The World's Greatest Books, Vol IV.
Editors: Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton
Part 6 out of 6
diversified variety of his views of life, it far excels him in
the description of domestic virtues and the pleasing moral of
the tale." Goldsmith died on April 4, 1774. (See also Vol.
I was ever of opinion that the honest man who married and brought up a
large family did more service than he who continued single and only
talked of population. From this motive, I chose my wife, as she did her
wedding-gown, not for a fine glossy surface, but such qualities as would
wear well. There was nothing that could make us angry with the world or
each other. We had no revolutions to fear, nor fatigues to undergo; all
our adventures were by the fireside, and all our migrations from the
blue bed to the brown.
My children, as they were educated without softness, so they were at
once well-formed and healthy; my four sons hardy and active, my two
daughters beautiful and blooming. Olivia, the elder daughter, was open,
sprightly, and commanding; Sophia's features were not so striking at
first, but often did more certain execution, for they were soft, modest,
The profits of my living I made over to the orphans and widows of the
clergy of our diocese; for, having a sufficient fortune of my own, I was
careless of temporalities, and felt a secret pleasure in doing my duty
My eldest son, George, just upon leaving college, fixed his affections
upon Miss Arabella Wilmot, the daughter of a neighbouring clergyman, who
was in circumstances to give her a large fortune. Mr. Wilmot was not
averse to the match, but after the day for the nuptials had been fixed,
I engaged in a dispute with him which threatened to interrupt our
intended alliance. I have always maintained that it is unlawful for a
priest of the Church of England, after the death of his first wife, to
take a second; and I showed Mr. Wilmot a tract which I had written in
defence of this principle. It was not till too late I discovered that he
was violently attached to the contrary opinion, and with good reason;
for he was at that time actually courting a fourth wife.
While the controversy was hottest, a relation, with a face of concern,
called me out.
"The merchant in town," he said, "in whose hands your money was lodged
has gone off, to avoid a statute of bankruptcy. Your fortune is now
It would be useless to describe the sensations of my family when I
divulged the news. Near a fortnight had passed before I attempted to
restrain their affliction; for premature consolation is but the
remembrance of sorrow. During this interval I determined to send my
eldest son to London, and I accepted a small cure of fifteen pounds a
year in a distant neighbourhood.
The first day's journey brought us within thirty miles of our future
retreat, and we put up at an obscure inn in a village by the way. At the
inn was a gentleman who, the landlord told me, had been so liberal in
his charity that he had no money left to pay his reckoning. I could not
avoid expressing my concern at seeing a gentleman in such circumstances,
and offered the stranger my purse. "I take it with all my heart, sir,"
replied he, "and am glad that my late oversight has shown me that there
are still some men like you." The stranger's conversation was so
pleasing and instructive that we were rejoiced to hear that he was going
the same way as ourselves.
The next morning we all set forward together. Mr. Burchell and I
lightened the fatigues of the road with philosophical disputes, and he
also informed me to whom the different seats belonged that lay in our
"That, Dr. Primrose," he said to me, pointing to a very magnificent
house, "belongs to Mr. Thornhill, a young gentleman who enjoys a large
fortune, though entirely dependent upon the will of his uncle, Sir
"What!" cried I, "is my young landlord, then, the nephew of one who is
represented as a man of consummate benevolence?"
At this point we were alarmed by the cries of my family, and I perceived
my youngest daughter in the midst of a rapid stream, and struggling with
the torrent; she must have certainly perished had not my companion
instantly plunged in to her relief. Her gratitude may be more readily
imagined than described; she thanked her deliverer more with looks than
words. Soon afterwards Mr. Burchell took leave of us, and we pursued our
journey to the place of our retreat.
At a small distance from our habitation was a seat overshaded by a hedge
of hawthorn and honeysuckle. Here, when the weather was fine, and our
labour soon finished, we usually sat together to enjoy an extensive
landscape in the calm of the evening. On an afternoon about the
beginning of autumn, when I had drawn out my family to the seat, dogs
and horsemen swept past us with great swiftness. After them a young
gentleman, of a more genteel appearance than the rest, came forward,
and, instead of pursuing the chase, stopped short, and approached us
with a careless, superior air. He let us know that his name was
Thornhill, and that he was the owner of the estate that lay around us.
As his address, though confident, was easy, we soon became more
familiar; and the whole family seemed earnest to please him.
As soon as he was gone, my wife gave the opinion that it was a most
fortunate hit, and hoped again to see the day in which we might hold up
our heads with the best of them.
"For my part," cried Olivia, "I don't like him, he is so extremely
impudent and familiar." I interpreted this speech by contrary, and found
that Olivia secretly admired him.
"To confess the truth," said I, "he has not prepossessed me in his
favour. I had heard that he was particularly remarkable for
faithlessness to the fair sex."
A few days afterwards we entertained our young landlord at dinner, and
it may be easily supposed what provisions were exhausted to make an
appearance. As he directed his looks and conversation to Olivia, it was
no longer doubted but that she was the object that induced him to be our
visitor; and my wife exulted in her daughter's victory as if it were her
On one evening Mr. Thornhill came with two young ladies, richly dressed,
whom he introduced as women of very great distinction and fashion from
town. The two ladies threw my girls quite into the shade, for they would
talk of nothing but high life and high-lived company. 'Tis true, they
once or twice mortified us sensibly by slipping out an oath; their
finery, however, threw a veil over any grossness in their conversation.
I now began to find that all my long and painful lectures upon
temperance, simplicity, and contentment were entirely disregarded. The
distinctions lately paid us by our betters awakened that pride which I
had laid asleep, but not removed. When the two ladies of quality showed
a willingness to take our girls to town with them as companions, my wife
was overjoyed at our good fortune. But Mr. Burchell, who had at first
been a welcome guest at our house, but had become less welcome since we
had been favoured with the company of persons of superior station,
dissuaded her with great ardour, and so angered her that she ended by
asking him to stay away.
Returning home one day, I found my wife and girls all in tears, Mr.
Thornhill having been there to inform them that their journey to town
was entirely over. The two ladies, having heard reports of us from some
malicious person, were that day set out for London. We were not long in
finding who it was that had been so base as to asperse the character of
a family so harmless as ours. One of our boys found a letter-case which
we knew to belong to Mr. Burchell. Within it was a sealed note,
superscribed, "The copy of a letter to be sent to the two ladies at
Thornhill Castle." At the joint solicitation of the family, I opened it,
and read as follows:
"Ladies,--I am informed that you have some intention of bringing two
young ladies to town, whom I have some knowledge of, under the character
of companions. As I would neither have simplicity imposed upon nor
virtue contaminated, I must offer it as my opinion that the impropriety
of such a step will be attended with dangerous consequences. Take
therefore, the admonition of a friend, and seriously reflect on the
consequences of introducing infamy and vice into retreats where peace
and innocence have hitherto resided."
Our doubts were now at an end. It appeared to me one of the vilest
instances of unprovoked ingratitude I had ever met with. As we set
ruminating upon schemes of vengeance, Mr. Burchell himself entered and
"Do you know this, sir--this pocket-book?" said I.
"Yes, sir," returned he, with a face of impenetrable assurance.
"And do you know this letter?"
"Yes; it was I that wrote that letter."
"And how could you so basely presume to write this letter?"
