The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Strand Magazine,  Volume V, Issue 28,
April 1893, by Various

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Title: The Strand Magazine,  Volume V, Issue 28, April 1893
       An Illustrated Monthly

Author: Various

Editor: George Newnes

Release Date: March 11, 2007 [EBook #20798]

Language: English

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Vol. 5, Issue. 28.

April 1893


The Prince of Wales at Sandringham.
Shafts from an Eastern Quiver.
Weathercocks and Vanes
A Dark Transaction
The Royal Humane Society
A Strange Reunion.
From Behind the Speaker's Chair.
Portraits of Celebrities at Different Times of their Lives.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Zig-Zags at the Zoo.
Types of English Beauty.
The Nankeen Jacket.
The Queer Side of Things.

[Pg 327]

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

The Prince of Wales at Sandringham.

[The Prince of Wales is, of course, precluded by his position from granting interviews like private persons, but His Royal Highness has been so good as to give us special permission to insert the following extremely interesting article, which we are happy to be able to present to our readers in place of the Illustrated Interview for the present month. The next of the series of Illustrated Interviews, by Mr. Harry How, will appear next month. Sir Robert Rawlinson, the celebrated engineer, whose work saved so many lives in the Crimea, has given Mr. How a most interesting interview, with special illustrations.]


ar from the busy haunt of man" might be fitly applied to Sandringham; so quiet, and so secluded, is this favourite residence of the heir to England's throne and his beautiful and universally esteemed wife.

Not an ancient castle with tower and moat, not a show place such as would charm a merchant prince, but beautiful in its simplicity and attractive in its homeliness; yet withal, clothed in the dignity inseparable from its owners and its associations; in short, a happy English home, inhabited by a typical English family.

How often have we seen them in the country lanes all squeezed into one wagonette, looking like a jolly village squire and his family; or watched the young Princes and Princesses careering round the park on their favourite steeds, and listened to their merry laughing voices as they emulated each other to come in winner!

From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

When at Sandringham, State and its duties, society and its requirements, are relegated to the dim past and shadowy future; and our Prince is a country gentleman, deep in agriculture and the welfare of his tenantry; and his wife and children pass their time in visiting the schools, the poor, and the sick, working in their dairy, or at their sketching, art and useful needle-work, etc.

Fortunately, the estate is above seven miles from King's Lynn, its nearest town, so that the family are not subjected to the prying gaze of the curious. They have not, however, the inconvenience of this long drive from the railway station, as there is one at Wolferton, a little village of about forty houses, on the estate, and between two and three miles from the "House."

In 1883 the Prince added a suite of waiting-rooms to the building already there: the addition consisting of a large entrance-hall, approached by a covered carriage way, with rooms on either side for the Prince and Princess. These rooms are handsomely and tastefully furnished, and are used not only as waiting-rooms, but occasionally for luncheon, when the Prince and his guests are shooting in the vicinity of Wolferton. The station lies in a charming valley, and emerging from its grounds, you have before you a picturesque drive along a well gravelled road, bordered with velvety turf, and backed with fir, laurel, pine and gorse.

Rabbits in hundreds are popping hither and thither, pheasants are flying over your head, squirrels are scampering up and down trees, there are [Pg 328]sounds of many feathery songsters in the branches: while if you pause awhile, you may catch the distant murmur of the sea—certainly you can feel its breezes; and you seem to get the beauty of the Highlands, the grandeur of the sea, and the very pick of English scenery, all in one extensive panorama. The view from the heights is beyond description: an uninterrupted outlook over the North Sea, and a general survey of such wide range, that on clear days the steeple or tower of Boston church (familiarly known as "Boston Stump") can be plainly seen.

Proceeding on your way, you pass the park boundary wall, the residence of the comptroller, the rectory, the little church of St. Mary Magdalene, with its flag waving in the breeze denoting the family are in residence—take a sudden curve in the road, and find yourself in front of the Norwich gates, admitting to the principal entrance. A solitary policeman is here on guard, but he knows his business, and knows every member of the household by sight; and though his duty consists in merely opening and shutting the gates, you may be quite sure he will not open to the wrong one.

These gates are worthy of more than a passing glance, for they are a veritable masterpiece of design and mechanism. They were, in fact, one of the features of the 1862 Exhibition, and were afterwards presented to the Prince by the County of Norwich. On the top is the golden crown, supported by the Prince's feathers. Underneath, held by bronzed griffins, are heraldic shields representing the various titles of the Prince, while the remainder is composed of flowers, sprays, and creeping vines. They are connected with the palisading by rose, shamrock and thistle. The maker was Barnard, of Norwich.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

Although this is the chief entrance, it is necessary to proceed up the avenue and diverge to the left, before the front of the building comes into view; then it will be seen to be of modernized Elizabethan architecture; exterior, red brick, with Ketton-stone dressing. Over the door is a carved inscription as follows: "This house was built by Albert Edward Prince of Wales and Alexandra his wife, in the year of Our Lord, 1870." As a matter of fact, the estate had been purchased nine years previous to that date, for a sum of £220,000, but the Old Manor House was in such a condition that, after vainly trying to patch up and add on to, it was found desirable to pull it all down, and build an entirely new residence. Not only did the mansion need re-building, but also the cottages of the tenants and labourers: and much to the honour of the Prince and Princess, these cottages were their first care, and were all re-built and several new ones erected before they took possession of their own home.

An invitation to Sandringham is an honour which few would lightly regard: and if it is your first visit you are in a flutter of anticipation and expectation, making it somewhat difficult to preserve the calm exterior that society demands of you. Now there are two distinct sets invited there; one from Friday to Monday, and one from Monday or Tuesday to Friday; the former generally including a bishop, dean, or canon for the Sunday[Pg 329] service, two or three eminent statesmen, and a sprinkling of musical, literary, and artistic celebrities. To this list I will suppose you to belong.

You have found carriages and baggage vans awaiting what is known as the "Royal train"—a special run just when the Prince is in residence—and you and your fellow-visitors have driven up to the principal entrance. There you alight, and are ushered by the footmen into a spacious hall or saloon, where you are received with the distinguished grace and courtesy for which your Royal host and hostess are so justly celebrated.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

You have only time for a rapid glance at the massive oak carving and valuable paintings (chief of which is one portraying the family at afternoon tea, by Zichy) before you find yourself being conducted to the handsome suite of apartments you will occupy during your visit. A cup of tea and some light refreshment, and the dinner-hour being 7.30 it is time to prepare. If you have not been here before, let me give you a word of warning, or you will commit the dreadful sin of unpunctuality. Every clock on the place, from the loud-voiced one over the stables to the tiniest of continental masterpieces, is kept half an hour fast. The ringing-out of the hour thirty minutes before you expect it is startling in the extreme; and your maid or man has a bad time of it until you discover the discrepancy.

At last, however, you are ready, and in due time find yourself amidst the company in the grand dining saloon, where dinner is served in state, although not with the frigid formality one is inclined to expect. A certain degree of nervousness must be felt by all on the first occasion they dine with Royalty; but your host and hostess are so extremely affable, and have such a happy gift of putting people at their ease, that you insensibly forget their august position, and find yourself chatting with comfort and enjoyment. You will notice the splendid proportions of this saloon, and the priceless Spanish tapestry with which it is hung—this was the gift of the King of Spain to the Prince. There is also a magnificent display of plate, much of it presentation. The tables are oblong, the Prince and Princess facing each other at the centre; the floor—as are most of them—is of polished oak, this one being freely scattered[Pg 330] with costly Turkish rugs. I may here mention that adjoining this saloon is a spacious ante-room, containing a fine collection of tigers' skins, elephants' tusks, etc.: a good record of the travels of His Royal Highness, of much interest to travellers and sportsmen.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

When you presently adjourn to the drawing-rooms—of which there are a suite of small ones in addition to the large one—you will find there is no lack of entertainment and amusement; such, indeed, as must suit the most varied tastes. First, however, we will take some note of the rooms themselves. These (the drawing-rooms) are all connected with the entrance-hall by a broad corridor, which is ornamented with pieces of armour, ancient china, stuffed birds, etc.: they face the lakes, and are on the western or front of the building, opening on to the terrace.

The large drawing-room is of beautiful construction, fitted with windows reaching from ceiling to floor. The walls are panelled with pink and blue, with mouldings of gold and cream. The furniture is upholstered in pale blue, with threads of deep crimson and gold; the hangings are of rich chenille; the floor of polished oak, with rich Indian rugs distributed here and there. A plentiful scattering of music and books gives it a home-like appearance, while hand embroidery, sketches, painting on china, and feather screens show the variety of talent and skill of the ladies of the family. In the very centre of the room is a large piece of rockwork, with a tasteful arrangement (carried out under the care of the Princess herself) of choice ferns and beautiful roses in bloom, while rising out of the midst is a marble figure of Venus. The principal conservatory opens from this room. It is rich in palms and ferns, and contains a monument of art to Madame Jerichau, the sculptress, in the shape of a group of bathing girls.

Meanwhile, whatever amusement is to be the order has by this time commenced: perhaps it is music—the ladies of the family are all good musicians—perhaps it is tableaux vivants, or possibly a carpet dance. If your tastes do not lie in these directions, or after you have enjoyed them for a sufficient time, you have the choice of using the billiard-[Pg 331]room, the American bowling alley, or the smoking-rooms. The billiard-room will interest you vastly: it is literally lined with arms of all descriptions. The tables, of course, are of the best.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

Another room you may perhaps find your way to to-night is the "Serapis" room; it is half library and half smoking-room; in it you will see the entire fittings of the cabin the Prince occupied on his journey to India,[Pg 332] in the vessel of the above name. One thing you may rest assured of—that neither on this evening nor at any other time while at Sandringham will you know a dull moment.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

In the morning you will find breakfast served at nine o'clock in the dining saloon. As, however, the Prince and Princess generally take theirs in their private apartments, there is no formality, and you do not feel bound to the punctuality imperative when you meet their Royal Highnesses.

Perhaps you have letters to write; and I may as well here remark that the postal arrangements are first-rate. There is a post-office inside the house, which is also a money order office. Three deliveries per day come in that way, while mounted men meet the trains at Wolferton Station. There is also telegraphic communication with Central London, King's Lynn, and Marlborough House; and telephone to Wolferton Station, the stud farm, agents, bailiff, etc.

Before proceeding to outdoor sights—which will not be possible very early, as your host has a multiplicity of business to get through—you had better take the opportunity of seeing some of the rare and beautiful treasures indoors. Of course, all are aware of the extensive travels of the Prince in many countries, and will, therefore, expect to find many mementos of the same in his home; but I think few are prepared to find them so numerous and so valuable. Not only does one see them here and there in various directions, but one room of considerable dimensions is set apart altogether for them, and a day could be profitably spent in their inspection. It is not only their costliness and their beauty, but the associations which make them of so much interest. This one was presented by the King of this place; this one by Prince So-and-so; this by such a town, and this by such an order or society, until the vision is quite dazzled with beauty.

Perhaps as a strong contrast you may get a peep at the Prince's morning-room, a room plainly and usefully fitted and furnished in light oak. There you will see such a batch of correspondence that you will be inclined to wonder when it will be got through, but the Prince is a capital business man, and nothing is lost sight of.

The libraries must not be overlooked: there are quite a suite of them, well stocked with English and French literature more particularly. A large number will be noticed[Pg 333] as presentation volumes, in handsome and unique bindings. One of these rooms also contains many mementos of travel and sport in various climes.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

Two additional stories have within the last few weeks been completed over the bowling alley and billiard-room, making a total of about eighteen apartments, henceforth to be known as "The Bachelors' Wing."

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

For some years the large hall at the entrance was made to do duty for a ball-room, and no mean one either; but the Prince thinking it not quite so commodious as he would wish, he, some nine years ago, had a new and larger one built. This, and one[Pg 334] or two other rooms, really constitute a new wing. The turret of this wing has just been raised, in order to place therein a clock purchased by the local tradesmen as a memorial to the late Duke of Clarence and Avondale. The ball-room is of immense size and lofty construction, with fine bay windows at either end, and large alcoves on either side, one containing a magnificent fire-place, and the other windows. The walls are artistic triumphs, being finely painted in delicate colours, and on them arranged a fine collection of Indian trophies. The floor is of oak, and kept in such a condition of polish as to be a pitfall and snare to any dancer not in constant practice. More than one or two couples have been known to suddenly subside, even in the most select of the select circles there assembled.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

If during your visit one of the annual balls should take place, you are most fortunate. There are three of such—the "County," the "Tenants'," and the "Servants'," the first, of course, bringing the élite; [Pg 335]but the two latter sometimes presenting a curious mixture. The tenants, I may say, are allowed to introduce a limited number of friends, a privilege highly valued, and much sought after by the most remote acquaintance of each and every tenant on the estate. A most wonderful display of colours distinguishes these Norfolkites, bright of hue, too, and more often than not dames of fifty got up in the style of damsels of eighteen.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.
From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

And what appetites these yeomen and cattle-dealers have got, to be sure! And if you had a few tramps across the "Broads" you would not wonder at it, for hunger is soon the predominant feeling. The dancing, too, is a study; country dances, reels, and jigs following each other in such quick succession, that the band in the gallery at the far end do not have any too easy a time of it. Through everything, the same kindly interest is displayed by the Royal host and hostess; their interest never wanes, and their courtesy never flags, but everyone is noticed, and made to feel as much at their ease as it is possible for them to be.

Perhaps the servants' ball is as pretty a sight as one could see in the room—the toilettes of the Royal Family and their visitors, the rich state liveries of the footmen, the scattering of Highland costumes, the green and buff of the gamekeepers, and the caps of the maidservants, all blending into an ever-moving kaleidoscope, picturesque in the extreme.

Few that are familiar with Sandringham can enter this room without thinking of the occasion when the proud and loving mother entered, leaning on the arm of her eldest boy, on the day he attained his majority. The fairest and bravest of all England were there assembled to do him honour; and from all parts of the world "happy returns" and long life were wished for he whom all regarded as their future King. Some of the associations of this home must of necessity be saddening, but on the other hand, much must remind of many little acts of kindness and loving attentions paid; and were this a biography of the late Prince, many little anecdotes of his great thoughtfulness for those around him might be told; but his monument will be in the memories of all who knew him.

To return, however, to description. After the Prince has dispatched his necessary business, he generally takes his visitors round to view the park, gardens, model farm, stables, kennels, or whatever His Royal Highness thinks may interest them most. If you are an enthusiast in farming, you will be immensely interested in the 600 acres of land farmed on scientific principles. Every known improvement in machinery, etc., is introduced, with results of as near perfection as possible in crops. The Prince looks a genuine farmer, as he tramps through the fields in true Norfolk garb of tweed and gaiters; and it does not require much attention to find from his conversation that he quite understands what he is talking about; so it behoves one to rub up his weak points in this direction.

In the stables all are disposed to linger; every one of (I think) sixty stalls being inhabited by first-rate steeds, many of them good racers. The prettiest sight of all is the Princess's stable—a smaller one adjoining;[Pg 336] this is tiled white and green, with stalls ornamented in silver. Here are some charming ponies driven by Her Royal Highness, and her favourite mare Vera. On this mare, accompanied by her children on their mounts, the Princess may often be met in the lanes around Sandringham, occasionally also driving in a little pony carriage, and in both cases almost unattended.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

The kennels come next in order: they contain dogs of every breed from all parts of the land. The younger members of the family especially have many pets—cats, dogs, and birds; indeed, one of the first things you notice on your arrival is a parrot in the entrance saloon, that invariably greets you with calling for "three cheers for the Queen!"

It is now nearly luncheon time (1.30), and here you all meet again; some of the ladies perhaps having been honoured the first part of the day by spending some time with the Princess. Generally speaking, but not always, their Royal Highnesses join the party for lunch; but in any case, after that meal, forces are united, and the company entire start off, sometimes on foot, commencing with gardens, sometimes in carriages for a more distant inspection. To-day it is fine, and so we commence with emerging on to the west terrace, and into the western gardens.

The terraces are very handsome, and many of the rooms open on to them from French windows or conservatories. First you will notice a Chinese joss-house or temple, made of costly metal, guarded on either side by two huge granite lions from Japan, all of them the gifts to the Prince of Admiral Keppel.

The gardens are tastefully and artistically laid out, with such a wildness, yet with such a wealth of shrubs and pines, aided by artificial rockwork, a cave, and a rushing cascade, that one might well imagine one was in another country.

The Alpine gardens contain flowers and ferns of the choicest; and you presently emerge on the shores of a lake of considerable size. Here boating in the summer and skating in the winter may be indulged in, the latter, especially by torchlight, being a most attractive sight. The illuminations in the trees around, the flaring torches, the lights fixed to the chairs as they glide about like will o' the wisps, and the villagers (who[Pg 337] are always invited) standing around, make up a picture not easily forgotten. This lake has recently been supplemented by the excavation of another in the centre of the park, a running stream connecting the two.

Chief, or almost chief, of the Sandringham outdoor sights is a famous avenue of trees. At some future time this avenue will be of even more interest than it is now, and will become, in fact, historical; for every tree there has been planted by some personage of note. On each one you will notice a neat label, stating name of planter and date of planting, chief of the names being Queen Victoria and the Empress Frederick.

From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

The model dairy is a picture; but here again the preference must be given to that owned by the Princess. It is a Swiss cottage, containing five rooms, one of the five being a very pretty tea-room, and here Her Royal Highness sometimes favours her friends with the "cup that cheers," often, too, cutting bread and butter and cake with her own fair hands. Moreover, the same hands have often made the butter that is used—as each of the ladies of the family is skilled in dairy management, and capable of turning out a good honest pat of creamy Norfolk. Merry times they have had in this cottage, arrayed in apron and sleeves, doing the real work, not merely giving directions.

You would not be in any of the villages long before you saw some of the children attending some one of the various schools, clad in their scarlet and Royal blue; they look very comfortable and picturesque. There is a first-rate technical school, in addition to the ordinary ones of each village. The first was founded by the Princess herself, and in each of them Her Royal Highness and her children take a deep interest; often visiting them, taking classes, and asking questions. These schools, then, are shown you this afternoon; and, as a matter of course, you proceed from there to the Working Men's Club—one of which is established in each village. These are open to men above the age of fourteen.[A] Billiards, bagatelle, draughts, etc., are provided, and there is a good stock of newspapers and books. Refreshments may be obtained of good quality, and for a small outlay; and everything is done that can be done to make the men comfortable. Does it keep them from the public-house? you ask. Well—there is not such a thing known as a public-house on the Prince's estate. A man can get his glass of ale at the club—good in quality and low in figure—but he cannot get enough to send him home the worse for coming; so drunkenness is unknown in the villages.

[A] Small men; but is an actual extract from the printed rules hanging in the clubs.

On Sunday morning everybody goes to the little church of St. Mary Magdalene, in the park. The Prince and Princess set the example by their regular and punctual attendance—the Princess and ladies generally driving, the Prince and gentlemen walking by private footway. A quiet, peaceful spot it is, entered by a lych-gate and surrounded by a small "God's acre." If you are wise, you have come early enough to look round. Simplicity is stamped on everything, there not being a single imposing monument there. Several stones have been erected by the Prince in memory of faithful servants of the household, and there are also several placed there by the former proprietors of the estate. To what you are most attracted is[Pg 338] the resting-place of the third Royal son. No costly sepulchre, but a simple grassy mound, surrounded by gilt iron railings with a plain headstone, recording the name and date of birth and death of the infant Prince, and the words "Suffer little children to come unto Me" added.

The church itself is of ancient date, and has been twice restored and enlarged by the Prince. It has a font of early times, and some half-dozen stained glass windows. The Prince has caused several monuments, busts, etc., to be placed there, conspicuous being busts to the late Princess Alice and the Emperor Frederick, a medallion to the late Duke of Albany, a stained glass window to the infant Prince, and monuments to the Revs. W. L. Onslow and G. Browne. The most noticeable of anything there, however, is a very handsome brass lectern, placed by the Princess as a thank-offering for the recovery of the Prince from his dangerous illness of typhoid fever. The event is within the memory of most of us, and needs only a brief notice to recall the national anxiety that was displayed on the occasion. The lectern bears the following inscription: "To the glory of God. A thank-offering for His mercy, 14th December, 1871. 'When I was in trouble, I called upon the Lord, and He heard me.'"

The space for worshippers is limited, and is generally quite filled by the household. The Royal Family occupy carved oak seats in the nave. The organ is a very fine one, particularly sweet in tone, and is situated in the rear of the building; it is presided over by a very able musician, who is also responsible for the choir—this consisting of school children, grooms, gardeners, etc. The singing is really good.

From a Photo. by Bedford Lemere.

I have heard down there of a former organist, who was not a great musician, and, in fact, was more at home in the village shop, of which he was proprietor. Sunday after Sunday he made the most awful mistakes, and, in consequence, was continually warned of his probable dismissal. The Princess, with her invariable kindness, had been the cause of his staying so long as he had; but one Sunday the climax was reached and the Royal patience fairly exhausted. Mr. Gladstone (then in office) was on a visit, and his solemn, grim countenance as he[Pg 339] stood in the church quite frightened the poor man, inasmuch as he lost his head completely. The organ left off in the chants, persisted in playing in the prayers, and altogether acted in such an erratic manner, that it was no wonder that anger was depicted on one countenance, sorrow on another, and amusement on a few of the more youthful ones! The old institution had to give way to a new, however, and a repetition of such performances was thus avoided.

From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

The Sunday afternoon is quietly spent in the house or grounds; then in the evening some may, perhaps, drive to West Newton or Wolferton Church—the Prince, Princess and family often do—while others may prefer to stay in for music or reading.

On your way to either place you cannot but notice the prosperous look of the villages and villagers, pointing unmistakably to the certainty of a good landlord. Had you longer time here, you would hear many an anecdote of the kindness and generosity of the Prince and the goodness of the Princess and her daughters. Hardly a cottager but has some anecdote to tell you of the family: how the Princess visits the sick and afflicted, talking to them, reading to them, and helping them in their needs. Every child seems to know and to love the "beautiful lady," and every man and woman seems almost to worship her; and if you heard the anecdotes I have heard there, you would not wonder at it. "Think o' they R'yal Highnesses"—they would say—"making o' things wi' their own 'ands fer sich as us! Did yew ever heerd tell o' sich, says I; none o' yer frames and frimmirks (airs and graces) wi' they." And then they would go on with their "says I" and "says she," and tell you all about summer flower shows for villagers, treats on Royal birthdays, invitations to see sights in the park, how the family have given a wedding present to this one, what they have brought or sent the other one when ill; and so on, and so on, until you come to think what a pity it is a few land-owners, with their wives and families, cannot come here for the lessons so many need, and see how well this family interpret the words: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

Sandringham has saddening associations for its owners, but "Joy cometh in the morning," and as we take our farewell of this favourite residence of the Prince and Princess, we will wish them a bright future and continuance of good health to enjoy their Norfolk home.[Pg 340]

Shafts from an Eastern Quiver.


By Charles J. Mansford, B.A.



re you awake, sahibs?" questioned Hassan, our guide, as he eagerly roused us from sleep one night. "The Hunted Tribe of Three Hundred Peaks is about its deadly work: Listen!"


We sat up and leant forward as he spoke, straining our ears to catch the slightest sound. Across the plain which stretched before us came at intervals a faint cry, which sounded like the hoot of a night bird.

"That is their strange signal," continued the Arab.

We rose, and, going to the door of the tent, scanned the wide plain, but could see no human being crossing it.

"You are mistaken this time, Hassan," said Denviers. "What you heard was an owl hooting."

"The sahib it is who misjudges," answered the Arab, calmly. "I have heard the warning note of the tribe before."

"It seems to come from the direction of Ayuthia," I interposed, pointing to where the faint outlines of the spires of its pagodas rose like shadows under the starlit sky.

"It comes from beyond Ayuthia," responded Hassan, whose keen sense of hearing was so remarkable; "and is as far away as the strange city built on the banks round a sunken ship, which we saw as we floated down the Meinam. Hist! I hear the signal again!"

Once more we listened, but that time the cry came to us from a different direction.

"It is only an owl hooting," repeated Denviers, "which has now flown to some other part of the plain and is hidden from us by one of the ruined palaces, which seem to rise up like ghosts in the moonlight. If Hassan means to wake us up every time he hears a bird screech we shall get little enough rest. I'm going to lie down again." He entered the tent, followed by us, and stretching himself wearily was asleep a few minutes after this, while Hassan and I sat conversing together, for the strange, bird-like cry prevented me from following Denviers' example.

"Coot! Coot!" came the signal again, and in spite of my companion's opinion I felt forced to agree with the Arab that there was something more than a bird hooting, for at times I plainly heard an answering cry.

After our adventure in the northern part of Burmah we had travelled south into the heart of Siam, where we parted with our elephant, and passed down the Meinam in one of the barges scooped out of a tree trunk, such as are commonly used to navigate[Pg 341] this river. Disembarking at Ayuthia we had visited the ruins of the ancient city, and afterwards continued on our way towards the mouth of the river. While examining the colossal images which lie amid the other relics of the city's past greatness, Hassan had told us a weird story, to which, however, at that time we paid but scant attention.

On the night when our Arab guide had roused us so suddenly, our tent was pitched at some distance from the bank of the river, where a fantastic natural bridge of jagged white limestone spanned the seething waters of the tumbling rapids below, and united the two parts of the great plain. Sitting close to the entrance of the tent with Hassan, I could see far away to the west the tops of the great range of the Three Hundred Peaks beyond the plain. Recollecting that Hassan had mentioned them in his story, I was just on the point of asking him to repeat it when I heard the strange cry once more. A moment after the Arab seized me by the arm and pointed towards the plain before us.

