The new arabian nights by Robert Louis Stevenson - HTML preview
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of neglect, as though the master had been long from home.
And by the sound of the steps it was obvious that the pair The cab was discharged, and the three gentlemen were had separated, and were proceeding in contrary directions.
not long in discovering the small door, which was a sort of Almost immediately after the postern door was cautiously postern in a lane between two garden walls. It still wanted opened, a white face was protruded into the lane, and a ten or fifteen minutes of the appointed time; the rain fell hand was seen beckoning to the watchers. In dead silence heavily, and the adventurers sheltered themselves below the three passed the door, which was immediately locked 66
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behind them, and followed their guide through several gar-three officers before him into a small apartment, lighted by den alleys to the kitchen entrance of the house. A single a smoky lamp and the glow of a modest fire. At the chim-candle burned in the great paved kitchen, which was desti-ney corner sat a man in the early prime of life, and of a tute of the customary furniture; and as the party proceeded stout but courtly and commanding appearance. His atti-to ascend from thence by a flight of winding stairs, a pro-tude and expression were those of the most unmoved com-digious noise of rats testified still more plainly to the di-posure; he was smoking a cheroot with much enjoyment lapidation of the house.
and deliberation, and on a table by his elbow stood a long Their conductor preceded them, carrying the candle. He glass of some effervescing beverage which diffused an was a lean man, much bent, but still agile; and he turned agreeable odour through the room.
from time to time and admonished silence and caution by
“Welcome,” said he, extending his hand to Colonel his gestures. Colonel Geraldine followed on his heels, the Geraldine. “I knew I might count on your exactitude.” case of swords under one arm, and a pistol ready in the
“On my devotion,” replied the Colonel, with a bow.
other. Brackenbury’s heart beat thickly. He perceived that
“Present me to your friends,” continued the first; and, they were still in time; but he judged from the alacrity of when that ceremony had been performed, “I wish, gentle-the old man that the hour of action must be near at hand; men,” he added, with the most exquisite affability, “that I and the circumstances of this adventure were so obscure could offer you a more cheerful programme; it is ungra-and menacing, the place seemed so well chosen for the cious to inaugurate an acquaintance upon serious affairs; darkest acts, that an older man than Brackenbury might but the compulsion of events is stronger than the obliga-have been pardoned a measure of emotion as he closed the tions of good-fellowship. I hope and believe you will be procession up the winding stair.
able to forgive me this unpleasant evening; and for men of At the top the guide threw open a door and ushered the your stamp it will be enough to know that you are confer-67
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ring a considerable favour.”
a moment of deadly peril that Brackenbury was overcome
“Your Highness,” said the Major, “must pardon my blunt-with respectful admiration; nor was he less sensible to the ness. I am unable to hide what I know. For some time back charm of his conversation or the surprising amenity of his I have suspected Major Hammersmith, but Mr. Godall is address. Every gesture, every intonation, was not only noble unmistakable. To seek two men in London unacquainted in itself, but seemed to ennoble the fortunate mortal for with Prince Florizel of Bohemia was to ask too much at whom it was intended; and Brackenbury confessed to him-Fortune’s hands.”
self with enthusiasm that this was a sovereign for whom a
“Prince Florizel!” cried Brackenbury in amazement.
brave man might thankfully lay down his life.
And he gazed with the deepest interest on the features of Many minutes had thus passed, when the person who the celebrated personage before him.
had introduced them into the house, and who had sat ever
“I shall not lament the loss of my incognito,” remarked since in a corner, and with his watch in his hand, arose and the Prince, “for it enables me to thank you with the more whispered a word into the Prince’s ear.
authority. You would have done as much for Mr. Godall, I
“It is well, Dr. Noel,” replied Florizel, aloud; and then feel sure, as for the Prince of Bohemia; but the latter can addressing the others, “You will excuse me, gentlemen,” perhaps do more for you. The gain is mine,” he added, he added, “if I have to leave you in the dark. The moment with a courteous gesture.
And the next moment he was conversing with the two Dr. Noel extinguished the lamp. A faint, grey light, pre-officers about the Indian army and the native troops, a sub-monitory of the dawn, illuminated the window, but was ject on which, as on all others, he had a remarkable fund of not sufficient to illuminate the room; and when the Prince information and the soundest views.
rose to his feet, it was impossible to distinguish his fea-There was something so striking in this man’s attitude at tures or to make a guess at the nature of the emotion which 68
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obviously affected him as he spoke. He moved towards At last a hand was laid upon the door, and the bolt shot the door, and placed himself at one side of it in an attitude back with a slight report. There followed another pause, of the wariest attention.
during which Brackenbury could see the Prince draw him-
“You will have the kindness,” he said, “to maintain the self together noiselessly as if for some unusual exertion.
strictest silence, and to conceal yourselves in the densest Then the door opened, letting in a little more of the light of of the shadow.”
the morning; and the figure of a man appeared upon the The three officers and the physician hastened to obey, threshold and stood motionless. He was tall, and carried a and for nearly ten minutes the only sound in Rochester knife in his hand. Even in the twilight they could see his House was occasioned by the excursions of the rats behind upper teeth bare and glistening, for his mouth was open the woodwork. At the end of that period, a loud creak of a like that of a hound about to leap. The man had evidently hinge broke in with surprising distinctness on the silence; been over the head in water but a minute or two before; and shortly after, the watchers could distinguish a slow and even while he stood there the drops kept falling from and cautious tread approaching up the kitchen stair. At his wet clothes and pattered on the floor.
every second step the intruder seemed to pause and lend The next moment he crossed the threshold. There was a an ear, and during these intervals, which seemed of an in-leap, a stifled cry, an instantaneous struggle; and before calculable duration, a profound disquiet possessed the spirit Colonel Geraldine could spring to his aid, the Prince held of the listeners. Dr. Noel, accustomed as he was to dan-the man disarmed and helpless, by the shoulders gerous emotions, suffered an almost pitiful physical pros-
“Dr. Noel,” he said, “you will be so good as to re-light tration; his breath whistled in his lungs, his teeth grated the lamp.”
one upon another, and his joints cracked aloud as he ner-And relinquishing the charge of his prisoner to Geraldine vously shifted his position.
and Brackenbury, he crossed the room and set his back 69
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against the chimney-piece. As soon as the lamp had kindled, tone of his conversation, “this is a fellow who has long the party beheld an unaccustomed sternness on the Prince’s eluded me, but whom, thanks to Dr. Noel, I now have tightly features. It was no longer Florizel, the careless gentleman; by the heels. To tell the story of his misdeeds would oc-it was the Prince of Bohemia, justly incensed and full of cupy more time than we can now afford; but if the canal deadly purpose, who now raised his head and addressed had contained nothing but the blood of his victims, I be-the captive President of the Suicide Club.
lieve the wretch would have been no drier than you see
“President,” he said, “you have laid your last snare, and him. Even in an affair of this sort I desire to preserve the your own feet are taken in it. The day is beginning; it is forms of honour. But I make you the judges, gentlemen –
your last morning. You have just swum the Regent’s Ca-this is more an execution than a duel and to give the rogue nal; it is your last bathe in this world. Your old accomplice, his choice of weapons would be to push too far a point of Dr. Noel, so far from betraying me, has delivered you into etiquette. I cannot afford to lose my life in such a busi-my hands for judgment. And the grave you had dug for me ness,” he continued, unlocking the case of swords; “and as this afternoon shall serve, in God’s almighty providence, a pistol-bullet travels so often on the wings of chance, and to hide your own just doom from the curiosity of mankind.
skill and courage may fall by the most trembling marks-Kneel and pray, sir, if you have a mind that way; for your man, I have decided, and I feel sure you will approve my time is short, and God is weary of your iniquities.” determination, to put this question to the touch of swords.” The President made no answer either by word or sign; When Brackenbury and Major O’Rooke, to whom these but continued to hang his head and gaze sullenly on the remarks were particularly addressed, had each intimated floor, as though he were conscious of the Prince’s pro-his approval, “Quick, sir,” added Prince Florizel to the Presi-longed and unsparing regard.
dent, “choose a blade and do not keep me waiting; I have
“Gentlemen,” continued Florizel, resuming the ordinary an impatience to be done with you for ever.” 70
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For the first time since he was captured and disarmed the Colonel Geraldine.
