The Lord of the Sea
M. P. Shiel
Part 3 out of 6
"Do not ask..." said Loveday.
There was a long silence.
"Did not O'Hara tell you to make no more efforts for my escape?"
"Who is O'Hara?"
"Why, the priest who escaped, instead of me, through the copse".
"O'Hara was not the name he gave me; and no, he said nothing about
that. I got him off to America, and only saw him twice. I thought
him rather--But why didn't you escape youself?"
"I thought it improper".
"But you did finally?"
"For a reason: you remember the association which I was forming to
answer the question as to the cause of misery? Well, that question I
have answered for myself in prison".
"Really? Tell me!"
Hogarth absently took up a water-colour drawing from the table, and
turned it round and round, leaning forward on a knee, as he told how
the matter was. Meantime, he kept his eyes fixed upward upon
Loveday's face, who stood before him.
In the midst of his talk Loveday scratched the top of his head,
where the hair was rather thin, and said he, twisting round:
"Forgive me-let me ring for some brandy-and-soda--"
Hogarth stood briskly up.
"What I say, I can see, is not new to you?" said he.
"No, not new", Loveday confessed: "I believe that it is quite an
ancient theory; there are even savage tribes whose land-tenure is
not unlike what you advocate--the Basutos, for example".
"And are these Basutos richer, happier, prettier fellows than
"Oh, beyond doubt. Don't suppose that I am gainsaying you: I am only
showing you that the theory is not new--"
"But why do you persist in calling it a _theory?_ Is the fact that
one and one make two a _theory?_"--Hogarth's brow growing every
"What can one call it?"
"Call it what you like! But do you believe it?"
"It is quite possibly true; and now that you say it I believe it;
but I have never seriously considered the matter"
"Because--I don't know. It is out of my line".
"Your line! Yet you are a human being--"
"Well, partly, yes: say--a novelist".
"Do not jest! It is incredible to me that you have written book
after book, and knew of this divine thing, and did not cram your
books with it!"
Loveday flushed. "You misunderstand my profession; and as to this
theory of land-tenure, let me tell you: it will never be realized--
not in England. Anyway, it would mean civil war...."
Again those words! "Civil war...."
And as, for the second time, he heard them, Hogarth dashed the
picture which he held to the ground, shattering glass and frame:
which meant that, then and there, he washed his hands of the world
and its wagging; meant also his return to Colmoor.
He dashed from the room without a word; down the stairs; out into
As he ran along the King's Road, he asked a policeman the way to the
nearest police-station, then ran on through a number of smaller
streets, seeking it, till, at a corner, he stopped, once more
uncertain, the night dim and drizzling.
He was about to set off again, when, behind him, he heard: "Excuse
me, mister--could you give a poor man a penny to get a night's
Turning, he saw--old Tom Bates: still in the guernsey; but very
senile and broken now.
The fish-rich fisher...! he had come to this...
Hogarth had twenty-eight shillings about him, and, without
disclosing himself, put hand to pocket to give them all, just as the
old man reached up to his ear to say: "It's the lumbago; I got it
very bad; but it won't be long now. It wur a bad day for me as ever
I come to Lunnon! I'm Norfolk born, I am: and I had eight sons,
which the last was Fred, who, they say, met his death in Colmoor...."
At that word, "Fred", Hogarth started: for under the elm in the
beech-wood between Thring and Priddlestone Fred had concealed a
thing fallen from heaven, which could be sold for--a thousand
That would keep the fisher rich during the few days that remained to
But the old man could hardly go himself; if he could, would bungle:
the thing was heavy--on the lord-of-the-manor's land....
Do a kind act, Hogarth. He would see the old place, his father's
grave; and there was a girl who lived in the Hall at Westring whom
it was a thrilling thing to be near, even if one did not see....
"Here are two shillings", said he, in an assumed voice: "and if you
be at this spot, at this hour, on Thursday night coming, you shall
have more. Don't fail".
Again he ran, and took train, two hours later, for Beccles.
UNDER THE ELM
His risk of arrest here, round about his old home, was enormous, and
he drew the Bedouin kefie well round his face, skulking from the
station to the "Fen", northward, where he got an urchin to buy him a
paper lantern in a general shop, and now trudged up to Priddlestone,
then down through meadows to the beech-wood, the night rough with
It was not the winds, however, which made him draw close his Arab
cloak, but his approach to the elm: there, one night, he had seen a
naked black man! there had fallen the Arab Jew.
He stood twenty yards from the tree, till, with sudden resolution,
he strode, soon had the lantern ruby, and since the grave of "the
affair" had been digged with a piece of wood, for such a piece he
went seeking, having thrown off his caftan.
Instead, he found the rusted half-blade of a spade, and commenced to
dig round the roots, the lantern shine reddening a face strangely
agitated, uncertainty of finding what he sought heightening his
excitement: for the earth showed no disturbance, and since three
years had passed since that night of Bates in the wood, the object
might have been already unearthed. After an hour his back was
aching, his hands dabbled, his brow beaded, while the night-winds
blew, the light now was commoved, and now glowed a steady red; and
still he grovelled.
Presently, as he shovelled in a circle, always two feet deep, moving
the light as he moved, he saw on the top of a shovelful of marl--a
twig: barkless, black, cracked--_scorched!_
To an immoderate degree this thing agitated him--some whisper in the
back of his head--some half-thought: he began now to root furiously,
with a frowning intentness.
But suddenly he shuddered: a finger seemed to touch his shoulder
behind; and he twisted with wild eyes, caught up the light, peered,
saw no black man--nothing: but quite five minutes he stood defiant,
with clenched fists; then resumed the work, though with a constant
feeling now that he was being watched by the unseen seers.
After two new strokes he struck upon something hard, and, digging
eagerly round it, found a quart-can, full of earth. And instantly
all doubt vanished: for this must have been the beer-can carried by
Strong curiosity now wrought in Hogarth, a zeal to lay eyes upon
that object which had careered through the heights of space to find
that beech-wood and that elm-tree; and during fifteen minutes his
little implement digged with the quick-plying movement of a distaff-
shuttle, he fighting for breath, anon casting a flying wild glance
behind, but still digging.
Now, frequently, he came upon burned objects, twigs, cinders. Even
the marl had a scorched look; and his agitation grew to ecstasy.
Something very singular had happened to his mind with regard to this
"affair" of Bates: Bates had said that it had fallen on the asteroid
night; and O'Hara had told him--falsely, indeed--that a piece of the
asteroid, fallen upon the French coast, had had diamonds; yet,
somehow, never once had his mind associated the Fred Bates "affair"
with the thought of diamonds, but only with the "thousand pounds"
which Bates had been promised by old Bond. So at the moment when he
had begun to dig, his whole thought was of "a thousand pounds"; but,
somehow, by the time his implement at last grated against something
two feet down, that word "diamonds" had grown up in his brain.
But diamonds! In the midst of his shovelling the thought flashed
through him: "The world is God's! and to whom He wills He gives
Now at last the thing lay definitely before him: he grated the spade
from end to end, scraping away the marl; and it was very rough....
The size and shape of a man's leg, and red, anyway in the red
lantern-shine--his sight dim--he moved and saw in an improbable
dream; and when he tried to lift the object and failed, for a long
time he sat on the edge of the trench, passing one palm across and
across his forehead, till the lantern-light leapt, and went out.
He sprang upright then--awake, sure: they were diamonds, those bits
of glass, big celestial ones, not of earth, in hundreds; when he
passed his hand along the meteorite he felt it leprous, octahedron,
dodecahedron, large and small: if they were truly diamonds, he
divined that their owner must be as wealthy as some nations.
About three in the morning he managed to raise the meteorite;
refilled the trench; and since it still rained, rolled the meteorite
to the hollow of the elm, put on his caftan, and with his back on
the interior of the tree, his feet on the meteorite, tumbled into a
FRANKL SEES THE METEORITE
He was awaked by a footstep, and, starting, saw rocking along the
forest path one Farmer Pollock, wearing now fez and tassel, and he
saw his clothes all clay, and, with a smile of fondness, saw how,
even beneath its grime, the meteor dodged and jeered, with frolic
leers, in the beams of a bright morning that seemed to him the
primal morning, a fresh wedding-morning, swarming with elves and
shell-tinted visions, imps and pixy princes, profligate Golcondas.
Going first to the spot where he had digged, to give to the surface
a natural look, he trampled the lantern into the mire, threw the tin
can far, then, taking a quantity of marl, plastered the meteorite,
to cover its roughness; then boldly left it, starting out with
consummate audacity for Thring, where everybody, police and all,
knew him well.
A singular light now in his eyes, an evil pride; and he had the step
of a Prince in Prettyland. Corresponding to an inward majesty, of
which, from youth, he had been conscious, he now felt an outward,
and had not been awake eight minutes when his brain was invaded by
plans--plans of debauchery, palaces, orgy, flying beds of ivory
arabesqued in fan-traceries of sapphire, in which Rebekah Frankl
lolled, and smiled; and on toward Thring he stepped, prince new-
crowned, yet by old heredity, high exalted above laws, government,
and the entire little muck of Man.