"And how came you," replied he, with looks of unparalleled effrontery,
"so basely to presume to open this letter?"
I could scarcely govern my passion. "Ungrateful wretch!" I cried.
"Begone, and no longer pollute my dwelling with thy baseness!"
So saying, I threw him his pocket-book, which he took up with a smile,
and left us astonished at the serenity of his assurance.
The visits of Mr. Thornhill now became more frequent and longer; but all
the schemes of Olivia and her mother to bring him to a declaration came
to nothing. And although Olivia considered his fine sentiments as
instances of the most exalted passion, it seemed to me plain that they
had more of love than matrimony in them.
One evening as I sat by the fireside, thanking Heaven for tranquillity,
health, and competence, and thinking myself happier than the greatest
monarch upon earth, I noticed that Olivia was absent.
"Where is my darling Olivia?" I asked. Just as I spoke, my boy Dick came
"Oh, papa, papa, she is gone from us; she is gone from us for ever!"
"Yes; she is gone off with two gentlemen in a postchaise, and one of
them kissed her. And she cried very much, but he persuaded her, and she
went into the chaise."
"Now, then," cried I, "may Heaven's everlasting fury light upon him and
his! Thus to rob me of my child! Bring me my pistols; I'll pursue the
traitor. Old as I am, he shall find I can sting him yet--the perfidious
My poor wife caught me in her arms.
"Indeed, sir," said my son Moses, "your rage is too violent."
"I did not curse him, child, did I?"
"Indeed, sir, you did."
"Then may Heaven forgive me and him. But it is not--it is not a small
distress that can wring tears from these old eyes. My child--to undo my
darling! May confusion seize--Heaven forgive me! What am I about to say?
Had she but died! My son, bring hither my Bible and my staff. I will
pursue her; and though I cannot save her from shame, I may prevent the
continuance of her iniquity."
My suspicions fell entirely upon our young landlord, whose character for
such intrigues was but too well known. I therefore directed my steps
towards Thornhill Castle. He soon appeared, with the most open, familiar
air, and seemed perfectly amazed at my daughter's elopement, protesting
upon his honour that he was quite a stranger to it. A man, however,
averred that my daughter and Mr. Burchell had been seen driving very
fast towards the Wells, about thirty miles distant.
I walked towards the Wells with earnestness, and on entering the town I
was met by a person on horseback, whom I remembered to have seen at the
squire's, and he assured me that if I followed them to the races, which
were but thirty miles further, I might depend upon overtaking them.
Early the next day I walked forward to the races, but saw nothing of my
daughter or of Mr. Burchell.
The agitations of my mind, and the fatigues I had undergone, now threw
me into a fever. I retired to a little ale-house by the roadside, and
here I languished for nearly three weeks.
The night coming on as I was twenty miles from home on my return
journey, I put up at a little public-house, and asked for the landlord's
company over a pint of wine. I could hear the landlady upstairs bitterly
reproaching a lodger who could not pay.
"Out, I say," she cried; "pack out this moment!"
"Oh, dear madame," replied the stranger, "pity a poor, abandoned
creature for one night and death will soon do the rest!"
I instantly knew the voice of my poor ruined child, Olivia, and flew to
"Welcome, anyway welcome, my dearest lost one, to your poor old father's
"Oh, my own dear"--for minutes she could say no more--"my own dearest,
good papa! You can't forgive me--I know you cannot!"
"Yes, my child, from my heart I do forgive thee." After we had talked
ourselves into some tranquillity, I said, "It surprises me how a person
of Mr. Burchell's seeming honour could be guilty of such deliberate
"My dear papa," returned my daughter, "you labour under a strange
mistake. It is Mr. Thornhill who has ruined me; who employed the two
ladies, as he called them, but who, in fact, were abandoned women of the
town, to decoy us up to London. Their artifices would certainly have
succeeded but for Mr. Burchell's letter, who directed those reproaches
at them which we all applied to ourselves."
"You amaze me, my dear!" cried I. "But tell me, what temptation was it
that could thus obliterate your virtue?"
"He offered me marriage," replied she. "We were indeed married secretly
by a popish priest, whose name I was sworn to conceal."
"What!" interrupted I. "And were you indeed married?"
"Alas!" she said, "he has been married already by the same priest to six
or eight wives more, whom, like me, he has deceived and abandoned."
"Have patience, my child," cried I, "and I hope things will yet be
better. To-morrow I'll carry you home to your mother. Poor woman, this
has gone to her heart; but she loves you still, Olivia, and will forget
It was late the next night when I approached my own home. I had left
Olivia at an inn five miles away, intending to prepare my family for her
reception. To my amazement, I saw the house bursting out into a blaze of
fire, and every aperture red with conflagration! I gave a loud
convulsive outcry, which alarmed my son, and all my family ran out, wild
with apprehension. Our neighbours came running to our assistance; but
the flames had taken too strong a hold to be extinguished, and all the
neighbours could do was to stand spectators of the calamity. They
brought us clothes and furnished one of our outhouses with kitchen
utensils; so that by daylight we had another, though a wretched,
dwelling to retire to.
In the midst of this affliction our poor lost one returned to us. "Ah,
madam," cried her mother, "this is but a poor place to come to after so
much finery! I can afford but little entertainment to persons who have
kept company only with persons of distinction; but I hope Heaven will
The unhappy victim stood pale and trembling, unable to weep or to reply.
"I entreat, woman," I said to my wife, with severity in my voice and
manner, "that my words may be now marked once for all. I have here
brought you back a poor deluded wanderer--her return to duty demands the
revival of our tenderness. The real hardships of life are now coming
fast upon us; let us not increase them by dissensions among each other.
The kindness of Heaven is promised to the penitent, and let ours be
directed by the example."
My daughter's grief, however, seemed formed for continuing, and her
wretchedness was increased by the news that Mr. Thornhill was going to
be married to the rich Miss Wilmot, who had formerly been betrothed to
my eldest son.
On a morning of peculiar warmth for the season, when we were
breakfasting out of doors, Mr. Thornhill drove up in his chariot,
alighted, and inquired after my health with his usual air of
"Sir," replied I, "your present assurance only serves to aggravate your
"My dear sir," returned he, "I cannot understand what this means!"
"Go!" cried I. "Thou art a poor, pitiful wretch, and every way a liar;
but your meanness secures you from my anger!"
"I find," he said, "you are bent upon obliging me to talk in a harsher
manner than I intended. My steward talks of driving for the rent, and it
is certain he knows his duty. Yet, still, I could wish to serve you, and
even to have you and your daughter present at my marriage."
"Mr. Thornhill," replied I, "as to your marriage with any but my
daughter, that I never will consent to! And though your friendship could
raise me to a throne, or your resentment sink me to the grave, yet would
I despise both."
"Depend upon it," returned he, "you shall feel the effects of this
insolence," and departed abruptly.
On the very next morning his steward came to demand my annual rent,
which, by reason of the accidents already related, I was unable to pay.
On the following day two officers of justice took me to the county gaol.
There is no situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of
comfort attending it; and I found mine in the help and kindness of a
fellow-prisoner, Mr. Jenkinson by name, who was awaiting trial for
several acts of cheating and roguery. I myself, indeed, had been one of
The fortune of my family, who were lodged in the town, was wholly and
distressingly adverse. Olivia was ill, and longed for me to make my
submission to Mr. Thornhill by approving his marriage with Miss Wilmot.
