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WITHIN THE TIDES
J. H. DENT i
WITHIN THE TIDES
VI) ^^ij JOSEPH CONRAD
Go, make yon ready.
Hamlet to iht Players.
LONDON * TORONTO
J. M. DENT & SONS LTD.
Mr. and Mrs. RALPH WEDGWOOD
WIS A, OF CAR..,|ttB ANTB-BIUUH PACK
«N ORAniOn, «,R TH„, CHARWKO HOSP.TAL.Ty
IN TBI LAST MONTH OP PEACE
The Planter of Maiata . ,
The Pastner .
iHE Inn of the Two Witches
Because of the Doliaes
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
In the private editorial office of the principal news-
paper in a great colonial city two men were talking
They were both young. The stouter of the two.
fair, and with more of an urban look about him'
was the editor and part-owner of the important
The other's name was Renouard. That he was
exercised in his mind about something was evident
on his fine bronzed face. He was a lean, lounging,
active man. The journalist continued the conver-
"And so you were dining yesterday at old
He used the word old not in the endearing sense
in which it is sometimes applied to intimates, but
as a matter of sober fact. The Dunster in question
was old. He had been an eminent colonial states-
man, but had now retired from active politics after
a tour in Europe and a lengthy stay in England
durmg which he had had a very good press indeed.
The colony was proud of him.
4 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
"Yes. I dined there," said Renouard. "Young
Dunster asked me just as I was going out of his
office. It seemed to be like a sudden thought.
And yet I can't help suspecting some purpose be-
hind it. He was very pressing. He swore that
his uncle would be very pleased to se? me. Said
his imcle had mentioned lately that the granting
to me of the Malata concession vas the last act of
his official life."
" Very touching. The old boy sentimentalises
over the past now and then."
" I really don't know why I accepted," coutinued
the other. " Sentiment does not move me very
easily. Old Dunster was civil to me of course, but
he did not even inquire how I was getting on with
my silk plants. Forgot there was such a thing
probably. I must say there were more people
there than I expected to meet. Quite a big party."
" I was asked," remarked thu newspaper man.
" Only I couldn't go. But when did you arrive
from Malata? "
" I arrived yesterday at daylight. I am anchored
out there in t^^ bay — off Garden Point. I was in
Dunster's office before he had finished reading his
letters. Have you ever seen young Dunster read-
ing his letters? I had a glimpse of him through
the open door. He holds the paper in both handb.
hunches his shoulders up to his ugly ears, and brings
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 5
his long nose and his thick Hps on to it like a suck-
ing apparatus. A commereial monster."
"Here we don't consider him a monster." said
the newspaper man looking at his visitor thought-
" Probably not. You are used to see his face
ajid to see other faces. I don't know how it is
that when I come to town, the appearance of the
people m the street strike me with such force.
They seem so awfuUy expressive."
" And not charming."
"WeU-no. Not as a rule. The effect is for-
cible without being clear. ... I know that you
thmk It's because of my soUtaiy mamier of Ufe
"Yes. I do think so. It is demoraUsing. You
don t see any one for months at a stretch. You're
leading an unhealthy life."
The other hardly smiled and muir- red the
admi^ion that true enough it was a gc eleven
months since he had been in town last.
"You see," insisted the other. "Solitude
works like a sort of poison. And then you
perceive suggestions in face^mysterious and
forcible, that no sound man would be bothered
with. Of course you do."
Geoffi-ey Renouard did not tell his journalist
fnend that the suggestions of his own face, the face
6 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
of a friend, bothered him as much as the others.
He detected a degrading quality in the touches of
age which every day adds to a human countenance.
They moved and disturbed him, like the signs of
a horrible inward travail which was irightfully
apparent to the fresh eye he had brought from his
isolation in Malata, where he had settled after five
strenuous years of adventure and exploration.
" It's a fact," he said, " that when I am at home
in Malata I see no one consciously. I take the
plantation boys for granted."
" Well, and we here take the people in the streets
for granted. And that's sanity."
The visitor said nothing to this for fear of
engaging a discussion. What he had come to seek
in the editorial office was not controversy, but
information. Yet somehow he hesitated to
approach the subject. Solitary life makes a man
reticent in respect of anything in the nature of
gossip, which those to whom chatting about their
kind is an everyday exercise regard as the com-
monest use of speech.
" You very busy? " he asked.
The Editor making red marks on a long sUp of
printed paper threw the pencil down.
"No. I am done. Social paragraphs. This
offict; is the place where everjrthing is known about
everybody— including even a great deal of nobodies.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 7
Queer feUows drift in and out of this room. Waifs
and strays from home, from up-country, from the
Pacific. And, by the way, last time you were here
you picked up one of that sort for your assistant—
"I engaged an assistant only to stop your
preaching about the evils of solitude," said
Renouard hastily; and the pressman laughed at
the half-resentful tone. His laugh was not very
loud, but his plump person shook all over. He was
aware that his younger friend's deference to his
advice was based only on an imperfect beUef in
his wisdom— or his sagacity. But it was he who
had first helped Renouard in his plans of explom-
tion: the five-years' programme of scientific adven-
ture, of work, of danger and endurance, carried out
with such distinction and rewarded modestly with
the lease of Malata island by the ugal colonial
government. And this reward, too, had been
due to the journalist's advocacy with word and
pen— for he was an influential man in the com-
munity. Doubting very much if Renouard reaUy
liked him, he was himself without great sympathy
for a certain side of that man which he could not
quite make out. He only felt it obE>ji,rely to be
his real personaUty— the true— and, perhaps, the
absurd. As, for instance, in that utse of the assist-
ant. Renouard had given way to the arguments
8 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
of his friend and backer— the aigiunent against
the unwholesome effect of solitude, the argument
for the safety of companionship even if quarrel-
some. Very well. In this dociUty he was sensible
and even likeable. But what did he do next?
Instead of taking counsel as to the choice with his
old backer and friend, and a man, btsides, knowing
everybody employed and unemployed on the pave-
ments of the town, this extraordinary Renouard
suddenly and ahnost surreptitiously picked up a
fellow— God knows who— and sailed away with
him back to Malata in a hurry; a proceeding obvi-
ously ra«h and at the same time not quite straight.
That was the sort of thing. The secretly unfor-
giving journalist laughed a little longer and then
ceased to shake all over.
" Oh, yes. About that assistant of yours. . . ."
" What about him," said Renouard, after wait-
ing a while, with a shadow of uneasiness on his face.
" Have you nothing to tell me of him? "
"Nothing except. . . ." Incipient grimness
vanished out of Renouard's aspect and his voice,
while he hesitated as if reflecting seriously before
he changed his mind. "No. Nothing whatever."
" You haven't brought him along with you by
chance — for a change."
The Planter of Malata stared, then shook his
head, and finally murmured carelessly: " I think
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 9
he's very weU where he is. But I wish you could
teU me why young Dunster insisted so much on
my dining with his uncle last night. Everybody
knows I am not a society man."
The Editor exclaimed at so much modesty.
Didn't his friend know that he was their one and
only exploier-that he was the man experimentinR
with the silk plant
" StiJl, that doesn't teU me why I was invited
yesterday. For young Dunster never thought of
this civility before. . . ."
" Our WiUie." said the popular journalist, " never
does anything without a purpose, that's a fact."
" And to his uncle's house tool "
" He lives there."
" Yes. But he might have given me a feed
somewhere else. The extraordinary part is that
the old man did not seem to have anything special
to say. He smiled kindly on me once or twice
and that was all. It was quite a party, sixteen
The Editor then, after expressing his regret that
he had not been able to come, wanted to know if the
party had been entertaining.
Renouard regretted that his friend had not been
there. Being a man whose business or at least whose
profession was to know everything that went on in
this part of the globe, he could probably have told
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
him something of some people lately anived from
home, who were amongst the guests. Young
Dunster (Willie), with his large shirt front and
streaks of white skin shining unpleasantly through
the thin black hair pkutered over the top of his
head, bore down on him and introduced him to that
party, as if he had been a trained dog or a child
phenomenon. Decidedly, he said, he disliked
Willie — one of these large oppressive men. . . .
A silence fell, and it was as if Renouard were not
going to say anything more when, suddenly, he
came out with the real object of his visit to the
" They looked to me like people under a spell."
The Editor gazed at him appreciatively, thinlrin g
that, whether the effect of solitude or not, this was
a proof of a sensitive perception of the expression
" You omitted to tell me their name, but I can
make a guess. You mean Professor Moorsom,
his daughter and sister— don't you? "
Renouard assented. Yes, a white-haired lady.
But from his silence, with his eyes fixed, yet avoid-
ing his friend, it was easy to guess that it was not
in the white-haired lady that he was interested.
" Upon my word," he said, recovering his usual
bearing. " It looks to me as if I had been asked
there only for the daughter to talk to me."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
He did not conceal that he had been greatly
•truck by her appearance. Nobody could have
helped being impressed. She was different from
everybody else in that house, and it was not only
the effect of her London clothtr He did not take
her down to dinner. Willie did that. It was
afterwards, on the tentice. . . .
The evening was delightfully cahn. He was
sitting apart and alone, and wishing himself some-
where else— on board the schooner for choice, with
the dinner-harness off. He hadn't exchanged
forty words altogether during t le evening with the
other guests. He saw her sudtlenly aU by herself
coming towards him along the dimly hghted
terrace, quite from a distance.
She was taU and supple, carrying nobly on her
straight body a head of a character which to
him appeared pecuUw, something— well— pagan,
crowned with a great wealth of hair. He had been
about to rise, but her decided approach caused him
to remain on the seat. He had not looked much
at her that evening. He had not that freedom of
gaze acquired by the habit of society and the
frequent meetings with strangers. It was not
shyness, but the reserve of a man not used to
the world and to the practice of covert staring,
with careless curiosity. AU he had captured by
his arst. keen, instantly lowered, glance was the
M THE PLANTER OF KALATA
impreidon that her hair was magnificently red
and her eyes very blaclc. It was a troubling effect,
but it had been evanescent; he had forgotten it
ahnost till very unexpectedly he saw her coming
down the terrace slow and eager, as if she were
restraining herself, and with a rhythmic upward
undulation of her whole figure. The light from an
open window fell across her path, and suddenly all
that mass of arranged hair appeared incandescent,
chiselled and fluid, with the daring suggestion of
a hehnet of burnished copper and the f -.ving lines
of molten metal. It kindled in him an astonished
admiration. But he said nothing of it to his friend
the Editor. Neither Jid he tell him that her
approach woke up in his brain the image of love's
infinite grace and the sense of the inexhaustible
joy that lives in beauty. No I What he imparted
to the Editor were no emotions, but mere facts
conveyed in a deliberate voice and in uninspired
" That young lady came and sat down by me.
She said: ' Are you French, Mr. Rti.ouard? ' "
He had brcthed a whifi of perfume of which he
said nothing either— of some perfume he did not
know. Her ^oice was low and distinct. Hjr
shoulders and her bare arms gleamed with an
extraordinary spJendour, and when she advanced
her head into the hght he saw the admirable con-
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 13
tour of the face, the straight fine noM with delicate
nortrU, the exquisite crimson brushstroke of the
lips on this oval without colour. The expression of
the eyes was lost in a shadowy mysterious play of
jet and silver, stirring under the red coppery gold
of the hair as though she had been a being made of
ivory and precious metals changed into Uving tissue.
"... I told her my people were living in Canada,
but that I was brought up in England before
conung out here. I can't imagine what interest
she could have in my history."
" And you complain of her interest? "
The accent of the aU-knowing journalist seemed
to jar on the Flant-r of Malata.
" No I " he said, in a deadened voice that was
ahnost suUen. But after a short silence he went
on- "Very extraordinary. I told her I came out
to wander at large in the world when I was nine-
teen, ahnost directly after I left school. It seems
that her late brother was in the same school a
couple of years before me. She wanted me to tell
her what I did at first when I came out her ; what
other men found to do when they can i out-
where they went, what was Ukely to happen to
them-as if I could guess and foreteU from my
experience the fates of men who come out here
with a hundred different projects, for hmidreds of
different reasons-for no reason but restlessness-
X4 THE PLANTER OF JIALATA
who come, and go, and disappear I Preposterous.
She seemed to want to hear their histories. I told
her that most of them were not worth teUing."
The distinguished journalist leaning on his elbow,
his head resting against the knuckles of his left
hand, listened with great attention, but gave no
sign of that surprise which Renouard, pausing,
seemed to expect.
"You knowsomething," the latter said brusquely.
The all-knowing man moved his head slightly and
said, " Yes. But go on."
" It's just this. There is no more to it. I found
ms^self talking to her of my adventures, of my early
dajre. It couldn't possibly have interested her.
Really," he cried, "this is most extraordinary.
Those people have something on their minds. We
sat in the Ught of the window, and her father
prowled about the terrace, with his hands behind
his back and his head drooping. The white-
haired ladycame to the dining-room window twice —
to look at us I am certain. The other guests began
to go away— and still we sat there. Apparently
these people are staying with the Dunsters. It was
old Mrs. Dunster who put an end to the thing.
The father and the aunt circled about as if they
were afraid of interfering with the girl. Then she
got up all at once, gave me her hand, and said she
hoped she would see me again."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 15
Wlnle he was speaking Renouard saw again ihe
sway of her figure in a movement of grace and
strength— felt the pressure of her hand— heard the
last accents of the deep murmur that came from
her throat so white in the Ught of the window, and
remembered the black rays of her steady eyes
passing ofi his face when she turned away. He
remembered aU this visuaUy, and it was not exactly
pleasurable. It was rather startling like the dis-
covery of a new faculty in himself. There are
faculties one would rather do without— such, for
instance, as seeing through a stone wall or re-
membering a person with this uncanny vividness.
And what about those two people belonging to her
with their air of expectant soUcitudel Really,
those figures from home got in front of one. In
fact, their persistence in getting between him and
the solid f onns of the everyday material world had
driven Renouard to call on his friend at the office.
He hoped that a littie common, gossipy informa-
tion would lay the ghost of that unexpected dinner-
party. Of course the proper person to go to would
have been young Dunster, but he couldn't stand
Willie Dunster— not at any price.
In the pause the Editor had changed his attitude
faced his desk, and smiled a faint knowing smUe. '
" Striking girl— eh? " he said.
The incongruity of the word was enough to make
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
one jump out of the chair. Striking I That girl
strikingl Stri . . .1 But Renouard restrained his
feelings. His friend was not a person to give one-
self away to. And, after all, this sort of speech
was what he had come there to hear. As, however,
he had made a movement he re-settled himself
comfortably and said, with very creditable in-
difierence, that yes— she was, rather. Especially
amongst a lot of over-dressed fiiunps. There
wasn't one woman under forty there.
" Is that the way to speak of the cream of our
society; the ' top of the basket,' as the French
say," the Editor remonstrated with mock indigna-
tion. " You aren't moderate in your expressions
— ^you know."
" I express mjrself very Uttle," interjected
" I will tell you what you are. You are a fellow
that doesn't count the cost. Of course you are
safe with me, but will you never learn. . . ."
" What struck me most," interrupted the other,
" is that she should pick me out for such a long
"That's perhaps because you were the most
remarkable of the men there."
Renouard shook his head.
" This shot doesn't seem to me to hit the mark,"
he said cahnly. " Try again."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 17
"Don't you believe me? Oh, you modest
Cloture. WeU. let me assure you that under
ordmary circumstances it would have been a good
shot. You are sufficiently remarkable. But you
seem a pretty acute customer too. The circum-
stances are extraordinary. By Jove they arel"
He mused. After a time the Planter of Malata
dropped a negligent—
" And you know them."
"And I know them." assented the aU-knowing
Editor, soberly, as though the occasion were too
special for a display of professional vanity a
vamty so well known to Renouard that its abs^ce
augmented his wonder and almost made him un-
easy as if portending bad news of some sort.
'' You have met those people? " he asked.
" No. I was to have met them last night, but
I had to send an apology to Willie in the morning
It was then that he had the bright idea to invife
you to fill the place, from a muddled notion that
you could be of use. Willie is stupid sometimes.
For It IS dear that you are the last man able to
" How on earth do I come to be mixed up in
this-whatever it is?" Renouard's voice was
shghtly altered by nervous iiritation. "I only
arrived here yesterday morning."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
His friend the Editor turned to him squarely.
" Willie took me into consultation, and since he
seems to have let you in I may just as well tell you
what is up. I shall try to be as short as I can.
But in confidence — ^mindl "
He waited. Renouard, his uneas" 'ess growing
on him unreasonably, assented by a nod, and the
other lost no time in beginning. Professor Moor-
som — physicist and philosopher — fine head of
white hair, to judge from the photographs— plenty
of brains in the head too — all these famous books —
surely even Renouard would know. . . .
Renouard muttered moodily that it wasn't his
sort of reading, and his friend hastened to assive
him earnestly that neither was it his sort — excapt
as a matter of business and duty, for the litdrary
page o.. that newspaper which was his property (and
the pride of his life). The only literary newspaper
in the Antipodes could not ignore the fashionable
philosopher of the age. Not that anybody read
Moorsom at the Antipodes, but everybody had
heard of him — ^women, children, dock labourers,
cabmen. The only person (besides himself) who
had read Moorsom, as far as he knew, was old
Dvuister, who used to call himself a Moorsomian (or
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 19
was it Moorsomite) years and years ago, long before
Mooreom had worked himself up into the great
swell he was now, in every way.... Socially too.
Quite the fashion in the highest world
Renouard Hstened with profoundly concealed
attenbon. " A charlatan," he muttered languidly.
Well-no. I should say not. I shouldn't
wonder though if most of his writing had been done
with his tongue in his cheek. Of course. That's
to be expected. I tell you what: the only really
honest writing is to be fomid in newspapers and
nowhere else— and don't you forget it "
The Editor paused with a basilisk stare till
Renouard had conceded a casual: " I dare say "
and only then went on to explain that old Dunster
durmg his European tour, had been made rather a
Hon of m London, where he stayed with the Moor-
soms-he meant the father and the girl The
profeKor had been a widower for a long time
She doesn't look just a girl." muttered Re-
Had been playmg the London hostess to tip-top
people ever since she put her hair up, probably
I don't expect to see any girlish bloom on
her when I do have the privilege.' he continued.
Those people are staying with the Dunster's incog.
m a manner, you understand-something li
royalties. They don't deceive anybody, but th.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
want to be left to themselves. We have even kept
them out of the paper — to oblige old Dunster.
But we shall put your arrival in — our local
" Heavens. "
" Yes. Mr. G. Renouard, the explorer, whose
indomitable energy, etc., and who is now working
for the prosperity of our country in another way
on his Malata plantation . . . And, by th? by,
how's the silk plant— flourishing? "
" Did you bring any fibre ? "
" I see. To be transhipped to Liverpool for
experimental manufacture, eh? Eminent capital-
ists at home very much interested, aren't they? "
" They are."
A silence fell. Then the Editor uttered slowly—
" You will be a rich man some day."
Renouard's face dia not betray his opinion of
that confident prophecy. He didn't say anything
till his friend suggested in the same meditative
" You ought to interest Moorsom in the afiair
too— since Willie has let you in."
"A philosopher! "
" I suppose he isn't above making a bit of money.
And he may be clever at it for all you know. I
THE PLANTER OF MALATA ai
have a notion that he's a fairly practical old cove
. . Anyhow." and here the tone of the speaker
took on a tinge of respect. " he has made philo-
Renouard raised his eyes, repressed an impulse
to jump up, and got out of the arm-chair slowly
It isn't perhaps a bad idea." he said. " I'U
have to call there in any case."
He wondered whether he had managed to keep
his voice steady, its tone unconcerned enough
for his emotion was strong though it had nothing
to do with the business aspect of this suggest.^
He moved in the room in vague preparation for
depa.1ure, when he heard a soft laugh. He spun
about qmckly with a frown, but the Editor was
not kughing at him. He was chuckling across
the bjg desk at the wall: a preUminaiy of some
speech for which Renouard, recalled to himself
waited silent and mistrustful.
"No! You would never guess! No one would
ever guess what these people are after. Willie's
ey^ bulged out when he came to me with the tale "
They always do," remarked Renouard with
disgust. " He's stupid."
"He was startled. And w was I after he told
me. Its a search party. They are out looking for
a man. Willie's soft heart's enlisted in the caiL "
Renouard repeated: "Looking for a man'"
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
He sat down suddenly as if on purpose to stare.
" Did Willie come to you to borrow the lantern,"
he asked sarcastically, and got up again for no
" What lantern? " snapped the puzzled Editor,
and his face darkened with suspicion. " You,
Renouard, are always alluding to things that
aren't clear to me. If you were in politics, I, as
a party journalist, wouldn't trust you further
than I could see you. Not an inch further. You
are such a sophisticated beggar. Listcsn: the
man is the man Miss Moorsom was engaged to for
a year. He couldn' : uave been a nobody, anyhow.
But he doesn't seem to have been very wise. Hard
luck for the yoTmg lady."
He spoke with feeling. It was dear that what
he had to tell appealed to his sentiment. Yet, as
an experienced man of the world, he marked his
amused wonder. Young man of good family and
connections, going ever5nvhere, yet not merely a
man about town, but with a foot in the two big F's.
Renouard lounging aimlessly in the room turned
round: " And what the devil's that? " he asked
" Why Fashion and Finance," explained the
Editor. "That's how I call it. There are the
three R's at the bottom of the social edifice and
the two F's on the top. See? "
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 23
"Hal Hal Excellent! Hal Ha!" Renouard
laughed with stony eyes.
" And yor proceed from one set to the other in
this democratic age," the Editor went on with
unperturbed complacency. " That is if you are
clever enough. The only danger is in being too
clever. And I think something of the sort hap-
pened here. That swe" I am speaking of got
himself into a mess. Apparently a very ugly mess
j of a financial character. You will understand that
( I Willie did not go into details with me. They were
I not imparted to him with very great abimdance
I either. But a bad mess— something of the
criminal order. Of course he was innocent. But
I h(: had to quit all the same."
I "Ha! Ha!" Renouard laughed again abruptly,
staring as before. " So there's one more big F in
j the tale."
4 "What do you mean?" inquired the Editor
quickly, with an air as if his patent were being
" I mean — Fool."
" No. I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say
" Well— let him be a scoundrel then. What the
devil do I care."
" But hold on! You haven't heard the end of
84 THE PIANTER OF BIALATA
Renouard, his hat on his head already, sat down
with the disdainful smile of a man who had dis-
counted the moral of the story. Still he sat down
and the Editor swimg his revolving chair right
round. He was full of unction.
" Imprudent, I should say. In many ways
money is as dangerous to handle as gunpowder.
You can't be too careful either as to who you are
working with. Anyhow there was a mighty flashy
burst up, a sensation, and — his familiar haunts
knew him no more. But before he vanished he
went to see Miss Moorsom. That very fact argues
for his iimocence— don't it? What was said
between them no man knows — ^unless the professor
had the confidence from his daughter. There
couldn't have been much to say. There was
nothing for it but to let him go— was there? — for
the afiair had got ii>to the papers. And perhaps
the kindest thing would have been to forget him.
Anyway the easiest. Forgiveness would have
been more difficult, I fancy, fyr a young lady of
spirit and position drawn into an ugly afiair like
that. Any ordinary young lady, I mean. Well,
the fellow asked nothing better than to be forgotten,
only he didn't find it easy to do so himself, because
he would write home now and then. Not to any
of his friends though. He had no near relations.
