hansom dashed down Trafalgar Square, and a well-known voice hailed her.
The hansom stopped, and Everard got out and held out his hand.

"I'm so glad you're a bit late," he said. "I was called out
unexpectedly, and have been trying to rush back in time. You wouldn't
have found me if you had been punctual. But I thought," he added,
laughing, "I could rely on you as a woman."

"I _was_ punctual," Clara said angrily. "I was not getting out of this
'bus, as you seem to imagine, but into it, and was going home."

"My darling!" he cried remorsefully. "A thousand apologies." The regret
on his handsome face soothed her. He took the rose he was wearing in the
button-hole of his fashionably-cut coat and gave it to her.

"Why were you so cruel?" he murmured, as she nestled against him in the
hansom. "Think of my despair if I had come home to hear you had come and
gone. Why didn't you wait a moment?"

[Illustration: "SHE NESTLED AGAINST HIM."]

A shudder traversed her frame. "Not with that man, Peters!" she

"Not with that man, Peters!" he echoed sharply. "What is the matter with

"I don't know," she said. "I don't like him."

"Clara," he said, half sternly, half cajolingly, "I thought you were
above these feminine weaknesses; you are punctual, strive also to be
reasonable. Tom is my best friend. From boyhood we have been always
together. There is nothing Tom would not do for me, or I for Tom. You
must like him, Clara; you must, if only for my sake."

"I'll try," Clara promised, and then he kissed her in gratitude and
broad daylight.

"You'll be very nice to him at tea, won't you?" he said anxiously. "I
shouldn't like you two to be bad friends."

"I don't want to be bad friends," Clara protested; "only the moment I
saw him a strange repulsion and mistrust came over me."

"You are quite wrong about him--quite wrong," he assured her earnestly.
"When you know him better, you'll find him the best of fellows. Oh, I
know," he said suddenly, "I suppose he was very untidy, and you women go
so much by appearances!"

"Not at all," Clara retorted. "'Tis you men who go by appearances."

"Yes, you do. That's why you care for me," he said, smiling.

She assured him it wasn't, and she didn't care for him so much as he
plumed himself, but he smiled on. His smile died away, however, when he
entered his rooms and found Tom nowhere.

"I daresay you've made him run about hunting for me," he grumbled.

"Perhaps he knew I'd come back, and went away to leave us together," she
answered. "He said he would when you came."

"And yet you say you don't like him!"

She smiled reassuringly. Inwardly, however, she felt pleased at the
man's absence.



[Illustration: "CARRYING ON WITH POLLY."]

If Clara Newell could have seen Tom Peters carrying on with Polly in the
passage, she might have felt justified in her prejudice against him. It
must be confessed, though, that Everard also carried on with Polly.
Alas! it is to be feared that men are much of a muchness where women are
concerned; shabby men and smart men, bank managers and journalists,
bachelors and semi-detached bachelors. Perhaps it was a mistake after
all to say the chums had nothing patently in common. Everard, I am
afraid, kissed Polly rather more often than Clara, and although it was
because he respected her less, the reason would perhaps not have been
sufficiently consoling to his affianced wife. For Polly was pretty,
especially on alternate Sunday afternoons, and when at ten p.m. she
returned from her outings, she was generally met in the passage by one
or other of the men. Polly liked to receive the homage of real
gentlemen, and set her white cap at all indifferently. Thus, just before
Clara knocked on that memorable Sunday afternoon, Polly, being confined
to the house by the unwritten code regulating the lives of servants, was
amusing herself by flirting with Peters.

"You _are_ fond of me a little bit," the graceless Tom whispered,
"aren't you?"

"You know I am, sir," Polly replied.

"You don't care for anyone else in the house?"

"Oh no, sir, and never let anyone kiss me but you. I wonder how it is,
sir?" Polly replied ingenuously.

"Give me another," Tom answered.

She gave him another, and tripped to the door to answer Clara's knock.

[Illustration: POLLY AND ROXDAL.]

And that very evening, when Clara was gone and Tom still out, Polly
turned without the faintest atom of scrupulosity, or even jealousy, to
the more fascinating Roxdal, and accepted his amorous advances. If it
would seem at first sight that Everard had less excuse for such
frivolity than his friend, perhaps the seriousness he showed in this
interview may throw a different light upon the complex character of
the man.

"You're quite sure you don't care for anyone but me?" he asked

"Of course not, sir!" Polly replied indignantly. "How could I?"

"But you care for that soldier I saw you out with last Sunday?"

"Oh no, sir, he's only my young man," she said apologetically.

"Would you give him up?" he hissed suddenly.

Polly's pretty face took a look of terror. "I couldn't, sir! He'd kill
me. He's such a jealous brute, you've no idea."

"Yes, but suppose I took you away from here?" he whispered eagerly.
"Somewhere where he couldn't find you--South America, Africa, somewhere
thousands of miles across the seas."

"Oh, sir, you frighten me!" whispered Polly, cowering before his ardent
eyes, which shone in the dimly-lit passage.

"Would you come with me?" he hissed. She did not answer; she shook
herself free and ran into the kitchen, trembling with a vague fear.



One morning, earlier than his earliest hour of demanding his shaving
water, Tom rang the bell violently and asked the alarmed Polly what had
become of Mr. Roxdal.

"How should I know, sir?" she gasped. "Ain't he been in, sir?"

"Apparently not," Tom answered anxiously. "He never remains out. We have
been here three weeks now, and I can't recall a single night he hasn't
been home before twelve. I can't make it out." All enquiries proved
futile. Mrs. Seacon reminded him of the thick fog that had come on
suddenly the night before.

"What fog?" asked Tom.

"Lord! didn't you notice it, sir?"

"No, I came in early, smoked, read, and went to bed about eleven. I
never thought of looking out of the window."

"It began about ten," said Mrs. Seacon, "and got thicker and thicker. I
couldn't see the lights of the river from my bedroom. The poor gentleman
has been and gone and walked into the water." She began to whimper.

"Nonsense, nonsense," said Tom, though his expression belied his words.
"At the worst I should think he couldn't find his way home, and couldn't
get a cab, so put up for the night at some hotel. I daresay it will be
all right." He began to whistle as if in restored cheerfulness. At eight
o'clock there came a letter for Roxdal, marked "immediate," but as he
did not turn up for breakfast, Tom went round personally to the City and
Suburban Bank. He waited half-an-hour there, but the manager did not
make his appearance. Then he left the letter with the cashier and went
away with anxious countenance.

That afternoon it was all over London that the manager of the City and
Suburban had disappeared, and that many thousand pounds of gold and
notes had disappeared with him.


Scotland Yard opened the letter marked "immediate," and noted that there
had been a delay in its delivery, for the address had been obscure, and
an official alteration had been made. It was written in a feminine hand
and said: "On second thoughts I cannot accompany you. Do not try to see
me again. Forget me. I shall never forget you."

There was no signature.

Clara Newell, distracted, disclaimed all knowledge of this letter. Polly
deposed that the fugitive had proposed flight to her, and the routes to
Africa and South America were especially watched. Some months passed
without result. Tom Peters went about overwhelmed with grief and
astonishment. The police took possession of all the missing man's
effects. Gradually the hue and cry dwindled, died.



"At last we meet!" cried Tom Peters, while his face lit up in joy. "How
_are_ you, dear Miss Newell?" Clara greeted him coldly. Her face had an
abiding pallor now. Her lover's flight and shame had prostrated her for
weeks. Her soul was the arena of contending instincts. Alone of all the
world she still believed in Everard's innocence, felt that there was
something more than met the eye, divined some devilish mystery behind it
all. And yet that damning letter from the anonymous lady shook her
sadly. Then, too, there was the deposition of Polly. When she heard
Peters's voice accosting her all her old repugnance resurged. It flashed
upon her that this man--Roxdal's boon companion--must know far more than
he had told to the police. She remembered how Everard had spoken of him,
with what affection and confidence! Was it likely he was utterly
ignorant of Everard's movements? Mastering her repugnance, she held out
her hand. It might be well to keep in touch with him; he was possibly
the clue to the mystery. She noticed he was dressed a shade more trimly,
and was smoking a meerschaum. He walked along at her side, making no
offer to put his pipe out.

"You have not heard from Everard?" he asked. She flushed. "Do you think
I'm an accessory after the fact?" she cried.

"No, no," he said soothingly. "Pardon me, I was thinking he might have
written--giving no exact address, of course. Men do sometimes dare to
write thus to women. But, of course, he knows you too well--you would
have put the police on his track."

"Certainly," she exclaimed, indignantly. "Even if he is innocent he must
face the charge."

"Do you still entertain the possibility of his innocence?"

"I do," she said boldly, and looked him full in the face. His eyelids
drooped with a quiver. "Don't you?"

"I have hoped against hope," he replied, in a voice faltering with
emotion. "Poor old Everard! But I am afraid there is no room for doubt.
Oh, this wicked curse of money--tempting the noblest and the best
of us."

[Illustration: "SHE DID NOT REPULSE HIM."]

The weeks rolled on. Gradually she found herself seeing more and more of
Tom Peters, and gradually, strange to say, he grew less repulsive. From
the talks they had together, she began to see that there was really no
reason to put faith in Everard; his criminality, his faithlessness, were
too flagrant. Gradually she grew ashamed of her early mistrust of
Peters; remorse bred esteem, and esteem ultimately ripened into feelings
so warm, that when Tom gave freer vent to the love that had been visible
to Clara from the first, she did not repulse him.

