The World's Greatest Books, Vol VI.
Part 6 out of 7
true as death, before all the crowd of folk, he put his arm round her
waist and called her his sweetheart, and love, and dearie, and darling,
and everything that is fine.
In the middle of their goings on, the sound of a coming foot was heard,
and the lassie, taking guilt to her, cried out, "Hide me, hide me, for
the sake of goodness, for yonder comes my old father!" No sooner said
than done. In he stappit her into a closit, and, after shutting the door
on her, he sat down upon a chair, pretending to be asleep in the
twinkling of a walking-stick. The old father came bounsing in, shook him
up, and gripping him by the cuff of the neck, aske him, in a fierce
tone, what he had made of his daughter. Never since I was born did I
ever see such brazen-faced impudence! The rascal had the face to say at
once that he had not seen the lassie for a month. As a man, as a father,
as an elder of our kirk, my corruption was raised, for I aye hated lying
as a poor cowardly sin, so I called out, "Dinna believe him, auld
gentleman; he's telling a parcel of lees. Never saw her for a month!
Just open that press-door, and ye'll see whether I am speaking truth or
not!" The old man stared and looked dumfounded; and the young one,
instead of running forward with his double nieves to strike me, began
a-laughing, as if I had done him a good turn.
But never since I had a being did I ever witness such an uproar and
noise as immediately took place. The whole house was so glad that the
scoundrel had been exposed that they set up siccan a roar of laughter,
and thumped away at siccan a rate with their feet that down fell the
place they called the gallery, all the folk in't being hurl'd
topsy-turvy among the sawdust on the floor below.
Then followed cries of "Murder," "Hold off me," "My ribs are in," "I'm
killed," "I'm speechless." There was a rush to the door, the lights were
knocked out, and such tearing, swearing, tumbling, and squealing was
never witnessed in the memory of man since the building of Babel. I was
carried off my feet, my wind was fairly gone, and a sick qualm came over
me, which entirely deprived me of my senses. On opening my eyes in the
dark, I found myself leaning with my broadside against the wall on the
opposite side of the close, with the tail of my Sunday coat docked by
the hainch buttons. So much for plays and play-actors--the first and the
last I trust in grace that I shall ever see.
Next morning I had to take my breakfast in bed, a thing very uncommon to
me, except on Sunday mornings whiles, when each one according to the
bidding of the Fourth Commandment, has a licence to do as he likes.
Having a desperate sore head, our wife, poor body, put a thimbleful of
brandy into my first cup of tea which had a wonderful virtue in putting
all things to rights.
In the afternoon Thomas Burlings, the ruling elder in the kirk, popped
into the shop, and, in our two-handed crack, after asking me in a dry,
curious way if I had come by no skaith in the business of the play, he
said the thing had now spread far and wide, and was making a great noise
in the world. I thought the body a wee sharp in his observe, so I
pretended to take it quite lightly. Then he began to tell me a wheen
stories, each one having to do with drinking.
"It's a wearyfu' thing that whisky," said Thomas. "I wish it could be
banished to Botany Bay."
"It is that," said I. "Muckle and nae little sin does it breed and
produce in this world."
"I'm glad," quoth Thomas, stroking down his chin in a slee way, "I'm
glad the guilty should see the folly o' their ain ways; it's the first
step, ye ken, till amendment. And indeed I tell't Maister Wiggie, when
he sent me here, that I could almost become guid for your being mair
wary of your conduct for the future time to come."
This was a thunder-clap to me, but I said briskly, "So ye're after some
session business in this visit, are ye?"
"Ye've just guessed it," answered Thomas, sleeking down his front hair
with his fingers in a sober way. "We had a meeting this forenoon, and it
was resolved ye should stand a public rebuke in the meeting house next
"Hang me if I do!" answered I. "Not for all the ministers and elders
that were ever cleckit. I was born a free man, I live in a free country,
I am the subject of a free king and constitution, and I'll be shot
before I submit to such rank diabolical papistry."
"Hooly and fairly, Mansie," quoth Thomas. "They'll maybe no be sae hard
as they threaten. But ye ken, my friend, I'm speaking to you as a
brither; it was an unco'-like business for an elder, not only to gang
till a play, which is ane of the deevil's rendevouses, but to gan there
in a state of liquor, making yourself a world's wonder, and you an elder
of our kirk! I put the question to yourself soberly."
His threatening I could despise; but ah, his calm, brotherly, flattering
way I could not thole with. So I said till him, "Weel, weel, Thomas, I
ken I have done wrong, and I am sorry for't; they'll never find me in
siccan a scrape again."
Thomas Burlings, in a friendly way, shook hands with me; telling that he
would go back and plead with the session in my behalf. To do him justice
he was not worse than his word, for I have aye attended the kirk as
usual, standing, when it came to my rotation, at the plate, and nobody,
gentle or simple, ever spoke to me on the subject of the playhouse, or
minted the matter of the rebuke from that day to this.
_V.--Benjie a Barber_
When wee Benjie came to his thirteenth year, many and long were the
debates between his fond mother and me what trade we would bring him up
to. His mother thought that he had just the physog of an admiral, and
when the matter was put to himsell, Benjie said quite briskly he would
like to be a gentleman. At which I broke through my rule never to lift
my fist to the bairn, and gave him such a yerk in the cheek with the
loof of my hand, as made, I am sure, his lugs ring, and sent him dozing
to the door like a peerie.
We discussed, among other trades and professions, a lawyer's advocatt, a
preaching minister, a doctor, a sweep, a rowley-powley man, a
penny-pie-man, a man-cook, that easiest of all lives, a gentleman's
gentleman; but in the end Nanse, when I suggested a barber, gave a
mournful look and said in a state of Christian resignation, "Tak' your
ain way, gudeman."
And so Benjie was apprenticed to be a barber, for, as I made the
observe, "Commend me to a safe employment, and a profitable. They may
give others the nick, and draw blood, but catch them hurting themselves.
The foundations of the hair-cutting and the shaving line are as sure as
that of the everlasting rocks; beards being likely to roughen, and heads
to require polling as long as wood grows and water runs."
Benjie is now principal shop-man in a Wallflower Hair-Powder and Genuine
Macassar Oil Warehouse, kept by three Frenchmen, called Moosies
Peroukey, in the West End of London. But, though our natural enemies, he
writes me that he has found them agreeable and shatty masters, full of
good manners and pleasant discourse, and, except in their language,
I aye thought Benjie was a genius, and he is beginning to show himself
his father's son, being in thoughts of taking out a patent for making a
hair-oil from rancid butter. If he succeeds it will make the callant's
fortune. But he must not marry Madamoselle Peroukey without my special
consent, as Nance says that her having a French woman for a
daughter-in-law would be the death of her.
As for myself, I have now retired from business with my guid wife Nanse
to our ain cottage at Lugton, with a large garden and henhouse attached,
there to spend the evening of our days. I have enjoyed a pleasant run of
good health through life, reading my Bible more in hope than fear; our
salvation, and not our destruction, being, I should suppose, its
purpose. And I trust that the overflowing of a grateful heart will not
be reckoned against me for unrighteousness.
* * * * *
The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan
"Hajji Baba" stands by itself among the innumerable books
written of the East by Europeans. For these inimitable
concessions of a Persian rogue are intended to give a picture
of Oriental life as seen by Oriental and not by Western
eyes---to present the country and people of Persia from a
strictly Persian standpoint. This daring attempt to look at
the East from the inside, as it were, is acknowledged to be
successful; all Europeans familiar with Persia testify to the
truth, often very caustic truth, of James Morier's
portraiture. The author of "The Adventures of Hajji Baba of
Ispahan" was born about 1780, and spent most of his days as a
diplomatic representative of Great Britain in the East. He
first visited Persia in 1808-09, as private secretary to the
mission mentioned in the closing pages of "Hajji Baba." He
returned to Persia in 1811-12, and again in 1814, and wrote
two books about the country. But the thoroughness and candour
of his intimacy with the Persian character were not fully
revealed until the publication of "Hajji Baba" in 1824. So
popular was the work that Morier wrote an amusing sequel to it
entitled "Hajji Baba in England." He died on March 23, 1849.
My father, Kerbelai Hassan, was one of the most celebrated barbers of
Ispahan. I was the son of his second wife, and as I was born when my
father and mother were on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hosein, in
Kerbelah, I was called Hajji, or the pilgrim, a name which has procured
for me a great deal of unmerited respect, because that honoured title is
seldom conferred on any but those who have made the great pilgrimage to
the tomb of the blessed Prophet of Mecca.
I was taught to read and write by a mollah, or priest, who kept a school
in a mosque near at hand; when not in school I attended the shop, and by
the time I was sixteen it would be difficult to say whether I was most
accomplished as a barber or a scholar. My father's shop, being situated
near the largest caravanserai in the city, was the common resort of the
foreign merchants; and one of them, Osman Aga, of Bagdad, took a great
fancy to me, and so excited me by describing the different cities he had
visited, that I soon felt a strong desire to travel. He was then in want
of someone to keep his accounts, and as I associated the two
qualifications of barber and scribe, he made me such advantageous offers
that I agreed to follow him.
His purpose was to journey to Meshed with the object of purchasing the
lambskins of Bokhara. Our caravan proceeded without impediment to
Tehran; but the dangerous part of the journey was yet to come, as a
tribe of Turcomans were known to infest the road.
We advanced by slow marches over a parched and dreary country, and our
conversation chiefly turned upon the Turcomans. Everyone vaunted his own
courage; my master above the rest, his teeth actually chattering with
apprehension, boasted of what he would do in case we were attacked. But
when we in reality perceived a body of Turcomans coming down upon us,
the scene instantly changed. Some ran away; others, and among them my
master, yielded to intense fear, and began to exclaim: "O Allah! O
Imams! O Mohammed the Prophet, we are gone! We are dying! We are dead!"
A shower of arrows, which the enemy discharged as they came in, achieved
their conquest, and we soon became their prey. The Turcomans having
completed their plunder, placed each of us behind a horseman, and we
passed through wild tracts of mountainous country to a large plain,
covered with the black tents and the flocks and herds of our enemies.