When I had been confined a fortnight, Mr. Jenkinson brought me dreadful
news--Olivia was dead! And while yet my grief was fresh upon me my wife
came weeping to tell me that Sophia had been seized by ruffians and
The sum of my miseries, thought, I, is now made up; nor is it in the
power of anything on earth to give me another pang. Yet another awaited
me. My eldest son, George, to whom I had written, went to Thornhill
Castle to punish our betrayer; he was attacked by the coward's servants,
injured one of them, and was brought into the very prison where I was
The enemy of my family had now triumphed completely. My only hope was in
a letter I had written to Sir William Thornhill, telling him of the
misdeeds of his nephew. I was by this time myself extremely ill. I
sought to break from my heart all ties that bound it to earth, and to
fit myself for eternity.
On parting from my unhappy son, who was removed to a stronger cell, I
laid me down in bed, when Mr. Jenkinson, entering, informed me that
there was news of my daughter. He had scarcely delivered his message
when my dearest girl entered with Mr. Burchell.
"Here, papa," she cried, "here is the brave man to whom I owe my
delivery; to this gentleman's intrepidity--"
A kiss from Mr. Burchell interrupted what she was going to add.
"Ah, Mr. Burchell," said I, "you were ever our friend. We have long
discovered our errors with regard to you, and repented our ingratitude.
And now, as you have delivered my girl, if you think her a recompense,
she is yours."
"But I suppose, sir," he replied, "you are apprised of my incapacity to
support her as she deserves?"
"I know no man," I returned, "so worthy to deserve her as you."
Without the least reply to my offer, he ordered from the next inn the
best dinner that could be provided. While we were at dinner, the gaoler
brought a message from Mr. Thornhill, desiring permission to appear
before his uncle in order to vindicate his innocence and honour. The
poor, harmless Mr. Burchell, then, was in reality the celebrated Sir
Mr. Thornhill entered with a smile, and was going to embrace his uncle.
"No fawning, sir, at present," cried the baronet. "The only way to my
heart is by the road of honour; but here I only see complicated
instances of falsehood, cowardice, and oppression."
At this moment Jenkinson and the gaoler's two servants entered, hauling
in a tall man very genteelly dressed. As soon as Mr. Thornhill perceived
the prisoner and Mr. Jenkinson, he seemed to shrink backward with
terror, for this was the man whom he had put upon the carrying off of
"Heavens," cried Sir William, "what a viper have I been fostering in my
"As Mr. Thornhill and I have been old fellow-sporters," said Jenkinson,
"I have a friendship for him; and I hope he will show a proper return of
friendship to his own honest Jenkinson, who brings him a wife."
So saying, he went off and left us.
"I am surprised," said the baronet, "what he can intend by this?"
"When we reflect," I replied, "on the various schemes--Amazement! Do I
see my lost daughter? It is--it is my Olivia!"
"As for you, squire," said Jenkinson, "this young lady is your lawful
wedded wife. Here is the licence to prove it. He commissioned me,
gentlemen," he continued, "to procure him a false licence and a false
priest in order to deceive this young lady. What did I do, but went and
got a true licence and a true priest. To my shame, I confess it, my only
design was to keep the licence and let the squire know that I could
prove it upon him whenever I wanted money."
"How could you," I cried, "add to my miseries by the story of her
"That," replied Jenkinson, "is easily answered. I thought the only
probable means of freeing you from prison was by submitting to the
squire, and consenting to his marriage with the other young lady. But
this you had vowed never to grant while your daughter was living, so I
had to join with your wife in persuading you that she was dead."
Mr. Thornhill's assurance had now entirely forsaken him. He fell on his
knees before his uncle, and implored compassion.
"Thy vices, crimes, and ingratitude," said the baronet, "deserve no
compassion; but a bare competence shall be supplied thee, and thy wife
shall possess a third part of that fortune which once was thine." Then,
turning to Sophia, he caught her to his breast with ardour. "I have
sought," he cried, "for a woman who, a stranger to my fortune, could
think I had merit as a man. How great must be my rapture to have made a
conquest over such sense and such heavenly beauty!"
On the next day Sophia was wedded to Sir William Thornhill; and my son
George, now freed from justice, as the person supposed to be wounded by
him was detected to be an impostor, led Miss Wilmot to the altar. As
soon as I had awakened that morning, I had heard that my merchant had
been arrested at Antwerp, and that my fortune had been restored to me.
It may not be improper to observe, with respect to Mr. Thornhill, that
he now resides as companion at a relation's house. My eldest daughter
has told me that when he reforms she may be brought to relent.
I had now nothing on this side of the grave to wish for. All my cares
were over. It only remained that my gratitude in good fortune should
exceed my submission in adversity.
* * * * *
EDMOND AND JULES DE GONCOURT
Edmond de Goncourt, born at Nancy on May 26, 1822, and his
brother Jules, born in Paris on December 17, 1830, were
primarily artists, who, while wandering over France, knapsack
on back, discovered that their note-books also made them
writers. In 1850 they entered upon a literary partnership
which only finished with the death of the younger brother on
June 20, 1870. Their earliest literary endeavours consisted of
a series of historical studies dealing with the France of the
second half of the eighteenth century. It was not until 1860,
with the publication of their first novel, "Les Hommes de
Lettres," that they discovered their true bent lay in fiction.
"Renee Mauperin," which is, perhaps, the best known of their
books, was published in 1864. As a psychological analysis of
contemporaneous youth, it is probably without its equal in
French fiction. "The plot of the story," wrote Edmond de
Goncourt, "is secondary. The authors have rather preferred to
paint the modern young woman as she is: the product of the
artistic and masculine system of education in force during the
last thirty years. We have also attempted to portray the
modern young college man influenced by the republican ideas of
the time since Louis Philippe." Edmond de Goncourt died on
July 16, 1896.
_I.--A Wayward Girl_
"Yes, I love riding and hunting. I never miss a meet. The wind blowing
through one's hair, the hounds, the horns, the trees flying past you--it
is intoxicating! In those moments I feel brave. Life has few other
pleasures for a well-brought-up girl like me. Everything is shocking! I
dance, yes ... but do you think I am allowed to talk to my partner? Yes,
no, no, yes--that's all! That's proper. And I am allowed to read if the
books and articles are proper. I paint in oils, and that shocks my
family; a young lady must not go beyond copying roses in water-colours.
Isn't the current strong here?"
Renee Mauperin and young Reverchon, her parent's guest, were swimming in
"How beautiful!" exclaimed the girl, as she noticed the evening sun
gilding the river and the banks where country and suburb merged into
"You are an artist by nature, mademoiselle."
"Ouf!" she exclaimed with a comic intonation.
A boat approached.
"Well, Renee, how is the water?" asked one of the rowers.
"Splendid, thanks, Denoisel," she replied, as she mounted the steps
lowered for her.
"I was almost getting nervous for you. And Reverchon? Ah, there he is!"
* * * * *
Renee was the youngest daughter of a distinguished Napoleonic officer,
who, at the time of the revolution of 1830, was elected deputy, and
fought with all his ardour for the Liberal cause, but who subsequently,
at the urging of his wife, a tyrannical conventional member of the
_bourgeois_, retired from the world of politics and established a sugar
refinery, so as to be able to provide suitably for his three children.