The professor had been his guardian. No, the poor
THE PLANTER OF MALATA aj
devil wrote now and then to an old retired butler
of his late father, somewhere in the country, for-
bidding him at the same time to let any one know
of his whereabouts. So that worthy old ass would
go up and dodge about the Moorsom's town house,
perhaps waylay Miss Moorsom's maid, and then
would write to ' Master Arthur ' that the young
lady looked weU and happy, or some such cheerful
intelligence. I dare say he wanted to be forgotten,
but I shouldn't think he was much cheered by the
news. What would you say? "
Renouard, his legs stretched out and his chin on
his breast, said nothing. A sensation which was
not curiosity, but rather a vague nervous anxiety,
distinctly unpleasant, like a mysterious symptom
of some malady, prevented him from getting up
and s^ing a^vay.
" Mixed feeli^s." the Editor opined. " Many
fellows out here -eceive news from home with
mixed feelings. But what will his feelings be
when he hears ;vhat I am going to tell you now?
For we know he has not heard yet. Six months
ago a city clerk, just a common drudge of finance,
gets himself convicted of a common embezzlement
or something of that kind. Then seemg he's in
for a long sentence he thinks of making his con-
science comfortable, and makes a clean breast of
an old story of tampered with, or else suppressed.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
documents, a story which clears altogether the
honesty of our ruined gentleman. That embez-
zling fellow was m a position to know, having been
employed by the firm before the smash. There
was no doubt about the character being cleared —
but where the cleared man was nobody could tell.
Another sensation in society. And then Miss
Moorsom says: ' He will come back to claim me,
and I'll marry him.' But he didn't come back.
Between you and me I don't think he was much
wanted — except by Miss Moorsom. I imagine
she's used to have her own way. She grew
impatient, and deckred that if she knew where the
man was she would go to him. But all that could
be got out of the old butler was that the last
envelope bore the postm^ji: of our be:.utiful city;
and that this was the only address of ' Master
Arthur' that he ever had. That and no more.
In fact the fellow was at his last gasp — with a bad
heart. Miss Moorsom wasn't allowed to see him.
She had gone herself into the country to learn what
she could, but she had to stay downstairs while
the old chap's wife went up to the invaUd. She
brought down the scrap of intelligence I've told
you of. He was aheady too far gone to be cross-
examined on it, and that very night he died. He
didn't leave behind him much to go by, did he?
Our Willie hinted to me that there had been pretty
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 37
itotmy days in the professor's house, but-Jiere
they are. I have a notion she isn't the Idnd of
everyday young lady who may be permitted to
gallop about the wo Id all by herself— eh ? Well, I
think it rather fine of her, but I quite understand
that the professor needed all his philosophy under
the circumstances. She is his only child now—
and brilliant— what? Willie positively spluttered
trying to describe her to me; and I could see
dmscUy you came in that you had an uncommon
Renouard, with an irritated gesture, tilted his
hat more forward on his eyes, as though he were
bored. The Editor went on w..h the remark that
to be sure neither he (Renouard) nor yet Willie
were much rsed to meet girls of that remarkable
superiority. Willie when learning business with
a firm in London, years before, had seen none but
boarding-house society, he guessed. As to him-
self in the good old dajrs, when he trod the glorious
flags of Fleet Street, he neither had access to, nor
yet would have cared for the sweUs. Nothing
interested him then but parliamentary politics
and the oratory of the House of Commons.
He paid to this not very distant past the tribute
of a tender, reminiscent sm'V,, and returned to
his first idea that for a society girl her action was
rather fine. All the same the professor could not
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
be very pleased. The fellow if he was as pure as
a lily now was just about as devoid of the goods of
the earth. And there were misfortunes, however
undeserved, which damaged a man's standing per-
manently. On the other hand, it was diificult to
oppose cynically a noble impulse— not to speak of
the great love at the root of it. Ah! Love! And
then the lady was quite capable of going off by
herself. She was of age, she had money of her own,
plenty of pluck too. Moorsom must have con-
cluded that it was more truly paternal, more
prudent too, and generally safer all round to let
himself be dragged into this chase. The aunt
came along for the same reasons. It was given
out at home as a trip round the world of the usual
Renouard had risen and remained standing
with his heart beating, and strangely affected by
this tale, robbed as it was of all glamour by the
prosaic personality of the narrator. The Editor
added: " I've been asked to help in the search—
Renouard muttered something about an appoint-
ment and went out into the street. His inborn
sanity could not defend him from a misty creeping
jealousy. He thought that obviously no man of
that sort could be worthy of such a woman's
devoted fidelity. Renouard, however, had lived
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 29
long enough to reflect that a man's activities, his
viaws, and even his ideas may be very inferior to
bis wiiaracter; and moved by a delicate considera-
tio.i for that splendid girl he tried to think out for
the man a character of inward excellence and out-
ward gifts— some extraordinary seduction. But in
vain. Fresh from months of solitude and from days
at sea, her splendour presented itself to him abso-
lutely unconquerable in its perfection, unless by her
own folly. It was easier to suspect her of this than
to imagine in the man qualities which would be
worthy of her. Easier and less degrading. Because
folly may be generous— could be nothing else but
generosity in her; whereas to imagine her sub-
jugated by something common was intolerable.
Because of the force of the physical impression
he had received from her personality (and such
impressions are the real origins of the deepest
movements of our soul) this conception of her was
even inconceivable. But no Prince Charming has
ever lived out of a fairy tale. He doesn't walk
the worlds of Fashion and Finance— and with a
stumbling gait at that. Generosity. Yes. It
was her generosity. But this generosity was
altogether regal in its splendour, ahnost absurd in
in its lavishness— or, perhaps, divine.
In the evening, on board his schooner, sitting on
the rail, his arms folded on his breast and his eyes
30 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
fixed on the deck, he let the darkness catch him
unawares in the midst of a medita'don on the
mechanism of sentiment and the springs of passion.
And all the time he had an abiding consciousness of
her bodily presence. The effect on his senses had
been so penetrating that in the middle of the
night, rousing up suddenly, wide-eyed in the dark-
ness of his cabin, he did not create a faint mental
vision of her person for himself, but, more intim-
ately affected, he scented distinctly the faint per-
fume she used, and could almost have sworn that he
had been awakened by the soft rustle of her dress.
He even sat up listening in the dark for a time, then
sighed and lay down again, not agitated but, on
the contrary, oppressed by the sensation of some-
thing that had happened to him and could not be
In the afternoon he lounged into the editorial office,
carrying with affected nonchalance that weight of
the irremediable he had felt laid on him suddenly
i-- the small hours of the night— that consciousness
of something that could no longer be helped. His
patronising friend informed him at once that he
had made the acquaintance of the Moorsom party
last night. At the Dunsters, of course. Dinner.
-«^37 w. *
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 31
"Very quiet. Nobody there. It \ras much
better for the business. I say . . ."
Renouard, his hand grasping the back of a chair,
stared down at him dumbly.
" Phew! That's a stunning girl Why do
you want to sit on that chair? It's uncomfort-
" I wasn't going to sit on it." Renouard walked
slowly to the window, glad to find in himself
enough self-control to let go the chair instead
of raising it on high and bringing it down on the
" Willie kept on gazing at her with tears in his
boiled eyes. You should have seen him bending
sentimentally over her at dinner."
" Don't," said Renouard in such an anguished
tone that the Editor turned right round to look at'
"You push your disUke of young Dunster too far.
It's positively morbid," he disapproved mildly.
" We can't be all beautiful after thirty. ... I
talked a Uttle, about you mostly, to the professor.
He appeared to be interested in the silk plant— if
only as a change ffom the great subject. Miss
Moorsom didn't seem to mind when I confessed to
her that I had taken you into the confidence of the
thing. Our Willie approved too. Old Dunster
with his white beard seemed to give me his blessing.
3a THE PLANTER OF MALATA
All those people have a great opinion of you,
simply because I told them that you've led every
sort of Ufe one can think of before vou got struck
on explorption. They want you to make sugges-
tions. What do you thick 'Master Arthur' is
likely to have taken to? "
" Sometiiing easy," muttered Renouard without
unclenching his teeth.
" Hunting man. Athlete. Don't be hard on
the chap. He may be riding boundaries, or drov-
ing cattle, or humping his swag afjout the back-
blocks away to the devil— somewhere. He may
be even prospecting at the back of beyond— this
" Or lying dead drunk in a roadside pub. It's
late enough in the day for that."
The Editor looked up instinctively. The clock
was pointing at a quarter to five. " Yes, it is," he
admitted. " But it needn't be. And he may have
lit out into the Western Pacific all of a sudden-
say in a trading schooner. Though I really don't
see in what capacity. Still . . ."
" Or he may be passing at this very moment
under this very window."
" Not he . . . and I wish you would get away
from it to where one can se« your face. I hate
talking to a man's back. You stand tb^re like
a hermit on a sea-shore growling to yom'self.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 33
I teU you what it is. GeofErey. you don't like
" I don't make my living by talking about man-
kind's afiairs," Renouard defended himself. But he
came away obediently and sat down in the arm-
chair. " How can you be so certain that your man
isn't down there in the street? " he asked. " It's
neither more nor less probable than every single
one of your other suppositions."
Placated by Renouard's docility the Editor
gazed at him for a whUe. "Aha! I'll teU you
how. Learn then that we have begun the cam-
paign. We have telegraphed his description to
the police of every township up and down the land.
And what's more we've ascertained definitely that
he hasn't been in this town for the last three
months at least. How much longer he's been away
we can't tell."
" That's very curious."
" It's very simple. Miss Moorsom wrote to him.
to the post office here, dkectly she returned to
Londo^ after her excursion into the country to
see the old butler. WeU-her letter is still lying
there. It has not been called for. Ergo, this
town is not his usual abode. Personally, I never
thought it was. But he cannot fail to turn up
some time or other. Our main hope lies just in
the certitude that he must come to town sooner or
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
later. Remember he doesn't know that the butler
is dead, and he will want to inquire for a letter.
Well, he'll find a note from Miss Moorsom."
Renouard, silent, thought that it was likely
enough. His profound distaste for this conversa-
tion was betrayed by an afr of weariness darkening
his energetic sun-tanned features, and by the
augmented dreaminess of his eyes. The Editor
noted it as a further proof of that immoral detach-
ment from mankind, of that callousness of senti-
ment fostered by the unhealthy conditions of
soUtude— according to his own favourite theory.
Aloud he observed that as long as a man had not
given up correspondence he could not be looked
upon as lost. Fugitive criminals had been tracked
in that way by justice, he reminded his friend;
then suddenly changed the bearing of the subject
somewhat by asking if Renouard had heard from
his people lately, and if every member of his large
tribe was well and happy.
" Yes, thanks."
The tone was curt, as if repelling a Uberty.
Renouard did not Uke being asked about his people,
for whom he had a profound and remorseful affec-
tion. He had not seen a single human being to
whom he was related, for many years, and he was
extremely different from them all.
On the very morning of his arrival from his
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 35
island he had gone to a set of pigeon-holes in
Willie Dunster's outer office and had taken out
from a compartment labellod " Malata " a very
small accumulation of envelopes, a few addressed
to himself, and one addressed to his assistant, all
to the care of the finn, W. Dunster and Co. As
opportunity offered, the firm used to send them on
to Malata either by a man-of-war schooner going
on a cruise, or by some trading craft proceeding
that way. But for the last four months there had
been no opportunity.
" You going to stay here some time? " asked
the Editor, after a longish silence.
Renouard, perfunctorily, did see no reason why
he should make a long stay.
"For health, for your mental health, my boy,"
rejoined the newspaper man. "To get used to
human faces so that they don't hit you in the eye
so hard when you walk about the streets. To get
friendly with your kind. I suppose that assistant
of yours can be trusted to look after things?"
" There's the half-caste too. The Portuguese.
He knows what's to be done."
"Aha I" The Editor looked sharply at his
friend. " What's his name ? "
" Who's name? "
" The assistant's you picked up on the sly behind
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
Renouaid made a slight movement of impatience.
" I met him unexpectedly one evening. I
thought he would do as well as another. He had
come from up country and didn't seem happy in a
town. He told me his name was Walter. I did
not ask him for proofs, you know."
" I don't think you get on very well with him."
" Why ? What makes you think so."
" I don't know. Something reluctant in your
manner when he's in question."
" Really. My maimer I I don't think he's a
great subject for conversation, perhaps. Why not
drop him? "
" Of course ! You wouldn't confess to a mistake.
Not you. Nevertheless I have my suspicions
Renouard got up to go, but hesitated, looking
down at the seated Editor.
" How funny," he said at last with the utmost
seriousness, and was making for the door, when the
voice of his friend stopped him.
" You know what has been said of you? That
you couldn't get on with anybody you couldn't
kick. Now, confess— is there any truth in the soft
" No," said Renouard. " Did you print that
in your paper."
" No. I didn't quite believe it. But I will tell
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 37
you what I believe. I believe that when your
heart is set on some object you are a man that
doesn't count the cost to yourself or others. And
this shall get printed some day."
"Obituary notice?" Renouard dropped negli-
" Certain— some day."
" Do you then regard yourself as immortal? "
" No, my boy. I am not immortal. But the
voice of the press goes on for ever And it will
say that this was the secret of your great success
in a task where better men than you— meaning no
offence— did fail repeatedly."
"Success," muttered Renouard, pulling-to the
office door after him with considerable energy.
And the letters of the word Private like a row of
white eyes seemed to stare after his back sinking
down the staircase of that temple of publicity.
Renouard had no doubt that aU the means of
publicity would be put at the service of love and
used for the discovery of the loved man. He did
not wish him dead. He did not wish him any
harm. We are aU equipped with a fund of humanity
which is not exhausted without many and repeated
provocations— and this man had done him no evil.
But before Renouard had left old Dunster's house,
at the conclusion of the call he made there that
very afternoon, he had discovered in himself the
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
desire that the search might last long. He never
really flattered himself that it might fail. It
seemed to him that there was no other course in
this world for himself, for all mankind, but resig-
nation. And he could not help thinking that
Professor Moorsom had arrived at the same con-
Professor Moorsom, slight frame of middle
height, a thoughtful keen head under the thick
wavy hair, veiled dark eyes under straight eye-
brows, and with an inward gaze which when dis-
engaged and arriving at one seemed to issue from
an obscure dream of books, from the limbo of
meditation, showed himself extremely gracious to
him. Renouard guessed in him a man whom an
incurable habit of investigation and analysis had
made gentle and indulgent; inapt for action, and
more sensitive to the thoughts than to the events
of existence. Withal not crushed, sub-ironic with-
out a trace of acidity, and with a simple manner
which put people at ease quickly. They had a
long conversation on the terrace commanding an
extended view of the town and the harbour.
The splendid immobility of the bay resting under
his gaze, with its grey spurs and shining indenta-
tions, helped Renouard to regain his self-possession,
which he had felt shaken, in coming out on the
terrace, into the setting of the most powerful
THE PLANTER OF M\LATA 39
•motion of his life, when he had sat vnthin a foot
of Miss Moorsom with fire in his breast, a hununing
in his ears, and in a complete disorder of his mind.
There was the very garden seat on which he had
been enveloped in the radiant spell. And pre-
sently he was sitting on it again with the professor
talking of her. Near by the patriarchal Dunster
leaned forward in a wicker arm-chair, benign and
a little deaf, his big hand to his ear with the inno-
cent eagerness of his advanced age remembering
the fires of life.
It was with a sort of apprehension that Renouard
looked forward to seeing Miss Mooreom. And
strangely enough it resembled the state of mind of
a man who fears disenchantment more than sorti-
l^e. But he need not have been afraid. Directly
he saw her in a distance at the other end of the
terrace he shuddered to the roots of his hair.
With her approach the power of speech left him
for a time. Mrs. Dunster and her aunt were
accompanying her. All these people sat down; it
was an intimate circle into which Renouard felt
himself cordiaUy admitted; and the talk was of the
great search which occupied all their minds. Dis-
cretion was expected by these people, but of re-
ticence as to the object of the journey there could
be no question. Nothing but ways and means
and arrangements could be talked about.
40 THE PLANTER OF BtALATA
By fixing his eyes obstinately on the ground,
which gave him an air of reflective sadness,
Renouard managed to recover his self-possession.
He used it to keep his voice in a low key and to
measure his words on the great subject. And he
took care with a great inward effort to make them
reasonable without giving them a discouraging
complexion. For he did not want the quest to be
given up, since it would mean her going away with
her two attendant grey-heads to the other side of
He was asked to come again, to come often and
take part in the counsels of all these people capti-
vated by the sentimental enterprise of a declared
love. On taking Miss Moorsom's hand he looked
up, would have liked to say something, but found
himself voiceless, with his lips suddenly sealed.
She returned the pressure of his fingers, and he left.
her with her eyes vaguely staring beyond , :-.-
air of listening for an expected sound, i. . :
faintest possible smile on her lips, a .^Lc not
for him, evidently, but the reflection of some deep
and inscrutable thought.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
He went on board his schooner. She lay white,
and as if suspended, in the crepuscular atmosphere
of sunset mingling with the ashy gleam of the vast
anchorage. He tried to keep his thoughts as sober,
as reasonable, as measured as his words had been
lest they should get away from him and cause some
sort of moral disaster. What he was afraid of in
the coming night was sleeplessness and the endless
strain of that wearisome task. It had to be faced
however. He lay on his back, sighing profoundly
in the dark, and suddenly beheld his very own self
carrying a small bizarre lamp, reflected in a lon^
mirror inside a room in an empty and unfurnished
palace. In this startling image of himself he
recogmsed somebody he had to follow-the
frightened guide of his dream. He traversed end-
less galleries, no end of lofty halls, innumerable
doors. He lost himself utterly-he found his way
again. Room succeeded room. At last the lamp
went out, and he stumbled against some object
which, when he stooped for it, he found to be
very cold and heavy to lift. The sickly white light
of dawn showed him the head of a statue. Its
marble hair was done in the bold lines of a hehnet
on iU Ups the chisel had left a faint smile, and it
42 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
resembled Miss Moors^m. Whye he was staring
at It fixedly, the head began to grow light in his
fingers, to diminish and crmnble to pieces, and at
last turned into a handful of dust, which was blown
away by a puff of wind so chiUy that he woke up
mih a desperate shiver and leaped headlong out
of his bed-place. The day had reaUy come. He
sat down by the cabin table, and taking his head
between his hands, did not stir for a very Ion*
Very quiet, he set himself to review this dream
The lamp, of course, he connected with the search
for a man. But on closer examination he perceived
that the reflection of himself in the mirror was not
reaUy the true Renouard, but somebody else whose
face he could not remember. In the deserted
palace he recognised a sinister adaptation by his
bram of the long corridors with many doors, in
the great buildmg in which his friend's newspaper
was lodged on the first floor. The marble h^d
with Miss Moorsom's face! Weill What other
face could he have dreamed of? And her com-
pleMon was fairer than Parian marble, than the
heads of angels. The wind at the end was the
morning breeze entering through the open porthole
and touchmg his face before the schooner could
swing to the chilly gust.
YesI And aU this rational explanation of the
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 43
fantastic made it only more mysterious and weird,
niere was something daemonic in that dream
I was one of those experiences which throw a man
out of confonnity with the estabUshed order of
X^^oT ^' "^ ' "-^"" °^ °^-
Henceforth without ever trying to resist, he
went every afternoon to the house where she Kved
He went there as passively as if in a dream. He
could never make out how he had attained the
footmg of mtunacy in the Dunster mansion above
tee bay-whether on the ground of personal merit
or as the pioneer of the vegetable silk industry
in, ^" *'' '^'' "^"^ ""' remember^
^ tmctly, as distinctly as in a dream, hearing old
Wer once telling him that his next public task
would be a careful survey of the Nor^them Dis-
tricts to discover tracts suitable for the cultivation
o the silk plant The old man wagged his beard
athnnsagely. It was indeed as absurd as a dream.
WiUie of course would be there in the evening.
But he was more of a figure out of a nightmre
hoyermg about the circle of chairs inZ dress-'
clothes hke a gigantic, repulsive, and sentimental
th. ,??,r*y^*''*^« beastly cocoons all over
the world," he buzzed in his blurred, water-logged
voice. He affected a great hoiTor of insectsXui
kinds. One evening he appeared with a red flower
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
in his button-hole. Nothing could have been more
disgustingly fantastic. And he would also say to
Renouard: " You may yet change the history of
our country. For economic conditions do shape
the history of nations. Eh? What? " And he
would turn to Miss Moorsom for approval, lowering
protectingly his spatulous nose and looking up with
feeling from under his absurd eyebrows, which grew
thin, in the manner of canebrakes, out of his spongy
skin. For this large, bilious creature was an econo-
mist and a sentimentalist, facile to tears, and a
member of the Cobden Club.
In order to see as Uttle of him as possible Re-
nouard began coming earlier so as to get away
before his arrival, without curtailing too much the
hours of secret contemplation for which he Uved.
He had given up trying to deceive himself. His
resignation was without bounds. He accepted
the immense misfortune of being in love with a
woman who was in search of another man only to
throw herself into his arms. With such desperate
precision he defined in his thoughts the situation,
the consciousness of which traversed like a sharp
arrow the sudden silences of general conversation.
The only thought before which he quailed was the
thought that this could not last ; that it must come
to an end. He feared it instinctively as a sick
man may fear death. For it seemed to him that
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
it must be the death of him followed by a lightless,
bottomless pit. But his resignation was not spared
the torments of jealousy: the cruel, insensate,
poignant, and imbecile jealousy, when it seems that
a woman betrays us simply by this that she exists,
that she breathes — and when the deep movements
of her nerves or her soul become a matter of
distracting suspicion, of killing doubt, of mortal
In the peculiar condition of their sojourn Miss
Moorsom went out "ery little. She accepted this
seclusion at the Dunsters' mansion as in a hermit-
age, and lived there, watched over by a group of
old people, with the lofty endurance of a con-
descending and strong-headed goddess. It was
impossible to say if she suffered from anything
in the world, and whether this was the insensibility
of a great passion concentrated on itself, or a
perfect restraint of manner, or the indifference of
superiority so complete as to be suflftcient to itself.
But it was visible to Renouard that she took some
pleasure in talking to him at times. Was it be-
cause he was the only person near her age? Was
this, then, the secret of his adnussion to the circle?
He admired her voice as well poised as her move-
ments, as her attitudes. He himself had always
been a man of tranquil tones. But the power of
fascination had torn him out of his very nature so
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
completely that to preserve his habitual calmness
from going to pieces had become a terrible effort.
He used to go from her on board the schooner
exhausted, broken, shaken up, as thoiigh he had
been put to the most exquisite torture. When he
saw her approaching he always had a moment of
hallucination. She was a misty and fair creatture,
fitted for invisible music, for the shadows of love,
for the murmurs of waters. After a time (he
could not be always staring at the ground) he would
summon up all his resolution and look at her.
There was a sparkle in the clear obscurity of her
eyes; and when she turned them on him they
seemed to give a new meaning to life. He would
say to himself that another man would have found
long before the happy release of maaness, his wits
burnt to cinders in that radiance. But no such
luck for him. His wits had come . iscathed through
the furnaces of hot suns, of blazing deserts, of
flaming angers against the weaknesses of men and
the obstinate cruelties of hostile nature.
Being sane he had to be constantly on his guard
against falling into adoring silences or breaking
out into wild speeches. He had to keep watch
on his eyes, his limbs, on the muscles of his face.
Their conversations were such as they could be
between these two people: she a young lady fresh
from the thick twilight of four million people and
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 47
the artificiality of several London seasons; he the
man of definite conquering tasks, the familiar of
wide horizons, and in his very repose holdmg aloof
from these agglomerations of units in which one
loses one's importance even to oneself. They had
no common conversational small change. They
had to use the great pieces of general ideas, but
they exchanged them triviaUy. It was no serious
conmierce. Perhaps she had not much of that
coin. Nothing significant came from her. It
could not be said that she had received from the
contacts of the external world impressions of a
personal kind, different from other women. What
was ravishing in her was her quietness and, in her
grave attitudes, the unfailing brilliance of her
femininity. He did not know what there was under
that ivory forehead so splendidly shaped, so
gtoriously crowned. He could not tell what were
her thoughts, her feelings. Her replies were reflec-
tive, always preceded by a short silence, while he
hung on her lips anxiously. He felt himself in the
presence of a mysterious being in whoir spoke an
unknown voice, like the voice of oracles, bringing
everlasting unrest to the heart.