It is only in books that love lives for ever. Clara, so her father
thought, showed herself a sensible girl in plucking out an unworthy
affection and casting it from her heart. He invited the new lover to his
house, and took to him at once. Roxdal's somewhat supercilious manner
had always jarred upon the unsophisticated corn merchant. With Tom the
old man got on much better. While evidently quite as well informed and
cultured as his whilom friend, Tom knew how to impart his superior
knowledge with the accent on the knowledge rather than on the
superiority, while he had the air of gaining much information in return.
Those who are most conscious of defects of early education are most
resentful of other people sharing their consciousness Moreover, Tom's
_bonhomie_ was far more to the old fellow's liking than the studied
politeness of his predecessor, so that on the whole Tom made more of a
conquest of the father than of the daughter. Nevertheless, Clara was by
no means unresponsive to Tom's affection, and when, after one of his
visits to the house, the old man kissed her fondly and spoke of the
happy turn things had taken, and how, for the second time in their
lives, things had mended when they seemed at their blackest, her heart
swelled with a gush of gratitude and joy and tenderness, and she fell
sobbing into her father's arms.


Tom calculated that he made a clear five hundred a year by occasional
journalism, besides possessing some profitable investments which he had
inherited from his mother, so that there was no reason for delaying the
marriage. It was fixed for May-day, and the honeymoon was to be spent
in Italy.



But Clara was not destined to happiness. From the moment she had
promised herself to her first love's friend old memories began to rise
up and reproach her. Strange thoughts stirred in the depths of her soul,
and in the silent watches of the night she seemed to hear Everard's
accents, charged with grief and upbraiding. Her uneasiness increased as
her wedding-day drew near. One night, after a pleasant afternoon spent
in being rowed by Tom among the upper reaches of the Thames, she retired
to rest full of vague forebodings. And she dreamt a terrible dream. The
dripping form of Everard stood by her bedside, staring at her with
ghastly eyes. Had he been drowned on the passage to his land of exile?
Frozen with horror, she put the question.

"I have never left England!" the vision answered.

Her tongue clove to the roof of her mouth.

"Never left England?" she repeated, in tones which did not seem to be

The wraith's stony eyes stared on, but there was silence.

"Where have you been then?" she asked in her dream.

"Very near you," came the answer.

"There has been foul play then!" she shrieked.

The phantom shook its head in doleful assent.

"I knew it!" she shrieked. "Tom Peters--Tom Peters has done away with
you. Is it not he? Speak!"

"Yes, it is he--Tom Peters--whom I loved more than all the world."

Even in the terrible oppression of the dream she could not resist
saying, woman-like:

"Did I not warn you against him?"

The phantom stared on silently and made no reply.

"But what was his motive?" she asked at length.

"Love of gold--and you. And you are giving yourself to him," it said

"No, no, Everard! I will not! I will not! I swear it! Forgive me!"

The spirit shook its head sceptically.

"You love him. Women are false--as false as men."

She strove to protest again, but her tongue refused its office.

"If you marry him, I shall always be with you! Beware!"

The dripping figure vanished as suddenly as it came, and Clara awoke in
a cold perspiration. Oh, it was horrible! The man she had learnt to
love, the murderer of the man she had learnt to forget! How her original
prejudice had been justified! Distracted, shaken to her depths, she
would not take counsel even of her father, but informed the police of
her suspicions. A raid was made on Tom's rooms, and lo! the stolen notes
were discovered in a huge bundle. It was found that he had several
banking accounts, with a large, recently-paid amount in each bank. Tom
was arrested. Attention was now concentrated on the corpses washed up by
the river. It was not long before the body of Roxdal came to shore, the
face distorted almost beyond recognition by long immersion, but the
clothes patently his, and a pocket-book in the breast-pocket removing
the last doubt. Mrs. Seacon and Polly and Clara Newell all identified
the body. Both juries returned a verdict of murder against Tom Peters,
the recital of Clara's dream producing a unique impression in the court
and throughout the country. The theory of the prosecution was that
Roxdal had brought home the money, whether to fly alone or to divide it,
or whether even for some innocent purpose, as Clara believed, was
immaterial. That Peters determined to have it all, that he had gone out
for a walk with the deceased, and, taking advantage of the fog, had
pushed him into the river, and that he was further impelled to the crime
by love for Clara Newell, as was evident from his subsequent relations
with her. The judge put on the black cap. Tom Peters was duly hung by
the neck till he was dead.

[Illustration: "IDENTIFIED THE BODY."]



When you all read this I shall be dead and laughing at you. I have been
hung for my own murder. I am Everard G. Roxdal. I am also Tom Peters. We
two were one. When I was a young man my moustache and beard wouldn't
come. I bought false ones to improve my appearance. One day, after I had
become manager of the City and Suburban Bank, I took off my beard and
moustache at home, and then the thought crossed my mind that nobody
would know me without them. I was another man. Instantly it flashed upon
me that if I ran away from the Bank, that other man could be left in
London, while the police were scouring the world for a non-existent
fugitive. But this was only the crude germ of the idea. Slowly I matured
my plan. The man who was going to be left in London must be known to a
circle of acquaintance beforehand. It would be easy enough to masquerade
in the evenings in my beardless condition, with other disguises of dress
and voice. But this was not brilliant enough. I conceived the idea of
living with him. It was Box and Cox reversed. We shared rooms at Mrs.
Seacon's. It was a great strain, but it was only for a few weeks. I had
trick clothes in my bedroom like those of quick-change artistes; in a
moment I could pass from Roxdal to Peters and from Peters to Roxdal.
Polly had to clean two pairs of boots a morning, cook two dinners, &c.,
&c. She and Mrs. Seacon saw one or the other of us every moment; it
never dawned upon them they never saw us _both together_. At meals I
would not be interrupted, ate off two plates, and conversed with my
friend in loud tones. At other times we dined at different hours. On
Sundays he was supposed to be asleep when I was in church. There is no
landlady in the world to whom the idea would have occurred that one man
was troubling himself to be two (and to pay for two, including washing).
I worked up the idea of Roxdal's flight, asked Polly to go with me,
manufactured that feminine letter that arrived on the morning of my
disappearance. As Tom Peters I mixed with a journalistic set. I had
another room where I kept the gold and notes till I mistakenly thought
the thing had blown over. Unfortunately, returning from here on the
night of my disappearance, with Roxdal's clothes in a bundle I intended
to drop into the river, it was stolen from me in the fog, and the man
into whose possession it ultimately came appears to have committed
suicide. What, perhaps, ruined me was my desire to keep Clara's love,
and to transfer it to the survivor. Everard told her I was the best of
fellows. Once married to her, I would not have had much fear. Even if
she had discovered the trick, a wife cannot give evidence against her
husband, and often does not want to. I made none of the usual slips, but
no man can guard against a girl's nightmare after a day up the river and
a supper at the Star and Garter. I might have told the judge he was an
ass, but then I should have had penal servitude for bank robbery, and
that is worse than death. The only thing that puzzles me, though, is
whether the law has committed murder or I suicide.

* * * * *

My First Novel.




My first novel! Far back in the distinctness of childish memories I see
a little girl who has lately learnt to write, who has lately been given
a beautiful brand new mahogany desk, with a red velvet slope, and a
glass ink bottle, such a desk as might now be bought for three and
sixpence, but which in the forties cost at least half-a-guinea. Very
proud is the little girl, with the Kenwigs pigtails, and the Kenwigs
frills, of that mahogany desk, and its infinite capacities for literary
labour, above all, gem of gems, its stick of variegated sealing-wax,
brown, speckled with gold, and its little glass seal with an intaglio
representing two doves--Pliny's doves perhaps, famous in mosaic, only
the little girl had never heard of Pliny, or his Laurentine Villa.


Armed with that desk and its supply of stationery, Mary Elizabeth
Braddon--very fond of writing her name at full-length, and her address
also at full-length, though the word "Middlesex" offered
difficulties--began that pilgrimage on the broad high road of fiction,
which was destined to be a longish one. So much for the little girl of
eight years old, in the third person, and now to become strictly

My first story was based on those fairy tales which first opened to me
the world of imaginative literature. My first attempt in fiction, and in
round-hand, on carefully pencilled double lines, was a story of two
sisters, a good sister and a wicked, and I fear adhered more faithfully
to the lines of the archetypal story than the writer's pen kept to the
double fence which should have ensured neatness.

[Illustration: THE HALL.]

The interval between the ages of eight and twelve was a prolific period,
fertile in unfinished MSS., among which I can now trace a historical
novel on the Siege of Calais--an Eastern story, suggested by a
passionate love of Miss Pardoe's Turkish tales, and Byron's "Bride of
Abydos," which my mother, a devoted Byron worshipper, allowed me to read
aloud to her--and doubtless murder in the reading--a story of the Hartz
Mountains, with audacious flights in German diablerie; and lastly, very
seriously undertaken, and very perseveringly worked upon, a domestic
story, the outline of which was suggested by the same dear and
sympathetic mother.

