The World's Greatest Books, Volume V.
Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton, Eds.
Part 4 out of 7
Lethierry laughed that idea to scorn. He was wild with joy. Gilliatt,
his son, his preserver, should marry Derouchette--he, and none other.
Neighbours had begun to flock in, roused by the bell. The room was
crowded. Derouchette presently glided in, and was espied by Lethierry in
the crowd. He seized her; told her the news. "We are rich again! And you
shall marry the prodigy who has done this thing." His eye fell upon the
man who had followed Derouchette into the room; it was the young priest
whom Gilliatt had rescued from the seat in the rock. "Ah, you are there,
Monsieur le Cure," exclaimed the old man; "you will marry these young
people for us. There's a fine fellow!" he cried, and pointed to
Gilliatt's appearance was hideous. He was in the condition in which he
had that morning set sail from the rocks--in rags, his bare elbows
showing through his sleeves, his beard long, his hair rough and wild,
his eyes bloodshot, his skin peeling, his hands covered with wounds, his
feet naked and torn. Some of the blisters left by the devil-fish were
still visible upon his arms.
"This is my son-in-law!" cried Lethierry. "How he has struggled with the
sea! He is all in rags. What shoulders! What hands! There's a splendid
But Lethierry did not know Gilliatt. The poor broken creature escaped
from the room. He himself made all the arrangements for the marriage of
the priest and Derouchette; he placed the special license in their
hands, secured a priest for the purpose, and secured passages for them
in the ship waiting in the roads for England.
When he had done all this, he made his way to the seat in the cliff, and
sat there waiting to see the ship appear round the bight and disappear
on the horizon.
The ship appeared with the slowness of a phantom. Gilliatt watched it.
Suddenly a touch and a sensation of cold caused him to look down. The
sea had reached his feet.
He lowered his eyes, then raised them again. The ship was quite near.
The rock in which the rains had hollowed out this giant's seat was so
completely vertical, and there was so much water at its base, that in
calm weather vessels were able to pass without danger within a few
The ship was already abreast of the rock. Gilliatt could see the stir of
life on the sunlit deck. The deck was as visible as if he had stood upon
it. He saw bride and bridegroom sitting side by side, like two birds,
warming themselves in the noonday sun. A celestial light was in those
two faces formed by innocence. The silence was like the calm of heaven.
The vessel passed. He watched her till her masts and sails formed only a
white obelisk, gradually decreasing against the horizon. He felt that
the water had reached his waist. Sea-mews and cormorants flew about him
restlessly, as if anxious to warn him of his danger.
The ship was rapidly growing less.
There was no foam around the rock where he sat; no wave beat against its
granite sides. The water rose peacefully. It was nearly level with
The birds were hovering about him, uttering short cries. Only his head
was now visible. The tide was nearly at the full. Evening was
Gilliatt's eyes continued fixed upon the vessel on the horizon. Their
expression resembled nothing earthly. A strange lustre shone in their
calm and tragic depths. There was in them the peace of vanished hopes,
the calm but sorrowful acceptance of an end far different from his
dreams. By degrees the dusk of heaven began to dawn in them, though
gazing still upon the point in space. At the same moment the wide waters
round the rock and the vast gathering twilight closed upon them.
At the moment when the vessel vanished on the horizon, the head of
Gilliatt disappeared. Nothing now was visible but the sea.
* * * * *
The Man Who Laughs
"The Man Who Laughs" ("L'Homme qui Rit") was called by its
author "A Romance of English History," and was written during
the period Hugo spent in exile in Guernsey. Like "The Toilers
of the Sea," its immediate predecessor, the main theme of the
story is human heroism, confronted with the superhuman tyranny
of blind chance. As a passionate cry on behalf of the tortured
and deformed, and the despised and oppressed of the world,
"The Man Who Laughs" is irresistible. Of it Hugo himself says
in the preface: "The true title of this book should be
'Aristocracy'"--inasmuch as it was intended as an arraignment
of the nobility for their vices, crimes, and selfishness. "The
Man Who Laughs" was first published in 1869.
Ursus and Homo were old friends. Ursus was a man, Homo a wolf. The two
went about together from town to town, from country-side to
country-side. Ursus lived in a small van upon wheels which Homo drew by
day and guarded by night.
Ursus was a juggler, a ventriloquist, a doctor, and a misanthrope. He
was also something of a poet. The wolf and he had grown old together.
One bitterly cold night in January 1690, when Ursus and his van were at
Weymouth, a small vessel put off from Portland. It contained a dozen
people, and it left behind on the rock, and alone, a small boy.
The people were called Comprachicos. They bought children, and
understood how to mutilate and deform them, thus making them valuable
for exhibition at fairs. But an act of parliament had just been passed
to destroy the trade of the Comprachicos. Hence this flight from
Portland, and the forsaking of the child.
The vessel was wrecked and all on board perished off the coast of
France, but not before one of the passengers had inscribed on a piece of
parchment the name of the child and the name of a certain English
prisoner who could identify the child. This parchment was sealed in a
bottle and left to the waves.
The child watched the disappearance of the boat. He was stupefied at
finding himself alone; the men who had left him were the only people he
had ever known, and they had failed him. He did not know where he was,
but he knew that he must seek food and shelter. It was very cold and
dark, and the boy was barefoot, but he made his way across Portland and
the Chesil bank, and gained the mainland.
He found in the snow a footprint, and set out to follow it. Presently he
heard a groan, and came to the end of the footprints. The woman, a
beggar-woman who had lost her way, had uttered the groan. She had sunk
down in the snow, and was dead when the boy found her. He heard a cry,
and discovered a baby, wretched with cold, but still alive, clinging to
its dead mother's breast.
The boy took the baby in his arms. Forsaken himself, he had heard the
cry of distress, and wrapping the infant in his coat, he pursued his
journey in the teeth of the freezing wind. Four hours had passed since
the boat had sailed away; this baby was the first living person the boy
Struggling along with his burden, the boy reached Weymouth, then a
hamlet, and a suburb of the town and port of Melcombe Regis. He knocked
at doors and windows; no one stirred. For one thing, everybody was
asleep, and those who were awakened by the knock were afraid of opening
a window, for fear of some sick vagabond being outside.
Suddenly the boy heard in the darkness a grinding of teeth and a growl.
The silence was so dreadful that he was glad of the noise, and moved in
the direction whence it came. He saw a carriage on wheels, with smoke
coming out of the roof through a funnel, and a light within.
Something perceived his approach and growled furiously and tugged at its
chain. At the same time a head was put out of a window in the van.
"Be quiet there!" said the head, and the noise ceased. "Is anyone
there?" said the head again.
"Yes, I," said the child.
"You? Who are you?"
"I am very tired and cold and hungry," said the child.
"We can't all be as happy as a lord. Go away!" said the head, and the
window was shut down.
The child turned away in despair. But no sooner was the window shut than
the door at the top of the steps opened, and the same voice called out
from within the van, "Well, why don't you come in? What sort of a fellow
is this who is cold and hungry, and who stays outside?"
The boy climbed up the three steps with difficulty, carrying the baby,
and hesitated for a moment at the door. On the ceiling was written in
It was the house of Ursus the child had come to. Homo had been growling,
The child made out near the stove an elderly man, who, as he stood,
reached the roof of the caravan.
"Come in! Put down your bundle!" said Ursus. "How wet you are, and half
frozen! Take off those rags, you young villain!"
He tore off the boy's rags, clothed him in a man's shirt and a knitted
jacket, rubbed the boy's limbs and feet with a woollen rag, found there
was nothing frost-bitten, and gave him his own scanty supper to eat.
"I have worked all day and far into the night on an empty stomach,"
muttered Ursus, "and now this dreadful boy swallows up my food. However,
it's all one. He shall have the bread, the potato, and the bacon, but I
will have the milk."
Just then the infant began to wail. Ursus fed it with the milk by means
of a small bottle, took off the tatters in which it was wrapped, and
swathed it in a large piece of dry, clean linen.
When the boy had finished his supper, Ursus asked him who he was, but he
could get no answer save that he had been abandoned that night.
"But you must have relations, since you have this baby sister."
"It is not my sister; it is a baby that I found."
Ursus listened to the boy's story. Then he brought out an old bearskin,
laid it on a chest, placed the sleeping infant on this, and told the boy
to lie down beside the baby. Ursus rolled the bearskin over the
children, tucked it under their feet, and went out into the night to see
if the woman could be saved.
He returned at dawn; his efforts had been fruitless. The boy had
awakened at hearing Ursus, and for the first time the latter saw his
"What are you laughing at? You are frightful! Who did that to you?" said
The boy answered, "I am not laughing. I have always been like this."
Ursus turned away, and muttered, "I thought that sort of work was out of
date." He took down an old book, and read in Latin that, by slitting the
mouth and performing other operations in childhood, the face would
become a mask whose owner would be always laughing.
At that moment the infant awoke, and Ursus gave it what was left of the
The baby girl was blind. Ursus had already decided that he and Homo
would adopt the two children.
_II.--Gwynplaine and Dea_
Gwynplaine was a mountebank. As soon as he exhibited himself all who saw
him laughed. His laugh created the laughter of others, though he did not
laugh himself. It was his face only that laughed, and laughed always
with an everlasting laugh.
Fifteen years had passed since the night when the boy came to the
caravan at Weymouth, and Gwynplaine was now twenty-five. Ursus had kept
the two children with him; the blind girl he called Dea. The boy said he
had always been called Gwynplaine. Of course the two were in love.
Gwynplaine adored Dea, and Dea idolised Gwynplaine.
"You are beautiful," she would say to him. The crowd only saw his face;
for Dea, Gwynplaine was the person who had saved her from the tomb, and
who was always kind and good-tempered. "The blind see the invisible,"
The old caravan had given way to a great van--called the Green
Box--drawn by a pair of stout horses. Gwynplaine had become famous. In
every fair-ground the crowd ran after him.
In 1705 the Green Box arrived in London and was established at
Southwark, in the yard of the Tadcaster Inn. A placard was hung up with
the following inscription, composed by Ursus:
"Here can be seen Gwynplaine, deserted, when he was ten years old, on
January 29, 1690, on the coast of Portland, by the rascally
Comprachicos. The boy now grown up is known as 'The Man who Laughs.'"