At one point where the path ran close to Westring-park proper, the
park on higher ground, a grass-bank seven feet high dividing them,
he saw a-top of the bank in caftan, priest-cap, and phylacteries,
taking snuff--Baruch Frankl.
Hogarth skipped up, and stood before the Jew, having drawn his face-
cloth well forward.
"What's the row?" asked Frankl.
"Could you give a poor man a job?"
"You a Jew?"
"Yes", replied Hogarth, not dreaming how truly: "London born".
"I keep the fasts".
"What you doing about here?"
"Fine mess you are in".
"I slept in a hollow tree down yonder--an elm tree".
"Well, there's many a worse shake-down than that. Who are you? Ever
been about here before?"
"I was once".
"You put me in mind of an old chum of mine....Well, here's half-a-
crown for you to go on with".
"Make it a crown", said Hogarth, "and get me to clean up down there;
in a shocking state with mast and leaves".
Frankl considered. "All right, I don't mind".
"I shall want a spade, and--a barrow".
"Go down the path yonder, till you come to the stables, and tell
Frankl resumed his musing stroll, and Hogarth ran for the barrow.
In twenty minutes he was again at the elm tree, and, with a scheme
in him for seeing Rebekah, heaped the barrow with refuse, pushed it
between a beck and the wood, till, wearying of this, he was about to
get the meteorite into the barrow, when he had the mad thought that
Frankl must be made to see and touch it, so set off to seek him: and
a few yards brought him face to face with Frankl.
"Well, how goes it?" asked the Jew.
"There is a weight there which I can't lift", said Hogarth. "Then
you must do the other thing. Don't lift it, and you don't get the
pay. What weight is it?"
"It is here".
Hogarth led him, led him, pointing. Frankl kicked the meteorite.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It can't be a branch", said Hogarth; "too heavy--more like a piece
of old iron".
"Well, slip into it. A strapping fellow like you ought to be able to
do that bit".
"But suppose it's valuable?"
"I make you a present of it, as you are so hard up".
Now Hogarth, by tilting the barrow, with strong effort of four
limbs, got the meteorite lodged, while Frankl, his smile lifting the
wrinkles above his thick moustache, watched the strain: then, with
arms behind, went his contemplative way.
Hogarth rolled the barrow toward Thring.
It was already eleven o'clock, the sun shining in a bright sky,
under which the country round the Waveney lay broad to the hills of
mist which seemed to encompass the valley; yet, when one came to
them no hills were there, but were still beyond. When Hogarth came
out from the wood upon a footbridge, to his right a hand-sower was
sowing broadcast, with a two-handed rhythm, taking seed, as he
strode, from his scrip; and to the left ran a path between fields to
an eminence with a little church on it; straight northward some
Thring houses visible, and north-east, near the river, Lagden Dip
orchard. Only two stooping women in fields near Thring could Hogarth
see; also, still further, a gig-and-horse whose remote motion was
imperceptible; also the trudging two-handed process of the sower
nourishing the furrows. But for these, England, supposed to be
"overcrowded", seemed a land once inhabited, but abandoned.
To Hogarth the whole, so familiar, looked uplifted now, the sunlight
of a more celestial essence. Westring he would buy--though one
memorable night in Colmoor he had arrived at the knowledge that it
was not just that Westring should be anyone's; but then what one
bought with his own diamonds was surely his own--his name being
He had passed the bridge, when, glancing to the left, he saw a fifth
person in the landscape--a man under a sycamore near the church,
gazing up, with hung jaw, at the apse window--dressed in a grey
jacket, but a clerical hat, and he had a note-book, in which he
wrote, or drew. Hogarth, whose mind was in weathercock state, rolled
the barrow to the hill, left it, went stealing fleetly up, and
gripped the man's collar, to whisper: "In the King's name I arrest
The man's hand clapped his heart, as he turned a face of terror.
"There is--some mistake--My God! Are you--?"
"But you have killed me! My heart--"
"Serves you right. Why didn't you give your right name to Loveday?
And what are you doing here?"
"I was just examining this lovely old church, with its two south
aisles, and one north, like St. John's at Cirencester. When the
church fell in England, architecture was abolished--But as to why I
am in Norfolk at all, I am skulking: and here is as another place.
Your friend packed me off to America; but for some reasons I should
prefer Golmoor--old Colmoor, eh? I fear I am a voluptuary, my son,
fond of comfort, and old things, and pretty things. And all that I
shall have yet! Tut, O'Hara is not done with the world, nor it with
him. As to Norfolk, I once knew--a person--in this neighbourhood--"
The priest paused, regarding Hogarth with a smile, the "person"
meant being Hogarth's mother; and he said: "But you are quite the
Jew in dress: do you know now, then, that you are of the Chosen
"Singular notion! This is a mere disguise".
"Ah. But you look quite radiant. You must have come into a fortune.
When I heard of your escape, I said to myself--"
"How did you hear?"
"Why, from Harris".
"Harris is drowned".
"Harris is now under that little roof down there--there"--the
prelate stabbed with his forefinger: "Harris is my shadow; Harris is
my master. He was picked up naked by the ship which ran down your
vessel, recognized me one day in Broadway, and threatened to give me
in charge if I did not adopt him 'as my well-beloved son'. Well,
from him I heard all, how you called fire from Heaven--it was
gallant. But aren't you afraid of capture down here in your own
"I cannot be captured".
Those stony eyeballs of O'Hara, bulging from out circular trenches
round their sockets, surveyed Hogarth, weighing, divining him, while
his bottom lip, massive as the mouth of Polynesian stone gods,
"How do you mean?"
"I can buy King on throne, Judge on bench, Governor and Warder, the
whole machinery. Even O'Hara I could buy".
"I am for sale! Hogarth! I _smelled_ it about you, the myrrh of your
garments! And didn't I prophesy it to you years ago? What a
development! That beast, Harris, will dance for joy! Oh, there is
something very artistic to my fancy, Hogarth, in the metal gold--
brittle, bright, orpimented--"
"Hogarth, have you diamonds?"
"Yes", said Hogarth, smiling at the effect of ecstasy upon O'Hara.
"Prismic diamond!" cried the prelate: "but how--?"
"Do you want to enter my service?"
"Do I _want_?"
"Well, I want a tutor, O'Hara; and you shall be the man. Undertake,
then, to teach me all you know in two years, and I'll give you--how
much?--twenty thousand pounds a year".
"My son", whispered O'Hara, "what a development--!"
"Good-bye. In Thring Street there is a little paper-shop. Come there
to-night at seven".
He ran down the hill: and as he went northward, pushing his barrow,
O'Hara had a lens at his eyes, saw the meteorite, and wondered.
FRANKL AND O'HARA
Mrs. Sturgess, of the paper-shop, a clean, washed-out old lady, held
up both averting hands at her back door, as Hogarth threw back his
kefie, finger on lips; but soon, her alarm warming into welcome, she
took him to a room above, to listen to his story of escape.
"And to think", said she, "there is the very box your sister, poor
thing, left with me to keep the day she went away, which never once
have I seen her dear good face from that day to this. Anyway,
_there's_ the box--" pointing to a trunk covered with grey goat's-
hair, the trunk to which the old Hogarth had referred in telling
Richard the secret of his birth, saying to deaf ears that it
contained Richard's "papers"--a box double-bottomed, on its top the
letters "P. O.", with a cross-of-Christ under them.
"But, sir", said Mrs. Sturgess, "you must be in great danger here. I
hope"--with a titter--"I shan't be implicated--"
"Don't be afraid, Mrs. Sturgess, it will be all right, and, for
yourself, don't trouble about the paper-shop any more, but buy a
little villa near Florence, where it is warm for the cough--don't
think me crazy if I tell you that I am a very rich man. Now give me
Mrs. Sturgess served him well that day with a pang of expectancy at her
heart! Always, she remembered, Richard Hogarth had been strange--uplifted
and apart--a man incalculable, winged, unknown, though walking the
common ways. He _might_ be a "very rich man"...
His meal over, Hogarth threw himself upon a bed, to dream another
trouble of bubbles and burden of purples; woke at four; and, with a
procured cold-chisel, hammer, and a calico bag, went to the fowl-
house where he had left the meteorite, shut himself in.
Sitting in the dust there, he set to chisel out the gems from the
porous ore, and as the chisel won the luscious plums, held them up,
glutting his gaze, scratched his name on a fragment of window-pane,
and was enchanted that the adamant rim ripped the glass like rag:
the whim, meanwhile, working in him to purchase Colmoor, to turn the
moor into a paradise, the prison into a palace; where his old cell
stood in Gallery No. III to be the bedroom of Rebekah.
To see _her_ that very night was a necessity! and when it was dark
he set out.
But that plot failed: on presenting himself at the front of the
mansion, he was sent round to the back, where he received payment,
and was dismissed; and when he again started for the front,
intending to force his way in, he decided upon something else, and
walked back to Thring.
He reached the Sturgess cottage soon after six, ate, with a candle
returned to the lean-to to resume his work, and was still intent
upon it at seven, when Mrs. Sturgess ran out to tell him that "the
gentleman had come". He said: "Show him up to my room".
The first thing which O'Hara noticed in that room was the goat-hair
trunk, with the initials and cross, the initials his own.