Now it is a curious fact, which may or may not be common to other
story-spinners, that I have never been able to take kindly to a plot--or
the suggestion of a plot--offered to me by anybody else. The moment a
friend tells me that he or she is desirous of imparting a series of
facts--strictly true--as if truth in fiction mattered one jot!--which in
his or her opinion would make the ground plan of an admirable,
startling, and altogether original three-volume novel, I know in advance
that my imagination will never grapple with those startling
circumstances--that my thoughts will begin to wander before my friend
has got half through the remarkable chain of events, and that if the
obliging purveyor of romantic incidents were to examine me at the end of
the story, I should be spun ignominiously. For the most part, such
subjects as have been proposed to me by friends have been hopelessly
unfit for the circulating library; or, where not immoral, have been
utterly dull; but it is, I believe, a fixed idea in the novel-reader's
mind that any combination of events out of the beaten way of life will
make an admirable subject for the novelist's art.

[Illustration: THE STAIRCASE.]

My dear mother, taking into consideration my tender years, and perhaps
influenced in somewise by her own love of picking up odd bits of
Sheraton or Chippendale furniture in the storehouses of the less
ambitious second-hand dealers of those simpler days, offered me the
following _scenario_ for a domestic story. It was an incident which, I
doubt not, she had often read at the tail of a newspaper column, and
which certainly savours of the gigantic gooseberry, the sea-serpent, and
the agricultural labourer who unexpectedly inherits half-a-million. It
was eminently a Simple Story, and far more worthy of that title than
Mrs. Inchbald's long and involved romance.

An honest couple, in humble circumstances, possess among their small
household gear a good old easy chair, which has been the pride of a
former generation, and is the choicest of their household gods. A
comfortable cushioned chair, snug and restful, albeit the chintz
covering, though clean and tidy, as virtuous people's furniture always
is in fiction, is worn thin by long service, while the dear chair itself
is no longer the chair it once was as to legs and framework.

Evil days come upon the praiseworthy couple and their dependent brood,
among whom I faintly remember the love interest of the story to have
lain; and that direful day arrives when the average landlord of juvenile
fiction, whose heart is of adamant and brain of brass, distrains for the
rent. The rude broker swoops upon the humble dovecot; a cart or
hand-barrow waits on the carefully hearth-stoned door-step for the
household gods; the family gather round the cherished chair, on which
the rude broker has already laid his grimy fingers; they hang over the
back and fondle the padded arms; and the old grandmother, with clasped
hands, entreats that, if able to raise the money in a few days, they may
be allowed to buy back that loved heirloom.

[Illustration: THE DINING ROOM.]

The broker laughs the plea to scorn; they might have their chair, and
cheap enough, he had no doubt. The cover was darned and patched--as only
the virtuous poor of fiction do darn and do patch--and he made no doubt
the stuffing was nothing better than brown wool; and with that coarse
taunt the coarser broker dug his clasp-knife into the cushion against
which grandfatherly backs had leaned in happier days, and lo! an
avalanche of banknotes fell out of the much-maligned horse-hair, and the
family was lifted from penury to wealth. Nothing more simple--or more
natural. A prudent but eccentric ancestor had chosen this mode of
putting by his savings, assured that, whenever discovered, the money
would be useful to--somebody.

So ran the _scenario_: but I fancy my juvenile pen hardly held on to the
climax. My brief experience of boarding school occurred at this time,
and I well remember writing "The Old Arm Chair" in a penny account book,
in the schoolroom of Cresswell Lodge, and that I was both surprised and
offended at the laughter of the kindly music-teacher who, coming into
the room to summon a pupil, and seeing me gravely occupied, enquired
what I was doing, and was intensely amused at my stolid method of
composition, plodding on undisturbed by the voices and occupations of
the older girls around me. "The Old Arm Chair" was certainly my first
serious, painstaking effort in fiction; but as it was abandoned
unfinished before my eleventh birthday, and as no line thereof ever
achieved the distinction of type, it can hardly rank as my first novel.

[Illustration: THE DRAWING-ROOM.]

There came a very few years later the sentimental period, in which my
unfinished novels assumed a more ambitious form, and were modelled
chiefly upon Jane Eyre, with occasional tentative imitations of
Thackeray. Stories of gentle hearts that loved in vain, always ending in
renunciation. One romance there was, I well remember, begun with
resolute purpose, after the first reading of Esmond, and in the
endeavour to give life and local colour to a story of the Restoration
period, a brilliantly wicked interval in the social history of England,
which, after the lapse of thirty years, I am still as bent upon taking
for the background of a love story as I was when I began "Master
Anthony's Record" in Esmondese, and made my girlish acquaintance with
the Reading-room of the British Museum, where I went in quest of local
colour, and where much kindness was shown to my youth and inexperience
of the book world. Poring over a folio edition of the State Trials at my
uncle's quiet rectory in sleepy Sandwich, I had discovered the
passionate romantic story of Lord Grey's elopement with his
sister-in-law, next in sequence to the trial of Lawrence Braddon and
Hugh Speke for conspiracy. At the risk of seeming disloyal to my own
race, I must add that it seemed to me a very tinpot order of plot to
which these two learned gentlemen bent their legal minds, and which cost
the Braddon family a heavy fine in land near Camelford--confiscation
which I have heard my father complain of as especially unfair--Lawrence
being a younger son. The romantic story of Lord Grey was to be the
subject of "Master Anthony's Record," but Master Anthony's sentimental
autobiography went the way of all my earlier efforts. It was but a year
or so after the collapse of Master Anthony, that a blindly-enterprising
printer of Beverley, who had seen my poor little verses in the _Beverley
Recorder_, made me the spirited offer of ten pounds for a serial story,
to be set up and printed at Beverley, and published on commission by a
London firm in Warwick Lane. I cannot picture to myself, in my
after-knowledge of the bookselling trade, any enterprise more futile in
its inception or more feeble in its execution; but to my youthful
ambition the actual commission to write a novel, with an advance payment
of fifty shillings to show good faith on the part of my Yorkshire
speculator, seemed like the opening of that pen-and-ink paradise which I
had sighed for ever since I could hold a pen. I had, previously to this
date, found a Maecenas in Beverley, in the person of a learned gentleman
who volunteered to foster my love of the Muses by buying the copyright
of a volume of poems and publishing the same at his own expense--which
he did, poor man, without stint, and by which noble patronage of Poet's
Corner verse, he must have lost money. He had, however, the privilege of
dictating the subject of the principal poem, which was to sing--however
feebly--Garibaldi's Sicilian campaign.

[Illustration: THE EVENING ROOM.]

The Beverley printer suggested that my Warwick Lane serial should
combine, as far as my powers allowed, the human interest and genial
humour of Dickens with the plot-weaving of G. W. R. Reynolds; and,
furnished with these broad instructions, I filled my ink bottle, spread
out my foolscap, and, on a hopelessly wet afternoon, began my first
novel--now known as "The Trail of the Serpent"--but published in Warwick
Lane, and later in the stirring High Street of Beverley, as "Three Times
Dead." In "Three Times Dead" I gave loose to all my leanings to the
violent in melodrama. Death stalked in ghastliest form across my pages;
and villainy reigned triumphant till the Nemesis of the last chapter. I
wrote with all the freedom of one who feared not the face of a critic;
and, indeed, thanks to the obscurity of its original production, and its
re-issue as the ordinary two-shilling railway novel, this first novel of
mine has almost entirely escaped the critical lash, and has pursued its
way as a chartered libertine. People buy it and read it, and its faults
and follies are forgiven as the exuberances of a pen unchastened by
experience; but faster and more facile at that initial stage than it
ever became after long practice.

[Illustration: THE SMOKING-ROOM.]

I dashed headlong at my work, conjured up my images of horror or of
mirth, and boldly built the framework of my story, and set my puppets
moving. To me, at least, they were living creatures, who seemed to
follow impulses of their own, to be impelled by their own passions, to
love and hate, and plot and scheme of their own accord. There was
unalloyed pleasure in the composition of that first story, and the
knowledge that it was to be actually printed and published, and not to
be declined with thanks by adamantine magazine editors, like a certain
short story which I had lately written, and which contained the germ of
"Lady Audley's Secret." Indeed, at this period of my life, the postman's
knock had become associated in my mind with the sharp sound of a
rejected MS. dropping through the open letter-box on to the floor of the
hall, while my heart seemed to drop in sympathy with that
book-post packet.

[Illustration: THE LIBRARY.]

Short of never being printed at all, my Beverley-born novel could have
hardly entered upon the world of books in a more profound obscurity.
That one living creature ever bought a number of "Three Times Dead" I
greatly doubt. I can recall the thrill of emotion with which I tore open
the envelope that contained my complimentary copy of the first number,
folded across, and in aspect inferior to a gratis pamphlet about a
patent medicine. The miserable little wood block which illustrated that
first number would have disgraced a baker's whitey-brown bag, would have
been unworthy to illustrate a penny bun. My spirits were certainly
dashed at the technical shortcomings of that first serial, and I was
hardly surprised when I was informed a few weeks later, that although my
admirers at Beverley were deeply interested in the story, it was not a
financial success, and that it would be only obliging on my part, and in
accordance with my known kindness of heart, if I were to restrict the
development of the romance to half its intended length, and to accept
five pounds in lieu of ten as my reward. Having no desire that the rash
Beverley printer should squander his own or his children's fortune in
the obscurity of Warwick Lane, I immediately acceded to his request,
shortened sail, and went on with my story, perhaps with a shade less
enthusiasm, having seen the shabby figure it was to make in the book
world. I may add that the Beverley publisher's payments began and ended
with his noble advance of fifty shillings. The balance was never paid;
and it was rather hard lines that, on his becoming bankrupt in his poor
little way a few years later, a judge in the Bankruptcy Court remarked
that, as Miss Braddon was now making a good deal of money by her pen,
she ought to "come to the relief" of her first publisher.


