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Robert Louis Stevenson
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Robert Louis Stevenson
and accustomed to take the world with as much philosophy as any ploughman, the Prince of Bohemia was not without a taste for ways of life more adventurous and ec-Nights
centric than that to which he was destined by his birth.
Now and then, when he fell into a low humour, when there was no laughable play to witness in any of the London by
theatres, and when the season of the year was unsuitable to those field sports in which he excelled all competitors, Robert Louis Stevenson
he would summon his confidant and Master of the Horse, Colonel Geraldine, and bid him prepare himself against an evening ramble. The Master of the Horse was a young of-THE SUICIDE CLUB
ficer of a brave and even temerarious disposition. He greeted the news with delight, and hastened to make ready.
STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN
Long practice and a varied acquaintance of life had given WITH THE CREAM TARTS
him a singular facility in disguise; he could adapt not only his face and bearing, but his voice and almost his thoughts, DURING HIS RESIDENCE in London, the accomplished Prince to those of any rank, character, or nation; and in this way Florizel of Bohemia gained the affection of all classes by he diverted attention from the Prince, and sometimes gained the seduction of his manner and by a well-considered gen-admission for the pair into strange societies. The civil au-erosity. He was a remarkable man even by what was known thorities were never taken into the secret of these adven-of him; and that was but a small part of what he actually tures; the imperturbable courage of the one and the ready did. Although of a placid temper in ordinary circumstances, 4
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invention and chivalrous devotion of the other had brought cursion, when the swing doors were pushed violently them through a score of dangerous passes; and they grew open, and a young man, followed by a couple of in confidence as time went on.
commissionaires, entered the bar. Each of the One evening in March they were driven by a sharp fall of commissionaires carried a large dish of cream tarts under sleet into an Oyster Bar in the immediate neighbourhood a cover, which they at once removed; and the young man of Leicester Square. Colonel Geraldine was dressed and made the round of the company, and pressed these con-painted to represent a person connected with the Press in fections upon every one’s acceptance with an exagger-reduced circumstances; while the Prince had, as usual, trav-ated courtesy. Sometimes his offer was laughingly ac-estied his appearance by the addition of false whiskers and cepted; sometimes it was firmly, or even harshly, rejected.
a pair of large adhesive eyebrows. These lent him a shaggy In these latter cases the new-comer always ate the tart and weather-beaten air, which, for one of his urbanity, himself, with some more or less humorous commentary.
formed the most impenetrable disguise. Thus equipped, the At last he accosted Prince Florizel.
commander and his satellite sipped their brandy and soda
“Sir,” said he, with a profound obeisance, proffering the in security.
tart at the same time between his thumb and forefinger, The bar was full of guests, male and female; but though
“will you so far honour an entire stranger? I can answer more than one of these offered to fall into talk with our for the quality of the pastry, having eaten two dozen and adventurers, none of them promised to grow interesting three of them myself since five o’clock.” upon a nearer acquaintance. There was nothing present
“I am in the habit,” replied the Prince, “of looking not so but the lees of London and the commonplace of disre-much to the nature of a gift as to the spirit in which it is spectability; and the Prince had already fallen to yawn-offered.”
ing, and was beginning to grow weary of the whole ex-
“The spirit, sir,” returned the young man, with another 5
Robert Louis Stevenson
bow, “is one of mockery.”
have already a deep interest in your very agreeable mode
“Mockery?” repeated Florizel. “And whom do you proof passing an evening. And now that the preliminaries of pose to mock?”
peace are settled, allow me to sign the treaty for both.”
“I am not here to expound my philosophy,” replied the And the Prince swallowed the tart with the best grace other, “but to distribute these cream tarts. If I mention that imaginable.
I heartily include myself in the ridicule of the transaction, I
“It is delicious,” said he.
hope you will consider honour satisfied and condescend.
“I perceive you are a connoisseur,” replied the young man.
If not, you will constrain me to eat my twenty-eighth, and Colonel Geraldine likewise did honour to the pastry; and I own to being weary of the exercise.” every one in that bar having now either accepted or refused
“You touch me,” said the Prince, “and I have all the will his delicacies, the young man with the cream tarts led the in the world to rescue you from this dilemma, but upon way to another and similar establishment. The two one condition. If my friend and I eat your cakes – for which commissionaires, who seemed to have grown accustomed we have neither of us any natural inclination – we shall to their absurd employment, followed immediately after; and expect you to join us at supper by way of recompense.” the Prince and the Colonel brought up the rear, arm in arm, The young man seemed to reflect.
and smiling to each other as they went. In this order the
“I have still several dozen upon hand,” he said at last; company visited two other taverns, where scenes were en-
“and that will make it necessary for me to visit several more acted of a like nature to that already described – some refus-bars before my great affair is concluded. This will take some ing, some accepting, the favours of this vagabond hospital-time; and if you are hungry – “
ity, and the young man himself eating each rejected tart.
The Prince interrupted him with a polite gesture.
On leaving the third saloon the young man counted his
“My friend and I will accompany you,” he said; “for we store. There were but nine remaining, three in one tray and 6
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six in the other.
an exaggerated reputation for some little while, but had
“Gentlemen,” said he, addressing himself to his two new already begun to be forgotten, and in a private room up followers, “I am unwilling to delay your supper. I am posi-two pair of stairs, the three companions made a very el-tively sure you must be hungry. I feel that I owe you a egant supper, and drank three or four bottles of champagne, special consideration. And on this great day for me, when talking the while upon indifferent subjects. The young man I am closing a career of folly by my most conspicuously was fluent and gay, but he laughed louder than was natural silly action, I wish to behave handsomely to all who give in a person of polite breeding; his hands trembled violently, me countenance. Gentlemen, you shall wait no longer. Al-and his voice took sudden and surprising inflections, which though my constitution is shattered by previous excesses, seemed to be independent of his will. The dessert had been at the risk of my life I liquidate the suspensory condition.” cleared away, and all three had lighted their cigars, when With these words he crushed the nine remaining tarts the Prince addressed him in these words:-
into his mouth, and swallowed them at a single movement
“You will, I am sure, pardon my curiosity. What I have each. Then, turning to the commissionaires, he gave them seen of you has greatly pleased but even more puzzled me.
a couple of sovereigns.
And though I should be loth to seem indiscreet, I must tell
“I have to thank you,” said be, “for your extraordinary you that my friend and I are persons very well worthy to patience.”
be entrusted with a secret. We have many of our own, which And he dismissed them with a bow apiece. For some sec-we are continually revealing to improper ears. And if, as I onds he stood looking at the purse from which he had just suppose, your story is a silly one, you need have no deli-paid his assistants, then, with a laugh, he tossed it into the cacy with us, who are two of the silliest men in England.
middle of the street, and signified his readiness for supper.