My master was set to tend camels in the hills; but when the Turcomans
discovered my abilities as a barber and a surgeon, I became a general
favourite, and gained the confidence of the chief of the tribe himself.
Finally, he determined to permit me to accompany him on a predatory
excursion into Persia--a permission which I hoped would lead to my
escaping. I was the more ready to do so, in that I secretly possessed
fifty ducats. These had been concealed by my master, Osman Aga, in his
turban at the outset of his journey. The turban had been taken from him
and carried to the women's quarters, whence I had recovered it. I had
some argument with myself as to whether I ought to restore the ducats to
him; but I persuaded myself that the money was now mine rather than his.
"Had it not been for me," I said, "the money was lost for ever; who,
therefore, has a better claim to it than myself?"
We carried off much property on the raid, but as our only prisoners were
a court poet, a carpet-spreader, and a penniless cadi, we had little to
hope for in the way of ransom. On our return journey we perceived a
large body of men, too compact for a caravan--plainly some great
personage and his escort. The Turcomans retired hastily, but I lagged
behind, seeing in this eventuality a means of escape. I was soon
overtaken and seized, plundered of my fifty ducats and everything else,
and dragged before the chief personage of the party--a son of the Shah,
on his way to become governor of Khorassan.
Kissing the ground before him, I related my story, and petitioned for
the return of my fifty ducats. The rogues who had taken the money were
brought before the prince, who ordered them to be bastinadoed until they
produced it. After a few blows they confessed, and gave up the ducats,
which were carried to the prince. He counted the money, put it under the
cushion on which he was reclining, and said loudly to me, "You are
"My money, where is it?" I exclaimed.
"Give him the shoe," said the prince to his master of the ceremonies,
who struck me over the mouth with the iron-shod heel of his slipper,
saying: "Go in peace, or you'll have your ears cut off."
"You might as well expect a mule to give up a mouthful of fresh grass,"
said an old muleteer to whom I told my misfortune, "as a prince to give
up money that has once been in his hands."
Reaching Meshed in a destitute state, I practised for a time the trade
of water-carrier, and then became an itinerant vendor of smoke. I was
not very scrupulous about giving my tobacco pure; and when one day the
_Mohtesib_, or inspector, came to me, disguised as an old woman, I gave
him one of my worst mixtures. Instantly he summoned half a dozen stout
fellows; my feet were noosed, and blow after blow was inflicted on them
until they were a misshapen mass of flesh and gore. All that I possessed
was taken from me, and I crawled home miserably on my hands and knees.
I felt I had entered Meshed in an unlucky hour, and determined to leave
it. Dressed as a dervish I joined a caravan for Tehran.
_II.--The Fate of the Lovely_
I at first resolved to follow the career of a dervish, tempted thereto
by the confidences of my companion, Dervish Sefer, who befriended me
after my unhappy encounter with the Mohtesib.
"With one-fiftieth of your accomplishments, and a common share of
effrontery," he told me, "you may command both the purses and the lives
of your hearers. By impudence I have been a prophet, by impudence I have
wrought miracles--by impudence, in short, I live a life of great ease."
But a chance came to me of stealing a horse, the owner of which
confessed he had himself stolen it; and by selling it I hoped to add to
the money I had obtained as a dervish, and thereby get into some
situation where I might gain my bread honestly. Unfortunately, when I
had reached Tehran, the real owner of the horse appeared. I was
compelled to refund to the dealer the money I had been paid for the
horse, and had some difficulty, when we went before the magistrate at
the bazaar, in proving that I was not a thief. I had heard that the
court poet, with whom I had formed a friendship during his captivity
among the Turcomans, had escaped and returned to Tehran. To him,
therefore, I repaired, and through his good offices I secured a post as
assistant to Mirza Ahmak, the king's chief physician.
Although the physician was willing to have my services, he was too
avaricious to pay me anything for them; and I would not have remained
long with him had I not fallen in love. In the heat of summer I made any
bed in the open air, in a corner of a terrace that overlooked an inner
court where the women's apartments were situated. I came presently to
exchanging glances with a beautiful Curdish slave. From glances we came
to conversation. At length, when Zeenab--for that was her name--was
alone in the women's apartments, she would invite me down from the
terrace, and we would spend long hours feasting and singing together.
But our felicity was destined to be interrupted. The Shah was about to
depart for his usual summer campaign, and, according to his wont, paid a
round of visits to noblemen, thereby reaping for himself a harvest of
presents. The physician, being reputed rich, was marked out as prey fit
for the royal grasp. The news of the honour to be paid him left him
half-elated at the distinction, half-trembling at the ruin that awaited
his finances. The Shah came with his full suite, dined gorgeously at my
master's expense, and, as is customary, visited the women's apartments.
Presently came the news that my master had presented the Shah with
Zeenab! She was to be trained as a dancing-girl, and was to dance before
the Shah on his return from the campaign.
When Zeenab was thus removed out of my reach, I had no inducement to
remain in the physician's service. I therefore sought and secured a post
as _nasakchi_, or officer of the chief executioner. I was now a person
of authority with the crowd, and used my stick so freely upon their
heads and backs that I soon acquired a reputation for courage. Nor did I
fail to note the advice given to me by my brother officers as to the
making of money by extortion--how an officer inflicts the bastinado
fiercely or gently according to the capacity of the sufferer to pay; how
bribes may be obtained from villages anxious not to have troops
quartered upon them, and so on. I lived in such an atmosphere of
violence and cruelty--I heard of nothing but slitting noses, putting out
eyes, and chopping men in two--that I am persuaded I could almost have
impaled my own father.
The chief executioner was a tall and bony man, extremely ferocious.
"Give me good hard fighting," he was accustomed to declare; "let me have
my thrust with the lance, and my cut with the sabre, and I want no more.
We all have our weaknesses--these are mine." This terrible man
accompanied the Shah in his campaign, and I and the others went along
with him, in the army that was to expel the Muscovite infidels from
Georgia. Having heard that the Muscovites were posted on the Pembaki
river, the chief executioner, with a large body of cavalry and infantry,
proceeded to advance upon them.
On reaching the river, we found two Muscovite soldiers on the opposite
bank. The chief put on a face of the greatest resolution. "Go, seize,
strike, kill!" he exclaimed. "Bring me their heads!"
Several men dashed into the river, but the Russians, firing steadily,
killed two of them, whereupon the rest retreated; nor could all the
chief's oaths, entreaties, and offers of money persuade anybody to go
While we were thus parleying, a shot hit the chief executioner's
stirrup, which awoke his fears to such a degree that he recalled his
troops, and himself rode hastily away, exclaiming, "Curses be on their
beards! Whoever fought after this fashion? Killing, killing, as if we
were so many hogs! They will not run away, do all you can to them. They
are worse than brutes! O Allah, Allah, if there was no dying in the
case, how the Persians would fight!"
On our return to the camp, a proclamation was issued announcing that an
army of 50,000 infidels had been vanquished by the all-victorious armies
of the Shah, that 10,000 of the dogs had given up their souls, and that
the prisoners were so many that the prices of slaves had diminished a
hundred per cent.
When we went back with the Shah to Tehran, a horrid event occurred which
plunged me in the greatest misery. I heard that Zeenab was ill, and
unable to dance before the Shah; and, knowing the royal methods of
treating unsatisfactory slaves, I feared greatly for the consequences.
My fears were warranted. I was ordered, with others, to wait below the
tower of the royal harem at midnight and bear away a corpse. We saw a
woman struggling with two men at the top of the tower. The woman was
flung over. We rushed forward. At my feet, in the death-agony, lay my
beloved Zeenab. I hung over her in the deepest despair; my feelings
could not be concealed from the ruffians around me.
I abandoned everything, and left Tehran next day determined to become a
real dervish, and spend the rest of my life in penitence and privations.
_III.--Among the Holy Men_
As I was preparing next night to sleep on the bare ground outside a
caravanserai--for I was almost destitute--I saw a horseman ride up whom
I recognised. It was one of the nasakchis who had assisted in the burial
of Zeenab. I had been betrayed, then; my love for the king's slave had
been revealed, and they were pursuing me.
I went into the caravanserai, sought out a friend--the dervish whom I
had known at Meshed--and asked his advice. "I can expect no mercy from
this man," I said, "particularly as I have not enough money to offer
him, for I know his price. Where shall I go?"
The dervish replied, "You must lose not a moment in getting within the
sanctuary of the tomb of Fatimeh at Kom. You can reach it before
morning, and then you will be safe even from the Shah's power."
"But how shall I live when I am there?" I asked.
"I shall soon overtake you, and then, Inshallah (please God), you will
not fare so ill as you imagine."
As the day broke, I could distinguish the gilt cupola of the tomb before
me; and as I perceived the horseman at some distance behind, I made all
possible speed until I had passed the gateway of the sanctuary. Kissing
the threshold of the tomb, I said my prayers with all the fervency of
one who has got safe from a tempest into port.
My friend the dervish arrived soon afterwards, and immediately urged
upon me the importance of saying my prayers, keeping fasts, and wearing
a long and mortified countenance. As he assured me that unless I made a
pretence of deep piety I should be starved or stoned to death, I assumed
forthwith the character of a rigid Mussulman. I rose at the first call,
made my ablutions at the cistern in the strictest forms, and then prayed
in the most conspicuous spot I could find.
By the intensity of my devotion I won the goodwill of Mirza Abdul
Cossim, the first _mashtehed_ (divine) of Persia, and by his influence I
obtained a pardon from the Shah. Now that I was free from the sanctuary,
I became anxious to gain some profit by my fame for piety; so I applied
to Mirza Abdul Cossim, who straightway sent me to assist the mollah
Nadan, one of the principal men of the law in Tehran. My true path of
advancement, I believed, was now open. I was on the way to become a
Nadan was an exemplary Mussulman in all outward matters; but I was not
long in discovering that he had two ruling passions--jealousy of the
chief priest of Tehran, and a hunger for money. My earliest duty was to
gratify his second passion by negotiating temporary marriages for
handsome fees. In these transactions we prospered fairly well; but
unfortunately Nadan's desire to supplant the chief priest led him to
stir up the populace to attack the Christians of the city, and plunder
their property. The Shah was then in a humour to protect the Christians;
consequently, Nadan had his beard plucked out by the roots, was mounted
on an ass with his face to its tail, and was driven out of the city with
blows and execrations.
