The World's Greatest Books, Volume V.
Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton, Eds.
Part 2 out of 7
secret, above all, to the man thou wottest of?"
"I will keep thy secret, as I have his."
_II.--A Pearl of Great Price_
When her prison-door was thrown open, and she came forth into the
sunshine, Hester Prynne did not flee.
On the outskirts of the town was a small thatched cottage, and there, in
this lonesome dwelling, Hester established herself with her infant
child. Without a friend on earth who dared to show himself, she,
however, incurred no risk of want. She possessed an art that sufficed to
supply food for her thriving infant and herself--the art of needlework.
By degrees her handiwork became what would now be termed the fashion.
She bore on her breast, in the curiously embroidered letter, a specimen
of her skill, and her needlework was seen on the ruff of the governor;
military men wore it on their scarfs, and the minister on his bands.
As time went on, the public attitude to Hester changed. Human nature, to
its credit, loves more readily than it hates. Hester never battled with
the public, but submitted uncomplainingly to its worst usage, and so a
species of general regard had ultimately grown up in reference to her.
Hester had named the infant "Pearl," as being of great price, and little
Pearl grew up a wondrously lovely child, with a strange, lawless
character. At times she seemed rather an airy sprite than human, and
never did she seek to make acquaintance with other children, but was
always Hester's companion in her walks about the town.
At one time some of the leading inhabitants of the place sought to
deprive Hester of her child; and at the governor's mansion, whither
Hester had repaired, with some gloves which she had embroidered at his
order, the matter was discussed in the mother's presence by the governor
and his guests--Mr. John Wilson, Mr. Arthur Dimmesdale, and old Roger
Chillingworth, now established as a physician of great skill in the
"God gave me the child!" cried Hester. "He gave her in requital of all
things else which ye have taken from me. Ye shall not take her! I will
die first! Speak thou for me," she cried turning to the young clergyman,
Mr. Dimmesdale. "Thou wast my pastor. Thou knowest what is in my heart,
and what are a mother's rights, and how much the stronger they are when
that mother has but her child and the scarlet letter! I will not lose
the child! Look to it!"
"There is truth in what she says," began the minister. "God gave her the
child, and there is a quality of awful sacredness between this mother
and this child. It is good for this poor, sinful woman that she hath an
infant confided to her care--to be trained up by her to righteousness,
to remind her and to teach her that, if she bring the child to heaven,
the child also will bring its parent thither. Let us then leave them as
Providence hath seen fit to place them!"
"You speak, my friend, with a strange earnestness," said old Roger
Chillingworth, smiling at him.
"He hath adduced such arguments that we will even leave the matter as it
now stands," said the governor. "So long, at least, as there shall be no
further scandal in the woman."
The affair being so satisfactorily concluded, Hester Prynne, with Pearl,
_III.--The Leach and his Patient_
It was at the solemn request of the deacons and elders of the church in
Boston that the Rev. Mr. Dimmesdale went to Roger Chillingworth for
professional advice. The young minister's health was failing, his cheek
was paler and thinner, and his voice more tremulous with every
Roger Chillingworth scrutinised his patient carefully, and, accepted as
the medical adviser, determined to know the man before attempting to do
him good. He strove to go deep into his patient's bosom, delving among
his principles, and prying into his recollections.
After a time, at a hint from old Roger Chillingworth, the friends of Mr.
Dimmesdale effected an arrangement by which the two men were lodged in
the same house; so that every ebb and flow of the minister's life-tide
might pass under the watchful eye of his anxious physician.
Old Roger Chillingworth, throughout life, had been calm in temperament,
of kindly affections, and ever in the world a pure and upright man. He
had begun an investigation, as he imagined, with the severe integrity of
a judge, desirous only of truth. But, as he proceeded, a terrible
fascination seized the old man within its grip, and never set him free
again until he had done all its bidding. He now dug into the poor
clergyman's heart, like a miner searching for gold. "This man," the
physician would say to himself at times, "pure as they deem him, hath
inherited a strong animal nature from his father or his mother. Let us
dig a little farther in the direction of this vein."
Henceforth Roger Chillingworth became not a spectator only, but a chief
actor in the poor minister's inner world. And Mr. Dimmesdale grew to
look with unaccountable horror and hatred at the old physician.
And still the minister's fame and reputation for holiness increased,
even while he was tortured by bodily disease and the black trouble of
More than once Mr. Dimmesdale had gone into the pulpit, with a purpose
never to come down until he should have spoken the truth of his life.
And ever he put a cheat upon himself by confessing in general terms his
exceeding vileness and sinfulness. One night in early May, driven by
remorse, and still indulging in the mockery of repentance, the minister
sought the scaffold, where Hester Prynne had stood. The town was all
asleep. There was no peril of discovery. And yet his vigil was surprised
by Hester and her daughter, returning from a death-bed in the town, and
presently by Roger Chillingworth himself.
"Who is that man?" gasped Mr. Dimmesdale, in terror. "I shiver at him,
Hester. Canst thou do nothing for me? I have a nameless horror of the
Hester remembered her promise and was silent.
"Worthy sir," said the physician, when he had advanced to the foot of
the platform, "pious Master Dimmesdale! Can this be you? Come, good sir,
I pray you, let me lead you home! You should study less, or these
night-whimseys will grow upon you."
"I will go home with you," said Mr. Dimmesdale.
And now Hester Prynne resolved to do what might be in her power for the
victim whom she saw in her former husband's grip. An opportunity soon
occurred when she met the old physician stooping in quest of roots to
concoct his medicines.
"When we last spake together," said Hester, "you bound me to secrecy
touching our former relations. But now I must reveal the secret. He must
discern thee in thy true character. What may be the result I know not.
So far as concerns the overthrow or preservation of his fair fame and
his earthly state, and perchance his life, he is in thy hands. Nor do
I--whom the scarlet letter has disciplined to truth--nor do I perceive
such advantage in his living any longer a life of ghastly emptiness,
that I shall stoop to implore thy mercy. Do with him as thou wilt! There
is no good for him, no good for me, no good for thee! There is no good
for little Pearl!"
"Woman, I could well-nigh pity thee!" said Roger Chillingworth.
"Peradventure, hadst thou met earlier with a better love than mine, this
evil had not been. I pity thee, for the good that has been wasted in thy
"And I thee," answered Hester Prynne, "for the hatred that has
transformed a wise and just man to a fiend! Forgive, if not for his
sake, then doubly for thine own!"
"Peace, Hester, peace!" replied the old man with gloom. "It is not
granted me to pardon. It is our fate. Now go thy ways, and deal as thou
wilt with yonder man."
A week later Hester Prynne waited in the forest for the minister as he
returned from a visit to his Indian converts. He walked slowly, and, as
he walked, kept his hand over his heart.
"Arthur Dimmesdale! Arthur Dimmesdale!" she cried out.
"Who speaks?" answered the minister. "Hester! Hester Prynne! Is it
thou?" He fixed his eyes upon her and added, "Hester, hast thou found
"Hast thou?" she asked.
"None! Nothing but despair! What else could I look for, being what I am,
and leading such a life as mine?"
"You wrong yourself in this," said Hester gently. "Your sin is left
behind you, in the days long past. But Arthur, an enemy dwellest with
thee, under the same roof. That old man--the physician, whom they call
Roger Chillingworth--he was my husband! Forgive me. Let God punish!"
"I do forgive you, Hester," replied the minister. "May God forgive us
They sat down, hand clasped in hand, on the mossy trunk of a fallen
It was Hester who bade him hope, and spoke of seeking a new life beyond
the seas, in some rural village in Europe.
"Oh, Hester," cried Arthur Dimmesdale, "I lack the strength and courage
to venture out into the wide, strange world alone."
"Thou shalt not go alone!" she whispered. Before Mr. Dimmesdale reached
home he was conscious of a change of thought and feeling; Roger
Chillingworth observed the change, and knew that now in the minister's
regard he was no longer a trusted friend, but his bitterest enemy.
A New England holiday was at hand, the public celebration of the
election of a new governor, and the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale was to preach
the election sermon.
Hester had taken berths in a vessel that was about to sail; and then, on
the very day of holiday, the shipmaster told her that Roger
Chillingworth had also taken a berth in the same vessel.
Hester said nothing, but turned away, and waited in the crowded
market-place beside the pillory with Pearl, while the procession
re-formed after public worship. The street and the market-place
absolutely bubbled with applause of the minister, whose sermon had
surpassed all previous utterances.
At that moment Arthur Dimmesdale stood on the proudest eminence to which
a New England clergyman could be exalted. The minister, surrounded by
the leading men of the town, halted at the scaffold, and, turning
towards it, cried, "Hester, come hither! Come, my little Pearl!"
Leaning on Hester's shoulder, the minister, with the child's hand in
his, slowly ascended the scaffold steps.
"Is not this better," he murmured, "than what we dreamed of in the
forest? For, Hester, I am a dying man. So let me make haste to take my
shame upon me."
"I know not. I know not."
"Better? Yea; so we may both die, and little Pearl die with us."
He turned to the market-place and spoke with a voice that all could
"People of New England! At last, at last I stand where seven years since
I should have stood. Lo, the scarlet letter which Hester wears! Ye have
all shuddered at it! But there stood one in the midst of you, at whose
hand of sin and infamy ye have not shuddered! Stand any here that
question God's judgement on a sinner? Behold a dreadful witness of it!"
With a convulsive motion he tore away the ministerial gown from before
his breast. It was revealed! For an instant the multitude gazed with
horror on the ghastly miracle, while the minister stood with a flush of
triumph in his face. Then, down he sank upon the scaffold. Hester partly
raised him, and supported his head against her bosom. Old Roger
Chillingworth knelt beside him.
"Thou hast escaped me!" he repeated more than once.
"May God forgive thee!" said the minister. "Thou, too, hast deeply
He fixed his dying eyes on the woman and the child.
"My little Pearl," he said feebly, "thou wilt kiss me. Hester, farewell.
God knows, and He is merciful! His will be done! Farewell."