He was thankful enough to sit in silence with
secretly clenched teeth, devoured by jealousy— and
nobody could have guessed that his quiet dtleren-
tial bearing to aU these grey-heads was the supreme
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
effort of stoicism, that the man was engaged in
keeping a sinister watch on his tortures lest ills
strength should fail him. As before, when grap-
pling with other forces of nature, he could find in
himself all sorts of courage except the courage to
It was perhaps from the lack of subjects they
could have in common that Miss Moorsom made
him so often speak of his own life. He did not
shrink from talking about himself, for he was free
from that exacerbated, timid vanity which seals
so many vain-gbrious lips. He talked to her in
his restrained voice, gazing at the tip of her shoe,
and thinking that the time was bound to come
soon when her very inattention would get weary of
him. And indeed on stealing a glance he would
see her dazzling and perfect, her eyes vague, staring
in mournful immobility, with a drooping head that
made him think of a tragic Venus arising before
him, not from the foam of the sea, but from a dis-
tant, still more formless, mysterious, and potent
immensity of mankind.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
One afternoon Renouard stepping out on the
terrace found nobody there. It was for him, at the
same time, a melancholy disappointment and a
The heat was great, the air was still, all the long
windows of the house stood wide open. At the
further end. grouped round a lady's work-table,
several chairs disposed sociably suggested in-
visible occupants, a company of conversing shades.
Renouard looked towards them with a sort of
dread. A most elusive, faint sound of ghostly talk
issuing from one of the rooms added to the illusion
and stopped his already hesitating footsteps. He
leaned over the balustrade of stone near a squat
vase hoWing a tropical plant of a bizarre shape.
Professor Moorsom coming up from the garden
with a book under his arm and a white parasol held
over his bare head, found him there and, closing
the parasol, leaned over by his side with a remark
on the increasing heat of the season. Renouard
assented and changed his position a little; the
other, after a short silence, administered unexpect-
edly a question which, hke the blow of a club on
the head, deprived Renouard of the power of speech
and even thought, but. more cruel, left him quiver-
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
ing with apprehension, not of death but of ever-
lasting torment. Yet the words were extremely
" Something will have to be done soon. We
can't remain in a state of suspended expectation for
ever. Tell me what do you think of our chances ? "
Renouard, speechless, produced a faint smile.
The professor confessed in a jocular tone his
impatience to complete the circuit of the globe and
be done with it. It was impossible to remain
quartered on the dear excellent Dtmsters for an
indefinite time. And then there were the lectures he
had arranged to deliver in Paris. A serious matter.
That lectures by Professor Moorsom were a
European event and that brilliant audiences would
gather to hear them Renouard did not know. All
he was aware of was the shock of this hint of
departure. The menace of separation fell on his
head like a thunderbolt. And he saw the ab-
surdity of his emotion, for hadn't he lived all
these dajrs under the very cloud? The professor,
his elbows spread out, looked down into the garden
and went on unburdening his mind. Yes. The
department of sentiment was directed by his
daughter, and she had plenty of volunteered moral
support; but he had to look after the practical
side of life without assistance.
" I have the less hesitation in speaking tp you
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 51
about my amdety, because I feel you are friendly
to us and at the same time you are detached from
all these sublimities— confound them."
" What do you mean? " murmured Renouard.
" I mean that you are capable of calm judgment.
Here the atmosphere is simply detestable. Every-
body has knuckled under to sentiment. Perhaps
your deliberate opinion could influence . . ."
" You want Miss Moorsom to give it up? "
The professor turned to the young man dismally.
" Heaven only knows what I want."
Renouard leaning his back against the balustrade
folded his arms on his breast, appeared to meditate
profoundly. His face, shaded softly by the broad
brim of a planter's panama hat, with the straight
line of the nose level with the forehead, the eyes lost
in the depth of the setting, and the chin well for-
ward, had such a profile as may be seen amongst
the bronzes of classical museimis, pure under a
crested helmet— recalled vaguely a Minerva's head.
" This is the most troublesome time I ever had
in my Ufe," exclaimed the professor testily.
" Surely the man must be worth it," muttered
Renouard with a pang of jealousy traversing his
breast like a self-inflicted stab.
Whether enervated by the heat or giving way to
pent up irritation the professor surrendered himself
to the mood of sincerity.
ja THE PLANTER OF MALATA
" He began by being a pleasantly dull boy. He
developed into a pointlessly clever young man,
without, I suspect, ever trying to understand any-
thing. My daughter knew him from childhood.
I am a busy man, and I confess that their engage-
ment was a complete surprise to me. I wish their
reasons for that step had been more naive. But
simplicity was out of fashion in their set. From
a worldly point of view he seems to have been a
mere baby. Of course, now, 1 am assured that
he is the victim of his noble confidence in the recti-
tude of his kind. But that's mere idealising of a
sad reaUty. For my part I will teU you that from
the very beginning I had the gravest doubts of his
dishonesty. Unfortunately my clever daughter
hadn't. And now we behold the reaction. No.
To be earnestly dishonest one must be really poor.
This was only a manifestation of his extremely
refined cleverness. The complicated simpleton.
He had an awful awakening though."
In such words did Professor Moorsom give his
" young friend " to understand the state of his
feeUngs toward the lost man. It was evident that
the father of Miss Moorsom wished hun to remain
lost. Perhaps the unprecedented heat of the
season made him long for the cool spaces of the
Pacific, the sweep of the ocean's free wind along
the promenade decks, cumbered with long chairs,
THE PLANTER OF BIALATa 53
of a ship steaming towards the Califomian coast
To Renouard the philosopher appeared simply
Oie most treacherous of fathers. He was amazed
But he was not at the end of his discoveries.
" He may be dead." the professor murmured.
Why? People don't die here sooner than in
Europe. If he had gone to hide in Italy for
mstance, you wouldn't think of saying that."
" Weill And suppose he has become morally
dismtegrated. You know he was not a strong
peraonaUty," the professor suggested moodily.
My daughter's future is in question here "
Renouard thought that the love of such a woman
was enough to pull any broken man together-to
drag a man out of his grave. And he thought this
with mward despair, which kept him sUent as much
ahnost as his astonishment. At last he managed
to stammer out a generous—
" Oh I Don't let us even suppose ..."
li.^ professor struck in with a sadder accent
than before —
" It's good to be yjung. And then you have
been a man of action, and necessarily a believer in
success. But I have been looking too long at hfe
not to distrust its surprises. Agel Agel Here
I stand before you a man full of doubts and hesita-
tion— s^« lentus, tmidusfuturi."
He made a sign to Renouard not to interrupt.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
and in a lowered voice, as if airaid of being over-
heard, even there, in the solitude of the terrace—
" And the worst is that I am not even sure how
far this sentimental pilgrimage is genuine. Yes.
I doubt my own child. It's true that she's a
woman. . . ."
Renouard detected with horror a tone of resent-
ment, as if the professor had never forgiven his
daughter for not dying instead of his son. The
latter noticed the young man's stony stare.
" Ah I you don't understand. Yes, she's clever,
open-minded, popular, and — well, charming. But
you don't know what it is to have moved, breathed,
existed, and even triumphed in the mere smother
and froth of life — the brilliant froth. There
thoughts, sentiments, opinions, feelings, actions
too, are nothing but agitation in empty space — to
amuse life — a sort of superior debauchery, exciting
and fatiguing, meaning nothing, leading nowhere.
She is the creatture of that circle. And I ask my-
self if she is obeying the uneasiness of an instinct
seeking its satisfaction, or is it a revulsion of feel-
ing, or is she merely deceiving her own heart by
this dangerous trifling with romantic images.
And everything is possible— except sincerity, such
as only stark, struggling humanity can know.
No woman can stand that mode of life in which
women rule, and remain a perfectly genuine, simple
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 33
human being Ah' '"•-ere's some people
He moved off a pace, then turning his head:
" Upon my word! I would be infinitely obliged to
you if you could throw a httle cold water . . ." and
at a vaguely dismayed gesture of Renouard, he
added: "Don't be afraid. You wouldn't be
putting out a sacred fire."
Renouard could hardly find words for a protest:
" I assure you that I never talk with Miss Moorsom
—on— on— that. And if you, her father . . ."
" I envy you your innocence," sighed the pro-
fessor. "A father is only an everyday person.
Flat. Stale. Moreover, my cliild would natur-
ally mistrust me. We belong to the same set.
Whereas you carry with you the prestige of the
unknown. You have proved yourself to be a
Thereupon the professor foUowed by Renouard
joined the circle of all the inmates of the house
assembled at the other end of the terrace about a
tea-table; three white heads and that resplendent
vision of woman's glory, the sight of which had the
power to flutter his heart hke a reminder of the
mortahty of his frame.
He avoided the seat by the side of Miss Moorsom.
The others were talking together languidly. Un-
noticed he looked at that woman so marvellous that
56 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
centuries seemed to lie between them. He was
oppressed and overcome at the thought of what
she could give to some man who really would be a
force I What a glorious struggle with this amazon.
What noble burden for the victorious strength.
Dear old Mrs. Dunster was dispensing tea, look-
ing from time to time with interest towards Miss
Moorsom. The aged statesman having eaten a
raw tomato and drunk a glass of milk (a habit of
his early fanning days, long before politics, when,
pioneer of wheat-growing, he demonstrated the
possibility of raising crops on ground looking
barren enough to discourage a magician), smoothed
his white beard, and struck UghUy Renouard's
knee with his big wrinkled hand.
" You had better come back to-night and dine
with us quietly."
He liked this young man, a pioneer, too. in more
than one direction. Mrs. Dunster added: " Do.
It will be very quiet. I don't even know if Willie
will be home for dinner." Renouard murmured
his thanks, and left the terrace to go on board the
schooner. While Ungering in the drawing-room
doorway he heard the resonant voice of old
Dunster uttering oracularly—
"... the leading man here some day. . . . Like
Renouard let the thin summer porti^ of the
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 57
doorway fall behin*^ him. The voice of Professor
Moorsom said —
" I am told that he has made an enemy of abnost
every man who had to work with him."
" That's nothing. He did his work. . . Like
"He never counted the cost they say. Not
even of lives."
Renouard understood that they were talking of
nun. Before he could move away, Mrs. Dunster
struck in placidly—
" Don't let yourself be shocked by the tales you
may hear of him. my dear. Most of it is envy."
Then he heard Miss Moorsom's voice replying to
the old lady- Py^ngro
" Oh ! I am not easily deceived. I think I may
say I have an instinct for truth."
He hastened away from that house with his
heart full of dread.
On board the schooner, lying on the settee on his
back with the knuckles of his hands pressed over
his eyes, he made up his mind that he would not
return to that house for dinner-that he would
never go back there any more. He made up his
mmd some twenty times. The knowledge that he
58 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
had only to go up on the quarter deck, utter
quietly the words: " Man the windlass." and that
the schooner springing into life would nin a
hundred miles out to sea before sunrise, deceived
his struggling will. Nothing easier! Yet, in the
end, this young man, abnost iU-famed for his ruth-
less daring, the inflexible leader of two tragicaUy
successful expeditions, shrank from that act of
savage energy, and began, instead, to hunt for
No! It was not for him to run away like an
incurable who cuts his throat. He finished dress-
ing and looked at his own impassive face in the
saloon mirror scornfully. While being pulled on
shore in the gig, he remembered suddenly the wild
beauty of a waterfaU seen when hardly more than
a boy, years ago, in Menado. There was a legend
of a goveriior-general of the Dutch East Indies,
on official tour, committing suicide on that .spot
by leaping into the chasm. It was supposed that
a painful disease had made him weary of Ufe. But
was there ever a visitation hke his own, at the same
time binding one to Ufe and so crueUy mortal I
The dinner was indeed quiet. Willie, given half
an hour's grace, failed to turn up, and his chair
remamed vacant by the side of Miss Moorsom.
Renouard had the professor's sister on his left,
dressed in an expensive gown becoming her age!
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 59
That maiden lady in her wonderful preservation
reminded Renouard somehow of a wax flower under
glass. There were no traces of the dust of life's
batties on her anywhere. She did not like him
very much in the aft omoons, in his white driU suit
and planter's hat, which seemed to her an unduly
Bohemian costume for calling in a house where
there were ladies. But in the evening, Uthe and
elegant in his dress clothes and with his pleasant,
slightly veiled voice, he always made her conquest
afresh. He might have been anybody distinguished
—the son of u duke. Falling under that charm
probably (and also because her brother had given
her a hint), she attempted to open her heart to
Renouard, who was watching with all the power
of his soul her niece across the table. She spoke
to him as frankly as though that miserable mortal
envelope, emptied of everything but hopeless
passion, were indeed the son of a duke.
Inattentive, he heard her only in snatches, till
the final confidential Durst : "... glad if you would
express an opiniou. Look at her, so charming,
such a great favourite, so generally admired! It
would be too sad. We aU hoped she would make
a brilliant marriage with somebody very rich and
of high position, have a house in London and
in the countoy, and entertain us all splendidly.
She's so eminenUy fitted for it. She has such
60 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
hosts of distinguished friends! And then— this
instead! ... My heart really aches."
Her well-bred if anxious whisper was covered by
the voice of professor Moorsom discoursing subtly
down the short length of the dir^er table on the
Impermanency of the Measurable to his venerable
disciple. It might have been a chapter in a new
and Topular book of Moorsonian philosophy.
Patriarchal and delighted, old Dunster leaned
forward a Uttle, his eyes shining youthfuUy, two
spots of colour at the roots of his white beard;
and Renouard, glancing at the senile excitement,
recaUed the words heard on those subtle Ups.
adopted their scorn for his own. saw their truth
before this man ready to be amused by the side
of the grave. Yes! InteUectual debauchery in
the froth of existence ! Froth and fraud !
On the same side of the table Miss Moorsom never
once looked towards her father, all her grace as if
frozen, her red Ups compressed, the faintest rosi-
ness under her dazzling complexion, her black eyes
burning motionless, and the very coppery gleams
of light lying stiU on the waves and undulation of
her hair. Renouard fancied himself overturring
the table, smashing crystal and china, treading
fruit and flowers under foot, seizing her in his arms,
carrying her off in a tumult of shrieks from all
these people, a silent frightened mortal, into some
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 6i
profound retreat as in the age of Cavern men.
Suddenly everybody got up, and he hastened to
rise too, finding himself out of breath and quite
unsteady on his feet.
On the terrace the philosopher, after lighting a
cigar, slipped his hand condescendingly under his
" dear young friend's " arm. Renouard regarded
him now with the profoundest mistrust. But the
great man seemed really to have a Uking for his
young friend— one of those mysterious sympathies,
disregarding the differences of age and position,
which in this case might have been explained by
the failure of philosophy to meet a very real worry
of a practical kind.
After a turn or two and some casual talk the
professor said suddenly: " My late son was in your
school— do you know? I can imagine that had
he lived and you had ever met yor would have
understood each other. He too was, indined to
He sighed, then, shaking off the mournful thought
and with a nod at the dusky part of the terrace
where the dress of his daughter made a luminous
stain: " I really wish you would drop in that
quarter a few sensible, discouraging words."
Renouard disengaged himself from that most
perfidious of men under the pretence of astonish-
ment, and stepping back a pace—
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
" Surely you are making fun of me, Professor
Moorsom," he said with a low laugh, which was
really a sound of rage.
" My dear young friend! It's no subject for
jokes, to me. . . . You don't seem to have any
notion of your prestige," he added, walking away
towards the chairs.
" Humbug I " thought Renouard, standing still
and looking after him. "And yet I And yet!
Whatif it were true?"
He advanced then towards Miss Moorsom.
Posed on the seat on which they had first spoken
to each other, it was her turn to watch him coming
on. But many of the windows were not lighted that
evening. It was dark over there. She appeared
to him luminous in her clear dress, a figure with-
out shape, a face without features, awaiting his
approach, till he got quite near to her, sat down,
and they had exchanged a few insignificant words.
Gradually she came out like a magic painting of
charm, fascination, and desire, glowing mysteriously
on the dark background. Something impercep-
tible in the lines of her attitude, in the modula-
tions of her voice, seemed to soften that suggestion
of calm unconscious pride which enveloped her
always like a mantle. He, sensitive like a bond
slave to the moods of the master, was moved by
the subtle relenting of her grace to an infinite
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 63
tenderness. He fought down the impulse to seize
her by the hand, lead her down into the garden
away under the big trees, and throw himself at
her feet uttering words of love. His emotion was
so strong that he had to cough slightly, and not
knowng what to talk to her about he began to tell
her of his mother and sisters. All the family were
coming to London to live there, for some Uttle
time at least.
" I hope you will go and tell them something
of me. Something seen," he said pressir-gjy
By this miserable subterfuge, like a man about
to part with his life, he hoped to make her remember
hun a Uttle longer.
"Certainly." she said. "I'UbegladtocaUwhen
I get back. But that ' when ' may be a long time."
He heard a hght sigh. A cruel jealous curiosity
made him ask —
" Are you growing weary. Miss Moorsom ? "
A silence feU on his low spoken question.
"Do you mean heart-weary?" sounded Aliss
Moorsom's voice. " You don't know me, I see."
'• Ahl Never despair," he muttered.
" This, Mr. Renouard, is a work of reparation
I stand for truth here. I can't think of myself " '
He could have taken her by the throat for every
word seemed an insult to his passion; but he only
said — '
64 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
" I never doabted the— the— -nobility of your
" And to hear the word weariness pronounced in
this connection surprises me. And from a man too
who, I imderstand, has never counted the cost."
" You are pleased to tease me," he said, directly
he had recovered his voice and had mastered his
anger. It was as if Professor Moorsom had dropped
poison in his ear which was spreading now and
tainting his passion, his very jealousy. He mis-
trusted every word that came from those lips on
which his life himg. " How can you know any-
thing of men who do not count the cost ? " he asked
in his gentlest tones.
" From hearsay — a little."
" Well, I assure you they are Uke the others,
subject to suffering, victims of spells. . . ."
" One of them, at least, speaks very strangely."
She dismissed the subject after a short silence.
" Mr. Renouard, I had a disappointment this
morning, iliis mail brought me a letter from
the widow of the old butler— you know. I ex-
pected to learn that she had heard from — from
here. But no. No letter arrived home since
Her voice was cahn. His jealousy couldn't
stand much more of this sort of talk; but he was
glad that nothing had turned up to help the search;
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 65
g»d blindly. uni««onably-H,n]y because it would
keq, W longer in hi. aght-siace d.e wouldn't
f.,Hif "° *^ """ ^•" ^' *^°^^'- «°^°« a little
ftnjherontheseat. He was afraid in the avulsion
offedmg of ILngiug himself on her hands, which
flying on her lap. and covering them with
^ i^t Z ti'. I'"^'- °°*""« ~""^
snaice mat spell-not if she were ever so false
stupid, or degraded. She was fate itself. The
extent of his misfortune plunged him in such a
stupor that he faUed at first to hear the sound of
vo^es and footsteps inside the drawing-room
^J^e had come home-and the Editor was wiTh
They burst out on the terrace babbling noisily,
and then pulling themselves together stood stij
8urpnsmg-and as if themselves surprised
T^v had been feasting a poet from the bush, the
bt«t discovery of the Editor. Such discoveries
dehght of the only apostle of letters in the hemi-
jph^the solitary patron of culture, the Slav^f
the Lami^-as he subscribed himself at the bottom
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
of the weekly literary page of his paper. He had
had no difficulty in persuading the virtuous Willie
(who had festive instincts) to help in the good work,
and now they had left the poet lying asleep on the
hearthrug of the editorial room and had rushed
to the Dunster mansion wildly. The Editor had
another discovery to announce. Swaying a little
where he stood he opened his mouth very wide
to shout the one word " Found I " Behind him
Willie flung both his hands above his head and let
them fall dramatically. Renouard saw the four
white-headed people at the end of the terrace rise
all together from their chairs with an effect of
" I tell you — ^he — ^is — ^found," the patron of
letters shouted emphatically.
" What is this I " exclaimed Renouard in a choked
voice. Miss Moorsom seized his wrist suddenly,
and at that contact fire ran through all his veins,
a hot stillness descended upon him in which he
heard the blood — or the fire — beating in his
ears. He made a movement as if to rise, but was
restrained by the convulsive pressure on his wrist.
" No, no." Miss Moorsom's eyes stared black
as night, searching the space before her. Far
away the Editor strutted forward, WiUic follow-
ing with his ostentatious manner of carrying his
bulky and oppressive carcass which, however, did
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 67
not remain exactly perpendicular for two seconds
"The innocent Arthur ... Yes. We've got
him, • the Editor became very business-like. " Yes
this letter has done it."
He plunged into an inside pocket for it. slapped
the scrap of paper with his open pahn. " From
that old woman. William had it in his pocket
smce this morning when Miss Moorsom gave it to
him to show me. Forgot all about it tiU an hour
ago. Thought it was of no importance. Well,
no I Not till it was properly read."
Renouard and Miss Moorsom emerged from the
shadows side by side, a well-matched couple,
ammated yet statuesque in their cahnness joid in
their pailor. She had let go his wrist. On catch-
ing sight of Renouard the Editor exclaimed:
What— you here I " in a quite shrill voice.
There came a dead pause. All the faces had in
them something dismayed and cruel.
" He's the very man we ^t," continued the
Editor. "Excuse my excitement. You are the
very man. Renouard. Didn't you tell me that
your assistant called himself Walter? Yes?
Thought so. But here's that old woman-the
butler's wife-listen to this. She writes: All I
can tell you. Miss, is that my poor husband
directed his letters to the name of H. Walter."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
Renoiurd's violent but repressed exclamation
was lost in a general murmur and shuffle of feet.
The Editor made a Uep forward, bowed with
" Miss Moorsom, allow me to congratulate you
from the bottom of my heart on the happy— er —
issue . . ."
" Wait," muttered Renouard irresolutely.
The Editor jumped on him in the manner of their
old friendship. " Ah, you I You are a fine fellow
too. With your solitary ways of Ufe you will end
by having no more discrimination than a savage.
Fancy Uving with a gentleman for months and
never guessing. A man, I am certain, accompUshed,
remarkable, out of the common, since he had been
distinguished " (he bowedagain) " by MissMoorsom,
whom we all admire."
She turned her back on him.
" I hope to goodness you haven't been leading
him a dog's life, Geoffrey," the Editor addressed
his friend in a whispered aside.
Renouard seized a chair violently, sat down,
and propping his elbow on his knee leaned
his head on his hand. Behind him the sister
of the professor looked up to heaven and wnmg
her hands stealthily. Mrs. Dunster's hands were
clasped forcibly under her chin, but she, dear soul,
was looking sorrowfully at Willie. The model
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 69
fl«hedl The careful disposition of the thin hairs
•-«. Willie', bald spot was deplorably T
anarg-d and the spot itself was red and. as it
^' What'- the matt,.r, Geoffrey? " TTie Editor
r '^ f '^'""■^^^-' ^^y the silent attitudes round
h.m as thou,^h he had expected all these people to
shout a>,da.uce. " You have him on the^Zid-
haven t yr j >' »«»«—
"Oh, yes. I have him there,"
without looking up.
"Well, then!" The Editor
w^und as if begging for respo.. .