President raised his head, and it was plain that he began
“Geraldine,” returned the Prince, “did you ever know instantly to pluck up courage.
me fail in a debt of honour? I owe you this man’s death,
“Is it to be stand up?” he asked eagerly, “and between and you shall have it.”
you and me?”
The President at last satisfied himself with one of the
“I mean so far to honour you,” replied the Prince.
rapiers, and signified his readiness by a gesture that was
“Oh, come!” cried the President. “With a fair field, who not devoid of a rude nobility. The nearness of peril, and the knows how things may happen? I must add that I consider sense of courage, even to this obnoxious villain, lent an air it handsome behaviour on your Highness’s part; and if the of manhood and a certain grace.
worst comes to the worst I shall die by one of the most The Prince helped himself at random to a sword.
gallant gentlemen in Europe.”
“Colonel Geraldine and Doctor Noel,” he said, “will have And the President, liberated by those who had detained the goodness to await me in this room. I wish no personal him, stepped up to the table and began, with minute atten-friend of mine to be involved in this transaction. Major tion, to select a sword. He was highly elated, and seemed O’Rooke, you are a man of some years and a settled repu-to feel no doubt that he should issue victorious from the tation – let me recommend the President to your good contest. The spectators grew alarmed in the face of so en-graces. Lieutenant Rich will be so good as lend me his tire a confidence, and adjured Prince Florizel to reconsider attentions: a young man cannot have too much experience his intention.
in such affairs.”
“It is but a farce,” he answered; “and I think I can prom-
“Your Highness,” replied Brackenbury, “it is an honour I ise you, gentlemen, that it will not be long a-playing.” shall prize extremely.”
“Your Highness will be careful not to over-reach,” said
“It is well,” returned Prince Florizel; “I shall hope to stand 71
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your friend in more important circumstances.” utes must have elapsed, the day was sensibly broader, and And so saying he led the way out of the apartment and the birds were singing more heartily in the garden before a down the kitchen stairs.
sound of returning footsteps recalled their glances towards The two men who were thus left alone threw open the the door. It was the Prince and the two Indian officers who window and leaned out, straining every sense to catch an entered. God had defended the right.
indication of the tragical events that were about to follow.
“I am ashamed of my emotion,” said Prince Florizel; “I The rain was now over; day had almost come, and the birds feel it is a weakness unworthy of my station, but the con-were piping in the shrubbery and on the forest trees of the tinued existence of that hound of hell had begun to prey garden. The Prince and his companions were visible for a upon me like a disease, and his death has more refreshed moment as they followed an alley between two flowering me than a night of slumber. Look, Geraldine,” he contin-thickets; but at the first corner a clump of foliage inter-ued, throwing his sword upon the floor, “there is the blood vened, and they were again concealed from view. This was of the man who killed your brother. It should be a wel-all that the Colonel and the Physician had an opportunity come sight. And yet,” he added, “see how strangely we to see, and the garden was so vast, and the place of combat men are made! my revenge is not yet five minutes old, and evidently so remote from the house, that not even the noise already I am beginning to ask myself if even revenge be of sword-play reached their ears.
attainable on this precarious stage of life. The ill he did,
“He has taken him towards the grave,” said Dr. Noel, who can undo it? The career in which he amassed a huge with a shudder.
fortune (for the house itself in which we stand belonged to
“God,” cried the Colonel, “God defend the right!” him) – that career is now a part of the destiny of mankind And they awaited the event in silence, the Doctor shak-for ever; and I might weary myself making thrusts in carte ing with fear, the Colonel in an agony of sweat. Many min-until the crack of judgment, and Geraldine’s brother would 72
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be none the less dead, and a thousand other innocent per-them forward in their public career, while his condescend-sons would be none the less dishonoured and debauched!
ing friendship adds a charm to their private life. To collect, The existence of a man is so small a thing to take, so mighty continues my author, all the strange events in which this a thing to employ! Alas!” he cried, “is there anything in life Prince has played the part of Providence were to fill the so disenchanting as attainment?”
habitable globe with books. But the stories which relate to
“God’s justice has been done,” replied the Doctor. “So the fortunes of The Rajah’s Diamond are of too entertain-much I behold. The lesson, your Highness, has been a cruel ing a description, says he, to be omitted. Following pru-one for me; and I await my own turn with deadly appre-dently in the footsteps of this Oriental, we shall now begin hension.”
the series to which he refers with the Story of the Bandbox.)
“What was I saying?” cried the Prince. “I have punished, and here is the man beside us who can help me to undo.
Ah, Dr. Noel! you and I have before us many a day of hard and honourable toil; and perhaps, before we have none, you may have more than redeemed your early errors.”
“And in the meantime,” said the Doctor, “let me go and bury my oldest friend.”
(And this, observes the erudite Arabian, is the fortunate conclusion of the tale. The Prince, it is superfluous to mention, forgot none of those who served him in this great exploit; and to this day his authority and influence help 73
Robert Louis Stevenson
THE RAJAH’S DIAMOND:
was not the man to lead armaments of war, or direct the STORY OF THE BANDBOX
councils of a State.
A fortunate chance and some influence obtained for Harry, UP TO THE AGE OF SIXTEEN, at a private school and after-at the time of his bereavement, the position of private sec-wards at one of those great institutions for which England retary to Major-General Sir Thomas Vandeleur, C.B. Sir is justly famous, Mr. Harry Hartley had received the ordi-Thomas was a man of sixty, loud-spoken, boisterous, and nary education of a gentleman. At that period, he mani-domineering. For some reason, some service the nature of fested a remarkable distaste for study; and his only surviv-which had been often whispered and repeatedly denied, ing parent being both weak and ignorant, he was permitted the Rajah of Kashgar had presented this officer with the thenceforward to spend his time in the attainment of petty sixth known diamond of the world. The gift transformed and purely elegant accomplishments. Two years later, he General Vandeleur from a poor into a wealthy man, from was left an orphan and almost a beggar. For all active and an obscure and unpopular soldier into one of the lions of industrious pursuits, Harry was unfitted alike by nature and London society; the possessor of the Rajah’s Diamond was training. He could sing romantic ditties, and accompany welcome in the most exclusive circles; and he had found a himself with discretion on the piano; he was a graceful al-lady, young, beautiful, and well-born, who was willing to though a timid cavalier; he had a pronounced taste for chess; call the diamond hers even at the price of marriage with Sir and nature had sent him into the world with one of the Thomas Vandeleur. It was commonly said at the time that, most engaging exteriors that can well be fancied. Blond as like draws to like, one jewel had attracted another; cer-and pink, with dove’s eyes and a gentle smile, he had an air tainly Lady Vandeleur was not only a gem of the finest of agreeable tenderness and melancholy, and the most sub-water in her own person, but she showed herself to the missive and caressing manners. But when all is said, he world in a very costly setting; and she was considered by 74
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many respectable authorities, as one among the three or on a more or less doubtful footing, in very genteel com-four best dressed women in England.
pany, he did little, he ate of the best, and he had a luke-Harry’s duty as secretary was not particularly onerous; warm satisfaction in the presence of Lady Vandeleur, which, but he had a dislike for all prolonged work; it gave him in his own heart, he dubbed by a more emphatic name.
pain to ink his lingers; and the charms of Lady Vandeleur Immediately after he had been outraged by the military and her toilettes drew him often from the library to the foot, he hurried to the boudoir and recounted his sorrows.
boudoir. He had the prettiest ways among women, could
“You know very well, my dear Harry,” replied Lady talk fashions with enjoyment, and was never more happy Vandeleur, for she called him by name like a child or a than when criticising a shade of ribbon, or running on an domestic servant, “that you never by any chance do what errand to the milliner’s. In short, Sir Thomas’s correspon-the General tells you. No more do I, you may say. But that dence fell into pitiful arrears, and my Lady had another is different. A woman can earn her pardon for a good year lady’s maid.
of disobedience by a single adroit submission; and, besides, At last the General, who was one of the least patient of no one is married to his private secretary. I shall be sorry military commanders, arose from his place in a violent ac-to lose you; but since you cannot stay longer in a house cess of passion, and indicated to his secretary that he had where you have been insulted, I shall wish you good-bye, no further need for his services, with one of those explana-and I promise you to make the General smart for his tory gestures which are most rarely employed between behaviour.”
gentlemen. The door being unfortunately open, Mr. Hartley Harry’s countenance fell; tears came into his eyes, and fell downstairs head foremost.
he gazed on Lady Vandeleur with a tender reproach.