That final word came forth with the minister's expiring breath. The
multitude, silent till then, broke out in a strange, deep voice of awe
* * * * *
After many days there was more than one account of what had been
witnessed on the scaffold. Most of the spectators testified to having
seen, on the breast of the unhappy minister, a scarlet letter imprinted
in the flesh. Others denied that there was any mark whatever on his
breast, more than on a new-born infant's. According to these highly
respectable witnesses the minister's confession implied no part of the
guilt of Hester Prynne, but was to teach us that we were all sinners
alike. Old Roger Chillingworth died and bequeathed his property to
For years the mother and child lived in England, and then Pearl married,
and Hester returned alone to the little cottage by the forest.
* * * * *
The House of the Seven Gables
"The House of the Seven Gables," published in 1851, was
written by Nathaniel Hawthorne directly after "The Scarlet
Letter," and though not equal to that remarkable book, was
full worthy of its author's reputation, and brought no
disappointment to those who looked for great things from his
pen. It seemed to James Russell Lowell "the highest art" to
typify, "in the revived likeness of Judge Pyncheon to his
ancestor the colonel, that intimate relationship between the
present and the past in the way of ancestry and descent, which
historians so carefully overlook." Here, as in "The Scarlet
Letter," Hawthorne is unsparing in his analysis of the meaning
of early American Puritanism--its intolerance and its
_I.--The Old Pyncheon Family_
Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty
wooden house, with seven acutely-peaked gables, and a huge clustered
chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon Street; the house is the
old Pyncheon House; and an elm tree before the door is known as the
Pyncheon Street formerly bore the humbler appellation of Maule's Lane,
from the name of the original occupant of the soil, before whose cottage
door it was a cow-path. In the growth of the town, however, after some
thirty or forty years, the site covered by the rude hovel of Matthew
Maule (originally remote from the centre of the earlier village) had
become exceedingly desirable in the eyes of a prominent personage, who
asserted claims to the land on the strength of a grant from the
Legislature. Colonel Pyncheon, the claimant, was a man of iron energy of
purpose. Matthew Maule, though an obscure man, was stubborn in the
defense of what he considered his right. The dispute remained for years
undecided, and came to a close only with the death of old Matthew Maule,
who was executed for the crime of witchcraft.
It was remembered afterwards how loudly Colonel Pyncheon had joined in
the general cry to purge the land from witchcraft, and had sought
zealously the condemnation of Matthew Maule. At the moment of
execution--with the halter about his neck, and while Colonel Pyncheon
sat on horseback grimly gazing at the scene--Maule had addressed him
from the scaffold, and uttered a prophecy. "God," said the dying man,
pointing his finger at the countenance of his enemy, "God will give him
blood to drink!"
When it was understood that Colonel Pyncheon intended to erect a
spacious family mansion on the spot first covered by the log-built hut
of Matthew Maule the village gossips shook their heads, and hinted that
he was about to build his house over an unquiet grave.
But the Puritan soldier and magistrate was not a man to be turned aside
from his scheme by dread of the reputed wizzard's ghost. He dug his
cellar, and laid deep the foundations of his mansion; and the
head-carpenter of the House of the Seven Gables was no other than Thomas
Maule, the son of the dead man from whom the right to the soil had been
On the day the house was finished Colonel Pyncheon bade all the town to
be his guests, and Maude's Lane--or Pyncheon Street, as it was now
called--was thronged at the appointed hour as with a congregation on its
way to church.
But the founder of the stately mansion did not stand in his own hall to
welcome the eminent persons who presented themselves in honour of the
solemn festival, and the principal domestic had to explain that his
master still remained in his study, which he had entered an hour before.
The lieutenant-governor took the matter into his hands, and knocked
boldly at the door of the colonel's private apartment, and, getting no
answer, he tried the door, which yielded to his hand, and was flung wide
open by a sudden gust of wind.
The company thronged to the now open door, pressing the
lieutenant-governor into the room before them.
A large map and a portrait of Colonel Pyncheon were conspicuous on the
walls, and beneath the portrait sat the colonel himself in an elbow
chair, with a pen in his hand.
A little boy, the colonel's grandchild, now made his way among the
guests, and ran towards the seated figure; then, pausing halfway, he
began to shriek with terror. The company drew nearer, and perceived that
there was blood on the colonel's cuff and on his beard, and an unnatural
distortion in his fixed stare. It was too late to render assistance. The
iron-hearted Puritan, the relentless persecutor, the grasping and
strong-willed man, was dead! Dead in his new house!
Colonel Pyncheon's sudden and mysterious end made a vast deal of noise
in its day. There were many rumours, and a great dispute of doctors over
the dead body. But the coroner's jury sat upon the corpse, and, like
sensible men, returned an unassailable verdict of "Sudden Death."
The son and heir came into immediate enjoyment of a considerable estate,
but a claim to a large tract of country in Waldo County, Maine, which
the colonel, had he lived, would undoubtedly have made good, was lost by
his decease. Some connecting link had slipped out of the evidence, and
could not be found. Still, from generation to generation, the Pyncheons
cherished an absurd delusion of family importance on the strength of
this impalpable claim; and from father to son they clung with tenacity
to the ancestral house for the better part of two centuries.
The most noted event in the Pyncheon annals in the last fifty years had
been the violent death of the chief member of the family--an old and
wealthy bachelor. One of his nephews, Clifford, was found guilty of the
murder, and was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment. This had happened
thirty years ago, and there were now rumours that the long-buried
criminal was about to be released. Another nephew had become the heir,
and was now a judge in an inferior court. The only members of the family
known to be extant, besides the judge and the thirty years' prisoner,
were a sister of the latter, wretchedly poor, who lived in the House of
the Seven Gables by the will of the old bachelor, and the judge's single
surviving son, now travelling in Europe. The last and youngest Pyncheon
was a little country girl of seventeen, whose father--another of the
judge's cousins--was dead, and whose mother had taken another husband.
_II.--The House without Sunshine_
Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon was reduced to the business of setting up a
pretty shop, and that in the Pyncheon house where she had spent all her
days. After sixty years of idleness and seclusion, she must earn her
bread or starve, and to keep shop was the only resource open to her.
The first customer to cross the threshold was a young man to whom old
Hepzibah let certain remote rooms in the House of the Seven Gables. He
explained that he had looked in to offer his best wishes, and to see if
he could give any assistance.
Poor Hepzibah, when she heard the kindly tone of his voice, began to
"Ah, Mr. Holgrave," she cried, "I never can go through with it! Never,
never, never! I wish I were dead in the old family tomb with all my
forefathers--yes, and with my brother, who had far better find me there
than here! I am too old, too feeble, and too hopeless! If old Maule's
ghost, or a descendant of his, could see me behind the counter to-day,
he would call it the fulfilment of his worst wishes. But I thank you for
your kindness, Mr. Holgrave, and will do my utmost to be a good
On Holgrave asking for half a dozen biscuits, Hepzibah put them into his
hand, but rejected the compensation.
"Let me be a lady a moment longer," she said, with a manner of antique
stateliness. "A Pyncheon must not--at all events, under her forefathers'
roof--receive money for a morsel of bread from her only friend."
As the day went on the poor lady blundered hopelessly with her
customers, and committed the most unheard-of errors, so that the whole
proceeds of her painful traffic amounted, at the close, to half a dozen
That night the little country cousin, Phoebe Pyncheon, arrived at the
gloomy old house. Hepzibah knew that circumstances made it desirable for
the girl to establish herself in another home, but she was reluctant to
bid her stay.
"Phoebe," she said, on the following morning, "this house of mine is but
a melancholy place for a young person to be in. It lets in the wind and
rain, and the snow, too, in the winter time; but it never lets in the
sunshine! And as for myself, you see what I am--a dismal and lonesome
old woman, whose temper is none of the best, and whose spirits are as
bad as can be. I cannot make your life pleasant, Cousin Phoebe; neither
can I so much as give you bread to eat."
"You will find me a cheerful little body," answered Phoebe, smiling,
"and I mean to earn my bread. You know I have not been brought up a
Pyncheon. A girl learns many things in a New England village."
"Ah, Phoebe," said Hepzibah, sighing, "it is a wretched thought that you
should fling away your young days in a place like this. And, after all,
it is not even for me to say who shall be a guest or inhabitant of the
old Pyncheon house. Its master is coming."
"Do you mean Judge Pyncheon?" asked Phoebe, in surprise.
"Judge Pyncheon!" answered her cousin angrily. "He will hardly cross the
threshold while I live. You shall see the face of him I speak of."
She went in quest of a miniature, and returned and placed it in Phoebe's
"How do you like the face?" asked Hepzibah.
"It is handsome; it is very beautiful!" said Phoebe admiringly. "It is
as sweet a face as a man's can be or ought to be. Who is it, Cousin
"Did you never hear of Clifford Pyncheon?"
"Never. I thought there were no Pyncheons left, except yourself and our
Cousin Jaffrey, the judge. And yet I seem to have heard the name of
Clifford Pyncheon. Yes, from my father, or my mother. But hasn't he been
dead a long while?"
"Well, well, child, perhaps he has," said Hepzibah, with a sad, hollow
laugh; "but in old houses like this, you know, dead people are very apt
to come back again. And, Cousin Phoebe, if your courage does not fail
you, we will not part soon. You are welcome to such a home as I can
_III.--Miss Hepzibah's Guests_
The day after Phoebe's arrival there was a constant tremor in Hepzibah's
frame. With all her affection for a young cousin there was a recurring
"Bear with me, my dear child!" she cried; "bear with me, for I love you,
Phoebe; and truly my heart is full to the brim! By-and-by I shall be
kind, and only kind."
"What has happened?" asked Phoebe. "What is it that moves you so?"
"Hush! He is coming!" whispered Hepzibah. "Let him see you first,
Phoebe; for you are young and rosy, and cannot help letting a smile
break out. He always liked bright faces. And mine is old now, and the
tears are hardly dry on it. Draw the curtain a little, but let there be
a good deal of sunshine, too. He has had but little sunshine in his
life, poor Clifford; and, oh, what a black shadow! Poor--poor Clifford!"