But the only response that car. 10
expected. Annoyed at being t'
'fd lielj i -sly
of iori!*> iOTt
ground, and also because vei^ little d'-X ''^''Z
h^ nasty, the emotional Wilhe turned .^u,„ant
man r? r' "^ " ''''^°"^ *°"« surprisingTa
man able to keep his balance so well- "^ "^ *
"Ahal But youhaven'tgothimhere-notyetl-
he sneered. "No! You haven't got him yet "
J t^e".:f r^^ '''^'"'°" -«" *° tl>e Editor
|^^-^.^ht .;aded horse. He positively
"Whatc/l.^t/ What do you mean? We-
haven't-got-ham-here. Of co-orse he i^
here! But Geo&ey-s schooner ,. here She^
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
be sent at once to fetch him here. No! Stay!
There's a better plan. Why shouldn't you all sail
over to Malata, professor? Save timet I am sure
Miss Moorsom would prefer . . ."
With a gallant flourish of his arm he looked for
Miss Moorsom. She had disappeared. He was
taken aback somewhat.
"Ah I H'm. Yes. . . . Why not. A pleasure
cruise, delightful ship, deUghtful season, delightful
errand, del ... Not There are no objections.
GeofErey, I understand, has indulged in a bungalow
three sizes too large for him. He can put you all
up. It will be a pleasure for him. It will be the
greatest privilgr Any man would be proud of
being an agent of this happy reunion. I am proud
of the Uttle part I've played. He will consider it
the greatest honour. Geofif, my boy, you had
better be stirring to-morrow bright and early
about the preparations for the trip. It would be
criminal to lose a single day."
He was as flushed as Willie, the excitement
keeping up the effect of the festive dinner. For a
time Renouard, silent, as if he had not heard a word
of all that babble, did not stir. But when he got
up it was to advance towards the Editor and give
him such a hearty slap on the back that the plump
little man reeled in his tracks and looked quite
frightened for a moment.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 71
" You are a heaven-bom discoverer and a first-
rate manager. .. . He's right. It's the only way.
You can't resist the claim of sentiment, and
you must even risk the voyage to Malata. . . ."
Renouard's voice sank. " A lonely spot," he added,
and fell into thought under all these eyes converg-
ing on him in the sudden silence. His slow glance
passed over all the faces in succession, remaining
arrested on Professor Moorsom, stony eyed, a
smouldering cigar in his fingers, and with his sister
standing by his side.
" I shall be infinitely gratified if you consent to
come. But, of course, you will. We shall sail to-
morrow evening then. And now let me leave you
to your happiness."
He bowed, very grave, pointed suddenly his
finger at Willie who was swaying about with a
sleepy frown. ... "Look at him. He's overcome
with happiness. You had better put him to bed
. . ." and disappeared while every head on the
terrace was turned to Willie with varied expressions.
Renouard ran through the house. Avoiding the
carriage road he fled down the steep short cut to
the shore, where his gig was waiting. At his loud
shout the sleeping Kanakas jumped up. He leaped
in. " Shove off. Give way I " and the gig darted
through the water. "Give way! Give way!"
She flew past the wool-clippers sleeping at their
72 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
anchors each with the open unwinking eye of the
lamp m the rigging; she flew past the flagship of
the Pacific squadron, a great mass aU dark and
silent, heavy with the slumbere of five hundred
men, and where the invisible sentries heard his
urgent " Give way! Give wayl " in the night.
The Kanakas, panting, rose o« the thwarts at
every stroke. Nothing could be fast enough for
him! And he ran up the side of his schooner
shaking the ladder noisily with his rush.
On deck he stumbled and stood still.
Wherefore this haste? To what end, ■•.:. he
knew weU before he started that he had •- v„,'^ -cr
from whom then was no escape.
As his foot touched the deck his wiU, Iiis p„rpost
he had been hurrying to save, died .->ut wi-.m,^ ai/u.
It had been nothing less than gettii ', : v ,,;-,«
under-way, letting her vanish silent'- .. the ^./,,'
from amongst these sleeping ships. \ , i u . j.
was certain he could not do it. It wa.s ;,, •: •- j'
And he reflected that whether he lived or dica Ich
an act would lay him under a dark suspicion from
which he shrank. No, there was nothing to be
He went down into the cabin and, before
even unbuttoning his overcoat, took out of the
drawer the letter addressed to his assisVanf that
letter which he had found in the pi#»n-hole
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 73
l^'belled •• Malata " in youiig Dunster's outer office,
where it had been waiting for three months some
occasion for being forwarded. From the moment
of dropping it in the drawer he had utterly for-
gotten Its existenc^till now, when the man's
name had come out so clamorously. He glanced
at the common envelope, noted the shaky and
labonous handwriting: H. Walter, Esqre Un-
doubtedly the very last letter the old buUer had
posted before his iUness, and in answer clearly to
one from "Master Arthur" instructing him to
address in the future: "Care of Messrs. W
Dunster and Co." Renouard made as if to
open the envelope, but paused, and, instead, tore
tte letter deUbeiately in two, in four, in eight.
With his hand full of pieces of paper he returned
on deck and scattered them overboard on the
dark water, in which they vanished instantly
He did it slowly, without hesitation or remorse.
H. Walter, Esqre, in Malata. The innocent Arthur
-- What was his name? The man sought for
by hat woman who as she went by seemed to draw
aU the passion of the earth to her, without eilort
not dei^ing to notice, naturally, as other women
breathed the air. But Renouard was no longer
jealous of her very existence. Whatever its mean-
ing It was not for that man he had picked up
casuaUy on obscure impulse, to get rid of the tire-
74 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
some expostulations of a so-called friend; a man
of whom he really knew nothing— and now a dead
man. In Malata. Oh, yes! He was there secure
enough, untroubled in his grave. In Malata. To
bury him was the last service Renouard had ren-
dered to his assistant before leaving the island on
this trip to town.
Like many men ready enough for arduous enter-
prises Renouard was inclined to evade the small
complications of existence. This trait of his
character was composed of a little indolence, some
disdain, and a shrinking from contests with certain
forms of vulgarity— like a man who would face a
lion and go out of his way to avoid a toad. His
intercourse with the meddlesome journalist was
that merely outward intimacy without sympathy
some young men get drawn into easily. It had
amused him rather to keep that " friend " in the
dark about the fate of his assistant. Renouard
had never needed other company than his own, for
there was in him something of the sensitiveness of
a dreamer who is easily jarred. He had said to
himself that the all-knowing one would only
preach again about the evils of solitude and worry
his head off in iavour of some forlornly useless
prot6g6 of his. Also the inquisitiveness of the
Editor had irritated him and had dosed his lips in
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 75
And now he contemplated the noose of con-
sequences drawing tight around him.
It was the memory of that diplomatic reticence
which on the terrace had stifHed his first cry which
would have told them all that the man sought for
was not to be met on earth any more. He shrank
from the absurdity of hearing the all-knowi«g one,
and not very sober at that, turning on hin with
righteous reproaches —
" You never told me. You gave me to under-
stand that your assistant was alive, and now you
say he's dead. Which is it? Were you lying
then or are you lying now? " No! the thought
of such a scene was not to be borne. He had sat
down appalled, thinking : " What shall I do now ? "
His courage had oozed out of him. Speaking
the truth meant the Moorsoms going away at once
—while it seemed to him that he vould give the
last shred of his rectitude to secure a day more
of her company. He sat on— silent. Slowly, from
confused sensations, from his talk with the
professor, the manner of the girl herself, the
intoxicating familiarity of her sudden hand-clasp,
there had come to him a half glimmer of hope.
The other man was dead. Then! . . . Madness,
of course— but he could not give it up. He had
listened to that confounded busybody arranging
everything— while all these people stood around
76 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
"Siting, under the speU of that dead ronumce.
He had listened scornful and silent. The glinmiers
Of hope, of opportunity, passed before his eyes
He had only to sit still and say nothing. That
and no more. And what was truth to him in the
face of that great passion which had flung him
prostrate in spirit at her adored feet I
Ajad now it was donel Fatality had willed iti
With the eyes of a mortal struck by the maddening
thunderbolt of the gods, Renouard looked up to
the sky, an immense black pall dusted over with
gold, on which great shudders seemed to pass
from the breath of life affirming its sway
At last, one morning, in a clear spot of a glassy
honzon charged with heraldic masses of black
vapours, the island grew out from the sea show-
ing here and there its naked members of basaltic
rock through the rents of heavy foliage. Later
in the great spilling of all the riches of sunset'
iWata stood out green and rosy before turning
mto a violet shadow in the autumnal light of the
expmngday. Then came the night. In the faint
«rs the schooner crept on past a sturdy squat
THE PLANTER OF MALATA ^^
headland, and it was pitch dark when her head-
sails ran down, she turned short on her heel, and
her anchor bit into the sandy bottom on the edge
of the outer reef; for it was too dangerous th^to
attempt entering Ihe little bay fuU of shoals.
After the last solemn flutter of the mainsail the
mminuring voices of the Moorsom party Ungered
very frail, in the black stiUness.
They were sitting aft, on chairs, and nobody made
a move. Early in the day, when it had become
evident that the wind was failing, Renouard.
basmg his advice on the shortcomings of his
l^chelor establishment, had urged on the ladies
the advisability of not going ashore in the middle
of the night. Now he approached them in a con-
strained mamier (it was astonishing the constraint
that had reigned between him and his guests all
through the passage) and renewed his arguments
No one ashore would dream of his bringing any
visitors with him. Nobody would even think of
commgoff. There was only one old canoe on the
plantation. And landing in the schooner's boats
would be awkward in the dark. There was the
nsk of gettmg aground on some shallow patches
It would be best to spend the rest of the night on
There was really no opposition. The professor
smoking a pipe, and very comfortable in an ulster
78 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
buttoned over his tropical clothes, was the first
to speak from his long chair.
" Most excellent advice."
Next to him Miss Moorsom assented by a long
silence. Then in a voice as of one coming out of
a dream —
" And so this is Malata," she said. " I have
often wondered ..."
A shiver passed through Renouard. She had
wondered I What about? Malata was himself.
He and Malata were one. And she had wondered I
She had . . .
The professor's sister leaned over towards
Renouard. Through all these days at sea the
man's— the found man's— existence had not been
aUuded to on board the schooner. That reucence
was part of the general constraint lying upon them
all. She, herself, certainly had not been exactly
elated by this finding— poor Arthur, without
money, without prospects. But slie felt moved
by the sentiment and romance of the situation.
" Isn't it wonderful," she whispered out of her
white wrap. " to think of poor Arthur sleeping
there, so near to our dear lovely FeUcia, and not
knowing the immense joy in store for him to-
There was such artificiality in the wax-flower
lady that nothing in this speech touched Renouard.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 79
It was but the simple anxiety of his heart that he
was voicing when he muttered gloomily-
mavtld"" ^ *''' ^"'^^ '"^^ *^* *°-»°'^°w
may hold in store.
The mature lady had a recoU as though he had
said something impoUte. What a harsh thing to
pnate. On board, where she never saw him in
evemng clothes, Renouard's resemblance to ^
b^'hi^rLT "^ "PP"'"* *° ^«^- Nothing
but his-ah-bohemianism remained. She ro^
with a sort of ostentation.
"It's late-and since we are going to sleep on
^^Jo-night..."3he^d. "But it does Ln
my dear Emma ''^' ^"^^^^^ ""^ ^"sible.
Renouard waited behind Miss Moorsom's chair
She got up slowly, moved one step forward, and
paused looking at the shore. The blackness of "
sknd blotted out the stars with its vague mJ
and ready to burst into flame and crashes.
movmg towards the cabin door. The dear cJoi
I^gmg from her shoulders, the ivory faceS^
the night had put out nothing of her but Z
«o THE PLANTER OF MALATA
gleanu of her hair-^nade her resemble a shining
dream-wonum uttering words of wistful inquiry.
She disappeared without a sign, leaving Renouard
penetrated to the very marrow by the sounds that
came from her body like a mysterious resonance
of an exquisite instrument.
He stood stock still. What was this accidental
touch which had evoked the strange accent of
her voice? He dared not answer that question.
But he had to answer the question of what was
to be done now. Had the moment of confession
come? The thought was enough to make one's
blood run cold.
It was as if those people had a premonition of
something. In the taciturn days of the passage
he had noticed their reserve even amongst them-
selves. The professor smoked his pipe moodily
in retired spots. Renouard had caught Miss
Moorsom's eyes resting on himself more than once,
with a peculiar and grave expression. He fancied
that she avoided aU opportunities of conversation.
The maiden lady seemed to nurse a grievance.
And now what had he to do?
The lights on the deck had gone out one after the
other. The schooner slept.
About an hour after Miss Moorsom had gone
below without a sign or a word for him, Renouard
got out of his hammock slung in the waist under
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 8i
tb» midship twning-for lie had given up aU the
accommodation below to his gueste. He got out
with a sudden swift movement, flung off his sleep-
tag jacket. roUed his pyjamas up his thighs, and
stole forward, unseen by the one Kanaka of the
anchor^tch. His white torso, naked like a
stopped athlete's, glin^ered. ghosUy. in the deep
shadows of the deck. Umioticed he got out of thJ
ship over the knight-heads, ran along the back rope,
and sazmg the dolphin-striker firmly with bo\h
hands, lowered himself into the sea without a
He swam away, noiseless like a fish, and then
stoadc boldly for the land, sustained, embraced!
^ .the tepid water. The gentle, voluptuous heave
of Its breast swung him up and down slightly
sometmies a wavelet muimured in his ears; from
time to time, lowering his feet, he felt for the
bottom on a shallow patch to rest and correct his
direction. He landed at the lower end of the
bungalow garden, into the dead stiUness of the
island There were no lights. The plantation
seemed to sleep, as profoundly as the schooner.
v^t ^ ' ""*" ^*" ^«=^«d under his
ne faithful half-caste foreman going his rounds
cocked his ears at the sharp sound. He gave one
enormous start of fear at the sight of the swift
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82 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
white figure flying at him out of the night. He
crouched in terror, and then sprang up and dicked
his tongue in amazed recognition.
"Tsel Tsel The master! "
" Be quiet, Luiz, and listen to what I say."
Yes, it was the master, the strong master who
was never known to raise his voice, the man blindly
obeyed and never questioned. He talked low and
rapidly in the quiet night, as if every minute were
precious. On learning that three guests were
coming to stay Luiz cUcked his tongue rapidly.
These clicks were the uniform, stenographic sym-
bols of his emotions, and he could give them an
infinite variety of meaning. He listened to the
rest in a deep silence hardly affected by the low,
" Yes, master," whenever Renouard paused.
"You understand?" the latter insisted. "Nopre-
parations are to be made till we land in the morning.
And you are to say that Mr. Walter has gone off
in a trading schooner on a round of the islands."
" Yes, master."
" No mistakes— ^nind I "
" No, master."
Renouard walked back towards the sea. Luiz,
foUowing him, proposed to caU out half a dozen
boys and man the canoe.
" Imbecilel "
"Tsel Tsel Tsel"
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 83
"Don't you understand that you haven't seen
"Yes,master. But what a long swim. Suppose
you drown." ^^^
" Then you can say of me and of Mr. Walter what
you Uke. The dead don't mind."
Renouard entered the sea and heard a faint
Tsel Tsel Tsel of concern from the half-caste
who had already lost sight of the master's dark
nead on the overshadowed water.
Renouard set his direction by a big star that,
dipping on the horizon, seemed to look curiously
m ohjsface. On this swim back he felt themoum-
ftJ fatigue of all that length of the traversed road
which brought him no nearer to his desire It
w« as if his love had saj.ped the invisible supports
of his strength. There came a moment when it
seemed to him that he must have swum beyond the
confines of hfe. He had a sensation of eternity
dose at hand, demanding no effort-offering its
peace. It was easy to swim like this beyond
the confines of life looking at a star. But the
thought: "They will think I dared not face
them and committed suicide," caused a revolt of
his mmd which carried him on. He returned on
board, as he had left, unheard and unseen. He
lay m his hammock utterly exhausted and with a
84 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
confused feeling that he had been beyond the con-
fines of life, somewhere near a star, and that it was
very quiet there.
SHEtTERED by the squat headland from the first
morning sparkle of the sea the Uttle bay breathed
a delicious freshness. The party from the schooner
landed at the bottom of the garden. They ex-
changed insignificant words in studiously casuaJ
tones. The professor's sister put up a long-handled
eye-glass as if to scan the novel surroundings, but
in reality searching for poor Arthur anxiously.
Having never seen him otherwise than in his town
clothes she had no idea what he would look like.
It had been left to the professor to help his ladies
out of the boat because Renouard, as if intent on
giving directions, had stepped forward at once to
meet the half-caste Luiz hurrying down the path.
In the distance, in front of the dazzlingly sunlit
bungalow, a row of dark-faced house-boys unequal
in stature and varied in complexion preserved the
immobility of a guard of honour.
Luiz had taken off his soft felt hat before coming
within earshot. Renouard bent his head to his
rapid talk of domestic arrangements he meant to
make for the visitors; another bed in the master's
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 85
room for the ladies and a cot for the genOeman
to be hung in the room opposite where— where
Mr. Walter— here he gave a scared look all round—
Jlr. Walter— had died.
" Very good," assented Renouard in an even
undertone. " And remember what you have to
say of him."
"Yes, master. Only "-he wriggled sUghtly
and put one bare foot on the other for a moment
in apologetic embarrassment—" only I—I— don't
like to say it."
Renouard looked at him without anger, with-
out any sort of expression. " Frightened of the
dead? Eh? WeU-aU right. I wiU say it my-
self—I suppose once for all. ..." t mediately
he raised his voice very much.
" Send the boys down to bring up the luggage."
" Yes, master."
i^enouard turned to his distinguished guests who,
h. personaUy conducted party of tourists, had
stopped and were looking about them.
" I am sorry," he began with an impassive face.
" My man has just told me that Mr. Walter . . ."
he managed to smile, but didn't correct himself
" has gone in a trading schooner on a short tour
of the islands, to the westward."
This communication was received in profound
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
Renouard forgot himself in the thought: " It's
done I " But the sight of the string of boys march-
ing up to the house with suit-cases and dressing-
bags rescued him from that appalling abstraction.
" All I can do is to beg you to make yourselves at
home . . . with what patience you may."
This was so obviously the only thing to do that
everybody moved on at once. The professor
walked alongside Renouard, behind the two
" Rather unexpected— this absence."
" Not exactly," muttered Renouard. " A trip
has to be made every year to engage labour."
" I see . . . And he . . . How vexin;jly elusive
the poor fellow has become! I'll begin to thinly
that some wicked fairy is favouring this 'ove tale
with unpleasant attentions."
Renouard noticed that the party did not seem
weighed down by this new disappointment. On
the contrary they moved with a freer step. The
professor's sister dropped her eye-glass to the end
of its chain. Miss Moorsom took the lead. The
professor, his lips unsealed, lingered in the open:
but Renouard did not listen to that man's talk.
He looked after that man's daughter— if indeed
that creature of iixesistible seductions were a
daughter of mortals. The very intensity of his
desire, as if iiis soul were streaming after ba
THE riANTER OF MALATA 87
through his eyes, defeated his object of keeping
hold of her as long as possible with, at least, one of
his senses. Her moving outlines dissolved into
a misty coloured shimmer of a woman made of
flame and shadows, crossing the threshold of his
ITie days which followed were not exactly such
as Renouard had feared— yet they were not better
than his fears. They were accursed in all the
moods they brought him. But the general aspect of
things was quiet. The professor smoked innumer-
able pipes with the air of a worker on his holiday,
always in movement and looking at things with
that mysteriously sagacious aspect of men who are
admittedly wiser than the rest of the world. His
white head of hair— whiter than anything within
the horizon except the broken water on the reefs-
was glimpsed in every part of the plantation
alvr^ys on the move under the white parasol.
And once he cUmbed the headland and appeared
suddenly to those below, a white speck elevated
in the blue, with a diminutive but statuesque effect.
Felicia Moorson remained near the house.
Sometimes she could be seen with a despairing
expression scribbUng rapidly in her lock-up dairy.
Bui only for a moment. At the sound of Re-
nouard's footsteps she would turn towards him
her beautiful face, adorable in that cahn which was
THE PLANTER OF BIALATA
like a wilful, like a cruel ignoring of her tremendous
power. Whenever she sat on the verandah, on a
chair more specially reserved for her use, Renouard
would stroll up and sit on the steps near her, mostly
silent, and often not trusting himself to turn his
glance on her. She, very still with her eyes half-
closed, looked down on his head — so that to a be-
holder (such as Professor Moorsom, for instance) she
would appear to be turning over in her mind pro-
found thoughts about that man sitting at her feet,
his shoulders bowed a little, his hands listless— as
if vanquished. And, indeed, the moral poison of
falsehood has such a decomposing power that
Renouard felt his old personality turn to dead
dust. Often, in the evening, when they sat out-
side conversing languidly in the dark, he felt that
he must rest his forehead on her feet and burst
The professor's sister suffered from some little
strain caused by the unstabihty of her own
feelings toward Renouard. She could not tell
whether she really did dislike him or not. At
times he appeared to her most fascinating; and,
though he generally ended by saying something
shockingly crude, she could not resbt her inclina-
tion to talk with him— at least not alwajrs. One
day when her niece had left them alone on the
verandah she leaned forward in her chair — speck-
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 89
less, resplendent, and, in her way, almost as
striking a personality as her niece, who did not
resemble her in the least. " Dear Felicia has
inherited her hair and the greatest part of her
appearance from her mother," the maiden lady
used to tell people.
She leaned forward then, confidentially.
" Oh I Mr. RenouardI Haven't you something
comforting to say ? "
He looked up, as surprised as if a voice from
heaven had spoken with this perfect society intona-
tion, and by the puzzled profundity of his blue
eyes fluttered the wax-flo\. r of refined woman-
hood. She continued. " For -I can speak to
you openly on this tiresome subject— only think
what a terrible strain this hope deferred must be
for Felicia's heart— for her nerves."
" Why speak to me about it," he muttered feel-
ing half choked suddenly.
"Why I As a friend — a well-wisher — the
kindest of hosts. I am afraid we are really eating
you out of house and home." She laughed a little.
" Ah ! When, when will this suspense be relieved I
That poor lost Arthur ! I confess that I am ahnost
afraid of the great moment. It will be like seeing
" Have you ever seen a ghost ? " asked Renouard,
in a dull voice.
THE Pi^NTER OF MALATA
She shifted her hands a little. Her pose was
perfect in its ease and middle-aged grace.
" Not actually. Only in a photograph. But
we have uany friends who had the experience of
" Ah I They see ghosts in London," mumbled
Renouard, not looking at her.
" Frequently — in a certain very interesting set.
But all sorts of people do. We have a friend, a
very famoi s author — his ghost is a girl. One of
my brother's intimates is a very great man of
science. He is friendly with a ghost ... Of a
girl too," she added in a voice as if struck for the
first time by the coincidence. " It is the photo-
graph of that apparition which I have seen. Very
sweet. Most interesting. A little cloudy naturally.
. . . Mr. Renouard I I hope you are not a sceptic.
It's so consoling to think . . ."
" Those plantation boys of mine see ghosts too,"
said Renouard grimly.
The sister of the philosopher sat up stifBy. What
crudenessi It was always so with this strange
" Mr. Renouard I How can you compare the
superstitious fancies of your honible savages with
the manifestations . . ."
Words failed her. She broke off with a very
faint primly angry smile. She was perhaps the
THE PLANTER OF BIALATA 91
more offended with him because of that flu* ter at
the beginning of the conversation. And in a
moment with perfect tact and dignity she got up
from her chair and left hiro alone.