After some minutes he furtively turned the key, dived into a mass of
things, paused to remember the whereabouts of a spring, found it,
and, lifting the upper bottom, peered beneath; saw a bundle of
papers; and, without removing the band, ferreted among them, and was
He presently went to a back window, and saw ruddy streaks between
the boarding of the shanty, while sounds of the hammer reached him.
He would go and meet Hogarth: no harm in that; but it was stealthily
that he hurried down the stair and carried himself across the yard,
grinning a grimace of self-conscious caution, to peep through a
Hogarth's back was toward him, the iron leg lying near a box in
which was a sitting hen, on its top a candlestick, the calico bag,
and a lot of the gems: at which the priest's palm covered his awed
mouth, and with a fleet thievishness, like a cat on hot bricks, he
trotted back to the cottage.
Ten minutes later Hogarth entered, nodding: "Ah, O'Hara..."; and he
called down: "Mrs. Sturgess! pen, ink, and paper!"
When these came, he sat and wrote:
"I have escaped from prison, and come into great power. I summon you
to meet me at the elm in the beech-wood to-night at nine. I beseech
you, I entreat you. I burn to ashes. Rebekah! My flames of fire! I
He enclosed, and handed it, without any address, to O'Hara.
"O'Hara", said he, "I want you to take that for me. Come--I will
show you the place. You ask in the hall to see 'the young lady': her
name does not concern you; but you can't mistake her: she is so-
pretty. Give the note to no one else, of course: it mentions my
escape, for one thing. I know you will do it well".
He conducted O'Hara, till the two towers of Westring were visible;
pointed them out; then went back, and in an hour had finished his
work on the diamonds.
O'Hara, meantime, going on his way alone, muttered: "You go fast,
Hogarth: prelates of the Church your errand boys? But there is a
little fellow called Alf Harris...if he had seen what I have seen
to-night, you would be a corpse now".
In twenty minutes he was at Westring, which he knew well, for
twenty-five years before he had lived in the Vale: but he supposed
that Lord Westring de Broom was still the inmate.
He asked to see "the young lady", persisted, and after a time
Rebekah came with eyebrows of inquiry.
The moment O'Hara saw her well, his visage acquired a ghastly ribbed
fixity. Even before this, _she_, by one flashed glance, had known
But she took the envelope with easy coolness. And, instead of then
returning upon her steps, went still beyond, and whispered to two
men in the hall: "Do not let that man pass out!"
As she again returned inward past O'Hara, she remarked: "You might
wait here a little".
She travelled then, not hurrying, down the breadth of a great
apartment to a side room where her father sat, capped and writing;
and she said: "Papa, the man who assaulted me in the train is now in
the hall. As his sentence was three years, he must have escaped--"
She was gone at once, the unaddressed envelope, still unopened,
shivering a little in her hand.
Frankl leapt up, rather pale, thinking that if the man had come
_here_, he must mean mischief; but remembering that the man was a
gentleman, a priest, he took heart, and went out.
O'Hara, meantime, stood at bay, guessing his exit blocked, while the
terrors of death gat hold upon him, the flesh of his yellow jaw
shivering. But he was a man of stern mind--stern as the rocky aspect
of his face, and the moment he saw Frankl coming (he had seen him in
the Court), he started to meet him--stooped to the Jew's ear, who
shrank delicately from contact.
"There isn't any good in running me down, sir", he whispered in
sycophant haste. "I pledge you my word I came here without knowing
to whom. O do, now! I have already suffered for my crime; and if you
attempt to capture me, I do assure you, I strangle you where you
stand! Do, now! I only brought a letter--"
Frankl, half inclined to tyrannize over misery, and half afraid,
swept his hand down the beard.
"Letter?" said he: "from whom?"
"From a friend".
"A man named Hogarth".
O'Hara said it in an awful whisper, though not aware of any relation
between Hogarth and Frankl.
Whereupon an agitation waved down Frankl's beard. The news that "a
man named Hogarth" had written to his daughter would hardly have
suggested _Richard_--safe elsewhere; but, one night at Yarmouth, he
had seen Richard Hogarth inexplicably kiss his daughter's hand.
"Hogarth?" said he: "what Christian name?"
The agonized thought in Frankl's brain was this: "Well, what's the
good of prisons, then?"--he, too earnest a financier to read
newspaper gossip, having heard not a word of the three escapes from
He said: "Well, sir, generally speaking, I'm the last to encourage
this sort of thing; but, as yours is a special case, I tell you
plain out that, personally, I don't mean a bit of harm to you. Just
step into a room here, and let us talk the matter quietly over".
He led O'Hara to his study; and there they two remained locked half
an hour, conferring head to head.
THE BAG OF LIGHT
Rebekah, having excused herself from three ladies, her guests, alone
in her room opened her letter.
Glanced first at the "R. H.", and was not surprised. He had
"escaped", had "come into great power": that seemed natural; but he
"summoned" her to meet him, and she saw no connection between his
"great power" and his right to summon her.
She held the paper to a fire, and, as it began to burn, in a panic
of flurry extinguished the edge, and hustled it into her bosom; then
perambulated; then fell to a chair-edge with staring gaze; then,
rocking her head which she had dropped upon a little table, moaned:
"He is mad...."
"My flames of fire! Rebekah! I am dying...."
He suffered; and a pussy's wail mewed from her; but with a gasp of
anger which said "Ho!" she sprang straight, and went ranging, with a
stamping gait, through the chamber, filling it with passion. "I
_won't go_!" she went with fixed lips, as something within her
whispered: "You must".
To escape herself, she went again to see what had happened with
regard to the convict, whose face would carry to the grave the scars
of her nails.
There were no signs of any disturbance; and she asked a footman:
"Where is the man who was here?"
"With your father in the study".
That seemed a strange proceeding: she felt a touch of alarm for her
father, and, passing again by the study, peeped; could see nothing
for the key, but heard voices.
This messenger of Hogarth, she next thought, was a criminal: he
might betray...so she stole into an adjacent room, to peep by a
side door of the study, and though a key projecting toward her
barred her vision, the talkers were near this point, and she could
"The diamond block", O'Hara said, "is the same which he rolled
across the bridge this morning; to that I'll swear".
"Then it must be the very same block he showed me", Frankl said in a
whisper; "that thing was worth millions....!"
"Undoubtedly it was the same".
"Oh, but Lord", groaned the Jew in an anguish of self-deprecation,
"where were my _eyes_? where were my _wits_? I must have been
_dreaming_! No, that's hard!"
"Well--_nil desperandum_! Let us be acting, sir!"
"My own land--!"
"They are still safe enough: come--"
"He may have lost one or two--in his excitement. Thousands gone! He
may have hidden some!"
"Tut, he has hidden none", said O'Hara; "we may have all. Let us
make a move".
"But he is a strong man, this Hogarth. Why do you object to the
assistance of the police?"
"What have the police to do with such a matter? Hogarth would simply
bribe. And there are three of us--"
"Who is this Harris?"
"He is a Cockney--assassin".
Frankl took snuff, with busy pats at alternate nostrils.
"What will you tell him is in the bag?"
"Anything--rings--something prized by you for sentimental reasons.
We offer him a thousand--two thousand pounds. And he will not fail.
He strikes like lightning".
"And we share--how?"
"Come--let us not talk of that again, sir. What could be more
generous than my offer? You divide the diamonds into two heaps, and
I choose one; or I divide, you choose; and, before I leave you, you
give me a declaration that it was by your contrivance that I escaped
prison, and that the gems which I have, once yours, are duly made
over to me".
"And you collar half!" gibed the Jew with an ogle of guile; "that's
about as cool a stroke of business as I've come across. You don't
take into account that the whole is mine, if the concern fell, as
you confess, on my own land! And just ask yourself the question:
what is to prevent me handing you over this minute to the police,
and grabbing the lot? Only I'm not that sort of man--"
O'Hara drew a revolver.
"You talk to me as though I was a schoolboy, sir", said he sternly.
"Be good enough to learn to respect me. I am not less a man of the
world than you are, and quite competent to safeguard my own
interests. Supposing I was weak enough to permit you to send for the
police, the moment they had me I should tell of Hogarth in hiding;
they would go for him, and he, after bribing, may be trusted to take
wing with the stones, leaving you whistling. Or perhaps you would
care to tackle him in person? He would wheel you by the beard round
his arm like a Catherine-wheel, I do assure you. All this you see
well, and pretend not to. Do let us be honest with each other!"
"Well, I don't want to be hard", said Frankl, looking sideward and
downward, plotting behind an unwrinkled brow, intending to have
every one of the diamonds; so did O'Hara, who already had his plot.
"No, don't be hard", said O'Hara: "_I_ am not. I give you an
incalculable fortune; I take the same. Live and let live! Why should
two shrewd old fellows like you and me be like the dog which,
wanting two bones, lost the one he had? Come, now--give me your hand
"Well, I'm hanged if you are not right!" cried Frankl, looking up
with discovery: "Share and share alike, and shame the devil! That's
the kind of little man I am, frank, bluff, and stalwart--Ha! ha!
Give me your hand on it, sir!"
"Ha! ha! you are very kind. That is the only way--absolute
sincerity--" and they shook hands, hob-nobbing and fraternizing,
with laughs and little nods, like cronies.