He arose somewhat hurt and very deeply aggrieved. The
“My Lady,” said he, “what is an insult? I should think life in the General’s house precisely suited him; he moved, little indeed of any one who could not forgive them by the 75
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score. But to leave one’s friends; to tear up the bonds of moral point of view. Wickedness seemed to him an essen-affection –”
tially male attribute, and to pass one’s days with a delicate He was unable to continue, for his emotion choked him, woman, and principally occupied about trimmings, was to and he began to weep.
inhabit an enchanted isle among the storms of life.
Lady Vandeleur looked at him with a curious expres-One fine morning he came into the drawing-room and sion. “This little fool,” she thought, “imagines himself to began to arrange some music on the top of the piano. Lady be in love with me. Why should he not become my servant Vandeleur, at the other end of the apartment, was speaking instead of the General’s? He is good-natured, obliging, and somewhat eagerly with her brother, Charlie Pendragon, an understands dress; and besides it will keep him out of mis-elderly young man, much broken with dissipation, and very chief. He is positively too pretty to be unattached.” That lame of one foot. The private secretary, to whose entrance night she talked over the General, who was already some-they paid no regard, could not avoid overhearing a part of what ashamed of his vivacity; and Harry was transferred to their conversation.
the feminine department, where his life was little short of
“To-day or never,” said the lady. “Once and for all, it heavenly. He was always dressed with uncommon nicety, shall be done to-day.”
wore delicate flowers in his button-hole, and could enter-
“To-day, if it must be,” replied the brother, with a sigh.
tain a visitor with tact and pleasantry. He took a pride in
“But it is a false step, a ruinous step, Clara; and we shall servility to a beautiful woman; received Lady Vandeleur’s live to repent it dismally.”
commands as so many marks of favour; and was pleased Lady Vandeleur looked her brother steadily and some-to exhibit himself before other men, who derided and de-what strangely in the face.
spised him, in his character of male lady’s-maid and man
“You forget,” she said; “the man must die at last.” milliner. Nor could he think enough of his existence from a
“Upon my word, Clara,” said Pendragon, “I believe you 76
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are the most heartless rascal in England.” She kissed the tips of her fingers to him daintily; and the
“You men,” she returned, “are so coarsely built, that you brother withdrew by the boudoir and the back stair.
can never appreciate a shade of meaning. You are your-
“Harry,” said Lady Vandeleur, turning towards the sec-selves rapacious, violent, immodest, careless of distinction; retary as soon as they were alone, “I have a commission and yet the least thought for the future shocks you in a for you this morning. But you shall take a cab; I cannot woman. I have no patience with such stuff. You would have my secretary freckled.”
despise in a common banker the imbecility that you expect She spoke the last words with emphasis and a look of to find in us.”
half-motherly pride that caused great contentment to poor
“You are very likely right,” replied her brother; “you were Harry; and he professed himself charmed to find an oppor-always cleverer than I. And, anyway, you know my motto: tunity of serving her.
The family before all.”
“It is another of our great secrets,” she went on archly,
“Yes, Charlie,” she returned, taking his hand in hers, “I
“and no one must know of it but my secretary and me. Sir know your motto better than you know it yourself. ‘And Thomas would make the saddest disturbance; and if you Clara before the family!’ Is not that the second part of it?
only knew how weary I am of these scenes! Oh, Harry, Indeed, you are the best of brothers, and I love you dearly.” Harry, can you explain to me what makes you men so vio-Mr. Pendragon got up, looking a little confused by these lent and unjust? But, indeed, I know you cannot; you are family endearments.
the only man in the world who knows nothing of these
“I had better not be seen,” said he. “I understand my part shameful passions; you are so good, Harry, and so kind; to a miracle, and I’ll keep an eye on the Tame Cat.” you, at least, can be a woman’s friend; and, do you know?
“Do,” she replied. “He is an abject creature, and might I think you make the others more ugly by comparison.” ruin all.”
“It is you,” said Harry gallantly, “who are so kind to me.
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You treat me like – “
“Will you look at this, madam?” cried he. “Will you have
“Like a mother,” interposed Lady Vandeleur; “I try to be the goodness to look at this document? I know well enough a mother to you. Or, at least,” she corrected herself with a you married me for my money, and I hope I can make as smile, “almost a mother. I am afraid I am too young to be great allowances as any other man in the service; but, as your mother really. Let us say a friend – a dear friend.” sure as God made me, I mean to put a period to this dis-She paused long enough to let her words take effect in reputable prodigality.”
Harry’s sentimental quarters, but not long enough to allow
“Mr. Hartley,” said Lady Vandeleur, “I think you under-him a reply.
stand what you have to do. May I ask you to see to it at
“But all this is beside our purpose,” she resumed. “You once?”
will find a bandbox in the left-hand side of the oak ward-
“Stop,” said the General, addressing Harry, “one word robe; it is underneath the pink slip that I wore on Wednes-before you go.” And then, turning again to Lady Vandeleur, day with my Mechlin. You will take it immediately to this
“What is this precious fellow’s errand?” he demanded. “I address,” and she gave him a paper, “but do not, on any trust him no further than I do yourself, let me tell you. If he account, let it out of your hands until you have received a had as much as the rudiments of honesty, he would scorn receipt written by myself. Do you understand? Answer, if to stay in this house; and what he does for his wages is a you please – answer! This is extremely important, and I mystery to all the world. What is his errand, madam? and must ask you to pay some attention.” why are you hurrying him away?”
Harry pacified her by repeating her instructions perfectly;
“I supposed you had something to say to me in private,” and she was just going to tell him more when General replied the lady.
Vandeleur flung into the apartment, scarlet with anger, and
“You spoke about an errand,” insisted the General. “Do holding a long and elaborate milliner’s bill in his hand.
not attempt to deceive me in my present state of temper.
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You certainly spoke about an errand.” tune, and threatened day by day to engulph that of the hus-
“If you insist on making your servants privy to our hu-band. Once or twice in every year exposure and ruin seemed miliating dissensions,” replied Lady Vandeleur, “perhaps I imminent, and Harry kept trotting round to all sorts of fur-had better ask Mr. Hartley to sit down. No?” she contin-nishers’ shops, telling small fibs, and paying small advances ued; “then you may go, Mr. Hartley. I trust you may re-on the gross amount, until another term was tided over, member all that you have heard in this room; it may be and the lady and her faithful secretary breathed again. For useful to you.”
Harry, in a double capacity, was heart and soul upon that Harry at once made his escape from the drawing-room; side of the war: not only did he adore Lady Vandeleur and and as he ran upstairs he could hear the General’s voice fear and dislike her husband, but he naturally sympathised upraised in declamation, and the thin tones of Lady with the love of finery, and his own single extravagance Vandeleur planting icy repartees at every opening. How was at the tailor’s.
cordially he admired the wife! How skilfully she could evade He found the bandbox where it had been described, ar-an awkward question! with what secure effrontery she re-ranged his toilette with care, and left the house. The sun peated her instructions under the very guns of the enemy!
shone brightly; the distance he had to travel was consider-and on the other hand, how he detested the husband!
able, and he remembered with dismay that the General’s There had been nothing unfamiliar in the morning’s sudden irruption had prevented Lady Vandeleur from giv-events, for he was continually in the habit of serving Lady ing him money for a cab. On this sultry day there was ev-Vandeleur on secret missions, principally connected with ery chance that his complexion would suffer severely; and millinery. There was a skeleton in the house, as he well to walk through so much of London with a bandbox on his knew. The bottomless extravagance and the unknown li-arm was a humiliation almost insupportable to a youth of abilities of the wife had long since swallowed her own for-his character. He paused, and took counsel with himself.