The first two, a boy born in 1826 and a daughter in 1827, were a
disappointment to the old soldier. They were too reasonable, too
"grown-up" before they were children, but in Renee, who was born after
an interval of eight years, M. Mauperin found ample consolation. His
heart revelled in her pranks and merry laughter, and she grew up the pet
of her father, whose affection she returned with all her heart. She was
now twenty; her brother Henri, serious, studious, plodding and
determined to make a career, was a lawyer, and had made some reputation
by his articles on statistical subjects; and Henriette, her elder
sister, had found a husband in M. Davarande, whose wealth and position
allowed her to devote herself to the life of empty amusement, divided
mainly between long rounds of calls, the opera, and the Bois, which
filled the days of the moneyed Paris _bourgeoisie_ of that time.
Madame Mauperin, delighted with Henriette's match, was anxious to find
an equally suitable partner for Renee; but the high-spirited girl had a
will of her own, and seemed to take almost a pleasure in crossing her
mother's transparent matrimonial schemes. Quite a number of eligible
young men had been introduced to the house at La Briche--and had left it
without having furthered their suit. Reverchon had now been invited with
similar intentions, and Renee was no more amenable than before. While
her mother filled the young man's ears with praise of her
accomplishments, the wayward girl, with her charming ingenuous talk, did
her best to demonstrate her lack of those negative conventional virtues
that were expected from a well-educated French girl in those days. She
made Madame Mauperin turn first crimson, then pale, when she finally
proceeded to cut Denoisel's hair in the drawing-room after dinner.
Denoisel was the son of Mauperin's bosom friend, who had fought by his
side in many battles, and who on his death-bed had made him his son's
guardian. Mauperin became more than a guardian to the boy--he became his
father. When Henri and Henriette were born, it seemed to Denoisel that
he had been given a brother and sister; but he adored the baby Renee,
and he alone succeeded in making her listen and obey.
"Sometimes," said Henri to Denoisel as they travelled back to Paris, "my
sister's follies are harmless enough; but to-night ... before that
fellow ... I am sure the marriage will fall through. And such an
"You think so? I began to fear for her. And that's why I lent myself to
her prank. He is too hopelessly commonplace--a tailor's dummy! He would
never have understood her. Your sister ought to marry a man of
intelligence and character."
And Madame Mauperin, as she prepared for bed, lectured her husband upon
acceding to all his favourite's whims.
"Another marriage missed! Henri spoke to me this evening. He is sure
Reverchon will not have her."
"Well, what of it?"
"Why, he is the tenth! Renee will get an awful reputation. She will see
when she is thirty ... and you too." Then, after a pause, "And now about
your son. He is twenty-nine now. He, at any rate, has no objection to
marriage. Have you ever thought of finding him a suitable wife?"
She continued to talk and to grumble until Mauperin fell asleep.
"Henri is reasonable enough, but he is a young man, and you know the
danger. It's driving me mad! What do you think of trying Madame
There was no reply. Madame Mauperin resigned herself to silence, and
turned to find the sleep which only came with morning.
_II.--Plots and Plays_
Next morning Madame Mauperin proceeded to Paris, and drove to her son's
apartments in the Rue Taitbout. She found him at work. After some
beating about the bush she approached the object of her visit.
"I fear," she began, "that you must have some reason for ..."
"For not marrying, isn't it? My dear mother, you need not worry. I know
that wealth is needed for a successful career, and that the best and
most honourable way to obtain it is a good marriage. And I am determined
to make a career. I shall get married soon enough... and better,
perhaps, than you think."
At La Briche, meanwhile, M. Mauperin vainly tried to be stern with his
"I have done it purposely," she said.
"Because I love you better than that young gentleman who was in no way
sympathetic to me. You are ungrateful."
"But listen, my dear child! Fathers are egotists, and would prefer to
keep their children. But I am old, and I should not like to part without
seeing you married, a mother, with affections that will replace mine."
"Oh, this is wicked! Never, never!" she exclaimed; "let me cry alone for
a minute." And she left the room hurriedly.
When she returned after a while, she found Denoisel in the room.
"You have been out? And where have you been?"
"Well, if you want to know, I have been to church to pray that I may die
before father. I knelt before a statue of the Virgin. And, you may
laugh, but it seemed to me that she nodded at my request. And it made me
The conversation drifted to gayer topics, and the two soon fell into
their wonted tone of banter. "Tell me, Renee," said Denoisel, "have you
never felt, I won't say love, but some sentiment for anybody?"
"Never. That sort of thing only occurs when the heart is empty. But when
it is defended by the affection one feels for a father--as a child I
felt perhaps the beginning of that emotion of which one reads in novels.
And do you know for whom?"
"For you. Oh, only for a moment. I soon loved you differently for having
corrected the spoilt child of its faults, for having directed my
attention to noble and beautiful things. And I resolved to repay you by
M. Mauperin entered the room, and interrupted the confidences.
A few days later, Renee having set her mind upon playing in private
theatricals, a discussion arose about the filling of the second lady's
part in the play that had been chosen. One by one the names suggested
were dismissed, until Henri said, "Why not ask Mlle. Bourjot? They are
just staying at Sannois."
"Noemi?" replied Renee. "I'd love it. But she, was so cold towards me
last winter. I don't know why."
"She will have L12,000 a year," interrupted Denoisel, "and her mother
knows that you have a brother. And they are not a little proud of their
Twelve thousand a year! Madame Mauperin thought of her son's future, and
supported his suggestion. It was decided that they would call on the
Bourjots on Saturday.
To Sannois they went as arranged on the Saturday. They were received
with effusion, and had to put up for an hour or so with the unbearable
arrogance of their hosts' display of wealth. Renee's warm advances to
the playmate of her childhood were received by Noemi with coolness, not
to say reluctance, but the request that Noemi should take part in the
theatricals met with her mother's approval, the shy girl's objections--
nervousness, lack of talent, and so forth--being overruled by Madame
Bourjot. Before the two families parted it was arranged that Noemi
should be taken by her governess to attend the rehearsals at the
Renee's whole-hearted friendliness and sparkling humour soon overcame
Noemi's reserve, and under Denoisel's direction the amateur actors made
rapid progress. Madame Bourjot herself came to one of the rehearsals,
and, after the first compliments, expressed her surprise that Henri, the
principal actor, was absent. "Oh, he has a wonderful memory," said his
proud mother; "two rehearsals will set him right."
At last the great day arrived. A stage had been arranged in the large
drawing-room, which was filled to its utmost capacity, the ladies being
seated in the long rows of chairs, the men standing behind and
overflowing through open doors into the adjoining rooms. The play chosen
was "The Caprice." Henri, who revealed rare talent, took the part of the
husband; Noemi of the neglected wife. The curtain fell upon enthusiastic
applause, and Madame Bourjot, who had feared that her daughter would be
a fiasco, was delighted with her success. Amid the hum of voices she
heard the lady sitting next to her say to her neighbour, "His sister, I
know ... but for the part he is not sufficiently in love with her ...
and too much with his wife. Did you notice?" she continued, in a
In the second piece Henri appeared as Pierrot, Renee as the forsaken
wife, and Noemi as the beloved. Henri played with real passion. From
time to time his eyes seemed to search for Madame Bourjot's. Her
neighbour felt her leaning against her shoulder. The curtain fell.