All Southwark came to see Gwynplaine, and soon people heard of him on
the other side of London Bridge, and crowds came from the City to the
Tadcaster Inn. It was not long before the fashionable world itself was
drawn to the Laughing Man.
One morning a constable and an officer of the High Court summoned
Gwynplaine to Southwark Gaol. Ursus watched him disappear behind the
heavy door with a heavy heart.
Gwynplaine was taken down flights of stairs and dark passages till he
reached the torture-chamber. A man's body lay on the ground on its back.
Its four limbs, drawn to four columns by chains, were in the position of
a St. Andrew's Cross. A plate of iron, with five or six large stones,
was placed on the victim's chest. On a seat close by sat an old man--the
sheriff of the county of Surrey.
"Come closer," said the sheriff to Gwynplaine. Then he addressed the
wretched man on the floor, who for four days, in spite of torture, had
"Speak, unhappy man. Have pity on yourself. Do what is required of you.
Open your eyes, and see if you know this man."
The prisoner saw Gwynplaine. Raising his head he looked at him, and then
cried out, "That's him! Yes--that's him!"
"Registrar, take down that statement," said the sheriff.
The cry of the prisoner overwhelmed Gwynplaine. He was terrified by a
confession that was unintelligible to him, and began in his distress to
stammer and protest his innocence. "Have pity on me, my lord. You have
before you only a poor mountebank--"
"I have before me," said the sheriff, "Lord Fermain Clancharlie, Baron
Clancharlie and Hunkerville, and a peer of England!"
Then the sheriff, rising, offered his seat with a bow to Gwynplaine,
saying, "My lord, will you please to be seated?"
_III.--The House of Lords_
Before he left the prison the sheriff explained to Gwynplaine how it was
he was Lord Clancharlie.
The bottle containing the documents which had been thrown into the sea
in January 1690 had at last come to shore, and had been duly received at
the Admiralty by a high official named Barkilphedro.
This document declared that the child abandoned by those on the sinking
vessel was the only child of Lord Fermain Clancharlie, deceased. At the
age of two it had been sold, disfigured, and put out of the way by order
of King James II. Its parents were dead, and a man named Hardquanonne,
now in prison at Chatham, had performed the mutilation, and would
recognise the child, who was called Gwynplaine. Being about to die, the
signatories to the document confessed their guilt in abducting the
child, and could not, in the face of death, refrain from acknowledgment
of their crime.
The prisoner Hardquanonne had been found at Chatham, and he had
recognised Gwynplaine. Hardquanonne died of the tortures he had
suffered, but just before his death he said, "I swore to keep the
secret, and I have kept it as long as I could. We did it between us--the
king and I. Silence is no longer any good. This is the man."
What was the reason for the hatred of James II. to the child?
This. Lord Clancharlie had taken the side of Cromwell against Charles
I., and had gone into exile in Switzerland rather than acknowledge
Charles II. as king. On the death of this nobleman James II. had
declared his estates forfeit, and the title extinct, believing that the
heir was lost beyond possible recovery. On David Dirry-Moir, an
illegitimate son of Lord Clancharlie, were the peerage and estates
conferred, on condition that he married a certain Duchess Josiana, an
illegitimate daughter of James II.
How was it Gwynplaine was restored to his inheritance?
Anne was Queen of England when the bottle was taken to the Admiralty in
1705, and shared with the high official whose business it was to attend
to all flotsam and jetsam, a cordial dislike of Duchess Josiana. It
seemed to the Queen an excellent thing that Josiana should have to marry
this frightful man, and as for David Dirry-Moir he could be made an
admiral. Anne consulted the Lord Chancellor privately, and he strongly
advised, without blaming James II., that Gwynplaine must be restored to
Gwynplaine, without having time to return to the Green Box, was carried
off by Barkilphedro to one of his country houses, near Windsor, and
bidden the next day take his seat in the House of Lords. He had entered
the terrible prison in Southwark expecting the iron collar of a felon,
and he had placed on his head the coronet of a peer. Barkilphedro had
told him that a man could not be made a peer without his own consent;
that Gwynplaine, the mountebank, must make room for Lord Clancharlie, if
the peerage was accepted; and he had made his decision.
On awakening the next morning he thought of Dea. Then came a royal
summons to appear in the House of Lords, and Gwynplaine returned to
London in a carriage provided by the queen. The secret of his face was
still unknown when he entered the House of Lords, for the Lord
Chancellor had not been informed of the nature of the deformation. The
investiture took place on the threshold of the House, then very ill-lit,
and two very old and half-blind noblemen acted as sponsors at the Lord
Chancellor's request. The whole ceremony was enacted in a sort of
twilight, for the Lord Chancellor was anxious to avoid any sensation.
In less than half an hour the sitting was full. Gossip was already at
work about the new Lord Clancharlie. Several peers had seen the Laughing
Man, and they now heard that he was already in the Upper House; but no
one noticed him until he rose to speak.
His face was terrible, and the whole House looked with horror upon him.
"What does all this mean?" cried the Earl of Wharton, an old and much
respected peer. "Who has brought this man into the House? Who are you?
Where do you come from?"
Gwynplaine answered, "I come from the depths. I am misery. My lords, I
have a message for you."
The House shuddered, but listened, and Gwynplaine continued.
"My lords, among you I am called Lord Fermain Clancharlie, but my real
name is one of poverty--Gwynplaine. I have grown up in poverty; frozen
by winter, and made wretched by hunger. Yesterday I was in the rags of a
clown. Can you realise what misery means? Before it is too late try and
understand that our system of society is a false one."
But the House rocked with uncontrollable laughter at the face of
Gwynplaine. In vain he pleaded with those who sat around him not to
laugh at misery.
They refused to listen, and the sitting broke up in confusion, the Lord
Chancellor adjourning the House. Gwynplaine went out of the House alone.
_IV.--Night and the Sea_
Ursus waited for some time after seeing Gwynplaine disappear within
Southwark Gaol, then he returned sadly to Tadcaster Inn. That very night
the corpse of Hardquanonne was brought out from the gaol and buried in
the cemetery hard by, and Ursus, who had returned to the prison gate,
watched the procession, and saw the coffin carried to the grave.
"They have killed him! Gwynplaine, my son, is dead!" cried Ursus, and he
burst into tears.
The following morning the sheriff's officer, accompanied by
Barkliphedro, waited on Ursus, and told him he must leave Southwark, and
leave England. The last hope in the soul of Ursus died when Barkilphedro
said gravely that Gwynplaine was dead.
Ursus bent his head.
The sentence on Gwynplaine had been executed--death. His sentence was
pronounced--exile. Nothing remained for Ursus but to obey. He felt as if
in a dream.
Within two hours Ursus, Homo, and Dea were on board a Dutch vessel which
was shortly to leave a wharf at London Bridge. The sheriff ordered the
Tadcaster Inn to be shut up.
Gwynplaine found the vessel.
He had left the House of Lords in despair. He had made his effort, and
the result was derision. The future was terrible. Dea was his wife, he
had lost her, and he would be spurned by Josiana. He had lost Ursus, and
gained nothing but insult. Let David take the peerage; he, Gwynplaine,
would return to the Green Box. Why had he ever consented to be Lord
He wandered from Westminster to Southwark, only to find the Tadcaster
Inn shut up, and the yard empty. It seemed he had lost Ursus and Dea for
ever. He turned and gazed into the deep waters by London Bridge. The
river in its darkness offered a resting place where he might find peace.
He got ready to mount the masonry and spring over, when he felt a tongue
licking his hands. He turned, and Homo was behind him. Gwynplaine
uttered a cry. Homo wagged his tail. Then the wolf led the way down a
narrow platform to the wharf, and Gwynplaine followed him. On the vessel
alongside the wharf was the old wooden tenement, very worm-eaten and
rotten now, in which Ursus lived when the boy first came to him at
Weymouth. Gwynplaine listened. It was Ursus talking to Dea.
"Be calm, my child. All will come right. You do not understand what it
is to rupture a blood-vessel. You must rest. To-morrow we shall be at
"Father," Dea answered, "when two beings have always been together from
infancy, and that state is disturbed, death must come. I am not ill, but
I am going to die."
She raised herself on the mattress, crying in delirium, "He is no longer
here, no longer here. How dark it is!" Gwynplaine came to her side, and
Dea laid her hand on his head.
"Gwynplaine!" she cried.
And Gwynplaine received her in his arms.
"Yes, it is I, Gwynplaine. I am here. I hold you in my arms. Dea, we
live. All our troubles are over. Nothing can separate us now. We will
renew our old happy life. We are going to Holland. We will marry. There
is nothing to fear."
"I don't understand it in the least," said Ursus. "I, who saw him
carried to the grave. I am as great a fool as if I were in love myself.
But, Gwynplaine, be careful with her."
The vessel started. They passed Chatham and the mouth of the Medway, and
approached the sea.
Suddenly Dea got up.
"Something's the matter with me," she said. "What is wrong? You have
brought life to me, my Gwynplaine, life and joy. And yet I feel as if my
soul could not be contained in my body."
She flushed, then became very pale, and fell. They lifted her up, and
Dea laid her head on Gwynplaine's shoulder. Then, with a sigh of
inexpressible sadness, she said, "I know what this is. I am dying." Her
voice grew weaker and weaker.
"An hour ago I wanted to die. Now I want to live. How happy we have
been! You will remember the old Green Box, won't you, and poor blind
Dea? I love you all, my father Ursus, and my brother Homo, very dearly.
You are all so good. I do not understand what has happened these last
two days, but now I am dying. Everything is fading away. Gwynplaine, you
will think of me, won't you? Come to me as soon as you can. Do not leave
me alone long. Oh! I cannot breathe! My beloved!"
Gwynplaine pressed his mouth to her beautiful icy hands. For a moment it
seemed as if she had ceased to breathe. Then her voice rang out clearly.
"Light!" she cried. "I can see!"
With that Dea fell back stiff and motionless on the mattress.
"Dead!" said Ursus.
And the poor old philosopher, crushed by his despair, bowed his head,
and buried his face in the folds of the gown which covered Dea's feet.
He lay there unconscious.
Gwynplaine started up, stretched his hands on high, and said, "I come."
He strode across the deck, towards the side of the vessel, as if
beckoned by a vision. A smile came upon his face, such as Dea had just
worn. One step more.
"I am coming, Dea; I am coming," he said.