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The Vandeleurs lived in Eaton Place; his destination was but that your box is full of teaspoons?” near Notting Hill; plainly, he might cross the Park by keep-
“It contains a silk hat belonging to a friend,” said Harry.
ing well in the open and avoiding populous alleys; and he
“Very well,” replied General Vandeleur. “Then I want to thanked his stars when he reflected that it was still com-see your friend’s silk hat. I have,” he added grimly, “a sin-paratively early in the day.
gular curiosity for hats; and I believe you know me to be Anxious to be rid of his incubus, he walked somewhat somewhat positive.”
faster than his ordinary, and he was already some way
“I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas, I am exceedingly grieved,” through Kensington Gardens when, in a solitary spot among Harry apologised; “but indeed this is a private affair.” trees, he found himself confronted by the General.
The General caught him roughly by the shoulder with
“I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas,” observed Harry, politely one hand, while he raised his cane in the most menacing falling on one side; for the other stood directly in his path.
manner with the other. Harry gave himself up for lost; but
“Where are you going, sir?” asked the General.
at the same moment Heaven vouchsafed him an unexpected
“I am taking a little walk among the trees,” replied the lad.
defender in the person of Charlie Pendragon, who now The General struck the bandbox with his cane.
strode forward from behind the trees.
“With that thing?” he cried; “you lie, sir, and you know
“Come, come, General, hold your hand,” said he, “this is you lie!”
neither courteous nor manly.”
“Indeed, Sir Thomas,” returned Harry, “I am not accus-
“Aha!” cried the General, wheeling round upon his new tomed to be questioned in so high a key.” antagonist, “Mr. Pendragon! And do you suppose, Mr.
“You do not understand your position,” said the Gen-Pendragon, that because I have had the misfortune to marry eral. “You are my servant, and a servant of whom I have your sister, I shall suffer myself to be dogged and thwarted conceived the most serious suspicions. How do I know by a discredited and bankrupt libertine like you? My ac-80
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quaintance with Lady Vandeleur, sir, has taken away all the latter was too dull or too much troubled to understand.
my appetite for the other members of her family.”
“In what way am I to construe your attitude, sir?” de-
“And do you fancy, General Vandeleur,” retorted Charlie, manded Vandeleur.
“that because my sister has had the misfortune to marry
“Why, sir, as you please,” returned Pendragon.
you, she there and then forfeited her rights and privileges The General once more raised his cane, and made a cut as a lady? I own, sir, that by that action she did as much as for Charlie’s head; but the latter, lame foot and all, evaded anybody could to derogate from her position; but to me the blow with his umbrella, ran in, and immediately closed she is still a Pendragon. I make it my business to protect with his formidable adversary.
her from ungentlemanly outrage, and if you were ten times
“Run, Harry, run!” he cried; “run, you dolt! Harry stood her husband I would not permit her liberty to be restrained, petrified for a moment, watching the two men sway to-nor her private messengers to be violently arrested.” gether in this fierce embrace; then he turned and took to
“How is that, Mr. Hartley?” interrogated the General.
his heels. When he cast a glance over his shoulder he saw
“Mr. Pendragon is of my opinion, it appears. He too sus-the General prostrate under Charlie’s knee, but still mak-pects that Lady Vandeleur has something to do with your ing desperate efforts to reverse the situation; and the Gar-friend’s silk hat.”
dens seemed to have filled with people, who were running Charlie saw that he had committed an unpardonable blun-from all directions towards the scene of fight. This spec-der, which he hastened to repair.
tacle lent the secretary wings; and he did not relax his pace
“How, sir?” he cried; “I suspect, do you say? I suspect until he had gained the Bayswater road, and plunged at nothing. Only where I find strength abused and a man random into an unfrequented by-street.
brutalising his inferiors, I take the liberty to interfere.” To see two gentlemen of his acquaintance thus brutally As he said these words he made a sign to Harry, which mauling each other was deeply shocking to Harry. He de-81
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sired to forget the sight; he desired, above all, to put as writing of the lady herself. All this seemed mightily myste-great a distance as possible between himself and General rious, and Harry was above all astonished at the omission Vandeleur; and in his eagerness for this he forgot every-of the name and the formality of the receipt. He had thought thing about his destination, and hurried before him head-little of this last when he heard it dropped in conversation; long and trembling. When he remembered that Lady but reading it in cold blood, and taking it in connection Vandeleur was the wife of one and the sister of the other of with the other strange particulars, he became convinced these gladiators, his heart was touched with sympathy for that he was engaged in perilous affairs. For half a moment a woman so distressingly misplaced in life. Even his own he had a doubt of Lady Vandeleur herself; for he found situation in the General’s household looked hardly so pleas-these obscure proceedings somewhat unworthy of so high ing as usual in the light of these violent transactions.
a lady, and became more critical when her secrets were He had walked some little distance, busied with these preserved against himself. But her empire over his spirit meditations, before a slight collision with another passen-was too complete, he dismissed his suspicions, and blamed ger reminded him of the bandbox on his arm.
himself roundly for having so much as entertained them.
“Heavens!” cried he, “where was my head? and whither In one thing, however, his duty and interest, his generos-have I wandered?”
ity and his terrors, coincided – to get rid of the bandbox Thereupon he consulted the envelope which Lady with the greatest possible despatch.
Vandeleur had given him. The address was there, but with-He accosted the first policeman and courteously inquired out a name. Harry was simply directed to ask for “the his way. It turned out that he was already not far from his gentleman who expected a parcel from Lady Vandeleur,” destination, and a walk of a few minutes brought him to a and if he were not at home to await his return. The gentle-small house in a lane, freshly painted, and kept with the man, added the note, should present a receipt in the hand-most scrupulous attention. The knocker and bell-pull were 82
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highly polished; flowering pot-herbs garnished the sills of indeed for some time back I walk among surprises. One the different windows; and curtains of some rich material question I think I may surely ask without indiscretion: Is concealed the interior from the eyes of curious passengers.
he the master of this house?”
The place had an air of repose and secrecy; and Harry was
“He is a lodger, and not eight days old at that,” returned so far caught with this spirit that he knocked with more the maid. “And now a question for a question: Do you than usual discretion, and was more than usually careful to know lady Vandeleur?”
remove all impurity from his boots.
“I am her private secretary,” replied Harry with a glow A servant-maid of some personal attractions immediately of modest pride.
opened the door, and seemed to regard the secretary with
“She is pretty, is she not?” pursued the servant.
no unkind eyes.
“Oh, beautiful!” cried Harry; “wonderfully lovely, and
“This is the parcel from Lady Vandeleur,” said Harry.
not less good and kind!”
“I know,” replied the maid, with a nod. “But the gentle-
“You look kind enough yourself,” she retorted; “and I man is from home. Will you leave it with me?” wager you are worth a dozen Lady Vandeleurs.”
“I cannot,” answered Harry. “I am directed not to part Harry was properly scandalised.
with it but upon a certain condition, and I must ask you, I
“I!” he cried. “I am only a secretary!” am afraid, to let me wait.”
“Do you mean that for me?” said the girl. “Because I am
“Well,” said she, “I suppose I may let you wait. I am only a housemaid, if you please.” And then, relenting at lonely enough, I can tell you, and you do not look as though the sight of Harry’s obvious confusion, “I know you mean you would eat a girl. But be sure and do not ask the nothing of the sort,” she added; “and I like your looks; but gentleman’s name, for that I am not to tell you.” I think nothing of your Lady Vandeleur. Oh, these mis-
“Do you say so?” cried Harry. “Why, how strange! But tresses!” she cried. “To send out a real gentleman like you 83
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– with a bandbox – in broad day!”