There was a step in the passage-way, above stairs. It seemed to Phoebe
the same that she had heard in the night, as in a dream. Very slowly the
steps came downstairs, and paused for a long time at the door.
Hepzibah, unable to endure the suspense, rushed forward, threw open the
door, and led in the stranger by the hand. At the first glance Phoebe
saw an elderly man, in an old-fashioned dressing gown, with grey hair,
almost white, of an unusual length. The expression of his countenance
seemed to waver, glimmer, and nearly to die away, and feebly to recover
"Dear Clifford," said Hepzibah, "this is our Cousin Phoebe, Arthur's
only child, you know. She has come from the country to stay with us a
while, for our old house has grown to be very lonely now."
"Phoebe? Arthur's child?" repeated the guest. "Ah, I forget! No matter.
She is very welcome." He seated himself in the place assigned him, and
looked strangely around. His eyes met Hepzibah's, and he seemed
bewildered and disgusted. "Is this you, Hepzibah?" he murmured sadly.
"How changed! how changed!"
"There is nothing but love here, Clifford," Hepzibah said
softly--"nothing but love. You are at home."
The guest responded to her tone by a smile, which but half lit up his
face. It was followed by a coarser expression, and he ate his food with
fierce voracity and asked for "more--more!"
That day Phoebe attended to the shop, and the second person to enter it
was a gentleman of portly figure and high respectability.
"I was not aware that Miss Hepzibah Pyncheon had commenced business
under such favourable auspices," he said, in a deep voice, "You are her
assistant, I suppose?"
"I certainly am," answered Phoebe. "I am a cousin of Miss Hepzibah, on a
visit to her."
"Her cousin, and from the country?" said the gentleman, bowing and
smiling. "In that case we must be better acquainted, for you are my own
little kinswoman likewise. Let me see, you must be Phoebe, the only
child of my dear Cousin Arthur. I am your kinsman, my dear. Surely you
must have heard of Judge Pyncheon?"
Phoebe curtsied, and the judge bent forward to bestow a kiss on his
young relative. But Phoebe drew back; there was something repulsive to
her in the judge's demonstration, and on raising her eyes she was
startled by the change in Judge Pyncheon's face. It had become cold,
hard, and immitigable.
"Dear me! What is to be done now?" thought the country girl to herself.
"He looks as if there were nothing softer in him than a rock, nor milder
than the east wind."
Then all at once it struck Phoebe that this very Judge Pyncheon was the
original of a miniature which Mr. Holgrave--who took portraits, and
whose acquaintance she had made within a few hours of her arrival--had
shown her yesterday. There was the same hard, stern, relentless look on
the face. In reality, the miniature was copied from an old portrait of
Colonel Pyncheon which hung within the house. Was it that the expression
had been transmitted down as a precious heirloom, from that Puritan
ancestor, in whose picture both the expression, and, to a singular
degree, the features, of the modern judge were shown as by a kind of
But as it happened, scarcely had Phoebe's eyes rested again on the
judge's countenance than all its ugly sternness vanished, and she found
herself almost overpowered by the warm benevolence of his look. But the
fantasy would not quit her that the original Puritan, of whom she had
heard so many sombre traditions, had now stepped into the shop.
"You seem to be a little nervous this morning," said the judge. "Has
anything happened to disturb you--anything remarkable in Cousin
Hepzibah's family--an arrival, eh? I thought so! To be an inmate with
such a guest may well startle an innocent young girl!"
"You quite puzzle me, sir!" replied Phoebe. "There is no frightful guest
in the house, but only a poor, gentle, child-like man, whom I believe to
be Cousin Hepzibah's brother. I am afraid that he is not quite in his
sound senses; but so mild he seems to be that a mother might trust her
baby with him. He startle me? Oh, no, indeed!"
"I rejoice to hear so favourable and so ingenious an account of my
Cousin Clifford," said the benevolent judge. "It is possible that you
have never heard of Clifford Pyncheon, and know nothing of his history.
But is Clifford in the parlour? I will just step in and see him. There
is no need to announce me. I know the house, and know my Cousin
Hepzibah, and her brother Clifford likewise. Ah, there is Hepzibah
Such was the case. The vibrations of the judge's voice had reached the
old gentlewoman in the parlour, where Clifford sat slumbering in his
"He cannot see you," said Hepzibah, with quivering voice. "He cannot see
"A visitor--do you call me so?" cried the judge. "Then let me be
Clifford's host, and your own likewise. Come at once to my house. I have
often invited you before. Come, and we will labour together to make
"Clifford has a home here," she answered.
"Woman," broke out the judge, "what is the meaning of all this? Have you
other resources? Take care, Hepzibah, take care! Clifford is on the
brink of as black a ruin as ever befel him yet!"
From within the parlour sounded a tremulous, wailing voice, indicating
"Hepzibah!" cried the voice. "Entreat him not to come in. Go down on
your knees to him. Oh, let him have mercy on me! Mercy!"
The judge withdrew, and Hepzibah, deathly white, staggered towards
"That man has been the horror of my life," she murmured. "Shall I never
have courage enough to tell him what he is?"
_IV.--The Spell is Broken_
The shop thrived under Phoebe's management, and the acquaintance with
Mr. Holgrave ripened into friendship.
Then, after some weeks, Phoebe went away on a temporary visit to her
mother, and the old house, which had been brightened by her presence,
was once more dark and gloomy.
It was during this absence of Phoebe's that Judge Pyncheon once more
called and demanded to see Clifford.
"You cannot see him," answered Hepzibah. "Clifford has kept his bed
"What! Clifford ill!" said the judge, starting. "Then I must, and will
The judge explained the reason for his urgency. He believed that
Clifford could give the clue to the dead uncle's wealth, of which not
more than a half had been mentioned in his will. If Clifford refused to
reveal where the missing documents were placed, the judge declared he
would have him confined in a public asylum as a lunatic, for there were
many witnesses of Clifford's simple childlike ways.
"You are stronger than I," said Hepzibah, "and you have no pity in your
strength. Clifford is not now insane; but the interview which you insist
upon may go far to make him so. Nevertheless, I will call Clifford!"
Hepzibah went in search of her brother, and Judge Pyncheon flung himself
down in an old chair in the parlour. He took his watch from his pocket
and held it in his hand. But Clifford was not in his room, nor could
Hepzibah find him. She returned to the parlour, calling out to the judge
as she came, to rise and help find Clifford.
But the judge never moved, and Clifford appeared at the door, pointing
his finger at the judge, and laughing with strange excitement.
"Hepzibah," he said, "we can dance now! We can sing, laugh, play, do
what we will! The weight is gone, Hepzibah--gone off this weary old
world, and we may be as lighthearted as little Phoebe herself! What an
absurd figure the old fellow cuts now, just when he fancied he had me
completely under his thumb!"
Then the brother and sister departed hastily from the house, and left
Judge Pyncheon sitting in the old house of his forefathers.
Phoebe and Holgrave were in the house together when the brother and
sister returned, and Holgrave had told her of the judge's sudden death.
Then, in that hour so full of doubt and awe, the one miracle was
wrought, without which every human existence is a blank, and the bliss
which makes all things true, beautiful, and holy shone around this youth
and maiden. They were conscious of nothing sad or old.
Presently the voices of Clifford and Hepzibah were heard at the door,
and when they entered Clifford appeared the stronger of the two.
"It is our own little Phoebe! Ah! And Holgrave with her!" he exclaimed.
"I thought of you both as we came down the street. And so the flower of
Eden has bloomed even in this old, darksome house to-day."
A week after the judge's death news came of the death of his son, and so
Hepzibah became rich, and so did Clifford, and so did Phoebe, and,
through her, Holgrave.
It was far too late for the formal vindication of Clifford's character
to be worth the trouble and anguish involved. For the truth was that the
uncle had died by a sudden stroke, and the judge, knowing this, had let
suspicion and condemnation fall on Clifford, only because he had himself
been busy among the dead man's papers, destroying a later will made out
in Clifford's favour, and because it was found the papers had been
disturbed, to avert suspicion from the real offender he had let the
blame fall on his cousin.
Clifford was content with the love of his sister and Phoebe and
Holgrave. The good opinion of society was not worth publicly reclaiming.
It was Holgrave who discovered the missing document the judge had set
his heart on obtaining.
"And now, my dearest Phoebe," said Holgrave, "how will it please you to
assume the name of Maule? In this long drama of wrong and retribution I
represent the old wizzard, and am probably as much of a wizzard as ever
my ancestor was."
Then, with Hepzibah and Clifford, Phoebe and Holgrave left the old house
* * * * *
The Garden of Allah
The son of a clergyman, Mr. Robert Smythe Hichens, born at
Speldhurst, Kent, England, on November 14, 1864, was
originally intended to follow a musical career, but after some
years abandoned music for journalism. His first long novel was
written and published at the age of seventeen. It attracted
little or no attention, and has long been out of print. A trip
to Egypt in 1893 resulted in a burning desire to become a
novelist, and his brilliant satire, "The Green Carnation,"
followed. The book was written in a month, and at once
established its author's name and fame. "The Garden of Allah,"
of all Mr. Hichens' works the most typical of his genius,
appeared in 1905. "The intellectual grip of the story," says
one critic, "cannot be denied, for it completely conquers the
critical sense, and the ideas of the author insinuate
themselves, as it were, among one's inmost thoughts." Yet Mr.
Hichens' stories are popular, not only with literary
connoisseurs, but also with the general public, inasmuch as
they owe their fascination not so much to an extreme
refinement of art as to their freshness of imagination and
dramatic intensity. This epitome of the "Garden of Allah" has
been prepared by Mr. Hichens himself.
_I.--The Home of Peace_
On an autumn evening, Domini Enfilden leaned on the parapet of a
verandah of the Hotel du Desert at Beni-Mora, in Southern Algeria,
gazing towards the great Sahara, which was lit up by the glory of
sunset. The bell of the Catholic Church chimed. She heard the throbbing
of native drums in the village near by. Tired with her long journey from
England, she watched and listened while the twilight crept among the
palms, and the sandy alleys grew dark.