There was no bulwark, the abyss of waters was before him; he strode into
it, and fell. The night was dark and heavy, the water deep. He
disappeared calmly and silently. None saw nor heard him. The ship sailed
on, and the river flowed out to the sea.
* * * * *
A Simple Story
The maiden name of Mrs. Inchbald, actress, novelist,
dramatist, and society favourite, was Elizabeth Simpson, and
she was the daughter of a farmer living near Bury St. Edmunds,
where she was born on October 15, 1753. At the age of eighteen
she ran away to London, under the influence of romantic
expectations, which were realised by a sudden marriage with
Joseph Inchbald, the actor. After seventeen years on the
stage, without attaining conspicuous success, Mrs. Inchbald
retired, and devoted herself to the writing of novels and
plays and the collection of theatrical literature. Her first
novel, written in 1791, was "A Simple Story." With "Nature and
Art," a tale written later, it has kept a place among the
fiction that is reprinted for successive generations. In later
years Mrs. Inchbald lived quietly on her savings, retaining a
flattering social position by her beauty and cleverness. She
died on August 1, 1821.
_I.--The Priest's Ward_
Dorriforth, bred at St. Omer's in all the scholastic rigour of that
college, was, by education and the solemn vows of his order, a Roman
Catholic priest. He was about thirty, and refusing to shelter himself
from the temptations of the layman by the walls of a cloister, but
finding that shelter in his own prudence, justice, fortitude, and
temperance, had lived in London near five years, when a gentleman with
whom he had contracted a most sincere friendship died, and left him the
sole guardian of his daughter, who was then eighteen.
It is in this place proper to remark that Mr. Milner was a member of the
Church of Rome, but his daughter had been educated in her dead mother's
religion at a boarding-school for Protestants, whence she had returned
with her little heart employed in all the endless pursuits of personal
accomplishments, and her mind left without one ornament, except such as
She had been visiting at Bath when her father died. Therefore, Mr.
Dorriforth, together with Miss Woodley, the middle-aged niece of the
widow lady, Mrs. Horton, who kept his house, journeyed midway to meet
her. But when the carriage stopped at the inn-gate, and her name was
announced, he turned pale--something like a foreboding of disaster
trembled at his heart--and Miss Woodley was obliged to be the first to
welcome his lovely charge--lovely beyond description.
But the natural vivacity, the gaiety which report had given to Miss
Milner, were softened by her recent sorrow to a meek sadness. The
instant Dorriforth was introduced to her as her "guardian, and her
deceased father's most beloved friend," she burst into tears, and
kneeling before him, promised ever to obey him as a father. She told him
artlessly she had expected him to be elderly and plain. He was somewhat
embarrassed, but replied that she should find him a plain man in all his
actions; and in the conversation which followed, in which she had
somewhat lightly referred to his faith, begged that religion should not
be named between them, for, as he had resolved never to persecute her,
in pity she should be grateful, and not persecute him.
Among the many visitors who attended her levees during the following
weeks was Lord Frederick Lawnly, whose intimacy with her Dorriforth
beheld with alternate pain and pleasure. He wished to see his charge
married, yet he trembled for her happiness under the care of a young
nobleman immersed in all the vices of the town. His uneasiness made him
desire her to forbid Lord Frederick's visits, who, alarmed, confounded,
and provoked, remonstrated passionately.
"By heaven, I believe Mr. Dorriforth loves you himself, and it is
jealousy which makes him treat me in this way!"
"For shame, my lord!" cried Miss Woodley, trembling with horror at the
"Nay, shame to him if he is not in love!" answered his lordship. "For
who but a savage could behold beauty like yours without owning its
power? And surely when your guardian looks at you, his wishes------"
"Are never less pure," Miss Milner replied eagerly, "than those which
dwell in the bosom of my celestial guardian."
At this moment Dorriforth entered the room.
"What's the matter?" cried he, looking with concern on his discomposure.
"A compliment paid by herself to you, sir," replied Lord Frederick, "has
affected your ward in the manner you have seen." And then he changed the
subject with an air of ridicule, while Miss Milner threw open the sash,
and leaned her head from the window to conceal the embarrassment his
implication had caused her.
Although Dorriforth was a good man, there was an obstinacy in his nature
which sometimes degenerated into implacable stubbornness. The child of a
sister once beloved, who married a young officer against her brother's
consent, was left an orphan, destitute of all support but from his
uncle's generosity; but, although Dorriforth maintained him, he would
never see him. Miss Milner brought the boy to town once to present him
to his uncle, but no sooner did he hear Harry Rushbrook's name than he
set him off his knee, and, calling for his hat, walked instantly from
the house, although dinner had just been served.
About this time Miss Milner had the humiliation of having Miss Fenton
held up to her as a pattern for her to follow; but, instead of being
inspired to emulation, she was provoked to envy. Young, beautiful,
elegant, Miss Fenton was betrothed to Lord Elmwood, Mr. Dorriforth's
cousin; and Dorriforth, whose heart was not formed--at least, not
educated--for love, beheld in her the most perfect model for her sex.
Not to admire Miss Fenton was impossible. To find one fault with her was
equally impossible, and yet to love her was unlikely. But Mr. Sandford,
Dorriforth's old tutor, and rigid monitor and friend, adored her, and
often, with a shake of his head and a sigh, would he say to Miss Milner,
"No, I am not so hard upon you as your guardian. I only desire you to
love Miss Fenton; to resemble her, I believe, is above your ability."
As a Jesuit, he was a man of learning, and knew the hearts of women as
well as those of men. He saw Miss Milner's heart at the first view of
her person, and beholding in that little circumference a weight of folly
that he wished to eradicate, he began to toil in the vineyard, eagerly
courting her detestation of him in the hope of also making her abominate
herself. In the mortification of slights he was an expert, and humbled
her in her own opinion more than a thousand sermons would have done. She
would have been cured of all her pride had she not possessed a degree of
spirit beyond the generality of her sex!
_II.--The Priest Marries His Ward_
Finding Dorriforth frequently perplexed by his guardianship, Mr.
Sandford advised that a suitable match should immediately be sought for
her; but she refused so many offers that, believing her affections were
set upon Lord Frederick, he insisted that she should be taken into the
country at once. Her ready compliance delighted Dorriforth, and for six
weeks all around was the picture of tranquillity. Then Lord Frederick
suddenly appeared at the door as she alighted from her coach, and
seizing her hand, entreated her "not to desert him in compliance with
the injunctions of monkish hypocrisy."
Dorriforth heard this, standing silently by, with a manly scorn upon his
countenance; but on Miss Milner's struggling to release her hand, which
Lord Frederick was devouring with kisses, with an instantaneous impulse
he rushed forward and struck him a violent blow in the face. Then,
leading her to her own chamber, covered with shame and confusion for
what he had done, he fell on his knees before her, and earnestly
"entreated her forgiveness for the indelicacy he had been guilty of in
To see her guardian at her feet struck her with a sense of impropriety
as if she had seen a parent there. All agitation and emotion, she
implored him to rise, and, with a thousand protestations, declared "that
she thought the rashness of his action was the highest proof of his
regard for her."
Finding that Lord Frederick had gone when he had resigned the care of
his ward to Miss Woodley, Dorriforth returned to his own apartment with
a bosom torn by excruciating sensations. He had departed from his sacred
character, and the dignity of his profession and sentiments; he had
treated with unpardonable insult a young nobleman whose only offence was
love; he had offended and filled with horror a beautiful young woman
whom it was his duty to protect from those brutal manners to which he
himself had exposed her.
The outcome of this incident was a duel, to prevent which Miss Milner
deceived him by confessing a passion for Lord Frederick, although to
Miss Woodley she avowed the real truth, that it was Dorriforth she
"Do you suppose I love Lord Frederick? Do you suppose I _can_ love him?
Oh, fly, and prevent my guardian from telling him this untruth! This
duel is horrible even beyond anything else! Oh, Miss Woodley, pity the
agonies of my heart, my heart by nature sincere, when such are the fatal
propensities it cherishes that I must submit to the grossest falsehoods
rather than reveal the truth! Are you so blind," she exclaimed, "as to
believe I do not care for Mr. Dorriforth? Oh, Miss Woodley, I love him
with all the passion of a woman, and with all the tenderness of a wife!"
"Silence!" cried Miss Woodley, struck with horror. Yet, amidst all her
grief and abhorrence, pity was still predominant, and, seeing her
friend's misery, she did all she could to comfort her. But she was
resolved that she should leave home, and, on pain of revealing her
secret to Mr. Dorriforth, induced her to pay a visit of indefinite
length to her friends at Bath.
There, in the melancholy that possessed her, Miss Woodley's letters
alone gave her consolation. In a short time her health became impaired;
she was once in imminent danger, and during her delirium incessantly
repeated her guardian's name. Miss Woodley journeyed to her at once, and
so did Dorriforth, who, through the death of his cousin, Lord Elmwood,
had acquired his title and estates. On this account he had received a
dispensation from his vow of celibacy, and was enjoined to marry. His
ward felt a pleasure so exquisite on hearing this that the agitation of
mind and person brought with it the sensation of exquisite pain; but, to
her cruel grief, she found that he was, on the advice of his friends,
already paying his addresses to Miss Fenton.
As if a poniard had thrust her to the heart, she writhed under this
unexpected stroke; she felt, and she expressed anguish. Lord Elmwood was
alarmed and shocked. But later, when, in his perplexity concerning his
ward's marriage, he induced Miss Woodley to tell him on whom Miss
Milner's choice was fixed, his vehemence filled her with alarm.
"For God's sake, take care what you are doing! You are destroying my
prospects of futurity, you are making this world too dear to me! I am
transported by the tidings you have revealed--and yet, perhaps, I had
better not have heard them!" he exclaimed. And then, to prevent further
question, he hastened out of the room.
Within a few days he was her professed lover--she, the happiest of human
beings--Miss Woodley partaking in the joy. Mr. Sandford alone lamented
with the deepest concern that Miss Fenton had been supplanted--and
supplanted by Miss Milner.
Yet Miss Fenton was perhaps affected least of any by the change; she
received everything with the same insipid smile of approbation, and the
same cold indifference.