Once more homeless and almost penniless, not knowing what to do, I
strolled in the dusk into a bath, and undressed. The bath was empty save
for one man, whom I recognized as the chief priest. He was splashing
about in a manner that struck me as remarkable for so sedate a
character; then a most unusual floundering, attended with a gurgling of
the throat, struck my ear. To my horror, I saw that he was drowned. Here
was a predicament; it was inevitable that I should be charged with his
Suddenly it occurred to me that I bore a close resemblance to the dead
man. For an hour or two, at any rate, I might act as an impostor. So, in
the dim light, I dressed myself in the chief priest's clothes, and
repaired to his house.
I was there received by two young slaves, who paid me attentions that
would at most times have delighted me; but just then they filled me with
apprehension, and I was heartily glad when I got rid of the slaves and
fastened the door. I then explored the chief priest's pockets, and found
therein two letters. One was from the chief executioner--a notorious
drunkard--begging permission to take unlimited wine for his health's
sake. The other was from a priest at the mollah's village saying that he
had extracted from the peasantry one hundred tomauns (L80), which would
be delivered to a properly qualified messenger.
To the chief executioner I wrote cheerfully granting the permission he
sought, and suggesting that the loan of a well-caparisoned horse would
not be amiss. I wrote a note to the priest requesting that the money be
delivered to the bearer, our confidential Hajji Baba. Next morning I
rose early, and made certain alterations in the chief priest's clothes
so as to avoid detection. I went to the chief executioner's house,
presented the letter, and received the horse, upon which I rode hastily
away to the village. Having obtained the hundred tomauns I escaped
across the frontier to Bagdad.
_IV.--Hajji and the Infidels_
On reaching Bagdad, I sought the house of my old master, Osman Aga, long
since returned from his captivity, and through his assistance, and with
my hundred tomauns as capital, I was able to set up in business as a
merchant in pipe-sticks, and, having made myself as like as possible to
a native of Bagdad, I travelled in Osman Aga's company to
Constantinople. Having a complaint to make, I went to Mirza Ferouz,
Persian ambassador on a special mission to Constantinople.
"Your wit and manner are agreeable," he said to me; "you have seen the
world and its business; you are a man who can make play under another's
beard. Such I am in want of."
"I am your slave and your servant," I replied.
"Lately an ambassador came from Europe to Tehran," said Mirza Ferouz,
"saying he was sent, with power to make a treaty, by a certain
Boonapoort, calling himself Emperor of the French. He promised, that
Georgia should be reconquered for us from the Russians, and that the
English should be driven from India. Soon afterwards the English
infidels in India sent agents to impede the reception of the Frenchman.
We soon discovered that much was to be got between the rival curs of
uncleanness; and the true object of my mission here is to discover all
that is to be known of these French and English. In this you can help
This proposal I gladly accepted, and went forth to interview a scribe of
the Reis Effendi with whom I had struck up a friendship. He told me that
Boonapoort was indeed a rare and daring infidel, who, from a mere
soldier, became the sultan of an immense nation, and gave the law to all
"And is there not a tribe of infidels called Ingliz?" I asked.
"Yes, truly. They live in an island, are powerful in ships, and in
watches and broad-cloth are unrivalled. They have a shah, but it is a
farce to call him by that title. The power lies with certain houses full
of madmen, who meet half the year round for the purposes of quarrelling.
Nothing can be settled in the state, be it only whether a rebellious aga
is to have his head cut off and his property confiscated, or some such
trifle, until these people have wrangled. Let us bless Allah and our
Prophet that we are not born to eat the miseries of the poor English
infidels, but can smoke our pipes in quiet on the shores of our own
I returned to my ambassador full of the information I had acquired;
daily he sent me in search of fresh particulars, and before long I felt
able to draw up the history of Europe that the Shah had ordered Mirza
Ferouz to provide. So well pleased was the ambassador with my labours,
that he announced his intention of taking me back to Persia and
continuing me in Government employ. To this I readily agreed, knowing
that, with the protection of men in office, I might show myself in my
own country with perfect safety.
On out return to Tehran we found an English ambassador negotiating a
treaty, the French having gone away unsuccessful. Owing to the knowledge
I had acquired of European affairs when at Constantinople, I was much
employed in these transactions with the infidels, and when I gained the
confidence of the grand vizier himself, destiny almost as much as
whispered that the buffetings of the world had taken their departure
The negotiations reached a difficult point, and threatened to break
down; neither the Persians nor the infidels would give way. I was sent
by the grand vizier on a delicate mission to the English ambassador. I
prevailed. I returned to the grand vizier with a sack of gold for him
and the promise of a diamond ring, and the treaty was signed.
It was decided to send an ambassador to England. Mirza Berouz was
appointed, and I was chosen as his first mirza, or secretary. What
pleased me most of all was that I was sent to Ispahan to raise part of
the money for the presents to be taken to England. Hajji Baba, the
barber's son, entered his native place as Mirza Hajji Baba, the Shah's
deputy, with all the parade of a man of consequence, and on a mission
that gave him unbounded opportunity of enriching himself. I found
myself, after all my misfortunes, at the summit of what, in my Persian
eyes, was perfect human bliss.
* * * * *
DAVID CHRISTIE MURRAY
The Way of the World
David Christie Murray was born at West Bromwich, England,
April 13, 1847, and began his journalistic career at
Birmingham. In 1873 he moved to London and joined the staff of
the "Daily News" and in 1878 he was correspondent of the
"Times" and the "Scotsman" in the Russo-Turkish war. He now
began to transfer his abundant experience of life to the pages
of fiction. His first novel, "A Life's Atonement," was
published in 1880, and was followed a year later by "Joseph's
Coat." In "The Way of the World," published in 1884, his art
as a story-teller and his keen observation of men and manners
were displayed as strikingly as in any of his later works--
several of which were written in collaboration with other
authors. Altogether he produced over thirty volumes of short
stories and novels single-handed. At the end of last century
he emerged from his literary seclusion in Wales and became
active in current affairs; he was one of the leading English
champions of Dreyfus, and obtained the warm friendship of
Emile Zola. He died on August 1, 1907.
Your sympathies are requested for Mr. Bolsover Kimberley, a gentleman
embarrassed beyond measure.
Mr. Kimberley was thirty-five years of age. He was meek, and had no
features to speak of. His hair was unassuming, and his whiskers were too
shy to curl. He was a clerk in a solicitor's office in the town of
Gallowbay, and he seemed likely to live to the end of his days in the
pursuit of labours no more profitable or pretentious.
A cat may look at a king. A solicitor's clerk may love an earl's
daughter. It was an undeniable madness in Kimberley even to dream of
loving the Lady Ella Santerre. He knew perfectly well what a fool he
was; but he was in love for all that.
To Bolsover Kimberley, seated in a little room with a dingy red desk and
cobwebbed skylight, there entered Mr. Ragshaw, senior clerk to Messrs.
Begg, Batter, and Bagg, solicitors.
"My dear Mr. Kimberley," said Mr. Ragshaw, "allow me the honour of
shaking hands with you. I believe that I am the first bearer of good
Mr. Kimberley turned pale.
"My firm, sir," pursued Mr. Ragshaw, "represented the trustees of the
late owner of the Gallowbay Estate, who died three months ago at the age
of twenty, leaving no known relatives. We instituted a search, which
resulted in the discovery of an indisputable title to the estate. Permit
me to congratulate you, sir--the estate is yours."
Bolsover Kimberley gasped, and his voice was harsh.
"The estate, sir, is now approximately valued at forty-seven thousand
Kimberley lurched forward, and fell over in a dead faint. Mr. Ragshaw's
attentions restored him to his senses, and he drank a little water, and
When he had recovered a little, he arose weakly from the one office
chair, took off his office coat, rolled it up neatly, and put it in his
desk. Then he put on his walking coat and his hat and went out.
"Don't you think, Mr. Kimberley," asked Mr. Ragshaw, with profound
respect, "that a little something----"
They were outside the Windgall Arms, and Kimberley understood.
"Why, yes, sir," he said; "but I never keep it in the 'ouse, and having
had to pay a tailor's bill this week, I don't happen----"
"My _dear_ sir, allow me!" said Ragshaw, with genuine emotion.
The champagne, the dinner that followed, the interviews with pressmen,
the excitement and obsequiousness of everybody, conveyed to Kimberley's
mind, in a dizzy sort of a way, that he was somebody in the world, and
ought to be proud of it. But his long life of servitude, his shyness and
want of nerve, all weighed heavily upon him, and he was far from being
Mr. Begg, senior partner of Messrs. Begg, Batter, and Bagg, was sitting
in his office a day or two later when a clerk ushered in the Earl of
"What's this news about Gallowbay, Begg? Is it true?" asked the earl.
"It is certainly true," answered Begg.
"What sort of fellow is this Kimberley?"
"Well, he seems to be a shy little man, _gauche_, and--and--underbred,
even for his late position."
"That's a pity. I should like to see him," added the grey little
nobleman. "I suppose you will act for him as you did for poor young
Poor young Edward was the deceased minor whose early death had wrecked
the finest chances the Windgall family craft had ever carried.
"I suppose so," said Begg.
"I presume," said the earl, "that even if he wanted to call in his money
you could arrange elsewhere?"
"With regard to the first mortgage?" asked Mr. Begg. "Certainly."
"And what about the new arrangement?" asked the earl nervously.
"Impossible, I regret to say."
"Very well," returned the earl, with a sigh. "I suppose the timber must
go. If poor Edward had lived, it would all have been very different."
Next day, when Kimberley, preposterously overdressed and thoroughly
ashamed of himself, was trying to talk business in Mr. Begg's office,
the Earl of Windgall was announced. There was nothing in the world that
could have terrified him more. And when the father of his ideal love,
Lady Ella Santerre, shook him by the hand, he could only gasp and gurgle
in response. But the earl's manner gradually reassured him, and in a
little time he began to plume himself in harmless trembling vanity upon
sitting in the same room with a nobleman and a great lawyer.