“Is there a bar? Will it lock?” asked Harry, while a salvo During this talk they had remained in their original po-on the knocker made the house echo from wall to wall.
sitions – she on the doorstep, he on the side-walk, bare-
“Why, what is wrong with you?” asked the maid. “Is it headed for the sake of coolness, and with the bandbox on this old gentleman?”
his arm. But upon this last speech Harry, who was unable
“If he gets hold of me,” whispered Harry, “I am as good to support such point-blank compliments to his appearas dead. He has been pursuing me all day, carries a sword-ance, nor the encouraging look with which they were ac-stick, and is an Indian military officer.” companied, began to change his attitude, and glance from
“These are fine manners,” cried the maid. “And what, if left to right in perturbation. In so doing he turned his face you please, may be his name?”
towards the lower end of the lane, and there, to his inde-
“It is the General, my master,” answered Harry. “He is scribable dismay, his eyes encountered those of General after this bandbox.”
Vandeleur. The General, in a prodigious fluster of heat,
“Did not I tell you?” cried the maid in triumph. “I told you hurry, and indignation, had been scouring the streets in I thought worse than nothing of your Lady Vandeleur; and if chase of his brother-in-law; but so soon as he caught a you had an eye in your head you might see what she is for glimpse of the delinquent secretary, his purpose changed, yourself. An ungrateful minx, I will be bound for that!” his anger flowed into a new channel, and he turned on The General renewed his attack upon the knocker, and his heel and came tearing up the lane with truculent ges-his passion growing with delay, began to kick and beat tures and vociferations.
upon the panels of the door.
Harry made but one bolt of it into the house, driving
“It is lucky,” observed the girl, “that I am alone in the the maid before him; and the door was slammed in his house; your General may hammer until he is weary, and pursuer’s countenance.
there is none to open for him. Follow me!” 84
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So saying she led Harry into the kitchen, where she made
“That I will,” he cried, remembering his gallantry, “not him sit down, and stood by him herself in an affectionate for your back door, but because you are good and pretty.” attitude, with a hand upon his shoulder. The din at the door, And he administered two or three cordial salutes, which so far from abating, continued to increase in volume, and were returned to him in kind.
at each blow the unhappy secretary was shaken to the heart.
Then Prudence led him to the back gate, and put her
“What is your name?” asked the girl.
hand upon the key.
“Harry Hartley,” he replied.
“Will you come and see me?” she asked.
“Mine,” she went on, “is Prudence. Do you like it?”
“I will indeed,” said Harry. “Do not I owe you my life?”
“Very much,” said Harry. “But hear for a moment how
“And now,” she added, opening the door, “run as hard as the General beats upon the door. He will certainly break you can, for I shall let in the General.” it in, and then, in heaven’s name, what have I to look for Harry scarcely required this advice; fear had him by the but death?”
forelock; and he addressed himself diligently to flight. A
“You put yourself very much about with no occasion,” few steps, and he believed he would escape from his trials, answered Prudence. “Let your General knock, he will do and return to Lady Vandeleur in honour and safety. But no more than blister his hands. Do you think I would keep these few steps had not been taken before he heard a man’s you here if I were not sure to save you? Oh, no, I am a voice hailing him by name with many execrations, and, look-good friend to those that please me! and we have a back ing over his shoulder, he beheld Charlie Pendragon waving door upon another lane. But,” she added, checking him, him with both arms to return. The shock of this new inci-for he had got upon his feet immediately on this welcome dent was so sudden and profound, and Harry was already news, “but I will not show where it is unless you kiss me.
worked into so high a state of nervous tension, that he Will you, Harry?”
could think of nothing better than to accelerate his pace, 85
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and continue running. He should certainly have remem-chestnuts, it was suddenly drawn back, and he could see bered the scene in Kensington Gardens; he should certainly inside, upon a garden path, the figure of a butcher’s boy have concluded that, where the General was his enemy, with his tray upon his arm. He had hardly recognised the Charlie Pendragon could be no other than a friend. But fact before he was some steps beyond upon the other side.
such was the fever and perturbation of his mind that he But the fellow had had time to observe him; he was evi-was struck by none of these considerations, and only con-dently much surprised to see a gentleman go by at so un-tinued to run the faster up the lane.
usual a pace; and he came out into the lane and began to Charlie, by the sound of his voice and the vile terms that call after Harry with shouts of ironical encouragement.
he hurled after the secretary, was obviously beside himself His appearance gave a new idea to Charlie Pendragon, with rage. He, too, ran his very best; but, try as he might, who, although he was now sadly out of breath, once more the physical advantages were not upon his side, and his upraised his voice.
outcries and the fall of his lame foot on the macadam be-
“Stop, thief!” he cried.
gan to fall farther and farther into the wake.
And immediately the butcher’s boy had taken up the cry Harry’s hopes began once more to arise. The lane was and joined in the pursuit.
both steep and narrow, but it was exceedingly solitary, bor-This was a bitter moment for the hunted secretary. It is dered on either hand by garden walls, overhung with foli-true that his terror enabled him once more to improve his age; and, for as far as the fugitive could see in front of him, pace, and gain with every step on his pursuers; but he was there was neither a creature moving nor an open door.
well aware that he was near the end of his resources, and Providence, weary of persecution, was now offering him should he meet any one coming the other way, his predica-an open field for his escape.
ment in the narrow lane would be desperate indeed.
Alas! as he came abreast of a garden door under a tuft of
“I must find a place of concealment,” he thought, “and 86
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that within the next few seconds, or all is over with me in cious perfume, he beheld the back of a house. It was of this world.”
considerable extent, and plainly habitable; but, in odd con-Scarcely had the thought crossed his mind than the lane trast to the grounds, it was crazy, ill-kept, and of a mean took a sudden turning; and he found himself hidden from appearance. On all other sides the circuit of the garden his enemies. There are circumstances in which even the wall appeared unbroken.
least energetic of mankind learn to behave with vigour and He took in these features of the scene with mechanical decision; and the most cautious forget their prudence and glances, but his mind was still unable to piece together or embrace foolhardy resolutions. This was one of those oc-draw a rational conclusion from what he saw. And when casions for Harry Hartley; and those who knew him best he heard footsteps advancing on the gravel, although he would have been the most astonished at the lad’s audacity.
turned his eyes in that direction, it was with no thought He stopped dead, flung the bandbox over a garden wall, either for defence or flight.
and leaping upward with incredible agility and seizing the The new-comer was a large, coarse, and very sordid per-copestone with his hands, he tumbled headlong after it into sonage, in gardening clothes, and with a watering-pot in the garden.
his left hand. One less confused would have been affected He came to himself a moment afterwards, seated in a with some alarm at the sight of this man’s huge propor-border of small rosebushes. His hands and knees were cut tions and black and lowering eyes. But Harry was too and bleeding, for the wall had been protected against such gravely shaken by his fall to be so much as terrified; and if an escalade by a liberal provision of old bottles; and he he was unable to divert his glances from the gardener, he was conscious of a general dislocation and a painful swim-remained absolutely passive, and suffered him to draw near, ming in the head. Facing him across the garden, which was to take him by the shoulder, and to plant him roughly on in admirable order, and set with flowers of the most deli-his feet, without a motion of resistance.
Robert Louis Stevenson
For a moment the two stared into each other’s eyes, Harry
“Indeed, sir,” said Harry, “this is all a dreadful miscon-fascinated, the man filled with wrath and a cruel, sneering ception; and if you will go with me to Sir Thomas humour.