_III.--A Fatal Experiment_
Lost in the maze of happiness that surrounded her, Miss Milner
oftentimes asked her heart, "Are not my charms even more invincible than
I ever believed them to be? Dorriforth, the grave, the pious, the
anchorite Dorriforth, by their force is animated to all the ardour of
the most impassioned lover; while the proud priest, the austere guardian,
is humbled, if I but frown, into the veriest slave of love." She then
asked: "Why did I not keep him longer in suspense? He could not have
loved me more, I believe, but my power over him might have been greater
still. I am the happiest of women in the affection he has proved to me,
but I wonder if it would exist under ill-treatment? If it would not, he
still does not love me as I wish to be loved; if it would, my triumph,
my felicity, would be enhanced."
Thus the dear-bought experiment of being loved in spite of her faults--a
glory proud women ever aspire to--was, at present, the ambition of Miss
Milner. She, who, as Dorriforth's ward had ever been gentle, and always
obedient, became as a mistress, sometimes haughty, always insolent. He
was surprised, but the novelty pleased him. Miss Milner, whom he
tenderly loved, could put on no change that did not seem to become her.
But at last her attempt to rouse his jealousy by again encouraging Lord
Frederick hurt him beyond measure. In a letter releasing her from her
engagement to him, and announcing his immediate departure for a long
Continental tour, he begged her for the short time they were to remain
together not to insult him with an open preference for another. By
complying with this request she would give him to believe that she
thought he had, at least, faithfully discharged some part of his duty.
She was struck to despair. Pride alone kept her from revealing her
anguish, though her death should be the immediate consequence! But
Sandford, who had hitherto been most inimical to her, on the evening
before Lord Elmwood's departure showed at last some kindness by
entreating her to breakfast with them the following morning. There she
sat silent, unable to eat, unable to speak, unable to move, until the
moment for parting came. Then, unable to repress her tears as
heretofore, as Elmwood took her hand in his, she suffered them to fall
"What is all this?" cried Sandford, going up to them in anger.
They neither of them replied, or changed their situation.
"Separate this moment!" cried Sandford. "Or resolve to be separated only
by--death! Lord Elmwood, do you love this woman?"
"More than my life!" he replied, with the most heartfelt accents.
He then turned to Miss Milner.
"Can you say the same by him?"
She spread her hands over her eyes, and exclaimed, "Oh, heavens!"
"I believe you can say so," returned Sandford. "And in the name of God,
and your own happiness, since this is the state of you both, let me put
it out of your power to part?"
On which he opened his book and--married them.
Nevertheless, on that joyful day which restored her lost lover to her
hopes again, even on that very day after the ceremony was over, Miss
Milner--with all the fears, the superstition of her sex--felt an
excruciating shock when, looking on the ring Lord Elmwood had put upon
her finger in haste, she perceived it was a mourning-ring.
Alas! in seventeen years the beautiful, beloved Miss Milner was no
longer beautiful, no longer beloved, no longer virtuous.
Dorriforth, the pious, the good, the tender Dorriforth, was become a
Miss Woodley had grown old, but less with years than grief.
The boy Harry Rushbrook had become a man and the apparent heir of Lord
Elmwood's fortune, while his own daughter, his only child by his
once-adored Miss Milner, he refused ever to see again, in vengeance to
her mother's crime.
Sandford alone remained much as heretofore.
Lady Elmwood was a loved and loving bride seventeen years ago; now she
lay on her death-bed. At thirty-five "her course was run." After four
years of perfect happiness, Lord Elmwood was obliged to leave his wife
and child while he went to visit his large estates in the West Indies.
His voyage was tedious, his return delayed by serious illness, which a
too cautious fear of her uneasiness prompted him to conceal. He was away
It was no other than Lord Frederick Lawnly to whom Lady Elmwood
sacrificed her own and her husband's future peace; she did not, however,
elope with her paramour, but escaped to shelter herself in the most
dreary retreat, where she partook of no comfort but the still
unremitting friendship of Miss Woodley. Even her child she left behind,
that she might be under her father's protection. Conceive, then, how
sharp her agony was on beholding the child sent after her as the
perpetual outcast of its father. Lord Elmwood's love to his wife had
been extravagant--the effect of his hate was the same. Once more he met
Lord Frederick in a duel, the effect of which was to leave his adversary
so defaced with scars as never again to endanger the honour of a
husband. He was himself dangerously wounded, yet nothing but the
assurance that his opponent was slain could tear him from the field.
Now, after ten years of exile, the once gay, volatile Miss Milner lay
dying with but one request to make--that her daughter should not suffer
for her sin. Sandford was with her; by all the influence he ever had
over Lord Elmwood, by his prayers, by his tears, he promised to implore
him to own his child. She could only smile her thanks, but she was
sufficiently sensible of his words to make a sign as if she wished to
embrace him; but, finding life leaving her fast, with a struggle she
clung to her child, and died in her arms.
_V.--His Daughter's Happiness_
Yet all that her mother's last appeal could obtain for the hapless
Matilda, not as her child, but as the granddaughter of Mr. Milner, was
the shelter of her father's roof on condition that she avoided his
sight. When by accident or design he ever saw or heard from her, that
moment his compliance with her mother's request ceased, and he abandoned
her once more. Still, the joy of being, even in so remote a way, under
her father's care, was extreme for her, though it was tempered with
jealousy of Rushbrook--a feeling which even her noble heart could not
completely quell--jealousy which was shared on her account by both Miss
Woodley and Mr. Sandford, and frequently made them unjust to Harry, whom
they regarded as an interloper.
But his passionate gratitude to Lady Elmwood, by whose entreaties he had
been restored to his uncle's favour, had made him adore her daughter
with an equal passion. He gazed with wonder at his uncle's insensibility
to his own happiness, and would gladly have led him to the jewel he cast
away, though even his own expulsion should be the fatal consequence.
At last, by accident, Lord Elmwood returned unexpectedly home when
Matilda was descending the staircase, and, in her affright, she fell
motionless into her father's arms. He caught her, as by the same impulse
he would have caught anyone falling for want of aid. Yet, when he found
her in his arms, he still held her there--gazed on her attentively--and
pressed her to his bosom.
At length, trying to escape the snare into which he had been led, he was
going to leave her on the spot where she fell, when her eyes opened, and
she uttered, "Save me!" Her voice unmanned him. His long-restraining
tears now burst forth, and, seeing her relapsing into the swoon, he
called out eagerly to recall her. Her name did not, however, come to his
recollection--nor any name but this--"Miss Milner, dear Miss Milner."
The sound did not awaken her; and now again he wished to leave her in
this senseless state, that not remembering what had passed, she might
escape the punishment.
But at this instant his steward passed, and into his hands he delivered
his apparently dead child, his face agitated with shame, with pity, with
anger, with paternal tenderness. On her recovery she was sent to a
neighbouring farm, not more than thirty miles away, her father having
given orders that it should be so.
Then a libertine lover of Lady Matilda's, finding her no longer under
her father's protection, resolved to abduct her, and by raising an alarm
of fire, caused all the inhabitants of the farmhouse to open the doors,
when two men rushed in, and, with the plea of saving her from the
flames, carried her away. News of this being taken to her father, he at
once set out in pursuit, and reached her in her last agony of despair,
folding her in his arms with the unrestrained fondness of a parent.
It was now the middle of November; and yet, as Matilda passed along,
never to her did the sun shine so bright as upon this morning; never did
her imagination comprehend that the human heart could feel happiness
true and genuine as hers!
Rushbrook had been detained at Elmwood during all this time, more from
the persuasions, nay, prayers, of Sandford than the commands of Lord
Elmwood. His uncle's summons for him to join them in town was,
therefore, received with delight. Yet his joy was tempered by finding
that it was to propose a matrimonial alliance that his uncle had sent
for him; after a thousand fears, much confusion, and embarrassment, he
at length frankly confessed his "heart was engaged, and had been so,
long before his uncle offered to direct his choice."
On hearing on whom he had set his affections, Lord Elmwood immediately
left the room for the apartment where Sandford, Miss Woodley, and
Matilda were sitting, and cried with an angry voice, and with his
countenance disordered, "Rushbrook has offended me beyond pardon. Go,
Sandford, and tell him this instant to quit my house, and never dare to
But Matilda impeded him, and throwing her arms about his neck, cried,
"Dear Mr. Sandford, do not!"
"How?" exclaimed her father.
She saw the impending frown, and knelt at his feet.
"Do you know what he has asked of me?" he asked.
"No," she replied, with the utmost innocence, "but whatever it is, my
lord, though you do not grant it, yet pardon him for asking."
"Perhaps you would grant him what he has requested?" said her father.
"Most willingly, were it in my gift."
"It is," replied he. "Go to him in the library, and hear what he has to
say; for on your will his fate shall depend."
Like lightning she flew out of the room; while even the grave Sandford
smiled at the idea of their meeting. And whether the heart of Matilda
could sentence Rushbrook to misery the reader is left to surmise; and if
he supposes that it could _not_ he has every reason to suppose that
their wedded life was--a life of happiness.
* * * * *
The son of a physician, George Payne Rainsford James was born
in London on August 9, 1799. He began to write early, and,
according to his own account, the volume of short stories
published under the title of "A String of Pearls" was written
before he was seventeen. As a contributor to the magazines and
newspapers, his name came under the notice of Washington
Irving, who encouraged him to produce, in 1823, his "Life of
Edward the Black Prince." "Richelieu," his first novel,
brought him warm praises from Sir Walter Scott, and, thus
fortified, James, who had had ambitions for a political life,
determined to continue his career as a novelist. His output of
fiction was amazing--he was the author of upwards of a hundred
novels. Of all his works perhaps his most characteristic is
"Henry Masterton," which appeared in 1832. More solid and less
melodramatic than his other stories, it abounds in picturesque
scenes, and has that pleasant spice of adventure that makes
for good romance. He died on June 9, 1860.
_I.--When Charles the First Was King_
In the earlier years of the reign of King Charles I., when already there
were signs of those disorders which were the prelude to the Great
Rebellion, one of the most prominent gentlemen at his majesty's court
was a certain Lord Langleigh.
Bold and rash in the extreme, Lord Langleigh, though no man could doubt
his whole-hearted devotion to his majesty, fell under the suspicion of
the king's councillors. These suspicions were given a form and direction
by Lord Ashkirk, an impoverished nobleman, who secretly lodged certain
charges of treason against Lord Langleigh, and obtained, as the price of
this betrayal, the wealth and the estate of Penford-bourne, that had
belonged to his victim.