"I am pleased to have met Mr. Kimberley," said the earl, in going; "and
I trust we shall see more of each other."
Mr. Kimberley flushed, and bowed in a violent flutter.
As the earl was driven homeward he could not help feeling that he was
engaged in a shameful enterprise. People would talk if he invited this
gilded little snob to Shouldershott Castle, and would know very well why
he was asked there. Let them talk.
"A million and a quarter!" said the poor peer. "And if I don't catch
him, somebody else will."
Meanwhile, Captain Jack Clare, an extremely popular young officer of
dragoons, was in the depths of despair. He was the younger brother of
Lord Montacute, whose family was poor; he loved Lady Ella Santerre,
whose family was still poorer. The heads of the families had forbidden
the match for financial reasons. He had stolen an interview with Ella,
and had found that she bowed to the decision of the seniors.
"It is all quite hopeless and impossible," she had said. "Good-bye,
As he rode dispiritedly away, he could not see, for the intervening
trees, that she was kneeling in the fern and crying.
_II.--A Peer in Difficulties_
The Lady Ella slipped an arm about her father's neck.
"You are in trouble, dear," she said. "Can I help you?"
"No," said the poor nobleman. "There's no help for it, Beggs says, and
they'll have to cut down the timber in the park. Poverty, my dear,
This was a blow, and a heavy one.
"That isn't the worst of it," said Windgall, after a pause. "I am in the
hands of the Jews. A wretched Hebrew fellow says he _will_ have a
thousand pounds by this day week. He might as well ask me for a
"The diamonds are worth more than a thousand pounds, dear," she said
"No, no, my darling," he answered. "I have robbed you of everything
"You must take them, papa," she said in tender decision. She left him,
only to return in a few minutes' time with a dark shagreen case in her
hands. The earl paced about the room for a minute or two.
"I take these," he said at last, "in bitter unwillingness, because I
can't help taking them, my dear. I had best get the business over, Ella.
I will go up to town this afternoon."
During the whole of his journey the overdressed figure of Kimberley
seemed to stand before the embarrassed man, and a voice seemed to issue
from it. "Catch me, flatter me, wheedle me, marry me to one of your
daughters, and see the end of your woes." He despised himself heartily
for permitting the idea to enter his mind, but he could not struggle
against its intrusion.
Next day Kimberley entered his jewellers to consult him concerning a
scarf-pin. It was a bull-dog's head, carved in lava, and not quite
life-size. The eyes were rubies, the collar was of gold and brilliants.
This egregious jewel was of his own designing, and was of a piece with
his general notions of how a millionaire should attire himself.
As he passed through the door somebody leapt from a cab carrying
something in his hands, and jostled against him. He turned round
apologetically, and confronted the Earl of Windgall.
His lordship looked like a man detected in a theft, and shook hands with
a confused tremor.
"Can you spare me half an hour?" he asked. Then he handed the package to
the shop-man. "Take care of that," he stammered. "It is valuable. I will
That afternoon Kimberley accepted an invitation to stay at Shouldershott
He was prodigiously flattered and fluttered. When he thought of being
beneath the same roof with Lady Ella, he flushed and trembled as he had
never done before.
"I shall see her," he muttered wildly to himself. "I shall see her in
the 'alls, the 'alls of dazzling light." It is something of a wonder
that he did not lose his mental balance altogether.
When he was daily in the presence of Ella, the little man's heart ached
with sweet anguish and helpless worship and desire. Yet before her he
was tongue-tied, incapable of uttering a consecutive sentence. With her
sister, Lady Alice Santerre, who had been the intended bride of the
deceased heir to the Gallowbay Estate, Kimberley felt on a different
footing. He had hardly ever been so much at ease with anybody in his
life as this young lady made him.
Kimberley's own anxious efforts at self-improvement, Lady Alice's
good-natured advice, and the bold policy of the earl, who persuaded him
to undergo the terrors of an election, and get returned to Parliament as
member for Gallowbay, gradually made the millionaire a more presentable
person. He learned how to avoid dropping his h's; but two vices were
incurable--the shyness and his appalling taste in dress.
The world, meanwhile, had guessed at the earl's motives in extending his
friendship to Kimberley, and the little man's name was knowingly linked
with that of Lady Alice. Kimberley came to hear what the world was
saying through meeting Mr. Blandy, his former employer. Mr. Blandy
invited him to his house, honoured the occasion with champagne, drank
freely of it, and became confidential.
"The noble earl'll nail you f' one o' the girls, Kimbly. I'm a lill bit
'fected when I think, seeing my dear Kimbly 'nited marriage noble
family. That's what makes me talk like this. I b'leeve you're gone coon
already, ole man. 'Gratulate you, allmy heart."
Kimberley went away in a degradation of soul. Was it possible that this
peer of the realm could be so coarsely and openly bent on securing him
and his money that the whole world should know of it? What had
Kimberley, he asked himself bitterly, to recommend him but his money?
But then, triumphing over his miseries, came the fancy--he could have
his dream of love; he had cried for the moon, and now he could have it.
The earl's liabilities amounted roughly to ninety thousand pounds. The
principal mortgagee was insisting upon payment or foreclosure, and there
was a general feeling abroad that the estate was involved beyond its
capacity to pay.
Kimberley learned these circumstances in an interview with Mr. Begg. A
few days afterwards he drove up desperately to the castle and asked for
a private interview with his lordship.
"My lord," he said, when they were alone, "I want to ask your lordship's
acceptance of these papers."
The earl understood them at a glance. Kimberley had bought his debts.
"I ask you to take them now," Kimberley went on, "before I say another
He rose, walked to the fire, and dropped the papers on the smouldering
coal. The earl seized the papers and rescued them, soiled but unsinged.
"Kimberley," he said, "I dare not lay myself under such an obligation to
any man alive."
"They are yours, my lord," replied Kimberley. "I shall never touch them
again. You're under no obligation to me, my lord. But"--he blushed and
stammered--"I want to ask you for the hand of Lady Ella."
It took Windgall a full minute to pull himself together. He had schooled
himself to the trembling hope that Alice might be chosen; but Ella!
"Forgive me," he began, "I was unprepared--I was not altogether
unprepared--" Then he lapsed into silence.
"I will submit your proposal to my daughter," he said after a time,
"but--I am powerless--altogether powerless."
Kimberley went home in a tremor of nervous anxiety, and Windgall sent
for his daughter.
"I want you to understand, my dear," he began nervously, "that you are
free to act just as you will. Mr. Kimberley gave these into my hands
this morning"--showing her the papers. "He gave them freely, as a gift.
If I could accept them I should be free from the nightmare of debt. But
in the same breath with that unconditional gift, he asked me for your
hand in marriage."
She kept silence.
"You know our miserable necessities, Ella," he pleaded. "But I can't
force your inclinations in a matter like this, my dear."
She ran to him, and threw her arms about his neck.
"If it depends upon me to end your troubles, my dear, they are ended
"Shall I," he asked lamely, "make Kimberley happy?"
She answered simply, "Yes."
Kimberley came to luncheon next day. Lady Ella gave him a hand like
marble, and he kissed it. Her father, anxious to preserve a seeming
satisfaction, put his arm about her waist and kissed her. Her cheek was
like ice and her whole figure trembled.
It was a dull, dreadful meal to all three who sat at table, and the
millionaire's heart was the heaviest and the sorest.
If Ella suffered, she had the consolation, so dear to the nobler sort of
women, that she was a sacrifice. If Windgall suffered, he had a solid
compensation locked in the drawers of his library table. But Kimberley
had no consolation, and knew only that he was expected somehow to be
happy, and was, in spite of his prosperous wooing, more miserable than
he had ever been before.
As time went on, Kimberley grew no happier. The gulf between Lady Ella
and himself had not been bridged by their betrothal. She was always
courteous to him, but always cold. She had accepted him, and yet----
The first inkling that something was wrong came through the altered
demeanour of Alice. The girl was furious at her father for sacrificing
her sister, and furious with her sister for consenting to the sacrifice;
her former half-humourous comradeship for Kimberley was changed into
The suspicions that were thus suggested to him were confirmed by a
meeting with Ella outside the castle lodge. As he approached, he caught
sight of her face as she was nodding a smiling good-bye to the old
gate-keeper. She saw Kimberley, and the smile fled from her face with so
swift a change, and left for a mere second something so like terror
there, that he could scarcely fail to notice it.
He returned home possessed with remorse and shame. There was no doubt
what the end should be. Ella must be released.
"She never cared about the money," he said, pacing the room with
tear-blotted face. "She wanted to save her father, and she was ready to
break her heart to do it. But she shall never break her heart through
me. No, no. What a fool I was to think she could ever be happy with a
man like me!"
Jack Clare, with a heart burning with rage at what he deemed Ella's
treachery, had resigned his commission and bought an estate in New
Zealand with a sum of money that had been left him. He became possessed
of a desire to see Ella once more. He wrote to her that he was about to
start for New Zealand, and wished to say good-bye to her. This letter he
brought to the castle gate-keeper, and caused it to be taken to Ella.
Then he paced up and down the avenue, impatiently awaiting her.
Destiny ordained that Kimberley should come that way just then on his
fateful errand of releasing Ella from her engagement. As he entered the
park his resolve failed him; he wandered unhappily to and fro, until he
became aware of a strange gentleman prowling about the avenue in a
mighty hurry. The stranger caught sight of him.
"Pardon me," said Kimberley nervously, "have you lost your way?"
Jack eyed him from head to foot--the vulgar glories of his attire, the
extraordinary bull-dog pin. This, he guessed, was Kimberley--the man to
whom Ella had sold herself. He smiled bitterly, and turned on his heel.
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Kimberley ruffled. "I did myself the
honour to address you."
"You pestilential little cad!" cried Jack, wheeling round and letting
out his wrath; "go home!"
"Cad, sir!" answered Kimberley in indignation.
"I call any man a cad, sir," answered Jack, "who goes about dressed like
Jack walked on and Kimberley stood rooted to the ground. He was crushed
and overwhelmed beneath the sense of his own humiliation. His fineries
had been the one thing on which he had relied to make himself look like
a gentleman, and he knew now what they made him look like.