I looked in the direction which Hassan indicated, and my eyes rested on the dismantled wall of a ruined palace. I observed nothing further for a few minutes, then a dusky form seemed to be hiding in the shadow of the wall. "Coot!" came the signal again, striking upon the air softly as if the one who uttered it feared to be discovered. The cry had apparently been uttered by someone beyond the river bank, for the man lurking in the shadow of the ruin stepped boldly out from it into the moonlit plain. He stood there silent for a moment, then dropped into the high grass, above which we saw him raise his head and cautiously return the signal.

"What do you think he is doing there, Hassan? " I asked the Arab, in a whisper, as I saw his hand wander to the hilt of his sword.

"The hill-men have seen our tent while out on one of their expeditions," he responded, softly. "I think they are going to attempt to take us by surprise, but by the aid of the Prophet we will outwit them."

I felt no particular inclination to place much trust in Mahomet's help, as the danger which confronted us dawned fully upon my mind, so instead I moved quickly over to Denviers, and awoke him.


"Is it the owl again?" he asked, as I motioned to him to look through the opening of the tent. Immediately he did so, and saw the swarthy face of a turbaned hill-man raised above the rank grass, as its owner made slowly but steadily towards our tent, worming along like a snake, and leaving a thin line of beaten-down herbage to show where his body had passed. Denviers drew from his belt one of the pistols thrust there, for we had taken the precaution at Rangoon to get a couple each, since our own were lost in our adventure off Ceylon. I quietly imitated his example, and, drawing well away from the entrance of the tent, so that our watchfulness might not be observed, we waited for the hill-man to approach. Half-way between the ruined palace wall and our tent he stopped, and then I felt Hassan's hand upon my arm again as, with the other, he pointed towards the river bank.

We saw the grass moving there, and through it came a second hill-man, who gradually drew near to the first. On reaching him the second comer also became motionless, while we next saw four other trails of beaten-down grass, marking the advance of further foes. How many more were coming on behind we could only sur[Pg 342]mise, as we watched the six hill-men who headed them get into a line one before the other, and then advance, keeping about five yards apart as they came on. From the position in which our tent was pitched it was impossible for an attack to be made upon us in the rear, and this circumstance fortunately allowed of undivided attention to the movements of the hill-men whom we saw creeping silently forward.

"Wait till the first one of them gets to the opening of our tent," whispered Denviers to me; "and while I deal with him shoot down the second. Keep cool and take a steady aim as he rises from the grass, and whatever you do, don't miss him."


I held my pistol ready as we waited for them to come on, and each second measured with our eyes the distance which still separated us. Twenty yards from the tent the foremost of the hill-men took the kris or bent poniard with which he was armed from between his teeth, and held it aloft in his right hand as he came warily crawling on a foot at a time followed by the others, each with his weapon raised as though already about to plunge it into our throats. It was not a very cheering spectacle, but we held our weapons ready and watched their advance through thy grass, determined to thrust them back.

I felt my breath come fast as the first hill-man stopped when within half-a-dozen yards of the tent and listened carefully. I could have easily shot him down as he half rose to his feet, and his fierce eyes glittered in his swarthy face. Almost mechanically I noticed the loose shirt and trousers which he wore, and saw the white turban lighting up his bronzed features as he crept right up to our tent and thrust his head in, confident that those within it were asleep. The next instant he was down, with Denviers' hand on his throat and a pistol thrust into his astonished face, as my companion exclaimed:—

"Drop your weapon or I'll shoot you!"

The hill-man glared like a tiger for a moment, then he saw the advantage of following Denviers' suggestion. He sullenly flung his poniard down, gasping for breath, just as I covered the second of our enemies with my pistol and fired. The hill-man raised his arms convulsively in the air, gave a wild cry, and fell forward upon his face, dead!

The third of those attacking us dashed forward, undaunted at the fate of the one he saw shot down, only to be flung headlong on the grass the next instant before the tent, with Hassan kneeling on his chest and the point of the Arab's sword at his throat.

The rest of the enemy did not wait to continue the combat, but rose from the grass and dispersed precipitately over the plain, making for the limestone bridge across the river. I rushed forward to Hassan's assistance, and bound the captive's arms, while the Arab held him down as I knotted tightly the sash I had taken from my waist. Then I made for the tent, to find that Denviers had already secured the first prisoner by lashing about him a stout piece of tent rope. My companion forced his captive from the tent into the open plain, where we held a whispered conversation as to whether the two prisoners should live or die. The safer plan was undoubtedly to shoot them, for we both agreed that at any moment our own position might become a critical one if the rest of the horde made another attempt upon us, as we fully expected would be done.

However, we finally decided to spare their lives, for a time at all events, and while Hassan and Denviers led the captives across the plain, I brought from the tent part of a[Pg 343] long coil of rope which we had and followed them. As soon as we neared the river bank we selected two suitable trees from a clump growing there and lashed the prisoners securely to them, threatening instant death if they attempted to signal their whereabouts to any of the hill-men who might be lurking about.

"Get our rifles and ammunition, Hassan," said Denviers to the Arab. Then turning to me, he continued: "We shall have some tough fighting I expect when those niggers return, but we are able to hold our own better out of the tent than in it." Hassan brought our weapons, saying as he handed them to us:—

"The sahibs are wise to prepare for another attack, since the enemy must return this way. They have not gone off towards the far mountain peaks, but crossed yonder limestone bridge instead."

"What do you understand from that movement?" Denviers asked Hassan.

"The sound which we heard at first came from the strange city of which I spoke," he replied. "Some of the fierce hill-men have made a night attack upon it, and will soon return this way. Those we have beaten off have gone to meet them and to speak of the failure to surprise us. What they are doing in the city round the sunken ship will shortly be apparent. The whole band is a terrible scourge to the cities of the Meinam, for, by Allah, as I told the sahibs at Ayuthia, the Hunted Tribe has a weird history indeed."

Trailing our rifles, we walked through the rank grass, then resting upon a fallen column, where the shadow of the ruined palace wall concealed us from the view of the enemy if they crossed the bridge, we listened to Hassan's story. At the same time we kept a careful watch upon the jagged limestone spanning the river, ready at a moment's notice to renew the struggle, and it was well for us that we did so.


"It is a strange, wild story which the sahibs shall again hear of the Hunted Tribe and of its leader," began Hassan, as he rested at our feet with his sword gripped in his hand ready to wield it in our service at any moment; "and thus ye will know why the band is out to-night on its fell errand. Years ago, before the Burmese had overrun Siam, and while Ayuthia was its capital, so famous for its pagodas and palaces, Yu Chan became head of the bonzes or priests of the royal monastery.

"Who the great bonze was by birth none knew, although it was whispered through the kingdom that he sprang from a certain illustrious family which urged his claim to the position to which the ruler reluctantly appointed him. The subject bonzes looked darkly upon him, for he was but young, while many of them were bowed with age and aspired to hold the high office to which Yu Chan had been appointed. Oft they drew together in the gloomy cloisters, and when he swept past in silence, raised their hands threateningly at his disappearing form, though before his lofty, stern-set face they bowed in seeming humility as they kissed the hem of his magnificent robe.


"Among these bonzes was one who especially resented Yu Chan's rule over him, for he[Pg 344] was more learned in the subtile crafts of the East than the rest, and the potency of his spells was known and feared throughout Siam. An unbending ascetic, indeed, was the grey-bearded Klan Hua, and the ruler of the country had already promised to him that he should become the head of the bonzes whenever the office was vacated. So much was this ruler influenced by Klan Hua that he built a covered way from his palace by which he might pass at night into the bonze's rude cell to hear the interpretation of his dreams, or learn the coming events of his destiny. Yet, in spite of all this, when the chief bonze died, the ruler of Siam, after much hesitation, gave the coveted office to Yu Chan. Judge, then, of the fierce hatred which this roused in Klan Hua's breast, and ye will understand the reason of the plot which he formed against the one who held the position he so much desired."

"Never mind about the quarrels of these estimable bonzes, Hassan," interrupted Denviers. "Go on and tell us of these hill-men, or you won't get that yarn finished before they return, in which case we may never have the chance to hear the end of it."

"The sahib is always impatient," answered the Arab gravely; then he continued, quite heedless of Denviers' suggestion: "On the nights when the ruler went not to Klan Hua's cell, the latter gathered there several of the other bonzes, and they sat darkly plotting till morning came. Then they crept stealthily back to their own cells, to shift their eyes nervously each time that the stern glance of Yu Chan fell upon them, as he seemed to read there their guilty secret.

"They planned to poison him, but he left the tampered food untasted. Then they drew lots to assassinate him as he slept, but the one whose tablet was marked with a poniard was found lifeless the next day, with his weapon still clutched in his stiffened fingers, and none knew how he died. That day the eyes of Yu Chan grew sterner set than ever, as he gazed searchingly into the face of each bonze as they passed in a long procession before him, while the conspirators grew livid with fear and baffled rage at the cold smile with which he seemed to mock at the failure of their schemes. Then they made one last effort a few days after, and ye shall hear how it ended.

"The stately Meinam, which glitters before us under the midnight sky, yearly overflows and renders the earth about it productive. Far as the history of Siam is recorded in the traditions of the race, it has been the custom to perform a strange ceremony, intended to impress the common people with awe for the ruler. Even now the King of Siam, he who sends the silver tree to China in token of subjection, still adheres to it, and on the day when the waters of the Meinam have reached their highest point he sends a royal barge down the swollen waters manned by a hundred bonzes, who command the turbid stream to rise no higher. So then it happened that the rise of the river took place, and Klan Hua, who was learned in such things, counted to the hour when the barge should be launched, even as he had done for many years. When the ruler visited him one eventful night he declared that the turbid waters would be at their full on the morrow, and so the command to them to cease rising could then safely be given.

"Accordingly the royal barge was launched, amid the cries of the people, whereupon the ruler soon entered it and, fanned by a female slave, leant back upon the sumptuous cushions under a canopy of crimson silk, while by his side was the chief bonze—Yu Chan. Near the ruler was the grey-bearded Klan Hua, with an evil smile upon his face as he saw his rival resting on the cushions in the place which he had hoped so long to fill.

"Out into the middle of the swollen river the royal barge went; then half way between bank and bank the rhythmic music of the oars as they dipped together into the water ceased, and the rowers rested. From his seat Yu Chan arose, and uttered in the priestly tongue the words which laid a spell upon the stream and bade it cease to rise. Scarcely had he done so and sunk back again upon the cushions when Klan Hua threw himself at the monarch's feet and petitioned to utter a few words to him. The ruler raised the bonze, and bade him speak. Holding one hand aloft, the plotting Klan Hua pointed with the other towards the astonished Yu Chan, as he fiercely cried:—

"'Thou false-tongued traitor, thou hast insulted thy monarch to his face!'

"The ruler bent forward from his cushions and looked in surprise from the accuser to the accused.

"'Speak!' he cried to Klan Hua; 'make good thy unseemly charge, or, old as thou art, thy head shall roll from thy shoulders!'

"'Great Ruler of Siam and Lord of the White Elephant,' exclaimed the accuser, giving the monarch his strange but august title, 'I declare to thee that the chief bonze has doomed the country to destruction. Taking advantage of the language in which[Pg 345] the exorcism is pronounced, he has done what never the greatest prince under thee would dare to do. This man, the head of our order, has spoken words which will make the people scorn thee and this ceremony, if his command comes to pass. Yu Chan, the traitor, has bidden the waters to rise!'

"The monarch crimsoned with anger, as he turned to Yu Chan, who had already regained his composure, and sat with crossed arms, smiling scornfully at his accuser, and then asked:—

"'Hast thou so misused thy power? Speak!'

"'How can'st thou doubt me, knowing my great descent?' cried Yu Chan, bitterly. 'Even at thy bidding I will not answer a question which casts so much shame upon me.'

"'Thou can'st not deny this charge!' exclaimed the infuriated monarch.

"'Not so,' replied the chief bonze, 'I will not! If thou carest to believe the slanderous words which Klan Hua has uttered, and such that not one in this barge will dare to repeat, so be it!'

"Yu Chan withdrew from his seat at the monarch's side, and taking his rival's place pointed to the one he had himself vacated.

"'There rest thyself, and be at last content,' he said, scornfully: 'thou false bonze, whisper thence more of thy malicious words into the ears of the great ruler of Siam!'

"The monarch was disconcerted for a moment, then motioning one of the other bonzes forward, he exclaimed:—

"'Yu Chan declares that no one in this barge will support his accuser's words. Thou who wert near, tell me, what am I to believe?'

"'Alas!' answered the bonze, with simulated grief, 'Klan Hua spoke truly, great monarch; thy trust in Yu Chan has been sorely abused.'

"One after another the bonzes near came before the monarch and gave the same testimony, for the crafty Klan Hua had so placed the plotters for the furtherance of their subtle scheme. The ruler gazed angrily at Yu Chan, then summoning his rival to his side, bade him rest there.

"'Henceforth thou art chief bonze,' he said; then added threateningly to the fallen one: 'Thou shalt be exiled from this hour, and if the waters rise to-morrow, as thou hast bidden them, I will have thee hunted down, hide where thou mayest, and thy head shall fall.'

"The barge reached the shore, and the people drew back amazed to see the monarch pass on, attended closely by Klan Hua, while he who was as they thought chief bonze flung off his great robe of purple-embroidered silk, and idly watched the bonzes disembark, then moved slowly away across the great plain.


"Two days afterwards Klan Hua was found dead in his cell covered with the robes of his newly-acquired office, and the ruler of Siam had dispatched a body of soldiers to hunt down Yu Chan and to take him alive or dead to Ayuthia. The Meinam had risen still higher the day after the ceremony, not, as the startled monarch thought, because of the deposed one's power, but owing to Klan Hua's deception in regard to the real time when he knew the water would reach its limit.

"Then began the strange events which made the name of Yu Chan so memorable. For some years a band of marauders had taken possession of the far range known as the Three Hundred Peaks, but hitherto their raids in Burmah and Siam had attracted scant attention, while in Ayuthia few knew of their existence. To them the bonze went, and when the half-savage troops sent in search of him were encamped on the edge of the plain the mountaineers unexpectedly swooped down upon them. The remnant which escaped hastened back to the monarch with strange stories of the prowess of the[Pg 346] enemy, and especially of Yu Chan, the exile, whom they averred led on the foe to victory. The ruler of Siam, deeply chagrined at their non-success, ordered the vanquished ones to be decapitated for their failure to bring back the bonze or his lifeless body.

"A second expedition was sent against them, but the mountaineers held their fastnesses so well that, in despair of conquering them, the few who survived their second onslaught slew themselves rather than return to Ayuthia to suffer a like fate to that which the monarch had awarded the others. Maddened at these repeated defeats, the ruler himself headed a large army and invested the passes, cutting off the supplies of the mountaineers, in the hope of starving them into subjection. So deeply was he roused against Yu Chan that he offered to pardon the rebels on condition that they betrayed their leader.

"They scornfully rejected such terms, and withdrew to the heart of the mountains to endure all the horrors of famine with a courage which was heroic. At times the brave band made desperate efforts to break through the wall of men which girded them about, and each onset, in which they were beaten back, inspired them to try yet again.

"The Malay who told me their story declared they were reduced to such straits at last that for one dreadful month they lived upon their dead. Never once did they waver from their allegiance to Yu Chan, whose stern-set face inspired them to resist to the last, for well he knew that the monarch's promise could not be trusted, and that surrender for them meant death. Often would they be repulsed at sunset in an attempt to break through the cordon which held them, and yet before nightfall, at the entrance of some precipitous pass, far remote from that spot, swift and sudden the gaunt and haggard band appeared, led on by Yu Chan, sword in hand, as he hewed down those who dared to face him.

"Just when they were most oppressed relief came to the band of a quite unexpected kind, for the Burmese on the border overran Siam, and the soldiers were withdrawn to meet the new enemy. So, for a time, the band was left unmolested; but still none, save their leader, ventured to leave their wild haunts. Before he had been appointed chief of the bonzes who brought about his exile, Yu Chan had been the lover of a maiden of Ayuthia, but the high office which had been bestowed on him kept them apart. No sooner had the robes which he wore as a bonze been exchanged for those of a mountaineer than Yu Chan determined to see this maiden again. On the departure of their enemies he prepared to visit Ayuthia, although strongly counselled not to do so by his devoted band. He was, however, obdurate, and set forth on his perilous enterprise alone.

"Yu Chan crossed the great plain of Siam, and then, resting in a thatched hut upon the bank of the Meinam, dispatched a Malay, who chanced to dwell there, with a message to his beloved to visit him, for he thought it useless to attempt to enter Ayuthia if he wished to live. At nightfall the Malay returned from the island in the middle of the bend of the Meinam, whereon ye know the city is built. He thrust a tablet into Yu Chan's hand, whereon was a desire that the latter would wait the maiden's coming at a part of the bank where often the boat of the lovers had touched at before. Soon the exile beheld the slight craft making for the shore, manned by six rowers muffled in their cloaks, for the night was cold. Happy indeed would it have been for the lovers if the maiden had scanned closely the features of those who ferried her across the river, for the treacherous Malay had recognised Yu Chan, and six of the monarch's soldiers were the supposed boatmen, hurriedly gathered to take the exile or to slay him.

"The maiden stepped from the boat, and, with a glad cry, flung her arms about Yu Chan, who had passed down the narrow path to meet her. Together they climbed up the steep way that led to the plain above the high bank, followed by the muffled soldiers, who lurked cautiously in the shadows of the limestone, through which wound the toilsome path. Once, as they passed along, a slight sound behind them arrested the footsteps of the lovers, and Yu Chan turned and glanced back searchingly, then on they went again. For an hour or more they wandered together over the plain, then, with many a sigh, turned to descend the path once more. Again they heard a sound, and that time on looking round quickly Yu Chan saw the boatmen, whom he had thought awaited the maiden's return by the river brink, stealing closely after him, their faces shrouded in their black cloaks.

"At once his suspicions were aroused, and hastily unsheathing his sword he confronted them just as they flung off their cloaks and the fierce faces of six of the half-savage soldiery of the monarch were revealed to Yu Chan. Slowly the latter retreated till he was a little way down the path with his back to[Pg 347] the protecting limestone, then stood at bay to defend the maiden and himself from the advancing foes. Warily they came on, for well they knew the deadly thrusts which he could deal with his keen sword. Yu Chan in fighting at such desperate odds more than once failed to beat down the weapons lunged at him, but though severely wounded he did not flinch from the combat. Three of his assailants lay dead at his feet, when the leader of the monarch's soldiery twisted the sword from Yu Chan's hand, and then the three surviving foes rushed upon the defenceless man. With a cry that pierced the air the maiden flung herself before her lover—to fall dead as her body was thrust through and through by the weapons intended for the heart of Yu Chan!


"Like a boarhound the mountain chief leapt upon his nearest assailant, wrenched the sword dripping with the maiden's blood from his hand, and almost cleaved him in half with one resistless stroke. He turned next upon the remaining two, but they fled headlong down the path, Yu Chan following with a fierce cry at their heels. Into the boat they leapt, nor dared to look behind till they were out in mid-stream; then they saw the wounded chief slowly dragging himself back to where the maiden lay lifeless.

"Yu Chan bent despairingly over her as he saw the fatal stains which dyed her garments and reddened some of the fragrant white flowers fallen from her hair, which lay in masses framing her white, still face. Taking up his own sword, he sheathed it; then he raised the maiden gently in his arms, and, covered himself with gaping wounds, he set out to cross the great plain to the Three Hundred Peaks, where his followers awaited his return. On he struggled for two weary days with his lifeless burden; then at last he reached the end of his journey, and as the mountaineers gathered hastily about him and shuddered to see the ghastly face of their chief, Yu Chan tottered and fell dead in their midst!

"Round the two lifeless forms the hunted tribe gathered, and, looking upon them, knew that they had been slain by their remorseless foes. One by one the mountaineers pressed forward, and amid the deathly silence of the others, each in turn touched the sword of their slain chief and sternly swore the blood-revenge. Fierce, indeed, as are such outbreaks in many eastern lands, that day marked the beginning of dark deeds of requitement that have made all others as nothing in comparison to them. The Burmese came down upon Siam and swept over fair Ayuthia, leaving nothing but the ruins of the city; yet, even in that national calamity, the fierce instinct of murder so fatally roused in the breasts of the mountaineers never paused nor seemed dulled. While the magnificent city lay despoiled, the once hunted tribe fell upon the others about the Meinam, and long after peace reigned throughout the country, still their deeds of pillage and[Pg 348] massacre went on, as they do even to this day, so remote from the one when their leader was slain.

"For months the tribe will be unheard of, and lulled by a false sense of security the inhabitants of one of these cities will make preparations for one of their recurring festivals. Even in the midst of such the strange cry of the hunted tribe will be heard, and the coming day will reveal to the awe-struck people the evidence of a night attack, in which men and women have been slain or carried off suddenly to the Three Hundred Peaks."

"The present descendants of the avengers of Yu Chan's death are a cowardly lot, at all events," commented Denviers, as the Arab finished his recital: "they attacked us without reason, and have consequently got their deserts. If they come upon us again——"

"Hist, sahib," Hassan whispered cautiously, as he pointed with his sword towards the fantastic bridge of limestone; "the hunted tribe is returning from its raid, see!" We looked in the direction in which he motioned us, and saw that the mountaineers bore a captive in their midst! Immediately one of the prisoners lashed to the trees gave a warning cry, regardless of the threats which Denviers had uttered. Hassan sprang to his feet, and stood by my side as we raised our rifles, still hidden as we were in the shadow of the ruined palace wall.



"Hassan," whispered my companion to the Arab; "go over to the prisoners there, and if they cry out again shoot them. I don't think that first cry has been heard by the others." As he spoke Denviers thrust a pistol into Hassan's hand and motioned to him to move through the grass towards them. We watched our guide as he neared them and raised the pistol threateningly—a silent admonition which they understood, and became quiet accordingly.

From our position in the shadow of the ruined palace wall we saw a number of the hunted tribe slowly wind over the bridge with their captive, and noticed that in addition they had plenty of plunder with them. Noiselessly they moved towards our tent, and completely surrounded it, only to find it empty. They were evidently at a loss what to do, when one of their number stumbled over the dead mountaineer whom I had shot down as he joined in the attack upon us. A fierce exclamation quickly caused the rest to gather about him, and for some minutes they held a brief consultation. We judged from their subsequent actions that they considered we had made good our escape from the plain, for they made no further search for us, but apparently determined to avenge their comrade's death by slaying their captive. While the rest of the band moved away over the plain, two of their number returned towards the limestone bridge spanning the river. Guessing their fell purpose, Denviers and I crept through the tall grass, and under cover of the trees by the bank moved cautiously towards them.

From tree to tree we advanced with our rifles in our hands, then just when within twenty yards of them we stopped aghast at the movements of the two mountaineers, who were forcing their struggling captive slowly towards the edge of the jagged limestone bridge![Pg 349]

We looked down at the angry waters of the rapid, swirling twenty feet below in the deep bed of the river, which was slowly rising each day, for the time of its inundation was near at hand. For a moment I saw a woman's horror-stricken face in the moonlight and heard her agonizing cry, then the sharp crack of Denviers' rifle rang out, and one of her assailants relaxed his grasp. Before Denviers could take a shot at the second mountaineer, he seized the captive woman and deliberately thrust her over the rocky bridge!

"Quick! To the river!" exclaimed Denviers, as we heard the sound of her body striking the waters below. Down the steep bank we scrambled, steadying ourselves by grasping the lithe and dwarfed trees which grew in its rocky crevices. For one brief moment we scanned the seething torrent, and then, right in its midst, we saw the face and floating hair of the woman as she was tossed to and fro in the rapid, while she vainly tried to cling to the huge boulders rising high in the stream through which her fragile form was hurried.

"Jump into the boat and wait for me to be carried down to you!" cried Denviers, and before I fully realized what he was about to do, he flung his rifle down and plunged headlong into the foaming waters. I saw him battling against the fierce current with all his might, for the rocks in mid-stream prevented the woman from being floated down to us and threatened to beat out her life, as she was borne violently against them. I ran madly towards where our boat had been drawn up, and pushing it into the river strained my eyes eagerly in the wild hope of seeing Denviers alive when his body should be floated down towards me.


I pulled hard against the stream and managed to keep the rude craft from being carried away with the current. A few minutes afterwards I saw that my companion had succeeded in dragging the woman from the grinding channels between the rocks, and was being swept on to where I anxiously awaited him with his burden. The water dashed violently against the boat as I put it across the middle of the rushing stream, then dropped the oars as he was flung towards me. I stretched out my arms over the side in order to relieve him of his burden, and, although he was exhausted, Denviers made one last effort and thrust the woman towards me. I dragged her into the boat just as her rescuer sank back. With a quick but steady grip I caught my companion and hauled him in too, and before long had the happiness to see both become conscious once more.

Leaving the boat to float down the stream, I merely steered it clear of the rocky sides of the river channel, then, seeing some distance ahead a favourable place to land, drew in to the shore with a few swift strokes from the oars. Denviers remained with the woman he had rescued, while I climbed the steep bank again and found that the mountaineers had, fortunately, not returned, although we had fully expected the report of Denviers' rifle to cause them to do so. I thereupon signalled to my companion below that all was safe, and he toiled up to the plain supporting the woman, who was a Laos, judging from her garments and slight, graceful form.

Spreading for her a couch of skins, we left her reclining wearily in the tent, to which Denviers conducted her, then hastened[Pg 350] towards Hassan, whom we found still keeping guard over our two captives. The Arab, when he heard of the hazardous venture which Denviers had made, stoutly urged us to put our prisoners to death, as a warning to the hunted tribe that their misdeeds could not always be carried on with impunity. For reply Denviers quietly took the pistol from the Arab's hand, and then we returned towards the tent, outside which we rested till day dawned.