My name is Godall, Theophilus Godall; my friend is Major In a small French restaurant in Soho, which had enjoyed Alfred Hammersmith – or at least, such is the name by 7
Robert Louis Stevenson
which he chooses to be known. We pass our lives entirely it has been my chief delight to indulge. I received a good in the search for extravagant adventures; and there is no education. I can play the violin nearly well enough to earn extravagance with which we are not capable of sympathy.” money in the orchestra of a penny gaff, but not quite. The
“I like you, Mr. Godall,” returned the young man; “you same remark applies to the flute and the French horn. I inspire me with a natural confidence; and I have not the learned enough of whist to lose about a hundred a year at slightest objection to your friend the Major, whom I take that scientific game. My acquaintance with French was to be a nobleman in masquerade. At least, I am sure he is sufficient to enable me to squander money in Paris with no soldier.”
almost the same facility as in London. In short, I am a per-The Colonel smiled at this compliment to the perfection son full of manly accomplishments. I have had every sort of his art; and the young man went on in a more animated of adventure, including a duel about nothing. Only two manner.
months ago I met a young lady exactly suited to my taste
“There is every reason why I should not tell you my story.
in mind and body; I found my heart melt; I saw that I had Perhaps that is just the reason why I am going to do so. At come upon my fate at last, and was in the way to fall in least, you seem so well prepared to hear a tale of silliness love. But when I came to reckon up what remained to me that I cannot find it in my heart to disappoint you. My of my capital, I found it amounted to something less than name, in spite of your example, I shall keep to myself. My four hundred pounds! I ask you fairly – can a man who age is not essential to the narrative. I am descended from respects himself fall in love on four hundred pounds? I my ancestors by ordinary generation, and from them I in-concluded, certainly not; left the presence of my charmer, herited the very eligible human tenement which I still oc-and slightly accelerating my usual rate of expenditure, came cupy and a fortune of three hundred pounds a year. I sup-this morning to my last eighty pounds. This I divided into pose they also handed on to me a hare-brain humour, which two equal parts; forty I reserved for a particular purpose; 8
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the remaining forty I was to dissipate before the night. I this supper a folly like my cream tarts? Has the devil brought have passed a very entertaining day, and played many three of his own together for a last carouse?” farces besides that of the cream tarts which procured me
“The devil, depend upon it, can sometimes do a very the advantage of your acquaintance; for I was determined, gentlemanly thing,” returned Prince Florizel; “and I am so as I told you, to bring a foolish career to a still more much touched by this coincidence, that, although we are foolish conclusion; and when you saw me throw my purse not entirely in the same case, I am going to put an end to into the street, the forty pounds were at an end. Now you the disparity. Let your heroic treatment of the last cream know me as well as I know myself: a fool, but consistent tarts be my example.”
in his folly; and, as I will ask you to believe, neither a So saying, the Prince drew out his purse and took from it whimperer nor a coward.”
a small bundle of bank-notes.
From the whole tone of the young man’s statement it was
“You see, I was a week or so behind you, but I mean to plain that he harboured very bitter and contemptuous thoughts catch you up and come neck and neck into the winning-about himself. His auditors were led to imagine that his love post,” he continued. “This,” laying one of the notes upon affair was nearer his heart than he admitted, and that he had a the table, “will suffice for the bill. As for the rest – “ design on his own life. The farce of the cream tarts began to He tossed them into the fire, and they went up the chim-have very much the air of a tragedy in disguise.
ney in a single blaze.
“Why, is this not odd,” broke out Geraldine, giving a The young man tried to catch his arm, but as the table look to Prince Florizel, “that we three fellows should have was between them his interference came too late.
met by the merest accident in so large a wilderness as Lon-
“Unhappy man,” he cried, “you should not have burned don, and should be so nearly in the same condition?” them all! You should have kept forty pounds.”
“How?” cried the young man. “Are you, too, ruined? Is
“Forty pounds!” repeated the Prince. “Why, in heaven’s 9
Robert Louis Stevenson
name, forty pounds?”
“or else a millionaire.”
“Why not eighty?” cried the Colonel; “for to my certain
“Enough, sir,” said the Prince; “I have said so, and I am knowledge there must have been a hundred in the bundle.” not accustomed to have my word remain in doubt.”
“It was only forty pounds he needed,” said the young
“Ruined?” said the young man. “Are you ruined, like me?
man gloomily. “But without them there is no admission.
Are you, after a life of indulgence, come to such a pass The rule is strict. Forty pounds for each. Accursed life, that you can only indulge yourself in one thing more? Are where a man cannot even die without money!” you” – he kept lowering his voice as he went on – “are you The Prince and the Colonel exchanged glances. “Explain going to give yourselves that last indulgence? Are you going yourself,” said the latter. “I have still a pocket-book toler-to avoid the consequences of your folly by the one infal-ably well lined, and I need not say how readily I should lible and easy path? Are you going to give the slip to the share my wealth with Godall. But I must know to what sheriff’s officers of conscience by the one open door?” end: you must certainly tell us what you mean.” Suddenly he broke off and attempted to laugh.
The young man seemed to awaken; he looked uneasily
“Here is your health!” he cried, emptying his glass, “and from one to the other, and his face flushed deeply.
good night to you, my merry ruined men.”
“You are not fooling me?” he asked. “You are indeed Colonel Geraldine caught him by the arm as he was about ruined men like me?”
“Indeed, I am for my part,” replied the Colonel.
“You lack confidence in us,” he said, “and you are wrong.
“And for mine,” said the Prince, “I have given you proof.
To all your questions I make answer in the affirmative. But Who but a ruined man would throw his notes into the fire?
I am not so timid, and can speak the Queen’s English plainly.
The action speaks for itself.”
We too, like yourself, have had enough of life, and are
“A ruined man – yes,” returned the other suspiciously, determined to die. Sooner or later, alone or together, we 10
New Arabian Nights
meant to seek out death and beard him where he lies ready.
Since we have met you, and your case is more pressing, let Geraldine ostentatiously consulted his pocket-book, and it be to-night – and at once – and, if you will, all three replied in the affirmative.
together. Such a penniless trio,” he cried, “should go arm
“Fortunate beings!” cried the young man. “Forty pounds in arm into the halls of Pluto, and give each other some is the entry money of the Suicide Club.” countenance among the shades!”