"Stop--I'll just ring for a drop of brandy--" said Frankl.
"No! no ringing!--thanks, thanks, no brandy--"
"Well, you are as cautious as they make them. Oh, perfectly right,
you know--perfectly right"--he touched O'Hara's chest--"not a word
to say against that. I am the same kind of man myself--"
"Come; are you for making a move?"
"Agreed. Where is my hat? I suppose a man may get his hat!--ha! ha!--
I can't very well go in this cap---"
"You use mine--with the greatest pleasure. I do not need--Ah? quite
the fit, quite the fit".
"Why, so it is. Ha! ha! why, it's a curate's hat, and--
_I'm a Jew_!"
"Excellent, excellent, ha! ha!"
So they made merry, and, with the bitter lip-corners of forced
merriment, went out, while Rebekah, who had caught a great deal of
that dialogue, crouched a long time there, agitated, uncertain what
That her father should coolly look on at an assassination for a
fortune was no revelation to her: she had long despised, yet, with
an inconsistency due to the tenderness of Jewish family ties, still
loved him; the notion of appealing to the police, therefore, who
might ruin Hogarth, too, did not enter her head.
She ran and wrote: "Your life and bag of gems are _at this moment_
in danger"; and sent it by a mounted messenger addressed to "The
Guest at the Paper Shop".
But in twenty minutes the messenger returned to her with it, Hogarth
having gone to the _rendezvous_ at the elm--long before the
When, accordingly, Frankl, O'Hara, and Harris arrived at the paper-
shop back yard, and Harris had stolen up the back stairs, he
presently, to the alarm and delight of the others, sent a whisper
from the window: "No one 'ere as I can see!"
And the search for the diamonds was short: for Hogarth had actually
left the bag containing them on the trunk, and Frankl and O'Hara
returned with it to Westring, holding it out at arm's length, one
with the right, one with the left hand, like standard-bearers.
Hogarth, meantime, was striding about the elm, and once fell to his
knees, adoring a vision, and once, at a fancied step, his teeth-
Rebekah! He called, groaned, hissed that name, while his to-and-fro
ranging quickened to a trot.
And now, fancying that he heard a call "_Come !_" he stood startled,
struck into a twisting enquiry to the four winds; but could not
locate the call, ran hither and thither, saw no one.
"Come to me, little sister", he wailed tenderly, while to swallow
was a doubtful spasm for him, her name a mountain in his bosom.
When he was certain that it must be nearer ten than "nine", he set
out in the sway of a turbulent impulse to spurt for the Hall: but as
he reached the point of proximity between path and park, just there
where her father had stood that morning he saw her patiently
waiting--ever since that "_Come!_"
He flew, and was about to skip up the bank, when, with forbidding
arm, she cried: "Don't you approach me!"--and he stood checked and
abject, one foot planted on the bank, looking up, ready to dart for
her in her Oriental dress, flimsy, baggy at the girdle, her arms
bare, her fingers clasped before her, making convex the two tassels
of the girdle, from her ears depending circles of gold large enough
to hoop with, a saffron headdress, stuck backward, showing her hair
in front, falling upon a shawl which sheltered her frank recumbent
shoulders. She did not see Hogarth at all, but stood averted,
implacable, unapproachable, looking across the park, while Hogarth
occupied a long silence in gazing up to where, like a show, she
stood, illumined by the moon.
At last he sent to her the whisper, "Did you call just now? Did you
"What is it you want with me, Hogarth? You have '_summoned_' me: but
be very quick".
"I told you: I am wealthier than all the princes--"
"Well, let me inform you that your life is in danger here; if you
are a wise man, you will not fail to leave this neighbourhood this
"But no one knows--"
"It is known, Hogarth: your friends are false, and your enemies
crafty. You will have to walk with your eyes open, my friend. What
will you do with all the money?"
"I will buy the world, because _you_ are in it".
Now she flashed upon him one glance, in which there was
astonishment, and judgment.
"You said that so like my father! Hogarth among the dealers? I
thought you would be more squeamish, and arduous, and complex".
"But if a man is famished, he is not complex, he runs to the
baker's. You can have no conception how I perish! And I cannot be
contradicted-I claim you-I have the right-I am the lord of this
"But you do not see the effect of your words: you disappoint me
Richard. How of what the poet sings:
...this is my favoured lot,
My exaltation to afflictions high?
That is more in your line, you know, but you are dazzled, Hogarth-
fie. To _buy me_! And how would you like me afterwards, having
renounced my obligations? And how would I like _you_-I whose name is
Rebekah, who will mate with none but a wrestler, a fellow of heroic
muscle? I feel certain that you are dazzled. It is natural, I
suppose--But are all the people in the world so happy, that _you_
too, can find nothing to occupy you but the market-place, with its
buying and selling? And to buy _me_? I am _not_ for sale! How dare
With this she walked off; but, having a creepy instinct in her back
that he was on the point to follow, catch, and snatch her away, she
span round again, crying: "Do not follow me! Mind you! If you like,
be at the elm-tree again at half-past ten-and I will communicate
with you. Goodbye--"
Now she did not once look back; and he had not heard that fainting
"Good-bye", it had fainted so.
He found himself presently in his room at the paper-shop, and lay
biting the bed-clothes, spasm after spasm traversing his body.
Then, turning on his back, he lay with his face now toward the
trunk, and a little clock ticked ten more minutes before the fact
stole into his consciousness that the bag was not on the trunk.
For some time the disappearance was too stupendous to find room in
his brain. He got up and paced, stunned, just conscious of a feeling
Now he was searching the room mechanically. It was not there....
And again he paced, tapping his top teeth with a finger-nail; and
now he called down the stair: "Have you seen, Mrs. Sturgess, the
calico bag you gave me to-day?"
"Has anyone been in my room?"
"Why, _no_, sir! Only myself".
Again he began to pace, and suddenly the grand reality stabbed his
brain like a dagger: he was poor....
O'Hara! Where was he....?
His forehead dropped upon the mantel-board, and he leant staring
downward there, a miserable man.
But suddenly the man said quietly aloud, raising himself: "All
right: better so. O, I have not been myself--virtue has gone out of
Presently he noticed that it was near the hour of her unexpected
_rendezvous_ under the elm....
And nearly all the way he ran--wild to see her again--until he
neared the tree, when, descrying a female form, he came stooping
with humility, but soon saw that it was a girl, her head in a shawl,
whom he did not know.
And she, coming to meet him, said: "What is your name, sir?"
"I am Miss Frankl's messenger".
"My name is Hogarth".
"Will you turn this way that I may see your eyes?...All right:
Miss Frankl directs me to give you these".
The girl, who had been weighted down toward the left, handed him an
envelope, and a steel box.
Never was he so bewildered! On the way home, he observed that the
box had three knobs of gold, surrounded by rays, and, inlaid in the
top, the letters "R. F."; when he tore open the envelope in his room
he found in pencil on one half-sheet:
"Turn the 10 of the right knob to the ray 5; the 5 of the middle
knob to the ray 0; the 15 of the left knob to the ray 10: and the
box will open".
No more. When he had set wildly to work, and the lid turned back,
his eyes beheld the calico bag.
Rebekah had, in fact, before setting out to the _rendezvous_ at
nine, seen her father and O'Hara return to the Hall, bearing the bag
between them; and, she, crouching at the side door, as before, had
heard them talk, arranging details. Her father had then said that
before he could write any document, he must either ring or go search
for paper: and suddenly she had heard an oath, a thud, a scuffle,
had turned the key, softly entered, seen the men struggling against
the other door, a revolver, held by the muzzle, in O'Hara's hand;
and before she had been sighted by the two desperate men, had had
the bag, lying near on an escritoire, and was gone. She had then
sent some servants to the scene, and hurried to her chamber.
Later she had heard that O'Hara had escaped through a window, and
that her father was raving below in a sort of fit: for Frankl
supposed that O'Hara had the jewels, as O'Hara that Frankl had them;
and after tending her father, she had dashed out to the
_rendezvous_, the jewels then in her room.
As for Hogarth, he did not neglect her warning: and, having left a
note for O'Hara, telling him where to find him, at Loveday's, took a
late train southwards.
By what marvel Rebekah had become possessed of the jewels he did not
even seek to fathom; but one of his uppermost feelings was shame for
having suspected O'Hara of stealing them: and for years could never
be got to believe in the bad faith of the prelate, his tutor.
Near midnight, on reaching the obscure townlet of Hadston, he there
took a bed--not to sleep.
At the tiny inn-window he made periodic arrivals, looked out
unseeing at a cart, a wall of flint and Flemish brick, and a moonlit
country, then weighed anchor, and swerved away on another voyage;
then arrived anew, looked out, saw nothing, and weighed.
He walked now in the dark of the valley of humiliation, with those
words written in flame in his brain: "This is my favoured lot--my
exaltation to afflictions high": he had allowed a woman to say them
to him, and he went "_I!_"
He, the richest of men, was, therefore, that night poorer than any
wretch, brought right down, naked, exposed to death, and he filled
that chamber with his moans: "God have mercy upon me! a vulgar rich
man...a dreadful contented clown...."
But toward morning he lay calmer, weeping like Peter, and at peace.