Madame Bourjot swayed, and fell back in a faint.
She was carried to the garden.
"Leave me now," she said, "I am all right now; it was the heat. I only
want a little air ... Let M. Henri stay with me."
They were left alone.
"You love her?" said Madame Bourjot, clutching Henri's arm. "I know
all.... Have you nothing to say?"
"Nothing. I have struggled for a year. I will not excuse myself. I owe
you the truth. I love your daughter, it is true."
Finally, Madame Bourjot rose and walked towards the house. Henri
"I count upon never seeing you again, sir," she said, without looking
round. With a mighty effort she regained her composure, and walked back
to the house on Henri's arm.
_III.--Stint to Death by his Sister_
It was Madame Bourjot herself who insisted upon seeing Henri again, and,
since he did not answer her letter, she went to his apartments. The
interview was painful, but she gave her consent to Henri's marriage with
Noemi, and undertook to overcome M. Bourjot's possible objections, on
condition that Henri should humour her husband's vanity by adopting a
title--an easy matter enough. The Mauperins had a farm called
Villacourt. Mauperin de Villacourt would do very well. Henri promised to
see what he could do.
Madame Bourjot and her daughter called on the Mauperins next day. The
two girls were asked to leave their mothers to their talk, and to take a
walk in the garden.
"A secret!" said Renee, as soon as they were alone. "Can you guess it? I
can--my brother. ... But you are crying. What is it, my darling Noemi?"
"Oh, you don't know!" her friend sobbed. "I cannot--if you only
knew----Save me! If I could only die!"
"Die! But why?"
"Because your brother is----" She stopped in horror at what she was
about to say, then whispered the rest of her sentence into her ear, and
hid her face on her friend's bosom.
"You lie!" Renee pushed her back.
"I?" Renee did not reply, but looked sadly and gently into Noemi's eyes.
Renee doubted no longer. She was silent for a moment; she felt almost
the duties of a mother towards this child.
In the evening Henri was surprised to find his sister waiting in his
room. She approached the subject of his impending marriage, and implored
him, by his love for her, not to give up his name, and to break off the
"Are you mad? Enough of this!"
Renee fixed her eyes upon her brother.
"Noemi has told me--everything!"
Her cheeks flushed, Henri turned deathly pale.
"My dear," he said, with a shaky voice, "you interfere in things which
do not concern you. A young girl--" Then seizing her hand, he pointed
towards the door, and said, "Go!"
Renee was ill for a week, and Henri, knowing the cause, did his best to
alleviate her suffering. Still, a coldness remained between them. He
understood that she had forgiven the brother, but not the man. One day
she accompanied Henri to town and went with him to the Record Office,
where he had to make some inquiries about the legality of adopting his
own name. While he was questioning the keeper, she overheard two clerks
discuss her brother and his claim. "He thinks the Villacourt family is
extinct. But he is misinformed, although they have gone down in the
world. In fact, I know the heir to the title--a M. Boisjorand with whom
I once had a fight when we were boys. They lived in the forest of the
Croix-du-Soldat, near St. Mihiel, at La Motte-Noire." Renee fixed these
names in her mind.
"I have got all I want," said Henri, gaily coming towards her. And they
went out together.
The Bourjots were giving a great ball to celebrate the public
announcement of the engagement of their daughter to M. Mauperin de
"You are enjoying yourself," said Renee to Noemi.
"I have never danced so much, it is true." And Noemi took her arm and
drew her into a small salon. "No, never." She kissed her. "Oh, what it
is to be happy! She loves him no longer. I am sure of it--I can see it;
I feel it."
"And you love him now?"
Noemi closed her mouth by pressing her lips upon Renee's. A young man
came to claim Noemi for the dance, and Denoisel requested the same
favour from Renee.
Denoisel was with Henri Mauperin. They were smoking and talking
peacefully, when the door was thrust open, and a man forced his way in,
pushing aside the valet who wanted to prevent him from entering.
"M. Mauperin de Villacourt?" he asked.
"That is my name," said Henri, rising.
"Good. My name is Boisjorand de Villacourt," retorted the stranger,
striking him so violently on the cheek that his face was immediately
covered with blood. Henri conquered his first impulse to throw himself
upon the intruder, and said calmly, "You find that there is one
Villacourt too many--so do I. Leave your card with my servant. I shall
send to you to-morrow."
It was from a marked number of the "Moniteur," which the impoverished
heir of the glorious name of De Villacourt found on his return from a
two years' sojourn in Africa, that M. Boisjorand had learned that Henri
had taken from him this name, which was all that had come down to him
from his famous ancestors. He immediately proceeded to Paris and sought
legal advice, but found that his poverty rendered legal action
impossible. After his interview with the solicitor, he went straight to
Henri's apartment to obtain the only satisfaction that was in his power.
Denoisel and another friend of Henri's arranged with Boisjorand's
seconds next morning the details of the meeting. Henri, who was an
excellent shot, had insisted on pistols at thirty-five paces, each
combatant to have the right to advance ten steps. The duel was to take
place at four o'clock the same afternoon near the ponds of Ville
Neither of the two adversaries showed a trace of nervousness. The signal
was given, M. De Villacourt advanced five steps, Henri remaining
stationary. At the sixth step Henri fired, and his opponent fell. Henri
hurried towards him.
"Back to your place," shouted the wounded man. On his hands and knees he
crawled forward to the limit of his advance leaving a trail of blood in
the snow. Then he took careful aim--and Henri fell with arms extended
and his face towards the ground.
To Denoisel fell the painful duty of informing Mauperin of his son's
death. The old man's grief was heartbreaking. When Denoisel was admitted
to Renee, he found her sitting on a footstool, sobbing, with her
handkerchief pressed to her mouth.
"Renee," he said, taking her hands, "he has been killed--that man should
never have known. He did not read, he saw nobody, he lived like a
wolf--he was not a subscriber to the 'Moniteur.' Some enemy must have
sent him that paper."
Renee had risen; she moved her lips; she wanted to scream "It was I!"
Then, suddenly pressing her hand against her heart, she fell senseless
on the floor.
* * * * *
Renee did not seem to recover from her illness. Denoisel saw her daily,
but a certain coldness had set in between them--he thought that Renee
held him responsible for not having prevented the duel, while Renee
vaguely feared that Denoisel had guessed her secret. He started upon a
In those days of illness and anxiety the hearts of father and daughter
seemed to come together more closely even than before. The heartbroken
old man saw his beloved child wasting away. He called in the best
specialist from Paris, who did not exactly give up all hope, but did not
conceal that Renee's life was in danger. The poor girl, who could not
bear to witness her father's misery, put on a gay air, assuring him
again and again that she was recovering. Indeed, when, at her urging,
the family removed to the country house where she had spent her
childhood, there was a real and marked improvement, and for a while the
roses seemed to return to her pale cheeks.
But she soon fell back into her listless state. Thus she lingered on for
several months, always cheering her father and speaking of her happy
future, always fading away until she became a mere shadow of her former
bright and healthy self. Only to Denoisel, when after a long absence he
returned from the Pyrenees, she opened her heart. To him she confessed
that she knew her days were counted.