“The Suicide Club,” said the Prince, “why, what the devil Geraldine had hit exactly on the manners and intonations is that?”
that became the part he was playing. The Prince himself
“Listen,” said the young man; “this is the age of conve-was disturbed, and looked over at his confidant with a shade niences, and I have to tell you of the last perfection of the of doubt. As for the young man, the flush came back darkly sort. We have affairs in different places; and hence rail-into his cheek, and his eyes threw out a spark of light.
ways were invented. Railways separated us infallibly from
“You are the men for me!” he cried, with an almost ter-our friends; and so telegraphs were made that we might rible gaiety. “Shake hands upon the bargain!” (his hand communicate speedier at great distances. Even in hotels was cold and wet). “You little know in what a company we have lifts to spare us a climb of some hundred steps.
you will begin the march! You little know in what a happy Now, we know that life is only a stage to play the fool moment for yourselves you partook of my cream tarts! I upon as long as the part amuses us. There was one more am only a unit, but I am a unit in an army. I know Death’s convenience lacking to modern comfort; a decent, easy way private door. I am one of his familiars, and can show you to quit that stage; the back stairs to liberty; or, as I said this into eternity without ceremony and yet without scandal.” moment, Death’s private door. This, my two fellow-rebels, They called upon him eagerly to explain his meaning.
is supplied by the Suicide Club. Do not suppose that you
“Can you muster eighty pounds between you?” he de-and I are alone, or even exceptional in the highly reason-11
Robert Louis Stevenson
able desire that we profess. A large number of our fellow-now (consulting his watch) eleven; by half-past, at latest, men, who have grown heartily sick of the performance in we must leave this place; so that you have half-an-hour which they are expected to join daily and all their lives before you to consider my proposal. It is more serious than long, are only kept from flight by one or two considera cream tart,” he added, with a smile; “and I suspect more ations. Some have families who would be shocked, or even palatable.”
blamed, if the matter became public; others have a weak-
“More serious, certainly,” returned Colonel Geraldine; ness at heart and recoil from the circumstances of death.
“and as it is so much more so, will you allow me five min-That is, to some extent, my own experience. I cannot put a utes’ speech in private with my friend, Mr. Godall?” pistol to my head and draw the trigger; for something stron-
“It is only fair,” answered the young man. “If you will ger than myself withholds the act; and although I loathe permit, I will retire.”
life, I have not strength enough in my body to take hold of
“You will be very obliging,” said the Colonel.
death and be done with it. For such as I, and for all who As soon as the two were alone – “What,” said Prince desire to be out of the coil without posthumous scandal, Florizel, “is the use of this confabulation, Geraldine? I see the Suicide Club has been inaugurated. How this has been you are flurried, whereas my mind is very tranquilly made managed, what is its history, or what may be its ramifica-up. I will see the end of this.”
tions in other lands, I am myself uninformed; and what I
“Your Highness,” said the Colonel, turning pale; “let me know of its constitution, I am not at liberty to communi-ask you to consider the importance of your life, not only to cate to you. To this extent, however, I am at your service.
your friends, but to the public interest. ‘If not to-night,’
If you are truly tired of life, I will introduce you to-night to said this madman; but supposing that to-night some irrepa-a meeting; and if not to-night, at least some time within the rable disaster were to overtake your Highness’s person, week, you will be easily relieved of your existences. It is what, let me ask you, what would be my despair, and what 12
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the concern and disaster of a great nation?” way before the cab stopped at the entrance to a rather dark
“I will see the end of this,” repeated the Prince in his court. Here all descended.
most deliberate tones; “and have the kindness, Colonel After Geraldine had paid the fare, the young man turned, Geraldine, to remember and respect your word of honour and addressed Prince Florizel as follows:-
as a gentleman. Under no circumstances, recollect, nor
“It is still time, Mr. Godall, to make good your escape without my special authority, are you to betray the incog-into thraldom. And for you too, Major Hammersmith. Re-nito under which I choose to go abroad. These were my flect well before you take another step; and if your hearts commands, which I now reiterate. And now,” he added, say no – here are the cross-roads.”
“let me ask you to call for the bill.”
“Lead on, sir,” said the Prince. “I am not the man to go Colonel Geraldine bowed in submission; but he had a back from a thing once said.”
very white face as he summoned the young man of the
“Your coolness does me good,” replied their guide. “I have cream tarts, and issued his directions to the waiter. The never seen any one so unmoved at this conjuncture; and yet Prince preserved his undisturbed demeanour, and described you are not the first whom I have escorted to this door.
a Palais Royal farce to the young suicide with great humour More than one of my friends has preceded me, where I knew and gusto. He avoided the Colonel’s appealing looks withI must shortly follow. But this is of no interest to you. Wait out ostentation, and selected another cheroot with more me here for only a few moments; I shall return as soon as I than usual care. Indeed, he was now the only man of the have arranged the preliminaries of your introduction.” party who kept any command over his nerves.
And with that the young man, waving his hand to his The bill was discharged, the Prince giving the whole companions, turned into the court, entered a doorway and change of the note to the astonished waiter; and the three disappeared.
drove off in a four-wheeler. They were not long upon the
“Of all our follies,” said Colonel Geraldine in a low voice, 13
Robert Louis Stevenson
“this is the wildest and most dangerous.”
“Follow me,” was the reply. “The President will see you
“I perfectly believe so,” returned the Prince.
in the cabinet. And let me warn you to be frank in your
“We have still,” pursued the Colonel, “a moment to our-answers. I have stood your guarantee; but the club requires selves. Let me beseech your Highness to profit by the op-a searching inquiry before admission; for the indiscretion portunity and retire. The consequences of this step are so of a single member would lead to the dispersion of the dark, and may be so grave, that I feel myself justified in whole society for ever.”
pushing a little farther than usual the liberty which your The Prince and Geraldine put their heads together for a Highness is so condescending as to allow me in private.” moment. “Bear me out in this,” said the one; and “bear me
“Am I to understand that Colonel Geraldine is afraid?” out in that,” said the other; and by boldly taking up the asked his Highness, taking his cheroot from his lips, and characters of men with whom both were acquainted, they looking keenly into the other’s face.
had come to an agreement in a twinkling, and were ready
“My fear is certainly not personal,” replied the other to follow their guide into the President’s cabinet.
proudly; “of that your Highness may rest well assured.” There were no formidable obstacles to pass. The outer
“I had supposed as much,” returned the Prince, with un-door stood open; the door of the cabinet was ajar; and disturbed good humour; “but I was unwilling to remind there, in a small but very high apartment, the young man you of the difference in our stations. No more – no more,” left them once more.
he added, seeing Geraldine about to apologise, “you stand
“He will be here immediately,” he said, with a nod, as he excused.”