Being without money, he sent the next day a small stone to Loveday,
asking him to sell it; also to meet old Tom Bates on the night
appointed, and keep him till he, Hogarth, came to London.
Four days later he received the money in the name of "Mr. Beech",
but the old Bates had not kept the _rendezvous_; and a month later a
detective agency discovered that the fisher was dead.
At Hadston Hogarth remained two months, the most occupied man
anywhere, yet passing for a lounger in the townlet.
Here and now he was descended deep into himself, aspiring to
greatness, set on high designs; and, as the days passed, his
thoughts more and more took form, though sometimes, with a sudden
heart-pang, he would flinch and shrink, pierced by a consciousness
of the unwieldy thing which he was at; and he would mutter: "I
_must_ be mad". Anon he would start and cower at a distinct sound of
cannon in his ears.
Usually, during the day, he had with him an atlas, a pair of
One day he took train, to see the sea.
Another day, happening to look into the goat-hair trunk, he saw that
account-book, containing the addresses of the signatories to his old
"association", and was overjoyed. "Quite a little army", he tenderly
said: "I won't forget them".
After two months he left Hadston for London, having in his head a
new age hatched.
It was night when Hogarth broke into the presence of Loveday at
Cheyne Gardens with a glad face, crying: "Forgive me, my friend, for
being a boor!"
"You are forgiven", Loveday answered with his smile, hastening to
meet him: "the broken picture, you see, is in a better frame, and so
are we. What could have made us invent a quarrel about--land, of all
"Come, let us talk", said Hogarth: "not long--all about land, and
sea, too. I suppose you have nothing to tell about my sister? Never
mind--we shall find her. Come, sit and give me _all_ your
intelligence. You are not interested in land, then? You _will_ be in
ten minutes--it is interesting. Listen: all the land of the earth is
_mine_, and all the sea especially--a good thing, for, for a hundred
years Europe, especially England, has wanted a master: the anarchy
of our modern life is too terrible! it cannot arrange itself; and
now the hour has struck, though none has heard the bell".
"Hogarth! but you gabble like a mad god", cried Loveday. "I am all
in the dark--"
"I will tell you".
And he spoke, first going into his discovery at Colmoor, frowning
upon Loveday, ploughing the truth into his brow; proving how modern
misery, in its complexity, had its cause in one simple old fault,
sure as the fact that smoke ascends, or apples fall. And when he saw
conviction beam in Loveday's face, he next told what had happened at
the elm-tree, and what would happen-soon; whereat Loveday, like a
frightened child, clung to his arm, and once gasped: "Oh no--my
God!" and once felt a gory ghost raise horror in his hairs.
An hour afterwards they were bending over a sheet of paper, Hogarth
in his shirt-sleeves, writing, Loveday overlooking, suggesting, when
two men were announced, and in stepped O'Hara with bows and polished
hesitations, followed by his shadow, Harris; and, "Ah, O'Hara..."
cried Hogarth, still writing, "who is that with you?"
"A friend of mine", said Loveday, for O'Hara had introduced Harris
to him, and he had adopted Harris as a human study, horrid, but
The moment O'Hara saw the face of Hogarth, he started, muttering:
"He has the diamonds back! God! is he a magician?"
And Harris drawled nasally: "Of course, you wouldn't know me now,
Mr. 76! Were there not ten cleansed, but where are the nine, it
Hogarth was silent--had not yet decided what to do with Harris.
"This is my tenth call here, Hogarth", said O'Hara, "in the hope of
seeing you, and the streets, you know, are no small risk. You see
how I am muffled up, and this gentleman, too. By the bye, I have
selected a cargo of books for you--"
"No study for a month", said Hogarth, "but I shall want you all the
same. Just come over here and watch me write this thing. You,
Harris, sit right over there".
Harris cursed, but obeyed, while O'Hara came and bent under the
golden glow of the silk shade a brow puckered with a care of
puzzlement, as he read.
Then he fell into the work, and was soon the director of it--
invaluable! knew everything! remembered forgotten points;
explained technicalities; the proper person in each little State to
whom the document must be directed, the style of addressing him. Of
one sentence he said: "That will never do--lacks formality"; and of
another: "Tut, they will laugh at that--it is provincial and
insolent", distracted between the work and his brandy glass. At
last, about eleven, the three brains had produced a letter.
Hogarth laid claim to the sea as his private property, and warned
PRIORITY OF CLAIM
A gentleman--a Permanent Under-secretary--stood one noon, his back
to a fireplace in a bright-carpeted room at the Foreign Office,
letting his eyes move over some opened letters submitted to him, and
presently came upon the following document, its crest a flag,
containing in blue the letters "R. F.":
"17 LEADENHALL STR., E.G.
"To the Most Hon.,
"The Marquis of Hallam, K.G.,
"MY LORD MARQUIS:
"I have the honour hereby to make formal announcement to Your
Lordship that I am on the point of setting up in the midst of the
world a new Power, whose relations with the King's Government will,
I trust, be relations of friendliness.
"It is my desire that Your Lordship forthwith convey to the King's
Most Excellent Majesty the announcement which is the subject of this
"My purposes and policy in the establishment of the new Power will
hereafter appear; and my properly accredited Ministers will, in due
course, present themselves at the Chancelleries of the world.
"Hitherto a British subject, it is my will to acquire diplomatic
recognition--as soon as such shall comport with the dignity of the
Great Powers--as an Independent Sovereign, under the title of: 'Lord
of the Sea'. (Address: 'Your Lordship's Majesty', or 'My Lord
"The domain of my Power will be the sea: and to the sea I hereby set
up claim as far as such points of latitude as have been attained by
Man, and over all degrees of longitude. Provided only: that nothing
in this claim shall be held to infringe upon the prior claim of any
nation to a 'three-mile limit' round its coasts, nor to any national
fisheries whatsoever, nor to any claim of the Kingdom of Denmark
with respect to the Sound.
"The validity of my title to the sea must be considered to rest on
the same basis as the title of any private owner to any area of the
earth's crust: namely, Priority of Claim. If one is valid, so,
necessarily, is the other, this title to land, based on _Priority of
Claim_, being admitted in the Law of all civilized Nations.
"This my claim will come into operation on this day three years
"I have the honour to subscribe myself
"RICHARD HOGARTH ".
The Under-secretary, a pale, distinguished man, read this letter
with a little lift of one eyebrow, then let it drop from him into a
At the German, the Turkish, capitals it met much the same reception.
Nowhere did it reach the eye of a Departmental Head. It went to
Siam, to the Prince of Monaco, to Ecuador, and was tossed to cumber
a basket, or moulder on a file.
But Hogarth, who knew that it would be instantly forgotten, had
written it so as to be able to say that he had written it.
At that time he was lodging in a top room in Bloomsbury, and had an
underground den in Leadenhall Street, on its doors the words: "R.
Beech & Co." Thither in a brougham he drove daily, lying very low,
but holding in that den interviews with all sorts and conditions of
men, and feeling his way toward operations of dimensions so immense,
that their mere project had a modifying influence upon industry.
During six weeks Hogarth lived that life of daily passage between
Keppel Street and his office, unknown to the general world, but
spreading a noise of rumour through certain circles of the business
world. All day in the den the gas-jets brawled upon him, he not for
minutes casting a glance, if a clerk brought a caller's name. And
here was no novice modesty in the tackling of affairs; as O'Hara,
who would be there, said: "You must have been _born_ in the City;
you have the airs, the very tricks, of Threadneedle Street, you--
Jew". In a day the prelate counted seven hundred and thirteen
telegrams from the Terni Cannon foundry, many a diamond dealer,
polisher, cutter, the Vulcan Shipyard of Stettin, the Clydebank,
Cramp of Philadelphia, the Russian Finance Minister, San Francisco,
Lloyd's, metal brokers, the Neva, and one night, the eve of a dash
to Amsterdam, he, with O'Hara, Loveday, and five clerks, sat
swotting till morning broke, sustained by gin and soda-water. The
priest lived with wide eyes at the easy fleetness with which Hogarth
rolled off him the greatest affairs: as when on the day after his
return from Holland he stood, his thumbs in his waistcoat armholes,
with quite the right air of serene City-king, his tallness
possessing considerable natural courtliness, and the De Beers'
Secretary sat before him, saying, "Well, Mr. Beech, I have spent the
morning with your brokers, and have felt that I must see you
personally before calling a meeting. This proposition is so
"I only wish I had some time", said Hogarth, "I would invite you to
dine upon the matter; but it is really so simple--everything at
bottom is merely twice two are four. And you are not obliged to turn
over Kimberley to me: only, in that case, as I have said, I shall be
compelled to flood the market with diamonds as cheap as cat's-eyes--"
When De Beers stared, Hogarth shrugged, saying: "I suppose I must
convince you--" and, unlocking a safe, he took out an _écrin_ which
contained three stones. De Beers appeared to see Titania peering in
their fairy painting.
"Of stones of this water and carating", said Hogarth, "we have two
hundred and eleven in the Bank of England, two hundred and thirty-
eight in other English and Continental banks, and seventy-five in
safe-deposit. The carating of these three is 111-1/2; and in the
sixties, such as this one"--he took a stone from among coppers in
his pocket--"we have three hundred odd on hand, all flawless, and an
equal number cutting. When I point out, what you know, that our mine
is as yet without the delicate plant of Kimberley, the stones being
simply picked from the blue-earth by three inexpert friends of the
firm on the spot, you will recognize that the wealth of a mine can
no further go...."