And now my volume of verses being well under weigh, I went with my
mother to farm-house lodgings in the neighbourhood of that very
Beverley, where I spent, perhaps, the happiest half-year of my
life--half a year of tranquil, studious days, far from the madding
crowd, with the mother whose society was always all sufficient for
me--half a year among level pastures, with unlimited books from the
library in Hull, an old farm-horse to ride about the green lanes, the
breath of summer, with all its sweet odours of flower and herb, around
and about us: half a year of unalloyed bliss, had it not been for one
dark shadow, the heroic figure of Garibaldi, the sailor soldier, looming
large upon the foreground of my literary labours, as the hero of a
lengthy narrative poem in the Spenserian metre.

My chief business at Beverley was to complete the volume of verse
commissioned by my Yorkshire Maecenas, at that time a very rich man, who
paid me a much better price for my literary work than his townsman, the
enterprising printer, and who had the first claim on my thought
and time.

[Illustration: THE ORANGERY.]

With the business-like punctuality of a salaried clerk, I went every
morning to my file of the _Times_, and pored and puzzled over Neapolitan
revolution and Sicilian campaign, and I can only say that if Emile Zola
has suffered as much over Sedan as I suffered in the freshness of my
youth, when flowery meadows and the old chestnut mare invited to summer
idlesse, over the fighting in Sicily, his dogged perseverance in
uncongenial labour should place him among the Immortal Forty. How I
hated the great Joseph G. and the Spenserian metre, with its exacting
demands upon the rhyming faculty. How I hated my own ignorance of modern
Italian history, and my own eyes for never having looked upon Italian
landscape, whereby historical allusion and local colour were both
wanting to that dry-as-dust record of heroic endeavour. I had only the
_Times_ correspondent; where he was picturesque I could be
picturesque--allowing always for the Spenserian straining--where he was
rich in local colour I did my utmost to reproduce his colouring,
stretched always on the Spenserian rack, and lengthened out by the
bitter necessity of finding triple rhymes. Next to Guiseppe Garibaldi I
hated Edmund Spenser, and it may be from a vengeful remembrance of those
early struggles with a difficult form of versification, that, although
throughout my literary life I have been a lover of England's earlier
poet, and have delighted in the quaintness and _naivete_ of Chaucer, I
have refrained from reading more than a casual stanza or two of the
"Faery Queen." When I lived at Beverley, Spenser was to me but a name,
and Byron's "Childe Harold" was my only model for that exacting verse. I
should add that the Beverley Maecenas, when commissioning this volume of
verse, was less superb in his ideas than the literary patron of the
past. He looked at the matter from a purely commercial standpoint, and
believed that a volume of verse, such as I could produce, would pay--a
delusion on his part which I honestly strove to combat before accepting
his handsome offer of remuneration for my time and labour. It was with
this idea in his mind that he chose and insisted upon the Sicilian
Campaign as a subject for my muse, and thus started me heavily
handicapped on the racecourse of Parnassus.


The weekly number of "Three Times Dead" was "thrown off" in brief
intervals of rest from my _magnum opus_, and it was an infinite relief
to turn from Garibaldi and his brothers in arms to the angels and the
monsters which my own brain had engendered, and which to me seemed more
alive than the good great man whose arms I so laboriously sang. My
rustic pipe far better loved to sing of melodramatic poisoners and
ubiquitous detectives; of fine houses in the West of London, and dark
dens in the East. So the weekly chapter of my first novel ran merrily
off my pen while the printer's boy waited in the farm-house kitchen.

Happy, happy days, so near to memory, and yet so far. In that peaceful
summer I finished my first novel, knocked Garibaldi on the head with a
closing rhapsody, saw the York spring and summer races in hopelessly wet
weather, learnt to love the Yorkshire people, and left Yorkshire almost
broken-heartedly on a dull gray October morning, to travel Londonwards
through a landscape that was mostly under water.

And, behold, since that October morning I have written fifty-three
novels; I have lost dear old friends and found new friends, who are also
dear, but I have never looked on a Yorkshire landscape since I turned my
reluctant eyes from those level meadows and green lanes where the old
chestnut mare used to carry me ploddingly to and fro between tall,
tangled hedges of eglantine and honeysuckle.


* * * * *






The final question discussed at our last meeting had been: What shall
our hero be? MacShaugnassy had suggested an author, with a critic for
the villain. Brown's fancy was an artist. My idea was a stockbroker,
with an undercurrent of romance in his nature. Said Jephson, who has a
practical mind, approaching at times the commercial: "The question is
not what we like, but what the female novel-reader likes."

"That is so," agreed MacShaugnassy. "I propose that we collect feminine
opinion upon this point. I will write to my aunt, and get from her the
old lady's view. You," he said, turning to me, "can put the case to your
wife, and get the young lady's ideal. Let Brown write to his sister at
Newnham, and find out whom the intellectual maiden favours, while
Jephson can learn from Miss Medbury what is most attractive to the
common-sensed girl."

This plan we had adopted, and the result was now under consideration.
MacShaugnassy opened the proceedings by reading his aunt's letter. Wrote
the old lady:

"I think, if I were you, my dear boy, I should choose a
soldier. You know your poor grandfather, who ran away to
America with that _wicked_ Mrs. Featherly, the banker's wife,
was a soldier, and so was your poor cousin Robert, who lost
eight thousand pounds at Monte Carlo. I have always felt
singularly drawn towards soldiers, even as a girl; though your
poor dear uncle could not bear them. You will find many
allusions to soldiers and men of war in the Old Testament (see
Jer. 48,14). Of course one does not like to think of their
fighting and killing each other, but then they do not seem to
do much of that sort of thing nowadays."

"So much for the old lady," said MacShaugnassy, as he folded up the
letter and returned it to his pocket. "What says culture?"

[Illustration: BROWN READ AS FOLLOWS.]

Brown produced from his cigar-case a letter addressed in a bold round
hand, and read as follows:

"What a curious coincidence! A few of us were discussing this
very subject last night in Millicent Hightopper's rooms, and I
may tell you at once that our decision was unanimous in favour
of soldiers. You see, my dear Selkirk, in human nature the
attraction is towards the opposite. To a milliner's apprentice
a poet would no doubt be satisfying; to a woman of intelligence
he would be an unutterable bore. The man of brain is not for
the woman of brain. What the intellectual woman requires in man
is not something to argue with, but something to look at. To an
empty-headed woman I can imagine the soldier type proving vapid
and uninteresting; to the woman of mind he represents her ideal
of man--a creature strong, handsome, well-dressed, and not
too clever."

"That gives us two votes for the army," remarked MacShaugnassy, as Brown
tore his sister's letter in two, and threw the pieces into the
waste-paper basket. "What says the common-sensed girl?"

"First catch your common-sensed girl," muttered Jephson, a little
grumpily, as it seemed to me. "Where do you propose finding her?"

"Well," returned MacShaugnassy, "I looked to find her in Miss Medbury."

As a rule, the mention of Miss Medbury's name brings a flush of joy to
Jephson's face; but now his features wore an expression distinctly
approaching a scowl.

"Oh!" he replied, "did you? Well, then, the common-sensed girl loves the
military, also."

"By Jove!" exclaimed MacShaugnassy, "what an extraordinary thing. What
reason does she give?"

"That they look so nice when they're dressed, and that they dance so
divinely," answered Jephson, shortly.

"Well, you do surprise me," murmured MacShaugnassy, "I am astonished."

Then to me he said: "And what does the young married woman say? The

"Yes," I replied, "precisely the same."

"Does _she_ give a reason?" he asked.

"Oh, yes," I explained; "because you can't help liking them."

There was silence for the next few minutes, while we smoked and thought.
I fancy we were all wishing we had never started this enquiry.

That four distinctly different types of educated womanhood should, with
promptness and unanimity quite unfeminine, have selected the soldier as
their ideal, was certainly discouraging to the civilian heart. Had they
been nursemaids or servant girls, I should have expected it. The worship
of Mars by the Venus of the white cap is one of the few vital religions
left to this devoutless age. A year or two ago I lodged near a barracks,
and the sight to be seen round its huge iron gates on Sunday afternoons
I shall never forget. The girls began to assemble about twelve o'clock.
By two, at which hour the army, with its hair nicely oiled and a cane in
its hand, was ready for a stroll, there would be some four or five
hundred of them waiting in a line. Formerly they had collected in a wild
mob, and as the soldiers were let out to them two at a time, had fought
for them, as lions for early Christians. This, however, had led to
scenes of such disorder and brutality, that the police had been obliged
to interfere; and the girls were now marshalled in _queue_, two abreast,
and compelled, by a force of constables specially told off for the
purpose, to keep their places and wait their proper turn.

At three o'clock the sentry on duty would come down to the wicket and
close it. "They're all gone, my dears," he would shout out to the girls
still left; "it's no good your stopping, we've no more for you to-day."

"Oh, not one!" some poor child would murmur pleadingly, while the tears
welled up into her big round eyes, "not even a little one. I've been
waiting _such_ a long time."