And he smoked placidly, leaning against a railing, until Voices were audible in the cabinet through the folding the young man returned.
doors which formed one end; and now and then the noise
“Well,” he asked, “has our reception been arranged?” of a champagne cork, followed by a burst of laughter, in-14
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tervened among the sounds of conversation. A single tall looked sagaciously and coldly at the strangers. He was window looked out upon the river and the embankment; dressed in light tweeds, with his neck very open in a striped and by the disposition of the lights they judged themselves shirt collar; and carried a minute book under one arm.
not far from Charing Cross station. The furniture was
“Good evening,” said he, after he had closed the door scanty, and the coverings worn to the thread; and there behind him. “I am told you wish to speak with me.” was nothing movable except a hand-bell in the centre of a
“We have a desire, sir, to join the Suicide Club,” replied round table, and the hats and coats of a considerable party the Colonel.
hung round the wall on pegs.
The President rolled his cigar about in his mouth. “What
“What sort of a den is this?” said Geraldine.
is that?” he said abruptly.
“That is what I have come to see,” replied the Prince. “If
“Pardon me,” returned the Colonel, “but I believe you are they keep live devils on the premises, the thing may grow the person best qualified to give us information on that point.” amusing.”
“I?” cried the President. “A Suicide Club? Come, come!
Just then the folding door was opened no more than was this is a frolic for All Fools’ Day. I can make allowances necessary for the passage of a human body; and there en-for gentlemen who get merry in their liquor; but let there tered at the same moment a louder buzz of talk, and the be an end to this.”
redoubtable President of the Suicide Club. The President
“Call your Club what you will,” said the Colonel, “you was a man of fifty or upwards; large and rambling in his have some company behind these doors, and we insist on gait, with shaggy side whiskers, a bald top to his head, and joining it.”
a veiled grey eye, which now and then emitted a twinkle.
“Sir,” returned the President curtly, “you have made a mis-His mouth, which embraced a large cigar, he kept continu-take. This is a private house, and you must leave it instantly.” ally screwing round and round and from side to side, as he The Prince had remained quietly in his seat throughout 15
Robert Louis Stevenson
this little colloquy; but now, when the Colonel looked over into which he shut the Colonel.
to him, as much as to say, “Take your answer and come
“I believe in you,” he said to Florizel, as soon as they away, for God’s sake!” he drew his cheroot from his mouth, were alone; “but are you sure of your friend?” and spoke -
“Not so sure as I am of myself, though he has more co-
“I have come here,” said he, “upon the invitation of a gent reasons,” answered Florizel, “but sure enough to bring friend of yours. He has doubtless informed you of my in-him here without alarm. He has had enough to cure the tention in thus intruding on your party. Let me remind you most tenacious man of life. He was cashiered the other day that a person in my circumstances has exceedingly little to for cheating at cards.”
bind him, and is not at all likely to tolerate much rudeness.
“A good reason, I daresay,” replied the President; “at I am a very quiet man, as a usual thing; but, my dear sir, least, we have another in the same case, and I feel sure of you are either going to oblige me in the little matter of him. Have you also been in the Service, may I ask?” which you are aware, or you shall very bitterly repent that
“I have,” was the reply; “but I was too lazy, I left it early.” you ever admitted me to your ante-chamber.”
“What is your reason for being tired of life?” pursued the The President laughed aloud.
“That is the way to speak,” said he. “You are a man who
“The same, as near as I can make out,” answered the is a man. You know the way to my heart, and can do what Prince; “unadulterated laziness.”
you like with me. Will you,” he continued, addressing The President started. “D-n it,” said he, “you must have Geraldine, “will you step aside for a few minutes? I shall something better than that.”
finish first with your companion, and some of the club’s
“I have no more money,” added Florizel. “That is also a formalities require to be fulfilled in private.” vexation, without doubt. It brings my sense of idleness to With these words he opened the door of a small closet, an acute point.”
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The President rolled his cigar round in his mouth for some of honour or any of the consolations of religion left to him.
seconds, directing his gaze straight into the eyes of this Florizel signed the document, but not without a shudder; unusual neophyte; but the Prince supported his scrutiny the Colonel followed his example with an air of great de-with unabashed good temper.
pression. Then the President received the entry money; and
“If I had not a deal of experience,” said the President at without more ado, introduced the two friends into the last, “I should turn you off. But I know the world; and this smoking-room of the Suicide Club.
much any way, that the most frivolous excuses for a sui-The smoking-room of the Suicide Club was the same cide are often the toughest to stand by. And when I down-height as the cabinet into which it opened, but much larger, right like a man, as I do you, sir, I would rather strain the and papered from top to bottom with an imitation of oak regulation than deny him.”
wainscot. A large and cheerful fire and a number of gas-The Prince and the Colonel, one after the other, were jets illuminated the company. The Prince and his follower subjected to a long and particular interrogatory: the Prince made the number up to eighteen. Most of the party were alone; but Geraldine in the presence of the Prince, so that smoking, and drinking champagne; a feverish hilarity the President might observe the countenance of the one reigned, with sudden and rather ghastly pauses.
while the other was being warmly cross-examined. The
“Is this a full meeting?” asked the Prince.
result was satisfactory; and the President, after having
“Middling,” said the President. “By the way,” he added, booked a few details of each case, produced a form of
“if you have any money, it is usual to offer some cham-oath to be accepted. Nothing could be conceived more pagne. It keeps up a good spirit, and is one of my own passive than the obedience promised, or more stringent little perquisites.”
than the terms by which the juror bound himself. The man
“Hammersmith,” said Florizel, “I may leave the cham-who forfeited a pledge so awful could scarcely have a rag pagne to you.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
And with that he turned away and began to go round dow, with his head hanging and his hands plunged deep among the guests. Accustomed to play the host in the high-into his trouser pockets, pale, visibly moist with perspira-est circles, he charmed and dominated all whom he ap-tion, saying never a word, a very wreck of soul and body; proached; there was something at once winning and au-the other sat on the divan close by the chimney, and at-thoritative in his address; and his extraordinary coolness tracted notice by a trenchant dissimilarity from all the rest.
gave him yet another distinction in this half maniacal soci-He was probably upwards of forty, but he looked fully ten ety. As he went from one to another he kept both his eyes years older; and Florizel thought he had never seen a man and ears open, and soon began to gain a general idea of the more naturally hideous, nor one more ravaged by disease people among whom he found himself. As in all other places and ruinous excitements. He was no more than skin and of resort, one type predominated: people in the prime of bone, was partly paralysed, and wore spectacles of such youth, with every show of intelligence and sensibility in unusual power, that his eyes appeared through the glasses their appearance, but with little promise of strength or the greatly magnified and distorted in shape. Except the Prince quality that makes success. Few were much above thirty, and the President, he was the only person in the room who and not a few were still in their teens. They stood, leaning preserved the composure of ordinary life.