The woman within the tent then arose and came towards us, thanking Denviers profusely for saving her from such a death as had confronted her. She told us that her betrothal to a neighbouring prince had taken place only a few days before, but although every precaution had been taken to keep the affair secret, the news was conveyed to the hunted tribe by some one of the many supporters of the mountaineers. As she was a woman of high rank, this seemed to them a suitable opportunity to strike further terror into the hearts of the people inhabiting the cities about the Meinam. Their plans had been thoroughly successful, for they had despoiled several of the richest citizens, slaying those who opposed them, then snatching the woman up, began to carry her off to live among their tribeswomen, and to become one of them, when we fortunately saved her from that fate. We promised to conduct her to the city whence she had been stolen, which we eventually did, but before setting out for that purpose we visited our prisoners again.

"Hassan," said Denviers, "release the men from the trees." The Arab most reluctantly did so, stoutly maintaining that after Mahomet had helped us so strangely and successfully, we would be wiser either to shoot them or leave them bound till someone discovered and dealt with our prisoners as they deserved.

The ropes were accordingly unbound which fastened them to the trees; then Denviers pointed to the distant range of the Three Hundred Peaks and bade them begone. The two prisoners set forward at a run, being not a little surprised at our clemency. When they had at last disappeared in the distance, we moved towards the city beyond Ayuthia to restore the princess to her people, who had, by our means, been snatched from the power of the hunted tribe.[Pg 351]

Weathercocks and Vanes

by Warrington Hogg.

Weathercocks and Vanes
Weathercocks and Vanes

picturesque quality and almost endless variety of vanes—from the modest arrow to the richly-gilt and imposing heraldic monster—which meet the eye as one wanders through quiet village, busy market town, or sleepy cathedral city, and the traditions which are associated with these distinctly useful, time-honoured, and much consulted adjuncts to church or home, make me hope that the following brief notes and sketches of a few of the many types one sees may not be without interest to some of the numerous readers of The Strand Magazine.

That eminent authority on things architectural—the late John Henry Parker, F.S.A.—tells us that vanes were in use in the time of the Saxons, and in after ages were very extensively employed, there being notable development during the prevalence of the Perpendicular and Elizabethan styles.

Weathercocks and Vanes

To anyone vane-hunting—or health-hunting, for the matter of that—I would recommend them to tramp, sketch or note book in hand, over that stretch of country which occupies the most southerly corner of Kent, known as Romney Marsh; and beginning, say, at Hythe—one of the old Cinque Ports, and still a place of considerable importance—they will there find several vanes worthy of note, specially perhaps the one which surmounts the Town Hall, in the High Street. It is in excellent condition, and is contemporary with the building itself, which was erected in 1794.

The country between Hythe and Dymchurch has quite a plethora of rustic vanes[Pg 353][Pg 352]—many crippled and others almost defunct—sketches of a few of which I give my readers. Note the one, carved out of a piece of wood and rudely shaped like a bottle, which is stuck on an untrimmed bough of a tree and spliced to a clothes-prop: could anything be more naïve? (in justice I would add that this is not at the inn); or the one that is noted just below it—an axe poised on the roof of the local wheelwright's workshop, which aforesaid roof still bears unmistakable evidence of election turmoil. Nevertheless, this original type of vane seemed well fitted to do good service, for one noted that it answered to the slightest breath of wind. The old patched one, too, on the quaint little Norman church at Dymchurch seemed to me to be of interest in many ways, specially when I realized that it looked down on a row of graves, kept in beautiful order, of the nameless dead which the angry sea had given into the keeping of these sturdy village folk.

Vanes near Dymchurch, Romney Marsh, Kent.

Vanes near Dymchurch, Romney Marsh, Kent.

Working westward past Ivychurch, with its fine Perpendicular tower and beacon-turret, Old and New Romney, Lydd (which was attached to the Cinque Port of Romney), with its dignified Perpendicular church, of which Cardinal Wolsey was once vicar, we come to Rye, which is just over the border-land into Sussex, another of the towns annexed to the Cinque Ports, though, sad to say, like Sandwich and Winchelsea, its prosperity departed when the sea deserted it.

On Rye Chvrch.

At Rye one cannot help but linger, there is so much to interest; its unique position, its ancient standing, the almost incredible changes in its surroundings owing to the receding of the sea, its chequered history, its delightful, old-world look, and its venerable church of St. Nicholas, all combine to arrest one's attention. Let us look for a few moments at the church itself, which crowns the hill, and upon the tower of which stands the vane depicted in my sketch. It was built towards the close of the twelfth century, and Jeake, the historian, says of it that it was "the goodliest edifice of the kind in Kent or Sussex, the cathedrals excepted." Its first seven vicars were priests of the Church of Rome, and in the church records there are some curious entries, which look as though Passion plays were once performed in Rye. Here is one dated 1522:—

On Winchelsea Chvrch.

"Paid for a coate made when the Resurrection was played at Easter, for him that in playing represented the part of Almighty God, 1s.; ditto for making the stage, 3s. 4d." During the reign of Edward VI. an entry is made, which reads: "Expended for cleaning the church from Popery, £1 13s. 4d."

If tradition be true, Queen Elizabeth (who once visited Rye) gave the clock, which is said to be the oldest clock actually going in England. Now for the weather-vane, which I venture to think is worthy of its surroundings: it is simple in form, stately in proportion, and in excellent preservation. Through the metal plate of the vane itself are cut boldly, stencil fashion, the letters[Pg 354] "A. R." (I was unable to find out to whom they referred—presumably a churchwarden), and immediately below them, the date 1703. The pointer is very thick and richly foliated, and the wrought ironwork which supports the arms, which indicate the four cardinal points of the compass, is excellent in design.

S. Eanswythe's Folkestone

Two miles further west we come to dear old Winchelsea. The church (built between 1288-1292), of which only the choir and chancel, with some portions of the transepts, now remain, was originally dedicated to St. Thomas à Becket, but in the present day is called after St. Thomas the Apostle. It possesses an exceptionally fine vane, perched on a curiously squat, barn-like structure, which does duty for a tower. With its creeper-covered dormer windows and a somewhat convivial-looking chimney-pot sticking up out of one of them on the south side, it looks more picturesque than ecclesiastical; but the beauty of the vane itself at once arrests attention. I think it is one of the most elaborate specimens of wrought ironwork, applied to such a purpose, that I have met with; against a sunny sky it is like so much beautiful filigree—the metal wind-plate is apparently a much later restoration, and is perforated with the letters "W. M." and the date 1868. From the vane you could almost jump into the old tree beneath which John Wesley preached his last sermon. Eastward, but very little beyond the shadow of the vane, is Tower Cottage, Miss Ellen Terry's country retreat. Mr. Harry How, in a recent number of The Strand Magazine, has told us in one of his interesting "Interviews" of the quiet home life of the great actress when staying here. What a glorious outlook the old vane has—on the one hand quaint, sleepy Rye and the flat stretches of Romney Marsh; to the north the great Weald of Kent; to the westward beautiful Sussex, and[Pg 355] straight in front the open sea of the English Channel.

On Cheriton Chvrch Tovver.

Folkestone makes a capital centre from which to go a-hunting vanes, but before we start it is well worth while to glance for a few moments at the modern one on the Parish Church of St. Eanswythe. It was designed, about fifteen years ago, by Mr. S. S. Stallwood, the architect, of Reading, who, by-the-bye, is, too, responsible for the fine west window. The vane is of dark metal throughout, save for the gilt arrow, and stands on a turret to the south-west of the Perpendicular embattled tower. It is in excellent condition, notwithstanding its very exposed position to the Channel storms. Down on the harbour jetty, surmounting the lighthouse and hard by where the Boulogne mail-boats come in day by day, is a vane with scrolly arms, well worth noting; and, again, on a house out toward Shorncliffe, are a couple of "fox" vanes, one of which blustering Boreas has shorn of its tail; poor Reynard, in consequence, is ever swirling round and round—a ludicrous object—apparently ever seeking and never finding the aforesaid tail.

Near Cheriton.

About a mile inland, near the Old Hall Farm, on an outhouse or piggery, is the subject of the accompanying sketch. It has certainly seen much better days, and is rather a quaint specimen of the genus weather-vane. It will be noted that rude winds have[Pg 356] carried away, almost bodily, three out of the four letters which denote the compass-points, but have in mercy spared poor piggy's curly tail.

At Newington.

A mile or so further on is a daintily-designed but very simple vane, which stands on the north-east corner of the tower of the ancient church of St. Martin at Cheriton. Canon Scott Robertson, the well-known antiquarian, pronounces this tower to be of unusual interest. He tells us that it is probably pre-Norman, but certainly was erected before the end of the 11th century. Traces of characteristic, rough, wide-jointed masonry and a small, round-headed doorway should be specially noted. Let us linger in the church itself for a few moments. In the north Chantry (13th century) we shall find an interesting mural tablet thus inscribed:—

"Here lieth Interred the Body of Mrs. Elizabeth Raleigh, Grand Daughter of the FAMED Sr Walter Raleigh, who died at the Enbrook, 26 day of October, 1716, aged 30 years."

It stands close to a finely carved pulpit four hundred years old. The north porch is a memorial to the first Lord Justice of England—Sir James Lewis Knight-Bruce, who with his wife lies buried almost within its shadow. On an old house close by is a "cow" vane—when I made the sketch given, pigeons by the score from a neighbouring cote kept perching on it in a very friendly and picturesque fashion. Two miles further in the same direction brings us to the village of Newington, which possesses one of the quaintest little churches in Kent. Among other things it boasts some seventeen brasses—some dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries—an ancient dial, on oaken shaft fast mouldering away—and a picturesque wooden belfry surmounted by a vigorously modelled gilt weathercock in capital preservation.

At Sevington.

On Sevington spire, near Ashford, is a daintily designed vane, dated 1866. Some storm has given it—as the sailors say—a list to port, but that seems somehow not to take away from but to add to its charm. It[Pg 357] is interesting to note that not far from here is the house where once resided Dr. Harvey, the famous discoverer of the circulation of the blood.

A mile on brings us to Hinxhill—a dear, old-world place—its picturesque little church, with ivy-covered walls, moss-grown roof, quaint open-timbered chancel, and fine stained-glass, all go to make a never-to-be-forgotten picture. On the little Early English spire is set a vane simple and good in treatment, and thoroughly in accord with its surroundings.

At Sandgate is a well designed "horse and jockey" vane on a flagstaff, in a garden about fifty yards from where the ill-fated sailing ship, the Benvenue, went ashore and sank, and which was blown up by order of the Admiralty only last autumn.

Dover, too, has its share of interesting vanes; perhaps the one belonging to St. Mary the Virgin is the best. It is attached to an old lead-covered spire surmounting a decorated Norman tower with rich exterior arcading, practically untouched by the unloving hand of the so-called "restorer"; but there are several others in the older streets of the town well worth noting.

At Orlestone, At Sandgate, At Maidstone.

The seeker for vanes, quaint and ancient, must on no account miss going down the High Street of Tonbridge. There are three within a stone's throw of each other which must be noted, specially the one locally known as "The Sportsman"—he stands over a dormer window in the red-tiled roof of an old house of the Sheraton period, immediately opposite the famous "Chequers Inn." The house itself is very interesting; it has evidently been, in its early days, of considerable pretension, but has been an ironmonger's shop since 1804. On going within to make inquiries about the vane, I gathered that it is at least 120 years old, probably much more, the oldest part of the house being contemporary with the "Chequers." The vane is cut out of thick sheet copper and strengthened with stout wire in several places to keep it rigid, and the whole is painted in colours (a very unusual feature), in imita[Pg 358]tion of the costume of the period; and I was shown a curious old print of Tonbridge in the time when the well-to-do farmers wore top-hats and swallow-tailed coats, in which the vane is represented just as it appears at present. Vane number two is a much weathered and discoloured one, almost within touch, on a wooden turret surmounting the Town Hall—a typical Georgian building, lately threatened with demolition, and for the further life of which I noted a vigorous pleading in the pages of The Graphic of November 4th, 1892. Number three is a fox, rudely cut out of flat metal, with a "ryghte bushie tayle," fixed on a house gable overlooking the street.

The Sportsman Tonbridge, At Rochester, On Town Hall,  High St. Tonbridge.

The Orlestone sketch represents a type of vane practically never to be met with, save on the oast-houses in the hop-growing districts of Kent. The particular one noted stands at the bottom of a garden belonging to an Elizabethan timbered house hard by the church. It will be remarked that the animal, which is about 2 ft. long, is very crude in shape; it represents a fox, and the obvious way Mr. Reynard's tail is joined on is very enjoyable.

On Town Hall Rochester.
On Medway Brewery. Maidstone.

Rochester admittedly possesses one of the finest vanes to be found all England over; it is in the main street on the Town Hall[Pg 359] (temp. James I.), and surmounts a wooden bell-tower perched on the roof. On the south-west side of the building facing into the street is a tablet, which tells us that "This building was erected in the year 1687. John Bryan, Esquire, then Mayor"; and in quaint numerals the same date is repeated just below the tablet base. The vane is in the form of a ship, in gilt metal: a complete ship in miniature—cordage, blocks, twenty-six cannon, small spars, even a daintily-modelled figurehead: all are there. With the aid of a couple of stalwart constables I clambered up on to the leaden roof, so that I might examine more closely and carefully this splendid example of vane-craft. The ship itself, from the bottom of keel to the top of mainmast, measures over 6 ft., and from jib to spanker boom the total length is 9 ft. It is 18 in. in width, weighs 7-1/2 cwt., and revolves quite easily pivoted on a large bull's-eye of glass. It may be interesting to note that[Pg 360] my sketch was made from one of the upper-most windows of the "Bull Inn" (the place where Charles Dickens once lived, and which he has immortalized in the pages of "Pickwick"), which is immediately opposite. A little higher up the street is a large vane, richly decorated in red and gold, on the Corn Exchange. An inscription on its south-west face tells us that "This present building was erected at the sole charge and expense of Sir Cloudsley Shovel, Knight, A.D. 1706. He represented this city in three Parliaments in the reign of King William the Third, and in one Parliament in the reign of Queen Anne."

On ye Church, On Town Hall, At Maidstone.

Maidstone, too, is rich in vanes. There is one specially you can see from all parts of the town. It is on the Medway Brewery, and represents an old brown jug and glass; its dimensions, to say the least of it, are somewhat startling. The jug alone (which is made of beaten copper plate) is 3 ft. 6 in. in height, and in its fullest part 3 ft. in diameter, with a holding capacity of 108 gallons, or three barrels. The glass—also made of copper—is capable of holding some eight gallons. The vane revolves on ball bearings, its height above the roof is 12 ft., its arms extend nearly 7 ft., the whole, I am told, standing 80 ft. from the ground.

In Museum. Maidstone
On Observatory. Maidstone

On the observatory connected with the Maidstone Museum (which latter was once Chillington Manor House) is a modern vane, much discoloured by damp, but very apt in design; note the perforated sun, moon and stars, and the three wavy-looking pointers, which I take to represent rays of light. Mr. Frederick James, the courteous curator, called my attention to a singularly fine wrought-iron vane, now preserved in the Museum, about which but little is known, but which may possibly have surmounted the place in the olden days—when Chillington Manor was the seat of the great Cobham family.

Space forbids my more than just calling attention to the nondescript gilt monster, with its riveted wings and forked tongue and tail,[Pg 361] which glares down on us from its perch above the Town Hall, in the High Street; or to a "cigar" vane (over 2 ft. long and as thick as a bludgeon), large enough to give Verdant Green's famous "smoke" many points, hoisted over an enterprising tobacconist's a little lower down; or to the skewered and unhappy-looking weathercock on the Parish Church; or the blackened griffin in Earl Street, all head and tail, which does duty on an old dismantled Gothic building, once called "The Brotherhood Hall" (it belonged to the fraternity of Corpus Christi, about 1422, and was suppressed in 1547), then afterwards used as a grammar school, and now—tell it not in Gath!—a hop store; or, lastly, the ponderous-looking elephant, painted a sickly blue, if I remember rightly, on a great building on the banks of the Medway.

These rambling notes but touch the fringe—as it were—of a wide and ever-widening subject. A lengthy paper might be written on the different types (and some of great interest) of vanes in and around London alone; but I trust I may be allowed to express the hope that what has been said may haply enlist further interest in these silent, faithful, but somewhat neglected friends of ours, who, "courted by all the winds that hold them play," look down from their "coigne of vantage" upon the hurrying world below.[Pg 362]

Transcriber's Note: All illustrations in this article are by W Hogg. 1892.



By Marianne Kent.


f had described myself when I first started in life, it would simply have been as John Blount, commercial traveller. I was employed by a firm of merchants of very high standing, who only did business with large houses. My negotiations took me to all parts of the United Kingdom, and I enjoyed the life, which was full of change and activity. At least I enjoyed it in my early bachelor days, but while I was still quite young—not more than five-and-twenty—I fell in love and married; and then I found that my roving existence was certainly a drawback to domestic happiness. My wife, Mary, was a bright little creature, always ready to make the best of things, but even she would declare pathetically that she might as well have married a sailor as a landsman who was so seldom at home! Still, as I said, she was one to put a bright face on things, and she and my sister made their home together.

It was in the second year after my marriage, when I had been away on my travels for some weeks, that I heard from my sister that a fever had broken out in the neighbourhood of our home, and that Mary was down with it. Kitty wrote hopefully, saying it was a mild attack, and she trusted by the time I was home her patient would be quite convalescent. I had unbounded faith in Kitty, so that I accepted her cheerful view of things. But, a few evenings later, after a long, tiring day, I returned to the hotel where I was then staying, and found a telegram awaiting me. My heart stood still as I saw the ominous yellow envelope, for I knew my sister would not have sent for me without urgent need. The message was to say that, although Kitty still hoped for the best, a serious change had taken place, and I should return at once.

"Don't delay an hour; come off immediately," she said.

I was not likely to delay. I paid up my reckoning at the hotel, directed that my baggage should be sent on next day, and in less than half an hour from the time I had opened the telegram I rushed, heated and breathless, into the primitive little railway station—the only one which that part of the country boasted for miles round. I gained the platform in time to see the red light on the end of the departing train as it disappeared into the mouth of the tunnel a few hundred yards down the line. For a moment I was unable to realize my ill fortune. I stood gazing stupidly before me in a bewildered way. Then the station-master, who knew me by sight, came up, saying sympathetically:—

"Just missed her, sir, by two seconds!"

"Yes," I answered briefly, beginning to understand it all now, and chafing irritably at the enforced delay. "When is the next train?"

"Six five in the morning, sir. Nothing more to-night."

"Nothing more to-night!" I almost shouted. "There must be! At any rate, there is the evening express from the junction; I have been by it scores of times!"

"Very likely, sir; but that's a through train, it don't touch here—never stops till it reaches the junction."

The man's quiet tone carried conviction with it. I was silent for a moment, and then asked when the express left the junction.

"Nine fifteen," was the answer.[Pg 363]


"How far is the junction from this by road; could I do it in time?"

"Out of the question, sir. It would take one who knew the road the best part of three hours to drive."

I looked away to my left, where the green hill-side rose up steep and clear against the evening sky. It was one of the most mountainous quarters of England, and the tunnel that pierced the hill was a triumph of engineering skill, even in these days when science sticks at nothing. Pointing to the brick archway I said, musingly:—

"And yet, once through the tunnel, how close at hand the junction station seems."

"That's true enough, sir; the other side the tunnel it is not half a mile down the line."

"What length is it?"

"The tunnel, sir? Close upon three miles, and straight as a dart."

There was another pause, then I said, slowly:—

"Nothing more goes down the line until the express has passed?"

"Nothing more, sir."

"Anything on the up line?" was my next inquiry.

"No, sir, not for some hours, except, maybe, some trucks of goods, but I have had no notice of them yet."

As the station-master made this last answer he looked at me curiously, no doubt wondering what the object of all these questions could be; but he certainly had no notion of what was passing in my mind, or he would not have turned into his office as he did, and left me there alone upon the platform.

I was young and impetuous, and a sudden wild determination had taken possession of me. In my intense anxiety to get back to my sick wife, the delay of so many hours seemed unendurable, and my whole desire was to catch the express at the junction; but how was that to be accomplished? One way alone presented itself to me, and that was through the tunnel. At another time I should have put the notion from me as a mad impossibility, but now I clung to it as a last resource, reasoning myself out of all my fears. Where was the danger, since nothing was to come up or down the line for hours? A good level road, too, of little more than three miles, and a full hour and a half to do it in. And what would the darkness matter? There was no fear of missing the way; nothing to be done but to walk briskly forward. Yes, it could be, and I was resolved that it should be done.

I gave myself no more time for reflection. I walked to the end of the platform and stepped down upon the line, not very far from the mouth of the tunnel. As I entered the gloomy archway I wished devoutly that I had a lantern to bear me company, but it was out of the question for me to get anything of the kind at the station; as it was, I was fearful each moment that my intentions would be discovered, when I knew for a certainty that my project would be knocked on the head, and, for this reason, I was glad to leave daylight behind me and to know that I was unseen.

I walked on, at a smart pace, for fully ten minutes, trying not to think, but feeling painfully conscious that my courage was ebbing fast. Then I paused for breath. Ugh! how foul the air smelt! I told myself that it was worse even than the impenetrable darkness—and that was bad enough. I recalled to mind how I had gone through tunnels—this very one among others—in a comfortable lighted carriage, and had drawn up the window, sharply and suddenly, to keep out the stale, poisonous air; and this was the atmosphere I was to breathe for the next hour! I shuddered at the prospect. But it was not long before I was forced to acknowledge that it was the darkness quite as much as the stifling air which was affecting me. I had[Pg 364] never been fond of the dark in my earliest days, and now it seemed as if the strange, wild fancies of my childhood were forcing themselves upon me, and I felt that, if only for an instant, I must have light of some sort; so, standing still, I took from my pocket a box of vestas, and struck one. Holding the little match carefully, cherishing it with my hand, I gazed about me. How horrible it all looked! Worse, if possible, in reality than in imagination. The outline of the damp, mildewy wall was just visible in the feeble, flickering light. On the brickwork close to me I could see a coarse kind of fungus growing, and there was the silver, slimy trace of slugs in all directions; I could fancy, too, the hundred other creeping things that were about. As the match died out, a noise among the stones near the wall caused me hastily to strike another, just in time to see a large rat whisk into its hole.


A miner, a plate-layer—in fact, anyone whose avocations took them underground—would have laughed to scorn these childish fears; but the situation was so new to me, and also I must confess that I am naturally of a nervous, imaginative turn of mind. Still, I was vexed with myself for my cowardly feelings, and started on my walk again, trying not to think of these gloomy surroundings, but drew a picture of my home, wondering how Mary was, if she was well enough to be told of my coming, and was looking out for me. Then I dwelt upon the satisfaction with which I should enter the express, at the junction, feeling that the troubles of the evening had not been in vain. After a while, when these thoughts were somewhat exhausted, and I felt my mind returning to the horrors of the present moment, I tried to look at it all from a different point of view, telling myself that it was an adventure which I should live to pride myself upon. Then I recalled to mind things I had read of subterranean passages, and naturally stories of the Catacombs presented themselves to me, and I thought how the early Christians had guided themselves through those dim corridors by means of a line or string; the fantastic notion came to me that I was in a like predicament, and the line I was to follow was the steel rail at my feet. For awhile this thought gave me courage, making me realize how straight the way was, and that I had only to go on and on until the goal was reached.

I walked for, perhaps, twenty minutes or half an hour, sometimes passing a small grating for ventilation; but they were so choked by weeds and rubbish that they gave little light and less air. Walking quickly through a dark place, one has the feeling that unseen objects are close at hand, and that at any moment you may come in sharp contact with them. It was this feeling, at least, which made me as I went along continually put out my hand as if to ward off a blow, and suddenly, while my right foot still rested on the smooth steel rail, my left hand struck against the wall of the tunnel. As my fingers grated on the rough brick a new terror took possession of me—or at least, if not a new terror, one of the fears which had haunted me at the outset rushed upon me with redoubled force.

I had faced the possibility of the station-master's having been mistaken, and of a train passing through the tunnel while I was still there, but I told myself I had only to stand close in to the wall, until the train had gone on its way; now, however, I felt, with[Pg 365] a sinking horror at my heart, that there was little room to spare. Again and again I tested it, standing with my foot well planted on the rail and my arm outstretched until my fingers touched the bricks. There was a fascination in it—much as in the case of a timid swimmer who cannot bear to think he is out of depth and must keep putting down his foot to try for the bottom, knowing all the while he is only rendering himself more nervous. During the next ten minutes I know I worked myself into a perfect agony of mind, imagining the very worst that could happen. Suppose that the up and the down trains should cross in the tunnel, what chance should I then have? The mere thought was appalling! Retreat was impossible, for I must have come more than half way by this time, and turning back would only be going to meet the express. But surely in the thickness of the wall there must be here and there recesses? I was sure I had seen one, some little time back, when I had struck a light. This was a gleam of hope. Out came the matches once more, but my hands were so shaky that I had scarcely opened the box when it slipped from my fingers and its precious contents were scattered on the ground. This was a new trouble. I was down upon my knees at once, groping about to find them. It was a hopeless task in the dark, and, after wasting much time, I was forced to light the first one I found to look for the others, and, when that died out, I had only four in my hand, and had to leave the rest and go on my way for the time was getting short and my great desire was to find a recess which should afford me shelter in case of need. But, although I grudgingly lit one match after another and walked for some distance with my hand rubbing against the wall, I could find nothing of the kind.

At length, I don't know what time it was, or how far I had walked, I saw before me, a long, long way off, a dim speck of light. At first I thought, with a sudden rush of gladness, that it was daylight, and that the end of the tunnel was in sight; then I remembered that it was now evening and the sun had long set, so that it must be a lamp; and it was a lamp. I began to see it plainly, for it was coming nearer and nearer, and I knew that it was an approaching train. I stood still and looked at it, and it was at that instant that the whole ground beneath me seemed to be shaken. The rail upon which one of my feet was resting thrilled as if with an electric shock, sending a strange vibration through me, while a sudden rush of wind swept down the tunnel, and I knew that the express was upon me!