Renouard didn't even look up. It was not the
displeasure of the lady which deprived him of
his sleep that night. He was beginning to forget
what simple, honest sleep was like. His hammock
from the ship had been hung for him on a side
verandah, and he spent his nights in it on his back,
his hani's folded on his chest, in a sort of half
conscious, oppressed stupor. In the morning he
watched with unseeing eyes the hea''' d come
out a shapeless inkblot against the thin light of
the false dawn, pass through all the stages of
daybreak to the deep purple of its outlined mass
nimbed gloriously with the gold of the rising
sun. He listened to the vaguc sounds of waking
within the house: and suddenly he became aware
of Luiz standing by the hammock— obviously
"What's the matter?"
"Tsel Tse! Tse!"
" Well, what now ? Trouble with the boys ?
" No, master. The gentleman when I take him
his bath water he speak to me. He ask me— L?
ask— when, when, I think Mr. Walter, he come
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
The h»lf-c«8te'8 teeth chattered slightly. Re-
nouard got out of the hammock.
" And he is here all the time— eh ? "
Luiz nodded a scared afiinnative, but at once
protested, " I no see him. I never. Not II The
ignorant wild bo3rs say they see . . . Something I
He clapped his teeth on another short rattle, and
stood there, shrunk, blighted, like a man in a
" And what did you say to the gentleman ? "
" I say I don't know — and I clear out. I I
don't likii to speak of him."
" All right. We shall try to lay that poor ghost,"
said Renouard gloomily, going oft to a small hut
near by to dress. He was saying to himself:
" This fellow will end by giving me away. The
last thing that I . . . Nol That mustn't be."
And feeling his hand being forced he discovered
the whole extent of his cowardice.
That morning wandering about his plantation,
more like a frightened soul than its creator ind
master, he dodged the white parasol bobbing up
here and there like a buoy adrift on a sea of dark*
green plants. The crop promised to be magnifi-
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 93
cent, and the fashionable philosopher of the age
took other than a merely scientific interest in the
experiment. His investments were juc! dous, but
he had always some little money lying by, for
After lunch, being left alone wii 1 Renouard, he
talked a litOe of cultivation and such matters.
" By the way, is it tr what my sister tells me,
that your plantation boys have been disturbed
by a ghost? "
Renouard, who since the ladies had left the table
was not keeping such a strict watch limself, came
out of his abstraction with a start aud a stifi smile.
"My foreman had some trouble with them
during my absence. They funk working in 1
certain field on the slope of the hill."
"A ghost here! " exclaimed the amused pro-
fessor. "Then our whole conception of the
psychology of ghosts must be revised. This island
has been uninhabited probably since the dawn of
ages. How did a ghost come here. By air or
water? And why did it leave its native haunts.
Was it from misanthropy ? Was he expeUed from
some community of spirits? "
Renouard essayed to respond in the same tone.
The words died on his lips. Was it a man or a
woman ghost, the professor inquired.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
" I don't know." Renouard made an effort to
appear at ease. He had, he said, a couple of
Tahitian amongst his boys — a ghost-ridden race.
They had started the scare. They had probably
brought their ghost with them.
" Let us investigate the matter, Renouard,"
propof^ed the professor half in earnest. " We may
make some interesting discoveries as to the state
of primitive minds, at any rate."
This was too much. Renouard jumped up
and leaving the room went out and walked about
in front of the house. He would allow no one to
force his hand. Presently the professor joined
him outside. He carried his parasol, but had
neither his book nor his pipe with him. Amiably
serious he laid his hand on his " dear young
friend's " arm.
" We are all of us a Uttle strung up," he said.
" For my part I have been like sister Anne in the
story. But I cannot see anything coming. Any-
thing that would be the least good for anybody —
Renouard had recovered sufficiently to murmur
coldly his regret of this waste of time. For that
was what, he supposed, the professor had in his
" Time," mused Professor Moorsom. " I don't
know that time can be wasted. But I will tell
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 95
you. my dear friend, what this is: it is an awful
waste of life. I mean for aU of us. Even for my
sister, who has got a headache and is gone to Ue
He shook gently Renouard's arm. " Yes, for
all of us I One may meditate on life endlessly,
one may even have a poor opinion of it— but the
fact remains that we have only one life to live.
And it is short. Think of that, my young friend."
He released Renouard'r arm and stepped out
of the shade opening his parasol. It was clear
that there was something more in his mind than
mere anxiety about the date of his lectures for
fashionable audiences. What did the man mean
by his confounded platitudes? To Renouard,
scared by Luiz in the morning (for he felt that
nothing could be more fatal than to have his decep-
tion unveiled otherwise than by personal confes-
sion), this talk sounded like encouragement or a
warning from that man who seemed to him to be
very brazen and very subtle. It was Hke being
bullied by the dead and cajoled by the living into
a throw of dice for a supreme stake.
Renouard went away to some distance from the
house and threw himself down in the shade of a
tree. He lay there perfectly stiU with his forehead
resting on his folded arms, light-headed and think-
ing. It seemed to him that he must be on fire, then
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
that he had fallen into a cool whirlpool, a smooth
funnel of water swirling about with nauseating
rapidity. And then (it must have been a reminis-
cence of his boyhood) he was walking on the
dangerous thin ice of a river, unable to turn back.
. . . Suddenly it parted from shore to shore with
a loud crack like the report of a gun.
With one leap he found himself on his feet. All
was peace, stillness, sunshine. He walked away
from there slowly. Had he been a gambler he
would have perhaps been supported in a measure
by the mere excitement. But he was not a gambler.
He had always disdained that artificial manner of
challenging the fates. The bungalow came into
view, bright and pretty, and all about everything
was peace, stillness, sunshine. . . .
While he was plodding towards it he had a dis-
agreeable sense of the dead man's company at his
elbow. The ghost I He seemed to be everywhere
but in his grave. Could one ever shake him oS?
he wondered. At that moment Miss Moorsom
came out on the verandah; and at once, as if by a
mystery of radiating waves, she roused a great
tumult in his heart, shook earth and sky together —
but he plodded on. Then like a grave song-note
in the stor. . \er voice came to him ominously.
" Ah I Mr. Renouard. . . ." He came up and
smiled, but she was very serious. " I can't keep
THE PLANTER OF MALATA ^
■•»<! .11 direct y„„. To S, « •. "" '"■'»=^'
She was wearing a itmt „anki« skirl a „„ai„
pa h begins where these three pahns a e The
only pahns on the island." ^^^
" I see."
She never turned her hpaH a**
observed: " This nath . I ^^*^'- ^ ^^le she
r^,^ P "* ^°°^S as f it had been
made recently." *°
"Quite recently," he assented very low
They went on chmbing steadily without exchan.
'^ veiled ,he „^ C^^,^^"'^'
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
of wrecked islands, the restless myriads of sea-
birds rolled and unrolled dark ribbons on the sky,
gathered in clouds, soared and stooped like a play
of shadows, for they were too far for them to hear
Renouard broke the silence in low tones.
" They'll be settUng for the night presently."
She made no sound. Round them all was peace
and declining sunshine. Near by, the topmost
pinnacle of Malata, resembling the top of a buried
tower, rose a rock, weather-worn, grey, weary of
watching the monotonous centuries of the Pacific.
Renouard leaned his shoulders against it. Felicia
Moorsom faced him suddenly, her splendid black
eyes full on his face as though she had made up
her mind at last to destroy his wits once and for
all. Dazzled, he lowered his eyeUds slowly.
" Mr. Renouard! There is something strange
in all this. Tell me where he is ? "
He answered deUberately.
" On the other side of this rock. I buried him
She pressed her hands to her breast, struggled for
her breath for a moment, then: " Ohhhl . . . You
buried him 1 . . . What sort of man are >uU? . . .
You dared not tell! . . . He is another of your
victims? . . . You dared not confess that evening.
. . You must have killed him. What could he
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 99
have done to you?... You fastened on him some
atrocious quarrel and . . ."
Her vengeful aspect, her poignant cries left him
as unmoved as the weary rock against which he
l«med. He only raised his eyelids to look at her
and lowered them slowly. Nothing more. It
sJ«ced her. And as if ashamed she made a
gesture with her hand, putting away from her that
thought. He spoke, quietly ironic at first
•Hal the legendary Renouard of sensitive
^o^the nithless adventurer-the ogre Tth"
1 don t thmk that the a.«atest fool of them all ever
dru^d hmt such a stupid thing of me that I killed
men for nothing. No, I had noticed this man in a
hotel. He had come from up country I was told
and was domg nothing. I saw him sitting ther^
lonely ma comer like a sick crow, and I went ov^
oneevemngtotalktohim. Just on impulse. He
wasnt mipressive. He was pitiful. My worst
enemy could W told you he wasn't good'enou^h
to be one of Renouard's victims. It didn't take
legend. Listenl I would never have be£ je^ou.
100 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
of him. And yet I am jealous of the air you
breathe, of the soil you tread on, of the world that
sees you — moving free — not mine. But nevermind.
I rather liked him. For a certain reason I proposed
he should come to be my assistant here. He said
he believed this would save him. It did not save
him from death. It came to him as it were from
nothing — ^just a fall. A mere sUp and tumble of
ten feet into a ravine. But it seems he had been
hurt before up-coimtry — by a horse. He ailed
and ailed. No, he was not a steel-tipped man.
And his poor soul seemed to have been damaged
too. It gave way very soon."
" This is tragic! " Felicia Moorsom whispered
with feeling. Renouard's lips twitched, but his
level voice continued mercilessly.
" That's the story. He raUied a little one
night and said he wanted to tell me something. I,
being a gentleman, he said, he could confide in me.
I told him that he was Uilstaken. That there was
a good deal of a plebeian in me, that he couldn't
know. He seemed disappointed. He muttered
something about his innocence and something that
sounded Uke a curse on some woman, then turned
to the wall and — just grew cold."
" On a woman," cried Miss Moorsom indignantly.
"What woman? "
" I wonder! " said Renouard, raising his eyes
THE PLANTER OF MALATA loi
and noting the crimson of her ear-lobes against
the Uve whiteness of her complexion, the sombre,
as if secret, night-splendour of her eyes under the
writhing iiames of her hair. " Some woman who
wouldn't believe in that poor innocence of his
Yes. You probably. And now you will not
believe in me— not even in me who must in truth
be what I am— even to death. No I You won't.
And yet, Felicia, a woman Uke you and a man hke
me do not often come together on this earth."
The flame of her glorious head scorched his face.
He flung his hat far away, and his suddenly lowered
eyelids brought out startlingly his resemblance
to antique bronze, the profile of Pallas, still,
austere, bowed a little in the shadow of the rock.'
"Oh! If you could only understand the truth
that is in me! " he added.
She waited, as if too astounded to speak, till he
looked up again, and then with unnatural force as
if defending herself from some unspoken aspersion.
" It's I who stand for truth here ! Believe in you !
In you, who by a heartless falsehood— and nothing
else, nothing else, do you hear?— have brought me
here, deceived, cheated, as in some abommable
farce! " She sat down on a boulder, rested her
chin in her hands, in the pose of simple grief-
mourning for herself.
" It only wanted this. Why! Oh! Why is
loa THE PLANTER OF MALATA
it that ugliness, ridicule, and baseness must fall
across my path."
On that height, alone with the sky, they spoke
to each other as if the earth had fallen away from
under their feet.
" Are you grieving for your dignity ? He was a
mediocre soul and could have given you but an
She did not even smile at those words, but,
superb, as if Uf ting a comer of the veil, she turned
on him slowly.
"And do you imagine I would have devoted
myself to him for such a purpose! Don't you
know that reparation was due to him from me? A
sacred debt — a fine duty. To redeem him would
not have been in my power— I know it. But he
was blameless, and it v. as for me to come forward.
Don't you see that in the eyes of the world nothing
could have rehabilitated him so completely as
hismarriage with me? No word of evil could be
whispered of him after I had given him my hand.
As to giving myself up to anything less than the
shaping of a man's destiny— if I thought I could
do it I would abhor myself. . . ." She spoke with
authority in her deep fascinating, unemotional
voice. Renouard meditated, gloomy, as if over
some sinister riddle of a beautiful sphinx met on
the wild road of his life.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 103
"Yes. Your father was right. You are one
of these aristocrats ..."
She drew herself up haughtily.
" What do you say? My fatherl ... I an
" OhI I don't mean that you are Uke the men
and women of the time of armours, castles, and
great deeds. Oh, no I They stood on the naked
soil, had traditions to be faithful to, had their feet
on this earth of passions and death which is not a
hothouse. They would have been too plebeian
for you since they had to lead, to suffer with to
understand the commonest humanity. No you
are merely of the topmost layer, disdainful and
supenor, the mere pure froth and bubble on the
mscrutable depths which some day will toss you
out of existence. But you are you! You are
you! You are the eternal love itself-only
Divinity, it isn't your body, it is your soul thiit is
made of foam."
She listened as if in a dream. He had succeeded
so weU m his effort to drive back the flood of his
passion that his life itself seemed to run with it
out of his body. At that moment he felt as one
dead speaking. But the headlong wave return-
ing with tenfold force flung him on her suddenly
with open ams and blazing eyes. She found
herself like a feather in his grasp, helpless, unable
104 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
to struggle, with her feet off the ground. But
this contact with her, maddening like too much
felicity, destroyed its own end. Fire ran through
his veins, turned his passion to ashes, burnt him
out and left him empty, without force— almost
without desire. He let her go before she could
cry out. And she was so used to the forms of
repression enveloping, softening the crude impulses
of old humanity that she no longer believed in
their existence as if it were an exploded legend.
She did not recognise what had happened to her.
She came safe out of his arms, without a struggle,
not even having felt afraid.
" What's the meaning of this? " she said, out-
raged but calm in a scornful way.
He got dfiv.Ti on his knees in silence, bent low
to her very feet, while she looked down at him, a
little surprised, without animosity, as if merely
curious to see what he would do. Then, while
he remained bowed to the ground pressing the hem
of her skirt to his lips, she made a slight movement.
He got up.
" No," he said. " Were you ever so much mine
what could I do with you without your consent?
No. You don't conquer a wraith, cold mist, stuff
of dreams, illusion. It must come to you and
cling to your breast. And then I Oh I And
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 105
AU ecstasy, aU expression went out of his face
have no fr"*^'" ^' '^^' " *^°"«'> y°" ««
J«ve no clann on my consideration after having
decoyed me here for the vile purpose, apparently'
of gloating over me as your possible prey. : wiU
^U you that I am not perhaps the exL;d;nI^
bemgyouthinklam. You may believe me. hZ
I stand for truth itself."
"What's that to me what you are? "heanswered,
At a sign from you I would climb up to the
seventh heaven to bring you down to eartS for my
own-and if I saw you steeped to the «ps in vice
m cnme. m mud. I would go after you. take you'
to my ams-wear you for an incomparable jewel
on my breast. And that's love-true love-the
gift and the curse of the gods. There is no other."
ne truth vibrating in his voice made her recoU
^hUy. for she was not fit to hear it-not even a
nttle-not even one single time in her hfe. It was
revoltmg to her; and in her trouble. pcrhTL
prompted by the suggestion of his name or To
soften die harshness of expression, for she wa^
obscurely moved, she spoke to him in French
Assez/ J-ai horreur de tout cela." she said
He was white to his very Ups. but he' was
trembhngnomore. The dice had been cast, and
not even violence could alter the throw She
passed by him unbendingly, and he followed her
io6 THE PLANTER OF BIALATA
down the path. After a time the heard him
"And your dream is to influence a human
" Yes I " she answered curtly, unabashed, with
woman's complete assurance.
' Then you may rest content. You have done
She shrugged her shoulders sUghtly. But just
before reaching the end of the path she relented,
stopped, and went back to him.
" I don't suppose you are very anxious for people
to know how near you came to absolute turpitude.
You may rest easy on that point. I shall speak t-^
my father, of course, and we will agree to say that
he has died — nothing more."
" Yes," said Rcnouard in a lifeless voice. " He
is dead. His very ghost shall be done with
She went on, but he remained standing stock still
in the dusk. She had ah-eady reached the three
palms when she heard behind her a loud peal of
laughter, cynical and joyless, such as is heard in
smoking-rooms at the end oi a scandalous story.
It made her feel positively faint for a moment.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
SlowLv . ccanpiete dartoess enveloped Gcoftev
« ead of following FeUcia Into the hou« he lid
stopped under the three pahns, and Sg J^,^j
a «nooth trunk had abandoned himself "0 a^^i
gone too far-so far that there Ln^^tf
JM he he had to give up, and with a sort of
d«pa.r«,g self-possession he tried to unde^and
the cause cf the defeat. He did not ascrii t^o
that absurd dead man. °
The hesitating shadow of Luiz approached him
savrj^.r^ ^"'' ^"^e? You must
say I beg to be excused. I can't come But I
^s. them to-mo.ow morning, at tilafi;
place. Take your orders from the professor wtf
the saihng of the schooner. Go now "
Luiz. dumbfounded, retreated into the darkness.
lo8 THE PLANTER OF MALATA
Renouard did not move, but hours afterwards,
like the bitter fruit of his immobility, the words:
" I had nothing to offer to her vanity," came from
his lips in the silence of the island. And it was
then only that he stirred, only to wear the night
out in restless tramping up and down the various
paths of the plantation. Luiz, whose sleep was
made light by the consciousness of some impending
change, heard footsteps passing by his hut, the
firm tread of the master; and turning on his mats
emitted a faint Tse! Tse! Tsel of deep concern.
Lights had been burning in the bungalow almost
all through the night; and with the first sign of
day began the bustle of departure. House boys
walked processionally carrying suit-cases and
dressing-bags down to the schooner's boat, which
csime to the landing place at the bottom of the
garden. Just as the rising sun threw its golden
nimbus aroimd the piuple shape of the headland,
the Plsinter of Malata was perceived pacing bare-
headed the curve of the httle bay. He exchanged
a few words with the sailing-master of the schooner,
then remained by the boat, standing very upright,
his eyes on the ground, waiting.
He had not long to wait. Into the cool, over-
shadowed garden the professor descended first, and
came jauntily down the path in a lively cracking of
small shells. With his closed parasol hooked on his
THE PLANTER OF MALATA 109
far^, and a book in his hand, he resembled a
banal tounst more than was permissible to a man of
his ,m,que distinction. He waved the disen^^ed
!f t hands. He seemed to appraise the aspect
oHhe man with a sharp glance, and made up'Ss
"We are going back by Suez." he began almost
^ terous y. .. I have been looking up'the sailing
^sts. If the zephirs of your Pacific are only
moderately propitious I think we are sure to catch
uirm' t " ''"'''''' °" ''^ ^'^^^
March. This will suit me exceUently. " He
lowered his tone. " My dear young friend iZ
deeply grateful to you." ^ ' ^ "
Renouard's set lips moved.
" ^hy are you grateful to me> "
'•Ah! Why? In the first place you might have
made us m.ss the next boat, mightn't you ? 1
don t thank you for your hospitahty. You can't
be ^g^ with me for saying that I am truly thank-
M to e«:ape from it. But I am grateful to you
f«r what you have done, and-for being What
It was difiicult to define the flavour of that
speech, but Renouard received it with an austerely
eqmvocal smile. The professor stepping into the
no THE PLANTER OF MALATA
boat opened his parasol and sat down in the stem-
sheets waiting for the ladies. No sound of human
voice broke the fresh silence of the morning while
they walked the broad path, Miss Moorsom a little
in advance of her aunt.
When she came abreast of him Renouard raised
" Good-bye, Mr. Renouard," she said in a low
voice, meaning to pass on; but there was such a
look of entreaty in the blue gleam of his sunken
eyes that after an imperceptible hesitation she laid
her hand, which was ungloved, in his extended
" Will you condescend to remember me? " he
asked, while an emotion with which she was angry
made her pale cheeks flush and her black eyes
" This is a strange request for you to make,"
she said exaggerating the coldness of her tone.
" Is it? Impudent perhaps. Yet I am not so
guilty as you think; and bear in mind that to me
you can never make reparation."
"Reparation? To you I It is you who can
offer me no reparation for the offence against my
f eeUngs — and my person ; for what reparation can
be adequate for your odious and ridiculous plot so
scornful in its implication, so humiliating to my
pride. Not I don't want to remember you."
THE PLANTER OF MALATA „,
«»->. steppe. r,iUr.™fnf
ratae. ^'^ <I"PP«<' " »iu, . fata,
moment afterwards softening L ^''*"' *
only his back in the disian.. '^'^
the bungalow. She^tchS^r"' ^^""'^
beforeshe tooleft the sJ^ofnttf""—^-
Nobody disturbed Renouard in thot-
he had shut himself in to^^t"e^e"°" "'''*'
Perfmne of her who for him wa^^^^^' '"^.r"*
in the afternoon when thiSal^^Te w^^ ^.''*"
the other side of the door ""^^^ ^^ ^^^ard on
Iia THE PLANTER OF MALATA
He wanted the master to know that the trader
Janet was just entering the cove.
Renouard's strong voice on his side of the door
gave him most unexpected instructions. He was
to pay off the boys with the cash in the office and
arrange with the captain of the Janet to take every
worker away from Maiata, returning them to their
respective homes. An order on the Dtmster firm
would be given to b>m in payment.
And again the siJence of the bungalow remained
unbroken till, next morning, the half-caste came to
report that everjrthing was done. The plantation
boys were embarking now.
Through a crack in the door a hand thrust at
him a piece of paper, and the door slammed to so
sharply that Luiz stepped back. Then approach-
ing cringingly the keyhole, in a propitiatory tone
" Do I go too, master? "
" Yes. You too. Everybody."
" Master stop here alone? "
Silence. And the half-caste's eyes grew wide
with woi.der. But he also, like those " ignorant
savages," the plantation boys, was only too glad
to leave an island haunted by the ghost of a white"
man. He backsd away noiselessly from the
mysterious silence in ihe closed room, and only in
the very doorway of the bungalow allowed himself
THE PUNIER OF MAIAT^ „,
"Tsel Tsel Tsel "
« town. Thufthe 1, "^'^^"^Hourhours
afterwards from relLJ ' ^"^ "°* P^^^^"* him
-anly tears in SseyesT^^^^ ""''' ''''''''■ ^'^
the fashionable Jdl, T ""'^^ ^°°^^°'"-
betrothedinMlt?o„,w "^^"^y-^^^nd her
Most people ^'Xt T "! '^ *^ '" ^^^ -™s.
frieni::^;e::?rnTed?r "^"^-^'^ ^^
rest of the world"^' Crof •°" "°" *^^" ^''^
perhaps, he th^rste^^ a ft"""'' r"""^"'^^'
f etail. And when he «: iLlrj .'T^^
^y'-g - port day after day hfru^ ^ .°"^^
n^aster to leam the reas J rT '"'""«
that such wer» his iT\- '"^" *°^^ him
ordered to he the': a :lTif "^ '^'^ ''-
Malata. And the montr^^ °''' ''*"™"« to
ask you to give Z7^LT--'':^''IZ " ' ^
He landed in the mT '^''^ ^''^ Editor.
the mormng at the bottom of
THE PLANTER OF MALATA
the garden and found peace, stillness, sunshine
reigning everywhere, the doors and windows of the
bungalow standing wide open, no sight of a human
being anywhere, the plants growing rank and tall
on the deserted fields. For hours the Editor and
the schooner's crew, excited by the mystery, roamed
over the island shouting Renouard's name; and
at last set themselves in grim silence to explore
systematically the uncleared bush and the deeper
ravines in search of his corpse. What had happened ?
Had he been murdered by the boys? Or had he
simply, capricious and secretive, abandoned his
plantation taking the people with him. It was im-
possible to tell what had happened. At last, towards
the decUne of the day, the Editor and the sailing
master discovered a track of sandals crossing a strip
of sandy beach on the north shore of the bay.