on tables and shifting on their feet; sometimes they smoked There was little decency among the members of the club.
extraordinarily fast, and sometimes they let their cigars go Some boasted of the disgraceful actions, the consequences out; some talked well, but the conversation of others was of which had reduced them to seek refuge in death; and the plainly the result of nervous tension, and was equally with-others listened without disapproval. There was a tacit un-out wit or purport. As each new bottle of champagne was derstanding against moral judgments; and whoever passed opened, there was a manifest improvement in gaiety. Only the club doors enjoyed already some of the immunities of two were seated – one in a chair in the recess of the win-the tomb. They drank to each other’s memories, and to 18
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those of notable suicides in the past. They compared and This flutter and big talk is out of place.” developed their different views of death – some declaring In the meanwhile Colonel Geraldine was a prey to the that it was no more than blackness and cessation; others blackest apprehensions; the club and its rules were still a full of a hope that that very night they should be scaling the mystery, and he looked round the room for some one who stars and commencing with the mighty dead.
should be able to set his mind at rest. In this survey his eye
“To the eternal memory of Baron Trenck, the type of lighted on the paralytic person with the strong spectacles; suicides!” cried one. “He went out of a small cell into a and seeing him so exceedingly tranquil, he besought the smaller, that he might come forth again to freedom.” President, who was going in and out of the room under a
“For my part,” said a second, “I wish no more than a pressure of business, to present him to the gentleman on bandage for my eyes and cotton for my ears. Only they the divan.
have no cotton thick enough in this world.” The functionary explained the needlessness of all such A third was for reading the mysteries of life in a future state; formalities within the club, but nevertheless presented Mr.
and a fourth professed that he would never have joined the Hammersmith to Mr. Malthus.
club, if he had not been induced to believe in Mr. Darwin.
Mr. Malthus looked at the Colonel curiously, and then
“I could not bear,” said this remarkable suicide, “to be requested him to take a seat upon his right.
descended from an ape.”
“You are a new-comer,” he said, “and wish information?
Altogether, the Prince was disappointed by the bearing You have come to the proper source. It is two years since and conversation of the members.
I first visited this charming club.”
“It does not seem to me,” he thought, “a matter for so The Colonel breathed again. If Mr. Malthus had fre-much disturbance. If a man has made up his mind to kill quented the place for two years there could be little danger himself, let him do it, in God’s name, like a gentleman.
for the Prince in a single evening. But Geraldine was none 19
Robert Louis Stevenson
the less astonished, and began to suspect a mystification.
“Indeed!” cried Geraldine, “he had not greatly prepos-
“What!” cried he, “two years! I thought – but indeed I sessed me.”
see I have been made the subject of a pleasantry.”
“Ah!” said Mr. Malthus, “you do not know the man: the
“By no means,” replied Mr. Malthus mildly. “My case is drollest fellow! What stories! What cynicism! He knows peculiar. I am not, properly speaking, a suicide at all; but, life to admiration and, between ourselves, is probably the as it were, an honorary member. I rarely visit the club twice most corrupt rogue in Christendom.” in two months. My infirmity and the kindness of the Presi-
“And he also,” asked the Colonel, “is a permanency –
dent have procured me these little immunities, for which like yourself, if I may say so without offence?” besides I pay at an advanced rate. Even as it is my luck has
“Indeed, he is a permanency in a very different sense from been extraordinary.”
me,” replied Mr. Malthus. “I have hem graciously spared,
“I am afraid,” said the Colonel, “that I must ask you to but I must go at last. Now he never plays. He shuffles and be more explicit. You must remember that I am still most deals for the club, and makes the necessary arrangements.
imperfectly acquainted with the rules of the club.” That man, my dear Mr. Hammersmith, is the very soul of
“An ordinary member who comes here in search of death ingenuity. For three years he has pursued in London his like yourself,” replied the paralytic, “returns every evening useful and, I think I may add, his artistic calling; and not so until fortune favours him. He can even, if he is penniless, much as a whisper of suspicion has been once aroused. I get board and lodging from the President: very fair, I be-believe him myself to be inspired. You doubtless remem-lieve, and clean, although, of course, not luxurious; that ber the celebrated case, six months ago, of the gentleman could hardly be, considering the exiguity (if I may so ex-who was accidentally poisoned in a chemists shop? That press myself) of the subscription. And then the President’s was one of the least rich, one of the least racy, of his no-company is a delicacy in itself.”
tions; but then, how simple! and how safe!” 20
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“You astound me,” said the Colonel. “Was that unfortu-one of them that has not been grossly and untruthfully over-nate gentleman one of the – “ He was about to say “vic-rated. People trifle with love. Now, I deny that love is a tims”; but bethinking himself in time, he substituted – “mem-strong passion. Fear is the strong passion; it is with fear bers of the club?”
that you must trifle, if you wish to taste the intensest joys In the same flash of thought, it occurred to him that Mr.
of living. Envy me – envy me, sir,” he added with a chuckle, Malthus himself had not at all spoken in the tone of one
“I am a coward!”
who is in love with death; and he added hurriedly: Geraldine could scarcely repress a movement of repul-
“But I perceive I am still in the dark. You speak of shuf-sion for this deplorable wretch; but he commanded himself fling and dealing; pray for what end? And since you seem with an effort, and continued his inquiries.
rather unwilling to die than otherwise, I must own that I
“How, sir,” he asked, “is the excitement so artfully pro-cannot conceive what brings you here at all.” longed? and where is there any element of uncertainty?”
“You say truly that you are in the dark,” replied Mr.
“I must tell you how the victim for every evening is se-Malthus with more animation. “Why, my dear sir, this club lected,” returned Mr. Malthus; “and not only the victim, is the temple of intoxication. If my enfeebled health could but another member, who is to be the instrument in the support the excitement more often, you may depend upon club’s hands, and death’s high priest for that occasion.” it I should be more often here. It requires all the sense of
“Good God!” said the Colonel, “do they then kill each duty engendered by a long habit of ill-health and careful other?”
regimen, to keep me from excess in this, which is, I may
“The trouble of suicide is removed in that way,” returned say, my last dissipation. I have tried them all, sir,” he went Malthus with a nod.
on, laying his hand on Geraldine’s arm, “all without excep-
“Merciful heavens!” ejaculated the Colonel, “and may tion, and I declare to you, upon my honour, there is not you – may I -may the – my friend I mean – may any of us 21
Robert Louis Stevenson
be pitched upon this evening as the slayer of another man’s gnancy. You will understand how vapid are all amusements body and immortal spirit? Can such things be possible to a man who has acquired a taste for this one. The game among men born of women? Oh! infamy of infamies!” we play,” he continued, “is one of extreme simplicity. A He was about to rise in his horror, when he caught the full pack – but I perceive you are about to see the thing in Prince’s eye. It was fixed upon him from across the room progress. Will you lend me the help of your arm? I am with a frowning and angry stare. And in a moment Geraldine unfortunately paralysed.”
recovered his composure.