I shall never forget the feeling that took possession of me: it seemed as if, into that one moment, the experiences of years were crowded—recollections of my childhood—tender thoughts of my wife—dreams of the future, in which I had meant to do so much, all thronged in, thick and fast upon me. Could this be death? I gave a wild, despairing cry for help. I prayed aloud that God would not let me die. I had lost all presence of mind; no thought of standing back against the wall came to me. I rushed madly forward in a frenzy of despair. The sound of my voice, as it echoed through that dismal place, was drowned in an instant by the sharp, discordant scream of the express. On I dashed, right in front of the goods train; the yellow light of the engine shone full upon me; death was at hand. It seemed that nothing short of a miracle could save me, and, to my thinking, it was a miracle that happened.

Only a few yards from the engine and, as I struggled blindly on, a strong hand seized me with a grasp of iron, and I was dragged on one side. Even in my bewilderment I knew that I was not against the wall, but in one of those very recesses I had searched for in vain. I sank upon the ground, only half conscious, yet I saw the indistinct blur of light as the trains swept by.

I am not given to swooning, so that, after the first moment, I was quite alive to my exact situation. I knew that I was crouching on the ground, and that that iron-like grasp was still on my collar. Presently the hand relaxed its hold and a gruff, but not unkindly, voice said:—

"Well, mate, how are you?"

This inquiry unlocked my tongue, and I poured forth my gratitude. I hardly know what I said; I only know I was very much in earnest. I told him who I was and how I came to be there, and in return asked him his name.

"That does not signify," was the answer; "you can think of me as a friend."

"That I shall," I returned, gratefully; "for God knows you have been a friend in need to me!"

"Ah!" he said, musingly, "your life must be very sweet, for you seemed loath enough to part with it!"

I admitted the truth of this—indeed, I had felt it more than once during the last hour. I had been one of those who, in fits[Pg 366] of depression, are wont to say that life is not worth living—that we shall be well out of it, and the rest; yet, when it seemed really slipping from my grasp, I had clung to it with a tenacity which surprised myself. And now, with the future once more before me, in which so much seemed possible, I was filled with gratitude to God and to my unknown friend, by whose means I had been saved. There was a short silence; then I asked, rather doubtfully, if there were not some way in which I could prove my gratitude.


"You speak as if you were sincere," my strange companion said, in his gruff, downright way; "so I will tell you frankly that you can do me a good turn if you have a mind to. I don't want your money, understand; but I want you to do me a favour."

"What is it?" I asked, eagerly; "believe me, if it is in my power it shall be done!"

"I would rather you passed your word before I explain more," he said coolly. "Say my request shall be granted. I take it you are not a man to break your promise."

Here was a predicament! Asked to pledge[Pg 367] my word for I knew not what! To be in the dark in more senses than one; for I could not even see my mysterious deliverer's face to judge what manner of man he was. And yet, how could I refuse his request? At last I said, slowly:—

"If what you ask is honest and above-board, you have my word that it shall be done, no matter what it may cost me."

He gave a short laugh. "You are cautious," he said, "but you are right. No, there is nothing dishonest about my request; it will wrong no one, though it may cause you some personal inconvenience."

"That is enough," I said, hastily, ashamed of the half-hearted way in which I had given my promise. "The instant we are out of this place I will take steps to grant your request, whatever it may be."

"But that won't do," he put in, quickly; "what I want must be done here and now!"

I was bewildered, as well I might be, and remained silent while he went on:—

"There is no need to say much about myself, but this you must know. I am in great trouble. I am accused of that which makes me amenable to the law. I am innocent, but I cannot prove my innocence, and my only chance of safety is in flight. That is the reason of my being here: I am hiding from my pursuers."

The poor creature paused, with a deep-drawn sigh, as if he at least had not found his life worth the struggle. I was greatly shocked by his story, and warmly expressed my sympathy; then, on his telling me he had been for two days and nights in the tunnel with scarcely a bit of food, I remembered a packet of sandwiches that had been provided for my journey, and offered them to him. It made me shudder to hear the ravenous manner in which they were consumed. When this was done there was another silence, broken by his saying, with evident hesitation, that the one hope he had was in disguising himself in some way, and thus eluding those who were watching for him. He concluded with:—

"The favour I have to ask is that you will help me in this by allowing me to have your clothes in exchange for mine!"

There was such an odd mixture of tragedy and comedy in the whole thing that for a moment I hardly knew how to answer him. The poor fellow must have taken my silence for anything but consent, for he said, bitterly:—

"You object! I felt you would, and it is my only chance!"

"On the contrary," I returned, "I am perfectly willing to do as you wish—indeed, how could I be otherwise when I have given you my word? I was only fearing that you built too much upon this exchange. Remember, it is no disguise!—the dress of one man is much like that of another."

"That is true enough, as a general rule," was the answer, "but not in this case. I was last seen in a costume not common in these parts. A coarse, tweed shooting-dress, short coat, knee-breeches, and rough worsted stockings—so that an everyday suit is all I want."

After that there was nothing more to be said, and the change was effected without more ado.

It seemed to me that my invisible companion had the advantage over me as far as seeing went, for whereas I was sensible of nothing but touch and sound, his hands invariably met and aided mine whenever they were at fault. He confessed to this, saying that he had been so long in the dark that his eyes were growing accustomed to it.

I never felt anything like the coarseness of those stockings as I drew them on. The shoes, too, were of the clumsiest make; they were large for me, which perhaps accounted for their extreme heaviness. I was a bit of a dandy; always priding myself upon my spick and span get-up. No doubt this made me critical, but certainly the tweed of which the clothes were made was the roughest thing of its kind I had ever handled. I got into them, however, without any comment, only remarking, when my toilet was finished, that I could find no pocket.

My companion gave another of those short laughs.

"No," he said, "that suit was made for use, not comfort!"

From his tone and manner of expressing himself, I had taken him to be a man fairly educated, and when he had declared that he did not require my money, I naturally fancied he was not in want of funds; but the style of his clothes made me think differently, and I decided that he should have my watch—the most valuable thing I had about me. It had no particular associations, and a few pounds would get me another. He seemed pleased, almost touched, by the proposal, and also by my suggesting that the money in my pockets should be divided between us. It was not a large sum, but half of it would take me to my journey's end, I knew. He seemed full of resource, for when I was wondering what to do with my[Pg 368] loose change, in my pocketless costume, he spread out my handkerchief, and putting my money and the small things from my pockets into it, knotted it securely up and thrust it into my breast. Then, as we stood facing each other, he took my hand in farewell. I proposed our going on together, but this he would not hear of.

"No," he said, with his grim laugh, "the sooner I and that suit of clothes part company, the better!"

So we wished each other God-speed, and turned on our different ways—he going back through the tunnel, and I keeping on.


The experiences of the last few hours had made a great impression on me, and, although I felt awed and somewhat shaken, my heart was light with the gladness of one who rejoices in a reprieve. The express that I had been so anxious to catch had long since gone on its way; still, in my present hopeful frame of mind, that did not trouble me. I felt a conviction that Mary was mending, that I should find her better, and, comforted by this belief, I walked briskly on; at least, as briskly as my clumsy shoes would allow me, but even in spite of this hindrance, it was not long before I reached the end of the tunnel. The moonlight streaming down upon the rails was a pleasant sight, and showed me, some time before I reached it, that my goal was at hand. When I left the last shadow behind me and stood out under the clear sky I drew a sigh of intense thankfulness, drinking in the sweet fresh air.

I walked down the country road, thinking that I would rest for a few hours at the station hotel and be ready for the first train in the morning. But my adventures were not yet over. As I glanced at my clothes, thinking how unlike myself I looked and felt, something on the sleeve of my coat attracted my attention; it must be tar, which I or the former wearer of the clothes must have rubbed off in the tunnel. But, no. I looked again—my eyes seemed riveted to it—it was unmistakable. There, on the coarse grey material of the coat, was a large broad-arrow.

In an instant the whole truth had flashed upon me. No need to examine those worsted stockings and heavy shoes—no need to take off the coat and find upon the collar the name of one of Her Majesty's prisons, and the poor convict's number. As my eyes rested on the broad-arrow I understood it all.

At first I was very indignant at the position I was in. I felt that a trick had been practised upon me, and I naturally resented it. I sat down by the roadside and tried to think. The cool air blew in my face and refreshed me. I had no hat; the convict—I was beginning to think of him by that name—had given me none, saying he had lost his cap in the tunnel. After a while, when my anger had somewhat subsided, I thought more pitifully of the man whose clothes I wore. Poor wretch, without doubt he had had a hard time of it; what wonder that he had seized upon the first opportunity of escape! He had said that the favour he required would entail personal inconvenience on myself, and that was exactly what it did. I looked at the matter from all sides; I saw the dilemma I was in. It would not do to be seen in this branded garb—the police would lay hands on me at once; nothing would persuade them that I was not the convict. Indeed, who was likely to believe the improbable story I had to tell? I felt that I could expect few to credit it on my mere word, and I had nothing to prove my identity, for I remembered now that my pocket-book and letters were in my coat; I had[Pg 369] never given them a thought when making the exchange of clothes. So, as things were, it might take some days for me to establish my real personality, and even when that were done I should still be held responsible for conniving at the prisoner's escape.

All things considered, therefore, I resolved not to get into the hands of the police. But this was no easy matter. There was nothing for it but to walk. I could not face the publicity of railway travelling or of any other conveyance: indeed, it was impossible for me to buy food for myself.

I had many narrow escapes from detection, but by dint of hiding through the day and walking at night, and now and then bribing a small child to buy me something to eat, I contrived to get slowly on my way. It was on the evening of the third day that I reached home. I often thought, somewhat bitterly, of my short cut through the tunnel and all the delay it had caused!


When I actually stood outside the little cottage which I called home, and looked up at the windows, the hope that had buoyed me up for so long deserted me, and I dreaded to enter. At last, however, I opened the gate and walked up the garden. There was a light in the small sitting-room; the curtains were not drawn, and I could see my sister Kitty seated by the table. She had evidently been weeping bitterly, and as she raised her face there was an expression of such hopeless sorrow in her eyes that my heart seemed to stop beating as I looked at her. Mary must be very ill. Perhaps—but no, I could not finish the sentence even in thought. I turned hastily, lifted the latch and went in.

"Kitty!" I said, with my hand on the room door; "it's I, Jack! don't be frightened."

She gave a little scream, and, it seemed to me, shrank back from me, as if I had been a ghost; but the next instant she sprang into my arms with a glad cry of, "Jack, Jack! is it really you?"

"Yes, Kitty, who else should it be?" I said, reassuringly. "But tell me—how is she? How is Mary? Let me hear the truth."

Kitty looked up brightly: "Mary! oh, she is better, much better, and now that you are here, Jack, she will soon be well!"

I drew a breath of intense relief. Then, touching my little sister's pale, tear-stained face, I asked what had so troubled her.

"Oh! Jack," she whispered, "it was you! I thought you were dead!" She handed me an evening paper, and pointed out a paragraph which stated that a fatal accident had occurred in the Blank Tunnel. A man named John Blount, a commercial traveller, had been killed; it was believed while attempting to walk through the tunnel to the junction station. The body had been found, early the previous morning, by some plate-layers at work on the line. The deceased was only identified by a letter found upon him.

And so, poor fellow, he had met his fate in the very death from which he had saved me! In the midst of my own happiness my heart grew very sorrowful as I thought of him, my unknown friend, whose face I had never seen![Pg 370]

The Royal Humane Society


ew Institutions appeal more strongly to popular sympathy than the Royal Humane Society. The rewards which it bestows upon its members, who are distinguished for a self-forgetting bravery which thrills the blood to read of, are merely the outward tokens of admiration which is felt by every heart. Those members include persons of all ranks of life: men, women, and children; nay, even animals are not excepted, and a dog wore the medal with conscious pride. We have selected the following examples out of thousands, not because they are more deserving of admiration than the rest, but because they are fair specimens of the acts of self-devotion which have won the medals of the Society in recent years.

Lieutenant J. de Hoghton.

From a Photograph.

"On Thursday, the 10th September, 1874, at 9.30 p.m., in the gateway between the outer and inner harbour at Lowestoft, Suffolk, James Dorling fell overboard from the yacht Dart whilst she was making for the inner harbour in a strong half-flood tideway, the night very dark, blowing and raining hard, and going about five and a half knots. Lieutenant (now Captain) J. de Hoghton, 10th Foot, jumped overboard, swam to Dorling, and supported him in the water for about a quarter of an hour in the tideway, between narrow high pilework, without crossbeams or side chains to lay hold of, and the head of the pilework 12ft. or 15ft. above the water—the yacht being carried away into the inner harbour, and no other vessel or boat in the gateway to lend assistance; the darkness prevented any immediate help being obtained from the shore. The length of the gateway was about 350 yards, width 15 to 20 yards, depth 10 ft. to 15 ft. Lieutenant de Hoghton and Dorling were ultimately drawn up the pilework by ropes from the shore."

Sub-Lieut. R. A. F. Montgomerie, R.A.

From a Photo. by W. and D. Downey.

"On a dark night, 6th April, 1877, H.M.S. Immortalité was under sail, going four-and-a-half knots before the wind, the sea rough for swimming, and abounding with sharks, when T. E. Hocken, O.S., fell overboard. Sub-Lieut. R. A. F. Montgomerie, R.A., jumped overboard from the bridge, a height of[Pg 371] twenty-five feet, to his assistance, swam to him, got hold of the man, and hauled him on to his back, then swam with him to where he supposed the life-buoy would be; but, seeing no relief, he states that after keeping him afloat some time, he told the man to keep himself afloat whilst he took his clothes off. He had got his coat and shirt off, and was in the act of taking off his trousers when Hocken, in sinking, caught him by the legs and dragged him down a considerable depth. His trousers luckily came off clear, and he swam to the surface, bringing the drowning man with him. Hocken was now insensible. He was eventually picked up by a second boat that was lowered, after having been over twenty-one minutes in the water, the first boat having missed him. The life-buoy was not seen."

Lieutenant Lewis E. Wintz, R.N. (Now Commander De Wintz.)

From a Photo. by Henry Wayland, Blackheath.

"On the 19th December, 1877, H.M.S. Raleigh was running before a fresh breeze at the rate of seven knots an hour off the Island of Tenedos, when James Maker fell from aloft into the sea. Lieutenant Lewis E. Wintz immediately jumped overboard and supported the man for twenty minutes at considerable risk (not being able to reach the life-buoy). The man must undoubtedly have been drowned (being insensible and seriously injured) had it not been for the bravery of this officer."

Constable John Jenkins. (E Division, Metropolitan Police Force.)

From a Photo. by Deneulain, Strand.

"Constable John Jenkins was on duty on Waterloo Bridge at 2.45 a.m., on the 14th July, 1882, when he saw a man mount the parapet and throw himself into the river. Without hesitation, the constable unfastened his belt, and jumped from the bridge after him. Notwithstanding a determined resistance on the part of the would-be suicide, Constable Jenkins succeeded in seizing the[Pg 372] man and supporting him above water until both were picked up some distance down the river by a boat, which was promptly sent from the Thames Police Station. The danger incurred in this rescue may be fairly estimated when it appears that the height jumped was forty-three feet, the tide was running out under the arches at the rate of six miles an hour, and a thick mist covered the river, so much so as to render it impossible to see any object in the centre of the river from either side. The place where the men entered the water was a hundred and seventy yards from shore."

Walter Cleverley.

From a Photo. by W. J. Robinson, Landport.

"On the 13th September, 1883, the steamship Rewa was proceeding through the Gulf of Aden, when a Lascar fell overboard. Being unable to swim, he drifted astern rapidly. Mr. Walter Cleverley, a passenger, promptly jumped overboard, swam to the man—then fifty yards from the ship—and assisted him to a life-buoy, which was previously thrown. The vessel was going thirteen knots an hour. Captain Hay, commanding the ship, states: 'The danger incurred was incalculable, as the sea thereabouts is infested with sharks. The salvor was forty minutes in the water, supporting the man. Cleverley jumped off top of the poop, a height of thirty feet to the surface of the water.'"

Lieut. the Hon. William Grimston, R.N.

From a Photo. by Bassano.

"On the 29th August, 1884, off Beyrout, H.M.S. Alexandra was steaming at the rate of four knots an hour, when a man fell overboard. Lieut. the Hon. William Grimston dropped from his port into the sea, and succeeded in holding the man on the surface of the water until two seamen (who had jumped overboard) came to his assistance. The special danger in this rescue is brought to the Society's notice by Captain Rawson, R.N., commanding the ship. The port through which the officer had to drop is very small, and situated just before the double screw, which was then revolving: in fact, the salvor passed through the circle made by it."

Alfred Collins, aged 21, Fisherman.

From a Photo. by Hawke, Plymouth.

"The fishing lugger Water Nymph, of Looe, was seven or eight miles east-south-east of the 'Eddystone,' on the night of the 16th[Pg 373] December, 1884, when a boy named Hoskings fell overheard, and was soon about eighty feet astern. The captain of the boat, Alfred Collins, immediately jumped in to the rescue, carrying the end of a rope with him; he was clothed in oilskins and sea-boots. After a great deal of difficulty Hoskings was reached and pulled on board. At the time this gallant act was performed there was a gale of wind blowing, with heavy rain, and the night was dark. The Silver Medal was voted to Alfred Collins on the 20th January, 1885."

Captain H. N. McRae, 45th (Rattray's) Sikhs (assisted by Captain H. Holmes).

From a Photo. by Winter, Muneer.

"At 5 a.m. on the 5th October, 1886, a trumpeter of the Royal Artillery was crossing the compound of Captain Holmes's bungalow at Rawal Pindi, when he fell into a well. On hearing the alarm, Captain Holmes, Captain McRae, and Lieutenant Taylor proceeded to the spot. On arriving they found that Mr. Grose had preceded them, and had let down a well-rope, which was of sufficient length to reach the soldier and capable of sustaining him for a time. Both Captain McRae and Captain Holmes volunteered to go down, but as the former was a light-weight it was decided that he should make the trial, Captain Holmes demurring, as he wished to undertake the risk himself. The rope being very weak, it could not possibly have borne Captain Holmes's great weight. Captain McRae was accordingly let down by means of a four-strand tent rope, and on reaching the water found the soldier practically insensible; he therefore decided to go up with him. Captain Holmes was at the head of the rope, and his strength enabled him to lift both completely. At every haul, the amount gained was held in check by the other persons above. After hauling up about 10 ft. or 15 ft., the rope broke, precipitating Captain McRae and his charge to the bottom of the well. A second attempt was then made, and both were brought to the surface. The depth of the well was 88 ft., of which 12 ft. was water. It was quite dark at the time. Very great personal risk was incurred by Captain McRae. The Silver Medal was unanimously voted to him."

Mr. Jas. Power.

From a Photo. by Lawrence, Dublin.

"On the 16th August, 1890, about 12.30 p.m., two ladies had a narrow escape from drowning whilst bathing at Tramore, Co. Waterford. Mr. Jas. Power, who ran out from an adjacent hotel on hearing the alarm, saw a young man with a life-buoy struggling in the sea about 150 yards from shore; further out, and fully 250 yards from the beach, two ladies appeared to be in imminent danger, being rapidly carried out by the strong ebb tide. Mr. Power first swam to the young[Pg 374] man, but finding that he was unable to swim and could not dispense with the life-buoy, he turned on his back and towed the man with the life-buoy out to where the ladies were, and then with the aid of the buoy he brought the three safely to land. The Silver Medal was voted to Mr. Jas. Power."

John Connell, Boatman, Coastguard Service.

From a Photo. by Amey, Landport.

"About 4 a.m. on the 19th October, 1890, the sailing vessel Genesta, of Grimsby, became stranded on the Yorkshire coast near Withernsea. Three of the crew were safely landed in the breeches buoy, after communication had been effected by means of the rocket apparatus, but one man, who had taken refuge in the crosstrees, was unable from exhaustion to avail himself of the means afforded. The ship's mate attempted to get him clear of the rigging, but the man seemed powerless to help himself, yet equal to holding on tenaciously at his post. In this position the man was left until John Connell gallantly went off to the vessel and rescued him at considerable personal risk. The ship was bumping, and might have gone to pieces at any moment. The weather was so bad that one man died in the rigging from exhaustion. The Silver Medal was awarded to John Connell."

Police-Constable Wm. Pennett.

From a Photo. by Wright, Whitechapel.

"About one o'clock a.m., on the 25th November, 1890, Constable Pennett, being[Pg 375] on duty at Tower Hill, saw a man throw himself into the Thames, apparently with the intention of committing suicide. He at once divested himself of lamp and belt, and without waiting to take off his uniform, jumped into the river, seized hold of the struggling man, and gallantly rescued him. The night was dark. The magistrate who investigated the case strongly commended the constable's courage and presence of mind. The Silver Medal was awarded to Constable Wm. Pennett."

Suleiman Girby.
(Chief Boatman to Messrs. Thos. Cook and Son, at Jaffa.)

From a Photo. by Sabungi, Jaffa.

"The Russian steamer Ichihatchoff was wrecked on the rocks of Jaffa on the 18th February, 1891. More than twenty passengers had been swept away before anything was done to save life. At 6.30 a.m., on the 19th February, Girby and his brothers launched a boat, and proceeded to the vessel, from whence they brought off a number of the passengers and landed them. In making a second attempt their boat was smashed against the inner reef, and it was found impossible to launch another.

"Girby then swam backwards and forwards to the vessel fifteen times, bringing someone with him to shore each time. The Silver Medal was voted to Suleiman Girby."

"At 8 p.m. on the 26th April, 1891, the French frigate Seignelay parted anchors, and was carried on to the rocks at Jaffa. It was blowing a heavy gale at the time, and none of the natives, excepting Girby, would offer the slightest assistance. Girby volunteered to swim to the ship and deliver a letter to the captain from the Governor. The ship was half a mile from shore, but he accomplished the work after a two hours' swim in a heavy sea. After doing this he dived under the ship and examined the hull, reporting her sound. He then swam ashore, taking a message from the captain. Towards morning, when the sea got higher, the captain signalled, and Suleiman again swam out, and brought back the captain's wife fastened on his back. The Silver Clasp was voted to Suleiman Girby."

Edith Brill.

From a Photo. by Cobb & Keir, Plumstead Road.

"Edith Brill, age ten, saved Frank Hill, two and a half years old, at 6.45 p.m., 6th June, 1882, at the Graving Dock, Royal Dockyard, Woolwich. The child Hill was pulled into the water by a boy who had stumbled in some very foul and deep water. Little Edith Brill pluckily ran down the deep steps of the dock and went up to her neck in the water, and held the child up until John Hill helped her out. The boy Whorley who had fallen in was drowned."

(To be continued.)

[Pg 376]

A Strange Reunion.

By T. G. Atkinson.


n a poor little house in a wretched little town on a miserable day in November, two men sat by a small wood fire, warming their hands at the tiny blaze and silently watching the flicker of the flames. They were both young men; the elder was not more than twenty-six or seven and the younger was perhaps a year behind.

One of them was plain Charlie Osborne; the other rejoiced in the more aristocratic sobriquet of Eustace Margraf. But it mattered little by what different names they were called, since Fortune had forgotten to call on both alike. In short, they were "broke"—almost "stony broke." There had been a lock-out at the works at which they were both employed, and although they had neither of them joined the combination, they were none the less out of a job, and the fact of their former employment at the works that had locked them out told heavily against their chance of procuring other work in the town.


Neither was there much likelihood of their going back to the works, for the owners were rich men who could afford a long struggle, and the men were obstinate; and even if the strikers ever got back, Osborne and Margraf were in the awkward positions of being blacklegs. Thus it was that Fortune had forgotten these two young men who sat by their little fire, doggedly silent, too low-hearted even to curse Fortune.

"I shall go to London, Charlie," said the elder, suddenly, without looking up.

"What shall we do there?" growled the other. Osborne and Margraf had been more inseparable than brothers since the death of each of their parents ten years ago. Therefore it was that, when the latter announced his intention of going to London, the former instantly assumed his own share in the venture, and asked:—

"What shall we do in London?"

"Don't know till I get there," answered Margraf, who, be it observed, did not encourage the first person plural. First person singular was a good deal more in his line. Yet he loved his chum, too, in his own way; but it was not the best way.

"What's the use of going, then?"

"What's the use of staying in this d—— show? What's the use of tramping round day and night after a job that never comes? What's the use of anything? I'm tired of mill work; it isn't what I was made for. I'm going to try my luck at something better. You needn't come."

But because Charlie Osborne was accustomed to be led by his comrade, he too gave out his intention to try his fortunes in London. This was not quite what Margraf wanted. He evidently had a scheme[Pg 377] in contemplation in which he would prefer to be alone.

"I'll tell you what, Charlie, old fellow," he said after awhile. "I've got a plan I want you to help carry out. I want you and me to separate for three years—only three years—and try our luck alone. At the end of the three years we will meet again and see how each has got on, and divide takings."

"Not see each other at all?" asked Charlie, ruefully. His love for his chum was of the better kind; the second person singular species.

"No, not at all," answered the other, firmly, as though he were laying down a painful but apparent duty. "Not have any communication with each other except in case of extreme necessity. In that case we can put an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph. We will make a point of always seeing that paper."

After a longer demur than he was accustomed to raise to any scheme of Margraf's, however wild and chimerical, Charlie at last let his usual submission, and a vague suspicion that his companionship might be dragging Margraf back from attaining a position more worthy of that gentleman's talents, get the better of him. He made a hard fight for the privilege of exchanging letters during the three years, but Eustace remained obdurate. There was to be no communication except under the circumstances and in the manner named. Each was to take care to see the Daily Telegraph every morning in case of such communications; and at the exact expiration of the three years, that is, on the 15th November, 188-, they were to meet at twelve o'clock noon at Charing Cross station.