Vandeleur’s in Eaton Place, I can promise that all will be
“Who are you?” he demanded at last. “Who are you to made plain. The most upright person, as I now perceive, come flying over my wall and break my gloire de dijons!
can be led into suspicious positions.” What is your name?” he added, shaking him; “and what
“My little man,” replied the gardener, “I will go with may be your business here?”
you no farther than the station-house in the next street.
Harry could not as much as proffer a word in explanation.
The inspector, no doubt, will be glad to take a stroll But just at that moment Pendragon and the butcher’s with you as far as Eaton Place, and have a bit of after-boy went clumping past, and the sound of their feet and noon tea with your great acquaintances. Or would you their hoarse cries echoed loudly in the narrow lane. The prefer to go direct to the Home Secretary? Sir Thomas gardener had received his answer; and he looked down Vandeleur, indeed! Perhaps you think I don’t know a into Harry’s face with an obnoxious smile.
gentleman when I see one, from a common run-the-
“A thief!” he said. “Upon my word, and a very good hedge like you? Clothes or no clothes, I can read you thing you must make of it; for I see you dressed like a like a book. Here is a shirt that maybe cost as much as gentleman from top to toe. Are you not ashamed to go my Sunday hat; and that coat, I take it, has never seen about the world in such a trim, with honest folk, I dare say, the inside of Rag-fair, and then your boots –” glad to buy your cast-off finery second hand? Speak up, The man, whose eyes had fallen upon the ground, stopped you dog,” the man went on; “you can understand English, short in his insulting commentary, and remained for a mo-I suppose; and I mean to have a bit of talk with you before ment looking intently upon something at his feet. When he I march you to the station.”
spoke his voice was strangely altered.
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“What, in God’s name,” said he, “is all this?” and fortunes had become involved. He looked round him as Harry, following the direction of the man’s eyes, beheld if for help, but he was alone in the garden, with his scattered a spectacle that struck him dumb with terror and amaze-diamonds and his redoubtable interlocutor; and when he gave ment. In his fall he had descended vertically upon the ear, there was no sound but the rustle of the leaves and the bandbox and burst it open from end to end; thence a great hurried pulsation of his heart. It was little wonder if the young treasure of diamonds had poured forth, and now lay abroad, man felt himself deserted by his spirits, and with a broken part trodden in the soil, part scattered on the surface in voice repeated his last ejaculation – “I am lost!” regal and glittering profusion. There was a magnificent The gardener peered in all directions with an air of guilt; coronet which he had often admired on Lady Vandeleur; but there was no face at any of the windows, and he seemed there were rings and brooches, ear-drops and bracelets, to breathe again.
and even unset brilliants rolling here and there among the
“Pick up a heart,” he said, “you fool! The worst of it is rosebushes like drops of morning dew. A princely fortune done. Why could you not say at first there was enough for lay between the two men upon the ground – a fortune in two? Two?” he repeated, “aye, and for two hundred! But the most inviting, solid, and durable form, capable of being come away from here, where we may be observed; and, carried in an apron, beautiful in itself, and scattering the for the love of wisdom, straighten out your hat and brush sunlight in a million rainbow flashes.
your clothes. You could not travel two steps the figure of
“Good God!” said Harry, “I am lost!” fun you look just now.”
His mind raced backwards into the past with the incalcu-While Harry mechanically adopted these suggestions, the lable velocity of thought, and he began to comprehend his gardener, getting upon his knees, hastily drew together the day’s adventures, to conceive them as a whole, and to scattered jewels and returned them to the bandbox. The recognise the sad imbroglio in which his own character touch of these costly crystals sent a shiver of emotion 89
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through the man’s stalwart frame; his face was transfig-more difficult upon so small a matter. The garden is your ured, and his eyes shone with concupiscence; indeed it own, Mr. Raeburn; we must none of us forget that; and seemed as if he luxuriously prolonged his occupation, and because you give us liberty to walk there we should be dallied with every diamond that he handled. At last, how-indeed ungracious if we so far presumed upon your polite-ever, it was done; and, concealing the bandbox in his smock, ness as to interfere with the convenience of your friends.
the gardener beckoned to Harry and preceded him in the But, on second thoughts,” he added, “I believe that this direction of the house.
gentleman and I have met before. Mr. Hartley, I think. I Near the door they were met by a young man evidently regret to observe that you have had a fall.” in holy orders, dark and strikingly handsome, with a look And he offered his hand.
of mingled weakness and resolution, and very neatly at-A sort of maiden dignity and a desire to delay as long as tired after the manner of his caste. The gardener was plainly possible the necessity for explanation moved Harry to refuse annoyed by this encounter; but he put as good a face upon this chance of help, and to deny his own identity. He chose it as he could, and accosted the clergyman with an obse-the tender mercies of the gardener, who was at least unquious and smiling air.
known to him, rather than the curiosity and perhaps the
“Here is a fine afternoon, Mr. Rolles,” said he: “a fine doubts of an acquaintance.
afternoon, as sure as God made it! And here is a young
“I fear there is some mistake,” said he. “My name is friend of mine who had a fancy to look at my roses. I took Thomlinson and I am a friend of Mr. Raeburn’s.” the liberty to bring him in, for I thought none of the lodg-
“Indeed?” said Mr. Rolles. “The likeness is amazing.” ers would object.”
Mr. Raeburn, who had been upon thorns throughout this
“Speaking for myself,” replied the Reverend Mr. Rolles, colloquy, now felt it high time to bring it to a period.
“I do not; nor do I fancy any of the rest of us would be
“I wish you a pleasant saunter, sir,” said he.
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And with that he dragged Harry after him into the house, world has to be paid for, and some things sweetly. You and then into a chamber on the garden. His first care was must know, Mr. Hartley, if such be your name, that I am a to draw down the blind, for Mr. Rolles still remained where man of a very easy temper, and good nature has been my they had left him, in an attitude of perplexity and thought.
stumbling-block from first to last. I could pocket the whole Then he emptied the broken bandbox on the table, and of these pretty pebbles, if I chose, and I should like to see stood before the treasure, thus fully displayed, with an ex-you dare to say a word; but I think I must have taken a pression of rapturous greed, and rubbing his hands upon liking to you; for I declare I have not the heart to shave his thighs. For Harry, the sight of the man’s face under the you so close. So, do you see, in pure kind feeling, I pro-influence of this base emotion, added another pang to those pose that we divide; and these,” indicating the two heaps, he was already suffering. It seemed incredible that, from his
“are the proportions that seem to me just and friendly. Do life of pure and delicate trifling, he should be plunged in a you see any objection, Mr. Hartley, may I ask? I am not the breath among sordid and criminal relations. He could re-man to stick upon a brooch.”
proach his conscience with no sinful act; and yet he was
“But, sir,” cried Harry, “what you propose to me is impos-now suffering the punishment of sin in its most acute and sible. The jewels are not mine, and I cannot share what is cruel forms – the dread of punishment, the suspicions of the another’s, no matter with whom, nor in what proportions.” good, and the companionship and contamination of vile and
“They are not yours, are they not?” returned Raeburn.
brutal natures. He felt he could lay his life down with glad-
“And you could not share them with anybody, couldn’t ness to escape from the room and the society of Mr. Raeburn.
you? Well now, that is what I call a pity; for here am I
“And now,” said the latter, after he had separated the obliged to take you to the station. The police – think of jewels into two nearly equal parts, and drawn one of them that,” he continued; “think of the disgrace for your respect-nearer to himself; “and now,” said he, “everything in this able parents; think,” he went on, taking Harry by the wrist; 91
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“think of the Colonies and the Day of Judgment.” Harry proceeded to obey, Raeburn watching him, and
“I cannot help it,” wailed Harry. “It is not my fault. You every now and again his greed rekindled by some bright will not come with me to Eaton Place?” scintillation, abstracting another jewel from the secretary’s
“No,” replied the man, “I will not, that is certain. And I share, and adding it to his own.
mean to divide these playthings with you here.” When this was finished, both proceeded to the front door, And so saying he applied a sudden and severe torsion to which Raeburn cautiously opened to observe the street.
the lad’s wrist.