Thirty-two, an orphan, unmarried, strong, fearless, ardent, but a deeply
religious woman and a Catholic, Domini had passed through much mental
agony. Her mother, Lady Rens, a member of one of England's oldest
Catholic families, but half Hungarian on the mother's side, had run away
when Domini was nineteen with a Hungarian musician, leaving her only
child with her despairing and abandoned husband. Lord Rens had become a
Catholic out of love for his wife. When he was deserted by her, he
furiously renounced his faith, and eventually died blaspheming. In vain
through many years he had tried to detach his daughter from the religion
of her guilty mother, now long since dead. Domini had known how to
resist; but the cruel contest had shaken her body and soul.
Now free, alone, she had left England to begin a new life far away from
the scene of her misery. Vaguely she had thought of the great desert,
called by the Arabs "The Garden of Allah," as the home of peace. She had
travelled there to find peace. That day, at the gate of the desert, she
had met a traveller, Doris Androvsky, a man of about thirty-six,
powerfully built, tanned by the sun. When she was about to get into the
train at the station of El Akbara this man had rudely sprung in before
her. The train had begun to move, and Domini had sprung into it almost
at the risk of her life. Androvsky had not offered to help her, had not
said a word of apology. His _gaucherie_ had almost revolted Domini.
Nevertheless, something powerful, mournful, passionate, and sincere in
his personality had affected her, roused her interest.
Silently they had come into the desert together, strangers, almost at
enmity the one with the other. They were now staying in the same hotel
in this oasis in the desert of Sahara.
In coming to the hotel, Domini had seen a curious incident. Androvsky,
with a guide who carried his bag, was walking before her down the long
public garden, when in the distance there appeared the black figure of
the priest of Beni-Mora advancing slowly towards them. When Androvsky
saw the priest he had stopped short, hesitated, then, despite the
protests of his guide, had abruptly turned down a side path and hurried
away. He had fled from the man of prayer.
Now, as the twilight fell, Domini thought of this incident, and when she
heard Androvsky's heavy tread upon the stairs of the verandah, the sharp
closing of the French window of his room, she was filled with a vague
Next day she visited a wonderful garden on the edge of the desert
belonging to a Count Anteoni, a recluse who loved the Arabs and spent
much of his time among them. There, standing with the count by the
garden wall at the hour of the Mohammedan's prayer, she had seen
Androvsky again. He was in the desert with a Nomad. The cry of the
_muezzin_ went up to the brazen sky. The Nomad fell on his knees and
prayed. Androvsky started, gazed, shrank back, then turned and strode
away like one horrified by some grievous vision. Domini said to the
count, "I have just seen a man flee from prayer; it was horrible."
He answered her, very gravely, "The man who is afraid of prayer is
unwise to set foot beyond the palm-trees, for the desert is the garden
That evening Domini and Androvsky spoke to each other for the first
time, on the top of a tower where they had come to see the sunset.
Domini spoke first, moved by a strange look of loneliness, of
desolation, in Androvsky's eyes. He replied in a low voice, and asked
her pardon for his rude conduct at the station. Then, abruptly, he
descended the tower and disappeared.
At night she visited a dancing house to see the strange dances of the
desert. She found Androvsky there, watching the painted women as if half
fascinated, half horrified by them. Irena, a girl who had been banished
from Beni-Mora for threatening to murder an Arab of whom she was
jealous, but had been permitted to return, discovering him among the
audience, stabbed him. There was a violent scene, during which
Androvsky, forcing his way through the desert men, protected Domini from
the crush. The crowd rushed out, leaving them alone together. Androvsky
insisted on escorting Domini back to the hotel.
_II.--Defying Allah in Allah's Garden_
The acquaintance thus unconventionally began between them continued, and
ripened into a strange friendship. Domini was a magnificent horsewoman.
Finding that Androvsky did not know how to ride, she gave him lessons.
Together they galloped over the desert sands; together they visited the
Saharan villages, hidden in the groves of date palms behind the brown
earthen walls of the oasis; together watched the burning sunsets of
Africa; at meal-times they met in the hotel; in the evenings they sat
upon the verandah, and heard the Zouaves singing in chorus, the distant
murmur of the tom-toms.
Domini became profoundly interested in Androvsky, but her interest was
complicated by wonder at his peculiarities, at his uncouth manners, his
strange silences, his ignorance of life and of social matters, his
distrust of others, his desire to keep aloof from all human beings,
except herself. The good priest, now her intimate friend, Count Anteoni,
also her friend and respectful admirer, were ill at ease with him. He
had tried to avoid them, but Domini, anxious to bring some pleasure into
his life, had introduced him to them at a luncheon given by the count in
his garden, despite Androvsky's dogged assertion that he disliked
priests, and did not care for social intercourse.
At this lunch Androvsky had been brusque, on the defensive, almost
actively disagreeable. And when, after the priest's departure, he left
Domini alone with Count Anteoni, she felt almost relieved. Count Anteoni
summoned a sand-diviner to read Domini's fate in the sand. This man--a
thin, fanatical Eastern, with piercing and cruel eyes--spread out his
sand brought from the tomb of a Mohammedan saint, and prophesied. He
declared that he saw a great sand-storm, and in it a train of camels
waiting by a church. From the church came the sound of music, nearly
drowned by the roar of the wind. In the church the real life of Domini
was beginning. The music ceased; darkness fell. Then the diviner saw
Domini, with a companion, mounted on one of the camels, and disappearing
into the storm towards the south. The face of her companion was hidden.
Finally he saw Domini far out in the desert among great dunes of white
sand. In her heart there was joy. It was as if all the date palms bore
their fruit together, and in all the desert places water-springs burst
forth. But presently a figure came towards her, walking heavily; and all
the dates shrivelled upon the palms, and all the springs dried up.
Sorrow and terror were there beside her.
At this point in the diviner's prophecy Domini stopped him. Afterwards
she explained to Anteoni that she felt as if another's fate was being
read in it as well as her own, as if to listen any more might be to
intrude upon another's secret.
Upon the following day Anteoni left Beni-Mora to make a long desert
journey to a sacred city called Amara. Domini went to his garden at dawn
to see him off. Before departing he warned Domini to beware of
Androvsky. She asked him why. He answered that Androvsky seemed to him a
man who was at odds with life, with himself, with his Creator, a man who
was defying Allah in Allah's garden. When Anteoni had gone, Domini, in
some perplexity of spirit, and moved by a longing for sympathy and help,
visited the priest in his house near the church. The priest, indirectly,
also warned her against Androvsky, and a little later frankly, told her
that he felt an invincible dislike to him.
"I have no reason to give," said the priest. "My instinct is my reason.
I feel it my duty to say that I advise you most earnestly to break off
your acquaintance with Monsieur Androvsky."
Domini said, "It is strange; ever since I have been here I have felt as
if everything that has happened had been arranged beforehand, as if it
had to happen, and I feel that, too, about the future."
"Count Anteoni's fatalism!" exclaimed the priest. "It is the guiding
spirit of this land. And you, too, are going to be led by it. Take care!
You have come to a land of fire, and I think you are made of fire."
The warnings of Anteoni and the priest made an impression on Domini. She
was conscious of how the outside world would be likely to regard her
acquaintance with Androvsky. Suddenly she saw Androvsky as some strange
and ghastly figure of legend; as the wandering Jew met by a traveller at
cross roads, and distinguished for an instant by an oblique flash of
lightning; as the shrouded Arab of the Eastern tale, who announces
coming disaster to the wanderers in the desert by beating a death-roll
on a drum amid the sands.
And she felt upon her the heavy hand of some strange, perhaps terrible,
_III.--The Eternal Song of Love_
That same night, accompanied by Batouch, Domini rode out into the desert
to see the rising of the moon, and there met Androvsky. He had followed
them on horseback. Domini dismissed Batouch at Androvsky's reiterated
request. When they were alone in the sands, Androvsky told Domini that
he had needed to be with her as he had something to tell her. On the
morrow he was going away from Beni-Mora.
His face, while he said this, was turned from Domini, and his voice
sounded as if it spoke to some one at a distance, some one who can hear
as man cannot hear.
Domini said little. But at the sound of his words it seemed to her as if
all outside things she had ever known had foundered; as if with them had
foundered, too, all the bodily powers that were of the essence of her
life. And the desert, which she had so loved, was no longer to her the
desert, sand with a soul in it, blue distances full of a music of
summons, but only a barren waste of dried-up matter, featureless,
desolate, ghastly with the bones of things that had died.
She rode back with Androvsky to Beni-Mora in a silence like that of
But this parting, decreed by the man, was not to be. In the desert these
two human beings had grown to love each other, with a love that had
become a burning passion. And next day when, in the garden of Count
Anteoni, Androvsky came to say farewell to Domini, his love broke all
barriers. He sank on the sand, letting his hands slip down till they
clasped Domini's knees.
"I love you!" he said. "I love you. But don't listen to me. You mustn't
hear it. You mustn't. But I must say it. I can't go till I say it. I
love you! I love you!"
"I am listening," she said. "I must hear it."
Androvsky rose up, put his hands behind Domini, held her, set his lips
on hers, pressing his whole body against hers.
"Hear it!" he said, muttering against her lips. "Hear it! I love you! I
In the recesses of the garden Larbi, that idle gardener, played upon his
little flute his eternal song of love, and from the desert, beyond the
white wall, there rose an Arab's voice singing a song of the Sahara, "No
one but God and I knows what is in my heart!"
_IV.--A Nomad's Honeymoon_
As the sand-diviner had foretold, Domini and Androvsky were married in
the church of Beni-Mora, and by the priest who had warned Domini to have
nothing more to do with Androvsky. A terrible sand-storm was raging, and
the desert was blotted out. Nevertheless, when the ceremony was over,
the bride and bridegroom mounted upon a camel, and with their
attendants, set out for their desert honeymoon. Standing before the door
of the church, the good priest watched them go, with fear in his heart,
and that night in his humble home, kneeling before his crucifix, he
prayed long and earnestly for all wanderers in the desert.