So these two men divided up their little stock of belongings and smaller capital of money, took a third-class ticket each to London, went together to Charing Cross to verify the scene of their future reunion, and shook hands.

"We meet here in three years from to-day."

"We do, all being well. Good-bye, Charlie."

"Good-bye, old fellow."

Thus they parted, each on his separate quest for fortune.

On the evening of the 14th November, 188-, Eustace Margraf, Esq., Director and Chairman of the Anglican Debenture Corporation, Ltd., eke of the General Stock and Shareholders' Protective Union, Ltd., and various other like speculative companies, sat in the luxurious dining-room of his well-appointed residence in Lewisham Park. He had finished his sumptuous but solitary meal, and, reclining in a spacious armchair, sipped his rare old wine. It was three years all but a day since he had parted from Charlie Osborne on Charing Cross Station, and set out with eighteenpence in his pocket to seek his fortune. In that brief time he had rapidly risen to wealth and distinction. Three years ago he was a penniless mechanic, forsaken by Fortune and discontented with his life; to-day he was a rich man, smiled on and courted by Fortune and envied by all her minions, and still he was discontented with his life.

It was strange that he should cherish this discontent, for Eustace Margraf, mindful of the fact that he was made for something better than mill work, had matriculated and graduated at the World's University in the[Pg 378] Department of Forgery and Theft. He had taken the highest diplomas in fraud; he had passed with honours the test of an accomplished swindler; and in the intricacies of embezzlement he was Senior Wrangler. Yet he was not content; some men are never satisfied.

This evening, as he sat sampling his '18 Oporto, with the daily paper at his elbow, he actually felt some amount of regret that he had entered the course for such distinctions—which, by the way, his modesty forbade him publishing to the world at large. Only a select few knew the extent of his accomplishments.

In the paper at his side there was a little paragraph which had given his memory a rather unpleasant jog. It was in the personal column, and ran as follows: "E. M.—Don't forget to-morrow, noon, C. C. Station.—Charlie." He wanted to see Charlie, for he still loved him after his old fashion; but the memories which the advertisement called up, and a doubt as to whether Charlie would appreciate his accomplishments, made him fidgety; and the recollection of all that must pass between now and noon to-morrow filled him with uneasiness. For to-night he was to stake everything in one tremendous venture. If he succeeded he would need to do nothing more all his life; if he failed——

To-night, at eight o'clock, the Continental mail train would start from Charing Cross Station with seventy-five thousand pounds worth of bullion for the Bank of France. If Eustace Margraf succeeded in his enterprise, it would reach Paris with the same weight of valueless shot in the strong iron boxes.

Everything had been nicely and minutely arranged. The shot had been carefully weighed to a quarter of a grain, and portioned into three equal lots to match the cases of bullion, which would be weighed on leaving London, again at Dover, once more at Calais, and finally on arrival at Paris. A key to fit the cases had been secretly made from a wax impression of the original, how obtained none but Margraf knew. This key he would hand to his confederates this evening at Charing Cross Station, after which he would go down by the seven o'clock train preceding the mail.


The stoker of the mail, an old railway hand, had been bribed, together with the guard in whose compartment the bullion would travel. It had been thought desirable to deal differently with the front guard and the driver; a specially prepared and powerful drug was to be given them in a pint of beer just before starting, which would take effect about an hour after administration and last till the sleepers should be aroused by brandy. During their slumber the stoker would pull up at convenient places on the line to allow the robbers to enter the guard's carriage and leave it with their booty, when they would make off to where Margraf had arranged to meet them; he would manage the rest. The front guard and the driver, meanwhile, would for their own sakes be glad enough to say nothing about their long slumber.

All these arrangements had been made with great nicety, and told over twice; and yet Margraf was uneasy and nervous as he thought of all the risk he ran. Twice he stretched out his hand for the bell-rope for telegram forms to stay the whole business; once he went so far as to ring the bell, but he altered his mind by the time the servant answered it, and ordered hot brandy instead. It was now six o'clock; in another hour he must hand over the duplicate key to his accomplices and board the train for Dover.

Every moment he grew more nervous, his hand became so shaky that brandy failed to steady it; his face grew pale and haggard; his nerves were strung to a painful tension; and all sorts of possibilities of failure in his scheme haunted him till he could have cried out from sheer nervousness.

[Pg 379]

"God!" he exclaimed, as he drained a glass of brandy and water and rose to go. "A life like this would kill me. Well, this shall be the last risk. If it turns out all right—as it must—I shall give this kind of business up. I shall have plenty then, and old Charlie will go off and live quietly and comfortably."

The rear guard of the seven o'clock Continental finished his last cup of tea, put on his thick winter coat, kissed his wife and baby girl, and took up his lantern preparatory to joining his train. He reached the station as the great engine was being coupled and gave the driver a cheery salute, which that official acknowledged with a surly growl.

"Something put Jimmy out to-night," he laughed to the fireman, a young, inexperienced fellow, making his trial trip, and passed on to make his inspection of things in general before starting.

At the last moment a richly-dressed gentleman, wearing a long fur coat, and carrying a large travelling rug, entered a first-class smoking compartment. This gentleman, whom numerous people on the platform recognised as he passed and saluted respectfully, was Eustace Margraf, Esq. The carriage he got into was an empty one, and, lying full length on the seat, covered with his rug, he lit a cigar and composed himself to make the best of a long and tiresome railway journey. The guard blew his whistle, the great engine reproduced it in a loud, deep tone, and the train steamed slowly out of the station, twenty minutes late in starting.

Left to his own reflections, which were none of the liveliest, and lulled by the motion of the train, our traveller soon fell into a fitful sleep, wherein he was haunted by dreams that wrought upon his brain until he was almost as nervous as he had been in his own room some hours before.

He awoke suddenly, with a vague sense that the train was travelling at a most unusual and unaccountable speed: and, as he leapt to his feet in a half-dazed fright, they shot through Tunbridge—a place at which they were timed to make a ten minutes' stop—and he was conscious of seeing, as in a flash, a crowd of frightened and awe-struck faces looking at the train from the platform. He sank back on the cushioned seat, seized with a nameless terror. Time and space seemed to his overwrought nerves to be filled with tokens of some approaching calamity which he was powerless to prevent; the terrific speed and violent swaying of the train, the shrill howl of the ceaseless whistle, the terrible darkness and silence of everything outside his immediate surroundings, and the recollection of that crowd of terrified faces, all seemed to thrill him with a sense of impending horror, and the wretched man sat terror-stricken on his seat, a mere mass of highly-strung and delicate nerves.


Suddenly, as he looked into the black night, a face passed the window, as of someone walking along the footboard to the engine; a stern-set face, as of one going to certain danger and needing all the pluck he possessed to carry him through: and at the apparition the traveller fairly shrieked aloud; but the face passed on and was gone.[Pg 380]

In another moment there was a sudden shout—a terrific crash—a wild chaos of sight and sound—and our traveller knew no more.

When next he found his senses, he was lying among cushions and rugs in the waiting-room at Tunbridge Wells Station. He awoke with a faint shiver, and tried to raise himself, but found to his astonishment that he could not so much as lift a finger. As a matter of fact, he was among those whom the busy surgeons had given up as a desperate case; and, after doing all in their power to ease him, abandoned in favour of more hopeful subjects; but this he did not know.

Several of the passengers whose injuries were only very slight were discussing the accident in an animated manner, and, as usual in such cases, many wild and fanciful conjectures were passed about as truth. At last one said:—

"Does anyone know the rights of the matter?"

"Yes, I do," volunteered a young man with an arm in a sling; and Margraf lay silently listening, unable to move or speak.

"Well, what is it?"

"Just after we passed Grove Park, the fireman was on the front of the engine oiling, when he felt the locomotive increasing in speed till it became so appalling that he grew terrified and could not get back. He is a young fellow, and this is his trial trip. At length he managed to crawl back to the cab, where he found the driver lying, as he supposed, dead. This so increased his terror that he was only able to open the whistle and pull the cord communicating with the rear guard, and then fell in a swoon across the tender.

"The rear guard, a plucky young fellow of about six-and-twenty, twigging the situation, came, as we all know, along the footboard to the engine"—Margraf listened with all his remaining strength—"in order to stop the train before it ran into the Ramsgate express, but apparently was too late."

"But what was up with the driver, and where was the front guard in the meanwhile?"

"Well, it appears from what the front guard says—marvellous how he escaped with hardly a scratch—both these men had been drugged, and as they were both of them to have run the mail train to the Continent to-night, things look very fishy."

Margraf nearly fainted in his efforts to listen more intensely.

"They were changed on to this train at the last moment, and hence this accident. The rear guard, poor fellow, was shockingly mangled. Stone dead, of course; and leaves, I understand, a wife and child. There will no doubt be a collection made for him. He was a plucky fellow."

"Does anyone know his name?" asked one.

"Yes; his name was Charlie Osborne."

There was a heartrending groan from the cushions and rugs.

"Here," cried a young medical student among the party to a passing surgeon, "you'd better come and have a look at this poor chap. He isn't as dead as you thought he was."


The surgeon came and looked at Margraf.

"Isn't he?" he said, in his cool, professional way. "He is a good deal farther gone than I thought. He couldn't be gone much farther."[Pg 381]

From Behind the Speaker's Chair.




I suppose if anyone has a right to indulge in the convenience of indented headings when writing a discursive article, I may claim a share in the privilege. When I retired from the editorship of a morning newspaper, a not obtrusively friendly commentator wrote that my chief claim to be remembered in that connection was that I had invented sign-posts for leading articles. But he was careful to add, lest I should be puffed up, this was not sufficient to establish editorial reputation.


It is true; but it is interesting to observe how the way thus adventured upon has grown crowded. The abstentions indicate a curious and interesting habitude ingrained in the English Press. Whilst most of the weekly papers, not only in the provinces but in London, have adopted the new fashion, no daily paper in London, and in the country only one here and there, has followed it. That is a nice distinction, illustrating a peculiarity of our honoured profession. As it was a daily paper that made the innovation, weekly papers may, without loss of dignity, adopt the custom as their own. But it is well known that, in London at least, there is only one daily paper, and that is the "We" speaking from a particular address, located somewhere between Temple Bar and St. Paul's.

Argal, it is impossible that this peculiarly situated entity should borrow from other papers. Yet I once heard the manager of what we are pleased to call the leading journal confess he envied the Daily News' side-headings to its leaders, and regretted the impossibility of adapting them for his own journal. That was an opinion delivered in mufti. In full uniform, no manager—certainly no editor—of another morning paper is aware of the existence of the Daily News; the Daily News, on its part, being courageously steeped in equally dense ignorance of the existence of other journals.


Few things are so funny as the start of surprise with which a London journal upon rare occasion finds itself face to face with a something that also appears every morning at a price varying from a penny to threepence. Nothing will induce it to give the phenomenon a name, and it distantly alludes to it as "a contemporary." This is quite peculiar to Great Britain, and is in its way akin to the etiquette of the House of Commons, which makes it a breach of order to refer to a member by his proper name. It does not exist in France or the United States, and there are not lacking signs that the absurd lengths to which it has hitherto been carried out in the English Press are being shortened.

[Pg 382]


But that is an aside, meant only to introduce an old friend in a new place. I was going to explain how it came about that, in the mid-February issue of The Strand Magazine, the name of Sir Walter Barttelot should appear in the list of members of the present House of Commons who had seats in the House in 1873, and that another number of the Magazine has been issued without the correction, widely made elsewhere, being noted. It is due simply to the fact of the phenomenal circulation of a magazine which, in order to be out to date, requires its contributors to send in their copy some two months in advance.

It is not too late to say a word about the late member for Sussex, a type rapidly disappearing from the Parliamentary stage. He entered the House thirty-three years ago, when Lord Palmerston was Premier, Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Cornewall Lewis was at the Home Office, and Lord John Russell looked after Foreign Affairs.


The House of Commons was a different place in those days, the heritage of the classes, a closed door against any son of the masses. Sir Walter was born a country gentleman, his natural prejudices not being smoothed down by a term of service in the Dragoon Guards. He was not a brilliant man, nor, beyond the level attainments of a county magistrate, an able one. But he was thoroughly honest; suspected himself of ingrained prejudice, and always fought against it. He suffered and learnt much during his long Parliamentary life.

One of the earliest shocks dealt him was the appearance in the House of Mr. Chamberlain, newly elected for Birmingham. It is difficult at this time of day to realize the attitude in which the gentlemen of England sixteen years ago stood towards the statesman who is now proudly numbered in their ranks. When he presented himself to be sworn in, it was one of the jokes of the day that Sir Walter Barttelot expected he would approach the Table making "a cart-wheel" down the floor, as ragged little boys disport themselves along the pavement when a drag or omnibus passes. Sir Walter was genuinely surprised to find in the fearsome Birmingham Radical a quietly-dressed, well-mannered, almost boyish-looking man, who spoke in a clear, admirably pitched voice, and opposed the Prisons Bill, then under discussion, on the very lines from which Sir Walter had himself attacked it when it was brought in during the previous Session.

It was characteristic of this fine old English gentleman that, having done a man an injustice by unconsciously forming a wrong opinion about him, he hastened forthwith to make amends.


"If," he said, when Mr. Chamberlain had resumed his seat, "the hon. member for Birmingham will always address the House with the same quietness, and with the same intelligence displayed on this occasion, I can assure him the House of Commons will always be ready to listen to him."

This is delicious, looking back over the years, watching Mr. Chamberlain's soaring flight, and thinking of the good county member thus loftily patronizing him. But it was a bold thing to be said at that time of Mr. Chamberlain by Sir Walter Barttelot, and some friends who sat near him thought his charity had led him a little too far.

The Sussex squire was of a fine nature—simple, ever ready to be moved by generous impulses. There were two men coming across the moonlight orbit of his Parliamentary life whose conduct he detested, and whose influence he feared. One was Mr. Parnell, the other Mr. Bradlaugh. Yet when the Commission acquitted Mr. Parnell of the charges brought against him by the forged letters, Sir Walter Barttelot sought him out in the Lobby,[Pg 383] publicly shook hands with him, and congratulated him upon the result of the inquiry. When Mr. Bradlaugh lay on his death-bed, on the very night the House of Commons was debating the resolution to expunge from the Order Book the dictum that stood there through eleven years, declaring him ineligible either to take the oath or to make affirmation, Sir Walter Barttelot appealed to the House unanimously to pass the motion, concluding his remarks with emphatic expression of the hope that "God would spare Mr. Bradlaugh's life."


Sir Walter never recovered from the blow dealt by the death of his son in Africa, aggravated as the sorrow was by the controversy which followed. Of late years he spoke very little; but in the Parliaments of 1874-80 and 1880-85 he was a frequent participator in debate. He was no orator, nor did he contribute original ideas to current discussion. Moreover, what he had to say was so tortured by the style of delivery that it lost something of whatever force naturally belonged to it.

I have a verbatim note taken fifteen years ago of a speech delivered in the House of Commons by Sir Walter, which faintly echoes an oratorical style whose master is no longer with us. It lacks the inconsequential emphasis, the terrific vigour of the gesture, and the impression conveyed by the speaker's intense earnestness, that really, by-and-by, he would say something, which compelled the attention of new members and strangers in the gallery. But if the reader imagines portentous pauses represented by the hyphens, and the deepening to tragic tones of the words marked in italics, he may in some measure realize the effect.

The speech from which this passage was taken was delivered in debate upon a resolution moved by Mr. Forster on the Cattle Plague Orders. Whenever in the passage Mr. Forster is personally alluded to it is necessary, in order to full realization of the scene, to picture Sir Walter shaking a minatory forefinger, sideways, at the right hon. gentleman, not looking at him, but pointing him out to the scorn of mankind and the reprobation of country gentlemen: "Yet he knows [here the finger wags]—and—knows full well—in the—position he occupies—making a proposal of this kind—must be one—which—must be—fatal—to—the Bill. No one knows better than the right hon. gentleman—that when—he—raises a great question of this kind—upon a Bill of this sortnamely upon the second reading—of—this Bill—that that proposal—that he makes—is absolutely against the principle—of—the Bill. Now, I—de—ny that the principle—of—this Bill—is confined—and is to be found—in the 5th Schedule—of—the Bill."

A few minutes later an illustration occurred to the inspired orator, and was thus brought under the notice of the entranced House:—

"Now, Denmark—it is a remark—able country, is Den—mark—for—we have little—or no—dis—ease from Den—mark. The importation—from Den—mark—is something like fifty-six—thousand—cattle—and the curious part of it is this, that nineteen—thousand—of these—were—cows—and these cows came—to—this country—and—had been allowed to go—all over—this country—and—I have never yet heard—that these cows that—have so—gone over this country—have spread any disease—in this country—."

This was a mannerism which amused the House at the time, but did nothing to obscure the genuine qualities of Sir Walter, or lessen the esteem in which he was held. It cannot be said that the House of Commons was habitually moved by his argument in debate. But he was held in its warmest esteem, and his memory will long be cherished as linked with the highest type of English country gentleman.


At this time of writing there is talk in the House about payment of members. A private member has placed on the paper a resolution affirming the desirability of adopting the principle, and it is even said—(which I take leave to doubt)—that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a card up his sleeve intended to win this game. It would be rash to predict stubborn resistance on the part of a body that[Pg 384] has so often proved itself open to conviction as has the House of Commons. But I should say that to secure this end it would need a tussle quite as prolonged and as violent as has raged round Home Rule. Lowering and widening the suffrage has done much to alter the personal standard of the House of Commons. Nothing achieved through these sixty years would in its modifying effect equal the potency of the change wrought by paying members.


One illustration is found in the assertion, made with confidence, that under such a system the House would know no more men of the type of Sir Walter Barttelot. He was not the highest form of capacity, knowledge, or intelligence. But he was of the kind that gives to the House of Commons the lofty tone it speedily regains even after a paroxysm of post-prandial passion. The House of Commons is unique in many ways. I believe the main foundation of the position it holds among the Parliaments of the world is this condition of volunteered unremunerated service.

In spite of sneers from disappointed or flippant persons, a seat in the House of Commons still remains one of the highest prizes of citizen life. When membership becomes a business, bringing in say £6 a week, the charm will be gone. As things stand, there is no reason why any constituency desiring to do so may not return a member on the terms of paying him a salary. It is done in several cases, in two at least with the happiest results. It would be a different thing to throw the whole place open with standing advertisement for eligible members at a salary of, £300 a year, paid quarterly. The horde of impecunious babblers and busybodies attracted by such a bait would trample down the class of men who compose the present House of Commons, and who are, in various ways, at touch with all the multiform interests of the nation.


The great hat question which agitated the House of Commons at the commencement of the new Session, even placing Home Rule in a secondary position, has subsided, and will probably not again be heard of during the existence of the present Parliament. Whilst yet to the fore it was discussed with vigour and freshness; but it is no new thing. With the opening Session of every Parliament the activity and curiosity of new members lead to inconvenient crowding of a chamber that was not constructed to seat 670 members. In the early days of the 1880 Parliament the hat threatened to bring about a crisis. One evening Mr. Mitchell Henry startled the House by addressing the Speaker from a side gallery. This of itself was regarded as a breach of order, and many members expected the Speaker would peremptorily interfere. But Mr. Mitchell Henry, an old Parliamentary hand, knew he was within his right in speaking from this unwonted position. The side galleries as far down as the Bar are as much within the House as is the Treasury Bench, and though orators frequenting them would naturally find a difficulty in catching the Speaker's eye, there is no other reason[Pg 385] why they should not permanently occupy seats there.


Mr. Mitchell Henry explained that he spoke from this place because he could not find any other. He had come down in ordinarily good time to take his seat, and found all the benches on the floor appropriated by having hats planted out along them. In each hat was fixed a card, indicating the name of the owner. What had first puzzled Mr. Henry, and upon reflection led him to the detection of systematic fraud, was meeting in remote parts of the House, even in the street, members who went about wearing a hat, although what purported to be their headgear was being used to stake out a claim in the Legislative Chamber. Mr. Henry made the suggestion that only what he called "the working hat" should be recognised as an agent in securing a seat.


The strict morality of this arrangement was acquiesced in, and its adoption generally approved. But nothing practical came of it. By-and-by, in the ordinary evolution of things, the pressure of competition for seats died off, and the supernumerary hat disappeared from the scene. This Session the ancient trouble returned with increased force, owing to the peculiar circumstances in which political parties are subdivided. The Irish members insisting upon retaining their old seats below the gangway to the left of the Speaker, there was no room for the Dissentient Liberals to range themselves in their proper quarters on the Opposition side. They, accordingly, moved over with the Liberals, and appropriated two benches below the gangway, thus driving a wedge of hostile force into the very centre of the Ministerial ranks. It was the Radical quarter that was thus invaded, and its occupants were not disposed tamely to submit to the incursion. The position was to be held only by strategy. Hence the historic appearance on the scene on the first day of the Session of Mr. Austen Chamberlain with relays of hats, which he set out along the coveted benches, and so secured them for the sitting. On the other side of the House a similar contest was going forward between the Irish Nationalist members, represented by Dr. Tanner, and their Ulster brethren, who acknowledge a leader in Colonel Saunderson.


These tactics are made possible by the peculiar, indeed unique, arrangement by which seats are secured in the House of Commons. In all other Legislative Assemblies in the world each member has assigned to him a seat and desk, reserved for him as long as he is a member. That would be an impossible arrangement in the House of Commons, for the sufficient reason that while there are 670 duly returned members, there is not sitting room for much more than half the number. When a member of the House of Commons desires to secure a particular seat for a given night he must be in his place at prayer time, which on four days a week is at three o'clock in the afternoon. On the fifth day, Wednesday, prayers are due at noon. At prayer time, and only then, there are obtainable tickets upon which a member may write his name, and, sticking the pasteboard in the brass frame at the back of the seat, is happy for the night.[Pg 386]

Where, what Mr. Mitchell Henry called, the non-working hat comes in is in the practice of members gathering before prayer time and placing their hats on the seat they desire to retain. That is a preliminary that receives no official recognition. "No prayer, no seat," is the axiom, and unless a member be actually present in the body when the Chaplain reads prayers, he is not held to have established a claim. Thus his spiritual comfort is subtly and indispensably linked with his material comfort.


There is nothing new under the glass roof of the House of Commons, not even the balloting syndicates, of which so much has been heard since the Session opened. Fifteen or sixteen years ago the Irish members astonished everybody by the extraordinary luck that attended them at the ballot. The ballot in this sense has nothing to do with the electoral poll, being the process by which precedence for private members is secured. When a private member has in charge a Bill or resolution, much depends on the opportunity he secures for bringing it forward. Theoretically, Tuesday, Wednesday, and (in vanishing degree) a portion of Friday are appropriated to his use. On Tuesday he may bring on motions; on Wednesday advance Bills; and on Friday raise miscellaneous questions on certain stages of Supply. On days when notices of motion may be given there is set forth on the Table a book with numbered lines, on which members write their names. Say there are fifty names written down—or four hundred, as was the melancholy case on the opening night of the Session—the Clerk at the Table places in a box a corresponding number of slips of paper. When all is ready for the ballot, the Speaker having before him the list of names as written down, the Clerk at the Table plunges his hand into the lucky-box and taking out, at random, one of the pieces of paper, calls aloud the number marked upon it.


Say it is 365. The Speaker, referring to the list he holds in his hand, finds that Mr. Smith has written his name on line 365. He thereupon calls upon Mr. Smith, who has the first chance, and selects what in his opinion is the most favourable day, ceteris paribus, the earliest at liberty. So the process goes through till the last paper in the ballot-box has been taken out and the list is closed.

It is at best a wearisome business, a criminal waste of time, useless for practical purposes. It was well enough when Parliament was not overburdened with work, and when the members balloting for places rarely exceeded a score. But when, as happened on the opening day of the Session, two of the freshest hours of the sitting are occupied by the performance, it is felt that a change is desirable. This could easily be effected, there being no reason in the world why the process of balloting for places on the Order Book should not be carried out as was the balloting for places in the Strangers' Galleries on the night Mr. Gladstone introduced his Home Rule Bill. On that occasion the Speaker's Secretary, with the assistance of a clerk, and in the presence of as many members as cared to look on, arranged the ballot without a hitch or a murmur of complaint from anyone concerned. The sooner the public balloting is relegated to the same agency the better it will be for the dispatch of public business. With it should disappear the consequent wanton waste of time involved in members bodily bringing in their Bills, a performance that appropriated nearly half the sitting on the second day of the Session.

The spread of the syndicate contrivance would happily hasten the inevitable end. It was by means of the syndicate, though it was not known by that name, or indeed at first known at all, that the Home Rule party managed in the Parliament of 1880-85 to monopolize the time pertaining to private members. Their quick eyes detected what is simple enough when explained—that the ballot system contained potentialities for[Pg 387] increasing the chances of a Bill by twenty or thirty fold. Suppose they had ten Bills or motions they desired to bring forward. They usually had more, but ten is sufficient to contemplate. These were arranged in accordance with their claim to priority. Every member of the party wrote his name down in the ballot-book, thus securing an individual chance at the ballot. Whilst the ballot was in progress, each had in his hand a list of the Bills in their order of priority. The member whose name was first called by the Speaker gave notice of the most urgent Bill, the second and third taking the next favourable positions, and so on to the end.

It will be seen that, supposing fifty or sixty members thus combined, their pet Bill would have fifty or sixty chances to one against the hapless private member with his solitary voice. The secret was long kept, and the Irish members carried everything before them at the ballot. Now the murder is out, and there are almost as many syndicates as there are private Bills. All can grow the flower now, for all have got the seed. But it naturally follows that competition is practically again made even. The advantage to be derived from the syndicate system has appreciably decreased, whilst its practice immeasurably lengthens the process of balloting.