This was apparently clear of passengers; for he suddenly Harry could not suppress a scream, and the perspiration seized Harry by the nape of the neck, and holding his face burst forth upon his face. Perhaps pain and terror quick-downward so that he could see nothing but the roadway ened his intelligence, but certainly at that moment the whole and the doorsteps of the houses, pushed him violently be-business flashed across him in another light; and he saw fore him down one street and up another for the space of that there was nothing for it but to accede to the ruffian’s perhaps a minute and a half. Harry had counted three cor-proposal, and trust to find the house and force him to dis-ners before the bully relaxed his grasp, and crying, “Now gorge, under more favourable circumstances, and when he be off with you!” sent the lad flying head foremost with a himself was clear from all suspicion.
well-directed and athletic kick.
“I agree,” he said.
When Harry gathered himself up, half-stunned and bleed-
“There is a lamb,” sneered the gardener. “I thought you ing freely at the nose, Mr. Raeburn had entirely disappeared.
would recognise your interests at last. This bandbox,” he For the first time, anger and pain so completely overcame continued, “I shall burn with my rubbish; it is a thing that the lad’s spirits that he burst into a fit of tears and remained curious folk might recognise; and as for you, scrape up sobbing in the middle of the road.
your gaieties and put them in your pocket.” After he had thus somewhat assuaged his emotion, he 92
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began to look about him and read the names of the streets at Such was the case; a good half of what remained to him whose intersection he had been deserted by the gardener.
after the depredations of Mr. Raeburn, had been shaken He was still in an unfrequented portion of West London, out of his pockets by the summersault and once more lay among villas and large gardens; but he could see some per-glittering on the ground. He blessed his fortune that the sons at a window who had evidently witnessed his misfor-maid had been so quick of eye; “there is nothing so bad but tune; and almost immediately after a servant came running it might be worse,” thought he; and the recovery of these from the house and offered him a glass of water. At the same few seemed to him almost as great an affair as the loss of time, a dirty rogue, who had been slouching somewhere in all the rest. But, alas! as he stooped to pick up his trea-the neighbourhood, drew near him from the other side.
sures, the loiterer made a rapid onslaught, overset both
“Poor fellow,” said the maid, “how vilely you have been Harry and the maid with a movement of his arms, swept up handled, to be sure! Why, your knees are all cut, and your a double handful of the diamonds, and made off along the clothes ruined! Do you know the wretch who used you so?” street with an amazing swiftness.
“That I do!” cried Harry, who was somewhat refreshed Harry, as soon as he could get upon his feet, gave chase by the water; “and shall run him home in spite of his to the miscreant with many cries, but the latter was too precautions. He shall pay dearly for this day’s work, I fleet of foot, and probably too well acquainted with the promise you.”
locality; for turn where the pursuer would he could find no
“You had better come into the house and have yourself traces of the fugitive.
washed and brushed,” continued the maid. “My mistress In the deepest despondency, Harry revisited the scene of will make you welcome, never fear. And see, I will pick up his mishap, where the maid, who was still waiting, very your hat. Why, love of mercy!” she screamed, “if you have honestly returned him his hat and the remainder of the fallen not dropped diamonds all over the street!” diamonds. Harry thanked her from his heart, and being now 93
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in no humour for economy, made his way to the nearest
“Speak!” she cried. “Speak! Where is the bandbox?” cab-stand and set off for Eaton Place by coach.
And the men, with threatening gestures, repeated the de-The house, on his arrival, seemed in some confusion, as mand.
if a catastrophe had happened in the family; and the ser-Harry drew a handful of jewels from his pocket. He was vants clustered together in the hall, and were unable, or very white.
perhaps not altogether anxious, to suppress their merri-
“This is all that remains,” said he. “I declare before Heaven ment at the tatterdemalion figure of the secretary. He passed it was through no fault of mine; and if you will have pa-them with as good an air of dignity as he could assume, tience, although some are lost, I am afraid, for ever, oth-and made directly for the boudoir. When he opened the ers, I am sure, may be still recovered.” door an astonishing and even menacing spectacle presented
“Alas!” cried Lady Vandeleur, “all our diamonds are gone, itself to his eyes; for he beheld the General and his wife and I owe ninety thousand pounds for dress!” and, of all people, Charlie Pendragon, closeted together
“Madam,” said the General, “you might have paved the and speaking with earnestness and gravity on some impor-gutter with your own trash; you might have made debts to tant subject. Harry saw at once that there was little left for fifty times the sum you mention; you might have robbed him to explain – plenary confession had plainly been made me of my mother’s coronet and ring; and Nature might to the General of the intended fraud upon his pocket, and have still so far prevailed that I could have forgiven you at the unfortunate miscarriage of the scheme; and they had last. But, madam, you have taken the Rajah’s Diamond –
all made common cause against a common danger.
the Eye of Light, as the Orientals poetically termed it -the
“Thank Heaven!” cried Lady Vandeleur, “here he is! The Pride of Kashgar! You have taken from me the Rajah’s bandbox, Harry – the bandbox!”
Diamond,” he cried, raising his hands, “and all, madam, all But Harry stood before them silent and downcast.
is at an end between us!”
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“Believe me, General Vandeleur,” she replied, “that is age in poverty through your underhand intriguing with my one of the most agreeable speeches that ever I heard from wife, I mean at least that you shall not remain unpunished your lips; and since we are to be ruined, I could almost for your pains; and God, sir, will deny me a very consider-welcome the change, if it delivers me from you. You have able satisfaction if you do not pick oakum from now until told me often enough that I married you for your money; your dying day.”
let me tell you now that I always bitterly repented the bar-With that, the General dragged Harry from the apart-gain; and if you were still marriageable, and had a diamond ment, and hurried him downstairs and along the street to bigger than your head, I should counsel even my maid the police-station of the district.
against a union so uninviting and disastrous. As for you, Mr. Hartley,” she continued, turning on the secretary, “you Here (says my Arabian author) ended this deplorable busi-have sufficiently exhibited your valuable qualities in this ness of the bandbox. But to the unfortunate Secretary the house; we are now persuaded that you equally lack man-whole affair was the beginning of a new and manlier life.
hood, sense, and self-respect; and I can see only one course The police were easily persuaded of his innocence; and, open for you – to withdraw instanter, and, if possible, re-after he had given what help he could in the subsequent turn no more. For your wages you may rank as a creditor investigations, he was even complemented by one of the in my late husband’s bankruptcy.”
chiefs of the detective department on the probity and sim-Harry had scarcely comprehended this insulting address plicity of his behaviour. Several persons interested them-before the General was down upon him with another.
selves in one so unfortunate; and soon after he inherited a
“And in the meantime,” said that personage, “follow me sum of money from a maiden aunt in Worcestershire. With before the nearest Inspector of Police. You may impose this he married Prudence, and set sail for Bendigo, or ac-upon a simple-minded soldier, sir, but the eye of the law cording to another account, for Trincomalee, exceedingly will read your disreputable secret. If I must spend my old content, and will the best of prospects.