He was rid of the visitor within six minutes, and within three
weeks, by knack and organization, had gathered into his hands most
of the reins necessary to the control of the world's trade in
In an outer room sat O'Hara, writing, reading Theocritus, or a
little book on mediaeval embroidery, forefinger on cheek; and anon,
absolutely without motive, he would rise, creep, and peep through a
keyhole at Hogarth, then on stalking, bowing tiptoe, grinning a
rancid grimace of stealth, get back to his seat, and read--the tutor
falling over head and ears in love with his pupil: one of those
passions that end tragically.
One day, as he so sat, the bell _pinged_, the door opened, and
O'Hara jumped to find himself face to face with--Frankl, who had
come to see the new diamond king, in the firm belief that Mr. Beech
was none other than O'Hara; and, "I thought as much!" said he.
"_Sh-h-h_", went O'Hara bitterly--"for God's sake! he is _in
"Outside--in the passage--"
They stepped out; and Frankl, his eyelids red, said: "I have only
this day crawled from bed with the blow you struck my temple, or I
should have had you before this--"
"_Sh-h-h_. Your own fault, sir. _You_ played false first--"
"Played false with my own diamonds? You hand me over this day one-
half those stones, or I bring a civil action for the whole, hound
you to beggary, and drag you back to your convict-cell where you
"Don't lift your voice, I beg of you. Tut, you rave. You can't bring
a civil action against a great millionaire who doesn't care to
defend; and as for me, I do assure you, I haven't fifty pounds to-
day. _It is Hogarth who is Mr. Beech!_"
"_Who?_"--Frankl obtruded a startled ear, frowning his eyes small.
"Hogarth. He has the diamonds back!"
"Which diamonds? How did he get 'em?"
"He is--_in_--_there_: better go and ask him! He got them by black
art--by the aid of the legion of mediaeval witches which wait on
him--_God_ knows how he got them! _You_ gave them to him! _I_ gave
them to him! but he's got them--_in--there_! Better go and ask him--don't
be afraid--just for the roaring fun of it--"
"Cheated the gallows? And out of prison? And rolling in my wealth,
my riches, my diamonds? Oh, no!--is that fair? A dog? Is that how
the world is run? God of Israel!"
"There is this to be said for him: that he _deserves_ to be rich--"
"Who? So you are taking his part now?"
"There is no _tut_ about it! You confess that you are nothing more
than a penniless hanger-on: well, then, I have _you_! back to
prison you go this hour---!"
O'Hara's cheek trembled; but he said: "A sufficiently vain threat,
sir: I am Hogarth's tutor: he won't let me be taken. Don't waste
your time, you impotent Jew--"
"Tutor? That's good! What you teaching him?--murder? _outrage?_ He
_ought_ to have a tutor, he! That's good! Tutor! Well, suppose I
drop a line first post to your nice _pupil_ to let him know that it
was his _tutor_ who stole his diamonds--"
At this threat O'Hara felt himself outflanked; and though his eyes
surveyed the Jew unflinchingly during a silence, inwardly he had
"A man in Hogarth's situation", he slowly said, "is always liable to
attack. Why should two sharp old fellows like you and me, whose
interests are identical, quarrel?"--and instantly Frankl took note
of that surrender, that weak spot, and knew that the man was his.
"Well", said he, "so true--two old gaol-birds like you and me, eh?
So true, so true. But what beats me--who runs Beech's? Hogarth is
only a young farmer: he can't operate all the big things I hear
about this Mr. Beech--"
"Tut, you do not conceive the man as he is at all", said O'Hara:
"perhaps you cannot. High finance, the first day he looked into it,
ceased to mystify him, for he goes always to the ground of things,
touches bottom, where first principles lie, and first principles are
simple as two and two. It was because he had discovered a first
principle that he escaped from Colmoor. And he is as nimble as six
twisting minnows: what you or I learned in a year he learns in an
hour, and if he does not know the usual way, not an instant does he
hesitate to invent a way. You know about Owthwaite's: how the recent
shake-out of the market threatened their collapse, like so many
others'. Owthwaite's, in fact, had already declared, when Hogarth
decided to help them over. And how? Not Bills! He filled up a call-
in of two millions and a half by the India Council, resettled loans
and short-discount business, cheapened money, and in twelve hours
his _protégés_ were off the rocks. And now I hear--"
"But why not buy a chapel, and preach about him? I hate--"
"Stop! O Lord--he is calling--"
"Here's my card; I want to see you to-night at that address at
And that night at Frankl's town-house in Hanover Square Jew and
prelate conferred, O'Hara for some time resisting, but finally again
taking sides against his saviour. He disclosed that Hogarth, beyond
doubt, kept a few diamonds in a goat-hair trunk in his room--enough
to make two ordinary fortunes, and also carried two or three, with
some hundred-pound notes on his person; and this was made the basis
of a scheme for bringing about the arrest of Hogarth, the first step
being to get from Hogarth the sum he carried about him, leaving him
in a situation where he would find himself powerless to bribe.
This Frankl undertook; and O'Hara promised to lend Harris, and some
friends of Harris.
Now, during these weeks Hogarth was living in some fear, haunted by
insecurity and a vision of Colmoor; and, remembering the theft at
Thring, with a consciousness of Frankl somewhere in him, he went not
only with diamonds on his person, but a revolver as well, and a
_puñal_ of Toledo.
But three evenings after the conference in Hanover Square, he
received this letter:
"It is long since we have met. This is to let you know that I have
heard of your getting out, and your coming into great things, which
has made my heart rejoice. I, alas, am just the other way about. I
am staying for the next two days at Woodfield Cottage, Wylie Street,
Finchley Road, N. I understand that you are lying low, so better not
come to see me perhaps, but send me something.
And at sight of these words such a whirlwind transacted itself in
the brain of Hogarth, that he hardly awoke to sense till he found
himself in a railway compartment, going northward. It was only then
that, reading the letter again, he started.
The handwriting was hers! he was sure. But the words...?
"I, alas, am _just the other way about_"--"better not come to me
perhaps, but _send me something_". There was a tone here not in
character. But her handwriting! This was no forgery. If she had
written _from dictation_ that might explain it.
In this uncertainty he left the train, and took cab, scenting
The difficulty was to find Wylie Street, which was a half-built
street of five cottages in a new neighbourhood of brick, and when
what was supposed to be Wylie Street was discovered, the cab had to
stop, for across it lay bricks, hods and barrows in mud. So Hogarth
alighted, and, peering, stumbled forward: no lamp; above, a
labouring half-moon riding a sky of clouds, like a poor ship riding
the bleak morning after a hurricane, her masts all gone by the
board: and Hogarth could just see that three of the five cottages
were roofless brick, the fourth unfinished, so the fifth, alone on
the other side, must be--"Woodfield"
"Woodfield" was unlighted: and the moment he ascertained this, he
felt himself the victim of a plot; but not all the whispers of
prudence could hold him now from seeing the adventure through.
Loudly he flung back the little gate, with rash precipitancy
entered: and as he sprang up the three steps to ring, he was seized.
They were five, three being big fellows, two masked.
His main sensation was gladness that none, apparently, was a
policeman; and he set hilariously to work with his knuckles. This,
however, could not save, soon he was on his back, striking his head;
but when he saw that the object was to rifle his pockets, letting
be, he managed to steal out the _puñal_ from his breast, and
presently with a sudden upheaving and scattering rage, was
staggering to his legs. Before he could be stopped, he was making
for the gate, but close upon him ran one of the five--a slim man,
masked--who fired Hogarth's own pistol at his legs, but missed:
whereupon, Hogarth, with a backward twist, struck at random with the
dagger, which entered the man's breast. But at the same time a
whistle shrilled, and from an opposite cottage rushed out at last
what he dreaded--three policemen.
These had been placed there on the understanding that it was thither
that Hogarth would go, the object of the plot being to rifle his
pockets before he was officially taken; and it succeeded to the
extent that his pockets _were_ rifled: but he knocked down one
officer, and dodged the other two, reaching his taxi; and, having
previously arranged with the cabman, got off racing.
But the masked man whom he had struck down was Harris, who for weeks
lay raving in fever--an ill-fated stroke, for Harris had a memory.
As for Hogarth, he rushed home to Keppel Street, hurried down the
trunk, and was off to Cheyne Gardens.
"Well", he cried, breaking in upon Loveday, "this phase of our life
is up! Look at my clothes: I have had a fight--Frankl, I suppose. I
wanted to live a simple life for two years: but they won't let me,
you see. Ha!--then the other thing. From this night we bury our
identity under mountains of splendour. It is disgusting to me, this
life, skulking, thinking to bribe honest men. Meantime, you must
find me some room to hide in with the trunk--mustn't stay here to-
night. And to-morrow you buy me a boat to take us off from some
point of the coast--Come--"
Within six months Hogarth, as distinct from "Beech", had risen upon
the consciousness of Europe, say like the morning sun: and the
wearied worker, borne at evening through crowded undergrounds, might
read his name with a listless incomprehension.