"Can't help that," the honest fellow would reply, gruffly, but not
unkindly, turning aside to hide his emotion; "you've had 'em all between
you. We don't make 'em, you know: you can't have 'em if we haven't got
'em, can you? Come earlier next time."

[Illustration: "NOW THEN, PASS ALONG."]

Then he would hurry away to escape further importunity; and the police,
who appeared to have been waiting for this moment with gloating
anticipation, would jeeringly hustle away the weeping remnant. "Now
then, pass along, you girls, pass along," they would say, in that
irritatingly unsympathetic voice of theirs. "You've had your chance.
Can't have the roadway blocked up all the afternoon with this 'ere
demonstration of the unloved. You'll have to put up with your ordinary
young men for to-day. Pass along."

In connection with this same barracks, our charwoman told Amenda, who
told Ethelbertha, who told me a story, which I now told the boys.

Into a certain house, in a certain street in the neighbourhood, there
moved one day a certain family. Their servant had left them--most of
their servants did at the end of a week--and the day after the moving-in
an advertisement was drawn up and sent to the _Chronicle_ for a
domestic. It ran thus:

WANTED GENERAL SERVANT, in small family of eleven. Wages, L6;
no beer money. Must be early riser and hard worker. Washing
done at home. Must be good cook, and not object to
window-cleaning. Unitarian preferred.--Apply, with references,
to A. B., &C.

That advertisement was sent off on Wednesday afternoon. At seven o'clock
on Thursday morning the whole family were awakened by continuous ringing
of the street door bell. The husband, looking out of window, was
surprised to see a crowd of about fifty girls surrounding the house. He
slipped on his dressing-gown and went down to see what was the matter.
The moment he opened the door, fifteen of them charged tumultuously into
the passage, sweeping him completely off his legs. Once inside, these
fifteen faced round, fought the other thirty-five or so back on to the
door-step, and slammed the door in their faces. Then they picked up the
master of the house, and asked him politely to conduct them to "A. B."


At first, owing to the clamour of the mob outside, who were hammering at
the door and shouting curses through the keyhole on those inside, he was
too confused to understand anything, but by dint of great exertion they
succeeded at length in explaining to him that they were domestic
servants come in answer to his wife's advertisement. The man went and
told his wife, and his wife said she would see them, one at a time.

Which one should have audience first was a delicate question to decide.
The man, on being appealed to, said he would prefer to leave it to them.
They accordingly discussed the matter among themselves. At the end of a
quarter of an hour, the victor, having borrowed a packet of pins and a
looking-glass from our charwoman, who had slept in the house, went
upstairs, while the remaining fourteen sat down in the hall, and fanned
themselves with their bonnets.

"A. B." was a good deal astonished when the first applicant presented
herself. She was a tall, genteel-looking, well-dressed girl. Up to
yesterday she had been head housemaid at Lady Stanton's, and before that
she had been under-cook for two years to the Duchess of York.

"And why did you leave Lady Stanton?" asked "A. B."

"To come here, mum," replied the girl.

The lady was puzzled.

"And you'll be satisfied with six pounds a year?" she asked.

"Certainly, mum, I think it ample."

"And you don't mind hard work?"

"I love it, mum."

"And you're an early riser?"

"Oh yes, mum, it upsets me stopping in bed after half-past five."

"You know we do the washing at home?"

"Yes, mum. I think it so much better to do it at home. Those laundries
ruin good clothes. They're so careless."

"Are you a Unitarian?" continued the lady.

"Not yet, mum," replied the girl, "but I should like to be one."

The lady took her reference, and said she would write her.

"I do hope you will give me a trial, mum," pleaded the girl, as she rose
to go; "I would try so hard to give you satisfaction."

The next applicant offered to come for three pounds--thought six pounds
too much. She also expressed her willingness to sleep in the back
kitchen: a shakedown under the sink was all she wanted. She likewise had
yearnings towards Unitarianism.

The third girl did not require any wages at all--could not understand
what servants wanted with wages--thought wages only encouraged a love of
foolish finery--thought a comfortable home in a Unitarian family ought
to be sufficient wages for any girl.

This girl said there was one stipulation she should like to make, and
that was that she should be allowed to pay for all breakages caused by
her own carelessness or neglect. She objected to holidays and evenings
out on principle; she held that they distracted a girl from her work.


The fourth candidate offered a premium of five pounds for the place; and
then "A.B." began to get frightened, and refused to see any more of the
girls, convinced that they must be lunatics from some neighbouring
asylum out for a walk.

Later in the day, meeting the next door lady on the door-step, she
related her morning's experiences.

"Oh, that's nothing extraordinary," said the next door lady; "none of us
on this side of the street pay wages; and we get the pick of all the
best servants in London. Why, girls will come from the other end of the
kingdom to get into one of these houses. It's the dream of their lives.
They save up for years, so as to be able to come here for nothing."

"What's the attraction?" asked "A. B.," more amazed than ever.

"Why, don't you see," explained the next door lady, "our back windows
open upon the barrack yard. A girl living in one of these houses is
always close to soldiers. By looking out of window she can always see
soldiers; and sometimes a soldier will nod to her, or even call up to
her. They never dream of asking for wages. They'll work eighteen hours a
day, and put up with anything just to be allowed to stop."

"A.B." profited by this information, and engaged the girl who offered
the five pounds premium. She found her a perfect treasure of a servant.
She was invariably willing and respectful, slept on a sofa in the
kitchen, and was always contented with an egg for her dinner.


The truth of this story I cannot vouch for. Myself, I can believe it.
Brown and MacShaugnassy made no attempt to do so, which seemed
unfriendly. Jephson excused himself on the plea of a headache. I admit
there are points in it presenting difficulties to the average intellect.
As I explained at the commencement, it was told to me by Ethelbertha,
who had it from Amenda, who got it from the charwoman, and exaggerations
may have crept into it. The following, however, were incidents that came
under my own personal observation. They afforded a still stronger
example of the influence exercised by Tommy Atkins upon the British
domestic, and I therefore thought it right to relate them also to
the boys.

"The heroine of them," I said, "is our Amenda. Now, you would call her a
tolerably well-behaved, orderly young woman, would you not?"

"She is my ideal of unostentatious respectability," answered

"That was my opinion also," I replied. "You can, therefore, imagine my
feelings on passing her one evening in the Folkestone High Street with a
Panama hat upon her head (my Panama hat), and a soldier's arm round her
waist. She was one of a mob, composed of all the unoccupied riff-raff of
Folkestone, who were following the band of the Third Berkshire Infantry,
then in camp at Sandgate. There was an ecstatic, far-away look in her
eyes. She was dancing rather than walking, and with her left hand she
beat time to the music."

"I should say you were suffering from a mild attack of D.T. when you saw
all that," said MacShaugnassy.

"So I might have thought myself," I said; "but Ethelbertha was with me
at the time, and she saw it too. We stared after the procession until it
had turned the corner, and then we stared at each other.

"'Oh, it's impossible,' said Ethelbertha to me.

"'But that was my hat,' I said to Ethelbertha.

"The moment we reached home Ethelbertha looked for Amenda, and I looked
for my hat. Neither were to be found.

[Illustration: "AND HUNG MY HAT UP."]

"Nine o'clock struck, ten o'clock struck. At half-past ten, we went down
and got our own supper, and had it in the kitchen. At a quarter-past
eleven, Amenda returned. She walked into the kitchen without a word,
hung my hat up behind the door, and commenced clearing away the
supper things.

"Ethelbertha rose, calm but severe.

"'Where have you been, Amenda?' she enquired.

"'Gadding half over the county with a lot of low soldiers,' answered
Amenda, continuing her work.

"'You had on my hat,' I added, somewhat gloomily. It was not the right
view to take of the case, I know, but, personally, that fact grieved me
more than all the other incidents in the proceeding put together, sad
though I felt these to be. It was an expensive hat, and Ethelbertha said
it suited me (there are not many that do). After seeing it that night on
Amenda's head, my pride in it was gone.

"'Yes, sir,' replied Amenda, still continuing her work, 'it was the
first thing that came to hand. What I'm thankful for is that it wasn't
missis's best bonnet.'

"Whether Ethelbertha was mollified by the proper spirit displayed in
this last remark, I cannot say, but I think it probable. At all events,
it was in a voice more of sorrow than of anger that she resumed her

"'You were walking with a soldier's arm around your waist when we passed
you, Amenda?' she observed interrogatively.

"'I know, mum,' admitted Amenda, 'I found it there myself when the music

"Ethelbertha looked her enquiries. Amenda filled a saucepan with water,
and then replied to them.

"'I'm a disgrace to a decent household,' she said; 'no mistress who
respected herself would keep me a moment. I ought to be put out on the
doorstep with my box and a month's wages.'

"'But why did you do it then?' said Ethelbertha, with natural

"'Because I'm a helpless ninny, mum.' There was no trace of bitterness
or passion in Amenda's tones. She spoke in the calm, even voice of a
person stating facts.

"'I can't help myself,' she went on; 'if I see soldiers I'm bound to
follow them. It runs in our family. My poor cousin Emma was just such
another fool. She was engaged to be married to a quiet, respectable
young fellow with a shop of his own, and three days before the wedding
she ran off with a regiment of marines and married the colour-sergeant.
That's what I shall end by doing. I've been all the way to Sandgate with
that lot you saw me with, and I've kissed four of them--the nasty
wretches. I'm a nice sort of girl to be walking out with a
respectable milkman.'