Isolated from all who knew them, free from all social ties, nomads, as
are the Bedouins who make their dwelling for ever amid the vast and
burning sands, Domini and Androvsky entered upon their married life. And
at first one of them was happy as few are ever happy. Domini loved
completely, trusted completely, lived with a fulness, a completeness she
had never known till now. That Androvsky almost worshipped her, she
knew. His conduct to her was perfect. And yet there were times when
Domini felt as if a shadow rose between them, as if, even with her, in
some secret place of his soul Androvsky was ill at ease, as if sometimes
he suffered, and dared not tell his suffering.
One day, in their wanderings, they came to a desolate place called
Mogar, and camped on a sandhill looking over a vast stretch of dunes.
Towards evening Androvsky descended into the plain to shoot gazelle,
leaving Domini alone. While he was away a French officer, with two men
of the Zouaves, rode slowly up. They were nearly starving and terribly
exhausted, having been lost in a sand-storm for three days and nights.
Pitying their sufferings, Domini insisted on entertaining them. The men
must sup with the Arabs, the officer must dine with herself and
Androvsky. The officer accepted with gratitude, and went off to make his
toilet. When Androvsky returned, Domini told him of the officer's
arrival, and when he saw the three places laid for dinner in the tent,
he seemed profoundly disturbed. He asked the officer's name. Domini told
"Trevignac!" he exclaimed.
Then, hearing the soldiers coming, he turned away; abruptly and
disappeared into the bedroom tent.
Trevignac came up, and in a few minutes Androvsky reappeared. The two
men gazed at each other for an instant. Then Domini introduced them, and
they all sat down to dinner. Conversation was uneasy. Androvsky was
evidently ill at ease; Trevignac was distrait at moments, strangely
watchful of his host at other moments. Dinner over, Domini left the two
men together to smoke, and went out on to the sand. She met an Arab
carrying coffee and a liqueur to the tent.
"What's that, Ouardi?" she asked, touching the bottle.
He told her it was an African liqueur.
"Take it in," she said.
And she strolled away to the bonfire to listen to the fantasia the Arabs
were making in honour of the soldiers.
When she returned to the tent, she found her husband alone in it,
standing up, with a quantity of fragments of glass lying at his feet.
Near him was the coffee, untasted. Trevignac was gone. She asked for an
explanation. He gave her none. The fragments of glass were all that
remained of the bottle which had contained the liqueur.
At dawn Domini met Trevignac riding away with his soldiers. He saluted
her, bidding his men ride on. As he gazed at her, she seemed to see
horror in his eyes. Twice he tried to speak, but apparently could not
bring himself to do so. He looked towards the tent where Androvsky was
sleeping, then at Domini; then, as if moved by an irresistible impulse,
he leaned from his saddle, made over Domini the sign of the cross, and
rode away into the desert.
_V.--I Have Insulted God_
From that day Androvsky's strange misery of the soul, strange horror of
the world, increased. Domini felt that he was secretly tormented. She
tried to make him happier; she even told him that she believed he often
felt far away from God, and that she prayed each day for him.
"Boris," she said, "if it's that, don't be too sad. It may all come
right in the desert. For the desert is the garden of Allah."
He made her no answer.
At last in their journeying they came to the sacred city of Amara, and
camped in the white sands beyond it.
This was the place described by the sand-diviner, and here Domini knew
that her love was to be crowned, that she would become a mother. She
hesitated to tell her husband, for in this place his misery and fear of
men seemed mounting to a climax. Nevertheless, as if in a frantic
attempt to get the better of his mental torture, he had gone off, saying
he wanted to see the city.
While he was away, Domini was visited first by Count Anteoni, who told
her that he had joined the Mohammedan religion, and was at last happy
and at peace; secondly, when night had fallen, by the priest of Amara.
This man was talkative and genial, fond of the good things of life.
Domini offered him a cigar. He accepted it. An Arab brought coffee, and
the same African liqueur which had been taken to the tent on the night
when Trevignac had dined with Domini and Androvsky.
When the priest was about to drink some of it, he suddenly paused, and
put the glass down. Domini leant forward.
"Louarine," she said, reading the name on the bottle. "Won't you have
"The fact is, madame," began the priest, with hesitation, "this liqueur
comes from the Trappist monastery of El Largani."
"It was made by a monk and priest to whom the secret of its manufacture
belonged. At his death he was to confide the secret to another whom he
had chosen. But the monks of El Largani will never earn another franc by
Louarine when what they have in stock is exhausted."
"The monk died suddenly?"
"Madame, he ran away from the monastery after being there in the eternal
silence for twenty years, after taking the final vows."
"How horrible!" said Domini. "That man must be in hell now, in the hell
a man can make for himself by his own act."
As she spoke, Androvsky appeared by the tent door. He was looking
frightfully ill, and like a desperate man. When the priest had gone,
Domini told Androvsky about the liqueur and the disappearance of the
Trappist monk. As she spoke, his face grew more ghastly. He stood rigid,
as if with horror.
"Poor, poor man!" she said, as she finished her story.
"You--you pity that man then?" murmured Androvsky.
"Yes," she replied. "I was thinking of the agony he must be enduring if
he is still alive."
Androvsky seemed painfully moved, and almost as if he were on the verge
of some passionate outburst of emotion; and something like a deep voice
far down in the loving heart of Domini said to her, "If you really love,
be fearless. Attack the sorrow which stands like a figure of death
between you and your husband. Drive it away. You have a weapon--faith--
At last she summoned all her courage, all her faith, and she forced from
Androvsky the confession of what it was which held him in perpetual
misery, even in freedom, even with her, whom he loved beyond and above
all human beings.
"Domini," he said, "you want to know what it is that makes me unhappy
even in our love--desperately unhappy. It is this. I believe in God, I
love God, I have insulted God. I have tried to forget God, to deny Him,
to put human love higher than love for Him. But always I am haunted by
the thought of God, and that thought makes me despair. Once, when I was
young, I gave myself to God solemnly. I have broken the vows I made! I
gave myself to God as a monk."
"You are the Trappist!" she whispered. "You are the monk from the
monastery of El Largani who disappeared after twenty years?"
"Yes," he said, "I am he."
Standing there in the sands, while the world was wrapped in sleep,
Androvsky told Domini the whole story of his life in the monastery, of
his innocent happiness there, and of the events which woke up within him
the mad longing to see life and the world, and to know the love of
woman. He told her of his secret departure by night from the monastery,
of his journey to the desert in search of complete and savage liberty.
He told her how he had fought against his growing love for her, how he
had tried to leave her; how, at the last moment in the garden by night,
his passion for her had conquered him and driven him to her feet. He
told her how the officer, Trevignac, had known him long ago in the
monastery, and had recognised him when the Arab brought in the liqueur
which he had made. He kept nothing from her.
"That last day in the garden," he said finally, "I thought I had
conquered myself, and it was in that moment that I fell for ever. When I
knew you loved me, I could fight no more. You have seen me, you have
lived with me, you have divined my misery. But don't think, Domini, that
it ever came from you. It was the consciousness of my lie to you, my lie
to God, that--that--I can't tell you--I can't tell you--you know."
He looked into her face, then turned to go away into the desert.
"I'll go! I'll go!" he muttered.
Then Domini spoke.
"Boris!" she said.
"Boris, now at last you can pray."
She went into the tent, and left him alone. He knew that in the tent she
was praying for him. He stood, trying to listen to her prayer, then,
with an uncertain hand, he felt in his breast. He drew out a wooden
cross, given to him by his mother when he entered the monastery. He bent
down his head, touched it with his lips, and fell upon his knees in the
From that night, Domini realised that her duty was plain before her.
Androvsky was still at heart a monk, and she was a fervently religious
woman. She put God above herself, above her poor, desperate, human love,
above Androvsky and his passionate love for her. She put the things of
eternity before the things of time. She never told Androvsky of the
child that was coming.
After he had made his confession to the priest of Beni-Mora who had
married them, she led him to the monastery door, and there they parted
for ever on earth, to be reunited, as both believed, in heaven.
And now, in the garden of Count Anteoni, which has passed into other
hands, a little boy may often be seen playing.
Sometimes, when twilight is falling over the Sahara, his mother calls
him to her, to the white wall from which she looks out over the desert.
"Listen, Boris," she whispers.
The little boy leans his face against her breast, and obeys.
An Arab is passing below on the desert track, singing to himself, as he
goes towards his home in the oasis, "No one but God and I knows what is
in my heart."
The mother whispers the words to herself. The cool wind of the night
blows over the vast spaces of the Sahara and touches her cheek,
reminding her of her glorious days of liberty, of the passion that came
to her soul like fire in the desert.
But she does not rebel, for always, when night falls, she sees the form
of a man praying, one who once fled from prayer in the desert; she sees
a wanderer who at last has reached his home.
* * * * *
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Oliver Wendell Holmes, essayist, poet, scientist, and one of
the most lovable men who have adorned the literature of the
English tongue, was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, Aug. 29,
1809, of a New England family with a record in which he took
great pride. After studying medicine at Harvard, he went to
Europe on a prolonged tour, and, returning, took his M.D., and
became a popular professor of anatomy. He had some repute as a
graceful poet in his student days. "Elsie Venner," at first
called "The Professor's Story," was published in 1861, and was
the first sustained work of fiction that came from the pen of
Oliver Wendell Holmes. Illumined by admirable pictures of life
and character in a typical New England town, the book itself
is a remarkable study of heredity--a study only relieved by
the author's kindly humour. The unfortunate child, doomed
before her birth to suffer from the fatal bite of a
rattlesnake--an incident unduly extravagant in some critics'
opinions--and only throwing off the evil influence on her
death-bed, is one of the most pathetic figures in all American
literature. It was not until seven years later that "Elsie
Venner" was followed by another novel, "The Guardian Angel," a
story which is worked out on the same lines of thought as the
former. Holmes died on October 7, 1894.