He impressed the popular fancy, especially in Paris, where he was
best known, as erratic: as once when, by a stroke of financial
sleight-of-hand, he got the young Government of Russia into a tight
place, then refused them a loan, except on condition of the lease to
him of the Kremlin: and for three months squalid old Moscow was the
most cometary Court anywhere--acts savouring of a meteorite
waywardness which impressed him, more than anything, upon the
everyday world; and he won a tolerant wonder.
However, an outcry, led by the _Intransigeant_, denounced his
acquisition of the site of royal St. Cloud for his Paris residence
on the ground that he was a Jew, betrayed by his face--an accusation
which caused the buying up of hundreds of thousands of his
photographs--and on the ground that his design was to familiarize
the people with the idea of his sovereignty, and by a _coup_ to
seize the Government; at which Paris was in a ferment, and a
midnight mob traversed the _Bois_ and demolished some of his mason-
work. The next day, however, the Minister of the Interior announced
from the Tribune that Hogarth was no Jew, but an Englishman _pur
sang_; and, on the whole, Hogarth had his way: the noise died down;
and where parterres and avenues had stood on the old palace site,
there arose one of those enchanting fabrics, which, from the
Bosphorus to London, bore the name of "The Beeches".
At this time he had dependent upon him a retinue, serving him in
multifarious ways from electrical adviser to spy, and from
chancellor to recruiter, numbering many hundreds. He knew five
thousand faces by sight; in England had two armies--a small one
collecting data as to acreages, tenures, trades, scales, wages,
prices, crimes, mines, and a large one, numbering five thousand,
doing gun-practice in Westring Vale: for, England being for sale, he
had bought at thrice its market value that part of it called
Westring; and on the sea also he kept a little army of a thousand,
borne in old cruiser-hulks bought from the English Admiralty, hulks
whose crews, in rotation, changed places with drafts from the
Once he disappeared from Europe, and when he returned the President
of the Republic of Ecuador, thenceforth one of his closest friends,
was with him; whereupon, through newspapers in the pay of Beech's,
the rumour commenced to appear that the Ecuador Government was
giving orders for coast-defence on an unparalleled scale, in view of
probable hostilities with Peru.
In the midst of which activities O'Hara said to him one morning:
"You can now be called a mathematician".
"I have many admirers, and but one teacher, O'Hara", Hogarth
answered: "teach me".
O'Hara cut a secret grimace.
After the failure of the Finchley Road plot he had had another
repentance, and had set himself earnestly to the cultivation of
Hogarth's mind; but the priest's spirit was not "erect"; he had
"falls"; maintained a correspondence with the Jew, whose eye of
malice never slept; and once at Cairo, twice in Paris, Hogarth had
to use words like these: "I must tell you, O'Hara, that I have heard
of your recent behaviour. Naturally, there are those that see for
me, and I do not mean to be compromised by your low revels".
"Wretch that I am!" broke out O'Hara with smitten brow, and for half
a day was on his knees in an affliction of self-reproach. Yet the
same night he wrote a letter to Frankl containing the words: "You do
not know, _you cannot dream_, the high and slippery road which H.
has chosen for his feet: the future is _big_ with events. Wait: his
sublime path is not without pitfalls...."
Study with O'Hara was in the morning; at night, when possible, that
other study of the working world: and often then Hogarth would
withdraw from opera in the St. Cloud palace, or from some "crush",
to give an hour to the river of statistics with which he was
Till these years he had never seen into the sea of things as it is:
his life so isolated--had not even read newspapers.
Now he saw and knew. There below him blazed some masque of beauty
and majesty, moving under a moonlight of blue-darting jets of
electric light all among colossal columns of alabaster robed in vine
and rose; or there below some Melba voice, all trembles and maze of
wobbly trebles, warbling: and the thronged hall sat tranced; but
before _him_--figures: parents killed their children for insurance-
money--keeping children in cellars till their flesh grew green,
keeping sore the stumps of children's legs; with some trades certain
comic-sounding names had got to be associated, "potter's rot",
"phossy jaw",--enormous horror; each day in England one million
people had to seek pauper-relief, many perished; of aged persons 40
per cent were permanent paupers; children were paid 2-1/2d. for
making 144 match-boxes; pretty girls (though pretty girls were
detestably rare) were allowed to work, nay _forced_ to--far harder
than any ten savages ever dreamt of working; in Glasgow 41 of every
100 families lived in one room: fathers, for weeks, did not see
their children, except asleep; girls took emetics to vomit up
cotton-dust--enormous horror, comic-opera in Hell: and below in the
"crush" the voice of the warbler, cooing, shook.
Sometimes he would mutter: "But that can't be true!" There, though,
the figures lay; and presently he would take heart, and say: "Well,
not for long now, God help me...."
Whether God helped him or not, certainly Man was helping him: ten
thousand and ten thousand hammers--from Spezzia to Belfast--in
model-office and mould-loft and rolling-mill--in foundry and yard
and roaring forge--were ringing upon metal for him, their clamorous
industry clattering over Europe and America carillons of his name.
Almost suddenly that noise of chiming hammers reached the general
First in the German Admiralty was wonder when a spy, engaged as a
workman at Birkenhead, sent to his Government information that the
British Government was up to something: something of a novelty so
extraordinary, that as yet he could form no conception as to its
object. That it was intended for the sea one must suppose: yet it
was evident that nothing of such odd draughtsmanship--of such
mastodon proportions--had ever yet taken the water.
He had been clever: had penetrated even the model-office, peered at
detailed draughtsman's-plans, developed from the original
specifications, as well as at orders for Krupp plates, frames, etc.;
had listened in the yard to the talk of four naval men acting as a
Board of Inspection; was able to give details of the machining of
enormous processed plates to sizes determined by templates, the
length of pan-headed rivets, the specific gravity of an average
cubic foot, the scarfing of edges, the accumulation of prepared
material. The wooden half-model, he said, was a one-ninety-sixth,
instead of the usual one-forty-eighth; yet, even so, it was 5 ft. 7-
1/2 ins. long, as much broad, and 1 ft. 3/4 in. high. This meant
that the structure would measure 180 yards square--over one-tenth of
a mile--with a depth of 34 yards. Already the far-reaching chaos of
scaffolding had run up eight yards, with stringers and frames to a
like level. There were no keel-blocks, for there was no keel--or
rather, the keel was a circular plate a yard in diameter, resting on
a single block, the shape of the structure to be a perfect square,
along the sides of which four battleships might lie like toy-boats:
the bottom, from circular keel to upward bend, having the same shape
as a battleship's seen in midship section, only with four faces
instead of two. From the knee-bend the sides ran up perpendicular;
but at the level evidently intended to be the water-line they struck
inward, so that the flat roof was smaller than the area below; the
position of this water-line giving a definite clue to the intended
displacement; and this again showing that the whole--roof, sides,
bottom, and all--would be one wall of Simmons armour--steeling and
backing--layer on layer--no less than 4ft. 9-1/4 ins. thick.
Yet this stupendous ark, or citadel--so simple was its plan--would
be turned out in less time than a second-class cruiser; and its
cost, apart from yard-modifications and groundways, small in
This, and much else, the spy reported: but the new fact was obvious
as the sun; the British and French Intelligence Departments, too,
were soon conning it; and a week later it was established that, not
one, but at least eleven, such structures were a-building in the
There went the rumour: "It is the Government of Ecuador's order...."
This was at the end of April; Hogarth, obeying some instinct which
continually drew him toward Asia, then loitering alone in Trebizond
tea-gardens and bazaars, buying a braid-bag, mule-trapping, or
silver sword of the Khurdish cavaliers; while Trinity House gave the
alarm that if ever the steel monsters, whatever their object, were
launched, "they would constitute, in the absence of proper
precautions, a serious danger by night to the world's mercantile
marine ", and while Lloyd's, the Maritime Exchanges, the
Hydrographic Offices, lived in a species of amazement, and were
already putting the steel islands into the gazetteers and manuals;
the newspapers, too, inundated with the views of the public, took
sides, maintaining, some of them, that it was the part of
Governments to ascertain the objects of the new works, others that
any tampering with their progress at this late stage might even mean
revolution, so profound was their intimacy with industry. Hogarth,
meanwhile, having come to El Khiff, the camp of the Bedouin
pilgrims, there spent some days, and then, passing between Jerusalem
and Jericho in a caravan of Moabite sheiks, went visiting the holy
places of Israel, everywhere examining the country, especially its
agriculture, with great minuteness. It was only on his return to
Jerusalem that he heard of the agitation in Europe: and at once set
off Westward from Joppa.