Tried by his peers, and found guilty on false evidence, Lord Langleigh
awaited his death upon the scaffold in the prison-house of the Tower.
While expecting his fate, he sent for his great friend, Lord Masterton,
of Masterton House, Devonshire, to settle with him such details as were
necessary for the future welfare of his motherless daughter. Lord
Masterton immediately hastened to London and exerted all his influence
in an endeavour to secure a pardon for his friend. But his efforts were
in vain. At a last interview, he promised to undertake the charge of
Lord Landleigh's infant daughter, Emily, and voluntarily pledged himself
to see her married to his eldest son.
Then, on the morning of the execution, Langleigh contrived to escape
from the Tower.
In the company of the captain of the Tower guard he reached a ship bound
for the continent. The vessel was beset by a storm, and the only one of
its occupants that was able to tell the tale of the terrible disaster
was the captain of the guard, who, after exonerating everyone from a
share in his prisoner's escape, died from exhaustion.
Meanwhile, Lord Ashkirk had secured the price of his treason, and was in
the full enjoyment of the estates of Penford-bourne. Not even certain
domestic troubles that occurred regarding the marriage of his daughter,
Lady Eleanor, disturbed the serenity of his content. Before his
accession to the property of Lord Langleigh, Lord Ashkirk had betrothed
his daughter to his nephew, Walter Dixon, the son of a wealthy attorney,
who had married the peer's sister. The arrival of two Popish gentlemen,
Sir Andrew Fleming and M. du Tillet, caused him to alter his decision.
Sir Andrew fell in love with the wonderful beauty of Lady Eleanor and
easily persuaded Lord Ashkirk, himself a Cavalier and a papist, to
cancel the marriage with Walter Dixon, who had joined the Parliamentary
party. Lady Eleanor was duly united to Sir Andrew, and Walter Dixon,
deprived of his bride and the succession to the Penford-bourne estate,
determined to be revenged.
He found a means ready to his hand. Lady Eleanor pretended no affection
for her husband, and took a special delight in exciting his angry
jealousy. She accepted Du Tillet as a lover, and when Dixon, wounded in
a duel with her husband, was carried into the house, she nursed him with
so much apparent affection and attention that her husband's wrath passed
all bounds. A separation became necessary, and Sir Andrew Fleming
consented to leave the woman whose love he could not win.
Walter Dixon, so far satisfied, was yet determined to exact his full
tale of vengeance, and secure the rich lands and estates of
Penford-bourne. The death of Lord Ashkirk and the successful growth of
the Parliamentary party appeared to give him the opportunity he so
_II.--A Web of Intrigue_
At Masterton House, in Devonshire, Lord Masterton remained in
retirement, though the Parliamentary party carried all before them. He
would doubtless have continued to refrain from drawing his sword on
behalf of his king, who had wronged and insulted him, had not
circumstances forced his hand.
His tenantry were secretly armed and drilled, and, under the command of
Frank, were marched eastwards to Kent, to join Lord Norwich and Hales,
who were preparing a rising to rescue the king.
Frank, before leaving Masterton House, bade farewell to Lady Emily with
that cold reserve and studied formality which was part of his character.
The fact that she was betrothed to him by the commands of his father had
failed to arose any passion in his breast. He was prepared, however, to
fulfil the commands of Lord Masterton, though his heart was untouched.
But the parting between his brother and Lady Emily was of a different
character. Though out of loyalty to his brother no word of love had ever
passed his lips, Henry was passionately devoted to the beautiful girl
who had grown up with him under his father's roof. And there was no
doubt as to which of the brothers it was to whom Lady Emily had given
The arrival of the little force in Kent brought the two brothers into
the web of intrigue which was being spun by Walter Dixon. It was Dixon's
object to prevent the union of Frank's forces with Lord Norwich. He had
been promised the estates of Penford-bourne, should he succeed in his
object and prove Lady Eleanor a malignant. In pursuance of this plan, he
allowed himself to be taken prisoner by Henry Masterton, to whom he
declared that he was really a Royalist in disguise.
His next step was to obtain for the brothers an invitation from Lady
Eleanor to quarter themselves at Penford-bourne. Once he had settled
them there, he obtained, through Frank Masterton's valet, a puritanical
knave called Gabriel Jones, complete information as to their plans,
which he was thus able to thwart.
At Penford-bourne Frank came under the spell of Lady Eleanor's beauty;
all his duties were forgotten, and he lingered on by the side of the
woman he loved. In vain Henry protested against his dereliction of duty.
Frank refused to move, and it was not until his brother came in touch
with Lord Norwich that circumstances compelled him to act. Lord Norwich
was furious at Frank's conduct.
"I will give your brother one chance," he said to Henry. "If he refuses
that chance, I shall supersede him, and name you to the command. Here is
the commission. If you succeed in persuading him to join me at once, you
may burn it; if not, you must take the command, and march immediately."
Sadly, Henry returned to Penford-bourne. On the way, he overheard a
conversation between Walter Dixon and Gabriel Jones, which made it clear
that they were privy to a plot having for its object the ruin of Frank
Masterton. He at once placed them both under arrest, and hastened to his
brother's side. Frank obstinately determined not to move. Only the
intervention of Lady Eleanor induced him to promise to set out the next
But on the morrow Frank had an affair of honour with a mysterious man in
black, with whom he had quarrelled the night before.
Henry found him bleeding from two severe wounds, and then having issued
instructions for him to be removed to the house, rejoined his regiment,
and at once gave the order to march.
He reached Lord Norwich to find all his trouble in vain. Disaster had
dissolved the forces of the Cavaliers, and Lord Norwich had reluctantly
decided to abandon the attempt, and, disbanding his men, made the best
of his way into Essex. In the excitement of these events Walter Dixon
effected his escape.
On his way back to Penford-bourne, Henry learned that Lady Eleanor's
husband was still alive. He at once used this information to induce
Frank to leave the side of Lady Eleanor, and, in spite of his wounds, to
accompany him back to Devonshire. As the lovers parted, Henry overheard
their last words.
"Then I rely on you," said Frank, in a hasty voice. "You will not,
surely you will not fail me?"
"By all I hold dear on earth and beyond the earth," she replied, in low,
_III.--Days of Gloom_
To Lord Masterton Frank related the story of how he had been wounded in
the early part of the campaign and had been compelled to hand over the
command of his regiment to his brother. This piece of fiction set all
awkward questions at rest, and the old lord, satisfied that his son and
heir had covered himself with honour, hastened to arrange for his
nuptials with Lady Emily.
Both to Henry and to the girl these were days of gloom, but Frank, on
the other hand, was strangely happy and content. His passion for Lady
Eleanor was still unabated, and though, to gratify his father, he had
consented to marry Lady Emily, he had already taken such steps to
prevent their union as would leave his share in the matter undiscovered.
Dixon, though he had carried out his part of the bargain, had been
disgusted to discover that the Council of State, on some specious
excuse, refused to grant him the estates of Penford-bourne.
The day of the wedding arrived. By some secret arrangement with the
officiating clergyman, the service was unduly protracted. But at last
those words were reached which, if uttered, would make Frank and Lady
Emily one. Then, suddenly, armed men burst into the chapel and, reading
their warrant, demanded the arrest of Frank Masterton, as a malignant
lately in arms in Kent. The bridegroom offered no resistance. But it was
different with Lord Masterton. He boldly called upon the guests present
to draw their swords. A scuffle took place. Suddenly, from the gallery
above, the voice of Gabriel Jones gave the order to fire. A volley rang
out, and Lord Masterton fell dead at the feet of his son.
In the confusion, Henry seized Lady Emily, and shooting down Gabriel
Jones, escaped through a secret passage into the grounds. There he lay
hidden for some days, and then, when the coast was clear, secured a
passage in a smuggling ship for himself and Lady Emily, and her aunt,
Lady Margaret. Arrived in France, he placed the ladies in a convent at
Dinan, and made his way to England again, under an assumed name as a
commercial traveller for a French house, to learn the fate of his
Arrived in London, he obtained some news of his brother from a goldsmith
who had acted as the family banker for years past. Through the
assistance of Lady Eleanor, Frank Masterton had been set at liberty and
had taken his departure in the company of that lady to Paris. Thither,
Henry determined to follow them.
Before setting out, he paid a business call at a merchant's house, where
he found a man of distinguished appearance, whom he discovered to be
General Ireton. Hearing that Henry was bound for France, Ireton asked
him whether he would deliver a letter for him to General St. Maur. It
was a most important communication, he declared, insomuch as it was the
payment of a debt to a man to whom he owed much.
Warned by a footstep on the stairs, Ireton requested Henry to retire
into the adjoining room, as he had some business to transact. Through
the door, Henry heard the well-known voice of General Dixon. He was
complaining bitterly that Ireton had not carried out his promise, and
handed him over the estates of Penford-bourne.
"We have no excuse for sequestrating the estates," replied Ireton.
Walter Dixon was furious, declared that he had been made a tool of, and,
threatening Ireton, announced his intention of going to France. As soon
as he had taken his departure, Henry was summoned from the other room,
and being bidden to hold his tongue if he had heard anything, was
informed by Ireton that he would visit him that night with the package
he had requested him to deliver to General St. Maur.
Some hours later, when it was dark, Henry received his visitor; but the
unexpected arrival of the goldsmith, who addressed Henry by his real
name, disclosed his identity. Finding, however, that he intended him no
ill, Ireton questioned him closely as to what had brought him to London.
"To see whether I might not render some aid to my brother," Henry
replied, "after having placed the Lady Emily in safety."
"She was never in danger," replied Ireton quietly. "I would take good
care of that. I will still trust you with my commission. The time may
come when you will thank me for so doing."
With that he turned and left the room.
_IV.--The Mysterious Monk_
Chance ordained it that Henry Masterton should cross the Channel on the
same boat which was carrying General Dixon to France. The latter, with
what General Ireton had called "his blunt hypocrisy," frankly related to
Henry the motives that had influenced him in the part that he had
Arrived at Calais, the two men journeyed some part of the way together,
and before they separated Henry discovered something of the real
character of his companion by his familiarity with certain broken-down
Cavaliers, who, having lost all right to the title of gentlemen in their
own country, eked out a living by brigandage in France. After they had
separated, Henry lost his way, and arriving at night, drenched through
with the rain, at a certain chateau, begged its hospitality for a night.