Indeed, just as Mr. Malthus was beginning his descrip-
“After all,” he added, “why not? And since you say the tion, another pair of folding-doors was thrown open, and game is interesting, vogue la galere – I follow the club!” the whole club began to pass, not without some hurry, into Mr. Malthus had keenly enjoyed the Colonel’s amaze-the adjoining room. It was similar in every respect to the ment and disgust. He had the vanity of wickedness; and it one from which it was entered, but somewhat differently pleased him to see another man give way to a generous furnished. The centre was occupied by a long green table, movement, while he felt himself, in his entire corruption, at which the President sat shuffling a pack of cards with superior to such emotions.
great particularity. Even with the stick and the Colonel’s
“You now, after your first moment of surprise,” said he, arm, Mr. Malthus walked with so much difficulty that ev-
“are in a position to appreciate the delights of our society.
ery one was seated before this pair and the Prince, who You can see how it combines the excitement of a gaming-had waited for them, entered the apartment; and, in conse-table, a duel, and a Roman amphitheatre. The Pagans did quence, the three took seats close together at the lower well enough; I cordially admire the refinement of their end of the board.
minds; but it has been reserved for a Christian country to
“It is a pack of fifty-two,” whispered Mr. Malthus. “Watch attain this extreme, this quintessence, this absolute of poi-for the ace of spades, which is the sign of death, and the 22
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ace of clubs, which designates the official of the night.
were all very quiet and intent; every one was pale, but none Happy, happy young men!” he added. “You have good eyes, so pale as Mr. Malthus. His eyes protruded; his head kept and can follow the game. Alas! I cannot tell an ace from a nodding involuntarily upon his spine; his hands found their deuce across the table.”
way, one after the other, to his mouth, where they made And he proceeded to equip himself with a second pair of clutches at his tremulous and ashen lips. It was plain that spectacles.
the honorary member enjoyed his membership on very star-
“I must at least watch the faces,” he explained.
The Colonel rapidly informed his friend of all that he had
“Attention, gentlemen!” said the President.
learned from the honorary member, and of the horrible al-And he began slowly dealing the cards about the table in ternative that lay before them. The Prince was conscious the reverse direction, pausing until each man had shown of a deadly chill and a contraction about his heart; he swal-his card. Nearly every one hesitated; and sometimes you lowed with difficulty, and looked from side to side like a would see a player’s fingers stumble more than once be-man in a maze.
fore he could turn over the momentous slip of pasteboard.
“One bold stroke,” whispered the Colonel, “and we may As the Prince’s turn drew nearer, he was conscious of a still escape.”
growing and almost suffocating excitement; but he had But the suggestion recalled the Prince’s spirits.
somewhat of the gambler’s nature, and recognised almost
“Silence!” said be. “Let me see that you can play like a with astonishment, that there was a degree of pleasure in gentleman for any stake, however serious.” his sensations. The nine of clubs fell to his lot; the three of And he looked about him, once more to all appearance spades was dealt to Geraldine; and the queen of hearts to at his ease, although his heart beat thickly, and he was con-Mr. Malthus, who was unable to suppress a sob of relief.
scious of an unpleasant heat in his bosom. The members The young man of the cream tarts almost immediately af-23
Robert Louis Stevenson
terwards turned over the ace of clubs, and remained fro-The Prince and Geraldine made their escape at once. In zen with horror, the card still resting on his finger; he had the cold night air their horror of what they had witnessed not come there to kill, but to be killed; and the Prince in his was redoubled.
generous sympathy with his position almost forgot the peril
“Alas!” cried the Prince, “to be bound by an oath in such that still hung over himself and his friend.
a matter! to allow this wholesale trade in murder to be The deal was coming round again, and still Death’s card continued with profit and impunity! If I but dared to forfeit had not come out. The players held their respiration, and my pledge!”
only breathed by gasps. The Prince received another club;
“That is impossible for your Highness,” replied the Colo-Geraldine had a diamond; but when Mr. Malthus turned up nel, “whose honour is the honour of Bohemia. But I dare, his card a horrible noise, like that of something breaking, and may with propriety, forfeit mine.” issued from his mouth; and he rose from his seat and sat
“Geraldine,” said the Prince, “if your honour suffers in down again, with no sign of his paralysis. It was the ace of any of the adventures into which you follow me, not only spades. The honorary member had trifled once too often will I never pardon you, but – what I believe will much with his terrors.
more sensibly affect you – I should never forgive myself.” Conversation broke out again almost at once. The play-
“I receive your Highness’s commands,” replied the Colo-ers relaxed their rigid attitudes, and began to rise from the nel. “Shall we go from this accursed spot?” table and stroll back by twos and threes into the smoking-
“Yes,” said the Prince. “Call a cab in Heaven’s name, room. The President stretched his arms and yawned, like a and let me try to forget in slumber the memory of this man who has finished his day’s work. But Mr. Malthus sat night’s disgrace.”
in his place, with his head in his hands, and his hands upon But it was notable that he carefully read the name of the the table, drunk and motionless – a thing stricken down.
court before he left it.
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The next morning, as soon as the Prince was stirring, confess my heart bleeds.”
Colonel Geraldine brought him a daily newspaper, with
“Geraldine,” said the Prince, raising his face, “that un-the following paragraph marked:-
happy lad was last night as innocent as you and I; and this
“Melancholy Accident. – This morning, about two morning the guilt of blood is on his soul. When I think of o’clock, Mr. Bartholomew Malthus, of 16 Chepstow Place, the President, my heart grows sick within me. I do not Westbourne Grove, on his way home from a party at a know how it shall be done, but I shall have that scoundrel friend’s house, fell over the upper parapet in Trafalgar at my mercy as there is a God in heaven. What an experi-Square, fracturing his skull and breaking a leg and an arm.
ence, what a lesson, was that game of cards!” Death was instantaneous. Mr. Malthus, accompanied by a
“One,” said the Colonel, “never to be repeated.” friend, was engaged in looking for a cab at the time of the The Prince remained so long without replying, that unfortunate occurrence. As Mr. Malthus was paralytic, it Geraldine grew alarmed.
is thought that his fall may have been occasioned by an-
“You cannot mean to return,” he said. “You have suffered other seizure. The unhappy gentleman was well known in too much and seen too much horror already. The duties of the most respectable circles, and his loss will be widely and your high position forbid the repetition of the hazard.” deeply deplored.”