Those who travel far afield have perhaps met in foreign towns or among
the ruins of dead places--now in Russia, now in Egypt--two aged people,
a man and a woman, who seem to march along without looking and without
seeing. They are the Mauperins--father and mother.
They have sold everything and have gone. Thus they wander from land to
land, from hotel to hotel. They wander, trying to lose their grief in
the fatigue of the road, dragging their weary life to all the corners of
* * * * *
The author of "Bothwell," and many other romantic tales, was a
Scotsman by birth, parentage, and perfervid sentiment. He was
born at Edinburgh on August 1, 1822. His father was a
distinguished Highland officer; by his mother he was related
to his illustrious literary exemplar, Sir Walter Scott. He was
only twenty-three years of age when "The Romance of War" made
him one of the most famous authors of his day. Other tales
quickly followed, including, in 1853, "Bothwell, or The Days
of Mary Queen of Scots," and it seemed as if readers could
not have too much of the lively adventure and vigorous
historical portraiture to which Grant unfailingly treated
them. Altogether he wrote more than fifty novels, many of them
involving considerable research. Grant outlived his
popularity; the public sought new writers, and when he died,
on May 5, 1887, he was penniless. For fertility of incident,
rapid change of scene, and skilful intermingling of historical
with imaginary people and events, "Bothwell" is not surpassed
by any of the romances that came from its author's fertile
_I.--Anna of Bergen_
Erick Rosenkrantz, Governor of Aggerhuis, in Norway, and castellan of
Bergen, stood in the hall of his castle to welcome noble guests. It was
a bleak and stormy day in September of 1565. Ill, indeed, would it have
fared with the newcomers had not Konrad of the Salzberg, the young
captain of the crossbowmen of Bergen, ventured forth on the raging sea
at the peril of his life, and piloted their vessel into safety.
The first of these was a tall and handsome man, about thirty years old,
with a peculiar, dare-devil expression in his deep, dark eye, richly
attired, and wearing a long sword and Scottish dagger. His companion,
who deferentially remained a few paces behind, was a man of gigantic
stature, swarthy and dark in complexion, with fierce and restless eyes.
"Sir Erick," began the chamberlain, "allow me to introduce Sir James
Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, a noble peer, ambassador from Mary Queen of
Scots to his Danish majesty."
"We thank you for your gracious hospitality, fair sir," said Bothwell,
with a profound courtesy; then, turning to Konrad, "And now, brave
youth, by whose valour we have been saved, let me thank _you_."
He warmly shook Konrad's hand, while the youth tried to catch the eye of
Anna, the governor's fair-haired and lovely niece. But Anna was too
intently regarding the strangers.
Suddenly Bothwell perceived her; his colour heightened, his eyes
"Anna--Lady Anna," he exclaimed, "art _thou_ here? When we parted at the
palace of King Frederick, I feared it was to meet no more."
"Thou seest, my lord," she replied gaily, "that fate never meant to
separate us altogether."
It was Bothwell who sat by Anna's side at the banquet, not Konrad, her
lover from childhood. Konrad was displaced and slighted; he left the
hall with a heart full of jealous and bitter thoughts.
"Dost thou not see the hand of fate in this meeting with Anna?" said
Bothwell, when retiring, to his gigantic companion, Black Hob of
Ormiston, the most merciless and ferocious of border barons.
"Nay," said Hob; "I perceive only the finger of mischief!"
"I own to thee," replied the earl, "that all my old passion is revived
in full force. My whole heart and soul are hers," he went on
"Remember your solemn plight to the Lady Jane Gordon. If that be broken,
our doleful case will be worse than ever." For Bothwell was no
ambassador, but an exile; and his real mission to King Frederick was in
pursuit of a design to hand over the northern Scottish isles to Denmark,
and become viceroy of them.
"Hob, be not insolent," retorted Bothwell. "I love her a thousand times
more than Huntly's sickly sister."
It was always thus with this reckless noble--the passion of the moment
was ever too strong for past pledges and future policy. While waiting at
Bergen for the ship to be repaired, he wooed Anna with all the skill of
an accomplished man of pleasure.
Anna's heart was ready to be won, and it was not long ere Bothwell,
having gained her love, asked Governor Rosenkrantz for her hand. To his
mortification, he was refused. Anna, said the governor, had long been
pledged to Konrad.
But Konrad, meanwhile, was in despair. Anna no longer smiled upon him;
he was lightly cast aside to make way for a more favoured lover. One
evening he was missing. A day and a night passed, and Konrad was nowhere
to be seen. Search for him was useless--he had disappeared.
Two letters were brought to Bothwell by a king's messenger. One was from
King Frederick, commanding him to desist from his mock embassy, and
instantly leave the Danish seas; the other, from the Earl of Huntly,
told him that his enemies in Scotland were banished, and his forfeiture
Bothwell's thoughts instantly turned to Anna. He knew that she would not
accompany him unless he married her, and policy now more than ever
required that he should keep his troth to the sister of his friend, the
Earl of Huntly. Then there occurred to him the sinister thought of a
His actions were quick, and his persuasions, to the love-sick Anna,
irresistible. That evening the two were wedded by a crazy hermit who
dwelt among the rocks of the fjord, and Anna, without a word of farewell
to her kin, left her native land, it might be for ever.
A stormy voyage brought the ship to Westeray, in Shetland. Bothwell
escorted Anna to the castle of Noltland; and as she landed at the pier,
a young man sprang forward and helped her across the plank. She felt
agitated, she knew not why; she looked at the man's face, but it was
concealed. It was Konrad. He had fallen over a cliff, had been carried
out to sea on a plank, had been picked up by a ship which had carried
him to Shetland, and had taken service with the castellan of Noltland.
The unexpected sight of Anna brought back his emotions to their
starting-point, and recalled the poignancy of the hour in which he had
realised that he had lost her.
"I have resolved!" exclaimed the earl, on the morning after their
arrival at Noltland. "I would be worse than mad to forego the prospect
of power by marring my union with the sister of Huntly."
"Cock and pie! now thou speakest like a man of mettle!" growled Hob.
"Anna is not my first love," mused the earl. "Have I not felt how feeble
have been my sentiments for Anna, for Jane of Huntly, for all who have
succeeded her whom I met in France long ago?"
"Then thou wilt sail----"
"Yes, like AEneas, leaving my Dido behind me."
With a pretence of the love he felt no longer, Bothwell bade Anna
farewell, and left her to doubts which, as the months went on and his
promise to return was not fulfilled, gradually rose to despair.
During the decline of a spring evening, as Anna wandered dejectedly on
the battlements, Konrad stood before her for the first time since her
arrival at Noltland.
"Konrad," she faltered, "thou here!"
"Anna--dear Anna!" exclaimed the unhappy young man. "I have tidings to
tell thee. The false lord of Bothwell hath been espoused to the sister
"And I--" gasped Anna.
"Thou art a captive for life in this island castle!"
Anna would have fallen backwards had Konrad not sprung to her
"Listen," he said, in a low voice. "If thou wouldst escape, an hour will
set thee free."
"Yes, land me once in Scotland, and I will make my way to Bothwell."