He was led into the dining-room, and introduced to another guest who was
there--a Benedictine monk.
That night, while Henry lay in bed, he was startled to see the monk
standing by his side. He had come, he said, to ask him several
questions. In particular he wished to know whether his brother Frank had
married Lady Emily Langleigh. When Henry related how the marriage had
been prevented, the Benedictine suddenly sprang to his feet in a fury of
rage. When calmer, he asked Henry whether Frank had come to France
alone; but on this subject the young man preserved a discreet silence,
and after a few more questions, which proved the monk's extraordinary
familiarity with all Walter Dixon's intrigues at Penford-bourne, he left
The following day, Henry bade farewell to his courteous host, and made
his way to Dinan. There he found that the convent in which he had left
the two ladies had been burnt down; and he learnt that a strange
gentleman had called before this disaster, and had taken Lady Emily and
Lady Margaret away.
Bitterly disappointed, Henry made his way to Paris, where he found the
city in the throes of a civil war. Becoming unintentionally mixed up in
a petty skirmish between the court party and the Frondes, he was badly
wounded, and narrowly escaped hanging as an enemy of the Frondeurs.
Meanwhile, Frank Masterton, or Lord Masterton as he now was, was living
what he had fondly imagined would be the ideal life with the girl he
loved; but already he found it an illusion. His loss of honour, his
consciousness that his conduct was discreditable, plunged him into
bitter fits of remorse, from which he vainly sought relief by a round of
gaiety. Lady Eleanor saw these signs with terror and despair. Though she
had accomplished her desire, her life was unbearable; daily she grew
more miserable. At last she determined to end her earthly sufferings. In
her chamber she swallowed the fatal dose of poison with which, against
such a day, she had provided herself.
As she lay in the throes of death it chanced that Henry Masterton
arrived, having at length found his brother's place of residence. Henry
at once did everything possible to save Lady Eleanor's life, but, seeing
that the dark shadow deepened every moment, he hastened to fetch a
In the street he came upon the Benedictine, talking to Walter Dixon, and
bidding him follow, led him to the bedside of Lady Eleanor, and left him
alone with the dying woman.
Bending over her, the monk solemnly asked her if she had anything on her
mind which she wished to confess.
He pressed a cup to her lips; and in a slow, gasping voice she laid bare
the story of her life, and then went on to relate her feelings at her
first meeting with Frank Masterton.
"When we parted, and I thought of the man to whom I was bound for life,
what fearful feelings came across my bosom! Sir Andrew Fleming my
husband! Was it possible? I called to remembrance his look, his
harshness, his jealousy, and, oh, God! oh, God! how I did hate that
"Woman, woman!" exclaimed the monk, rising up from his seat, and casting
back the cowl from his head, "Oh, God! oh, God! how I did love you!"
Lady Eleanor's eyes fixed full upon his face. Before her stood, in the
garb of a Benedictine monk, Sir Andrew Fleming, her husband. For a
second she looked at him imploringly; then, with fearful strength, she
rose from her recumbent position, and clasping her hands as if in the
act of prayer, sank down upon her knees at his feet. A low moan escaped
from her lips. She fell forward on the ground, and the spirit departed
for ever from its clay.
The monk grasped his forehead with his hand, gazing at her with mingled
feelings of love, anger, sorrow, and despair; then, raising the body in
his arms, he placed it on the couch, and bending over it, three times
printed a long kiss upon the pale lips. Then, with his right hand thrust
into his robe, he rushed out of the room.
Outside in the hall there came towards him Lord Masterton, General
Dixon, and Henry. A look of deadly, concentrated hate came into Sir
Andrew Fleming's eyes. For a moment he paused; then, drawing a dagger
from his bosom, he flung himself on Lord Masterton, and, with one blow,
stretched him dead at his feet.
"Villain!" cried Walter Dixon. "Atrocious villain!"
With the rapidity of lightning he drew his sword, and at once passed it
through the body of the assassin.
To Walter Dixon, this scene of carnage, which he had planned with
elaborate care, seemed to ensure his long delayed possession of the
Penford-bourne estates. Lady Eleanor was dead; her husband, Sir Andrew
had fallen by his hand, and there were no lives now between him and his
rightful possession of the property. But once more he was doomed to
As soon as he had an opportunity Henry sought out General St. Maur, and
handed him the package he had received from Ireton. The general pressed
him to stay to dinner, and while the meal progressed, extracted from him
something of his story. When the meal was nearly over, the door suddenly
opened, and a dog rushed to him, barking joyously. It was his own
dog--the dog he had brought with him from Masterton House, and left with
Lady Emily! How had it come there? Amazed, he was about to ask for an
explanation, when Lady Emily herself stood before him. In another moment
the lovers were in one another's arms.
Henry, astonished as he was at these events, was still more surprised
when he learnt that General St. Maur was really Lord Langleigh, the
father of Emily. He had not, as all the world had thought, been drowned
in his escape from the Tower. In the wreck, he had succeeded in saving
not only his own life, but the life of a young man named Ireton. Ireton
had never forgotten the debt, and now, in the package which Henry had
brought over from England, had endeavoured to repay it. He had persuaded
the Council that the estates of Penford-bourne had been improperly
sequestrated by King Charles, and should be returned to their lawful
owner, Lord Langleigh; and the letter contained a decree of the Council
once more granting him his lands and title.
When Walter Dixon heard of these events, which again snatched the prize
for which he had attempted so much from his lips, he determined on yet
another effort to achieve his object. Bribing two men to assist him in
the deed, he lured Lord Langleigh into an ambush. Only the prompt
arrival of Henry Masterton prevented the success of this foul deed; and
it was Dixon himself who fell a victim.
Lord Langleigh, too good a Cavalier, courteously refused the offers of
the Council of State, and remained in France until the Restoration,
when, with Henry, now Lord Masterton, and his wife, Lady Emily, he
returned to Penford-bourne to spend the remainder of his days in his
* * * * *
Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia
Samuel Johnson was born at Lichfield in Staffordshire, on
September 18, 1709, and died in London, December 13, 1784. In
Volume IX of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS appears an epitome of
Boswell's famous "Life of Johnson." "The History of Rasselas,
Prince of Abyssinia," was written by Dr. Johnson in order to
meet the expenses incurred by his mother's illness and death.
According to Boswell, the work was composed in the evenings of
one week, and the sheets sent to the printers exactly as they
left his hands, without even being read over by the author
himself. It was published during the early part of 1759,
Johnson receiving for it the sum of L100, and a further amount
of L25 when it came to a second edition. Of all Johnson's
works, "Rasselas" was apparently the most popular. By 1775 it
reached its fifth edition, and has since been translated into
many languages. The work is more of a satire on optimism and
on human life in general than a novel, and perhaps is little
more than a ponderous dissertation on Johnson's favourite
theme, the "vanity of human wishes." As to its actual merits,
Johnson's contemporaries differed widely, some proclaiming him
a pompous pedant with a passion for words of six syllables and
more, others delighting in those passages in which weighty
meaning was illustrated with splendour and vigour.
_I.--Life in the Happy Valley_
Rasselas was the fourth son of the mighty emperor in whose dominions the
father of waters begins his course, whose bounty pours down the streams
of plenty, and scatters over the world the harvests of Egypt.
According to the custom which has descended from age to age among the
monarchs of the torrid zone, the prince was confined in a private
palace, with the other sons and daughters of Abyssinian royalty, till
the order of succession should call him to the throne.
The place which the wisdom, or policy, of antiquity had designed for the
residence of the princes was a spacious valley in the kingdom of Amhara,
surrounded on every side by mountains of which the summits overhang the
middle part. The only passage by which it could be entered was a cavern
that passed under a rock, of which it had long been disputed whether it
was the work of nature or of human industry. The outlet of the cavern
was concealed by a thick wood, and the mouth, which opened into the
valley, was closed with gates of iron, forged by the artificers of
ancient days, so massive that no man, without the help of engines, could
open or shut them.
From the mountains on every side rivulets descended that filled all the
valley with verdure and fertility, and formed a lake in the middle,
inhabited by fish of every species, and frequented by every fowl whom
nature has taught to dip the wing in water.
The valley, wide and fruitful, supplied its inhabitants with all the
necessaries of life, and all delights and superfluities were added at
the annual visit which the emperor paid his children, when the iron gate
was opened to the sound of music; and during eight days every one that
resided in the valley was required to propose whatever might contribute
to make seclusion pleasant, to fill up the vacancies of attention, and
to lessen the tediousness of time. Every desire was immediately
gratified. Such was the appearance of security and delight which this
retirement afforded that they to whom it was new always desired that it
might be perpetual; and as those on whom the iron gate had once closed
were never suffered to return, the effect of longer experience could not
Here the sons and daughters of Abyssinia lived only to know the soft
vicissitudes of pleasure and repose. The sages who instructed them told
them of nothing but the miseries of public life, and described all
beyond the mountains as regions of calamity where discord was always
raging, and where man preyed upon man. These methods were generally
successful. Few of the princes had ever wished to enlarge their bounds;
they rose in the morning and lay down at night, pleased with each other
and with themselves. All but Rasselas, who, in the twenty-sixth year of
his age, began to withdraw himself from the pastimes and assemblies, and
to delight in solitary walks and silent meditation. His attendants
observed the change, and endeavoured to renew his love of pleasure; but
he neglected their officiousness and repulsed their invitations.
One day his old instructor began to lament the change which had been
lately observed in him, and to inquire why he so often retired from the
pleasures of the palace to loneliness and silence.
"I fly from pleasure," said the prince, "because pleasure has ceased to
please. I am lonely because I am miserable, and am unwilling to cloud
with my presence the happiness of others."
"You, sir," said the sage, "are the first who has complained of misery
in the Happy Valley. I hope to convince you that your complaints have no
real cause. Look round and tell me which of your wants is without
supply. If you want nothing, how are you unhappy?"
"That I want nothing," said the prince, "or that I know not what I want,
is the cause of my complaint. If I had only known a want, I should have
a certain wish, and that wish would excite endeavour for its
satisfaction. I have already enjoyed too much. Give me something to
"Sir," said the old man, "if you had seen the miseries of the world, you
would know how to value your present state."
"Now," said the prince, "you have given me something to desire. I shall
long to see the miseries of the world, since the sight of them is
necessary to happiness."