“There is much in what you say,” replied Prince Florizel,
“If ever a soul went straight to Hell,” said Geraldine sol-
“and I am not altogether pleased with my own determina-emnly, “it was that paralytic man’s.” tion. Alas! in the clothes of the greatest potentate, what is The Prince buried his face in his hands, and remained there but a man? I never felt my weakness more acutely silent.
than now, Geraldine, but it is stronger than I. Can I cease
“I am almost rejoiced,” continued the Colonel, “to know to interest myself in the fortunes of the unhappy young that he is dead. But for our young man of the cream tarts I man who supped with us some hours ago? Can I leave the 25
Robert Louis Stevenson
President to follow his nefarious career unwatched? Can I
“My dear Geraldine,” returned Prince Florizel, “I always begin an adventure so entrancing, and not follow it to an regret when you oblige me to remember my rank. Dispose end? No, Geraldine: you ask of the Prince more than the of your day as you think fit, but be here before eleven in man is able to perform. To-night, once more, we take our the same disguise.”
places at the table of the Suicide Club.” The club, on this second evening, was not so fully at-Colonel Geraldine fell upon his knees.
tended; and when Geraldine and the Prince arrived, there
“Will your Highness take my life?” he cried. “It is his –
were not above half-a-dozen persons in the smoking-room.
his freely; but do not, O do not! let him ask me to counte-His Highness took the President aside and congratulated nance so terrible a risk.”
him warmly on the demise of Mr. Malthus.
“Colonel Geraldine,” replied the Prince, with some haugh-
“I like,” he said, “to meet with capacity, and certainly tiness of manner, “your life is absolutely your own. I only find much of it in you. Your profession is of a very delicate looked for obedience; and when that is unwillingly ren-nature, but I see you are well qualified to conduct it with dered, I shall look for that no longer. I add one word your: success and secrecy.”
importunity in this affair has been sufficient.” The President was somewhat affected by these compli-The Master of the Horse regained his feet at once.
ments from one of his Highness’s superior bearing. He ac-
“Your Highness,” he said, “may I be excused in my at-knowledged them almost with humility.
tendance this afternoon? I dare not, as an honourable man,
“Poor Malthy!” he added, “I shall hardly know the club venture a second time into that fatal house until I have without him. The most of my patrons are boys, sir, and perfectly ordered my affairs. Your Highness shall meet, I poetical boys, who are not much company for me. Not but promise him, with no more opposition from the most de-what Malthy had some poetry, too; but it was of a kind voted and grateful of his servants.” that I could understand.”
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“I can readily imagine you should find yourself in sympa-gan to deal.
thy with Mr. Malthus,” returned the Prince. “He struck me Three times the cards went all round the table, and nei-as a man of a very original disposition.” ther of the marked cards had yet fallen from his hand. The The young man of the cream tarts was in the room, but excitement as he began the fourth distribution was over-painfully depressed and silent. His late companions sought whelming. There were just cards enough to go once more in vain to lead him into conversation.
entirely round. The Prince, who sat second from the dealer’s
“How bitterly I wish,” he cried, “that I had never brought left, would receive, in the reverse mode of dealing prac-you to this infamous abode! Begone, while you are clean-tised at the club, the second last card. The third player handed. If you could have heard the old man scream as he turned up a black ace – it was the ace of clubs. The next fell, and the noise of his bones upon the pavement! Wish received a diamond, the next a heart, and so on; but the me, if you have any kindness to so fallen a being – wish the ace of spades was still undelivered. At last, Geraldine, who ace of spades for me to-night!”
sat upon the Prince’s left, turned his card; it was an ace, A few more members dropped in as the evening went but the ace of hearts.
on, but the club did not muster more than the devil’s dozen When Prince Florizel saw his fate upon the table in front when they took their places at the table. The Prince was of him, his heart stood still. He was a brave man, but the again conscious of a certain joy in his alarms; but he was sweat poured off his face. There were exactly fifty chances astonished to see Geraldine so much more self-possessed out of a hundred that he was doomed. He reversed the than on the night before.
card; it was the ace of spades. A loud roaring filled his
“It is extraordinary,” thought the Prince, “that a will, made brain, and the table swam before his eyes. He heard the or unmade, should so greatly influence a young man’s spirit.” player on his right break into a fit of laughter that sounded
“Attention, gentlemen!” said the President, and he be-between mirth and disappointment; he saw the company 27
Robert Louis Stevenson
rapidly dispersing, but his mind was full of other thoughts.
least, you cannot complain of delay. On the second evening He recognised how foolish, how criminal, had been his
– what a stroke of luck!”
conduct. In perfect health, in the prime of his years, the The Prince endeavoured in vain to articulate something heir to a throne, he had gambled away his future and that in response, but his mouth was dry and his tongue seemed of a brave and loyal country. “God,” he cried, “God for-paralysed.
give me!” And with that, the confusion of his senses passed
“You feel a little sickish?” asked the President, with some away, and he regained his self-possession in a moment.
show of solicitude. “Most gentlemen do. Will you take a To his surprise Geraldine had disappeared. There was no little brandy?”
one in the card-room but his destined butcher consulting The Prince signified in the affirmative, and the other im-with the President, and the young man of the cream tarts, mediately filled some of the spirit into a tumbler.
who slipped up to the Prince, and whispered in his ear:-
“Poor old Malthy!” ejaculated the President, as the Prince
“I would give a million, if I had it, for your luck.” drained the glass. “He drank near upon a pint, and little His Highness could not help reflecting, as the young man enough good it seemed to do him!”
departed, that he would have sold his opportunity for a
“I am more amenable to treatment,” said the Prince, a good much more moderate sum.
deal revived. “I am my own man again at once, as you per-The whispered conference now came to an end. The ceive. And so, let me ask you, what are my directions?” holder of the ace of clubs left the room with a look of
“You will proceed along the Strand in the direction of intelligence, and the President, approaching the unfortu-the City, and on the left-hand pavement, until you meet the nate Prince, proffered him his hand.
gentleman who has just left the room. He will continue
“I am pleased to have met you, sir,” said he, “and pleased your instructions, and him you will have the kindness to to have been in a position to do you this trifling service. At obey; the authority of the club is vested in his person for 28
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the night. And now,” added the President, “I wish you a voice.
