Jezebel's Daughter HTML version

Chapter I.24
Almost instantaneously Madame Fontaine recovered her self-control.
"I really couldn't help feeling startled," she said, explaining herself to Fritz and to me.
"The last time I saw this man, he was employed in a menial capacity at the University of
Wurzburg. He left us one day, nobody knew why. And he suddenly appears again,
without a word of warning, in this house."
I looked at Jack. A smile of mischievous satisfaction was on his face. He apparently
enjoyed startling Madame Fontaine. His expression changed instantly for the better, when
Minna approached and spoke to him.
"Don't you remember me, Hans?" she said.
"Oh, yes, Missie, I remember you. You are a good creature. You take after your papa. He
was a good creature--except when he had his beastly medical bottles in his hand. But, I
say, I mustn't be called by the name they gave me at the University! I was a German then-
-I am an Englishman now. All nations are alike to me. But I am particular about my
name, because it's the name Mistress knew me by. I will never have another. 'Jack Straw,'
if you please. There's my name, and I am proud of it. Lord! what an ugly little hat you
have got on your head! I'll soon make you a better one." He turned on Madame Fontaine,
with a sudden change to distrust.
"I don't like the way you spoke of my leaving the University, just now. I had a right to go,
if I liked--hadn't I?"
"Oh, yes, Hans."
"Not Hans! Didn't you hear what I mentioned just now? Say Jack."
She said it, with a ready docility which a little surprised me.
"Did I steal anything at the University?" Jack proceeded.
"Not that I know of."
"Then speak respectfully of me, next time. Say, 'Mr. Jack retired from the University, in
the exercise of his discretion.' " Having stated this formula with an air of great
importance, he addressed himself to me. "I appeal to you," he said. "Suppose you had lost
your color here" (he touched his cheek), "and your color there" (he touched his hair);
"and suppose it had happened at the University--would you" (he stood on tip-toe, and
whispered the next words in my ear) would you have stopped there, to be poisoned
again? No!" he cried, raising his voice once more, "you would have drifted away like me.
From Germany to France; from France to England--and so to London, and so under the
feet of her Highness's horses, and so to Bedlam, and so to Mistress. Oh, Lord help me,
I'm forgetting the bell! good-bye, all of you. Let me be in my corner till the bell rings."