Following this track fearfully, they passed round
the spur of the headland, and there on a large stone
found the sandals, Renouard's white jacket, and the
Malay sarongof chequered pattern which theplantei
of Malata was well known to wear when going to
bathe. These things made a little heap, and the
sailor remarked, after gazing at it in silence —
" Birds have been hovering over this for many
" He's gone bathing and got drowned," cried the
Editor in dismay.
THE PLANTER OF MALATA „5
^blt^l'"''^- " '^^'"d been downed any-
where «,tlu„ a mile from the shore the body would
have been washed out on th ,eefs. AndoilTts
have found nothing so far" ""TDoats
Nothing was ever found -and Renouard's
du^ppeai^ce remained in the main inexpUcaWe
For to whom could it have occurred that a man
onxfe-with a steady stroke-his eyes fixed on a
Next evenmg fron, the receding schooner, the
EAtor looked back for the last time at the de-
Tt f "'u ^ '^^^'^ ^'""'^ '^-S hstlessly ot
the high rock on the middle hill; and under
«.e mysterious silence of that shadow M^t"
sunset, as if remembering the heart that was
broken there. ^
" And that be hanged for a silly yam. The boat-
men here in Westport have been telling this lie to
the summer visitors for years. The sort that gets
taken out for a row at a shilling a head— and asks
foolish questions— must be told something to pass
the time away. D'ye know anything more silly
than being pulled in a boat along a beach ? . . . It's
like drinking weak lemonade when you aren't
thirsty. I don't know why they do it I They
don't even get sick."
A forgotten glass of beer stood at his elbow; the
locality was a small respectable smoking-room of a
small respectable hotel, and a taste for forming
chance acquaintances accounts for my sitting up
late with him. His great, flat, furrowed cheeks
were shaven; a thick, square wisp of white hairs
hung from his chin; its waggling gave additional
point to his deep utterance; and his general con-
tempt for mankind with its activities and morali-
ties was expressed in the rakish set of his big soft
hat of black felt with a large rim. which he kept
always on Lij head.
His appearance was that of an oH adventurer,
retired after many unholy experiences in the darkest
parts of the earth; but I had every reason to believe
that he had never been outside England. From a
casual remark somebody dropped I gathered that
in his early days he must have been somehow con-
nected with shipping — with ships in docks. Of
individuality he had plenty. And it was this
which attracted my attention at first. But he
was not easy to classify, and before the end of the
week I gave him up with the vague definition, " an
imposing old ruffian."
One rainy afternoon, oppressed by infinite bore-
dom, I went into the smoking-room. He was
sitting there in absolute immobility, which wa^
really fakir-like and impressive. I began to wonder
what could be the associations of that sort of man,
his " milieu," his private connections, his views, his
morality, his friends, and even his wife — ^when to
my surprise he opened a conversation in a deep,
I must say that since he had learned from some-
body that I was a writer of stories he bad been
acknowledging my existence by means of some
vague growls in the morning.
He was essentially a tacitiun man. There was
an effect of rudeness in his fragmentary sentences.
It was some time before I discovered that what he
THE PARTNER ui
woulu be at wu the process by which stories-
stories for periodicals— were produced.
What could one say to a fellow like that? But
I was bored to death; the weather continued im-
possible; and I resolved to be amiable.
" And so you make these tales up on your own.
How do they ever come into your head? " he
I explained that one generally got a hint for
"What sort of hint?"
"Well, for instance," I said, "I got myself
rowed out to the rocks the other day. My boat-
man told me of the wreck on these rocks nearly
twenty years ago. That could be used as a hint
for a mainly descriptive bit of story with some
such title as ' In the Channel,' for instance."
It was then that he flew out at the boatmen and
the summer visitors who listen to their tales. With-
out moving a muscle of his face he emitted a power-
ful " Rot," from somewhere out of the depths of
his chest, and went on in his hoarse, fragmentary
mumble. "Stare at the silly rocks— nod their
silly heads [the visitors, I presume]. What do
they think a man is— blown-out paper bag or what ?
—go ofi pop like that when he's hit Damn
siUy yam Hint indeed ! . . . A lie ? "
You must imagine this statuesque ruffian en-
na THE PARTNER
haloed in the black rim of his hat, letting all this
out as an old dog growls sometimes, with his head
up and staring-away eyes.
"Indeed!" I exclaimed. "WeU, but even if
untrue it is a hint, enabling me to see these rocks,
this gale they speak of, the heavy seas, etc., etc.,
in relation to mankind. The struggle against
natural forces and the effect of the issue on at least
one, say, exalted "
He interrupted me by an aggressive—
" Would truth be any good to you? "
" I shouldn't like to say," I answered, cautiously.
" It's said that truth is stranger than fiction."
" Who saj^ that? " he mouthed.
" Oh I Nobody in particular."
I turned to the window; for the contemptuous
beggar was oppressive to look at, with his immov-
able arm on the table. I suppose my uncere-
monious maimer provoked him to a comparatively
" Did you ever see such a silly lot of rocks?
Like plums in a sUce of cold pudding."
I was looking at them — an acre or more of black
dots scattered on the steel-grey shades of the level
sea, imder the uniform gossamer grey mist with a
formless brighter patch in one place — the veiled
whiteness of the cliff coming through, like a diffused,
mysterious radiance. It was a deUcate and wonder-
All picture, sometluniB •'xpressive, suggestive, and
desolate, a symphc -ly in gicy ; -d black— a Whist-
ler. But the nex* th ag said jy the voice behind
me made me turn re ca.-! It fjrowled out contempt
for all associated notions of roaring seas with con-
cise energy, then went on—
" I— no such foolishness— looking at the rocks
out there— more Hkely call to mind an office— I
used to look in sometimes at one time— office in
London— one of them small streets behind Cannon
Street Station "
He was very deUberate; not jerky, only frag-
mentary; at times profane.
" That's a rather remote connection," I observed,
"Connection? To Hades with your connec-
tions. It was an accident."
" Still," I said, " an accident has its backward
and forward connections, which, if they could be
set forth "
Without moving he seemed to lend an atten-
"Aye! Set forth. That's perhaps what you
could do. Couldn't you now? There's no sea Ufe
in this connection. But you can put it in out of
your head— if you like."
" Yes. I could, if necessary," I said. " Some-
times it pays to put in a lot out of one's head, and
sometimes it doesn't. I mean that the story isn't
worth it. Everything's in that."
It amused me to talk to him Uke this. He re-
flected audibly that he guessed story-writers were
out after money like the rest of the world which
bad to live by its wits: and that it was extra-
ordinary how far people who were out after money
would go. . . . Some of them.
Then he made a sally against sea Ufe. Silly sort
of Ufe, he called it. No opportunities, no experi-
ence, no variety, nothing. Some fine men came
out of it — ^he admitted — but no more chance in the
world if put to it than fly. Kids. So Captain
Harry Dunbar. Good sailor Great name as a
skipper. Big man; short side-whiskers going grey,
fine face, loud voice. A good fellow, but no more
up to people's tricks than a baby.
" That's the captain of the Sagamore you're talk-
ing about," I said, confidently.
After a low, scornful " Of course " he seemed
now to hold on the wall with his fixed stare the
vision of that city office, " at the back of Cannon
Street Station," while he growled and mouthed a
fragmentary description, jerking his chin up now
and then, as if angry.
It was, according to his account, a modest place
of business, not shady in any sense, but out of the
way, in a small street now rebuilt from end to end.
" Seven doors from the Cheshire Cat pubUc house
under the railway bridge. I used to take my lunch
there when my business called me to the city.
Cloete would come in to have his chop and make
the girl laugh. No need to talk much, either, for
that. Nothing but the way he would twinkle his
spectacles on you and give a twitch of his thick
mouth was enough to start you off before he began
one of his little tales. Funny fellow, Cloete.
"What was he— a Dutchman? " I asked, not
seeing in the least what all this had to do with
the Westport boatmen and the Westport summer
visitors and this extraordinary old fellow's irritable
view of them as liars and fools. " Devil knows,"
he grunted, his eyes on the wall as if not to miss
a single movement of a cinematograph picture.
" Spoke nothing but English, anyway. First I
saw him— comes off a ship in dock from the States
— passenger. Asks me for a small hotel near by.
Wanted to be quiet and have a look round for a
few days. I took him to a place — friend of mine.
. . . Next time— in the City— Hallo ! You're very
obliging— have a drink. Talks plenty about him-
self. Been years in the States. All sorts of busi-
ness all over the place. With some patent
medicine people, too. Travels. Writes advertise-
ments and all that. Tells me funny stories. Tall,
loose-limbed fellow. Black hair up on end, like a
bnish; long face, long legs, long arms, twinkle
in his specs, jocular way of speaking — ^in a low
voice. . . . See that? "
I nodded, but he was not looking at me.
" Never laughed so much in my Ufe. The beggar
—would make you laugh teUing you how he skinned
his own father. He was up to that, too. A man
who's been in the patent-medicine trade will be up
to auything from pitch-and-toss to wilful murder.
And that's a bit of hard truth for you. Don't mind
what they do — think they can carry o£E anything
and talk themselves out of anything—all the
world's a fool to them. Business man, too, Cloeta.
Came over with a few hundred pounds. Looking
for something to do — in a quiet way. Nothing
like the old country, after all, says he. . . . And so
we part — I with more drinks in me than I was
used to. After a time, perhaps six months or so,
I nm up against liim again in Mr. George Dunbar's
office. Yes, that office. It wasn't often that I . . .
However, there was a bit of his cargo in a ship in
dock that I wanted to ask Mr. George about. In
comes Cloete out of the room at the back with some
papers in his hand. Partner. You understand ? "
" Aha ! " I said. " The few hundred pounds."
" And that tongue of his," he growled. " Don't
forget that tongue. Some of his tales must have
opened George Dunbar's eyes a bit as to what
" A plausible fellow," I suggested.
" H'm! You must have it in your own way
of course. WeU. Partner. George Dunbar puts
his top-hat on and tells me to wait a moment
George always looked as though he were making a
few thousands a year— a city swell. . . . Come
along, old man ! And he and Captain Harry go
out together— some business with a soUcitor round
the comer. Captain Harry, when he was in Eng-
land, used to turn up in his brother's office regularly
about twelve. Sat in a comer hke a good boy,
reading the paper and smoking his pipe. So they
go out. . . . Model brothers, says Cloete— two love-
birds—I am looking after the tinned-fruit side of
this cozy Uttle show. . . Gives me that sort of
talk. Then by-and-by: What sort of old thing is
that Sagamore? Finest ship out— eh? I dare
say ail ships are fine to you. You Uve by them. I
teU you what; I would just as soon put my money
into an old stocking. Sooner! "
He drew a breath, and I noticed his hand, lying
loosely on the table, close slowly into a fist. In
that immovable man it was startUng, ominous, Uke
the famed nod of the Commander.
" So, akeady at that time— note— already," he
" But hold on," I interrupted. " The Sagamore
belonged to Mundy and Rogers, I've been told."
He snorted contemptuously. " Damn boatmen
—know no better. Flew the firm's house-flag.
That's another thing. Favour. It was like this:
When old man Dunbar died. Captain Harry was
ahready in command with the firm. George
chucked the bank he was clerking in — to go on his
own with what there was to share after the old
chap. George was a smart man. Started ware-
housing ; then two or three things at a time : wood-
pulp, preserved-fruit trade, and so on. And
Captain Harry let him have his share to work with.
... I am provided for in my ship, he says. . . . But
by-and-by Mundy and Rogers begin to sell out
to foreigners all their ships— go into steam right
away. Captain Harry gets very upset— lose com-
mand, part with the ship he was fond of — very
wretched. Just then, so it happened, the brothers
came in for some money — an old woman died or
something. Quite a tidy bit. Then young George
says: There's enough between us two to buy the
Sagamore with But you'll need more money
for your business, cries Captain Harry— and the
other laughs at him : My business is going on all
right. Why, I can go out and make a handful of
sovereigns while you are trying to get your pipe
to draw, old man. . . . Mundy and Rogers very
THE PARTNER tag
friendly about it: Certainly, Captain. And we
will manage her for you, if you like, as if she were
still our own. . . . Why, with a connection Ukc
that it was good investment to buy that ship.
Good I Aye, at the time."
The turning of his head slightly toward me at
this point was like a sign of strong feeling in any
" You'U mind that this was long before Cloete
came into it at all," he muttered, wamingly.
" Yes. I will mind," I said. " We generally
say: some years passed. That's soon done."
He eyed me for a while silently in an unseeing
way, as if engrossed in the thought of the years so
easily dealt with; his own years, too, they were,
the years before and the years (not so many) after
Cloete came upon the scene. When he began to
speak again, I discerned his intention to point
out to me, in his obscure and graphic manner, the
influence on George Dunbar of long association
with Cloete's easy moral standards, unscrupulously
persuasive gift of humour (funny fellow), and
adventurously reckless disposition. He desired me
anxiously to elaborate this view, and I assured
him it was quite within my powers. He wished
me also to understand that George's business had
its ups and downs (the other brother was meantime
sailing to and fro serenely); that he got into low
water at times, which worried him rather, because
he had married a young wife with expensive tastes.
He was having a pretty anxious time of it generally ;
and just then Cloete ran up in the city somewhere
against a man working a patent medicine (the
fellow's old trade) with some success, but which,
with capital, capital to the time of thousands to be
spent with both hands on advertising, could be
turned into a great thing — infinitely better-paying
than a gold-mine. Cloete became excited at the
possibilities of that sort of business, in which he
was an expert. I understood that George's partner
was all on fire from the contact with this unique
" So he goes in every day into George's room
about eleven, and sings that tune till George
gnashes bis teeth with rage. Do shut up. What's
the good ? No money. Hardly any to go on with,
let alone pouring thousands into advertising.
Never dare propose to his brother Harry to sell
the ship. Couldn't think of it. Worry him to
death. It would be like the end of the world
coming. And certainly not for a business of that
kindl ... Do you think it would be a swindle?
asks Cloete, twitching his mouth. . . . George
owns up : No — ^would be np better than a squeamish
ass if he thought that, after all these years in
" Qoete looks at him hard— Never thought of
selling the ship. Expected the blamed old thing
wouldn't fetch half her insured value by this time.
Then George flies out at him. What's the mean-
ing, then, of tht se silly jeers at ship-owning for the
last three weeks ? Had enough of them, anyhow.
" Angry at having his mouth made to water,
see. Cloete don't get excited. ... I am no
squeamish ass, either, says he, very slowly. 'Tisn't
seUing your old Sagamore wants. The blamed
thing wants tomahawking (seems the name Saga-
more means an Indian chief or something. The
figure-head was a half-naked savage with a feather
over one ear and a hatchet in his belt). Tomahawk-
ing, says he.
" What do you mean ? asks George. . .
Wrecking— it could be managed with perfect
safety, goes on Cioete— your brother would then
put in his share of insurance money. Needn't
tell him exactly what for. He thinks you're the
smartest business man that ever lived. Make
his fortune, too. . . . George grips the desk
with both hands in his rage You think my
brother's a man to cast away his ship on purpose.
I wouldn't even dare think of such a thing in the
same room with him— the finest fellow that ever
lived. . . . Don't make such noise; they'll hear
you outside, says Cloete; and he tells him that his
brother is the salted pattern of aU virtues, but aU
that's necessary is to induce him to stay ashore
for a voyage— for a hohday— take a rest-why
not ? . . . In fact, I have in view somebody up to
that sort of game— Cloete whispers.
" George nearly chokes So you think I am
of that sort- you think me capable— What do
you take me for? . . . He ahnost loses his head,
while Cloete keeps cool, only gets white about the
gills I take you for a man who will be most
cursedly hard up before long. ... He goes to the
door and sends s^w.y the clerk&-there were only
two— to take tfteu iunch hour. Comes back.
What are you indignant about? Do I want you
to rob the widow and orphan ? Why, man I Lloyd's a
corporation, it hasn't got a body to starve. There's
forty or more of them perhaps who underwrote the
lines on that silly ship of yours. Not one human
being would go hungry or cold for it. They take
every risk into consideration. Everything I tell
you That sort of talk. H'ml George too
upset to speak— only gurgles and waves his arms;
so sudden, you see. The other, warming his back
at the fire, goes on. Wood-pulp business next door
toafaUure. Tinned-fruit trade nearly played out.
. . . You're frightened, he says; but the law is
only meant to frighten fools away. . . . And he
shows how safe casting away that ship would be.
Premiums paid for so many, many years. No
THE PARTNER ,33
shadow of suspicion could arise. And, dash it aU I
a ship must meet her end some day. . . .
" I am not frightened. I am indignant, says
" Qoete boiling with rage inside. Chance of a
Wetune-his chance! And he says kindly: Your
wife 11 be much more indignant when you ask her
to get out of that pretty house of yours and pUe
m into a two-pair back-with kids perhaps, too.
George had no children. Married a couple of
years; looked forward to a kid or two very much
Feels more upset than ever. Talks about an honest
man for father, and so on. Cloete grins: You be
quick before they come, and they'U have a rich
man for father, and no one the worse for it That's
the beauty of the thing.
" George nearly cries. I believe he did cry at
odd times. This went on for weeks. He couldn't
quanel with Cloete. Couldn't pay off his few
hundreds; and besides, he was used to have him
about. Weak fellow. George. Cloete generous
too. . . . Don't think of my litUe pile, says he.
Of course ,t s gone when we have to shut up. But
I dont care, he says. ... And then there was
George . new wife. When Cloete dines there, the
beggar puts on a dress suit; little woman liked if
• • • Mr. Cloete. my husband's partner; such a
clever man, man of the world, so amusing!
When he dines there and they are alone: Oh, Mr.
Cloete, I wish George would do something to im-
prove our prospects. Our position is really so
mediocre. . . . And Cloete smiles, but isn't sur-
prised, because he had put all these notions himself
into her empty head. . . . What your husband
wants is enterprise, a little audacity. You can
encourage him best, Mrs. Dunbar She was a
silly, extravagant little fool. Had made George
take a house in Norwood. Live up to a lot of
people better off than themselves. I saw her
once; silk dress, pretty boots, all feathers and
scent, pink face. More like the Promenade at the
Alhambra than a decent home, it looked to me.
But some women do get a devil of a hold on a man."
" Yes, some do," I assented. " Even when the
man is the husband."
" My missis," he addressed me unexpectedly,
in a solemn, surprisingly hollow tone, " could wind
me round her little finger. I didn't find it out till
she was gone. Aye. But she was a woman of
sense, while that piece of goods ought to have been
walking the streets, and that's all I can say. . . .
You must make her up out of your head. You
will know the sort."
" Leave all that to me," I said.
"H'ml" he grunted, doubtfully, then going
back to his scornful tone: " A month or so after-
wards the Sagamore arrives home. All very jolly
at first. .. . Hallo, George boy! Hallo, Hany,
old man! ... But by and by Captain Harry
thinks his clever brother is not looking very well.
And George begins to look worse. He can't get
rid of Cloete's notion. It has stuck in his head
There's nothing wrong— quite well. . . . Captain
Harry still anxious. Business going all right, eh?
Quite right. Lots of business. Good business.
... Of course Captain Harry believes that easily.
Starts chaffing his brother in his jolly way about
rolling in money. George's shirt sticks to his back
with perspiration, and he feels quite angry with
the captain. ... The fool, he says to himself.
Rolling in money, indeed! And then he thinks
"iddenly : Why not ? . . . Because Cloete's notion
* hold of his mind,
next day he weakens and says to Cloete
. . . Perhaps it would be best to sell. Couldn't
you talk to my brother? and Cloete explains to
him over again for the twentieth time why selUng
wouldn't do, anyhow. No! The Sagamore must
be tomahawked— as he would caU it; to spare
George's feelings, maybe. But every time he says
the word, George shudders. . . . I've got a man at
hand competent for the job who wiU do the trick
for five hundred, and only too pleased at the chance,
says Cloete. . , . George shuts his eyes tight at
that sort of talk— but at the same time he thinks:
Humbug! There can be no such man. And yet if
there was such a man it would be safe enough —
"And Cloete alwajrs funny about it. He
couldn't talk about anything without it seeming
there was a great joke in it somewhere. . . . Now,
says he, I know you are a moral citizen, George.
Morality is mostly funk, and I think you're the
funkiest man I ever came across in my travels.
Why, you are afraid to speak to your brother.
Afraid to open your mouth to him with a fortune
for us all in sight. . . . George flares up at this:
no, he ain't afraid; he will speak; bangs fist on the
desk. And Cloete pats him on the back We'll
be made men presently, he says.
" But the first time George attempts to speak
to Captain Harry his heart slides down into his
boots. Captain Harry only laughs at the notion
of staying ashore. He wants no holiday, not he.
But Jane thinks of remaining in England this trip.
Go about a bit and see some of her people. Jane
was the Captain's wife; roimd-faced, pleasant
lady. George gives up that time; but Cloete
won't let him rest. So he tries s^ain; and the
Captain frowns. He frowns because he's puzzled.
He can't make it out. He has no notion of living
away from his Sagamore. . . ."
" Ahl " I cried. " Now I understand."
" No, you don't," he growled, his black, con-
temptuous stare turning on me crushingly.
" I beg your pardon," I murmured.
"H'ml Very well, then. Captain Harry looks
very stem, and George crumples all up inside
He sees through me, he thinks. ... Of course it
could not be; but George, by that time, was scared
at his own shadow. He is shirking it with Cloete,
too. Gives his partner to understand that his
brother has half a mind to try a spell on shore,
and so on. Cloete waits, gnawing his fingers; so
anxious. Cloete really had found a man for the
job. BeUeve it or not, he had found him inside
the very boarding-house he lodged in— somewhere
about Tottenham Court Road. He had noticed
down-stairs a fellow— a boarder and not a boarder
—hanging about the dark part of the passage
mostly; sort of ' man of the house,' a slinking
chap. Black eyes. White face. The woman of
the house— a widow lady, she called herself—
very full of Mr. Stafford; Mr. Stafford this and Mr.
Stafford that. . . . Anyhow, Cloete one evening
takes him out to have a drink. Cloete mostly
passed away his evenings in saloon bars. No
drunkard, though, Cloete; for company; Uked to
talk to all sorts there; just habit; American
" So Cloete takes that chap out more than once.
Not very good company, though. Little to say
for himself. Sits quiet and drinks what's given
to him, eyes always half closed, speaks sort of
demure. ... I've had misfortunes, he says. The
truth was they had kicked him out of a big steam-
ship company for disgraceful conduct; nothing
to afiect his certificate, you understand; and he
had gone down quite easily. Liked it, I expect.
Anything's better than work. Lived on the widow
lady who kept that boarding-house."
"That's almost incredible," I ventured to
interrupt " A man with a master's certificate,
do you mean? "
" I do; I've known them 'bus cads," he growled,
contemptuously. " Yes. Swing on the tail-board
by the strap and yell, 'tuppence all the way.'
Through drink. But this Stafiord was of another
kind. Hell's full of such Stafiords; Cloete would
make fim of him, and then there would be a nasty
gleam in the fellow's half-shut eye. But Cloete was
generally Idnd to him. Cloete was a fellow that
would be kind to a mangy dog. Anyhow, he
used to stand drinks to that object, and now and
then gave him half a crown — ^because the widow
lady kept Mr. Stafford short of pocket-money.
They had rows almost every day down in the
basement. . . .
" It was the fellow being a sailor that put into
Cloete's mind the first notion of doing away with
the Sagamore. He studies him a bit, thinks there's
enough devil in him yet to be tempted, and one
evening he says to him ... I suppose you wouldn't
mind going to sea again, for a spell ? . . . The other
never raises his eyes; says it's scarcely worth one's
while for the miserable salary one gets. . . . Well,
but what do you say to captain's wages f'..- a time,
and a couple of hundred extra if you are compelled
to come home without the ship. Accidents will
happen, says Cloete. ... Oh I sure to, says that
Stafford; and goes on taking sips of his drink as
if he had no interest in the matter.