_I.--The Eyes of Elsie Venner_
Mr. Bernard Langdon, duly certificated, had accepted the invitation from
the Board of Trustees of the Apollinean Female Institute, a school for
the education of young ladies, situated in the nourishing town of
Rockland is at the foot of a mountain, and a horrible feature of this
mountain was the region known as Rattlesnake Ledge, which was still
tenanted by those horrible reptiles in spite of many a foray by the
That the brood was not extirpated there was a melancholy proof in the
year 184--, when a young married woman, detained at home by the state of
her health, was bitten in the entry of her own house by a rattlesnake
which had found its way down from the mountain. Owing to the almost
instant employment of powerful remedies, the bite did not prove
immediately fatal, but she died within a few months of the time when she
It was on a fine morning that Mr. Langdon made his appearance, as master
for the English branches, in the great school-room of the Apollinean
Institute. The principal, Mr. Silas Peckham, carried him to the desk of
the young lady assistant, Miss Darley by name, and introduced him to
her. The young lady assistant had to point out to the new master the
whole routine of the classes, and Mr. Langdon had a great many questions
to ask relating to his new duties. The truth is, the general effect of
the school-room, with its scores of young girls, was enough to confuse a
young man like Mr. Langdon, and he may be pardoned for asking Miss
Darley questions about his scholars as well as about their lessons.
He asked who one or two girls were, and being answered, went on, "And
who and what is that sitting a little apart there--that strange,
The lady teacher's face changed; one would have said she was frightened
or troubled. The girl did not look up; she was winding a gold chain
about her wrist, and then uncoiling it as if in a kind of reverie. Miss
Darley drew close to the master, and placed her hand so as to hide her
"Don't look at her as if we were talking about her," she whispered
softly, "that is Elsie Venner."
A girl of about seventeen, tall, slender, was Elsie Venner. Black,
piercing eyes, black hair, twisted in heavy braids, a face that one
could not help looking at for its beauty, yet that one wanted to look
away from, and could not, for those diamond eyes.
Those eyes were fixed on the lady teacher one morning not long after
Langdon's arrival. Miss Darley turned her own away, and let them wander
over the other scholars. But the diamond eyes were on her still. She
turned the leaves of several of her books, and finally, following some
ill-defined impulse which she could not resist, left her place, and went
to the young girl's desk.
"What do you want of me, Elsie Venner?" It was a strange question to
put, for the girl had not signified that she wished the teacher to come
"Nothing," she cried. "I thought I could make you come." The girl spoke
in a low tone, a kind of half-whisper.
Bernard Langdon experienced the power of those diamond eyes one
particular day that summer.
He had made up his mind to explore the dreaded Rattlesnake Ledge of the
mountain, to examine the rocks, and perhaps to pick up an adventure in
the zoological line; for he had on a pair of high, stout boots, and he
carried a stick in his hand.
High up on one of the precipitous walls of rock he saw some tufts of
flowers, and knew them for flowers Elsie Venner had brought into the
school-room. Presently on a natural platform where he sat down to rest,
he found a hairpin.
He rose up from his seat to look round for other signs of a woman's
visits, and walked to the mouth of a cavern and looked into it. His look
was met by the glitter of two diamond eyes, shining out of the darkness,
but gliding with a smooth, steady motion towards the light, and himself.
He stood fixed, struck dumb, staring back into them with dilating pupils
and sudden numbness of fear that cannot move. The two sparks of light
came forward until they grew to circles of flame, and all at once lifted
themselves up as if in angry surprise.
Then, for the first time, thrilled in Mr. Bernard's ears the dreadful
sound that nothing which breathes can hear unmoved--the long, singing
whir, as the huge, thick-bodied reptile shook his many-jointed rattle.
He waited as in a trance; and while he looked straight into the flaming
eyes, it seemed to him that they were losing their light and terror,
that they were growing tame and dull. The charm was dissolving, the
numbness passing away, he could move once more. He heard a light
breathing close to his ear, and, half turning, saw the face of Elsie
Venner, looking motionless into the reptile's eyes, which had shrunk and
faded under the stronger enchantment of her own.
From that time Mr. Bernard was brought into new relations with Elsie. He
was grateful; she had led him out of danger, and perhaps saved him from
death, but he shuddered at the recollection of the whole scene. He made
up his mind that, come what might, he would solve the mystery of Elsie
Venner, sooner or later.
_II.--Cousin Richard Venner_
Richard Venner had passed several of his early years with his uncle
Dudley Venner at the Dudley mansion, the playmate of Elsie, being her
cousin, two or three years older than herself. His mother was a lady of
Buenos Ayres, of Spanish descent, and had died while he was in his
cradle. A self-willed, capricious boy, he was a rough playmate for
But Elsie was the wilder of these two motherless children. Old Sophy--
said to be the granddaughter of a cannibal chief--who watched them in
their play and their quarrels, always seemed to be more afraid for the
boy than the girl.
"Massa Dick, don' you be too rough wi' dat girl! She scratch you las'
week, 'n' some day she bite you; 'n' if she bite you, Massa Dick----"
Old Sophy nodded her head ominously, as if she could say a great deal
Elsie's father, whose fault was to indulge her in everything, found that
it would never do to let these children grow up together. A sharper
quarrel than usual decided this point. Master Dick forgot old Sophy's
caution, and vexed the girl into a paroxysm of wrath, in which she
sprang at him, and bit his arm. Old Dr. Kettredge was sent for, and came
at once when he heard what had happened.
He had a good deal to say about the danger there was from the teeth of
animals or of human beings when enraged, and he emphasised his remarks
by the application of a pencil of lunar caustic to each of the marks
left by the sharp white teeth.
After this Master Dick went off on his travels, which led him into
strange places and stranger company; and so the boy grew up to youth and
There came a time when the young gentleman thought he would like to see
his cousin again, and wrote inviting himself to the Dudley mansion.
Doctor Kettredge could see no harm in the visit when Dudley Venner
consulted him. Her father was never easy about Elsie. He could not tell
the old doctor _all_ he knew. In God's good time he believed his only
daughter would come to her true nature; her eyes would lose that
frightful, cold glitter, and that faint birth-mark which encircled her
neck--her mother swooned when she first saw it--would fade wholly out.
"Let her go to the girls' school, by all means," the doctor had said,
when that was first talked about. "Anything to interest her. Friendship,
love, religion--whatever will set her nature to work."
When Dudley Venner mentioned his nephew's arrival, the doctor only said,
"Let him stay a while; it gives her something to think about." He
thought there was no danger of any sudden passion springing up between
two such young persons.
So Mr. Richard came, and the longer he stayed the more favourably the
idea of a permanent residence in the mansion-house seemed to impress
him. The estate was large and of great value, and there could not be a
doubt that the property had largely increased. It was evident there was
an abundant income, and Cousin Elsie was worth trying for. On the other
hand, what was the matter with her eyes, that they sucked your life out
of you in that strange way? And what did she always wear a necklace for?
Besides, her father might last for ever or take it into his head to
He prolonged his visit until his presence became something like a matter
of habit. In the meantime he found that Elsie was getting more constant
in her attendance at school, and learned, on inquiry, that there was a
new master, a handsome young man. The handsome young man would not have
liked the look that came over Dick Venner's face when he heard this fact
For Mr. Richard had decided that he must have the property, that this
was his one great chance in life. The girl might not suit him as a wife.
Possibly. Time enough to find out after he had got her. That Elsie now
regarded him with indifference, if not aversion, he could not conceal
from himself. The young man at the school was probably at the bottom of
it. "Cousin Elsie in love with a Yankee schoolmaster!"
But for a long time Dick Venner could get no positive evidence of any
sentiment between Elsie and the schoolmaster. At one time he would be
devoured by suspicion, at another he would laugh himself out of them.
His jealousy at last broke out, when he and Elsie were alone, in a
questioning reference to Mr. Langdon.
Elsie coloured, and then answered, abruptly and scornfully, "Mr. Langdon
is a gentleman, and would not vex me as you do."
"A gentleman!" Dick answered, with the most insulting accent. "A
gentleman! Come, Elsie; you've got the Dudley blood in your veins, and
it doesn't do for you to call this poor sneaking schoolmaster a
He stopped short. Elsie's bosom was heaving, the faint flush of her
cheek was becoming a vivid glow. There was no longer any doubt in his
mind. Elsie Venner loved Bernard Langdon. The sudden conviction,
absolute, overwhelming, rushed upon him.
Elsie made no answer, but glided out of the room and slid away to her
own apartment. She bolted the door, and drew her curtains close. Then
she threw herself on the floor, and fell into a dull, slow ache of
passion, without tears, almost without words.
Dick realised that he had reached a fearful point. He could not give up
the great Dudley property. Therefore, the school-master must be got rid
of, and by self-destruction.
Mr. Bernard Langdon must be found, suspended to the branch of a tree,
somewhat within a mile of the Apollinean Institute.
_III.--The Perilous Hour_
Old Doctor Kettredge had advised Bernard Langdon to go in for pistol-
shooting, and had even presented him with a small, beautifully finished
revolver. "I want you to carry this," he said, "and more than that, I
want you to practise with it often, so that it may be seen and
understood that you are apt to have a pistol about you."
This was at the conclusion of a conversation between the doctor and Mr.
Bernard concerning Elsie Venner.
"Elsie interests me," said the young man, "interests me strangely. I
would risk my life for her, but I do not love her. If her hand touches
mine, it is not a thrill of passion I feel running through me, but a
very different emotion."
"Mr. Langdon," said the doctor, "you have come to this country town
without suspicion, and you are moving in the midst of perils. Keep your
eyes open, and your heart shut. If, through pitying that girl, you ever
come to love her, you are lost. If you deal carelessly with her, beware!
This is not all. There are other eyes on you beside Elsie Venner's. Go
armed in future."
Mr. Bernard thought the advice very odd, but he followed it, and soon
became known as an expert at revolver-shooting. On the day when Dick
Venner had decided that the schoolmaster must be found hanged, Bernard
Langdon went out as usual for the evening walk. He thrust his pistol,
which he had put away loaded, into his pocket before starting.