"She was so deeply disgusted with herself that it seemed superfluous for
anybody else to be indignant with her; and Ethelbertha changed her tone
and tried to comfort her.

"'Oh, you'll get over all that nonsense, Amenda,' she said, laughingly;
'you see yourself how silly it is. You must tell Mr. Bowles to keep you
away from soldiers.'

"'Ah, I can't look at it in the same light way that you do, mum,'
returned Amenda, somewhat reprovingly; 'a girl that can't see a bit of
red marching down the street without wanting to rush out and follow it
ain't fit to be anybody's wife. Why I should be leaving the shop with
nobody in it about twice a week, and he'd have to go the round of all
the barracks in London, looking for me. I shall save up and get myself
into a lunatic asylum, that's what I shall do.'

"Ethelbertha began to grow quite troubled. 'But surely this is something
altogether new, Amenda,' she said; 'you must have often met soldiers
when you've been out in London?'

"'Oh, yes, one or two at a time, walking about anyhow, I can stand that
all right. It's when there's a lot of them all together with a band that
I lose my head.'


"'You don't know what it's like, mum,' she added, noticing Ethelbertha's
puzzled expression; 'you've never had it. I only hope you never may.'

"We kept a careful watch over Amenda during the remainder of our stay at
Folkestone, and an anxious time we had of it. Every day some regiment or
other would march through the town, and at the first sound of its music
Amenda would become restless and excited. The Pied Piper's reed could
not have stirred the Hamelin children deeper than did those Sandgate
bands the heart of our domestic. Fortunately, they generally passed
early in the morning when we were indoors, but one day, returning home
to lunch, we heard distant strains dying away upon the Hythe Road. We
hurried in. Ethelbertha ran down into the kitchen; it was empty!--up
into Amenda's bedroom; it was vacant! We called. There was no answer.

"'That miserable girl has gone off again,' said Ethelbertha. 'What a
terrible misfortune it is for her. It's quite a disease.'

"Ethelbertha wanted me to go to Sandgate camp and enquire for her. I was
sorry for the girl myself, but the picture of a young and
innocent-looking man wandering about a complicated camp, enquiring for a
lost domestic, presenting itself to my mind, I said that I'd rather not.

"Ethelbertha thought me heartless, and said that if I would not go she
would go herself. I replied that I thought one female member of my
household was enough in that camp at a time, and requested her not to.
Ethelbertha expressed her sense of my inhuman behaviour by haughtily
declining to eat any lunch, and I expressed my sense of her
unreasonableness by sweeping the whole meal into the grate, after which
Ethelbertha suddenly developed exuberant affection for the cat (who
didn't want anybody's love, but wanted to get under the grate after the
lunch), and I became supernaturally absorbed in the day-before-
yesterday's newspaper.

[Illustration: "'WHO LOCKED YOU IN THERE?'"]

"In the afternoon, strolling out into the garden, I heard the faint cry
of a female in distress. I listened attentively, and the cry was
repeated. I thought it sounded like Amenda's voice, but where it came
from I could not conceive. It drew nearer, however, as I approached the
bottom of the garden, and at last I located it in a small wooden shed,
used by the proprietor of the house as a dark room for developing

"The door was locked. 'Is that you, Amenda?' I cried through the

"'Yes, sir,' came back the muffled answer. 'Will you please let me out;
you'll find the key on the ground near the door.'

"I discovered it on the grass about a yard away, and released her. 'Who
locked you in there?' I asked.

"'I did, sir,' she replied; 'I locked myself in, and pushed the key out
under the door. I had to do it, or I should have gone off with those
beastly soldiers.'

"'I hope I haven't inconvenienced you, sir,' she added, stepping out; 'I
left the lunch all laid.'"

Amenda's passion for soldiers was her one tribute to sentiment. Towards
all others of the male sex she maintained an attitude of callous
unsusceptibility, and her engagements with them (which were numerous)
were entered into or abandoned on grounds so sordid as to seriously
shock Ethelbertha.

When she came to us she was engaged to a pork butcher--with a milkman in
reserve. For Amenda's sake we dealt with the man, but we never liked
him, and we liked his pork still less. When, therefore, Amenda announced
to us that her engagement with him was "off," and intimated that her
feelings would in no way suffer by our going elsewhere for our bacon, we
secretly rejoiced.

[Illustration: "HER ENGAGEMENT WAS 'OFF.'"]

"I am confident you have done right, Amenda," said Ethelbertha; "you
would never have been happy with that man."

"No, mum, I don't think I ever should," replied Amenda. "I don't see how
any girl could as hadn't got the digestion of an ostrich."

Ethelbertha looked puzzled. "But what has digestion got to do with it?"
she asked.

"A pretty good deal, mum," answered Amenda, "when you're thinking of
marrying a man as can't make a sausage fit to eat."

"But, surely," exclaimed Ethelbertha, "you don't mean to say you're
breaking off the match because you don't like his sausages!"

"Well, I suppose that's what it comes to," agreed Amenda, unconcernedly.

"What an awful idea!" sighed poor Ethelbertha, after a long pause. "Do
you think you ever really loved him?"

"Oh, yes," said Amenda, "I loved him right enough, but it's no good
loving a man that wants you to live on sausages that keep you awake
all night."

"But does he want you to live on sausages?" persisted Ethelbertha.

"Oh, he doesn't say anything about it," explained Amenda; "but you know
what it is, mum, when you marry a pork butcher: you're expected to eat
what's left over. That's the mistake my poor cousin Eliza made. She
married a muffin man. Of course, what he didn't sell they had to finish
up themselves. Why, one winter, when he had a run of bad luck, they
lived for two months on nothing but muffins. I never saw a girl so
changed in all my life. One has to think of these things, you know."

Later on, she engaged herself to a solicitor's messenger. She did
this--as she frankly avowed to Ethelbertha--to assist her family, who
were prosecuting some petty law case at the time. He was a smart, steady
man, a great favourite with his employers, and, out of kindly feeling
towards him, they did the business for Amenda's father, charging only

[Illustration: "GAVE HER A COCOANUT."]

Six months after the case was ended, she broke off the match. She said
that, on reflection, she could not help seeing what an advantage he
would have over her--he being in a solicitor's office, with the law at
his fingers' ends--should she ever find it necessary to summons him.

"But, my good girl," said Ethelbertha, quite distressed, "one doesn't
marry a man with the idea of subsequently summonsing him!"

"No, mum," said Amenda, "one always hopes one will never need to, I'm
sure, but it's just as well to be prepared. I knew a girl, when I was in
service at Hastings, that loved a printer, and they were both going to
commit suicide because her parents didn't want 'em to marry; and now he
costs her four shillings a month regular in summonses. It's no good
shutting one's eyes to things, mum."

But the most shamefully mercenary engagement that I think Amenda ever
entered into was one with a 'bus conductor. We were living in the North
of London then, and she had a young man, a cheesemonger, who kept a shop
in Lupus Street, Chelsea. He could not come up to her because of the
shop, so once a week she used to go down to him. One did not ride ten
miles for a penny in those days, and she found the fare from Holloway to
Victoria and back a severe tax upon her purse. The same 'bus that took
her down at six brought her back at ten. During the first journey the
'bus conductor stared at Amenda; during the second he talked to her,
during the third he gave her a cocoanut, during the fourth he proposed
to her, and was promptly accepted. After that, Amenda was enabled to
visit her cheesemonger without expense.

[Illustration: "'I DESIRE SHARING CROSS.'"]

He was a quaint character himself, was this 'bus conductor. I often rode
with him to Fleet Street. He knew me quite well (I suppose Amenda must
have pointed me out to him), and would always ask me after her--aloud,
before all the other passengers, which was trying--and give me messages
to take back to her. Where women were concerned he had what is called "a
way" with him, and from the extent and variety of his female
acquaintance, and the evident tenderness with which the majority of them
regarded him, I am inclined to hope that Amenda's desertion of him
(which happened contemporaneously with her jilting of the cheesemonger)
caused him less prolonged suffering than might otherwise have been
the case.

He was a man from whom I derived a good deal of amusement one way and
another. Thinking of him brings back to my mind a somewhat odd incident.

One afternoon, I jumped upon his 'bus in the Seven Sisters Road. An
elderly Frenchman was the only other occupant of the vehicle. "You vil
not forget me," the Frenchman was saying as I entered, "I desire
Sharing Cross."

"I won't forget yer," answered the conductor, "you shall 'ave yer
Sharing Cross. Don't make a fuss about it."

"That's the third time 'ee's arst me not to forget 'im," he remarked to
me in a stentorian aside; "'ee don't giv' yer much chance of doin' it,
does 'ee?"

At the corner of the Holloway Road we drew up, and our conductor began
to shout after the manner of his species: "Charing Cross--Charing
Cross--'ere yer are--Come along, lady--Charing Cross."

The little Frenchman jumped up, and prepared to exit; the conductor
pushed him back.

"Sit down and don't be silly," he said; "this ain't Charing Cross."

The Frenchman looked puzzled, but collapsed meekly. We picked up a few
passengers, and proceeded on our way. Half a mile up the Liverpool Road
a lady stood on the kerb regarding us as we passed with that pathetic
mingling of desire and distrust which is the average woman's attitude
towards conveyances of all kinds. Our conductor stopped.

"Where d'yer want to go to?" he asked her severely--omnibus conductors
have a manner of addressing all pedestrians as though they were lost
children or suspicious loiterers--"Strand--Charing Cross?"