From his arrival at Paris toward the end of May the wildest legends,
originated by him, began to be printed, the most persistent relating
to the diamond and banking House of Beech, which, it was given out,
had discovered diamonds within the crust of a Pacific rock-island:
the new structures, ordered by them, being designed to blast the
coast-wall with dynamite guns. Cavillers pointed out that diamonds
never occur in nature in this fashion, and that, even so, it did not
need a fort made of armour five feet thick to fire off dynamite
guns; but so continuously was the thing repeated, explained, and
puffed, that when the London manager of Beech partially admitted it,
the most incredulous acquiesced; though at the very same period it
was proclaimed that the President of the Ecuador Republic, Hogarth's
friend, had admitted to the Great Powers that the forts were to his
order (as, in fact, they nominally were); and anti-climax was
reached when a naval expert, asked to do a hurried article for the
Times, made some error in calculation, and came out with the
statement that the fort-things would sink of their own weight. This
article was headed "Beech's Folly"; and even when the error was
detected, the roar of merriment retained its momentum and rolled: so
that, to the hour of the first launch, the enterprise was commonly
referred to as "Beech's Folly", and scarf-pins, ink-stands, etc., in
the shape of the forts, were sold with that superscription: "Beech's
This, translated into French, became that horrible gallicism: _la
Gradually, however, the Ecuador-Beech rage died down the hammers,
heard for nine days through the turmoil of the world, were again
drowned in it. The scarf-pins ceased to sell. The 'buses rolled, the
Bank cashed notes, the long street roared--and all was as usual.
Only, in the valley of Westring there was drill and target-practice
and barrack-life routine, the Westring-eccentricity being associated
with the millionaire, Hogarth, the island-eccentricity with the
House of Beech: and in the popular mind Beech and Hogarth were two
notions. Islands were building in Italy, France, Germany, Russia; in
England, Scotland, Ireland; at Maine, Baltimore, Newport News: but
the Governments, lacking the machinery, and also the initiative, and
judging to-morrow by yesterday, gave no sign from their Olympus.
In June, John Loveday being then at Westring, one morning O'Hara
arrived, he, too, having left mediæval chasubles to grind at war,
and though he no longer taught Hogarth, a relation persisted between
them; and always not far from O'Hara was to be found Harris, living
now on the pinnacle of dandy bliss, twisting a dandy stick.
It was on the last night of this visit to Westring that O'Hara at a
late hour went with stealth and hesitations along a corridor of the
Hall, and finally tapped at Loveday's door, who, detesting the
priest, and reading in bed, disgustedly dashed off his cigarette
ash, as he called: "Come in".
And a long time they spoke of things other than the real object of
O'Hara's visit, till O'Hara said: "But--may I ask you something?"
"Well, now, you are a fellow more in the counsels of Hogarth than
another. I want to ask you right out frankly--is it a fact that
Hogarth is choosing Admirals for the islands?"
"I believe it is", answered Loveday with his long-bow smile of
amusement: "I already know, for example, that Saltoun will admiral
the _Homer_ in the Indian Ocean, Vladimir the _Ruskin_ in the
Atlantic Crescent, and the young Marquis of Erroll the _Justice_ in
the Yellow Sea".
"All I know of. I believe, however, that Hogarth is in the throes of
decision as to the rest".
There was a silence full of Loveday's smile.
"But", said O'Hara, "what I meant is this: you know what I have been
to Hogarth; without me, what could the poor fellow have done, after
all? I have taught him to think, to dance, and to dine. Now, then, I
ask you right out frankly--am _I_, my son, in the list of Admirals?"
Loveday, flushing, started upright, and sank back. "No, I don't
fancy that your name is among those entertained, O'Hara".
"We will see about that. Woe to Hogarth, and to his advisers, if he
dare slight O'Hara, my son! What! after preparing myself with
toilsome zeal for this post? and after two promises from Hogarth's
"I deny the promises on Hogarth's behalf".
"Oh, you! Hogarth looks upon you as a plaything. I do assure you,
you are not taken seriously, Mr. Loveday. How should such as you
know what Hogarth promises or designs? "--his cheeks trembling.
And, Loveday, smiling again, though pale: "Well, if we admit the
promises...but--have you accurately acquainted Hogarth with your
"Most decidedly, sir!"
"If you have not, I think he should know it".
"Your threats do not affect me, sir! In three days I shall be in
Petersburg with Hogarth, and shall take a pleasure in writing you
the name of the island to which I am appointed".
"In three days I also--!" He stopped: but O'Hara understood.
Now the door rushed open, and in looked Harris in under-vest and
drawers, beneath his arm a bundle of walkingsticks, which he had
been caring and telling.
And "'Ere", he drawled, "when are you coming to 'ave that bit of
cold mutton? It's past twelve o'clock as it is".
"I am coming, boy", said O'Hara, rising with brisk obedience.
"Then, come, why don't you! There were shepherds watching their
pretty little flocks by night, but to leave a man watching the cold
animal is a bit out. Come along!"--and O'Hara went.
He reached Petersburg twelve hours before Loveday, his reason for
choosing that time being his knowledge that Frankl was in
Petersburg, and with him Rebekah, Frankl being in a deal with the
new-régime Minister of Finance.
For, as O'Hara had been asking himself the agonized question: "By
what absolute _finesse_ can I, _just now_, win Hogarth?" the mere
presence of Rebekah in the same city with Hogarth drew him thither.
But the next day, when Loveday came, nothing had been done--no
chance of _tête-a-tête_ with Hogarth: and that day was O'Hara an
anxious and tremulous man, living on the tip-toe and _qui vive_ of
The same night at a masque at the Palace of Peterhof Loveday got a
chance of dialogue with Hogarth, they seated amid greenery and
coloured gleams, Hogarth groomed to the glittering glass of his
shoes, his legs stretched, arm akimbo; and presently Loveday led the
talk to things of the sea. "What an extraordinary activity! The
British Government launches the _Peleus_ next Monday at Deptford--
the first 28,000-ton war-boat; and seven cruisers on the slips. Then
the French, Austro-German, Russian--"
"Ha!--I know. They won't build long".
"Still the confidence?"
"You can only ask, my dear boy, because you do not yet see what a
thing the battleship really is--much more than half a sham. The
march of invention is from the complex to the simple: for simplicity
is strength; but to the moment when I began to construct, naval
construction had not followed this law: for from the old smooth-
bores, aimed with tackle and quoin, to the present regime of
electric wires, you have had a continual advance in complexity--
always within the same little arc of thought--till now the most
complex of things is a battleship; and if you ask me which is the
weaker, a battleship or a watch, I answer a battleship--_weak_
meaning liability to the injuries which they were built to resist.
In such a case as that of the _Maine_, sunk at Havana, one might
fancy that the task of naval constructors is to turn out a thing to
sink with a minimum of trouble; and you remember the _Camperdown_
and _Victoria_, how, playing about together, one happened to touch
the other, when down plunged that other. These ships are a
compromise between three _motifs_--speed, resisting attack, and
attacking: and the first is so antagonistic to the second, and also
to the third, that the net result is almost a Nonentity, or No-
Thing. Nothing, in fact, could be more _queer_, unfounded, than
these ships; and the future will look back upon them with pity.
Hence the simple islands, following the law: and don't think t hat
their efficacy is a thing riskier than arithmetic itself"
"Good", went Loveday. "But, Richard--captain your islands with
"You have something on your mind: what is it?"
"It is--delicate. Have I your permission to speak?"
"Why, John, yes".
"Well then--is O'Hara to be an Admiral?"
"Old Pat? Hardly, I think. He may. But no--I don't think. Poor old
talky-talky. He has worked hard for us, John: and his fund of
experience, in one way and another, has been invaluable. Well, I
don't know: I have had the idea, but I don't suppose that, in
reality--Still, I am fond of him, John. Such a tongue, and such a
versatile brain, is he! He was my comfort for many a sombre day in
Listening near with rancid grin behind some greenery, O'Hara kept
nodding emphatic assents of satisfaction to Hogarth's praise.
"But, stop", said Loveday: "do you know why he was in prison?"
"He was innocent".
"Of stealing some diamonds entrusted him by the Pope".
"Bah! he lies. His trial was a _cause célèbre_, and hence the false
name he gave me at first: the moment I heard you say 'O'Hara' I knew
the man. He had committed an assault upon a lady in a train--"
"Beast that he is", went Hogarth, while O'Hara's eyes started from
his head: "and liar, too, it seems. Ha!--he gave me the most
circumstantial story. Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"It was delicate--"
"Beast that he is. Yet how complex is character! the man's
tenderness for his Church is so charming--"
"Fiddlesticks! Look here, Richard, I am come all the way from
Westring to tell you this thing. Don't you give vast powers to that
man: it isn't decent; and I have a feeling that it will be a baleful
piece of weakness. And don't get easy, and tolerant, and fat in the
eyes, Hogarth. That is a very significant Bible-story--the
implacable disaster sent upon old Eli for no greater crime than a
_bonhomme_ indolence. And in order to arouse your wrath against this
O'Hara, I am going now, against my will, to tell you something: the
name of that lady in that train".
"Someone whom I know?"
For a moment Loveday's answer hesitated: and in that moment, O'Hara,
with lightning decision, had his mouth at Hogarth's ear: "Come with
me quick--then fall down and worship me for a month! _Someone is in
the Malachite Hall!_"
Like sudden death Hogarth's colour fled his face; in another instant
he was a blind, oblivious wight...had known that she was in
Petersburg; but not that she was at the masque.
In a moment shrubbery, lights, all life, rushed into transformation
for him: and with an excitement of the eyes, the bloodshot left
looking bloodier, he went after O'Hara, tossing back at Loveday that
fatal saying: "_To-morrow_...."
Back to Full Books