That night Anna was on a Norwegian vessel bound for Glasgow, and Konrad
was with her. She could not, he knew, be his bride, but he could at
least protect and cherish her, and strive to redress the wrongs she had
A storm was gathering above the lovely valley of the Clyde one June
evening as two strangers--a man and a woman--plodded wearily towards
Bothwell Castle. The woman became wholly exhausted; the man laid her
gently down in shelter among the ruins of Blantyre Priory, and went on
his errand alone. The storm had now burst, and the river was rising
rapidly; but Konrad--for it was he--plunged into the raging waters, and
strove to swim across. The current was too strong for him; he clung to
an ash tree that projected over the stream, and was nearly exhausted
when a man on the bank flung down his mantle and poniard, plunged in,
and dragged him to the shore.
Konrad, almost senseless, was carried within the castle. When he had
revived and was dressed in dry garments, he was brought before his
rescuer--it was Bothwell himself.
"I thank thee," said Konrad proudly, "for saving my life."
"Thou didst save mine. We are now equal," replied the earl.
"'Tis well! I would not be _thy_ debtor for all the silver in the mines
of Bergen! Lord of Bothwell, I tell thee in thine own hall that thou art
a dishonoured villain!"
"Thou art stark mad!" cried the earl. Then he went on, "Konrad, I have
wronged thee deeply. In my youth I loved one who neglected me as cruelly
as thou hast been neglected, and since then a mischievous spirit of
vengeance, as it were, has led me to make women my playthings, to be won
and thrown aside. I love thy spirit, Konrad. If I could be thy friend----"
"Never!" cried Konrad. "I come not for friendship, but for justice to
Anna! Hast thou not wedded another after thine espousal of her?"
"Dost thou deem the mock blessing of yon mad hermit a spousal rite?"
exclaimed the earl, laughing.
Konrad repressed his passion.
"I go to push my fortune with your turbulent border chiefs; and if, in
the strife that will soon convulse this land, thou meetest Konrad of
Salzberg, look well to thyself!"
"Go thy way, and God be with thee!" replied the earl. "Thou art the
first who hath bent a dark brow on a lord of Bothwell under his own
Konrad returned to Anna, and in the ruined priory told her how Bothwell
was false to her. Anna's grief was dreadful to behold.
"Anna," said Konrad, after a pause, "Scotland hath a queen whose
goodness of heart is revered in every land save her own."
"True; and at her feet will I pour forth my sorrow and my tears
So the two traversed the thickets around the priory, and reached the
broad highway, which was to lead them at length to Edinburgh.
_III.--Mary Queen of Scots_
But it was long ere Anna looked upon the face of the queen. At the Red
Lion Inn in Edinburgh her beauty struck the eye of the Earl of Morton,
the factious, proud, and ferocious associate of Moray in all the dark
intrigues of that craftiest of Scottish statesmen. Morton promised that
Anna should be entrusted to a lady of fair repute, and soon presented to
the queen. Konrad trusted him, little knowing that the repute of Dame
Alison Craig, Anna's new guardian, was anything but fair, and set forth
for the Border.
It was to Sir John Elliot of Park that he offered the service of his
sword, for it was against this turbulent borderer, who had just raided
Northumberland, and threatened the peace of the two kingdoms, that
Bothwell was advancing with the army of Queen Mary. Now garrisoning some
solitary peel-tower, now hiding in some unfathomed cavern, now issuing
with uplifted lance from the haggs of some deep moss, Konrad engaged
with ardour in every desperate foray, and his daring made him the idol
of the wild spirits around him. In every deed of arms one thought was in
his mind--to come within a lance-length of Bothwell.
Long and fierce was the struggle, but it ended as a fight so unequal was
bound to end. John of Park was slain, refusing with his dying breath to
surrender, and Konrad was carried, a half-senseless captive to
Bothwell's castle of Hermitage. Even then the earl spared his life. He
lay in a hideous den, in pitch darkness and dead silence broken only by
the splash of drops of fetid water that fell from the slimy arch of the
No token reached him of what was happening above; and an event happened
there that had vast influence on Bothwell's future. Across the hills to
Hermitage rode the Queen of Scots herself. The sight of her stirred in
Bothwell's heart an emotion he had never wholly conquered, for she, Mary
herself, was his first love of the bygone days in France. He had begun
to realise that he loved her still; he knew the coldness of her
relations with the dissolute and unfaithful Darnley, her husband; now
she had come to Hermitage.
"Jesu Maria!" cried the queen, as Bothwell, with beating heart, paused
in the conversation. "Have you lost your tongue?"
"Nay, madame--my heart."
"That is very serious; but search for another."
"I want no other," replied the earl, in a trembling voice, "but
"Lord Bothwell," she said, with a hauteur that froze her admirer, "thou
art in a dream."
"Pardon me, I pray you--"
"I do pardon thee," replied the queen, with a calm smile; but added,
significantly, "I think 'tis time I was riding from Hermitage."
So ended the famous visit to Hermitage, which was interpreted throughout
Scotland as a token of Mary's love for her favourite earl.
Konrad, a month afterwards, was sent to Edinburgh and confined in the
old tower of Holyrood, awaiting trial as a Border outlaw. Bothwell
himself soon followed, and celebrated his return by a wild revel in
company with Hob of Ormiston and other choice spirits.
As the revellers wandered through the narrow streets at midnight,
seeking a quarrel, they passed the house of Dame Alison Craig.
"My page tells me," said Bothwell, "there is a famous foreign beauty
concealed there. Ho! within!"
A stoup of water, poured on them from an upper window, was the answer.
They broke open the door, and forced the shrieking dame to lead them to
the apartment where the foreign beauty was hidden.
"Death and confusion!" muttered the earl when he saw who was within.
"Cock and pie!" said Ormiston. "We have started the wrong game."
Hastily they thrust back their companions. But Anna had recognised him.
When Morton had made advances towards her, she had repulsed him
scornfully, telling him she was the Countess of Bothwell. Morton had
seized on this opportunity of injuring a man he hated, and resolved to
bring Anna before the queen. Bothwell now knew the danger before him,
and prepared for it.
Next day, as the queen sat with her grim lords in council, Morton led in
"I have the pleasure," said he, "to present a lady who accuseth the Earl
of Bothwell of wedding and ignobly deserting her."
"'Tis false, Lord Earl!" cried Bothwell.
"Oh, madam, hear my story, and condemn me not unheard," pleaded Anna.
"Let her speak for herself," said Mary.
Thus encouraged, Anna, in moving accents, told her story.
"A meloncholy tale, in sooth," said Mary; "but what proof is there?"
"Your majesty," said Bothwell, "this is the invention of some unknown
enemy"--he glanced at Morton--"to deprive me of your royal favour. Let
this frantic damsel be removed to a Danish vessel now at Leith, and
conveyed to her home."
"Well, so be it!" replied the facile queen.
Anna drew herself up to her full height.
"Farewell, Bothwell," she cried. "In that dark time of ruin and regret
that is coming upon thee, remember Anna!"
And as she spoke they hurried her away.
Bothwell henceforth was more than ever in the queen's favour. Only the
life of Darnley intervened between him and the goal of his love and
ambition; and the sinister promptings of Ormiston suggested that even
that obstacle was not irremovable.
_IV.--The Kirk of Field_
On a dark winter night a conference of nobles was held at Whittinghame.