The Frenchman did not hear or did not understand the first part of the
speech, but he caught the words "Charing Cross," and bounced up and out
on to the step. The conductor collared him as he was getting off, and
jerked him back savagely.

"Carnt yer keep still a minute," he cried indignantly; "blessed if you
don't want lookin' after like a bloomin' kid."

"I vont to be put down at Sharing Cross," answered the little Frenchman,

"You vont to be put down at Sharing Cross," repeated the other bitterly,
as he led him back to his seat. "I shall put yer down in the middle of
the road if I 'ave much more of yer. You stop there till I come and
sling yer out. I ain't likely to let yer go much past yer Sharing Cross,
I shall be too jolly glad to get rid o' yer."

The poor Frenchman subsided, and we jolted on. At "The Angel" we, of
course, stopped. "Charing Cross," shouted the conductor, and up sprang
the Frenchman.

"Oh, my Gawd," said the conductor, taking him by the shoulders and
forcing him down into the corner seat, "wot am I to do? Carnt somebody
sit on 'im?"


He held him firmly down until the 'bus started, and then released him.
At the top of Chancery Lane the same scene took place, and the poor
little Frenchman became exasperated.

"He keep on saying Sharing Cross, Sharing Cross," he exclaimed, turning
to the other passengers; "and it is _not_ Sharing Cross. He is fool."

"Carnt yer understand," retorted the conductor, equally indignant; "of
course I say Sharing Cross--I mean Charing Cross, but that don't mean
that it _is_ Charing Cross. That means that--" and then perceiving from
the blank look in the Frenchman's face the utter impossibility of ever
making the matter clear to him, he turned to us with an appealing
gesture, and asked:

"Does any gentleman know the French for 'bloomin' idiot'?"

A day or two afterwards, I happened to enter his omnibus again.

"Well," I asked him, "did you get your French friend to Charing Cross
all right?"

"No, sir," he replied, "you'll 'ardly believe it, but I 'ad a bit of a
row with a policeman just before I got to the corner, and it put 'im
clean out o' my 'ead. Blessed if I didn't run 'im on to Victoria."

(_To be continued_.)

* * * * *




O'er glassy levels of the mere
She glides on slanting skate;
She loves in fairy curves to veer
And weave her figure eight.
Bright flower in fur, I would thy feet
Could weave my heart and thine, my sweet,
Thus into one glad life complete!
Harsh winter, rage thy rudest:
Freeze, freeze, thou churlish sky;
Blow, arctic wind, thy shrewdest--
What care my heart and I!

* * * * *




[Illustration: "ANDREAS."]

I think it quite likely that some of my young American friends, about
ten months ago, were burning to have an opportunity of accompanying
General Miles down the Pacific coast, and of describing in glowing
sentences to their countrymen at home how Uncle Sam's young man turned
to flight the Chilian insurrectionists, who were breathing out
threatening and slaughter against the great Northern Republic. There is
an undoubted fascination in the picturesque and adventurous life of the
war correspondent. One must, of course, have a distinct bent for the
avocation, and if he is to succeed he must possess certain salient
attributes. He must expose himself to rather greater risks than fall to
the lot of the average fighting man, without enjoying any of the
happiness of retaliation which stirs the blood of the latter; the
correspondent must sit quietly on his horse in the fire, and, while
watching every turn in the battle, must wear the aspect as if he rather
enjoyed the storm of missiles than otherwise. When the fighting is over,
the soldier, if not killed, generally can eat and sleep; ere the echoes
of it are silent, the correspondent of energy--and if he has not energy
he is not worth his salt--must already be galloping his hardest towards
the nearest telegraph wire, which, as like as not, is a hundred miles
distant. He must "get there," by hook or by crook, in a minimum of time;
and as soon as his message is on the wires, he must be hurrying back to
the army, else he may chance to miss the great battle of the war. The
correspondent must be most things to all men; he must have the sweet,
angelic temper of a woman, be as affable as if he were running for
office, and at the same time be big and ugly enough to impress the
conviction that it would be extremely unwise to take any liberties
with him.

The career, no doubt, has some incidental drawbacks. No fewer than five
British correspondents were killed in the recent campaigns in the
Soudan. General Sherman threatened to hang all the correspondents found
in his camp after a certain day, and General Sherman was the kind of man
to fulfil any threat he made. I suppose there was no correspondent
taking part in the Franco-German and Russo-Turkish wars who was not in
custody over and over again on suspicion of being a spy. I have been a
prisoner myself in France, Spain, Servia, Germany, Austria, Hungary,
Russia, Roumania and Bulgaria; and I may perhaps venture to remark in
passing that I cannot recommend any of these countries from this point
of view. But the casual confinements, half irritating, half comic, to
which he may be subjected, do not bother the war correspondent of the
old world nearly as much as do the foreign languages which, if he is not
a good linguist, hamper him every hour of every day. He really should
possess the gift of tongues--be conversant with all European languages,
a neat assortment of the Asiatic languages, and a few of the African
tongues, such as Abyssinian, Ashantee, Zulu, and Soudanese. But how few
in the nature of things can approximate this polyglot versatility. Often
in Eastern Europe, and in Afghanistan, I have envied Messrs. Swinton,
Smalley, Whitelaw Reed, and the other notable war correspondents of the
American Civil War, in that they had not the difficulties of outlandish
tongues to contend with. I own myself to be a poor linguist, and have
many and many a time suffered for my dullness of what the Scotch call
"up-take." It is true that I was fairly conversant with French and
German, and could express my wants in Russian, Roumanian, Bulgarian,
Spanish, Turkish, Hindustanee, Pushtoo, and Burmese, every word of which
smatterings I have long since forgotten. But the truth is that the
poorest peoples in the world in acquiring foreign languages are the
English and the French; the readiest are the Russians and Americans. It
was, after a fashion, a liberal education to listen to the fluency in
some half-dozen languages of Poor McGahan, the "Ohio boy," who graduated
from the plough to be perhaps the most brilliant war correspondent of
modern times. His compatriot and colleague, Frank Millet, who has fallen
away from glory as a war correspondent, and has taken to the inferior
trade of painting, seemed to pick up a language by the mere accident of
finding himself on the soil where it was spoken. In the first three
days, after crossing the Danube into Bulgaria, Millet went about with
book in hand, gathering in the names of things at which he pointed, and
jotting down each acquisition in the book. On the fourth day he could
swear in Bulgarian, copiously, fervently, and with a measure of
intelligibility. Within a week he had conquered the uncouth tongue. As
he voyaged lately down the Danube from source to mouth, charmingly
describing the scenic panorama of the great river in the pages of
_Harper_, those of you who have read those sketches will not have failed
to notice how Millet talked to German, Hungarian, Servian, Bulgarian,
Roumanian, and Turkish, each in his own tongue, those diverse languages
having been acquired by him during the few months of the
Russo-Turkish war.


By this time, you may be wondering just where "Andreas" comes in.
Perhaps I have been over long in getting to my specific subject; but I
will not be discursive any more. It was at the _table d'hote_ in the
Serbische Krone Hotel, in Belgrade, where I first set eyes on Andreas.
In the year 1876, Servia had thought proper to throw off the yoke of her
Turkish suzerain, and to attempt to assert her independence by force of
arms. But for very irregularly paid tribute she was virtually
independent already, and probably in all Servia there were not two
hundred Turks. But she ambitiously desired to have the name of as well
as the actuality of being independent; the Russians helped her with
arms, officers, and volunteer soldiers; and when I reached Belgrade, in
May of the year named, there had already been fighting, in which the
Servians had by no means got the worst. No word of the Servian tongue
had I, and it was the reverse of pleasant for a war correspondent in
such plight to learn that outside of Belgrade nobody, or at least hardly
anybody, knew a word of any other language than the native Servian. As I
ate, I was being attended by a very assiduous waiter, whose alertness
and anxiety to please were very conspicuous. He was smart with quite
un-Oriental smartness; he whisked about the tables with deftness; he
spoke to me in German, to the Russian officers over against me in what I
assumed was Russian, to the Servians dining behind me in what I took to
be Servian. I liked the look of the man; there was intelligence in his
aspect. One could not call him handsome, but there was character in the
keen black eye, the high features and the pronounced chin, fringed on
either side by bushy black whiskers.

[Illustration: "ANDREAS AS A FORAGER."]

I had brought no servant with me; the average British servant is worse
than useless in a foreign country, and the dubiously-polyglot courier is
a snare and a deception on campaign. I had my eye on Andreas for a
couple of days, during which he was of immense service to me. He seemed
to know and stand well with everyone in Belgrade; it was he, indeed, who
presented me in the restaurant to the Prime Minister and the Minister
for War, who got together for me my field necessaries, who helped me to
buy my horses, and who narrated to me the progress of the campaign so
far as it had gone. On the third day I had him in my room and asked
whether he would like to come with me into the field as my servant. He
accepted the offer with effusion; we struck hands on the compact; he
tendered me credentials which I ascertained to be extremely
satisfactory; and then he gave me a little sketch of himself. It was
somewhat mixed, as indeed was his origin. Primarily he was a Servian,
but his maternal grandmother had been a Bosniak, an earlier ancestress
had been in a Turkish harem, there was a strain in his blood of the
Hungarian zinganee--the gipsy of Eastern Europe, and one could not look
at his profile without a suspicion that there was a Jewish element in
his pedigree. "A pure mongrel," was what a gentleman of the British
Legation termed Andreas, and this self-contradictory epithet was
scarcely out of place.