_II.--The Escape Into the Outer World_
The stimulus of this new desire--the desire of seeing the world--soon
had its effect in making Rasselas no longer gloomy and unsociable.
Considering himself as master of a secret stock of happiness, he
affected to be busy in all the assemblies and schemes of diversion,
because he supposed the frequency of his presence necessary to the
success of his purposes. He retired gladly to privacy, because in
picturing to himself that world which he had never seen he had now a
subject of thought.
Thus passed twenty months of his life; he busied himself so intensely in
visionary bustle that he forgot his real solitude. But one day the
consciousness of his own folly and inaction pierced him deeply. He
compared twenty months with the life of man. "The period of human
existence," said he, "may be reasonably estimated at forty years, of
which I have mused away the four-and-twentieth part."
These sorrowful meditations fastened upon his mind; he passed four
months in resolving to lose no more time in idle resolves. Then,
awakening to more vigorous exertion, he for a few hours regretted his
regret, and from that time bent his whole mind upon the means of
escaping from the Valley of Happiness.
He now found that it would be very difficult to effect that which it was
very easy to suppose effected. He passed week after week in clambering
the mountains, but found all the summits inaccessible by their
prominence. The iron gate was not only secured with all the power of
art, but was always watched by successive sentinels. In these fruitless
researches he spent ten months. The time, however, passed cheerfully
away, for he met a thousand amusements which beguiled his labour and
diversified his thought.
A little while afterwards he began to cherish hopes of escaping from the
valley by quite a different way. Among the artists allowed there, to
labour for the accommodation and pleasure of its inhabitants, was a man
eminent for his knowledge of the mechanic powers, who had contrived many
engines both of use and recreation. He interested the prince in a
project of flying, and undertook to construct a pair of wings, in which
he would himself attempt an aerial flight. But, alas! when in a year's
time the wings were ready, and their contriver waved them and leaped
from the little promontory on which he had taken his stand, he merely
dropped into the lake, his wings only serving to sustain him in the
The prince was not much afflicted by this disaster, and he soon forgot
any disappointment he had felt in the society and conversation of a new
artist--a poet called Imlac--who delighted him by the narrative of his
travels and dealings with men in various parts of Africa and Asia.
"Hast thou here found happiness at last?" asked Rasselas. "Tell me,
without reserve, art thou content with thy condition, or dost thou wish
to be again wandering and inquiring? All the inhabitants of this valley
celebrate their lot, and at the annual visit of the emperor invite
others to partake of their felicity. Is this felicity genuine or
"Great prince," said Imlac, "I shall speak the truth. I know not one of
all your attendants who does not lament the hour when he entered this
retreat. I am less unhappy than the rest, because I have a mind replete
with images, which I can vary and combine at pleasure. The rest, whose
minds have no impression but the present moment, are either corroded by
malignant passions, or sit steeped in the gloom of perpetual vacancy."
"What passions can infect those," said the prince, "who have no rivals?
We are in a place where impotence precludes malice, and where all envy
is repressed by community of enjoyments."
"There may be community of material possessions," said Imlac, "but there
can never be community of love or of esteem. It must happen that one
will please more than another. He that knows himself despised will
always be envious, and still more envious and malevolent if he is
condemned to live in the presence of those who despise him. The
invitations by which the inhabitants of the valley allure others to a
state which they feel to be wretched proceed from the natural malignity
of hopeless misery. I look with pity on the crowds who are annually
soliciting admission to captivity, and wish that it were lawful for me
to warn them of their danger."
Upon this hint, Rasselas opened his whole heart to Imlac, who, promising
to assist him to escape, proposed the plan of piercing the mountain. A
suitable cavern having been found, the two men worked arduously at their
task, and within a few days had accomplished it. A few more days passed,
and Rasselas and Imlac, with the prince's sister, Nekayah, had gone by
ship to Suez, and thence to Cairo.
_III.--The Search for Happiness_
The prince and princess, who carried with them jewels sufficient to make
them rich in any place of commerce, gradually succeeded in mixing in the
society of the city; and for some time the former, who had been wont to
ponder over what _choice of life_ he should make, thought choice
needless because all appeared to him really happy.
Imlac was unwilling to crush the hope of inexperience. Till one day,
having sat awhile silent, "I know not," said Rasselas, "what can be the
reason that I am more unhappy than any of my friends. I see them
perpetually and unalterably cheerful, but feel my own mind restless and
uneasy. I am unsatisfied with those pleasures which I seem most to
court. I live in the crowds of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as
to shun myself, and am only loud and merry to conceal my sadness."
"Every man," said Imlac, "may, by examining his own mind, guess what
passes in the minds of others. When you feel that your own gaiety is
counterfeit, it may justly lead you to suspect that of your companions
not to be sincere. Envy is commonly reciprocal. We are long before we
are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it
to be possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for
"This," said the prince, "may be true of others, since it is true of me;
yet whatever be the general infelicity of man, one condition is more
happy than another, and wisdom surely directs us to take the least evil
in the _choice of life_."
"Very few," said the poet, "live by choice. Every man is placed in the
present condition by causes which acted without his foresight, and with
which he did not always willingly co-operate; and, therefore, you will
rarely meet one who does not think the lot of his neighbour better than
Rasselas resolved, however, to continue his experiments on life. As he
was one day walking in the street, he saw a spacious building, which all
were, by the open doors, invited to enter. He found it a hall of
declamation, and listened to a sage who discoursed with great energy on
the conquest of the passions, and displayed the happiness of those who
had obtained this important victory, after which man is no longer the
slave of fear, nor the fool of hope; is no more emaciated by envy,
inflamed by anger, emasculated by tenderness, or depressed by grief.
Receiving permission to visit this philosopher--having, indeed,
purchased it by presenting him with a purse of gold--Rasselas returned
home with joy to Imlac.
"I have found," said he, "a man who, from the unshaken throne of
rational fortitude, looks down on the scenes of life changing beneath
him. I will learn his doctrines and imitate his life."
"Be not too hasty," said Imlac, "to trust or to admire the teachers of
morality; they discourse like angels, but they live like men."
Imlac's caution turned out to be wise, for when the prince paid his
visit a few days afterwards, he found the philosopher weeping over the
death of his only daughter, and refusing to be comforted by any of the
consolations that truth and reason could afford.
Still eager upon the same inquiry, and resolving to discover whether
that felicity which public life could not afford was to be found in
solitude, Rasselas determined to visit a hermit who lived near the
lowest cataract of the Nile and filled the whole country with the fame
of his sanctity, Imlac and the princess agreeing to accompany him. On
the third day they reached the cell of the holy man, who was desired to
give his direction as to a choice of life.
"He will most certainly remove from evil," said the prince, "who shall
devote himself to that solitude which you have recommended by your
"I have no desire that my example should gain any imitators," replied
the hermit. "In my youth I professed arms, and was raised by degrees to
the highest military rank. At last, being disgusted by the preferments
of a younger officer, I resolved to close my life in peace, having found
the world full of snares, discord, and misery. For some time after my
retreat I rejoiced like a tempest-beaten sailor at his entrance into the
harbour. When the pleasure of novelty went away, I employed my hours in
examining the plants and minerals of the place. But that inquiry is now
grown tasteless and irksome, and I have been for some time unsettled and
distracted. I am sometimes ashamed to think that I could not secure
myself from vice but by retiring from the exercise of virtue, and begin
to suspect that I was rather impelled by resentment than led by devotion
into solitude. I have been long comparing the evils with the advantages
of society, and resolve to return into the world to-morrow."
They accompanied him back to the city, on which, as he approached it, he
gazed with rapture.
A day or two later Rasselas was relating his interview with the hermit
at an assembly of learned men, who met at stated intervals to compare
"The way to be happy," said one of them, "is to live according to
nature, in obedience to that universal and unalterable law with which
every heart is originally impressed; which is not written on it by
precept, but engraven by design, not instilled by education, but infused
at our nativity."
When he had spoken, he looked round him with a placid air, and enjoyed
the consciousness of his own beneficence.
"Sir," said the prince, with great modesty, "as I, like all the rest of
mankind, am desirous of felicity, my closest attention has been fixed
upon your discourse. I doubt not the truth of a position which so
learned a man has so confidently advanced. Let me only know what it is
to live according to nature."
"When I find young men so humble and so docile," said the philosopher,
"I can deny them no information which my studies have enabled me to
afford. To live according to nature is to act always with due regard to
the fitness arising from the relations and qualities of causes and
effects; to concur with the great and unchangeable scheme of universal
felicity; to co-operate with the general disposition and tendency of the
present system of things."
The prince soon found that this was a sage whom he should understand
less as he heard him longer. He therefore bowed, and was silent; and the
philosopher, supposing him satisfied, departed with the air of a man who
had co-operated with the present system.
_IV.--Happiness They Find Not_
Rasselas returned home full of reflections, and finding that Imlac
seemed to discourage a continuance of the search, began _to_ discourse
more freely with his sister, who had yet the same hope with himself.
"We will divide the task between us," said she. "You shall try what is
to be found in the splendour of courts, and I will range the shades of
Accordingly, the prince appeared next day, with a splendid retinue, at
the court of the bassa. But he soon found that the lives of courtiers
are a continual succession of plots and detections, stratagems and
escapes, faction and treachery. Many of those who surrounded the bassa
were sent only to watch him, and to report his conduct to the sultan. At
last the letters of revocation arrived, the bassa was carried in chains
to Constantinople, and in a short time the sultan that had deposed him
was murdered by the Janissaries.
The princess, who, in the meantime, had insinuated herself into many
private families, proved equally unsuccessful in her inquiries. She
found not one house that was not haunted by some fury that destroyed its
"In families where there is or is not poverty," said she, "there is
commonly discord. The love of parents and children seldom continues
beyond the years of infancy; in a short time the children become rivals
to their parents. Each child endeavours to appropriate the esteem or
fondness of the parents, and the parents betray each other to their
children. The opinions of children and parents, of the young and the
old, are naturally opposite, by the contrary effects of hope and
despondence, of expectation and experience. Age looks with anger on the
temerity of youth; and youth with contempt on the scrupulosity of age."
"Surely," said the prince, "you must have been unfortunate in your
choice of acquaintance. I am unwilling to believe that the most tender
of all relations is thus impeded in its effects by natural necessity."