Mary had been asked to divorce her husband, and had proudly and
indignantly refused. Only one way remained. A solemn bond was drawn up
among the assembled nobles, and the bond sealed the fate of Darnley. It
was not without doubt and shrinking that Bothwell saw whither his
schemes were leading him, but he would not, he could not, turn back.
It was at Ormiston's suggestion that Konrad was employed as an
unconscious tool in the affair. Ormiston hinted that with a little
adroitness the whole blame might be laid on the unhappy prisoner. Konrad
accordingly, on the night when the deed was to be done, was awakened
from a reverie in his cell at Holyrood by the entry of a tall, masked
"If thou wouldst attain liberty, follow me!" said Ormiston, for it was
He put a sword in Konrad's hand. Konrad as he grasped the weapon, felt
his spirits rise again, and he followed.
Presently they came to a group of masked men, and silently the party
went through a private door in the city walls. Their destination, though
Konrad knew it not, was the lonely house of the Kirk of Field, where
Darnley was lying slowly recovering from small-pox--an illness through
which the queen, forgetting her wrongs at his hands, had tenderly nursed
Konrad, arrived at the house, helped to unload a horse of heavy packages
which he conjectured to contain plunder; but it was gunpowder that he
Suddenly a piercing cry came from above. A moment later the startled
Konrad perceived Bothwell, his mask awry, his eyes glazed and haggard.
"Thou hast done well!" said Ormiston grimly.
"Well! My God!" groaned the earl.
"Away while I fire the train!" shouted Ormiston.
Like a fiery serpent the train glowed along the ground. Then, red and
lurid in the shadowy night, there flashed a volume of dazzling light;
then came a roar as if the earth was splitting.
Konrad fled in bewildered terror, and wandered about the outskirts of
the city until, in a little ruined chapel on the verge of a moor, he lay
down exhausted and fell asleep.
In the morning he was awakened by a rough grasp on his shoulder.
"We have meshed one of the knaves at least," said a stern voice. Konrad
found himself amidst knights and men-at-arms, and he was led back to the
The citizens were in arms, furious at the outrage of the night before.
The appearance of a suspected murderer aroused their passion to the
utmost; Konrad's escort was overpowered and thrust aside. "Awa' wi' him
to the Papist's pillar!" cried a voice. Down they went with him to the
North Loch, and tied him there to an oaken stake about five feet deep in
the water--a spot where many a luckless Catholic had perished. The mob
retired, and Konrad was left alone, helpless, and to die.
Bothwell sat by the fire in his apartments at Holyrood, with knit brows
and muttering lips; the word he muttered was, "Murderer." The shriek of
the man whose death-blow he had struck still echoed in his ears.
Presently there entered the room one of his followers, Hepburn of
"The Norwegian hath been bound to the Papist's pillar," said he; "and by
this time he must be dead, for it rains heavily, and the loch fills
"One other life!" said the earl gloomily. "By heaven, Bolton! if I can
In the darkness and the rain, with the water rising around him, Konrad
waited for death. A sound of oars roused him from the stupefaction into
which he had fallen. "Here, here! His head is above water still," said a
voice. The bonds were cut, Konrad was dragged into the boat and taken to
land, and offered a draught that revived him.
"Here we part," said the voice. "Give him dry garments, and take him to
the Norwegian vessel, and bid him cross my path no more!"
"Who art thou?" asked Konrad feebly.
"Thy greatest enemy, James, Earl of Bothwell!"
Slowly Konrad mounted the horse that had been brought for him, and with
difficulty he rode; but the morning saw him on board a vessel of Bergen,
in the hands of countrymen and friends.
Bothwell was tried for the murder of Darnley, and triumphantly
acquitted. He procured the secret assent of the nobles to his marriage
with Mary; he divorced the Countess Jane; one more vigorous action, and
the goal would be attained.
On an April day, as Mary rode along the Stirling road towards Edinburgh,
her way was barred by a thousand armed horsemen in close array; and
Bothwell, riding up, requested that she should accompany him to his
castle of Dunbar. It was useless to resist. Once in the castle, Bothwell
offered her his hand, and was proudly refused.
"Lord Earl," cried Mary, "thou mayest tremble when I leave Dunbar!"
"Madame," he replied, "thou shalt never leave Dunbar but as the bride of
In May, Mary and Bothwell were married. A month later Bothwell fled
before the wrath of an outraged nation, never to see Mary again; and
within a week of their parting he roamed a pirate on the northern seas.
A large Danish war vessel approached the port of Bergen, with prisoners
to hand over to the castellan--the new castellan, for old Erick
Rosenkrantz was dead. Chief of the captives was Bothwell, nonchalant but
melancholy, pale, and more thoughtful than formerly; still, in pleasure
and in sorrow, was he haunted by the shriek of the dying Darnley.
Near him stood one who was not a captive, but a returning wanderer.
Konrad had again crossed the path of the earl; his vessel, long detained
in port, and afterwards delayed by storms, had been captured by the
Scottish pirate ship, and he had been rescued from this new misfortune
by the great Norwegian war vessel.
The prisoners were escorted to the hall of the castle, and Bothwell
assumed his most defiant look. The arras that concealed the dais was
withdrawn, and Bothwell looked upon the face of the hereditary castellan
of Bergen, Anna Rosenkrantz!
On seeing the earl, she turned pale as death. The earl recovered
instantly from his surprise, and bowed smilingly.
"Well, madam," said he, "we foresaw not this meeting!"
"Dost thou know," replied Anna firmly, "that thy life and liberty are in
"I am assured," he answered, "that they could not be in safer keeping."
"Regicide and betrayer," return Anna, with flashing eyes, "from this
hour thou shalt have meted out to thee the stern measures thou hast so
ruthlessly dealt to others. This man," she went on, turning to the
captain of the war ship, "is the king's prisoner; away with him to the
Castle of Kiobenhafen--be under sail before sunset!"
Red-bearded Danish bowmen crowded round the earl, who thus passed away
to the wretched captivity that ended only with his death, ten years
Konrad, unnoticed and uncared for, stood alone in the hall where he had
once been so welcome a guest. He had no intention of remaining in a
place where all was so changed; but ere he turned to leave it for ever
he paused a moment irresolutely. Once more the arras was withdrawn, and
Anna stood before him.
"I heard thou wert here, Konrad," she said, with a blushing cheek.
"Wouldst thou go without one word to me?"
She seated herself in the recess of a window. "I have long wished," she
faltered, "to see thee once more. I have now seen the worth and faith of
thy heart when contrasted with mine own, and I blush for my weakness--my
wickedness--my folly. Thou mayest deem this unwomanly--indelicate; but
in love we are equal, and why may not one make reparation as the other?"
"Anna," said Konrad, in a choking voice, "though my heart be soured and
saddened, my first sentiment for thee hath never altered. For all thou
hast made me endure I forgive thee, and I pray that thou mayest be
happy. Anna--dearest Anna--I am going far away, for I have doomed myself
to exile, but I still regard thee as a sister--as a friend. All is
forgotten and forgiven. And now, farewell!"
He felt the hand of Anna in his; another moment, and she sank upon his
"Oh, Konrad," she whispered, "if my heart is still prized by thee, it is
thine, as in the days of our first love."
And, borne away by his passion, the forgiving Konrad pressed the woman
he loved closer and closer to his breast.
Back to Full Books