" Cloete presses him a bit; but the other
observes, impudent and languid like: You see,
there's no future in a thing Uke that — ^is there?
... Oh I no, says Cloete. Certainly not. I don't
mean this to have any future — as far as you are
concerned. It's a ' once for all ' transaction.
Well, what do you estimate your future at? he
asks. . . . The fellow more listless than ever —
nearly asleep. I believe the skunk was really too
lazy to care. Small cheating at cards, wheedling
or bullying his living out of some woman or other,
was more his style. Cloete swears at him in
whispers something awful. All this in the saloon
bar of the Horse Shoe, Tottenham Court Road.
FInaUy they agree, over the second sixpennyworth
of Scotch hot, on five hundred pounds as the price
of tomahawking the Sagamore. And Cloete waits
to see what George can do.
" A week or two goes by. The other feUow loafs
about the house as if there had been nothing, and
Cloete begins to doubt whether he reaL'y means
ever to tackle that job. But one day he stops
Cloete at the door, with his downcast eyes: What
sb-.ut that employment you wished to give me?
h> asks. . . . You see, he had played some more
than usual dirty trick on the woman and expected
awful ructions presently; and to be fired out for
sure. Cloete very pleased. George had been pre-
varicating to him such a lot that he really thought
the thing was as well as settled. And he says:
Yes. It's time I introduced you to my frien.'
Just get your hat and we will go now. . . .
" The two come into th?; office, and George at
his desk sits up in a sudden panic — staring. Sees a
tallish fellow, sort of nasty-handsome face, heavy
eyes, half shut ; short drab overcoat, shabby bowler
hat, very careful-like in his movements. And he
thinks to himself. Is that how such a .nan looks!
No. the thing's impossible. . . . Cloete does the
introduction, and the fellow turns round to look
behind him at the chair before he sits down. . . .
A thoroughly competent man, Qoete goes on. . . .
THE PARTNER 14J
The man says nothing, dts perfectly quiet. And
George can't speak, throat too diy. Then he makes
an effort: H'm! H'ml Oh yes-unfortunately—
Sony to disappoint— my brother— made other
arrangements— going himself.
" The fellow gets up, never raising his eyes off
the ground, like a modest girl, and goes out softly,
right out of the office without a sound. Cloete
sticks his chin in his hand and bites all his fingers
at once. George's heart slows down and he speaks
to Qoete This can't be done. How can it
be? Directly the ship is lost Harry would see
through it. You know he is a man to go to the
underwriters himself with his suspicions. And
he would break his heart over me. How can I
play that on him? There's only two of us in the
world belonging to each other
" Ck)ete lets out a horrid cuss-word, jumps up,
bolts away into his room, and George hears hini
there banging things around. After a while he
goes to the door and says in a trembling voice:
You ask me for an impossibility. . . . Cloete in-
side ready to fly out like a tiger and rend him. but
he opens the door a little way and says softly:
Talking of hearts, yours is no bigger than a mouse's,
let me tell you But George doesn't care-
load off the heart, anyhow. And just then Captain
Harry comes in HaUo, George boy. I am
a little late. What about a chop at the Cheshire,
now? . . . Right you are, old man. . . . And off
they go to lunch together. Qoete has nothing
to eat that day.
" George feels a new man for a time; but all of
a sudden that fellow Stafford begins to hang about
the street, in sight of the house door. The first
time George sees him he thinks he made a mistake.
But no; next time he has to go out, there is the
very fellow skulking on the other side of the road.
It makes George nervous; but he must go out on
business, and when the fellow cuts across the road-
way he dodges him. He dodges him once, twice,
three times; but at last he gets nabbed in his very
doorway What do you want ? he says, trying
to look fierce.
" It seems that ructions had come in the base-
ment of that boarding-house, and the widow lady
had turned on him (being jealous mad), to the
extent of talking of the police. That Mr. Stafford
couldn't stand ; so he cleared out like a scared stag,
and there he was, chucked into the streets, so to
speak. Cloete looked so savage as he went to and
fro that he hadn't the spunk to tackle him; but
George seemed a softer kind to his eye. He would
have been glad of half a quid, anything. . . . I've
had misfortunes, he says softly, in his demure way,
which frightens George more than a row would
have done. . . . Consider the severity of my dis-
appointment, he says. . . .
" George, instead of telling him to go to the devil,
loses his head I don't know you. What do
you want? he cries, and bolts up-stairs to Cloete.
. . . Look what's come of it, he gasps ; now we are
at the mercy of that horrid feUow. . . . Cloete
tries to show him that the feUow can do nothing;
but George thinks that some sort of scandal may
be forced on, anyhow. Says that he can't live
with that horror haunting him. Cloete would
laugh if he weren't too weary of it all. Then a
thought strikes him and he changes his tune
Well, perhaps I I will go down-stairs and send him
away to begin with. ... He comes back. . . .
He's gone. But perhaps you are right. The
fellow's hard up, and that's what makes people
desperate. The best thing would be to get him
out of the country for a time. Look here, the poor
devil is really in want of employment. I won't
ask you much this time: only to hold your tongue;
and I shall try to get your brother to take him as
chief officer. At this George lays his arms and his
head on his desk, so that Cloete feels sorry for him.
But altogether Qoete feels more cheerful because he
has shaken the ghost a bit into that Stafford. That
very afternoon he buys him a suit of blue clothes,
and tells him that he will have to turn to and work
for his living now. Go to sea as mate of the Saga-
more. The skunk wasn't very willing, but what
with having nothing to eat and no place to sleep
in, and the woman having frightened him with the
talk of some prosecution or other, he had no choice,
in-operly speaking. Cloete takes care of him for
a couple of days Our arrangement still stands,
says he. Here's the ship bound for Port Elizabeth ;
not a safe anchorage at all. Should she by chance
part from her anchors in a north-east gale and get
lost on the beach, as many of them do, why, it's
five hundred in your pocket— and a quick return
home. You are up to the job, ain't you ?
" Otu- Mr. Stafford takes it all in with downcast
eyes I am a competent seaman, he says, with
his sly, modest air. A ship's chief mate has no
doubt many opportunities to manipulate the chains
and anchors to some purpose. ... At this Cloete
thumps him on the back: You'll do, my noble
sailor. Go in and win. . . .
"Next thing George knows, his brother tells
him that he had occasion to oblige his partner.
And glad of it, too. Likes the partner no end.
Took a friend of his as mate. Man had his troubles,
been ashore a year nursing a dying wife, it seems.
Down on his luck. . . . George protests earnestly
that he knows nothing of the person. Saw him
once. Not very attractive to look at. . . . And
THE PARTNER ^^
Captain Hany say, b his hearty way. That's so
but must give the poor devil a chance
" So Mr. Stafford joins in dock. And it seems
that he did manage to monkey with one of the
cables— keeping his mind on Port Elizabeth The
riggers had all the cable ranged on deck to clean
lockers. The new mate watches them go ashore-
dmner hour-and sends the ship-keeper out of the
ship to fetch him a bottle of beer. Then he goes
to work whittling away the forelock of the forty-
five-fathom shackle-pin. gives it a tap or two with
a hammer just to make it loose, and of course that
cable wasn't safe any more. Riggers come back-
you know what riggers are: come day. go day
axid God send Sunday. Down goes the chain into
the locker without their foreman looking at the
shackles at aU. What does he care? He ain't
going m the ship. And two days later the ship
goes to sea " *^
At this point I was incautious enough to breathe
out another " I see." which gave offence again
and brought on me a rude " No. you don't "-sis
before. But in the pause he remembered the glass
of beer at his elbow. He drank half of it. Mdped
lus mustaches, and remarked grimly—
"Don't you think that there will be any sea life
in this, because there ain't. If
you re going to put
any out of your own head, now's your chance,
I suppose you know what ten days of bad weather
in the Channel are like? I don't. Anyway, ten
whole days go by. One Monday Cloete comes to
the office a little late — hears a woman's voice in
George's room and looks in. Newspapers on the
desk, on the floor; Captain Harry's wife sitting
with red eyes and a bag on the chair near her. . . .
Look at this, says George, in great excitement,
showing him a paper. Cloete's heart gives a jump.
Ha I Wreck in Westport Bay. The Sagamore gone
ashore early hours of Sunday, and so the news-
paper men had time to put in some of their work.
Columns of it. Lifeboat out twice. Captain and
crew remain by the ship. Tugs summoned to
assist. If the weather improves, this well-known
fine ship may yet be saved. . . . You know the
way these chaps put it. . . . Mrs. Harry there on
her way to catch a train from Cannon Street Got
an hour to wait.
" Cloete takes George aside and whispers: Ship
saved yet I Oh, damn I That must never be;
you hear? B- ^ George looks at him dazed, and
Mrs. Harry keeps on sobbing quietly: ... I
ought to have been with him. But I am going to
him. . . . We are all going together, cries Cloete,
all of a sudden. He rushes out, sends the woman
a cup of hot bovril from the shop across the road,
buys a rug for her, thinks of everything ; and in the
THE PARTNER x^
train tucks her in and keeps on talking, thirteen
to the dozen, aU the way, to keep her spirits up,
as it were; but reaUy because he can't hold his
peace for very joy. Here's the thing done aU at
once, and nothing to pay. Done. Actually done.
His head swims now and again when he thinks of
it. What enormous luck! It ahnost frightens
him. He would Uke to yeU and sing. Meantime
George Dunbar sits in his comer, looking so deadly
miserable that at last poor Mrs. Harry tries to
comfort him, and so cheers herself up at the same
time by talking about how her Harry is a prudent
man; not Ukely to risk his crew's life or his own
unnecessarily- -and so on.
" First thing they hear at Westport station is
that the Ufe-boat has been out to the ship again,
and has brought of! the second officer, who had hurt
himself, and a few sailors. Captain and the rest
of the crew, about fifteen i all, are still on board.
Tugs expected to arrive .v. y moment.
They take Mrs. Harry to the inn, nearly oppo-
site the rocks; she bolts straight up-stairs tt look
out of the window, and she lets out a great cry when
she sees the wreck. She won't rest till she gets on
board to her Harry. Cloete soothes her all he can.
• ■ . AU right; you try to eat a mouthful, and we
will go to make inquiries.
" He draws George out of the room: Look here.
■he can't go on board, but I ihall. I'll lee to it
that he doesn't stop in the ship too long. Let's
go and find the coxswain of the life-boat. . . .
George follows him, shivering from time to time.
The waves are washing over the old pier; not much
wind, a wild, gloomy sky over the bay. In the
whole world only one tug away ofi, heading to the
seas, tossed in and out of sight every minute as
regular as clockwork.
" They meet the coxswain and he tells them:
Yes I He's going out again. No, they ain't in
danger on board — not yet. But the ship's chance
is very poor. Still, if the wind doesn't pipe up
again and the sea goes down something might be
tried. After some talk he agrees to take Cloete on
board; supposed to be with an urgent message
from the owners to the captain.
" Whenever Cloete looks at the sky he feels
comforted; it looks so threatening. George Dim-
bar follows him about with a white face and saying
nothing. Cloete takes him to have a drink or two,
and by and by he begins to pick up. . . . That's
better, says Cloete; dash me if it wasn't like walk-
ing about with a dead man before. You ought to
be throwing up your cap, man. I feel as if I wanted
to stand in the street and cheer. Your brother
is safe, the ship is lost, and we are made men.
"Are you certain she's lost? asks George. It
would be an awful blow after aU the agonies I have
gone through in my mind, since you first spoke t
me, if she were to be got off— and— and— all tk.
temptation to begin over again For we had
nothing to do with this; had we?
"Of course not. says Cloete. Wasn't your
brother himself in charge? It's providential
Oh I cries George, shocked WeU. say it's the
devil, says Cloete. cheerfully. I don't mind! You
had nothing to do with it any more than a baby
unborn, you great softy, you. . . . Cloete has got
so that he ahnost loved George Dunbar. Well.
Yes. That was so. I don't mean he respected
him. He was just fond of his partner.
" They go back, you may say fairly skipping, to
the hotel, and find the wife of the captain at the
open window, with her eyes on the ship as if she
wanted to fly across the bay over there Now
then. Mrs. Dunbar, cries Cloete, you can't go, but
I am going. Any messages? Don't be shy. ' I'U
deliver every word faithfully. And if you would
like to give me a kiss for him, I'U deliver that too,
dash me if I don't.
" He makes Mrs. Harry laugh with his patter.
Oh, dear Mr. Cloete. you are a cahn. reasonable
man. Make him behave sensibly. He's a bit
obstinate, you know, and he's so fond of the ship,
too. Tell him I am here— looking on Trust
me, Mrs. Dunbar. Only shut that window, that's
a good girl. You will be sure to catch cold ii you
don't, and the Captain won't be pleased coming ofi
the wreck to find you coughing and sneezing so
that you can't tell him how happy you are. And
now if you can get me a bit of tape to fasten my
glasses on good to my ears, I will be going. . . .
" How he gets on board I don't know. All wet
and shaken and excited and out of breath, he does
get on board. Ship lying over, smothered in
sprays, but not moving very much; just enough
to jag one's nerve a bit. He finds them all crowded
on the deck-house forward, in their shiny oUskins,
with faces like sick men. Captain Harry can't
believe his eyes. What! Mr. Cloetel What
are you doing here, in God's name? . . . Your
wife's ashore there, looking on, gasps out Cloete;
and after they had talked a bit. Captain Harry
thinks it's uncommonly plucky and kind of his
brother's partner to come off to him like this.
Man glad to have somebody to talk to. . . . It's a
bad business, Mr. Cloete, he says. And Cloete
rejoices to hear that. Captain Harry thinks he
had done his best, but the cable had parted when
he tried to anchor her. It was a great trial to lose
the ship. Well, he would have to face it. He
fetches a deep sigh now and then. Cloete almost
sorry he had come on board, because to be on that
wreck keeps his chest in a tight band all 'he time.
They crouch out of the wind under the port boat,
a little apart from the men. The life-boat had
gone away after putting Cloete on board, but was
coming back next high water to take off the crew
if no attempt at getting the ship afloat could be
made. Dusk was falling; winter's day; black
sky; wind rising. Captain Harry felt melancholy.
God's will be done. If she must be left on the
rocks— why, she must. A man should take what
God sends 5i„ti standing up. . . . Suddenly his
voice breaks, and he "squeezes Cloete's arm: It
seems as if I couldn't leave her, he whispers.
Cloete looks round at the men hke a lot of huddled
sheep and thinks to himself: They won't stay. . . .
Suddenly the ship hfts a httle and sets down with
a thump. Tide rising. Everybody beginning to
look out for the life-boat. Some of the men made
her out far away and also two more tugs. But the
gale has come on again, and everybody knows that
no tug will ever dare come near the ship.
" That's the end, Captain Harry sajrs, very low.
. . . Qoete thinks he never felt so cold in all his
life. . . . And I feel as if I didn't care to live on
just now, mutters Captain Harry Your wife's
ashore, looking on, says Qoete. . . . Yes. Yes.
It must be awful for her to look at the poor old
ship lying here done for. Why, that's our home.
" Qoete thinks that as long as the Sagamore's
done for he doesn't care, and only wishes himself
somewhere else. The sUghtest movement of the
ship cuts his breath like a blow. And he feels
excited by the danger, too. The captain takes
him aside The life-boat can't come near us
for more than an hour. Look here, Cloete, since
you are here, and such a plucky one— do something
for me He teUs him then that down in his
cabin aft in a certain drawer there is a bundle of
important papers and some sixty sovereigns in a
small canvas bag. Asks Cloete to go and get these
things out. He hasn't been below since the ship
struck, and it seems to him that if he were to take
his eyes off her she would fall to pieces. And then
the men— a scared lot by this time— if he were to
leave them by themselves they would attempt to
launch one of the ship's boats in a panic at some
heavier thump— and then some of them bound to
get drowned. . . . There are two or three boxes
of matches about my shelves in my cabin if you
want a light, says Captain Harry. Only wipe
your wet hands before you begin to feel for them. . . .
" Qoete doesn't like the job, but doesn't like to
show funk, either— and he goes. Lots of water
on the main-deck, and he splashes along; it was
getting dark, too. All at once, by the mainmast,
somebody catches him by the arm. Stafford.
THE PARTNER 153
He wasn't thinking of Stafford at aU. Captain
Hany had said something as to the mate not being
quite satisfactory, but it wasn't much. Cloete
doesn't recognise him in his oilskins at first He
sees a white face with big eyes peering at him. . .
Are you pleased, Mr. Cloete . . . ?
"Cloete is moved to laugh at the whine, and
shakes him off. But the fellow scrambles on after
hmi on the poop and follows him down into the
cabin of that wrecked ship. And there they are
the two of them; can hardly see each other. .
You don't mean to make me beUeve you have had
anything to do with this, says Cloete.
" They both shiver, nearly out of their wits with
the excitement of being on board that ship. She
thumps and lurches, and they stagger together,
feehng sick. Cloete again bursts out laughing
at that wretched creature Stafford pretending to
have been up to something so desperate. . Is
that how you think you can treat me now? yells
the other man all of a sudden
" A sea strikes the stem, the ship trembles and
groans all round them, there's the noise o: the seas
about and overhead, confusing Cloete, and he
hears the other screaming as if crazy. Ah
you don't believe mel Go and look at the pori
Cham Parted? Eh? Go and see if it's parted.
Go and find the broken link. You can't. There's
no broken link. That means a thousand pounds
for me. No less. A thousand the day after we
get ashore— prompt. I won't wait till she breaks
up, Mr. Cloete. To the underwriters I go if I've
to walk to London on my bare feet. Port cablet
Look at her port cable, I will say to them. I
doctored it — for the owners — tempted by a low
rascal called Cloete.
" Cloete does not '.mderstand what it means
exactly. All he sees is that the fellow means to
make mischief. He sees trouble ahead. ... Do
you think you can scare me? he asks, — you poor
miserable skunk. . . . And Stafford faces him
out — both holding on to the cabin table : No, damn
you, you s\re only a dirty vagabond; but I can
scare the other, the chap in the black coat. . . .
" Meaning George Dunbar. Cloete's brain reels
at the thought. He doesn't imagine the fellow
can do any real harm, but he knows what George
is; give the show away; upset the whole business
he had set his heart on. He says nothing; he
hears the other, what with the funk and strain and
excitement, panting like a dog — and then a snarl.
... A thousand down, twenty-four hours after
we get ashore; day after to-morrow. That's my
last word, Mr. Cloete. ... A thousand pounds,
day after to-morrow, says Cloete. Oh yes. And
to-day take this, you dirty cur. ... He hits
straight from the shoulder in sheer rage, nothing
else. Stafford goes away spinnmg along the bulk-
head. Seeing this, Cloete steps out and lands him
another one somewhere about the jaw. The fellow
staggers backward right into the captain's cabin
through the open door. Cloete, foUowing him up.
hears him fall down heavily and roU to leeward,
then slams the door to and turns the key.
There! says he to himself, that will stop you from
" By Jove I " I murmured.
The old feUow departed from his impressive
immobihty to turn his rakishly hatted head and
look at me with his old, black, lack-lustre eyes.
" He did leave him there," he uttered, weightily,
returning to the contemplation of the wall. " Cloete
didn't mean to allow anybody, let alone a thing
hke Stafford, to stand in the way of his great
notion of making George and himself, and Captain
Hany, too, for that matter, rich men. And he
didn't think much of consequences. These patent-
medicine chaps don't care what they say or what
they do. They think the world's bound to swallow
any story they like to tell. .. He stands hstening
for a bit. And it gives him quite a turn to hear
a thump at the door and a sort of muffled raving
screech inside the captain's room. He thinks he
hears his own name, too, through the awful crash
as the old Sagamore rises and falls to a sea. That
noise and that awful shock make him clear out of
the cabin. He collects his senses on the poop.
But his heart sinks a little at the black wildness
of the night. Chances that he will get drowned
himself before long. Puts his head down the
companion. Through the wind and breaking seas
he can hear the noise of Stafford's beating against
the door and cursing. He Ustens and says to him-
self: No. Can't trust him now. . . .
" When he gets back to the top of the deck-house
he says to Captain Harry, who asks him if he got
the things, that he is very sorry. There was some-
thing wrong with the door. Couldn't open it.
And to tell you the truth, says he, I didn't hke to
stop any longer in that cabin. There are noises
there as if the ship were going to pieces Captain
Harry thinks: Nervous; can't be anjrthing wrong
with the door. But he says: Thanks — ^nevermind,
never mind. ... All hands looking out now for the
life-boat. Everybody thinking of himself rather.
Cloete asks himself, will they miss him? But the
fact is that Mr. Stafford had made such poor show
at sea that after the ship struck nobody ever paid
any attention to him. Nobody cared what he did
or where he was. Pitch dark, too — ^no counting of
heads. The light of the tug with the Ufe-boat in tow
is seen making for the ship, and Captain Harry
* — .:»■
asks: Are we aU there? . . . Somebody answers-
AU here, sir.... Stand by to leave the ship, then
says Captain Harry; and two of you help the
gentleman over first. .. . Aye, aye. sir. . . .
Cloete was moved to ask Captain Hany to let
him stay tiU last, but the Ufe-boat drops on a
grapnel abreast the fore-rigging, two chaps lay
hold of him, watch their chance, and drop hun
into her, all safe.
" He's nearly exhausted; not used to that sort
of thing, you see. He sits in the stem-sheets with
his eyes shut. Don't want to look at the white
water boiling all around. The men drop into the
boat one after another. Then he hears Captain
Harry's voice shouting in the wind to the cox-
swain, to hold on a moment, and some other words
he can't catch, and the coxswain yelling back-
Don't be long, sir. . . . What is it? Cloete asks
feeUng faint. . . . Something about the ship's
papers, says the coxswain, very anxious. It's
no time to be fooling about alongside, you under-
stand. They haul the boat off a little and wait.
The water flies over her in sheets. Cloete's senses
ahnost leave him. He thinks of nothing. He's
numb all over, till there's a shout: Here he is! . . .
They see a figure in the fore-rigging waiting-they
slack away on the grapnel-Une and get him in the
boat quite easy. There is a little shouting-it's
. - -V '.!■.
Mi.(K"ii a' - ^•' j&s-^- ■
all mixed up with the noise of the sea. Goete
fancies that Stafford's voice is talking away quite
close to his ear. There's a lull in the wind, and
Stafford's voice seems to be speaking very fast to
the coxswain; he tells him that of course he was
near his skipper, was all the time near him, till the
old man said at the last moment that he must go
and get the ship's papers from aft; would insist
on going himself; told him, Stafford, to get into
the life-boat. ... He had meant to wait for his
skipper, only there came this smooth of the seas,
and he thought he would take his chance at once.
" Cloete opens his eyes. Yes. There's Stafford
sitting close by him in that crowded life-boat.
The coxswain stoops over Cloete and cries: Did
you hear what the mate said, sir? . . . Cloete's
face feels as if it were set in plaster, Ups and all.
Yes, I did, he forces himself to answer. The cox-
swain waits a moment, then says: I don't like it.
. . . And he turns to the mate, telling him it was
a pity he did not try to run along the deck and
hurry up the captain when the lull came. Stafford
answers at once that he did think of it, only he was
afraid of missL.g him on the deck in the dark.
For, says he, the captain might have got over at
once, thinking I was already in the life-boat, and
you would have hauled off perhaps, leaving me
behind. . . . True enough, says the coxswain. A
THE PARTNER ijg
minute or so passes. This won't do, mutters tlie
coxswain. Suddenly Stafford spealcs up in a sort
of hoUow voice: I was by wlien he told Mr. Cloete
here that he didn't know how he would ever have
the courage to leave the old ship; didn't he. now?