Robert Louis Stevenson
STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN IN HOLY ORDERS
was usually one of the most productive moments of his day. But even a sincere appetite for thought, and the ex-THE REVEREND MR. SIMON ROLLES had distinguished him-citement of grave problems awaiting solution, are not al-self in the Moral Sciences, and was more than usually ways sufficient to preserve the mind of the philosopher proficient in the study of Divinity. His essay “On the Chris-against the petty shocks and contacts of the world. And tian Doctrine of the Social Obligations” obtained for him, when Mr. Rolles found General Vandeleur’s secretary, at the moment of its production, a certain celebrity in the ragged and bleeding, in the company of his landlord; when University of Oxford; and it was understood in clerical he saw both change colour and seek to avoid his ques-and learned circles that young Mr. Rolles had in contem-tions; and, above all, when the former denied his own iden-plation a considerable work – a folio, it was said -on the tity with the most unmoved assurance, he speedily forgot authority of the Fathers of the Church. These attainments, the Saints and Fathers in the vulgar interest of curiosity.
these ambitious designs, however, were far from helping
“I cannot be mistaken,” thought he. “That is Mr. Hartley him to any preferment; and he was still in quest of his beyond a doubt. How comes he in such a pickle? why does first curacy when a chance ramble in that part of London, he deny his name? and what can be his business with that the peaceful and rich aspect of the garden, a desire for black-looking ruffian, my landlord?” solitude and study, and the cheapness of the lodging, led As he was thus reflecting, another peculiar circumstance him to take up his abode with Mr. Raeburn, the nursery-attracted his attention. The face of Mr. Raeburn appeared man of Stockdove Lane.
at a low window next the door; and, as chance directed, It was his habit every afternoon, after he had worked his eyes met those of Mr. Rolles. The nurseryman seemed seven or eight hours on St. Ambrose or St. Chrysostom, to disconcerted, and even alarmed; and immediately after the walk for a while in meditation among the roses. And this blind of the apartment was pulled sharply down.
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“This may all be very well,” reflected Mr. Rolles; “it may guish the marks of groping fingers, as though something be all excellently well; but I confess freely that I do not had been spilt abroad and eagerly collected.
think so. Suspicious, underhand, untruthful, fearful of ob-
“Upon my word,” he thought, “the thing grows vastly servation – I believe upon my soul,” he thought, “the pair interesting.”
are plotting some disgraceful action.” And just then he caught sight of something almost en-The detective that there is in all of us awoke and became tirely buried in the earth. In an instant he had disinterred a clamant in the bosom of Mr. Rolles; and with a brisk, eager dainty morocco case, ornamented and clasped in gilt. It step, that bore no resemblance to his usual gait, he pro-had been trodden heavily underfoot, and thus escaped the ceeded to make the circuit of the garden. When he came to hurried search of Mr. Raeburn. Mr. Rolles opened the case, the scene of Harry’s escalade, his eye was at once arrested and drew a long breath of almost horrified astonishment; by a broken rosebush and marks of trampling on the mould.
for there lay before him, in a cradle of green velvet, a dia-He looked up, and saw scratches on the brick, and a rag of mond of prodigious magnitude and of the finest water. It trouser floating from a broken bottle. This, then, was the was of the bigness of a duck’s egg; beautifully shaped, and mode of entrance chosen by Mr. Raeburn’s particular friend!
without a flaw; and as the sun shone upon it, it gave forth It was thus that General Vandeleur’s secretary came to a lustre like that of electricity, and seemed to burn in his admire a flower-garden! The young clergyman whistled hand with a thousand internal fires.
softly to himself as he stooped to examine the ground. He He knew little of precious stones; but the Rajah’s Dia-could make out where Harry had landed from his perilous mond was a wonder that explained itself; a village child, if leap; he recognised the flat foot of Mr. Raeburn where it he found it, would run screaming for the nearest cottage; had sunk deeply in the soil as he pulled up the Secretary by and a savage would prostrate himself in adoration before the collar; nay, on a closer inspection, he seemed to distin-so imposing a fetish. The beauty of the stone flattered the 97
Robert Louis Stevenson
young clergyman’s eyes; the thought of its incalculable value Hartley. The nurseryman, who was beside himself with ter-overpowered his intellect. He knew that what he held in ror, readily discovered his hoard; and the jewels were iden-his hand was worth more than many years’ purchase of an tified and inventoried in the presence of the Secretary. As archiepiscopal see; that it would build cathedrals more for Mr. Rolles, he showed himself in a most obliging tem-stately than Ely or Cologne; that he who possessed it was per, communicated what he knew with freedom, and pro-set free for ever from the primal curse, and might follow fessed regret that he could do no more to help the officers his own inclinations without concern or hurry, without let in their duty.
or hindrance. And as he suddenly turned it, the rays leaped
“Still,” he added, “I suppose your business is nearly at forth again with renewed brilliancy, and seemed to pierce an end.”
his very heart.
“By no means,” replied the man from Scotland Yard; and Decisive actions are often taken in a moment and with-he narrated the second robbery of which Harry had been out any conscious deliverance from the rational parts of the immediate victim, and gave the young clergyman a man. So it was now with Mr. Rolles. He glanced hurriedly description of the more important jewels that were still not round; beheld, like Mr. Raeburn before him, nothing but found, dilating particularly on the Rajah’s Diamond.
the sunlit flower-garden, the tall tree-tops, and the house
“It must be worth a fortune,” observed Mr. Rolles.
with blinded windows; and in a trice he had shut the case,
“Ten fortunes – twenty fortunes,” cried the officer.
thrust it into his pocket, and was hastening to his study
“The more it is worth,” remarked Simon shrewdly, “the with the speed of guilt.
more difficult it must be to sell. Such a thing has a physiog-The Reverend Simon Rolles had stolen the Rajah’s Dia-nomy not to be disguised, and I should fancy a man might mond.
as easily negotiate St. Paul’s Cathedral.” Early in the afternoon the police arrived with Harry
“Oh, truly!” said the officer; “but if the thief be a man of 98
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any intelligence, he will cut it into three or four, and there Herewith he kicked over his book-shelf and, putting on will be still enough to make him rich.” his hat, hastened from the house to the club of which he
“Thank you,” said the clergyman. “You cannot imagine was a member. In such a place of mundane resort he hoped how much your conversation interests me.” to find some man of good counsel and a shrewd experi-Whereupon the functionary admitted that they knew many ence in life. In the reading-room he saw many of the coun-strange things in his profession, and immediately after took try clergy and an Archdeacon; there were three journalists his leave.
and a writer upon the Higher Metaphysic, playing pool; Mr. Rolles regained his apartment. It seemed smaller and and at dinner only the raff of ordinary club frequenters barer than usual; the materials for his great work had never showed their commonplace and obliterated countenances.
presented so little interest; and he looked upon his library None of these, thought Mr. Rolles, would know more on with the eye of scorn. He took down, volume by volume, dangerous topics than he knew himself; none of them were several Fathers of the Church, and glanced them through; fit to give him guidance in his present strait. At length in but they contained nothing to his purpose.
the smoking-room, up many weary stairs, he hit upon a
“These old gentlemen,” thought he, “are no doubt very gentleman of somewhat portly build and dressed with con-valuable writers, but they seem to me conspicuously ig-spicuous plainness. He was smoking a cigar and reading norant of life. Here am I, with learning enough to be a the Fortnightly Review; his face was singularly free from Bishop, and I positively do not know how to dispose of a all sign of preoccupation or fatigue; and there was some-stolen diamond. I glean a hint from a common police-thing in his air which seemed to invite confidence and to man, and, with all my folios, I cannot so much as put it expect submission. The more the young clergyman scruti-into execution. This inspires me with very low ideas of nised his features, the more he was convinced that he had University training.”
fallen on one capable of giving pertinent advice.
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Sir,” said he, “you will excuse my abruptness; but I judge Mr. Rolles admitted he had never even heard the name.
you from your appearance to be pre-eminently a man of
“You may gather some notions from Gaboriau,” resumed the world.”
the stranger. “He is at least suggestive; and as he is an
“I have indeed considerable claims to that distinction,” author much studied by Prince Bismarck, you will, at the replied the stranger, laying aside his magazine with a look worst, lose your time in good society.” of mingled amusement and surprise.
“Sir,” said the Curate, “I am infinitely obliged by your
“I, sir,” continued the Curate, “am a recluse, a student, a politeness.”
creature of ink-bottles and patristic folios. A recent event
“You have already more than repaid me,” returned the has brought my folly vividly before my eyes, and I desire other.
to instruct myself in life. By life,” he added, “I do not mean
“How?” inquired Simon.
Thackeray’s novels; but the crimes and secret possibilities
“By the novelty of your request,” replied the gentleman; of our society, and the principles of wise conduct among and with a polite gesture, as though to ask permission, he exceptional events. I am a patient reader; can the thing be resumed the study of the Fortnightly Review.