Mr. Louis Jennings, though he sat on the same side of the House as Sir Walter Barttelot, and within a week or two of his neighbour's departure likewise answered to the old Lobby cry, "Who goes home?" was of a different type of Conservative, was a man of literary training, generous culture, and wide knowledge of the world, and made his fame and fortune long before he entered the House of Commons. It was the late Mr. Delane whose quick eye discovered his journalistic ability, and gave him his first commission on the Times. He visited America in the service of that journal, and being there remained to take up the editorship of the New York Times, making himself and his journal famous by his successful tilting against what, up to his appearance in the list, had been the invincible Tweed conspiracy. He edited the "Croker Papers," and wrote a "study" of Mr. Gladstone—a bitterly clever book, to which the Premier magnanimously referred in the generous tribute he took occasion to pay to the memory of the late member for Stockport.


Upon these two books Mr. Jennings's literary fame in this country chiefly rests. It would stand much higher if there were wider knowledge of another couple of volumes he wrote just before he threw himself into the turmoil of Parliamentary life. One is called "Field Paths and Green Lanes"; the other "Rambles Among the Hills." Both were published by Mr. Murray, and are now, I believe, out of print. They are well worth reproducing, supplying some of the most charming writing I know, full of shrewd observation, humorous fancy, and a deep, abiding sympathy with all that is beautiful in Nature. I thought I knew Louis Jennings pretty intimately in Parliamentary and social life, but I found a new man hidden in these pages—a beautiful, sunny nature, obscured in the ordinary relations of life by a somewhat brusque manner, and in these last eighteen months soured and cramped by a cruel disease. Jennings knew and loved the country as Gilbert White knew and loved Selborne. Now

His part in all the pomp that fills
The circuit of the summer hills
Is, that his grave is green.

His Parliamentary career was checked, and, as it turned out, finally destroyed, by an untoward incident. After Lord Randolph Churchill threw up the Chancellorship of the Exchequer and assumed a position of independence on a back bench, he found an able lieutenant in his old friend Louis Jennings. At that time Lord Randolph was feared on the Treasury Bench as much as he was hated. For a Conservative member to associate himself with him was to be ostracised by the official Conservatives. A man of Mr. Jennings's position and Parliamentary ability was worth buying off, and it was brought to his[Pg 388] knowledge that he might have a good price if he would desert Lord Randolph. He was not a man of that kind, and the fact that the young statesman stood almost alone was sufficient to attract Mr. Jennings to his side.


Up to an early date of the Session of 1890 the companionship, political and private, of Lord Randolph Churchill and Mr. Jennings was as intimate as had been any one of his lordship's personal connections with members of the Fourth Party. This alliance was ruptured under circumstances that took place publicly, but the undercurrent of which has never been fathomed. One Monday night, shortly after the opening of this Session of 1890, there appeared on the paper a resolution standing in the name of Mr. Jennings, framed in terms not calculated to smooth the path of the Conservative Government, just then particularly troubled. That Mr. Jennings had prepared it in consultation with Lord Randolph Churchill was an open secret. Indeed, Lord Randolph had undertaken to second it. Before the motion could be reached a debate sprang up, in which Lord Randolph interposed, and delivered a speech which, in Mr. Jennings's view, entirely cut the ground from under his feet. He regarded this as more than an affront—as a breach of faith, a blow dealt by his own familiar friend. At that moment, in the House, he broke with Lord Randolph, tore up his amendment and the notes of his speech, and declined thereafter to hold any communion with his old friend.

No one, as I had opportunity of learning at the time, was more surprised than Lord Randolph Churchill at the view taken of the event by Mr. Jennings. He had not thought of his action being so construed, and had certainly been guiltless of the motive attributed to him. There was somewhere and somehow a misunderstanding. With Mr. Jennings it was strong and bitter enough to last through what remained of his life.

Whilst he did not act upon the first impulse communicated to one of his friends, and forthwith retire from public life, he with this incident lost all zest for it. Occasionally he spoke, choosing the level, unattractive field of the Civil Service Estimates. It was a high tribute to his power and capacity that on the few occasions when he spoke the House filled up, not only with the contingent attracted by the prospect of anything spicy, but by grave, financial authorities, Ministers and ex-Ministers, who listened attentively to his acute criticism. His public speaking benefited by a rare combination of literary style and oratorical aptitude. There was no smell of the lamp about his polished, pungent sentences. But they had the unmistakable mark of literary style. Had his physical strength not failed, and his life not been embittered by the episode alluded to, Louis Jennings would have risen to high position in the Parliamentary field.[Pg 389]

Portraits of Celebrities at Different Times of their Lives.


AGE 4.
AGE 18.
From a Photo. by Levitsky, Paris.
AGE 4.
From a Photo. by Elmer & Chickering, Boston.
AGE 18.


ora Urquhart Potter was born in Louisiana, her father being Scotch and her mother partly Mexican. She was educated by her mother, and taught to act and recite from babyhood, her mother making her play on all occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. Her first appearance before friends was at the age of five years. She was married at seventeen. She never spoke English until fourteen, speaking entirely French and Spanish, She played all over the States as an amateur, and when the occasion came, and she was thrown on her own resources, she adopted the stage as a profession. She has played in every country and city where the English language is spoken. Mrs. Potter has, perhaps, the largest répertoire of any living actress.

AGE 24.
From a Photo. by Elmer & Chickering, Boston.
AGE 18.
From a Photo. by Warneuke, Glasgow.

[Pg 390]


AGE 3. AGE 17. AGE 25.


he article on the home life of the Prince and Princess of Wales which we have the privilege of publishing in this number lends additional interest to the portraits of their Royal Highnesses at different ages. The accompanying portraits of the Prince represent him in his nursery; as an Oxford undergraduate; in Highland costume; in the uniform of a Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards (Blues); and finally, in an excellent likeness, at the present day.

AGE 40.
From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.
AGE 40.
From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

[Pg 391]


AGE 17.
AGE 19.
From a Photo. by Hansen, Copenhagen.
AGE 17.
From a Photo. by Bingham, Paris.
AGE 19.


ur first portrait of the Princess of Wales was taken in her native city nearly two years before her arrival in England; the second was taken at the time of her marriage; the third when her second son, the present Duke of York, was about a year old; and the fourth in her robes as Doctor of Music of the Royal University of Ireland in 1885. The difference in the fashion of the dresses in these portraits is striking, but not more so than the beauty of the Princess.


[Pg 392]


Born 1834.


he Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, who has of late years won world-wide popularity as the writer of "Mehalah," "John Herring," and many other novels, was born at Exeter, and is the eldest son of Mr. Edward Baring-Gould, of Lew-Trenchard, Devon, where the family has resided for nearly 300 years, and of which place he is now the Rector. He is also Justice of the Peace for the County of Devon. He had written on various subjects of historical research before he took to novel-writing.


AGE 5. From a Miniature.

AGE 10. From a Drawing.

AGE 35. From a Photo. by Hall, Wakefield.

AGE 46. From a Photo. by Barnes, Colchester.

PRESENT DAY. From a Photo. by W. & D. Downey.

[Pg 393]


Born 1846.

AGE 14.
AGE 19.
From a Photograph.
AGE 14.
From a Photograph.
AGE 20.


ord Charles Beresford, son of the Marquis of Waterford, entered the Royal Navy at thirteen, served on several warships, and accompanied the Prince of Wales to India, in 1875, as Naval Aide-de-Camp. At the bombardment of Alexandria he was in command of the gunboat Condor, and his gallant conduct in bearing down on the Marabout batteries and silencing guns immensely superior to his own was so conspicuous that the Admiral's ship signalled: "Well done, Condor!" In 1884 he assisted Lord Wolseley in the Nile Expedition.

AGE 14.
AGE 19.
From a Photo. by Dickinson & Foster.
AGE 40.
From a Photo. by Merlin, Athens.

[Pg 394]


Born 1847.

AGE 2.
AGE 16.
From a Photograph.
AGE 2.
From a Photograph.
AGE 16.


ohn Roberts, the finest billiard player the world has ever seen, was born at Ardwick, Manchester. He commenced his career as a billiard player very early in life, for when only a child of eleven he assisted his father at the George Hotel, in Liverpool, his father at the time being universally considered the best in England, and, consequently, we find that he had in early life the very best model from which to study the game. Some thirty years ago, when Roberts's father was champion, a break of over 200 was a rare event, whereas now it is an every day occurrence with third-rate players. Roberts's highest all-round break is 3,000. His superiority to those who rank next to him is unprecedented, as evinced by his recent victory over Peall, to whom he gave 9,000 in 24,000. Roberts's style is simply perfect, and it is wonderful to watch the various strokes during a long break, consisting as they do of some requiring great execution and power of cue, and others showing the utmost delicacy of touch.

AGE 26.
From a Photograph by Whitlock, Birmingham.
AGE 26.
From a Photo. by Alerts, Bombay.

[Pg 395]

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.


By A. Conan Doyle.


have some papers here," said my friend, Sherlock Holmes, as we sat one winter's night on either side of the fire, "which I really think, Watson, it would be worth your while to glance over. These are the documents in the extraordinary case of the Gloria Scott, and this is the message which struck Justice of the Peace Trevor dead with horror when he read it."

He had picked from a drawer a little tarnished cylinder, and, undoing the tape, he handed me a short note scrawled upon a half sheet of slate-grey paper.

"The supply of game for London is going steadily up," it ran. "Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive all orders for fly-paper, and for preservation of your hen pheasant's life."

As I glanced up from reading this enigmatical message I saw Holmes chuckling at the expression upon my face.

"You look a little bewildered," said he.

"I cannot see how such a message as this could inspire horror. It seems to me to be rather grotesque than otherwise."

"Very likely. Yet the fact remains that the reader, who was a fine, robust old man, was knocked clean down by it, as if it had been the butt-end of a pistol."

"You arouse my curiosity," said I. "But why did you say just now that there were very particular reasons why I should study this case?"

"Because it was the first in which I was ever engaged."

I had often endeavoured to elicit from my companion what had first turned his mind in the direction of criminal research, but I had never caught him before in a communicative humour. Now he sat forward in his armchair, and spread out the documents upon his knees. Then he lit his pipe and sat for some time smoking and turning them over.

"You never heard me talk of Victor Trevor?" he asked. "He was the only friend I made during the two years that I was at college. I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year. Bar fencing and boxing I had few athletic tastes, and then my line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows, so that we had no points of contact at all. Trevor was the only man I knew, and that only through the accident of his bull-terrier freezing on to my ankle one morning as I went down to chapel.

"It was a prosaic way of forming a friendship, but it was effective. I was laid by the heels for ten days, and Trevor used to come in to inquire after me. At first it was only a minute's chat, but soon his visits lengthened, and before the end of the term we were close friends. He was a hearty, full-blooded fellow, full of spirits and energy, the very opposite to me in most respects; but we found we had some subjects in common, and it was a bond of union when I found that he was as friendless as I. Finally, he invited me down to his father's place at Donnithorpe, in Norfolk, and I accepted his hospitality for a month of the long vacation.

"Old Trevor was evidently a man of some wealth and consideration, a J.P. and a landed proprietor. Donnithorpe is a little hamlet just to the north of Langmere, in the country of the Broads. The house was an old-fashioned, wide-spread, oak-beamed, brick building, with a fine lime-lined avenue leading up to it. There was excellent wild duck shooting in the fens, remarkably good fishing, a small but select library, taken over, as I understood, from a former occupant, and a tolerable cook, so that it would be a fastidious man who could not put in a pleasant month there.

"Trevor senior was a widower, and my friend was his only son. There had been a daughter, I heard, but she had died of diphtheria while on a visit to Birmingham. The father interested me extremely. He was a man of little culture, but with a considerable amount of rude strength both physically and mentally. He knew hardly any books, but he had travelled far, had seen much of the world, and had remembered all that he had learned. In person he was a thick-set, burly man, with a shock of grizzled[Pg 396] hair, a brown, weather-beaten face, and blue eyes which were keen to the verge of fierceness. Yet he had a reputation for kindness and charity on the country side, and was noted for the leniency of his sentences from the bench.


"One evening, shortly after my arrival, we were sitting over a glass of port after dinner, when young Trevor began to talk about those habits of observation and inference which I had already formed into a system, although I had not yet appreciated the part which they were to play in my life. The old man evidently thought that his son was exaggerating in his description of one or two trivial feats which I had performed.

"'Come now, Mr. Holmes,' said he, laughing good-humouredly, 'I'm an excellent subject, if you can deduce anything from me.'

"'I fear there is not very much,' I answered. 'I might suggest that you have gone about in fear of some personal attack within the last twelve months.'

"The laugh faded from his lips and he stared at me in great surprise.

"'Well, that's true enough,' said he. 'You know, Victor,' turning to his son, 'when we broke up that poaching gang, they swore to knife us; and Sir Edward Hoby has actually been attacked. I've always been on my guard since then, though I have no idea how you know it.'

"'You have a very handsome stick,' I answered. 'By the inscription, I observed that you had not had it more than a year. But you have taken some pains to bore the head of it and pour melted lead into the hole, so as to make it a formidable weapon. I argued that you would not take such precautions unless you had some danger to fear.'

"'Anything else?' he asked, smiling.

"'You have boxed a good deal in your youth.'

"'Right again. How did you know it? Is my nose knocked a little out of the straight?'

"'No,' said I. 'It is your ears. They have the peculiar flattening and thickening which marks the boxing man.'

"'Anything else?'

"'You have done a great deal of digging, by your callosities.'

"'Made all my money at the gold-fields.'

"'You have been in New Zealand.'

"'Right again.'

"'You have visited Japan.'

"'Quite true.'

"'And you have been most intimately associated with someone whose initials were J. A., and whom you afterwards were eager to entirely forget.'

"Mr. Trevor stood slowly up, fixed his large blue eyes upon me with a strange, wild stare, and then pitched forward with his face among the nutshells which strewed the cloth, in a dead faint.

"You can imagine, Watson, how shocked both his son and I were. His attack did not last long, however, for when we undid his[Pg 397] collar and sprinkled the water from one of the finger-glasses over his face, he gave a gasp or two and sat up.

"'Ah, boys!' said he, forcing a smile. 'I hope I haven't frightened you. Strong as I look, there is a weak place in my heart, and it does not take much to knock me over. I don't know how you manage this, Mr. Holmes, but it seems to me that all the detectives of fact and of fancy would be children in your hands. That's your line of life, sir, and you may take the word of a man who has seen something of the world.'

"And that recommendation, with the exaggerated estimate of my ability with which he prefaced it, was, if you will believe me, Watson, the very first thing which ever made me feel that a profession might be made out of what had up to that time been the merest hobby. At the moment, however, I was too much concerned at the sudden illness of my host to think of anything else.

"'I hope that I have said nothing to pain you,' said I.

"'Well, you certainly touched upon rather a tender point. Might I ask how you know and how much you know?' He spoke now in a half jesting fashion, but a look of terror still lurked at the back of his eyes.

"'It is simplicity itself,' said I. 'When you bared your arm to draw that fish into the boat I saw that "J. A." had been tattooed in the bend of the elbow. The letters were still legible, but it was perfectly clear from their blurred appearance, and from the staining of the skin round them, that efforts had been made to obliterate them. It was obvious, then, that those initials had once been very familiar to you, and that you had afterwards wished to forget them.'

"'What an eye you have!' he cried, with a sigh of relief. 'It is just as you say. But we won't talk of it. Of all ghosts, the ghosts of our old loves are the worst. Come into the billiard-room and have a quiet cigar.'

"From that day, amid all his cordiality, there was always a touch of suspicion in Mr. Trevor's manner towards me. Even his son remarked it. 'You've given the governor such a turn,' said he, 'that he'll never be sure again of what you know and what you don't know.' He did not mean to show it, I am sure, but it was so strongly in his mind that it peeped out at every action. At last I became so convinced that I was causing him uneasiness, that I drew my visit to a close. On the very day, however, before I left an incident occurred which proved in the sequel to be of importance.

"We were sitting out upon the lawn on garden chairs, the three of us, basking in the sun and admiring the view across the Broads, when the maid came out to say that there was a man at the door who wanted to see Mr. Trevor.

"'What is his name?' asked my host.

"'He would not give any.'

"'What does he want, then?'

"'He says that you know him, and that he only wants a moment's conversation.'

"'Show him round here.' An instant afterwards there appeared a little wizened fellow, with a cringing manner and a shambling style of walking. He wore an open jacket, with a splotch of tar on the sleeve, a red and black check shirt, dungaree trousers, and heavy boots badly worn. His face was thin and brown and crafty, with a perpetual smile upon it, which showed an irregular line of yellow teeth, and his crinkled hands were half-closed in a way that is distinctive of sailors. As he came slouching across the lawn I heard Mr. Trevor make a sort of hiccoughing noise in his throat, and, jumping out of his chair, he ran into the house. He was back in a moment, and I smelt a strong reek of brandy as he passed me.

"'Well, my man,' said he, 'what can I do for you?'

"The sailor stood looking at him with puckered eyes, and with the same loose-lipped smile upon his face.

"'You don't know me?' he asked.

"'Why, dear me, it is surely Hudson!' said Mr. Trevor, in a tone of surprise.

"'Hudson it is, sir,' said the seaman. 'Why, it's thirty year and more since I saw you last. Here you are in your house, and me still picking my salt meat out of the harness cask.'

"'Tut, you will find that I have not forgotten old times,' cried Mr. Trevor, and, walking towards the sailor, he said something in a low voice. 'Go into the kitchen,' he continued out loud, 'and you will get food and drink. I have no doubt that I shall find you a situation.'

"'Thank you, sir,' said the seaman, touching his forelock. 'I'm just off a two-yearer in an eight-knot tramp, short-handed at that, and I wants a rest. I thought I'd get it either with Mr. Beddoes or with you.'

"'Ah!' cried Mr. Trevor, 'you know where Mr. Beddoes is?'

"'Bless you, sir, I know where all my old friends are,' said the fellow, with a sinister smile, and slouched off after the maid to the[Pg 398] kitchen. Mr. Trevor mumbled something to us about having been shipmates with the man when he was going back to the diggings, and then, leaving us on the lawn, he went indoors. An hour later, when we entered the house we found him stretched dead drunk upon the dining-room sofa. The whole incident left a most ugly impression upon my mind, and I was not sorry next day to leave Donnithorpe behind me, for I felt that my presence must be a source of embarrassment to my friend.


"All this occurred during the first month of the long vacation. I went up to my London rooms, where I spent seven weeks working out a few experiments in organic chemistry. One day, however, when the autumn was far advanced and the vacation drawing to a close, I received a telegram from my friend imploring me to return to Donnithorpe, and saying that he was in great need of my advice and assistance. Of course I dropped everything, and set out for the north once more.

"He met me with the dog-cart at the station, and I saw at a glance that the last two months had been very trying ones for him. He had grown thin and careworn, and had lost the loud, cheery manner for which he had been remarkable.

"'The governor is dying,' were the first words he said.

"'Impossible!' I cried. 'What is the matter?'

"'Apoplexy. Nervous shock. He's been on the verge all day. I doubt if we shall find him alive.'

"I was, as you may think, Watson, horrified at this unexpected news.

"'What has caused it?' I asked.

"'Ah, that is the point. Jump in, and we can talk it over while we drive. You remember that fellow who came upon the evening before you left us?'


"'Do you know who it was that we let into the house that day?'

"'I have no idea.'

"'It was the Devil, Holmes!' he cried.

"I stared at him in astonishment.

"'Yes; it was the Devil himself. We have not had a peaceful hour since—not one. The governor has never held up his head from that evening, and now the life has been crushed out of him, and his heart broken all through this accursed Hudson.'

"'What power had he, then?'

"'Ah! that is what I would give so much to know. The kindly, charitable, good old[Pg 399] governor! How could he have fallen into the clutches of such a ruffian? But I am so glad that you have come, Holmes. I trust very much to your judgment and discretion, and I know that you will advise me for the best.'

"We were dashing along the smooth, white country road, with the long stretch of the Broads in front of us glimmering in the red light of the setting sun. From a grove upon our left I could already see the high chimneys and the flagstaff which marked the squire's dwelling.

"'My father made the fellow gardener,' said my companion, 'and then, as that did not satisfy him, he was promoted to be butler. The house seemed to be at his mercy, and he wandered about and did what he chose in it. The maids complained of his drunken habits and his vile language. The dad raised their wages all round to recompense them for the annoyance. The fellow would take the boat and my father's best gun and treat himself to little shooting parties. And all this with such a sneering, leering, insolent face, that I would have knocked him down twenty times over if he had been a man of my own age. I tell you, Holmes, I have had to keep a tight hold upon myself all this time, and now I am asking myself whether, if I had let myself go a little more, I might not have been a wiser man.

"'Well, matters went from bad to worse with us, and this animal, Hudson, became more and more intrusive, until at last, on his making some insolent reply to my father in my presence one day, I took him by the shoulder and turned him out of the room. He slunk away with a livid face, and two venomous eyes which uttered more threats than his tongue could do. I don't know what passed between the poor dad and him after that, but the dad came to me next day and asked me whether I would mind apologizing to Hudson. I refused, as you can imagine, and asked my father how he could allow such a wretch to take such liberties with himself and his household.

"'Ah, my boy,' said he, 'it is all very well to talk, but you don't know how I am placed. But you shall know, Victor. I'll see that you shall know, come what may! You wouldn't believe harm of your poor old father, would you, lad?' He was very much moved, and shut himself up in the study all day, where I could see through the window that he was writing busily.

"'That evening there came what seemed to me to be a grand release, for Hudson told us that he was going to leave us. He walked into the dining-room as we sat after dinner, and announced his intention in the thick voice of a half-drunken man.

"'I've had enough of Norfolk,' said he. 'I'll run down to Mr. Beddoes, in Hampshire. He'll be as glad to see me as you were, I daresay.'

"'You're not going away in an unkind spirit, Hudson, I hope,' said my father, with a tameness which made my blood boil.

"'I've not had my 'pology," said he, sulkily, glancing in my direction.


"'Victor, you will acknowledge that you have used this worthy fellow rather roughly?' said the dad, turning to me.

"'On the contrary, I think that we have[Pg 400] both shown extraordinary patience towards him,' I answered.

"'Oh, you do, do you?' he snarled. 'Very good, mate. We'll see about that!' He slouched out of the room, and half an hour afterwards left the house, leaving my father in a state of pitiable nervousness. Night after night I heard him pacing his room, and it was just as he was recovering his confidence that the blow did at last fall.

"'And how?' I asked, eagerly.

"'In a most extraordinary fashion. A letter arrived for my father yesterday evening, bearing the Fordingbridge postmark. My father read it, clapped both his hands to his head and began running round the room in little circles like a man who has been driven out of his senses. When I at last drew him down on to the sofa, his mouth and eyelids were all puckered on one side, and I saw that he had a stroke. Dr. Fordham came over at once, and we put him to bed; but the paralysis has spread, he has shown no sign of returning consciousness, and I think that we shall hardly find him alive.'

"'You horrify me, Trevor!' I cried. 'What, then, could have been in this letter to cause so dreadful a result?'

"'Nothing. There lies the inexplicable part of it. The message was absurd and trivial. Ah, my God, it is as I feared!'

"As he spoke we came round the curve of the avenue, and saw in the fading light that every blind in the house had been drawn down. As we dashed up to the door, my friend's face convulsed with grief, a gentleman in black emerged from it.

"'When did it happen, doctor?' asked Trevor.

"'Almost immediately after you left.'

"'Did he recover consciousness?'

"'For an instant before the end.'

"'Any message for me?'

"'Only that the papers were in the back drawer of the Japanese cabinet.'

"My friend ascended with the doctor to the chamber of death, while I remained in the study, turning the whole matter over and over in my head, and feeling as sombre as ever I had done in my life. What was the past of this Trevor: pugilist, traveller, and gold-digger; and how had he placed himself in the power of this acid-faced seaman? Why, too, should he faint at an allusion to the half-effaced initials upon his arm, and die of fright when he had a letter from Fordingbridge? Then I remembered that Fordingbridge was in Hampshire, and that this Mr. Beddoes, whom the seaman had gone to visit, and presumably to blackmail, had also been mentioned as living in Hampshire. The letter, then, might either come from Hudson, the seaman, saying that he had betrayed the guilty secret which appeared to exist, or it might come from Beddoes, warning an old confederate that such a betrayal was imminent. So far it seemed clear enough. But, then, how could the letter be trivial and grotesque, as described by the son? He must have misread it. If so, it must have been one of those ingenious secret codes which mean one thing while they seem to mean another. I must see this letter. If there were a hidden meaning in it, I was confident that I could pluck it forth. For an hour I sat pondering over it in the gloom, until at last a weeping maid brought in a lamp, and close at her heels came my friend Trevor, pale but composed, with these very papers which lie upon my knee held in his grasp. He sat down opposite to me, drew the lamp to the edge of the table, and handed me a short note scribbled, as you see, upon a single sheet of grey paper. 'The supply of game for London is going steadily up,' it ran. 'Head-keeper Hudson, we believe, has been now told to receive all orders for fly-paper and for preservation of your hen pheasant's life.'

"I daresay my face looked as bewildered as yours did just now when first I read this message. Then I re-read it very carefully. It was evidently as I had thought, and some second meaning must lie buried in this strange combination of words. Or could it be that there was a prearranged significance to such phrases as 'fly-paper' and 'hen pheasant'? Such a meaning would be arbitrary, and could not be deduced in any way. And yet I was loth to believe that this was the case, and the presence of the word 'Hudson' seemed to show that the subject of the message was as I had guessed, and that it was from Beddoes rather than the sailor. I tried it backwards, but the combination, 'Life pheasant's hen,' was not encouraging. Then I tried alternate words, but neither 'The of for' nor 'supply game London' promised to throw any light upon it. And then in an instant the key of the riddle was in my hands, and I saw that every third word beginning with the first would give a message which might well drive old Trevor to despair.


"It was short and terse, the warning, as I now read it to my companion:[Pg 401]

"'The game is up. Hudson has told all. Fly for your life.'