He retreated to a little arboured seat, and a few minutes later would
have given anything to escape from it. For he was a witness of the
parting of Jack and Ella. He saw the tears streaming from her eyes; he
heard Jack tell her that he had never loved another woman and never
would. As they clasped each other's hands for the final good-bye, Jack
seized her passionately and kissed her. Her head fell back from his
shoulder; she had fainted. He laid her down upon the grass, and looked
upon her in an agony of fear and self-reproach. Then his mood changed.
"Curse the man that broke her heart and mine!" he cried wildly.
"Darling, look up!"
Presently she recovered, and he begged her forgiveness.
"I am better," said Ella feebly. "Leave me now. Good-bye, dear!"
Soon afterwards a little man, with a tear-stained face and enormous
bull-dog scarf-pin, arrived at the castle, and asked in a breaking voice
to see his lordship.
"Did you know, my lord," he began, "that Lady Ella was breaking her
heart because she was to marry me?"
"You didn't know it? I should be glad to think you didn't. Perhaps in
spite of all I said, you thought I had bought those papers to have you
in my grasp. I am not a gentleman, my lord, but I hope I am above that.
I was a fool to think I could ever make Lady Ella happy, and I resign my
claim upon her hand, my lord, and I must leave your roof for ever."
"Stop, sir!" cried the earl, in a rage of embarrassment and despair. He
seemed face to face with the wreck of all his hopes. "Do you know that
this is an insult to my daughter and to me?"
"My lord," returned Kimberley, "I am very sorry, but it was a shame to
ask her to marry a man like me. I won't help to break her heart--I
can't--not if I break my own a million times over."
The earl beat his foot upon the carpet. It was true enough. It _had_
been a shame; and yet the man was a gentleman when all was said and
"By heaven, Kimberley," cried his lordship, in spite of himself, "you
are a noble-hearted fellow!"
"Excuse me the trouble I have caused you. Good-bye, my lord." Kimberley
bowed and left.
That night Kimberley received a package containing the papers and a note
from the earl congratulating him on the magnanimous manner in which he
had acted, but declaring that he felt compelled to return the documents.
This added another drop to the bitterness of Kimberley's cup. He could
well nigh have died for shame; he could well nigh have died for pity of
_V.--Kimberley's Wedding Gift_
"My lord," said Kimberley, as he met the earl of Windgall outside the
London hotel where the earl was staying, "can you give me a very few
"Certainly," said his lordship. "You are not well?" he added, with
He had brought a dispatch-box with him; he put it on the table and
slowly unlocked it. The earl's heart beat violently as he looked once
more upon the precious documents.
"You sent these back to me," said Kimberley. "Will you take 'em now? My
lord, my lord, marry lady Ella to the man she loves, and take these for
a wedding gift. I helped to torture her. I have a right to help to make
Windgall was as wildly agitated as Kimberley himself. He recoiled and
waved his hands.
"I--I do not think, Kimberley," he said with quivering lip, "that I have
ever known so noble an act before."
"If I die," said Kimberley in a loud voice which quavered suddenly down
into a murmur, "everything is to go to Lady Ella, with my dearest love
Windgall caught only the first three words; he tugged at the bell-pull,
and sent for a doctor.
An hour afterwards Kimberley was in bed with brain fever.
On the following morning Jack Clare stood in the rain on the deck of the
steamship Patagonia, a travelling-cap pulled moodily over his eyes,
watching the bestowal of his belongings in the hold.
"Honourable Captain Clare aboard?" cried a voice from the quay. A
messenger came and handed Jack a letter. He saw with amazement that it
bore the Windgall crest.
It was a hastily written note from the earl stating that circumstances
had occurred which enabled him to withdraw his opposition to the union
of Clare with Lady Ella.
* * * * *
Kimberley recovered. He can speak now to Clare's wife without
embarrassment and without pain. Has he forgotten his love? No. He will
never love again, never marry; but he is by no means unhappy or solitary
or burdened with regrets. And he knows that those for whom he made his
great sacrifice have given him their profoundest gratitude and sincerest
The ways of the world are various and many. And along them travel all
sorts of people. Very dark grey, indeed--almost black some of
them--middling grey, light grey, and here and there a figure that shines
with a pure white radiance.
* * * * *
Frank Norris, one of the most brilliant of contemporary
American novelists, was born at Chicago in 1870. He was
educated at the University of California and at Harvard, and
also spent three years as an art student in Paris. Afterwards
he adopted journalism, and served in the capacity of war
correspondent for various newspapers. His first novel,
"McTeague," a virile, realistic romance, brought him instant
recognition. This was followed in 1900 by "Moran of the Lady
Betty," a romantic narrative of adventures on the Californian
Coast. In 1901 Norris conceived the idea of trilogy of novels
dealing with wheat, the object being an arraignment of wheat
operations at Chicago, and the consequent gambling with the
world's food-supply. The first of the series, "The Octopus,"
deals with wheat raising and transportation; the second, "The
Pit," a vigorous, human story covers wheat-exchange gambling,
and appeared in 1903; the third, which was to have been
entitled "The Wolf," was cut short by the author's death,
which occurred on October 25, 1902.
_I.--Curtis Jadwin and His Wife_
Laura Dearborn's native town was Barrington, in Massachusetts. Both she
and her younger sister Page had lived there until the death of their
father. The mother had died long before, and of all their relations,
Aunt Wess, who lived at Chicago, alone remained. It was at the
entreaties of Aunt Wess and of their dearest friends, the Cresslers,
that the two girls decided to live with their aunt in Chicago. Both
Laura and Page had inherited money, and when they faced the world they
had the assurance that, at least, they were independent.
Chicago, the great grey city, interested Laura at every instant and
under every condition. The life was tremendous. All around, on every
side, in every direction, the vast machinery of commonwealth clashed and
thundered from dawn to dark, and from dark to dawn. For thousands of
miles beyond its confines the influence of the city was felt. At times
Laura felt a little frightened at the city's life, and of the men for
whom all the crash of conflict and commerce had no terrors. Those who
could subdue this life to their purposes, must they not be themselves
terrible, pitiless, brutal? What could women ever know of the life of
men, after all?
Her friend, Mr. Cressler, who had been almost a second father to her,
was in business, and had once lost a fortune by a gamble in wheat; and
there was Mr. Curtis Jadwin, whom she had met at the opera with the
Mrs. Cressler had told Laura, very soon after her arrival in Chicago,
that Mr. Jadwin wanted to marry her.
"I've known Curtis Jadwin now for fifteen years--nobody better," said
Mrs. Cressler. "He's as old a family friend as Charlie and I have. And I
tell you the man is in love with you. He told me you had more sense and
intelligence than any girl he had ever known, and that he never
remembered to have seen a more beautiful woman. What do you think of
him, Laura--of Mr. Jadwin?"
"I don't know," Laura answered. "I thought he was a _strong_
man--mentally, and that he would be kindly and generous. But I saw very
little of him."
"Jadwin struck you as being a kindly man, a generous man? He's just
that, and charitable. You know, he has a Sunday-school over on the West
side--a Sunday-school for mission children--and I do believe he's more
interested in that than in his business. He wants to make it the biggest
Sunday-school in Chicago. It's an ambition of his. Laura," she
exclaimed, "he's a _fine man_. No one knows Curtis Jadwin better than
Charlie and I, and we just _love_ him. The kindliest, biggest-hearted
fellow. Oh, well, you'll know him for yourself, and then you'll see!"
"I don't know anything about him," Laura had remarked in answer to this.
"I never heard of him before the theatre party."
But Mrs. Cressler promptly supplied information. Curtis Jadwin was a man
about thirty-five, who had begun life without a _sou_ in his pockets.
His people were farmers in Michigan, hardy, honest fellows, who ploughed
and sowed for a living. Curtis had only a rudimentary schooling, and had
gone into business with a livery-stable keeper. Someone in Chicago owed
him money, and, in default of payment, had offered him a couple of lots
of ground on Wabash Avenue. That was how he happened to come to Chicago.
Naturally enough, as the city grew the Wabash Avenue property increased
in value. He sold the lots, and bought other real estate; sold that, and
bought somewhere else, and so on till he owned some of the best business
sites in the city, and was now one of the largest real-estate owners in
Chicago. But he no longer bought and sold. His property had grown so
large, that just the management of it alone took up most of his time. As
a rule, he deplored speculation. He had no fixed principles about it,
and occasionally he hazarded small operations.
It was after this that Laura's first aversion to the great grey city
fast disappeared, and she saw it in a kindlier aspect.
Soon it was impossible to deny that Curtis Jadwin--"J" as he was called
in business--was in love with her. The business man, accustomed to deal
with situations with unswerving directness, was not in the least afraid
of Laura. He was aggressive, assertive, and his addresses had all the
persistence and vehemence of veritable attack. He contrived to meet her
everywhere, and even had the Cresslers and Laura over to his mission
Sunday-school for the Easter festival, an occasion of which Laura
carried away a confused recollection of enormous canvas mottoes, sheaves
of lilies, imitation bells of tinfoil, revival hymns vociferated from
seven hundred distended mouths, and through it all the smell of poverty,
the odour of uncleanliness, that mingled strangely with the perfume of
Somehow Laura found that with Jadwin all the serious, all the sincere,
earnest side of her character was apt to come to the front.
Yet for a long time Laura could not make up her mind that she loved him,
but "J" refused to be dismissed.
"I told him I did not love him. Only last week I told him so," Laura
explained to Mrs. Cressler.
"Well, then, why did you promise to marry him?"
"My goodness! You don't realise what it's been. Do you suppose you can
say 'no' to that man?"
"Of course not--of course not!" declared Mrs. Cressler joyfully. "That's
'J' all over. I might have known he'd have you if he set out to do it."
They were married on the last day of June of that summer in the
Episcopalian church. Immediately after the wedding the couple took the
train for Geneva Lake, where Jadwin had built a house for his bride.
_II.--A Corner in Wheat_
The months passed. Soon three years had gone by since the ceremony in
St. James's Church, and all that time the price of wheat had been
steadily going down. Heavy crops the world over had helped the decline.