The moon was shining at intervals, for the night was partially clouded.
There seemed to be nobody stirring, but presently he detected the sound
of hoofs, and, looking forward, saw a horseman coming in his direction.
When the horseman was within a hundred and fifty yards of him, the moon
shone out suddenly, and revealed each of them to the other. The rider
paused for a moment, then suddenly put his horse to the full gallop, and
dashed towards him, rising at the same instant in his stirrups and
swinging something round his head. It was a strange manoeuvre, so
strange and threatening that the young man cocked his pistol, and waited
to see what mischief all this meant. He did not wait long. As the rider
came rushing towards him he made a rapid motion, and something leaped
five-and-twenty feet through the air in Mr. Bernard's direction. In an
instant he felt a ring, as of a rope or thong, settle upon his
shoulders. There was no time to think, he would be lost in another
second. He raised his pistol and fired--not at the rider, but at the
horse. His aim was true; the horse gave one bound and fell lifeless,
shot through the head. The lasso was fastened to his saddle, and his
last bound threw Mr. Bernard violently to the earth, where he lay
motionless, as if stunned.
In the meantime, Dick Venner, who had been dashed down with his horse,
was trying to extricate himself; one of his legs was held fast under the
animal, the long spur on his boot having caught in the saddle-cloth. He
found, however, that he could do nothing with his right arm, his
shoulder having been in some way injured in his fall. But his Southern
blood was up, and, as he saw Mr. Bernard move as if he were coming to
his senses, he struggled violently to free himself.
"I'll have the dog yet!" he said; "only let me get at him with the
He had just succeeded in extricating his imprisoned leg, and was ready
to spring to his feet, when he was caught firmly by the throat, and
looking up, saw a hayfork within an inch of his breast.
"Hold on there! What'n thunder 'r' y' abaout, y' darned Portagee?" said
a sharp, resolute voice.
Dick looked from the weapon to the person who held it, and saw Abel
Stebbins, the doctor's man, standing over him.
"Let me up! Let me up!" he cried in a low, hurried voice. "I'll give you
a hundred dollars in gold to let me go. The man a'n't hurt--don't you
see him stirring? He'll come to himself in two minutes. Let me up! I'll
give you a hundred and fifty dollars in gold, now, here on the spot, and
the watch out of my pocket; take it yourself, with your own hands!"
"Ketch me lett'n go!" was Abel's emphatic answer.
Mr. Bernard was now getting first his senses, and then some few of his
scattered wits together.
"Who's hurt? What's happened?" he asked, staring about him.
Then he felt something about his neck; and putting his hands up, found
the loop of the lasso. Abel quickly slipped the noose over Mr. Bernard's
head, and put it round the neck of the miserable Dick Venner, who, with
his disabled arm, felt resistance was hopeless.
The party now took up the line of march for old Dr. Kettredge's house,
Abel carrying Langdon's pistol, and leading Dick Venner, Bernard Langdon
holding the hayfork. He was still half-stunned, and felt it was all a
dream, when they reached the house.
"My mind is confused," he told the doctor. "I've had a fall."
"Sit down, sit down," the doctor said. "Abel will tell me about it.
Slight concussion of the brain. Can't remember very well for an hour or
two--will come right by to-morrow!"
Dick Venner's shoulder was out of joint, the doctor found; he replaced
it in a very few minutes. That night the doctor drove Dick forty miles
at a stretch, out of the limits of the state.
He had implored them to let him go, and Mr. Bernard was quite willing
that no further proceedings should be taken.
_IV.--The Secret is Whispered_
A week after Dick Venner's departure Elsie went off at the accustomed
hour to the school. She had none of the hard, wicked light in her eyes
that morning, and looked gentle, but dreamy.
At the end of the school hours, when the girls had all gone out, Elsie
came up to Mr. Bernard, and said, in a very low voice, "Will you walk
towards my home with me to-day?"
So they walked along together on their way towards the Dudley mansion.
"I have no friend," Elsie said all at once. "Nobody loves me but one old
"I am your friend, Elsie. Tell me what I can do to render your life
_"Love me!"_ said Elsie Venner.
Mr. Bernard turned pale.
"Elsie," he said presently, "I do love you, as a sister with sorrows of
her own--as one whom I would save at the risk of my happiness and life.
Give me your hand, dear Elsie, and trust me that I will be as true a
friend to you as if we were children of the same mother!"
Elsie gave him her hand mechanically, and he pressed it gently. They
walked almost in silence the rest of the way.
It was all over with poor Elsie. She went at once to her own room when
they reached the mansion-house, and never left it.
They sent for the old doctor, and he ordered some remedies, saying he
would call the next day, hoping to find her better. But the next day
came, and the next, and still Elsie was on her bed--feverish, restless,
"Send me Helen Darley," she said at last, on the fourth day.
And Helen came. Dudley Venner followed her into the room.
"She is your patient," he said, "except while the doctor is here."
Helen Darley often tried in those days and nights, when she sat by
Elsie's bed, to enter into the sick girl's confidence and affections,
but there was always something that seemed inexplicable in the changes
of mood. So Helen determined to ask old Sophy some questions.
"How old is Elsie?"
"Eighteen years this las' September."
"How long ago did her mother die?"
"Eighteen year ago this October."
Helen was silent for a moment. Then she whispered,
"What did her mother die of, Sophy?"
The old woman caught Helen by the hand and clung to it, as if in fear.
"Don't never speak in this house 'bout what Elsie's mother died of!" she
said. "God has made Ugly Things wi' death in their mouths, Miss Darlin',
an' He knows what they're for. But my poor Elsie! To have her blood
changed in her before--It was in July mistress got her death, but she
liv' till three week after my poor Elsie was born."
She could speak no more; she had said enough. Helen remembered the
stories she had heard on coming to the village. Now she knew the secret
of the fascination which looked out of the cold, glittering eyes.
A great change came over Elsie in the last few days. It seemed to her
father as if the malign influence which had pervaded her being had been
driven forth or exorcised.
"It's her mother's look!" said old Sophy. "It's her mother's own face
right over again. She never look' so before--the Lord's hand is on her!
His will be done!"
But Elsie's heart was beating more feebly every day. One night, with
sudden effort, she threw her arms round her father's neck, kissed him,
and said, "Good-night, my dear father!"
Then her head fell back upon her pillow, and a long sigh breathed
through her lips.
Elsie Venner was dead!
* * * * *
In the following summer Mr. Dudley Venner married Miss Helen Darley. Mr.
Bernard Langdon returned to college, resumed his medical studies, took
his degree as Doctor of Medicine, and he now also is married.
* * * * *
Tom Brown's Schooldays
"Tom Brown's Schooldays" has been called by more than one
critic the best story of schoolboy life ever written, and
three generations of readers have endorsed the opinion. Its
author, Thomas Hughes, born at Uffington, Berkshire, England,
Oct. 19, 1822, was himself, like his hero, both a Rugby boy
under Dr. Arnold and the son of a Berkshire squire, but he
denied that the story was in any real sense autobiographical.
Matthew Arnold and Arthur H. Clough, the poet, were Hughes's
friends at school, and in later life he became associated with
Charles Kingsley and Frederick Denison Maurice on what was
called the Christian Socialist movement. A barrister by
profession, Thomas Hughes became a county court judge, and
lived for many years in that capacity at Chester. Besides "Tom
Brown's Schooldays," published in 1857, Hughes also wrote "Tom
Brown at Oxford" (1861), biographies of Livingstone, Bishop
Fraser, and Daniel Macmillan, and a number of political,
religious and social pamphlets. He died on March 22, 1896.
_I.--Tom Goes to Rugby_
Squire Brown, J.P. for the county of Berks, dealt out justice and mercy,
in a thorough way, and begat sons and daughters, and hunted the fox, and
grumbled at the badness of the roads and the times. And his wife dealt
out stockings and shirts and smock frocks, and comforting drinks to the
old folks with the "rheumatiz," and good counsel to all.
Tom was their eldest child, a hearty, strong boy, from the first given
to fighting with and escaping from his nurse, and fraternising with all
the village boys, with whom he made expeditions all round the
Squire Brown was a Tory to the backbone; but, nevertheless, held divers
social principles not generally supposed to be true blue in colour; the
foremost of which was the belief that a man is to be valued wholly and
solely for that which he is himself, apart from all externals whatever.
Therefore, he held it didn't matter a straw whether his son associated
with lords' sons or ploughmen's sons, provided they were brave and
honest. So he encouraged Tom in his intimacy with the village boys, and
gave them the run of a close for a playground. Great was the grief among
them when Tom drove off with the squire one morning, to meet the coach,
on his way to Rugby, to school.
It had been resolved that Tom should travel down by the Tally-ho, which
passed through Rugby itself; and as it was an early coach, they drove
out to the Peacock Inn, at Islington, to be on the road. Towards nine
o'clock, the squire, observing that Tom was getting sleepy, sent the
little fellow off to bed, with a few parting words, the result of much
"And now, Tom, my boy," said the squire, "remember you are going, at
your own earnest request, to be chucked into this great school, like a
young bear, with all your troubles before you--earlier than we should
have sent you, perhaps. You'll see a great many cruel blackguard things
done, and hear a deal of foul, bad talk. But never fear. You tell the
truth, and keep a brave, kind heart, and never listen to or say anything
you wouldn't have your mother or sister hear, and you'll never feel
ashamed to come home, or we to see you."
The mention of his mother made Tom feel rather choky, and he would have
liked to hug his father well, if it hadn't been for his recent
stipulation that kissing should now cease between them, so he only
squeezed his father's hand, and looked up bravely, and said, "I'll try,
At ten minutes to three Tom was in the coffee-room in his stockings, and
there was his father nursing a bright fire; and a cup of coffee and a
hard biscuit on the table.
Just as he was swallowing the last mouthful, Boots looks in, and says,
"Tally-ho, sir!" And they hear the ring and rattle as it dashes up to
"Good-bye, father; my love at home!" A last shake of the hand. Up goes
Tom, the guard holding on with one hand, while he claps the horn to his
mouth. Toot, toot, toot! Away goes the Tally-ho into the darkness.