"Victor Trevor sank his face into his shaking hands. 'It must he that, I suppose,' said he. 'This is worse than death, for it means disgrace as well. But what is the meaning of these "head-keepers" and "hen pheasants"?

"'It means nothing to the message, but it might mean a good deal to us if we had no other means of discovering the sender. You see that he has begun by writing, "The ... game ... is," and so on. Afterwards he had, to fulfil the prearranged cipher, to fill in any two words in each space. He would naturally use the first words which came to his mind, and if there were so many which referred to sport among them, you may be tolerably sure that he is either an ardent shot or interested in breeding. Do you know anything of this Beddoes?'

"'Why, now that you mention it,' said he, 'I remember that my poor father used to have an invitation from him to shoot over his preserves every autumn.'

"'Then it is undoubtedly from him that the note comes,' said I. 'It only remains for us to find out what this secret was which the sailor Hudson seems to have held over the heads of these two wealthy and respected men.'

"'Alas, Holmes, I fear that it is one of sin and shame!' cried my friend. 'But from you I shall have no secrets. Here is the statement which was drawn up by my father when he knew that the danger from Hudson had become imminent. I found it in the Japanese cabinet, as he told the doctor. Take it and read it to me, for I have neither the strength nor the courage to do it myself.'

"These are the very papers, Watson, which he handed to me, and I will read them to you as I read them in the old study that night to him. They are indorsed outside, as you see: 'Some particulars of the voyage of the barque Gloria Scott, from her leaving Falmouth on the 8th October, 1855, to her destruction in N. lat. 15° 20´, W. long. 25° 14´, on November 6th.' It is in the form of a letter, and runs in this way:—

"My dear, dear son,—Now that approaching disgrace begins to darken the closing years of my life, I can write with all truth and honesty that it is not the terror of the law, it is not the loss of my position in the county, nor is it my fall in the eyes of all who have known me, which cuts me to the heart; but it is the thought that you should come to blush for me—you who love me, and who have seldom, I hope, had reason to do other than respect me. But if the blow falls which is for ever hanging over me, then I should wish you to read this that you may know straight from me how far I have been to blame. On the other hand, if all should go well (which may kind God Almighty grant!), then if by any chance this paper should be still undestroyed, and should fall[Pg 402] into your hands, I conjure you by all you hold sacred, by the memory of your dear mother, and by the love which has been between us, to hurl it into the fire, and to never give one thought to it again.

"If, then, your eye goes on to read this line, I know that I shall already have been exposed and dragged from my home, or, as is more likely—for you know that my heart is weak—be lying with my tongue sealed for ever in death. In either case the time for suppression is past, and every word which I tell you is the naked truth; and this I swear as I hope for mercy.

"My name, dear lad, is not Trevor. I was James Armitage in my younger days, and you can understand now the shock that it was to me a few weeks ago when your college friend addressed me in words which seemed to imply that he had surmised my secret. As Armitage it was that I entered a London banking house, and as Armitage I was convicted of breaking my country's laws, and was sentenced to transportation. Do not think very harshly of me, laddie. It was a debt of honour, so-called, which I had to pay, and I used money which was not my own to do it, in the certainty that I could replace it before there could be any possibility of its being missed. But the most dreadful ill-luck pursued me. The money which I had reckoned upon never came to hand, and a premature examination of accounts exposed my deficit. The case might have been dealt leniently with, but the laws were more harshly administered thirty years ago than now, and on my twenty-third birthday I found myself chained as a felon with thirty-seven other convicts in the 'tween decks of the barque Gloria Scott, bound for Australia.

"It was the year '55, when the Crimean War was at its height, and the old convict ships had been largely used as transports in the Black Sea. The Government was compelled therefore to use smaller and less suitable vessels for sending out their prisoners. The Gloria Scott had been in the Chinese tea trade, but she was an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft, and the new clippers had cut her out. She was a 500-ton boat, and besides her thirty-eight gaol-birds, she carried twenty-six of a crew, eighteen soldiers, a captain, three mates, a doctor, a chaplain, and four warders. Nearly a hundred souls were in her, all told, when we set sail from Falmouth.

"The partitions between the cells of the convicts, instead of being of thick oak, as is usual in convict ships, were quite thin and frail. The man next to me upon the aft side was one whom I had particularly noticed when we were led down the quay. He was a young man with a clear, hairless face, a long thin nose, and rather nutcracker jaws. He carried his head very jauntily in the air, had a swaggering style of walking, and was above all else remarkable for his extraordinary height. I don't think any of our heads would come up to his shoulder, and I am sure that he could not have measured less than six and a half feet. It was strange among so many sad and weary faces to see one which was full of energy and resolution. The sight of it was to me like a fire in a snowstorm. I was glad then to find that he was my neighbour, and gladder still when, in the dead of the night, I heard a whisper close to my ear, and found that he had managed to cut an opening in the board which separated us.

"'Halloa, chummy!' said he, 'what's your name, and what are you here for?'

"I answered him, and asked in turn who I was talking with.

"'I'm Jack Prendergast,' said he, 'and, by God, you'll learn to bless my name before you've done with me!'

"I remembered hearing of his case, for it was one which had made an immense sensation throughout the country, some time before my own arrest. He was a man of good family and of great ability, but of incurably vicious habits, who had, by an ingenious system of fraud, obtained huge sums of money from the leading London merchants.

"'Ah, ha! You remember my case?' said he, proudly.

"'Very well indeed.'

"'Then maybe you remember something queer about it?'

"'What was that, then?'

"'I'd had nearly a quarter of a million, hadn't I?'

"'So it was said.'

"'But none was recovered, eh?'


"'Well, where d'ye suppose the balance is?' he asked.

"'I have no idea,' said I.

"'Right between my finger and thumb,' he cried. 'By God, I've got more pounds to my name than you have hairs on your head. And if you've money, my son, and know how to handle it and spread it, you can do anything! Now, you don't think it likely that a man who could do anything is going to wear his breeches out sitting in the stink[Pg 403]ing hold of a rat-gutted, beetle-ridden, mouldy old coffin of a China coaster? No, sir, such a man will look after himself, and will look after his chums. You may lay to that! You hold on to him, and you may kiss the Book that he'll haul you through.'

"That was his style of talk, and at first I thought it meant nothing, but after a while, when he had tested me and sworn me in with all possible solemnity, he let me understand that there really was a plot to gain command of the vessel. A dozen of the prisoners had hatched it before they came aboard; Prendergast was the leader, and his money was the motive power.

"'I'd a partner,' said he, 'a rare good man, as true as a stock to a barrel. He's got the dibbs, he has, and where do you think he is at this moment? Why, he's the chaplain of this ship—the chaplain, no less! He came aboard with a black coat and his papers right, and money enough in his box to buy the thing right up from keel to main-truck. The crew are his, body and soul. He could buy 'em at so much a gross with a cash discount, and he did it before ever they signed on. He's got two of the warders and Mercer the second mate, and he'd get the captain himself if he thought him worth it.'

"'What are we to do, then?' I asked.

"'What do you think?' said he. 'We'll make the coats of some of these soldiers redder than ever the tailor did.'

"'But they are armed,' said I.

"'And so shall we be, my boy. There's a brace of pistols for every mother's son of us, and if we can't carry this ship, with the crew at our back, it's time we were all sent to a young Miss's boarding school. You speak to your mate on the left to-night, and see if he is to be trusted.'


"I did so, and found my other neighbour to be a young fellow in much the same position as myself, whose crime had been forgery. His name was Evans, but he afterwards changed it, like myself, and he is now a rich and prosperous man in the South of England. He was ready enough to join the conspiracy, as the only means of, saving ourselves, and before we had crossed the Bay there were only two of the prisoners who were not in the secret. One of these was of weak mind, and we did not dare to trust him, and the other was suffering from jaundice, and could not be of any use to us.

"From the beginning there was really nothing to prevent us taking possession of the ship. The crew were a set of ruffians, specially picked for the job. The sham chaplain came into our cells to exhort us, carrying a black bag, supposed to be full of tracts; and so often did he come that by the third day we had each stowed away at the foot of our bed a file, a brace of pistols, a pound of powder, and twenty slugs. Two of the warders were agents of Prendergast, and the second mate was his right-hand man. The captain, the two mates, two warders, Lieutenant Martin, his eighteen soldiers, and the doctor were all that we had against us. Yet, safe as it was, we determined to neglect no precaution, and to make our attack suddenly at night. It came, however, more quickly than we expected, and in this way:—

"One evening, about the third week after our start, the doctor had come down to see one of the prisoners, who was ill, and, putting[Pg 404] his hand down on the bottom of his bunk, he felt the outline of the pistols. If he had been silent he might have blown the whole thing; but he was a nervous little chap, so he gave a cry of surprise and turned so pale, that the man knew what was up in an instant and seized him. He was gagged before he could give the alarm, and tied down upon the bed. He had unlocked the door that led to the deck, and we were through it in a rush. The two sentries were shot down, and so was a corporal who came running to see what was the matter. There were two more soldiers at the door of the state-room, and their muskets seemed not to be loaded, for they never fired upon us, and they were shot while trying to fix their bayonets. Then we rushed on into the captain's cabin, but as we pushed open the door there was an explosion from within, and there he lay with his head on the chart of the Atlantic, which was pinned upon the table, while the chaplain stood, with a smoking pistol in his hand, at his elbow. The two mates had both been seized by the crew, and the whole business seemed to be settled.


"The state-room was next the cabin, and we flocked in there and flopped down on the settees all speaking together, for we were just mad with the feeling that we were free once more. There were lockers all round, and Wilson, the sham chaplain, knocked one of them in, and pulled out a dozen of brown sherry. We cracked off the necks of the bottles, poured the stuff out into tumblers, and were just tossing them off, when in an instant, without warning, there came the roar of muskets in our ears, and the saloon was so full of smoke that we could not see across the table. When it cleared again the place was a shambles. Wilson and eight others were wriggling on the top of each other on the floor, and the blood and the brown sherry on that table turn me sick now when I think of it. We were so cowed by the sight that I think we should have given the job up if it had not been for Prendergast. He bellowed like a bull, and rushed for the door with all that were left alive at his heels. Out we ran, and there on the poop were the lieutenant and ten of his men. The swing skylights above the saloon table had been a bit open, and they had fired on us through the slit. We got on them before they could load, and they stood to it like men, but we had the upper hand of them, and in five minutes it was all over. My God! was there ever a slaughter-house like that ship? Prendergast was like a raging devil, and he picked the soldiers up as if they had been children and threw them overboard, alive or dead. There was one sergeant that was horribly wounded, and yet kept on swimming for a surprising time, until someone in mercy blew out his brains. When the fighting was over there was no one left of our enemies except just the warders, the mates, and the doctor.

"It was over them that the great quarrel arose. There were many of us who were glad enough to win back our freedom, and[Pg 405] yet who had no wish to have murder on our souls. It was one thing to knock the soldiers over with their muskets in their hands, and it was another to stand by while men were being killed in cold blood. Eight of us, five convicts and three sailors, said that we would not see it done. But there was no moving Prendergast and those who were with him. Our only chance of safety lay in making a clean job of it, said he, and he would not leave a tongue with power to wag in a witness-box. It nearly came to our sharing the fate of the prisoners, but at last he said that if we wished we might take a boat and go. We jumped at the offer, for we were already sick of these bloodthirsty doings, and we saw that there would be worse before it was done. We were given a suit of sailors' togs each, a barrel of water, two casks, one of junk and one of biscuits, and a compass. Prendergast threw us over a chart, told us that we were shipwrecked mariners whose ship had foundered in lat. 15° N. and long. 25° W., and then cut the painter and let us go.

"And now I come to the most surprising part of my story, my dear son. The seamen had hauled the foreyard aback during the rising, but now as we left them they brought it square again, and, as there was a light wind from the north and east, the barque began to draw slowly away from us. Our boat lay, rising and falling, upon the long, smooth rollers, and Evans and I, who were the most educated of the party, were sitting in the sheets working out our position and planning what coast we should make for. It was a nice question, for the Cape de Verds were about 500 miles to the north of us, and the African coast about 700 miles to the east. On the whole, as the wind was coming round to north, we thought that Sierra Leone might be best, and turned our head in that direction, the barque being at that time nearly hull down on our starboard quarter. Suddenly as we looked at her we saw a dense black cloud of smoke shoot up from her, which hung like a monstrous tree upon the sky-line. A few seconds later a roar like thunder burst upon our ears, and as the smoke thinned away there was no sign left of the Gloria Scott. In an instant we swept the boat's head round again, and pulled with all our strength for the place where the haze, still trailing over the water, marked the scene of this catastrophe.


"It was a long hour before we reached it, and at first we feared that we had come too late to save anyone. A splintered boat and a number of crates and fragments of spars rising and falling on the waves showed us where the vessel had foundered, but there was no sign of life, and we had turned away in despair when we heard a cry for help, and saw at some distance a piece of wreckage with a man lying stretched across it. When we pulled him aboard the boat he proved to be a young seaman of the name of Hudson, who was so burned and exhausted that he could give us no account of what had happened until the following morning.

"It seemed that after we had left, Prendergast and his gang had proceeded to put to death the five remaining prisoners: the two warders had been shot and thrown overboard,[Pg 406] and so also had the third mate. Prendergast then descended into the 'tween decks, and with his own hands cut the throat of the unfortunate surgeon. There only remained the first mate, who was a bold and active man. When he saw the convict approaching him with the bloody knife in his hand, he kicked off his bonds, which he had somehow contrived to loosen, and rushing down the deck he plunged into the after-hold.

"A dozen convicts who descended with their pistols in search of him found him with a match-box in his hand seated beside an open powder barrel, which was one of a hundred carried on board, and swearing that he would blow all hands up if he were in any way molested. An instant later the explosion occurred, though Hudson thought it was caused by the misdirected bullet of one of the convicts rather than the mate's match. Be the cause what it may, it was the end of the Gloria Scott, and of the rabble who held command of her.

"Such, in a few words, my dear boy, is the history of this terrible business in which I was involved. Next day we were picked up by the brig Hotspur, bound for Australia, whose captain found no difficulty in believing that we were the survivors of a passenger ship which had foundered. The transport ship, Gloria Scott, was set down by the Admiralty as being lost at sea, and no word has ever leaked out as to her true fate. After an excellent voyage the Hotspur landed us at Sydney, where Evans and I changed our names and made our way to the diggings, where, among the crowds who were gathered from all nations, we had no difficulty in losing our former identities.

"The rest I need not relate. We prospered, we travelled, we came back as rich Colonials to England, and we bought country estates. For more than twenty years we have led peaceful and useful lives, and we hoped that our past was for ever buried. Imagine, then, my feelings when in the seaman who came to us I recognised instantly the man who had been picked off the wreck! He had tracked us down somehow, and had set himself to live upon our fears. You will understand now how it was that I strove to keep peace with him, and you will in some measure sympathize with me in the fears which fill me, now that he has gone from me to his other victim with threats upon his tongue.

"Underneath is written, in a hand so shaky as to be hardly legible, 'Beddoes writes in cipher to say that H. has told all. Sweet Lord, have mercy on our souls!'

"That was the narrative which I read that night to young Trevor, and I think, Watson, that under the circumstances it was a dramatic one. The good fellow was heart-broken at it, and went out to the Terai tea planting, where I hear that he is doing well. As to the sailor and Beddoes, neither of them was ever heard of again after that day on which the letter of warning was written. They both disappeared utterly and completely. No complaint had been lodged with the police, so that Beddoes had mistaken a threat for a deed. Hudson had been seen lurking about, and it was believed by the police that he had done away with Beddoes, and had fled. For myself, I believe that the truth was exactly the opposite. I think that it is most probable that Beddoes, pushed to desperation, and believing himself to have been already betrayed, had revenged himself upon Hudson, and had fled from the country with as much money as he could lay his hands on. Those are the facts of the case, Doctor, and if they are of any use to your collection, I am sure that they are very heartily at your service."[Pg 407]


By Arthur Morrison and J. A. Shepherd


There is a certain coolness, almost to be called a positive want of cordiality, between snakes and human beings. More, the snake is never a social favourite among the animals called lower. Nobody makes an intimate friend of a snake. Popular natural history books are filled and running over with anecdotes of varying elegance and mendacity, setting forth extraordinary cases of affection and co-operation between a cat and a mouse, a horse and a hen, a pig and a cockroach, a camel and a lobster, a cow and a wheelbarrow, and so on; but there is never a snake in one of these quaint alliances. Snakes do not do that sort of thing, and the anecdote-designer's imagination has not yet risen to the feat of compelling them, although[Pg 408] the stimulus of competition may soon cause it. The case most nearly approaching one of friendship between man and snake known to me is the case of Tyrrell, the Zoo snake keeper, and his "laidly worms." But, then, the friendship is mostly on Tyrrell's side, and, moreover, Tyrrell is rather more than human, as anyone will admit who sees him hang boa constrictors round his neck. Of course one often hears of boys making pets of common English snakes, but a boy is not a human creature at all; he is a kind of harpy.


The prairie marmot and the burrowing owl come into neighbourly contact with the rattlesnake, but the acquaintance does not quite amount to friendship. The prairie marmot takes a lot of trouble and builds a nice burrow, and then the owl, who is only a slovenly sort of architect himself, comes along and takes apartments. It has never been quite settled whether or not the lodger and the landlord agree pleasantly together, but in the absence of any positive evidence they may be given credit for perfect amiability; because nobody has found traces of owl in a dead marmot's interior, nor of marmot in an owl's. But the rattlesnake is another thing. He waits till the residence has been made perfectly comfortable, and then comes in himself; not in the friendly capacity of a lodger, but as a sort of unholy writter—a scaly man-in-possession. He eats the marmot's family and perhaps the marmot himself: curling himself up comfortably in the best part of the drawing-room. The owl and his belongings he leaves severely alone; but whether from a doubt as to the legality of distraining upon the goods of a lodger, or from a certainty as to the lodger's goods including claws and a beak, naturalists do not say. Personally, I incline very much to the claw-and-beak theory, having seen an owl kill a snake in a very neat and workmanlike manner; and, indeed, the rattlesnake sometimes catches a Tartar even in the marmot.

It isn't terror of the snake that makes him unpopular; the most harmless snake never acquires the confidence of other creatures; and one hesitates to carry it in his hat. This general repugnance is something like backing a bill or paying a tailor—entirely a matter of form. Nothing[Pg 409] else has sympathy with the serpent's shape. When any other animal barters away his legs he buys either fins or wings with them; this is a generally-understood law, invariably respected. But the snake goes in for extravagance in ribs and vertebræ; an eccentric, rakish, and improper proceeding; part of an irregular and raffish life. Nothing can carry within it affection, or even respect, for an animal whose tail begins nowhere in particular, unless it is at the neck; even if any creature may esteem it an animal at all that is but a tail with a mouth and eyes at one end. Dignify the mouth and eyes into a head, and still you have nothing wherewith to refute those who shall call the snake tribe naught but heads and tails; a vulgar and raffish condition of life, of pot-house and Tommy-Dod suggestion.


And this is why nothing loves a snake. It is not because the snake is feared, but because it is incomprehensible. The talk of its upas-like influence, its deadly fascination, is chiefly picturesque humbug. Ducks will approach a snake curiously, inwardly debating the possibility of digesting so big a worm at one meal; the moving tail-tip they will peck at cheerfully. This was the sort of thing that one might have observed for himself years ago, here at the Zoo; at the time when the snakes lived in the old house in blankets, because of the unsteadiness of the thermometer, and were fed in public. Now the snakes are fed in strict privacy lest the sight overset the morals of visitors; the killing of a bird, a rabbit, or a rat by a snake being almost a quarter as unpleasant to look upon as the killing of the same animal by a man in a farmyard or elsewhere. The abject terror inspired by the presence of a snake is such that an innocent rat will set to gnawing the snake's tail in default of more[Pg 410] usual provender; while a rabbit placed with a snake near skin-shedding time will placidly nibble the loose rags of epidermis about the snake's sides.


The pig treats the snake with disrespect, not to say insolence; nothing, ophidian or otherwise, can fascinate a pig. If your back garden is infested with rattlesnakes you should keep pigs. The pig dances contemptuously on the rattlesnake, and eats him with much relish, rattles and all. The last emotion of the rattlesnake is intense astonishment; and astonishment is natural, in the circumstances. A respectable and experienced rattlesnake, many years established in business, has been accustomed to spread panic everywhere within ear and eye shot; everything capable of motion has started off at the faintest rustle of his rattles, and his view of animal life from those expressionless eyes has invariably been a back view, and a rapidly diminishing one. After a life-long experience of this sort, to be unceremoniously rushed upon by a common pig, to be jumped upon, to be flouted and snouted, to be treated as so much swill, and finally to be made a snack of—this causes a feeling of very natural and painful surprise in the rattlesnake. But a rattlesnake is only surprised in this way once, and he is said to improve the pork.


As a tour de force in the gentle art of lying, the snake-story is justly esteemed. All the records in this particular branch of sport are held in the United States of America, where proficiency at snakes is the first qualification of a descriptive reporter. The old story of the two snakes swallowing each other from the tail till both disappeared; the story of the snake that took its own tail in its mouth and trundled after its victim like a hoop; the story of the man who chopped a snake in half[Pg 411] just as it was bolting a rat, so that the rat merely toddled through the foremost half and escaped—all these have been beaten out of sight in America. At present Brazil claims the record for absolute length of the snakes themselves; but the Yankee snake-story man will soon claim that record too. He will explain that each State pays a reward for every snake killed within its own limits; but that there are always disputes between the different States as to payment; because most of the snakes killed are rather large, crawling across several States at once.

Here, among a number of viperine snakes of about the same size, is a snake that lives on eggs. He is about as thick as a lead pencil, but that doesn't prevent his swallowing a large pigeon's egg whole, nor even a hen's egg at a pinch. It dislocates his jaw, but that is a part of his professional system, and when the business is over he calmly joints up his jaw again and goes to sleep. He is eccentric, even for a snake, and wears his teeth on his backbone, where they may break the egg-shell so that he may spit it away. When he first stretched his head round an egg, the viperine snakes in the same case hastily assumed him to be a very large tadpole; and since tadpoles are regarded with gastronomical affection by viperine snakes, they began an instant chase, each prepared to swallow the entire phenomenon, because a snake never hesitates to swallow anything merely on account of its size. When finally the egg-swallower broke the egg, and presented to their gaze the crumpled shell, the perplexed viperines subsided, and retired to remote corners of the case to think the matter over and forget it—like the crowd dispersed by the circulating hat of the street-conjurer.




Familiarity with the snake breeds[Pg 412] toleration. He is a lawless sort of creature, certainly, with too many vertebræ and no eyelids; but he is not always so horrible as he is imagined. A snake is rather a pleasant thing to handle than otherwise. Warm, firm, dry, hard and smooth on the scales, rather like ivory to the touch. He is also a deal heavier than you expect. When for good behaviour I have been admitted to Tyrrell's inner sanctum here, and to the corridors behind the lairs, where hang cast skins like stockings on a line, I have handled many of his pets. I have never got quite as far as rattlesnakes, because rattlesnakes have a blackguardly, welshing look that I don't approve. But there is a Robben Island snake, about five feet long, with no poison, who is very pleasant company. It is a pity that these snakes have no pet names. I would suggest The Pirate as a suitable name for any snake from Robben Island.

For anybody who has been bitten by a cobra, or a rattlesnake, or a puff-adder, there are many remedies, but few people who can recommend them from personal experience. It is to be feared that most of them unfortunately die before writing their testimonials. Perhaps they were too long deciding which thing to take. The most famous of these remedies, and probably the best, on the whole, is to get excessively drunk. It is expensive to get drunk after a poisonous snake-bite, because something in the veins fortifies the head against the first bottle or two of whisky. Getting drunk before the bite won't do, although there would appear to be a very widely prevalent impression that it will, and a very common resolve to lay up a good store of cure against possible accidents in the future. This may be misdirected prudence, and nothing else, but there is often a difficulty in persuading a magistrate to think so.


The snake will be eccentric, even in the matter of its eggs. Most snakes secure originality and independence in this matter by laying eggs like an elongated tennis-ball—eggs covered with a sort of white parchment or leather instead of shell. All the rest go further, and refuse to lay eggs at all.

The snake insists on having his food fresh; you must let him do his own killing. Many carry this sort of fastidiousness so far as to[Pg 413] prefer taking it in alive, and leaving it to settle matters with the digestive machinery as best it may. A snake of this sort has lost his dinner before now by gaping too soon; a frog takes a deal of swallowing before he forgets how to jump.



It is well to remember what to do in case of attack by a formidable snake. If a boa constrictor or a python begin to curl himself about you, you should pinch him vigorously, and he will loosen his folds and get away from you. Some may prefer to blow his head off with a pistol, but it is largely a matter of taste, and one doesn't want to damage a good specimen. The anaconda, however, who is the biggest of the constrictors, won't let go for pinching; in this case the best thing is not to let him get hold of you at all. Tobacco-juice will kill a puff-adder. If you come across a puff-adder, you should open his mouth gently, remembering that the scratch of a fang means death in half an hour or so, and give him the tobacco-juice in a suitable dose; or you can run away as fast as possible, which is kinder to the snake and much healthier for yourself.