Jadwin had been drawn into the troubled waters of the Pit, and was by
now "blooded to the game." It was in April that he decided that better
times and higher prices were coming for wheat, and announced his
intentions to Sam Gretry, his broker.
"Sam," he said, "the time is come for a great big chance. We've been
hammering wheat down and down and down till we've got it below the cost
of production, and now she won't go any further with all the hammering
in the world. The other fellows, the rest of the bear crowd, don't seem
to see it; but I see it. Before fall we're going to have higher prices.
Wheat is going up, and when it does I mean to be right there. I'm going
to _buy_. I'm going to buy September wheat, and I'm going to buy it
to-morrow--500,000 bushels of it; and if the market goes as I think it
will later on, I'm going to buy more. I'm going to boost this market
right through till the last bell rings, and from now on Curtis Jadwin
spells b-u-double l--bull."
"They'll slaughter you," said Gretry; "slaughter you in cold blood.
You're just one man against a gang--a gang of cut-throats. Those bears
have got millions and millions back of them. 'J,' you are either
Napoleonic, or--or a colossal idiot!"
All through the three years that had passed Jadwin had grown continually
richer. His real estate appreciated in value; rents went up. Every time
he speculated in wheat it was upon a larger scale, and every time he
won. Hitherto he had been a bear; now, after the talk with Gretry, he
had secretly "turned bull" with the suddenness of a strategist.
A marvellous golden luck followed Jadwin all that summer. The crops were
poor, the yield moderate.
Jadwin sold out in September, having made a fortune, and then, in a
single vast clutch, bought 3,000,000 bushels of the December option.
Never before had he ventured so deeply into the Pit.
One morning in November, at breakfast, Laura said to her husband,
"Curtis, dear, when is it all going to end--your speculating? You never
used to be this way. It seems as though, nowadays, I never had you to
myself. Even when you are not going over papers and reports, or talking
by the hour to Mr. Gretry in the library, your mind seems to be away
from me. I--I am lonesome, dearest, sometimes. And, Curtis, what is the
use? We're so rich now we can't spend our money."
"Oh, it's not the money!" he answered. "It's the fun of the thing--the
That very week Jadwin made 500,000 dollars.
"I don't own a grain of wheat now," he assured his wife. "I've got to be
out of it."
But try as he would, the echoes of the rumbling of the Pit reached
Jadwin at every hour of the day and night. He stayed at home over
Christmas. Inactive, he sat there idle, while the clamour of the Pit
swelled daily louder, and the price of wheat went up.
Jadwin chafed and fretted at his inaction and his impatience harried him
like a gadfly. Would no one step into the place of high command.
Very soon the papers began to speak of an unknown "bull" clique who were
rapidly coming into control of the market, and it was no longer a secret
to Laura that her husband had gone back to the market, and that, too,
with such an impetuosity that his rush had carried him to the very heart
of the turmoil.
He was now deeply involved; his influence began to be felt. Not an
important move on the part of the "unknown bull," the nameless,
mysterious stranger, that was not noted and discussed.
It was very late in the afternoon of a lugubrious March day when Jadwin
and Gretry, in the broker's private room, sat studying the latest
Government reports as to the supply of wheat, and Jadwin observed, "Why,
Sam, there's less than 100,000,000 bushels in the farmers' hands. That's
"It ain't, as you might say, colossal," admitted Gretry.
"Sam," said Jadwin again, "the shipments have been about 5,000,000 a
week; 20,000,000 a month, and it's four months before a new crop. Europe
will take 80,000,000 out of the country. I own 10,000,000 now. Why,
there ain't going to be any wheat left in Chicago by May! If I get in
now, and buy a long line of cash wheat, where are all these fellows
going to get it to deliver to me? Say, where are they going to get it?
Come on, now, tell me, where are they going to get it?"
Gretry laid down his pencil, and stared at Jadwin.
"'J,'" he faltered, "'J,' I'm blest if I know."
And then, all in the same moment, the two men were on their feet.
Jadwin sprang forward, gripping the broker by the shoulder.
"Sam," he shouted, "do you know----Great God! Do you know what this
means? Sam, we can corner the market!"
_III.--The Corner Breaks_
The high prices meant a great increase of wheat acreage. In June the
preliminary returns showed 4,000,000 more acres under wheat in the two
states of Dakota alone, and in spite of all Gretry's remonstrances,
Jadwin still held on, determined to keep up prices to July.
But now it had become vitally necessary for Jadwin to sell out his
holdings. His "long line" was a fearful expense; insurance and storage
charges were eating rapidly into the profits. He _must_ get rid of the
load he was carrying little by little.
A month ago, and the foreign demand was a thing almost insensate. There
was no question as to the price. It was, "Give us the wheat, at whatever
figure, at whatever expense."
At home in Chicago Jadwin was completely master of the market. His
wealth increased with such rapidity that at no time was he able even to
approximate the gains that accrued to him because of his corner. It was
more than twenty million, and less than fifty million. That was all he
It was then that he told Gretry he was going to buy in the July crops.
"' J,' listen to me," said Gretry. "Wheat is worth a dollar and a half
to-day, and not one cent more. If you run it up to two dollars--"
"It will go there of itself, I tell you."
"If you run it up to two dollars it will be that top-heavy that the
littlest kick in the world will knock it over. Be satisfied now with
what you've, got. Suppose the price does break a little, you'd still
make your pile. But swing this deal over into July, and it's ruin. The
farmers all over the country are planting wheat as they've never planted
it before. Great Scott, 'J,' you're fighting against the earth itself."
"Well, we'll fight it then."
"Here's another point," went on Gretry. "You ought to be in bed this
very minute. You haven't got any nerves left at all. You acknowledge you
don't sleep. You ought to see a doctor."
"Fiddlesticks!" exclaimed Jadwin. "I'm all right. Haven't time to see a
So the month of May drew to its close, and as Jadwin beheld more and
more the broken speculators, with their abject humility, a vast contempt
for human nature grew within him. The business hardened his heart, and
he took his profits as if by right of birth.
His wife he saw but seldom. Occasionally they breakfasted together; more
often they met at dinner. But that was all.
And now by June 11 the position was critical.
"The price broke to a dollar and twenty yesterday," said Gretry. "Just
think, we were at a dollar and a half a little while ago."
"And we'll be at two dollars in another ten days, I tell you."
"Do you know how we stand, 'J'?" said the broker gravely. "Do you know
how we stand financially? It's taken pretty nearly every cent of our
ready money to support this July market. Oh, we can figure out our paper
profits into the millions. We've got thirty, forty, fifty million
bushels of wheat that's worth over a dollar a bushel; but if we can't
sell it we're none the better off--and that wheat is costing us six
thousand dollars a day. Where's the money going to come from, old man?
You don't seem to realise that we are in a precarious condition. The
moment we can't give our boys buying orders, the moment we admit that we
can't buy all the wheat that's offered, there's the moment we bust."
"Well, we'll buy it," cried Jadwin. "I'll show those brutes. I'll
mortgage all my real estate, and I'll run up wheat so high before the
next two days that the Bank of England can't pull it down; then I'll
sell our long line, and with the profits of that I'll run it up again.
Two dollars! Why, it will be two-fifty before you know how it happened."
That day Jadwin placed as heavy a mortgage as the place would stand upon
every piece of real estate that he owned. He floated a number of
promissory notes, and taxed his credit to its farthest stretch. But sure
as he was of winning, Jadwin could, not bring himself to involve his
wife's money in the hazard, though his entire personal fortune swung in
Jadwin knew the danger. The new harvest was coming in--the new harvest
of wheat--huge beyond all possibility of control; so vast that no money
could buy it. And from Liverpool and Paris cables had come in to Gretry
declining to buy wheat, though he had offered it cheaper than he had
ever done before.
* * * * *
On the morning of June 13, Gretry gave his orders to young Landry Court
and his other agents in the Pit, to do their best to keep the market up.
"You can buy each of you up to half a million bushels apiece. If that
don't keep the price up--well, I'll let you know what to do. Look here,
keep your heads cool. I guess to-day will decide things."
In the Pit roar succeeded roar. It seemed that a support long thought to
be secure was giving way. Not a man knew what he or his neighbour was
doing. The bids leaped to and fro, and the price of July wheat could not
so much as be approximated.
Landry caught one of the Gretry traders by the arm.
"What shall we do?" he shouted. "I've bought up to my limit. No more
orders have come in. What's to be done?"
"I don't know," the other shouted back--"I don't know! Looks like a
smash; something's gone wrong."
In Gretry's office Jadwin stood hatless and pale. Around him were one of
the heads of a great banking house and a couple of other men,
confidential agents, who had helped to manipulate the great corner.
"It's the end of the game," Gretry exclaimed, "you've got no more money!
Not another order goes up to that floor."
"It's a lie!" Jadwin cried, "keep on buying, I tell you! Take all
they'll offer. I tell you we'll touch the two dollar mark before noon."
"It's useless, Mr. Jadwin," said the banker quietly, "You were
practically beaten two days ago."
But Jadwin was beyond all appeal. He threw off Gretry's hand.
"Get out of my way!" he shouted. "Do you hear? I'll play my hand alone
from now on."
"'J,' old man--why, see here!" Gretry implored, still holding him by the
arm. "Here, where are you going?"
Jadwin's voice rang like a trumpet-call:
"_Into the Pit!_ If you won't execute my orders I'll act myself. I'm
going into the Pit, I tell you!"
"'J,' you're mad, old fellow! You're ruined--don't you
"Then God curse you, Sam Gretry, for the man who failed me in a crisis!"
And, as he spoke, Curtis Jadwin struck the broker full in the face.
Gretry staggered back from the blow. His pale face flashed to crimson
for an instant, his fists clenched; then his hands fell to his sides.
"No," he said; "let him go--let him go. The man is merely mad!"
Jadwin thrust the men who tried to hold him to one side, and rushed from
"It's the end," Gretry said simply. He wrote a couple of lines, and
handed the note to the senior clerk. "Take that to the secretary of the
board at once."