The Prince threw himself upon the Colonel’s neck in a Florizel acknowledged the salutation rather awkwardly, passion of relief.
and took his leave. He passed through the smoking-room,
“How can I ever thank you?” he cried. “And how was where the bulk of the players were still consuming cham-this effected?”
pagne, some of which he had himself ordered and paid for; Although he had been willing to march upon his doom, and he was surprised to find himself cursing them in his he was overjoyed to yield to friendly violence, and return heart. He put on his hat and greatcoat in the cabinet, and once more to life and hope.
selected his umbrella from a corner. The familiarity of these
“You can thank me effectually enough,” replied the Colo-acts, and the thought that he was about them for the last nel, “by avoiding all such dangers in the future. And as for time, betrayed him into a fit of laughter which sounded your second question, all has been managed by the sim-unpleasantly in his own ears. He conceived a reluctance to plest means. I arranged this afternoon with a celebrated leave the cabinet, and turned instead to the window. The detective. Secrecy has been promised and paid for. Your sight of the lamps and the darkness recalled him to himself.
own servants have been principally engaged in the affair.
“Come, come, I must be a man,” he thought, “and tear The house in Box Court has been surrounded since night-myself away.”
fall, and this, which is one of your own carriages, has been At the corner of Box Court three men fell upon Prince awaiting you for nearly an hour.”
Florizel and he was unceremoniously thrust into a carriage,
“And the miserable creature who was to have slain me –
which at once drove rapidly away. There was already an what of him?” inquired the Prince.
“He was pinioned as he left the club,” replied the Colo-
“Will your Highness pardon my zeal?” said a well known nel, “and now awaits your sentence at the Palace, where 29
Robert Louis Stevenson
he will soon be joined by his accomplices.” dare assure your Highness that the lad will acquit himself
“Geraldine,” said the Prince, “you have saved me against with credit.”
my explicit orders, and you have done well. I owe you not
“You ask me an ungracious favour,” said the Prince, “but only my life, but a lesson; and I should be unworthy of my I must refuse you nothing.”
rank if I did not show myself grateful to my teacher. Let it The Colonel kissed his hand with the greatest affection; be yours to choose the manner.”
and at that moment the carriage rolled under the archway There was a pause, during which the carriage continued of the Prince’s splendid residence.
to speed through the streets, and the two men were each An hour after, Florizel in his official robes, and covered buried in his own reflections. The silence was broken by with all the orders of Bohemia, received the members of Colonel Geraldine.
the Suicide Club.
“Your Highness,” said he, “has by this time a consider-
“Foolish and wicked men,” said he, “as many of you as able body of prisoners. There is at least one criminal among have been driven into this strait by the lack of fortune shall the number to whom justice should be dealt. Our oath for-receive employment and remuneration from my officers.
bids us all recourse to law; and discretion would forbid it Those who suffer under a sense of guilt must have recourse equally if the oath were loosened. May I inquire your to a higher and more generous Potentate than I. I feel pity Highness’s intention?”
for all of you, deeper than you can imagine; to-morrow
“It is decided,” answered Florizel; “the President must you shall tell me your stories; and as you answer more fall in duel. It only remains to choose his adversary.” frankly, I shall be the more able to remedy your misfor-
“Your Highness has permitted me to name my own rec-tunes. As for you,” he added, turning to the President, “I ompense,” said the Colonel. “Will he permit me to ask the should only offend a person of your parts by any offer of appointment of my brother? It is an honourable post, but I assistance; but I have instead a piece of diversion to pro-30
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pose to you. Here,” laying his hand on the shoulder of Here (says my Arabian author) ends The Story of the Colonel Geraldine’s young brother, “is an officer of mine Young Man with the Cream Tarts, who is now a comfort-who desires to make a little tour upon the Continent; and I able householder in Wigmore Street, Cavendish Square.
ask you, as a favour, to accompany him on this excursion.
The number, for obvious reasons, I suppress. Those who Do you,” he went on, changing his tone, “do you shoot care to pursue the adventures of Prince Florizel and the well with the pistol? Because you may have need of that President of the Suicide Club, may read the History of the accomplishment. When two men go travelling together, it Physician and the Saratoga Trunk.
is best to be prepared for all. Let me add that, if by any chance you should lose young Mr. Geraldine upon the way, I shall always have another member of my household to place at your disposal; and I am known, Mr. President, to have long eyesight, and as long an arm.” With these words, said with much sternness, the Prince concluded his address. Next morning the members of the club were suitably provided for by his munificence, and the President set forth upon his travels, under the supervision of Mr. Geraldine, and a pair of faithful and adroit lackeys, well trained in the Prince’s household. Not content with this, discreet agents were put in possession of the house in Box Court, and all letters or visitors for the Suicide Club or its officials were to be examined by Prince Florizel in person.
Robert Louis Stevenson
STORY OF THE PHYSICIAN
used to flaunt by him on the stairs with a civil inclination, a AND THE SARATOGA TRUNK
word of course, and a knock-down look out of her black eyes, and disappear in a rustle of silk, and with the revela-MR. SILAS Q. SCUDDAMORE was a young American of a tion of an admirable foot and ankle. But these advances, so simple and harmless disposition, which was the more to far from encouraging Mr. Scuddamore, plunged him into his credit as he came from New England – a quarter of the the depths of depression and bashfulness. She had come to New World not precisely famous for those qualities. Al-him several times for a light, or to apologise for the imagi-though he was exceedingly rich, he kept a note of all his nary depredations of her poodle; but his mouth was closed expenses in a little paper pocket-book; and he had chosen in the presence of so superior a being, his French promptly to study the attractions of Paris from the seventh story of left him, and he could only stare and stammer until she was what is called a furnished hotel, in the Latin Quarter. There gone. The slenderness of their intercourse did not prevent was a great deal of habit in his penuriousness; and his vir-him from throwing out insinuations of a very glorious order tue, which was very remarkable among his associates, was when he was safely alone with a few males.
principally founded upon diffidence and youth.
The room on the other side of the American’s – for there The next room to his was inhabited by a lady, very at-were three rooms on a floor in the hotel – was tenanted by tractive in her air and very elegant in toilette, whom, on his an old English physician of rather doubtful reputation. Dr.
first arrival, he had taken for a Countess. In course of time Noel, for that was his name, had been forced to leave Lon-he had learned that she was known by the name of Ma-don, where he enjoyed a large and increasing practice; and dame Zephyrine, and that whatever station she occupied it was hinted that the police had been the instigators of this in life it was not that of a person of title. Madame Zephyrine, change of scene. At least he, who had made something of probably in the hope of enchanting the young American, a figure in earlier life, now dwelt in the Latin Quarter in 32
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