By far the biggest snake here is the python, in the case opposite the door; he is more than twenty feet long, and is seriously thinking of growing longer still. Tyrrell picks him up unceremoniously by the neck and shoves him head first into a tank of water, when he seems to need a little stir and amusement. I think, perhaps, after all, the most remarkable being exhibited in the reptile house is Tyrrell. I don't think much of the Indian snake-charmers now. See a cobra raise its head and flatten out its neck till it looks like a demoniac flounder set on end; keep in mind that a bite means death in a few minutes; presently you will feel yourself possessed with a certain respect for a snake-charmer who tootles on a flute while the thing crawls about him. But Tyrrell comes along, without a flute—without as much as a jew's-harp—and carelessly grabs that cobra by the neck and strolls off with it wherever he thinks it ought to go, and you believe in the European after all. He is a most enthusiastic[Pg 414] naturalist, is Tyrrell. He thinks nothing of festooning a boa constrictor about his neck and arms, and in his sanctum he keeps young crocodiles in sundry watering-pots, and other crawling things in unexpected places. You never quite know where the next surprise is coming from. I always feel doubtful about his pockets. I shouldn't recommend a pickpocket to try them, unless he really doesn't mind running against a casual rattlesnake. Tyrrell is the sort of man who is quite likely to produce something from his cap and say: "By-the-bye, this is a promising youngster—death adder, you know. And here," taking something else from his coat or vest pocket, "is a very fine specimen of the spotted coffin-filler, rather curious. It isn't very poisonous—kills in an hour or so. Now, this," dragging another from somewhere under his coat, "is rather poisonous. Deadly grave-worm—kills in three seconds. Lively little chap, isn't he? Feel his head." Whereat you would probably move on.


[Pg 415]

Types of English Beauty.

From Photographs by Alex. Bassano, 25, Old Bond Street, W.

Types of English Beauty.

[Pg 416]

Types of English Beauty.

[Pg 417]

Types of English Beauty.

[Pg 418]


(From the French of Gustave Guesviller.)

"The young are eager for martyrdom."

A Story for Children.


y friends make fun of my weakness for the colour of yellow.

I confess that I adore it, notwithstanding that I have good reason to detest it. Truly, human nature is a bundle of contradictions!

I love yellow because of a certain episode in my life which occurred when I was but eight years of age. I love nankeen above all on account of a jacket of that material, which played in that episode an important part.

Ah! that jacket of nankeen!


How came it about that I was smitten with the insane desire of possessing such a thing? The cause is not far to seek. It was Love!

Love in a child of eight? Why not? You will see presently that I speak without any exaggeration.

At that now distant time we resided at Auxerre.

I knew how to read, write, and count. For the further progress of my education I was sent to a small day-school, kept by two maiden ladies—humble, gentle souls, who in affectionate care for their pupils satisfied in some degree their instinct of maternal tenderness.

Poor Demoiselles Dulorre!

Our school, which had been placed under the pious patronage of Saint Elisabeth, was a mixed one. That is to say, up to the age of ten years, boys and girls worked and played together. In spite of occasional quarrels, the system, on the whole, worked very well.

I had not been eight days at Saint Elisabeth's before I fell in love. Do not laugh! I loved with all the strength of my child-nature, with a love disinterested, simple, sincere.

It was Georgette whom I loved, but, alas! Georgette did not love me.

How much I suffered in consequence! I used to hide myself in corners, shedding many tears, and racking my brains to find some means of pleasing the obdurate fair one. Labour in vain, a thankless task, at eight years of age or at thirty!

To distinguish myself in my studies, to win[Pg 419] by my exemplary conduct the encomiums of the sisters Dulorre—all this made no impression upon cruel Georgette. She made no secret of her preference for a dull, idle, blustering fellow of nine years old, who won all the races, who could fling a ball farther than anyone else, carry two huge dictionaries under his arm, and administer terrible thumps.

This hero was rightly nicknamed Met-à-Mort.

I knew what his blows were like, having been the involuntary recipient of some of them. Some, do I say? I had received more than a dilatory donkey on the road to the fair!

And Georgette had only laughed!

Obviously, it was absurd to think of employing physical force against my redoubtable rival, and intellectual superiority in this case availed me nothing. I determined, therefore, to annihilate Met-à-Mort by my overpowering magnificence.

Naturally, our parents did not send us to school attired in our best clothes. On the contrary, most of us wore there our oldest and shabbiest garments. Consequently, I opined that it would be no difficult achievement to outshine all my schoolfellows.

I should have to coax my parents into loosening their purse-strings, and get them to buy me a beautiful new jacket.

It took me a very long time to decide what colour this jacket should be. I mentally reviewed all the colours of the rainbow. Red tempted me; but I doubted whether a jacket of that colour would be attainable. Should it be blue, green, indigo, violet? No! Not one of these colours was sufficiently striking.

I paused at yellow. That might do. It is a rich colour; there is something sumptuous and royal about it. Summer was approaching. I decided finally upon a jacket of nankeen.

Without delay, I set to work on my school garments. It was a work of destruction, for I wanted to make them appear as disreputable as possible. I slyly enlarged the holes, wrenched off the buttons, and decorated my person lavishly with spots and stains of all kinds. Day by day I watched, with a secret joy, the rapid progress of this work of dilapidation.

In what I judged to be an opportune moment, I timidly expressed my desire.

I had to do more—much more than that—before I could obtain my will. I begged, stormed, grumbled, sulked. I became almost ill with hope deferred. At length, for the sake of peace, my parents granted my eccentric wish.

It was a proud moment for me when, for the first time, I arrayed myself in that resplendent nankeen jacket, won at the cost of so many struggles and persevering efforts. Standing before the mirror, I surveyed myself admiringly for a full hour. I was grand! superb!

"Ah! my Lord Met-à-Mort! You will find yourself ousted at last! My shining jacket will soon snatch from you the prestige acquired by your stupid, brute force. Georgette, astonished, fascinated, dazzled, and delighted, will run towards me, for I shall now be the handsomest boy in the school. Met-à-Mort will weep for chagrin, as I have so often wept for jealousy and mortification."

Such were my complacent reflections as, with the stride of a conqueror, I entered the precincts of our school.

Alas for my rose-coloured anticipations! I was greeted with a broadside of laughter. Even our gentle mistress, Ermance Dulorre, could not repress a smile, and, above all other voices, I heard that of Georgette, who cried mirthfully:—

"Oh! look at him! Look at him! He is a canary-bird!"[Pg 420]

The word was caught up instantly. All the scholars shouted in chorus: "He is a canary! A canary!"

Words fail me to describe my bitter disappointment, my burning shame and chagrin. I saw my folly now. But it was too late—the awful deed was done! Worse than all, in order to obtain this now odious jacket, I had spoiled all my other jackets, and had nothing else to wear! When, on the evening of that most miserable day, I told my troubles to my father and mother, they were merely amused, and said to me:—

"It is entirely your own fault. You insisted upon having the jacket, and now you must put up with it!"

Thus was I condemned to the perpetual wearing of my yellow jacket, which entailed upon me no end of petty miseries.

Every day, at school, I was jeered at and insulted. Even the babies of three years—sweet, blue-eyed, golden-haired cherubs—pointed at me with their tiny fingers, and lisped, "Canary! Canary!"


How was I to extricate myself from this extremely unpleasant situation? One upper garment still remained to me—an old, thick, heavy, winter mantle. The idea occurred to me that I might utilize this to conceal my too gorgeous plumage. We were now in the month of June, and the weather was tropical. No matter! In class and playground, I appeared buttoned up in my big cloak, bathed in perspiration, but happy in having hidden my shame.

To Mademoiselle Ermance's expression of surprise, I answered that I had a cold. I did not deviate widely from the truth. Two days later, thanks to this over-heating, I had a very real one.

The device did not serve me long. My parents found me out, and promptly deprived me of my protecting shell, thus obliging me to attend school again in the costume of a canary. The former annoyances re-commenced.

Vacation time was at hand, and Georgette, of whom I was more enamoured than ever, remained still cold and indifferent.[Pg 421]

One day we were playing the game of brigands and gendarmes. I was one of the gendarmes, who were invariably beaten.

Met-à-Mort had nominated himself captain of the brigands, and chose Georgette for his vivandière.

Presently, for a few minutes there was a suspension of hostilities. Brigands and gendarmes fraternized, as they quenched their thirst, and expatiated upon the joys of the fray. Suddenly Georgette, with her accustomed vivacity, broke in upon our little group. She bore in her hands a glass ink-bottle.

"See!" said her sweet voice. "Whoever will drink this ink shall, by-and-by, be my little husband!"

Met-à-Mort and the rest exploded with laughter.

When we resumed our game, I discovered that I had lost all interest in it. Georgette's words haunted me.

Cries of joy arose from our camp. The enemy's vivandière had been captured. I was told off to guard the prisoner; you may guess whether I was happy!


Georgette tried bribery.

"Oh! let me go! let me go! and I will give you ten pens."

Much I cared for her pens!

"Did you mean what you said just now, mademoiselle?" I timidly inquired.


"That whoever would drink the ink should be your little husband?"

"Yes, stupid! But let me go—"

"Then it is true?"

"Of course it is. Let me go!"

She was growing impatient. For a moment I hesitated; then I said:—

"Run away quickly! nobody can see us."

She did not need telling twice. As swiftly as her feet could carry her, she ran off to the enemy's camp.

I was a double-dyed traitor. After conniving at my captive's escape I deserted.

"Can it indeed be true?" I pondered. "Have I only to drain that phial of ink in order to become Georgette's husband some day? She said so, and she must know!"

I went to look for the ink-bottle, which the child had carried back into the schoolroom. There I stood contemplating the black, uninviting-looking liquid.

Not for a single moment did I dream of swallowing the loathsome stuff in the girl's presence. It did not occur to me that she ought to be a witness of my sacrifice, or that she had demanded it as a proof of love. My idea was rather that the beverage was a sort of love-philtre, such as I had read of in my book of fairy tales. She had said: "Whoever will drink the ink shall be my husband."

Faugh! the bottle was full to overflowing. How nasty it looked! Never mind! So much the better! I should have liked it to have been nastier still.

I closed my eyes, and raised the bottle to my lips.

"What are you about, you dirty little thing?" exclaimed a voice from behind me, at the same instant that I received a smart blow upon my uplifted arm.

Covered with confusion, I turned, and beheld Mademoiselle Ermance, who had surprised me in my singular occupation.

"What is the meaning of this nonsense?" said she, with unwonted severity.

I had no time to explain. Just at that moment my schoolfellows came trooping in. Georgette seeing me standing there, ink-stained and disgraced, and already—the coquette!—forgetful of her promise, exclaimed, with a face of disgust:[Pg 422]

"Oh, the dirty boy! The nasty, dirty boy!"


Everything, however, has its bright side. Mademoiselle Ermance's tap and my own start of surprise, had jerked the ink-bottle from my grasp; my yellow jacket was literally flooded! I was rid of it at last!

It was to Georgette that I owed this happy deliverance. I thank her for it to-day! What has become, I wonder, of that lovely child? Does she ever think now of those old times? How often have I dreamed of her! I have forgiven her for the tears which she caused me to shed. Her charming face dwells always in my mind as a pure ray from the bygone light of youth. I am not her husband, and probably never shall be. I am resigned to my fate, which I richly deserve, because——

I did not drink the ink![Pg 423]

The Queer Side of Things.

The Queer Side of Things.

Old Joe's Picnic


t was all old Joe Wilkings's notion, every ounce of it: you see, there never was anybody anywhere to compare with old Joe for "go." He was goey, was old Joe—but I'll tell you.

Old Joe had been laid up with rheumatism and gout—ah! and asthma, that's more—for a matter of eleven weeks; pretty bad he'd been too, and everybody had said he would never pull through, being, you see, ninety-seven, and a wooden leg in, that he'd lost in the Crimean War; at least, not the wooden one, for he'd found that in the loft over the stable years ago and taken to it.

Well, old Joe was sunning himself in his wicker chair in the front garden, propped up with pillows and things; and he'd just finished his beef-tea, when he begins to chuckle so, in an internal kind of manner, that the last drop going down got startled and separated from the others on ahead, and tried to turn back, and got in a panic, so that it nearly choked old Joe, who got purple in the face, and had to be thumped.

He'd no sooner got right than he began to chuckle again, but luckily that last drop had got further down now, and wedged in among its comrades, so that it only heard the chuckles faintly, and kept quiet this time.

"Whatever is the matter, grandfather?" said Kate.

"Matter?" said old Joe. "Nothing's the matter. You don't understand the ways of young 'uns, nor their methods neither. When youth chuckles, it's a sign of good spirits and healthy. If you must know, I was thinking we might have a picnic—just like we used to have sixty years back—"

"Ah! that would be nice," said Kate.

"Not you," said old Joe. "No young 'uns in it—they're too slow. No; I and Georgie Worble, and his aunt Susan, and her mother, and—"

"Why," said Kate, "Mr. Worble hasn't walked from one room to another without assistance for—"

"I know—seven years," said old Joe, "and he's seventy-six; and his aunt Susan's seventy-one; and his aunt Susan's mother's ninety-two, and bedridden—but I tell you what: it's all fudge and the undue influence of imagination—that's the whole story. Georgie W. can get up if he likes; and his aunt Susan's bronchitis and paralytic strokes are all fudge; and as to her mother being bedridden—pooh! we'll just see; and if she doesn't dance just as well as me——"


"Ah—we'll have a dance, of course—we used to have a dance always; finished up with a dance. I've been thinking—and I don't mind telling you—that this imagination and fudge is making us all old before our time; and I'm not going to stand any more of it, and that's all about it."

With that old Joe Wilkings waved his stick and jumped up—that's what he did; and he ninety-seven years and nine weeks! Talk about greyness![Pg 424]

Kate stared, and all the neighbours stared, and Mrs. Widdlcombe's pug next door stared so that its eyes nearly fell out, as old Joe trotted quickly out of the garden and down the street, and trotted up Mr. Worble's steps, and tapped at the door like a boy that means to run away; and when they opened the door, up he ran to old Worble's room, and toddled in.


And now comes in old Joe Wilkings's other remarkable quality—his influence over others. It was all the outcome of his wonderful determination—the influence of mind over matter. He could bamboozle anyone, could Joe—it was for all the world like magic.

Old Worble was drooping over the fire in his big chair, into which he had been put hours before.

What did old Joe do but go right up and slap him on the back in that hearty way that old Worble went as near screaming as his weak state would let him!

"Get up, Georgie Worble," shouted old Joe," and come round with me to Sam Waggs to arrange about that picnic!"

Old Worble crooned and doddered, and feebly repeated "Picnic?"

"Ah, picnic, young 'un; and you've just hit it. But GET UP, I say!"

And, if you'll believe it, the third time old Joe Wilkings shouted "Get up" in that voice of his, a-staring straight at Worble all the time, old Worble did slowly get up and stood, doddering, but without support.

"Don't you stand a-doddering at me like that as if you were a decrepit old idiot instead of a boy; but just reach down your hat and bustle along," said old Joe; and if Worble, after looking feebly and hopelessly up at the hat on the high peg—the hat he had not worn for years—didn't hop up on a wooden chair and fetch it down, and dash it on his head, and then toddle downstairs and into the street arm-in-arm with old Joe!

If people had stared when old Joe came out of his garden, what did they do now when he and old Worble went dancing down the street arm-in-arm, both of 'em chuckling like mad and chattering like magpies?

At the corner they met old Peter Scroutts in a bath-chair. Peter had a paralyzed leg, and was so feeble that he could hardly wink his eye, and so deaf that it was all he could do to hear with an ear-trumpet as big as the cornucopia belonging to the wooden young lady over the provision stores.

"Just you step out and walk!" roared old Joe in the ear-trumpet. And the queer thing is that old Peter did begin to get out; and not only began, but went on; and stood on the pavement; and then took Joe's arm; and the three went careering down the street together!

The whole place came out to stare open-mouthed at those three old boys bouncing down the street together.

Half-way down old Joe Wilkings stopped with a jerk, and turned on old Peter.

"What, in the name of goodness, do you want with that trumpet machine?" he roared. "A young 'un like you! Lookee here—let's get rid of it." And Joe snatched the ear-trumpet out of his hand, and jerked it over a shed into the field behind. It was a good long jerk; and most of the young men of the place would have been proud to do it.

"Can hear just as well as I can; that's what you can do! Can't he, young George?"

Old Peter looked dazed; but old Joe stood nodding at him so decisively that old George took it up and nodded decisively[Pg 425] too; and they were so convincing about the matter that old Peter began to believe he could hear; and from that moment, if you'll believe me, he did hear quite comfortably!


Then the inhabitants collected in little knots, and talked the matter over; and decided that there must be something wrong, in the witchcraft line; and shook their heads doubtfully; but those three old boys trotted into the "Bun and Bottle" and ordered—ah! and drank off—a pint of beer apiece; a thing they had not done those ten years. Drank it off at a draught, if you'll believe me.

Well, then they went the round and beat up all the old folks of that place to bid them to the picnic. Those old people stared, and shook their heads, and scoffed; but old Joe Wilkings hadn't talked to them for five minutes before they were up on their feet and trotting about as if they were acrobats, though perhaps it's hard to believe.

"We'll have a row on the river," said old Joe; "and then we'll picnic on the bank, and see who can climb trees best; and then we'll have a room at an hotel, and finish up with a dance, and just show 'em how it ought to be done."


I tell you he had to busy himself, had old Joe, to keep them up to it; for as soon as he had been away from any one of them a few hours that one would begin to collapse again, and think he or she was as weak as ever; but Joe wouldn't allow this; all day long he was here and there among them applying the spur, bullying them into getting up and dancing, and roaring with indignation at the idea of their being old. He made them practise their steps, and while those who possessed crutches were doing it, he sneaked off with the crutches and concealed them.[Pg 426] He wouldn't even allow them sticks, wouldn't old Joe—not he.

Old Worble's aunt Susan got quite young and skittish; and as for old Worble's aunt Susan's mother, who was bedridden, up she had to get on old Joe Wilkings's third visit, and had to toddle across the room. He drilled her—kept on at it; he was there twice a day; and every time she had to get out of bed and toddle across the room. Had to live in her dressing-gown, and could get no peace for the life of her; but, bless you, in ten days she had begun to believe that she had never been bedridden at all, and that it was all fancy! And all in consequence of that strange influence of old Joe Wilkings; that awful determination of his.


Then there were the provisions to prepare for that picnic; and old Joe would insist upon the old folks preparing them. He wouldn't have any young people in it—not he. He was here, there, and everywhere, compelling them to superintend the cooking of the joints and pies—for he was not going to have any beef-tea or arrow-root or pap at the picnic, but all good solid food for robust people.

Well, the eventful day came; and there were the old folks collected at the railway station with their hampers and bags. The whole population of younger folks had turned out to see them off; but not a single one of them was to go, for old Joe wouldn't have anyone under the age of sixty-five, as he said children were always a trouble at an outing. And, what's more, his word seemed to be law, and that was the long and the short of it.

The young people shook their heads forebodingly, and said they didn't know what on earth would come of it all, that they didn't; and they only hoped uncle and aunt and grandfather would come back all right!

But the train came in, and in hopped the old parties, and away they went.

Old Joe Wilkings had his work cut out now, with a vengeance and all: for as soon as they had got away from the younger folks who usually took care of them, they began to think it was all over with them and to give way; but Joe Wilkings roared and shouted at them, and chuckled and threatened until he had brought them all round again. There wasn't to be a single bath-chair, or crutch, or even a stick.

Then they got out at the station they had settled on; and old Joe insisted on their carrying the hampers among them down to the river: and, what's more, he chose a way across the fields where there were a lot of stiles to get over; and he made 'em do it, if you'll credit it. Old George Worble's aunt, Susan's mother, pretended she couldn't, and sat down and wept: but Joe Wilkings had her on her feet again in a twinkling; and over she had to go somehow.

Then old Peter Scroutts began to give way and grizzle for his bath-chair and ear-trumpet, but when old Joe threatened to fight him if he went on about that nonsense, why, he just had to behave himself.

Our doctor had made up his mind that something dreadful was bound to come of the whole thing, and sneaked after them by the next train; but when Joe caught him following them, he was so angry and furious about it, that the doctor was afraid he would have an apoplectic fit unless he went away as Joe commanded him to. So he retired; and[Pg 427] subsequently dressed himself as a rustic, and smeared his face so that he might not be recognised, and hung about the party, offering to carry things, and so on. But if old Joe Wilkings did not spot him after all; and got in such a rage that the doctor thought it best to retreat while he had a whole skin, and get back safely home.

So you see old Joe was a terrible fellow, and that determined it's awful to think about.


Well, they went on the river, and they rowed little races among themselves; and old Ben Jumper and old Tobias Budd upset their boat, skylarking—both of 'em being just turned eighty—and went in, and were very nearly drowned. However, they were hauled out and made to run about, and taken into a cottage, and rubbed down, and dressed up in borrowed clothes; and with a good jorum of brandy-and-water apiece, why, in half an hour they were as right as trivets, if you'll believe me!

The cold collation was a great success; and then the old boys had a smoke, and were all as jolly as sand-boys. But, suddenly, one of 'em looked round and said, "Why, where's old Joe Wilkings?" And after ten minutes, when old Joe did not turn up, all those old folks began to shake their heads doubtfully and dismally, and the old boys dropped their pipes, and the old ladies began to weep and whinnick.


For old Joe Wilkings, being wild-like with merriment, had gone in pretty heavily for the champagne and stuff, and had got a bit mixed, as you might say, and he had gone off a little way to get some dry wood to make a fire to boil the kettle over, and then he hadn't seemed to be able to recollect which was his way back; and had wandered and wandered off in quite the wrong direction; and at last he had got drowsy and fallen asleep in a dry ditch with his wooden leg on the lower rail of a fence; and then a local policeman[Pg 428] who didn't know him had taken charge of him and trotted him off to Winklechurch, which was the nearest village.

And those old people at the picnic got more and more depressed and feeble and helpless; and some of 'em broke down completely, and wept and doddered; for you see the influence of old Joe Wilkings's determination was rapidly giving out. And at last, after the doctor had waited anxiously at the railway station for them, and hour after hour went by without any signs of them, he decided to look them up at any cost; and at eleven that night he found them all sitting there on the bank of the river that depressed and helpless you can't imagine. Not a single one of them all had had the courage to move, and their fright and despair were perfectly fearful. And a nice trouble he had to get them home—had to send for flys, and bath-chairs, and litters, and goodness alone knows what all!

Well, then they had to find old Joe Wilkings, and mighty anxious they were about him; and a nice tramp they had up hill and down dale before they discovered him; and when they did, they found him rolled up in a shawl on the policeman's hearthrug, for, of course, Mr. Podder, the policeman, was not going to lock up the likes of an old boy of his age. Joe Wilkings had recovered a bit now, and he was that pugnacious he wanted to fight Mr. Podder and all those that had come to find him; and what should he do but put his back against Mr. Podder's parlour-wall (smashing the glass of the chromo of "Little Red Riding-Hood" that was hanging up), and invite the lot to "Come on."

However, they quieted him down and got him home at last; and when he'd got home he was that dismal and depressed from the reaction that he sat in his armchair all day and did nothing but grumble and burst into tears, for, you see, he'd overdone it, and it was bound to tell upon him. But after that all his natural pluck and determination got hold of him again, and if he wasn't mad to have that dance that they had been balked of!

Out he went to beat up all the old folks again; but most of 'em were ill in bed—none the better for that picnic, I can tell you, though, luckily, it had been a lovely day and night, as warm as toast, so that they hadn't come to much harm beyond the exhaustion.

The younger people of the houses where he called met him with black looks enough, you may be sure, but old Joe Wilkings wasn't the sort to be daunted by that sort of thing; and bless me if he didn't succeed in getting at most of those old parties again, and even getting some of them out of bed and putting them through their paces as before.


It was really getting serious, so Mr. Sarme, the vicar, and Mr. Weazle, the curate, and Doctor Pillikin (who lived in the house with the brown shutters then, before he moved next door to the stores) went and tried to get him out of the houses and make him keep quiet; but old Joe roared at them that way that they were glad to get away home again in despair.

Ah, he was a plucky one, was old Joe!

Well, he persevered and kept at it until he had persuaded all those old parties to get[Pg 429] up a dance in the schoolroom; they were to have printed programmes, and champagne, and everything in style—for Joe had a bit of money, and was as free as you like with it, and meant to stand a good deal more than his share of the expenses.

Then the vicar and Doctor Pillikin consulted with the squire—the squire and the vicar being justices of the peace—whether they hadn't better give old Joe in charge and lock him up out of harm's way; for he was getting a regular firebrand, don't you see; and they were afraid he'd be the death of those old folks. But, after they'd consulted, they couldn't hit on any legal excuse for charging him—(not that that little obstacle mostly stands in the way of justices of the peace)—and they had to give that up.

When the day arrived for the ball—for they called it a "ball" now, bless you—all the young people agreed together to lock the old parties in their rooms to prevent them going; but bless me if old Peter Scroutts and old George Worble, and one or two other desperate characters didn't manage to get out somehow, being so under the influence of Joe; and when the hour came for the dance, there they were at the schoolroom!

And they—about nine of them—began dancing too, and a regular strange kind of a hobble it was, as ever was seen: but at last the squire and the vicar and Doctor Pillikin went down with the sergeant and a constable and pretended that a new Act had been passed making it illegal to dance after nine o'clock, and cleared the hall, with Joe dinging away at 'em the whole time, and made the old folks go home.


Next day Joe Wilkings was going to do all manner of things—going up to London to consult a solicitor in Lincoln's Inn, and appeal to the High Courts, and give the squire and the rest of 'em penal servitude at Botany Bay, and all manner; but he'd caught such a cold at that ball that he had to take to his bed again, in spite of all his determination; and when he got up again after three weeks he had lost the use of his one leg, and was so weak he hadn't the heart to do anything. He was in a bad way for a long time, but they say he's getting better again now; and I've heard tell that the squire and that lot are beginning to get nervous again, as there's no knowing when he'll break out.

He's a tough one, is old Joe Wilkings, and, if you'll believe me, he'll make it hot for 'em yet!

J. F. Sullivan.

[Pg 430]


[Pg 431]


[Pg 432]



Found at Preston, and Photographed by Mr. Luke Berry, of Chorley.

Right—The above Photograph of a curious potato was taken by the late Mr. Fox, and sent to us by Mr. J. S. Clarke, of New Wandsworth.


[Pg 433]

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Strand Magazine,  Volume V, Issue
28, April 1893, by Various


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