Straight into the turmoil and confusion of the Pit, into the scene of so
many of his victories, came the "Great Bull." The news went flashing and
flying from lip to lip. The wheat Pit, torn and tossed and rent asunder,
stood dismayed, so great had been his power. What was about to happen?
Jadwin himself, the great man, in the Pit! Had his enemies been too
premature in their hope of his defeat? For a second they hesitated, then
moved by a common impulse, feeling the push of the wonderful new harvest
behind them, gathered themselves together for the final assault, and
again offered the wheat for sale--offered it by thousands upon thousands
Blind and insensate, Jadwin strove against the torrent of the wheat.
Under the stress and violence of the hour, something snapped in his
brain; but he stood erect there in the middle of the Pit, iron to the
end, proclaiming over the din of his enemies, like a bugle sounding to
the charge of a forlorn hope.
"Give a dollar for July--give a dollar for July!"
Then little by little the tumult of the Pit subsided. There were sudden
lapses in the shouting, and again the clamour would break out.
All at once the Pit, the entire floor of the Board of Trade, was struck
dumb. In the midst of the profound silence the secretary announced. "All
trades with Gretry & Co. must be closed at once!"
The words were greeted with a wild yell of exultation. Beaten--beaten at
last, the Great Bull! Smashed! The great corner smashed! Jadwin busted!
Cheer followed cheer, hats went into the air. Men danced and leaped in a
frenzy of delight.
Young Landry Court, who had stood by Jadwin in the Pit, led his defeated
captain out. Jadwin was in a daze--he saw nothing, heard nothing, but
submitted to Landry's guidance.
From the Pit came the sound of dying cheers.
"They can cheer now all they want. _They didn't do it,"_ said a man at
the door. "It was the wheat itself that beat him; no combination of men
could have done it."
_IV.--A Fresh Start_
The evening had closed in wet and misty, and when Laura Jadwin came down
to the dismantled library a heavy rain was falling.
"There, dear," Laura said, "now sit down on the packing-box there. You
had better put your hat on. It is full of draughts now that the
furniture and curtains are out. You've had a pretty bad siege of it, you
know, and this is only the first week you've been up."
"I've had too good a nurse," he answered, stroking her hand, "not to be
as fit as a fiddle by now. You must be tired yourself, Laura. Why, for
whole days there--and nights, too, they tell me--you never left the
Laura shook her head, and said:
"I wonder what the West will be like. Do you know I think I am going to
like it, Curtis?"
"It will be starting in all over again, old girl. Pretty hard at first,
"Hard--now?" She took his hand and laid it to her cheek.
"By all the rules you ought to hate me," he began. "What have I done for
you but hurt you, and at last bring you to----"
But she shut her gloved-hand over his mouth.
"The world is all before us where to choose, now, isn't it?" she
answered. "And this big house and all the life we have led in it was
just an incident in our lives--an incident that is closed."
"We're starting all over again, honey.... Well, there's the carriage, I
They rose, gathering up their valises.
"Ho!" said Jadwin. "No servants now, Laura, to carry our things down for
us and open the door; and it's a hack, old girl, instead of the
"What if it is?" she cried. "What do servants, money, and all amount to
As Jadwin laid his hand upon the knob of the front door, he all at once
put down his valise and put his arm about his wife. She caught him about
the neck, and looked deep into his eyes a long moment, and then, without
speaking, they kissed each other.
* * * * *
Georges Ohnet, one of the most prolific and popular of French
novelists and playwrights, was born in Paris on April 3, 1848.
His father was an architect, and, after a period devoted to
the study of law, Georges Ohnet adopted a journalistic career.
He first came into prominence as the part-author of the drama
"Regina Sarpi," in 1875. "The Ironmaster, or Love and Pride,"
was originally conceived as a play, and as such was submitted
in vain to the theatrical managers of Paris. It was entitled
"Marrying for Money" ("Les Mariages d'Argent") and on its
rejection he laid it aside and directed his attention to the
novel, "Serge Panine." This was immediately successful, and
was crowned with honour by the French Academy. Its author
adapted it as a play, and then, in 1883, did the opposite with
"Les Manages d'Argent," calling it "Le Maitre de Forges." As a
novel, "The Ironmaster," with its dramatic plot and strong,
moving story, attracted universal attention, and has been
translated into several European languages.
_I.--The Faithless Lover_
The Chateau de Beaulieu, in the Louis XIII. style, is built of white
stone with red brick dressings. A broad terrace more than five hundred
yards long, with a balustrade in red granite, and decked with parterres
of flowers, becomes a delightful walk in autumn. M. Derblay's ironworks
may have somewhat spoilt the beauty of the landscape, but Beaulieu
remains a highly covetable estate.
Madame de Beaulieu sat in the drawing-room knitting woollen hoods for
the children in the village, while her daughter Claire contemplated,
without seeing it, the admirable horizon before her. At last, turning
her beautiful, sad face to her mother, she asked, "How long is it since
we have had any letters from St. Petersburg?"
"Come," said the marchioness, taking hold of Claire's hands--"come, why
do you always think about that, and torture your mind so?"
"What can I think of," answered Claire bitterly, "but of my betrothed?
And how can I avoid torturing my mind as you say, in trying to divine
the reason of his silence?"
"I own it is difficult to explain," rejoined the marchioness. "After
spending a week with us last year, my nephew, the Duc de Bligny, started
off promising to return to Paris during the winter. He next began by
writing that political complications detained him at his post. Summer
came, but not the duke. Here now is autumn, and Gaston no longer even
favours us with pretences. He does not even trouble to write."
"But supposing he were ill?" Claire ventured to say.
"That is out of the question," replied the marchioness pitilessly. "The
embassy would have informed us. You may be sure he is in perfect health,
and that he led the cotillon all last winter in the ball-rooms of St.
Claire, forcing herself to smile, said, "It must be confessed, mother,
he is not jealous, and yet I have been courted wherever I have gone, and
am scarcely allowed to remain in peace, even in this desert of Beaulieu.
It would seem I have attracted the attention of our neighbour the
"Yes, mother; but his homage is respectful, and I have no cause to
complain of him. I only mentioned him as an example--as one of many. The
duke stays away, and I remain here alone, patient and--"
"And you act very wrongly!" exclaimed the marchioness.
The opportunity of easing her mind was not to be lost, and she told
Claire that if the marriage ever did take place she feared there would
be cause for regret. But her daughter's violent emotion made her realise
more forcibly than ever how deeply and firmly Claire was attached to the
Due de Bligny. So she assured her she had heard nothing fresh about him,
and hoped they might have news from the De Prefonts, who were to arrive
that day from Paris.
"Ah!" interrupted Mdlle. de Beaulieu, "here is Octave coming with
Monsieur Bachelin, the notary." And she went to meet them, looking the
living incarnation of youth in all its grace and vigour.
"You have had good sport, it seems," she said, waylaying her brother,
and feeling the weight of his game-bag.
"Oh, I'll be modest. This game was not killed by me," answered the
marquis; and explained that he had lost his way on the Pont Avesnes
land, and had been rather haughtily accosted by another sportsman, who,
however, as soon as he heard his name, became very polite, and forced
him to accept the contents of his own bag.
Maitre Bachelin immediately informed them that this must have been the
ironmaster himself, whom he had been to see that morning, and all
questions at issue about the boundaries of the estates were as good as
"For," said he, "my worthy friend accepts whatever conditions you may
lay down. The only point now is to sign the preliminaries, and with this
object Monsieur Derblay proposes to call at Beaulieu with his sister,
Mile. Suzanne; that is, if you are pleased to authorise him, Madame la
"Oh, certainly. Let him come by all means. I shall be glad to see this
Cyclops, who is blackening all the valley. But come, you have, no doubt,
brought me some fresh documents in reference to our English lawsuit."
"Yes, Madame la Marquise, yes," rejoined Bachelin, with an appealing
look. "We will talk business if you desire it."
Without asking any questions, Claire and the marquise gave their mother
a smile, and left the drawing-room.
"Well, Bachelin, have the English courts decided? Is the action lost?"
The notary lacked courage to reply in words, but his gesture was
sufficient. The marchioness bit her lips, and a tear glittered for a
"Ah!" said the notary. "It is a terrible blow for the house of
"Terrible indeed," said the marchioness; "for it implies my son's and my
daughter's ruin. Misfortunes seldom come singly," she resumed. "I
suppose you have some other bad news for me, Bachelin. Tell me
everything. You have news of the Duc de Bligny?"
"For the last six weeks M. le Duc de Bligny has been in Paris."
"He is aware of the misfortune that has overtaken us?"
"He knew of it one of the first, Madame la Marquise."
The marchioness was grieved more cruelly by this than by the money loss;
and the notary was thus emboldened to tell her that a gallant friend of
his, M. Derblay, whose father had been kind enough to call Maitre
Bachelin his friend, had fallen passionately in love with Mdlle. de
Beaulieu, and would be the happiest man in the world if he were even
allowed to hope. He advised the marchioness not to say anything at
present to her daughter. Maybe the duke would return to more honourable
feelings, and it would always be time enough for Mdlle. Claire to
"You are right; but, at all events, I must inform my son of this blow
that strikes him."
Octave was not surprised, but affectionately taking his mother's hand,
said, "My only concern was for my sister, whose dowry was at stake. You
must leave her the part of your fortune you were reserving for me. Don't
you think, mother, that our cousin De Bligny's silence has some
connection with the loss of this lawsuit?"
"You are mistaken, child," cried the marchioness eagerly. "For the
"Oh, fear nothing, mother," said Octave. "If Gaston hesitates now that
Mdlle. de Beaulieu no longer comes to him with a million in either hand,
we are not, I fancy, the sort of folk to seize him by the collar and
compel him to keep his promises."
"Well said, my son," cried the marchioness.
Bachelin took respectful leave of his noble clients, and hurried off to
Pont Avesnes as fast as his legs could carry him.
_II.--M. Derblay's Passion_
It was really M. Derblay whom the Marquis de Beaulieu had met in the
woods of Pont Avesnes. Letting Octave call after him as loud as he
liked, he hurried on through the woods. Chance had brought him nearer to
the woman he adored from afar, in a dream as it were, and his heart was
full of joy. He, Philippe, might approach her--he would be able to speak
to her. But at the thought of the Duc de Bligny, a feeling of deep
sadness overcame him, and his strength waned.