Tom stands up, and looks back at his father's figure as long as you can
see it; and then comes to an anchor, and finishes his buttonings and
other preparations for facing the cold three hours before dawn. The
guard muffles Tom's feet up in straw, and puts an oat-sack over his
knees, but it is not until after breakfast that his tongue is unloosed,
and he rubs up his memory, and launches out into a graphic history of
all the performances of the Rugby boys on the roads for the last twenty
"And so here's Rugby, sir, at last, and you'll be in plenty of time for
dinner at the schoolhouse, as I tell'd you," says the old guard.
Tom's heart beat quick, and he began to feel proud of being a Rugby boy
when he passed the school gates, and saw the boys standing there as if
the town belonged to them.
One of the young heroes ran out from the rest, and scrambled up behind,
where, having righted himself with, "How do, Jem?" to the guard, he
turned round short to Tom, and began, "I say, you fellow, is your name
"Yes," said Tom, in considerable astonishment.
"Ah, I thought so; my old aunt, Miss East, lives somewhere down your way
in Berkshire; she wrote that you were coming to-day and asked me to give
you a lift!"
Tom was somewhat inclined to resent the patronising air of his new
friend, a boy of just about his own age and height, but gifted with the
most transcendent coolness and assurance, which Tom felt to be
aggravating and hard to bear, but couldn't help admiring and envying,
especially when my young lord begins hectoring two or three long loafing
fellows, and arranges with one of them to carry up Tom's luggage.
"You see," said East, as they strolled up to the school gates, "a good
deal depends on how a fellow cuts up at first. You see I'm doing the
handsome thing by you, because my father knows yours; besides, I want to
please the old lady--she gave me half-a-sov. this half, and perhaps'll
double it next if I keep in her good books."
Tom was duly placed in the Third Form, and found his work very easy; and
as he had no intimate companion to make him idle (East being in the
Lower Fourth), soon gained golden opinions from his master, and all went
well with him in the school. As a new boy he was, of course, excused
fagging, but, in his enthusiasm, this hardly pleased him; and East and
others of his young friends kindly allowed him to indulge his fancy, and
take their turns at night, fagging and cleaning studies. So he soon
gained the character of a good-natured, willing fellow, ready to do a
turn for anyone.
_II.--The War of Independence_
The Lower Fourth was an overgrown Form, too large for any one man to
attend to properly, consequently the elysium of the young scamps who
formed the staple of it. Tom had come up from the Third with a good
character, but he rapidly fell away, and became as unmanageable as the
rest. By the time the second monthly examination came round, his
character for steadiness was gone, and for years after, he went up the
school without it, and regarded the masters, as a matter of course, as
his natural enemies. Matters were not so comfortable in the house,
either. The new praeposters of the Sixth Form were not strong, and the
big Fifth Form boys soon began to usurp power, and to fag and bully the
One evening Tom and East were sitting in their study, Tom brooding over
the wrongs of fags in general and his own in particular.
"I say, Scud," said he at last, "what right have the Fifth Form boys to
fag us as they do?"
"No more right than you have to fag them," said East, without looking up
from an early number of "Pickwick." Tom relapsed into his brown study,
and East went on reading and chuckling.
"Do you know, old fellow, I've been thinking it over, and I've made up
my mind I won't fag except for the Sixth."
"Quite right, too, my boy," cried East. "I'm all for a strike myself;
it's getting too bad."
"I shouldn't mind if it were only young Brooke now," said Tom; "I'd do
anything for him. But that blackguard Flashman----"
"The cowardly brute!" broke in East.
"Fa-a-ag!" sounded along the passage from Flashman's study.
The two boys looked at one another.
"Fa-a-ag!" again. No answer.
"Here, Brown! East! You young skulks!" roared Flashman. "I know you're
in! No shirking!"
Tom bolted the door, and East blew out the candle.
"Now, Tom, no surrender!"
Then the assault commenced. One panel of the door gave way to repeated
kicks, and the besieged strengthened their defences with the sofa.
Flashman & Co. at last retired, vowing vengeance, and when the convivial
noises began again steadily, Tom and East rushed out. They were too
quick to be caught, but a pickle-jar, sent whizzing after them by
Flashman narrowly missed Tom's head. Their story was soon told to a knot
of small boys round the fire in the hall, who nearly all bound
themselves not to fag for the Fifth, encouraged and advised thereto by
Diggs--a queer, very clever fellow, nearly at the top of the Fifth
himself. He stood by them all through and seldom have small boys had
more need of a friend.
Flashman and his associates united in "bringing the young vagabonds to
their senses," and the whole house was filled with chasings, sieges, and
lickings of all sorts.
One evening, in forbidden hours, Brown and East were in the hall,
chatting by the light of the fire, when the door swung open, and in
walked Flashman. He didn't see Diggs, busy in front of the other fire;
and as the boys didn't move for him, struck one of them, and ordered
them all off to their study.
"I say, you two," said Diggs, rousing up, "you'll never get rid of that
fellow till you lick him. Go in at him, both of you! I'll see fair
They were about up to Flashman's shoulder, but tough and in perfect
training; while he, seventeen years old, and big and strong of his age,
was in poor condition from his monstrous habits of stuffing and want of
They rushed in on him, and he hit out wildly and savagely, and in
another minute Tom went spinning backwards over a form; and Flashman
turned to demolish East, with a savage grin. But Diggs jumped down from
the table on which he had seated himself.
"Stop there!" shouted he. "The round's over! Half minute time allowed!
I'm going to see fair. Are you ready, Brown? Time's up!"
The small boys rushed in again; Flashman was wilder and more flurried
than ever. In a few moments over all three went on the floor, Flashman
striking his head on a form. But his skull was not fractured, as the two
youngsters feared it was, and he never laid a finger on them again. But
whatever harm a spiteful tongue could do them, he took care should be
done. Only throw dirt enough, and some will stick. And so Tom and East,
and one or two more, became a sort of young Ishmaelites. They saw the
praeposters cowed by or joining with the Fifth and shirking their own
duties; and so they didn't respect them, and rendered no willing
obedience, and got the character of sulky, unwilling fags. At the end of
the term they are told the doctor wants to see them. He is not angry
only very grave. He explains that rules are made for the good of the
school and must and shall be obeyed! He should be sorry if they had to
leave, and wishes them to think very seriously in the holidays over what
he has said. Good-night!
_III.--The Turn of the Tide_
The turning point of our hero's school career had now come, and the
manner of it was as follows.
Tom and East and another Schoolhouse boy rushed into the matron's room
in high spirits when they got back on the first day of the next
half-year. She sent off the others, but kept Tom to tell him Mrs. Arnold
wished him to take a new boy to share the study he had hoped to share
with East. She had told Mrs. Arnold she thought Tom would be kind to
him, and see that he wasn't bullied.
In the far corner of the room he saw a slight, pale boy, who looked
ready to sink through the floor. The matron watched Tom for a minute,
and saw what was passing in his mind.
"Poor little fellow," she said, almost in a whisper. "His father's dead,
and his mamma--such a sweet, kind lady--almost broke her heart at
leaving him. She said one of his sisters was like to die of a decline----
"Well, well," burst in Tom, "I suppose I must give up East. Come along,
young 'un! What's your name? We'll go and have supper, and then I'll
show you our study."
"His name's George Arthur," said the matron. "I've had his books and
things put into the study, which his mamma has had new papered, and the
sofa covered, and new curtains. And Mrs. Arnold told me to say she'd
like you both to come up to tea with her."
Here was an announcement for Master Tom! He was to go up to tea the
first night, just as if he were of importance in the school world
instead of the most reckless young scapegrace among the fags. He felt
himself lifted on to a higher moral platform at once; and marched off
with his young charge in tow in monstrous good humour with himself and
all the world. His cup was full when Dr. Arnold, with a warm shake of
the hand, seemingly oblivious of all the scrapes he had been getting
into, said, "Ah, Brown, you here! I hope you left all well at home. And
this is the little fellow who is to share your study? Well, he doesn't
look as we should like to see him. You must take him some good long
walks, and show him what little pretty country we have about here."
The tea went merrily off, and everybody felt that he, young as he was,
was of some use in the school world, and had a work to do there. When
Tom was recognised coming out of the private door which led from the
doctor's house, there was a great shout of greeting, and Hall at once
began to question Arthur.
"What a queer chum for Tom Brown," was the general comment. And it must
be confessed that so thought Tom himself as he lighted the candle in
their study, and surveyed the new curtains with much satisfaction.
"I say, Arthur, what a brick your mother is to make us so cosy! But look
here now, you must answer straight up when the fellows speak to you. If
you're afraid, you'll get bullied. And don't you ever talk about home or
your mother or sisters."
Poor little Arthur looked ready to cry.
"But please, mayn't I talk about home to you?"
"Oh, yes, I like it. But not to boys you don't know. What a jolly desk!"
And soon Tom was deep in Arthur's goods and chattels, and hardly thought
of his friends outside till the prayer-bell rang.
He thought of his own first night there when he was leading poor little
Arthur up to No. 4, and showing him his bed. The idea of sleeping in a
room with strange boys had clearly never crossed his mind before. He
could hardly bare to take his jacket off. However, presently off it
came, and he paused and looked at Tom, who was sitting on his bed,
talking and laughing.
"Please, Brown," he whispered, "may I wash my face and hands?"
"Of course, if you like," said Tom, staring. "You'll have to go down for
more water if you use it all." On went the talk and laughter. Arthur
finished his undressing, and looked round more nervously than ever. The
light burned clear, the noise went on. This time, however, he did not
ask Tom what he might or might not do, but dropped on his knees by his
bedside to open his heart to Him who heareth the cry of the tender
child, or the strong man.
Tom was unlacing his boots with his back towards Arthur, and looked up
in wonder at the sudden silence. Then two or three boys laughed, and one
big, brutal fellow picked up a slipper and shied it at the kneeling boy.
The next moment the boot Tom had just taken off flew straight at the
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