Andreas turned out well. He was as hardy as a hill-goat, careless how
and when he ate, or where he slept, which, indeed, was mostly in the
open. It seemed to me that he had cousins all over Servia, chiefly of
the female persuasion, and I am morally certain that the Turkish strain
in his blood had in Andreas its natural development in a species of
_fin-de-siecle_ polygamy. Sherman's prize "bummer" was not in it with
Andreas as a forager. At first, indeed, I suspected him of actual
plundering, so copiously did he bring in supplies, and so little had I
to pay for them; but I was not long in discovering that all kinds of
produce were dirt cheap in Servia, and that as I could myself buy a lamb
for a quarter, it was not surprising that Andreas, to the manner born,
could easily obtain one for half the money. He was an excellent
horsemaster, and the stern vigour with which he chastised the occasional
neglect of the cousin whom he had brought into my service as groom, was
borne in upon me by the frequent howls which were audible from the rear
of my tent. There was not a road in all Servia with whose every winding
Andreas was not conversant, and this "extensive and peculiar" knowledge
of his was often of great service to me. He was a light-weight and an
excellent rider; I have sent him off to Belgrade with a telegram at
dusk, and he was back again by breakfast time next morning, after a
gallop of quite a hundred miles.

No exertion fatigued him; I never saw the man out of humour; there was
but one matter in regard to which I ever had to chide him, and in that I
had perforce to let him have his own way, because I do not believe that
he could restrain himself. He had served the term in the army which is,
or was then, obligatory on all Servians; and on the road or in camp he
was rather more of a "peace at any price" man than ever was the late Mr.
John Bright himself. When the first fight occurred, Andreas claimed to
be allowed to witness it along with me. I demurred; he might get hit;
and if anything should happen to him, what should I do for a servant? At
length I gave him the firm order to remain in camp, and started myself
with the groom behind me on my second horse. The fighting occurred eight
miles from camp, and in the course of it, leaving the groom in the rear,
I had accompanied the Russian General Dochtouroff into a most
unpleasantly hot place, where a storm of Turkish shells were falling in
the effort to hinder the withdrawal of a disabled Servian battery. I
happened to glance over my shoulder, and lo! Andreas on foot was at my
horse's tail, obviously in a state of ecstatic enjoyment of the
situation. I peremptorily ordered him back, and he departed sullenly,
calmly strolling along the line of Turkish fire. Just then, Tchernaieff,
the Servian Commander-in-Chief, had, it seemed, ordered a detachment of
infantry to take in flank the Turkish guns. From where we stood I could
discern the Servian soldiers hurrying forward close under the fringe of
a wood near the line of retirement along which Andreas was sulking.
Andreas saw them too, and retreated no step further, but cut across to
them, snatching up a gun as he ran, and the last I saw of him was while
he was waving on the militiamen with his billycock, and loosing off an
occasional bullet, while he emitted yells of defiance against the Turks,
which might well have struck terror into their very marrow. Andreas came
into camp at night very streaky with powder stains, minus the lobe of
one ear, uneasy as he caught my eye, yet with a certain elateness of
mien. I sacked him that night, and he said he didn't care, and that he
was not ashamed of himself. Next morning, as I was rising, he rushed
into the tent, knelt down, clasped my knees, and bedewed my ankles with
his tears. Of course I reinstated him; I couldn't do without him, and I
think he knew it.

[Illustration: "SNATCHING UP A GUN AS HE RAN."]

But I had yielded too easily. Andreas had established a precedent. He
insisted, in a quiet, positive manner, on accompanying me to every
subsequent battle; and I had to consent, always taking his pledge that
he would obey the injunctions I might lay upon him. And, as a matter of
course, he punctually and invariably violated that pledge when the
crisis of the fighting was drawing to a head, and just when this "peace
at any price" man could not control the bloodthirst that was
parching him.

One never knows how events are to fall out. It happened that this
resolution on the part of Andreas to accompany me into the fights once
assuredly saved my life. It was on the day of Djunis, the last battle
fought by the Servians. In the early part of the day there was a good
deal of scattered woodland fighting in front of the entrenched line,
which they abandoned when the Turks came on in earnest. Andreas and I
were among the trees trying to find a position from which something was
to be seen, when all of a sudden I, who was in advance, plumped right
into the centre of a small scouting party of Turks. They tore me out of
the saddle, and I had given myself up for lost--for the Turks took no
prisoners, their cheerful practice being to slaughter first and then
abominably to mutilate--when suddenly Andreas dashed in among my
captors, shouting aloud in a language which I took to be Turkish, since
he bellowed "Effendi" as he pointed to me. He had thrown away his
billycock and substituted a fez, which he afterwards told me he always
carried in case of accidents, and in one hand he waved a dingy piece of
parchment with a seal dangling from it, which I assumed was some
obsolete firman. The result was truly amazing, and the scene had some
real humour in it. With profound salaams, the Turks unhanded me, helped
me to mount, and, as I rode off at a tangent with Andreas at my horse's
head, called after me what sounded like friendly farewells. When we were
back among the Russians--I don't remember seeing much of the Servians
later on that day--Andreas explained that he had passed himself for the
Turkish dragoman of a British correspondent whom the Padishah delighted
to honour, and that, after expressing a burning desire to defile the
graves of their collective female ancestry, he had assured my captors
that they might count themselves as dead men if they did not immediately
release me. To his ready-witted conduct I undoubtedly owe the ability to
write now this record of a man of curiously complicated nature.

When the campaign ended with the Servian defeat at Djunis, Andreas went
back to his headwaitership at the Serbische Krone in Belgrade. Before
leaving that capital I had the honour of being present at his nuptials,
a ceremony the amenity of which was somewhat disturbed by the violent
incursion into the sacred edifice of sundry ladies all claiming to have
prior claims on the bridegroom of the hour. They were, however,
placated, and subsequently joined the marriage feast in the great arbour
behind the Krone. Andreas faithfully promised to come to me to the ends
of the earth on receipt of a telegram, if I should require his services,
and he were alive.


Next spring the Russo-Turkish war broke out, and I hurried eastward in
time to see the first Cossack cross the Pruth. I had telegraphed to
Andreas from England to meet me at Bazias on the Danube below Belgrade.
Bazias is the place where the railway used to end, and where we took
steamer for the Lower Danube. Andreas was duly on hand, ready and
serviceable as of old, a little fatter, and a trifle more consequential
than when we had last parted. He was, if possible, rather more at home
in Bucharest than he had been in Belgrade, and recommended me to
Brofft's Hotel, in comparison with which the charges of the Brunswick in
New York are infinitesimal. He bought my wagon and team, he found riding
horses when they were said to be unprocurable, he constructed a most
ingenious tent, of which the wagon was, so to speak, the roof-tree, he
laid in stores, arranged for relays of couriers, and furnished me with a
coachman in the person of a Roumanian Jew who he one day owned was a
distant connection, and whose leading attribute was, that he could
survive more sleep than any other human being I have ever known. We took
the field auspiciously, Mr. Frederic Villiers, the war artist of the
London _Graphic_, being my campaigning comrade. Thus early I discerned a
slight rift in the lute. Andreas did not like Villiers, which showed his
bad taste, or rather, perhaps, the narrowness of his capacity of
affection; and I fear Villiers did not much like Andreas, whom he
thought too familiar. This was true, and it was my fault; but really it
was with difficulty that I could bring myself to treat Andreas as a
servant. He was more, in my estimation, in the nature of the
confidential major-domo, and to me he was simply invaluable. Villiers
had to chew his moustache, and glower discontentedly at Andreas.

I had some good couriers for the conveyance of despatches back across
the Danube to Bucharest, whence everything was telegraphed to London;
but they were essentially fair-weather men. The casual courier may be
alert, loyal, and trustworthy; he may be relied on to try his honest
best, but it is not to be expected of him that he will greatly dare and
count his life but as dross when his incentive to enterprise is merely
filthy lucre. But I could trust Andreas to dare and to endure--to
overcome obstacles, and, if man could, to "get there," where, in the
base-quarters in Bucharest, the amanuenses were waiting to copy out in
round hand for the foreign telegraphist the rapid script of the
correspondent scribbling for life in the saddle or the cleft of a
commanding tree while the shells were whistling past. We missed him
dreadfully when he was gone--even Villiers, who liked good cooking,
owned to thinking long for his return. For, in addition to his other
virtues, Andreas was a capital cook. It is true that his courses had a
habit of arriving at long and uncertain intervals. After a dish of
pungent stew, no other viands appearing to loom in the near future,
Villiers and myself would betake ourselves to smoking, and perhaps on a
quiet day would lapse into slumber. From this we would be aroused by
Andreas to partake of a second course of roast chicken, the bird having
been alive and unconscious of its impending fate when the first course
had been served. No man is perfect, and as regarded Andreas there were
some petty spots on the sun. He had, for instance, a mania for the
purchase of irrelevant poultry, and for accommodating the fowls in our
wagon, tied by the legs, against the day of starvation, which he always,
but causelessly, apprehended. I do not suppose any reader has ever had
any experience of domestic poultry as bedfellows, and I may caution him
earnestly against making any such experiment.

I do not know whether it is a detraction from Andreas's worth to mention


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