He recalled to mind all the exploits of his life, and asked himself if,
in virtue of the task he had accomplished, he were not really deserving
of happiness. After very brilliant studies, he had left the polytechnic
school with first honours, and had chosen the state mining service when
the Franco-German war had broken out. He was then two-and-twenty, and
had just obtained an appointment, but at once enlisted as a volunteer.
He served with distinction, and when at last he started for home he wore
on his breast the ribbon of the Legion of Honour. He found the house in
mourning. His mother had just died, and his little sister, Suzanne, just
seven years old, clung to him with convulsive tenderness. Within six
months his father also died, leaving his affairs in a most confused
Philippe renounced the brilliant career as an engineer already chalked
out before him, and that his sister might not be dowerless, became a
manufacturer. In seven years he had liquidated the paternal inheritance;
his property was really his own, and he felt capable of greatly
extending his enterprises. Popular in the district, he might come
forward at the elections to be returned as a deputy. Who knew? Hope
revived in Philippe Derblay's heart.
After a long talk with Maitre Bachelin, he, on considering the
situation, felt it was not unfavourable to his hopes. When he presented
himself at Beaulieu, the marchioness received him kindly, and, touching
Suzanne's fair hair with her lips, "There is peace signed on this
child's forehead," said she. "All your sins are forgiven you, neighbour.
And now come and let me introduce you to the family."
A burning flush suffused Philippe's face, and he bowed low before the
girl he adored.
"Why, he's a gentleman, dear!" whispered the baroness to Claire. "And
think, I pictured him with a leather apron! Why, he's decorated, and the
baron isn't! He's really very good-looking, and his eyes are superb!"
Claire looked at him almost sternly. The contrast was complete between
him and Bligny, far away. Philippe was relieved to find the Baron de
Prefont present; he had read a treatise of his, which delighted the
baron, who at once became very friendly, and insisted on visiting the
ironworks. Only Claire remained frigid and indifferent, and this on his
second visit, instead of disconcerting the ironmaster, only irritated
him; and the more she pretended to ignore him the more determined he
became to compel her to notice him. They were all on the terrace when
Monsieur and Mademoiselle Monlinet were announced.
"What can these people want?" said Madame de Beaulieu.
Monsieur Monlinet was a wealthy tradesman, who had just bought the
Chateau de la Varenne, near by. His daughter had been at school with
Claire and the Baroness de Prefont, and a bitter warfare was waged
incessantly between the juvenile aristocrats and the monied damsels
without handles to their names. All recollections of Athenais had faded
from Claire's mind, but hatred was still rife in Mlle. Monlinet's heart;
and when her father, in view of her marriage, bought La Varenne for her,
the chateau was a threatening fortress, whence she might pounce down on
Now she advanced towards Mlle, de Beaulieu when she entered the
drawing-room at Beaulieu and threw her arms round her neck, and boldly
exclaimed, "Ah, my beautiful Claire! How happy am I to see you!"
This young person had wonderfully improved, had become very pretty, and
now paralysed her adversaries by her audacity. She soon contrived to
leave the others, and when alone with Claire informed her she had come
to beg for advice respecting her marriage.
Mlle, de Beaulieu instantly divined what her relatives had been hiding
so carefully, and though she became very pale while Athenais looked at
her in fiendish delight, she determined to die rather than own her love
for Gaston, and exerted all her will to master herself. The noise of a
furious gallop resounded, and the Duc de Bligny dashed into the
courtyard on a horse white with foam. He would have entered the
drawing-room, but the baron hindered him, while Maitre Bachelin went to
ask if he might be received.
Claire wore a frightful expression of anger.
"Be kind enough"--she turned to Bachelin--"to ask the duke to go round
to the terrace and wait a moment. Don't bring him in till I make you a
sign from the window; but, in the meantime, send M. Derblay to me."
The marchioness and the baroness immediately improvided a
_mise-en-scene,_ so that when the duke entered, he perceived the
marchioness seated as usual in her easy chair, the baroness standing
near the chimney-piece, and Claire with her back to the light. He bowed
low before the noble woman who had been his second mother.
"Madame la Marquise," he said, "my dear aunt, you see my emotion--my
grief! Claire, I cannot leave this room till you have forgiven me!"
"But you owe me no explanation, duke," Claire said, with amazing
serenity; "and you need no forgiveness. I have been told you intend to
marry. You had the right to do so, it seems to me. Were you not as free
Thereupon, approaching the doorway, she made a sign to Philippe. Athenais
boldly followed the ironmaster.
"I must introduce you to one another, gentlemen. Monsieur le Duc de
Bligny--my cousin." Then, turning towards her faithless lover, and
defying him, as it were, with her proud gaze, she added, "Duke, Monsieur
Derblay, my future husband."
_III.--The Ironmaster's Disappointment_
Touched by the disinterested delicacy of M. Derblay, the marchioness
sanctioned her daughter's sudden determination without anxiety. In her
mother's presence, Claire showed every outward sign of happiness, but
her heart became bitter and her mind disturbed, and nought remained of
the noble, tender-hearted Claire.
Her only object now was to avenge herself on Athenais and humiliate the
duke; and the preparations for the wedding were carried on with
incredible speed. Left ignorant of the ironmaster's generous intentions,
she attributed his ready deference to all her wishes to his ambition to
become her husband, and even felt contempt for the readiness with which
he had enacted his part in the humiliating comedy played before the
duke, so thoroughly did she misjudge passionate, generous-hearted
Philippe, whose only dream was to restore her happiness.
Mlle, de Beaulieu arrived at two decisions which stupefied everybody.
She wished the wedding to take place at midnight, without the least
pomp, and only the members of the two families to be present. The
marchioness raised her hands to heaven, and the marquis asked his sister
if she were going mad, but Philippe declared these wishes seemed very
proper to him, and so they were carried out.
The marriage contract was signed on the eve of the great day. Claire
remained ignorant of the fact that she was ruined, and signed quite
unsuspectingly the act which endowed her with half M. Derblay's fortune.
The service was performed with the same simplicity as would have been
observed at a pauper's wedding. The dreary music troubled the duke, and
reminded him of his father's funeral, when his aunt and cousins wept
with him. He was now alone. Separated for ever from the dear ones who
had been so kind to him, he compared Philippe's conduct with his own,
and, turning his eyes to Claire, divined that she wept. A light broke on
him; he realised the ironmaster's true position, and decided he might
revenge himself very sweetly.
"She weeps," he said to himself. "She hates that man, and still loves
After the service he looked in vain for traces of tears. She was calm
and smiling, and spoke in perfect self-possession.
But when she was left alone, all on a sudden she found herself face to
face with the cruel reality. She held herself and Philippe in horror.
She must have been mad, and he had acted most unworthily in lending
himself to her plans. When he at last ventured to come to her, her harsh
expression astonished him. She managed to convey to him her wish to
remain alone, and he showed himself so proud and magnanimous, she asked
herself if it would be possible for her to live apart from him. How
could she for ever repel such a loyal, generous man without showing
herself unjust and cruel?
Her husband approached her. His lips touched her forehead. "Till
to-morrow," he said. But as he touched her he was seized with a mad,
passionate longing. He caught her in his arms in an irresistible
transport. "Oh, if you only knew how much I love you!"
Surprised at first, Claire turned livid.
"Leave me!" she cried in an angry voice.
Philippe drew back. "What!" he said, in a troubled voice. "You repel me
with horror! Do you hate me, then? And why? Ah, that man who forsook you
so cowardly--that man, do you still happen to love him?"
"Ah, have you not perceived that I have been mad?" cried Claire, ceasing
to restrain herself. "I have deserved your anger and contempt, no doubt.
Come, take everything belonging to me except myself! My fortune is
yours. I give it you. Let it be the ransom of my liberty."
Philippe was on the point of revealing the truth, which he had hitherto
hidden with such delicacy and care, but he cast the idea aside. "Do you
really take me for a man who sells himself?" he asked coldly. "I, who
came here but a little while ago, palpitating and trembling to tell my
love! Wasn't I more than mad, more than grotesque? For, after all, I
have your fortune. I'm paid. I have no right to complain."
Philippe burst into a bitter laugh, and falling on the sofa, hid his
face in his hands.
"Monsieur," said Claire haughtily, "let us finish this. Spare me useless
Philippe showed his face, down which tears were streaming. "I am not
railing, madame; I am weeping--mourning my happiness, for ever lost. But
this is enough weakness. You wished to purchase your liberty. I give it
you for nothing. You will realise one day that you have been even more
unjust than cruel, and you may then think of trying to undo what you
have done. But it will be useless. If I saw you on your knees begging my
forgiveness, I should not have a word of pity for you. Adieu, madame. We
shall live as you have willed it."
Claire simply bent her head in assent. Philippe gave her a last glance,
hoping for some softening; but she remained inert and frigid. He slowly
opened the door, and closed it, pausing again to listen if a cry or a
sigh would give him--wounded as he was--a pretext for returning and
offering to forgive. But all was silent.
"Proud creature," said he. "You refuse to bend, but I will break you."
The next morning Claire was found insensible, and for months she lay
ill, nursed by Philippe with silent devotion. From that time forth his
manner did not change. Gentle and most attentive to Claire in the
presence of strangers, he was cold, grave, and strictly polite when they
_IV.--The Lover's Reward_
In the first expansion of her return to life she had decided she would
be amiable, and frankly grant her friendship to Philippe, but saw, to
her mortification, she was disposed to grant more than was asked of her.
When he handed her "the income of her fortune, for six months," she
became in a moment the proud Claire of other times, and refused to take
it. Their eyes met; she relapsed, conquered. He it was she loved now.
She constantly looked at him, and did whatever she thought would please
him. She learnt with surprise that her husband was on the high road to
becoming one of the princes of industry--that great power of the
century. And when she learnt, accidentally from her brother, that she
herself had had no dowry, she said, "I must win him back, or I shall
The Duc and Duchess de Bligny arrived at La Varenne. La Varenne became
the scene of numerous fetes, but Claire excused herself from attending
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