"Domestic discord," answered she, "is not inevitably necessary; but it
is not easily avoided. We seldom see that a whole family is virtuous.
The good and the evil cannot well agree; the evil can yet less agree
with one another, and even the virtuous fall sometimes to variance when
their virtues are of different kinds. As for those who live single, I
never found that their prudence ought to raise envy. They dream away
their time without friendship and without fondness, and are driven to
rid themselves of the day, for which they have no use, by childish
amusements and vicious delights. They act as beings under the constant
sense of some known inferiority, that fills their minds with rancour,
and their tongues with censure."
"I cannot forbear to flatter myself," said Rasselas, "that prudence and
benevolence will make marriage happy. What can be expected but
disappointment and repentance from a choice made in the immaturity of
youth, in the ardour of desire, without judgment, without foresight,
without inquiry after conformity of opinions, similarity of manners,
rectitude of judgment, or purity of sentiment. From these early
marriages proceed the rivalry of parents and children.
"The son is eager to enjoy the world before the father is willing to
forsake it, and there is hardly room at once for two generations. The
daughter begins to bloom before the mother can be content to fade, and
neither can forbear to wish for the absence of the other. Surely all
these evils may be avoided by that deliberation and delay which prudence
prescribes to irrevocable choice."
"And yet," said Nekayah, "I have been told that late marriages are not
eminently happy. It has generally been determined that it is dangerous
for a man and woman to suspend their fate upon each other at a time when
opinions are fixed and habits are established, when friendships have
been contracted on both sides, and when life has been planned into
At this point Imlac entered, and having refused to talk upon the subject
of their discourse, persuaded them to visit the great pyramid.
"I consider this mighty structure," said he, as they reposed in one of
its chambers, "as a monument of the insufficiency of human enjoyments. A
king, whose power is unlimited, and whose treasures surmount all real
and imaginary wants, is compelled to solace, by the erection of a
pyramid, the satiety of dominion and tastelessness of pleasures, and to
amuse the tediousness of declining life by seeing thousands labouring
without end, and one stone, for no purpose, laid upon another."
Soon afterwards the prince told Imlac that he intended to devote himself
to science, and to pass the rest of his days in retirement.
"Before you make your final choice," answered Imlac, "you ought to
examine its hazards, and to converse with some of those who are grown
old in the company of themselves."
He then introduced him to a learned astronomer, who had meditated over
his science and over visionary schemes for so long that he believed that
he possessed the regulation of the weather, and the distribution of the
A visit made subsequently to the catacombs tended still further to give
a grave and sombre direction to the thoughts of the party.
"How gloomy," said Rasselas, "would be these mansions of the dead to him
who did not know that he should never die; that what now acts shall
continue its agency, and what now thinks shall think on forever. Those
that lie here stretched before us, the wise and the powerful of ancient
times, warn us to remember the shortness of our present state; they
were, perhaps, snatched away while they were busy, like us, in the
choice of life."
"To me," said the princess, "the choice of life is become less
important; I hope, hereafter, to think only on the choice of eternity."
It was now the time of the inundations of the Nile, and the searchers
for happiness were, of necessity, confined to their house. Being,
however, well supplied with materials for talk, they diverted themselves
with comparisons of the different forms of life which they had observed,
and with various schemes of happiness which each of them had formed--
schemes which now they well knew would never be carried out.
They deliberated with Imlac what was to be done, and finally resolved,
when the inundation should cease, to return to Abyssinia.
* * * * *
Timar's Two Worlds
Maurus Jokai, by common consent the greatest Hungarian
novelist of the nineteenth century, was born at Komarom on
February 19, 1825. Trained for the law, as an advocate he
achieved the distinction of winning his first case. The
drudgery of a lawyer's office, however, proved uncongenial to
him, and fired by the success of his first play, "The Jew Boy"
("Zsido fiu"), he went to Pest, where he devoted himself to
journalism, in due course becoming editor of "Eletkepek," a
leading Hungarian literary periodical. At the outbreak of the
Revolution of 1848, he threw himself in with the supporters of
the national cause. From that time until his death--which
occurred on May 4, 1904--Jokai identified himself considerably
with politics. Of all his novels perhaps, "Az arany ember" ("A
Man of Gold"), translated into English under the title of
"Timar's Two Worlds," takes the highest place. Its reputation
has long since spread outside the boundaries of Hungary, and
the story itself--a rare combination of descriptive power,
humour, and pathos--has exercised no small influence upon
European fiction of the romantic order.
_I.--How Ali Saved his Daughter_
A mountain-chain, pierced through from base to summit--a gorge four
miles in length walled in by lofty precipices; and between these walls
flows the Danube in its rocky bed.
At this time there were no steamers on the Danube, but a vessel, called
the St. Barbara, approaches, drawn against the stream by thirty-two
horses. The fate of the vessel lies in the hands of two men--the pilot
and the captain.
The name of the captain is Michael Timar. He is a man of about thirty,
with fair hair and dreary blue eyes.
At the door of the ship's cabin sits a man of fifty, smoking a Turkish
chibouque. Euthemio Trikaliss is the name under which he is registered
in the way-book, and he is the owner of the cargo. The ship itself
belongs to a merchant of Komorn called Athanas Brazovics.
Out of one of the cabin windows looks the face of a young girl, Timea,
the daughter of Euthemio, and the face is as white as marble. Timea and
her father are the only passengers of the St. Barbara.
When the captain lays aside his speaking-trumpet he has time to chat
with Timea, who understands only modern Greek, which the captain speaks
It is always a dangerous voyage, for the current is fierce and the rocks
are death-traps. To-day, too, the St. Barbara was pursued by a Turkish
gunboat. But the vessel makes its way safely, in spite of current and
rocks, and the Turkish gunboat gives up the chase.
Three days later the St. Barbara has reached the island of Orsova; the
plains of Hungary are to the north of the river, Servia to the south.
Provisions had run short, and Timar decided to go on shore. There were
no signs of human habitation at first, but Timar's sharp eyes had
discovered a faint smoke rising above the tops of the poplars. He worked
his way in a small skiff through the reeds, reached dry land, pushed
through hedges and bushes, and then stood transfixed with admiration.
A cultivated orchard of some five or six acres was before him, and
beyond that a flower-garden, full of summer bloom.
Timar went up through the orchard and flower garden to a cottage, built
partly in the rock, and covered with creepers. A huge, black
Newfoundland dog was lying before the door.
A woman's voice answered Timar's "good-morning," and the dog raised no
objection to the captain going indoors.
"It never hurts good people," said the woman.
Timar explained his mission. The wind had brought his vessel to a
standstill; he was short of provisions, and he had two passengers who
would be grateful for shelter on land for the night.
The woman promised him food and a room for his passengers in exchange
for grain, and at her word the dog brought him by a better path to the
Presently Timar was back again with Euthemio and Timea, and now a young
girl appeared, whom the housewife called Noemi.
Before supper was over, the growling of the dog announced a new arrival,
and a man of youthful appearance, who introduced himself as Theodor
Krisstyan, an old friend of the lady of the house, whom he called Madame
Therese, entered and made himself quickly at home. It was plain that his
hostess both feared and disliked Theodor, while Timar, who had met him
before, regarded him as a spy in the pay of the Turkish government.
In the morning the wind had gone down, Theodor had vanished, and Timar
and his passengers prepared to renew their journey.
Therese told Timar her story before he left; how she and her daughter
Noemi had lived there for twelve years, and who the objectionable
Theodor was. Then she added, in a whisper, "I fancy this man Krisstyan's
visit was either on your account, or that of the other gentleman. Be on
your guard if either of you dread the discovery of a secret."
Trikaliss looked very gloomy when he heard the stranger had left before
sunrise, and the following night he called Timar to his cabin.
"I am dying," he said. "I want to die--I have taken poison. Timea will
not wake till all is over. My true name is not Euthemio Trikaliss, but
Ali Tschorbadschi. I was once governor of Candia, and then treasurer in
Stamboul. You know there is a revolution proceeding in Turkey; my turn
was coming. Not that I was a conspirator, but the treasury wanted my
money and the seraglio my daughter. Death is easy for me, but I will not
let my daughter go into the harem nor myself be made a beggar. Therefore
I hired your vessel, and loaded it with grain. The owner, Athanas
Brazovics, is a connection of mine; I have often shown him kindness, he
can return it now. By a miracle we got safely through the rocks and
whirlpools of the river, and eluded the pursuit of the Turkish
brigantine, and now I stumble over a straw into my grave.
"That man who followed us last evening was a spy of the Turkish
government. He recognised me, and sealed my fate. The government would
not demand me from Austria as a political refugee, but as a thief. This
is unjust, for what I took was my own. But I am pursued as a thief, and
Austria gives up escaped thieves if Turkish spies can trace them. By
dying I can save my daughter and her property. Swear to me by your faith
and your honour you will carry out my instructions. Here in this casket
is about a thousand ducats. Take Timea to Athanas Brazovics, and beg him
to adopt my daughter. Give him the money, he must spend it on the
education of the child, and give him also the cargo, and beg him to be
present when the sacks are emptied. You understand?"
The dying man looked in Timar's face, and struggled for breath.
"Yes--the Red Crescent!" he stammered. "The Red Crescent!" Then the
death-throes closed his lips--one struggle, and he was a corpse.
_II.--Timor Tempted and Fallen_
When the St. Barbara had nearly reached Komorn it struck an uprooted
tree, lying in ambush under water, and immediately began to sink. It is
absolutely impossible to save a vessel wrecked in this way. The crew all
left the sinking craft, and Timar rescued Timea, and with her the casket
with the thousand ducats.
Then the captain drove off with the fatherless girl to the house of
Athanas Brazovics in the town of Komorn.
At first Athanas kissed Timea very heartily, but when he learnt that his
vessel was lost, and all Timea's property, except the thousand ducats,
and the wheat sacks--now spoilt by water--he altered his tune.
He and his wife Sophie decided that Timea should live with them as an
adopted child, and at the same time attend on their daughter Athalie as
a waiting-maid. Athalie and her mother treated the poor girl with
As for Timar, Athanas turned on him savagely, as though the captain
could have prevented the wreck!
On the advice of his friend, Lieutenant Katschuka, who was betrothed to
Athalie, Timar purchased the sunken grain next day when it was put up
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