. . . And Cloete feels his arm being gripped quietly
in the dark.... Didn't he now? We were stand-
ing together just before you went over, Mr
Cloete? . . .
" Just then the coxswain cries out: I'm going
on board to see Cloete tears his arm away:
I am going with you. . . .
"When they get aboard, the coxswain teUs
Cloete to go aft along one side of the ship and he
would go along the other so as not to miss the
captain. . . . And feel about with your hands,
too. says he; he might have faUen and be lying
insensible somewhere on the deck. . . . When
Cloete gets at last to the cabin companion on the
poop the coxswain U ah^dy there, peering down
and sniffing. I detect a smell of smoke down there,
says he. And he yeUs: Are you ...ere, sir? . . .'
This is not a case for shouting, says Cloete, feeling
his heart go stony, as it were. . . . Down they go.
Pitch dark; the inclination so sharp that the cox-
swain, groping his way into the captain's room,
sKps and goes tumbUng down. Cloete hears him'
cry out as though he had hurt himself, and asks
what's the matter. And the coxswain answers
quietly that he had fallen on the captain, lying
there insensible. Goete without a word begins to
grope all over the shelves for a box of matches,
finds one, and strikes a light. He sees the cox-
swain in his cork jacket kneeling over Captain
Hairy. . . . Blood, says the coxswain, looking up,
and the match goes out. . . .
" Wait a bit, says Cloete; I'll make paper spills.
... He had felt the back oi books on the shelves.
And so he stands lighting one spill from another
while the coxswain turns poor Captain Harry over.
Dead, he says. Shot through the heart. Here's
the revolver. ... He hands it up to Cloete, who
looks at it before putting it in his pocket, and sees
a plate on the butt with H. Dunbar on it. . . . His
own, he mutters. . . . Whose else revolver did you
expect to find? snaps the coxswain. And look,
he took ofi his long oilskin in the cabin before he
went in. But what's this lot of burnt paper? What
could he want to bum the ship's papers for? . . .
" Cloete sees all the httle drawers drawn out,
and asks the coxswain to look well into them. . . .
There's nothing, says the man. Cleaned out.
Seems to have pulled out all he could lay his hands
on and set fire to the lot. Mad— that's what it i»—
went mad. And now he's dead. You'll have to
break it to his wife. . . .
THE PARTNER ^l
"I feel as if I were going mad myself, says Cloete
suddenly, and the coxswain begs him for God's sake
o puUhm,sel£ together, and drags him away from
the cabm. They had to leave the body, and as
It was they were just in time before a furious
«iuall came on. Cloete is dragged into the life-
boat and the coxrwain tumbles in. Haul away
hLl^S ^^""' *" '''°"*'' '^" "^P*^" ^''^ '^°'
•' Cloete was like a dead man-^idn't care for
anything. He let that Stafford pinch his arm
twice without making a sign. Most of Westport
«^ on the old pier to see the men out of the life-
boat, and at first there was a sort of confused
cheery uproar when she came alongside; but after
the coxswain has shouted something the voices
ta^;.T IT'^'"'''"^'''^''- As soon
as Cloete has set foot on something firm he becomes
hmself again. The coxswain shakes hands with
tarn: Poor woman, poor woman, I'd rather you
had the job than I '
"Where's the mate? " asks Cloete. He's the
last man who spoke to the master. . . . Somebody
ran along-the crew were being taken to the
Mission Hall, where there was a fire and shake!
downs ready for them-somebody ran along the
pier and caught up with Stafford. ... Here!
The owner's agent wants you. . . . Cloete tucks
the fellow's aim under his own and walks away
with him to the left, where the fishing-harbour
is. . . . I suppose I haven't misunderstood you.
You wish me to look after you a bit, says he. The
other hangs on him rather limp, but gives a nasty
little laugh: You had better, he mumbles; but
mind, no tricks; no tricks, Mr. Cloete; we are on
" There's a police office within fifty yards from
here, says Cloete. He turns into a little public
house, pushes Stafford along the passage. The
landlord runs out of the bar. . . . This is the mate
of the ship on the rocks, Cloete explains; I wish
you would take care of him a bit to-night. . . .
What's the matter with him? asks the man.
Stafford leans against the wall in the passage,
looking ghastly. And Cloete says it's nothing —
done up, of course. ... I will be responsible for
the expense; I am the owner's agent. I'll be
round in an hour or two to see him.
" And Cloete gets back to the hotel. The news
had travelled there already, and the first thing he
sees is George outside the door as white as a sheet
waiting for him. Cloete just gives him a nod and
they go in. Mrs. Harry stands at the head of the
stairs, and, when she sees only these two coming
up, flings her arms above her head and runs into
her room. Nobody had dared tell her, but not
1 A* ° k ^
■ecing her husband was enough. Cloete hears an
"^^l!;- <^° »«"'«'' he says to George.
While he s alone in the private parlour Cloete
dnnks a glass of brandy and thinks it all out
Then George comes in. . . . |.,e landlady's with
her. he says. And he begins tn Wulk uv anr' down
the room, flinging his arms about and talk.n^' dis-
connected like, his fac. :.( hard a. Clo to has
never seen it before. . . What rnua Ho must be
Dead-^nly brother. Weil, ,lea.]-his troubles
over. But we are living, he says ^. CIo< te and I
suppose, says he, glaring at him v. ith liot, dry eyes
that you won't forget to wire in the morning to
your friend that we are coming in for certain. .
"Meaning the patent-medicine fellow
Death is death and business is business. George
goes on; and !ook-my hands are clean, he says
showmg them to Cloete. Cloete thinks- He's
gomg crazy. He catches hold of him by the
shoulders and begins to shake him: Damn you-
if you had had the sense to know what to say to
your brother, if you had had the spmik to speak
to bm at aU, you moral creature you. he would be
ahve now, he shouts.
"At this George stares, then bt rsis r. wiping
with a great bellow. He throw. hi.a«.lf on the
couch, buries his face in a cushion, i-. ; icwis like
a tod. . . . That's better, thinks Cloeie, and he
■ if-^^m "^B
leaves him, telling the landlord that he must go
out, as he has some little business to attend to
that night. The landlord's wife, weeping herself,
catches him on the stairs; Oh, sir, that poor lady
will go out of her mind. . . .
" Cloete shakes her off, thinking to himself:
Oh no! She won't. She will get over it. Nobody
will go mad about this affair unless I do. It isn't
sorrow that makes people go mad, but worry.
" There Cloete was wrong. What affected Mrs.
Harry was that her husband should take his own
life, with her, as it were, looking on. She brooded
over it so that in less than a year they had to put
her into a Home. She was very, very quiet; just
gentle melancholy. She Uved for ^oite a long
" Well, Cloete splashes along in the wind and
rain. Nobody in the streets — all the excitement
over. The publican runs out to meet him in the
passage and says to him : Not this way. He isn't
in his room. We couldn't get him to go to bed
nohow. He's in the little parlour there. We've
lighted him a fire. . . . You have been giving him
drinks too, says Cloete; I never said I would be
responsible for drinks. How many? . . . Two,
says the other. It's all right. I don't mind doing
that much for a shipwrecked sailor. . . . Cloete
smiles his funny smile: Eh? Come. He paid
for them. ... The publican just Winks. .. . Gave
you gold, didn't he ? Speak up ! . . . What of that •
cnes the man. What are you after, anyway?
He had the right change for his sovereign.
"Just so, says Cloete. He walks into the
parlour, and there he sees our Stafford; hair all
up on end, landlord's shirt and pants on, bare feet
m slippers, sitting by the fire. When he sees
Cloete he casts his eyes down.
" You didn't mean us ever to meet again, Mr.
Cloete, Staiford says, demurely. . . . That fellow
when he had the drink he wanted— he wasn't -1
drunkard-wouJd put on this sort of sly, modest
air But since the captain committed suicide
he says, I have been sitting here thinking it out.'
All sorts of things happen. Conspiracy to lose
the ship— attempted murder— and this suicide
For If it was not suicide, Mr. Cloete, then I know of
a victmi of the most cruel, cold-blooded attempt
at murder; somebody who has suffered a thousand
deaths. And that makes the thousand pounds of
which we spoke once a quite insignificant sum.
Look how very convenient this suicide is. . .
" He looks up at Cloete then, who smUes at him
and comes quite close to the table.
" You killed Harry Dunbar, he whispers
The fellow glares at him and shows his teeth- Of
course I didl I had been in that cabin for an hour
and a half like a rat in a trap. . . . Shut up and
left to dro'vn in that wreck. Let flesh and blood
judge. Of course I shot him! I thought it was
you, you mvirdering scoundrel, come back to settle
me. He opens the door flying and tumbles right
down upoii me; I had a revolver in my hand, and
I shot him. I was crazy. Men have gone crazy
" Cloete looks at him without flinching. Aha!
That's your story, is it? . . . And he shakes the
table a Uttle in his passion as he speaks. . . . Now
Usten to mine. What's this conspiracy? Who's
going to prove it? You were there to rob. You
were rifling his cabin ; he came upon you unawares
with your hands in the drawer; and you shot him
with his own revolver. You killed to steal — to
steal! His brother and the clerks in the office
know that he took sixty pounds with him to sea.
Sixty pounds in gold in a canvas bag. He told me
where they were. The coxswain of the Ufe-boat
can swear to it that the drawers were all empty.
And you are such a fool that before you're half an
hour ashore you change a sovereign to pay for a
drink. Listen to me. If you don't turn up day
after to-morrow at George Dunbar's solicitors, to
make the proper deposition as to the loss of the
ship, I shall set the police on your track. Day
after to-morrow. . . .
" And then wb. do you think? That Stafford
begins to tear his hair. Just so. Tugs at it with
both hands without saying anything. Cloete gives
a push to the table which nearly sends the fellow
off his chair, tumbhng inside the fender; so that
he has got to catch hold of it to save himself
" You know the sort of man I am, Cloete says,
fiercely. I've got to a point that I don't care
what happens to me. I would shoot you now
" At this the cur dodges under the table. Then
•Cloete goes out, and as he turns in the street— you
;.!.» V little fishermen's cottages, all dark; raining
j^ ;n to :^nts, too— the other opens the window of
• i< pa>- ur and speaks in a sort of crying voice —
' ' •■ ow Yankee fiend— I'U pay you off some
A -»e passes by with a damn bitter laugh,
I .. -ise he thinks that the fellow in a way has paid
iii a off already, if he only knew it."
My impressive ruffian drank what remained of
his beer, while his black, sunken eyes looked at me
over the rim.
" I don't quite understand this," I laid. " In
what way? "
He unbent a little and explained without too
much scorn that Captain Harry being dead, his
half of the insurance money went to his wife, and
her trustees of course bought consols with it.
Enough to keep her comfortable. George Dun-
bar's half, a. oloete feared from the first, did not
prove sufficient to launch the medicine well; other
moneyed men stepped in, and these two had to
go out of that business, pretty nearly shorn of
" I am curious," I said, " to learn what the motive
force of this tragic affair was-I mean the patent
medicine. Do you know?"
He named it, and I whistled respectfully. Noth-
ing less than Parker's Lively Lumbago Pills.
Enormous property! You know it; all the world
knows it. Every second man, at least, on this
globe of ours has tried it.
" Why! " I cried, " they missed an immense
" Yes," he mumbled, " by the price of a revolver-
He told me also that eventually Cloete returned
to the States, passenger in a cargo-boat from Albert
Dock. The night before he sailed he met him
wandering about the quays, and took him home
for a drink. ' Funsy chap, Cloete. We sat all
night drinking grogs, till it was time for him to go
It was then that Cloete. unembittered but weary.
THE PARTNER ^9
told him this story, with that utterly unconscious
franlmess of a patent-medicine man stranger to all
moral standards. Cloete concluded by remarking
that he had " had enough of the old country "
George Dunbar had turned on him, too, in the end.
Cloete was clearly somewhat disillusioned
As to Stafford, he died, professed loafer, in some
tast End hospital or other, and on his last day
womed hmi for kilhng an imiocent man. " Wanted
jebody to tell him it was all right," growled my
^d ruffian, contemptuously. " He told the parson
that I knew this Cloete who had tried to murder
him, and so the parson (he worked among the dock
k Wrs) once spoke to me about it. That skunk
of a feUow finding himself trapped yelled for mercy.
••• ^romisedtobegoodandsoon. .. Then he
^f^u '. • '"'^"'^ ^""^ *^^^ '^^W about,
beat his head against the bulkheads ... you can
gue«s aU that-.h? ... till he was exhrust^
Gave up. Threw himself down, shut his ets
and wanted to pray. So he says. Tried to tS
temfi H "T" '"' ^ '1"^'='' ^^^th-he was that
temfied. Thought that if he had a knife or some
Then he thmks: No! Would try to cut awav the
wood about the lock v / '" ''"^ **ay the
pocket „'°*=^- • He had no knife in his
I^et. ... He was weeping and calling on God
to send him a tool of some kind when suddenly
he thinks: Axel In most ships there is a spare
emergency axe kept in the master's room in some
iocker or other. ... Up he jumps. . . . Pitch
dark. Pulls at the drawers to find matches and,
groping for them, the first thing he comes upon—
Captain Harry's revolver. Loaded too. He goes
perfectly quiet all over. Can shoot the lock to
pieces. See? Saved! God's providence 1 There
are boxes of matches too. Thinks he: I may
just as well see what I am about.
" Strikes a light and sees the little canvas bag
tucked away at the back of the drawer. Knew
at once what that was. Rams it into his pocket
quick. Aha! says he to himself: this requires
more light. So he pitches a lot of paper on the
floor, set fire to it, and starts in a hurry rummaging
for more valuables. Did you ever? He told that
East-End parson that the devil tempted him.
First God's mercy— then devil's work. Turn and
turn about. . . .
" Any squirming skunk can talk like that. He
was so busy with the drawers that the first thing
he heard was a shout. Great Heavens. He looks
up and there was the door open (Cloete had left
the key in the lock) and Captain Harry holding on,
well above him, very fierce in the light of the burn-
ing papers. His eyes were starting out of his head.
THE PARTNER xy.
Thieving, he thunders at him. A saUorl An
officerl Nol A wretch Uke you deserves no better
than to be left here to drown.
"This Stafford— on his death-bed— told the par-
son that when he heard these words he went crazy
agam. He snatched his hand with the revolver
m It out of the drawer, and fired without aiming.
Captain Harry feU right in with a crash like a
stone on top of the burning papers, putting the
blaze out. AU dark. Not a sound. He listened
for a bit then dropped the revolver and scrambled
out on deck hke mad. "
The old fellow struck the table with his ponderous
" What makes me sick is to hear these silly boat-
men telling people the captain committed suicide.
Pah I Captain Harry was a man that could face
his Maker any time up there, and here below, too.
He wasn't the sort to slink out of life. Not he I
He was a good man down to the ground. He gave
me my first job as stevedore only three days after
I got married."
As the vindication of Captain Harry from the
charge of suicide seemed to 'je his only object I
did not thank him very effusively for his material.
And then it was not worth many thanks in any
For it is too startling even to think of such
thinj/s happening in our respectable Channel in
full view, 80 to speak, of the luxurious continental
traffic to Switzerland and Monte Carlo. This story
to be acceptable should have been transposed to
somewhere in th^ South Seas. But it would have
been too much > :>uble to cook it for the consump-
tion of maga;.',c readers. So here it is raw, so
to speak— just as it was told to me— but un-
fortunately robbed of the striking effect of the
narrator; the most imposing old ruffian that ever
followed the unromantic trade of master stevedore
in the port of London.
IHE INN OF THE TWO
This tale, episode. experience-<aU it how you
by a n,a^ who, by his own confession, was siZ
yean, old at the time. Sixty is not a J^
plated by the majority of us with mixed feelings
It IS a calm age; the game is practically over by
^n; and standing aside one begins to rememb^
Zt certam vividness what a fine feUow one used
tio^of lj^^:\°'^"'^ '^'' by an amiable atten-
tion of Providence, most people at sixty begin
to take a romantic view of themselves iSr
ve^ faUures exhale a chann of peculiar pot^^
And mdeed the hopes of the future arfa Z
company to live with, exquisite fonns, fascinatbg
'f you hke^but-^ to speak-^aked, stripped for
a run^ The robes of glamour are luciTthe
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176 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
I suppose it was the romanticism of growing age
which set our man to relate his experience for his
otvn satisfaction or for the wonder of his posterity.
It could not have been for his glory, because the
experience was simply that of an abominable
fright — terror he calls it. You would have guessed
that the relation aUuded to in the very first Unes
was in writing.
This writing constitutes the Find declared in the
sub-title. The title itself is my own contrivance
(can't call it invention), and has the merit of
veracity. We will be concerned with an inn here.
As to the witches that's merely a conventional
expression, and we must take our man's word for
it that it fits the case.
The Find was made in a box of books bought in
London, in a street which no longer exists, from a
second-hand bookseller in the last stage of decay.
As to the books themselves they were at least
twentieth-hand, and on inspection turned out not
worth the very small sum of money I disbursed.
It might have been some premonition of that fact
which made me say: " But I must have the box
too." The decayed bookseller assented by the
careless, tragic gesture of a man already doomed
A litter of loose pages at the bottom of the box
excited my curiosity but faintly. The close, neat.
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 177
regular handwriting was not attractive at first
sight But in one place the statement that in a d
1813 the writer was twenty-two years old caught
my eye. Two and twenty is an interesting age
m which one is easily reckless and easily frightened •
the faculty of reflection being weak and the power
of unagination strong.
In another place the phrase ."At night we stood
m again," arrested my languid attention, because
It was a sea phrase. " Let's see what it is all
about. ' I thought, without excitement.
Oh I but it was a dull-faced MS., each line re-
sembling every other line in their close-set and
regular order. It was like the drone of a mono-
tonous voice. A treatise on sugar-refining (the
dreanest subject I can think of) could have been
given a more lively appearance. " In a d 1813
I was twenty-two years old," he begins earnestly
and goes on with every appearance of cabn
homble industry. Don't imagine, however, that
there is anything archaic in my find. Diabolic
ingenuity in invention though as old as the world
IS by no means a lost art. Look at the telephones
for shattering the little peace of mind given to us
m this world, or at the machine guns for letting
with dispatch life out of our bodies. Now-a-days
any blear-eyed old witch if only strong enough to
turn an msignificant little handle could lay low a
178 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
hundred young men of twenty in the tMonkling ot
If this isn't progress I . . . Why inunensel We
have moved on, and so you must expect to meet
here a certain naiveness of contrivance and sim-
pUdty of aim appertaining to the remote epoch.
And of course no motoring tourist can hope to
find such an inn anywhere, now. This one, the
one of the title, was situated in Spain. That much
I discovered only from internal evidence, because a
good many pages of that relation were missing —
perhaps not a great misfortune after all. The
writer seemed to have entered into a most elaborate
detail of the why and wherefore of his presence
on that coast — presumably the north coast of
Spain. His experience has nothing to do with the
sea, though. As far as I can make it out, he was
an officer on board a sloop-of-war. There's
nothing strange in that. At all stages of the long
Peninsular campaign many of om men-of-war of
the smaller kind were cruising off the north coast
of Spain — as risky and disagreeable a station as
can be well imagined.
It looks as though that ship of his had had some
special service to perform. A careful explanation
of all the circumstances was to be expected from
our man, only, as I've said, some of his pages (good
tough paper too) were missing: gone in covers for
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 179
jampots or in wadding for th. fowling-pieces of his
m-eve„„t posterity. But it is to be Ln cleariy
that communication with the shore and even the
sendmg of messengers inland was part of her
-mce either to obtain intelligence from or to
taansamt orders or advice to patriotic Spaniards,
^enlleros or secret juntas of the province Some^
hmgofthe«,rt. All this can be only inferred from
the preserved scraps of his conscientious writing.
Next we come upon the panegyric of a very L
ratmg of the captam's coxswain. He was known
on board a. Cuba Tom; not because he was Cub"
Bntish tar of that time, and a man-of-war's an
for years. He came by the name on accou. . of
^me wonderful adventures he had in that island
m his yomig days, adventures which were the
favounte subject of the yarns he was in the habit
?or™ie °'"^fP'"^*-°f- evening on the
toreca^tle .^d. He was intelligent, very strong,
-.d of proved courage. IncidentaUy we are toW
so exact ,s our narrator, that Tom had the fines
>. T: 7 appendage, much cared for and
sheathed tightly in a porpoise skin, hung half w^y
^Zil ^"?"' *° ^'^^ ^-* admiration:'
all beiiolders and to the great envy of some.
i8o THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
Our young officer dwells on the manly qualities
of Cuba Tom with something like affection. This
sort of relation between officer and man was not
then very rare. A youngster on joining the
service was put under the charge of a trustworthy
seaman, who slung his first hammock for him and
often later on became a sort of humble friend to
the junior officer. The narrator on joining the
sloop had found this man on board after some
years of separation. There is something touching
in the warm pleasure he remembers and records at
this meeting with the professional mentor of his
We discover then that, no Spaniard being forth-
coming for the service, this worthy sea nan with
the unique pigtail and a very high character for
courage and steadiness had been selected as
messenger for one of these missions inland which
have been mentioned. His preparations were not
elaborate. One gloomy autumn morning the
sloop ran close to a shallow cove where a landing
could be made on that iron-bound shore. A boat
was lowered, and pulled in with Tom Corbin (Cuba
Tom) perched in the bow, and our young man (Mr.
Edgar Byrne was his name on this earth which
knows him no more) sitting in the stem sheets.
A few inhabitants of a hamlet, whose grey stone
houses could >ie seen a hundred yards or so up a
■ i i
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES i8i
deep ravine, had come down to the shore and
watched the approach of the boat. The two
Englishmen leaped ashore. Either from duUness
or astonishment the peasants gave no greeting,
and only fell back in silence.
Mr. Byrne had made up his mind to see Tom
Corbin started fairly on his way. He looked round
at the heavy siUT)rised faces.
" There isn't much to get out of them," he said.
" Let us walk up to the village. There will be a
wine shop for sure where we may find somebody
more promising to talk to and get some information
" Aye, aye, sir," said Tom falling into step be-
hind his officer. " A bit of palaver as to courses
and distances can do no harm; I crossed the
broadest pat t of Cuba by the help of my tongue tho'
knowing far less Spanish than I do now. As they
say themselves it was ' four words and no more '
with me, that time when I got left behind on shore
by the Blanche, frigate."
He made light of what was before him, which
was but a day's journey into the mountains. It
is true that there was a full day's journey before
striking the mountain path, but that was nothing
for a man who had crossed the island of Cuba on
his two legs, and with no more than four words of
the language to begin with.
i8z THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
The officer and the man were walking now on a
thick sodden bed of dead leaves, which the peasants
thereabouts acrumulate in the streets of their
villages to rot during the winter for field manure.
Turning his head Mr. Byrne perceived that the
whole male population of the hamlet was following
them on the noiseless springy carpet. Women
stared from the doors of the houses and the children
had apparently gone into hiding. The village
knew the ship by sight, afar off, but no stranger
had landed on that spot perhaps for a hundred
years or more. The cocked hat of Mr. Byrne, the
bushy whiskers and the enormous pigtail of the
sailor, filled them with mute wonder. They
pressed behind the two Englishmen staring Uke
those islanders discovered by Captain Cook in the
It was then that Byrne had his first glimpse of
the little cloaked man in a yellow hat. Faded and
dingy as it was, this covering for his head made
The entrance to the wine shop was like a rough
hole in a wall of flints. The owner was the only
person who was not in the street, for he came out
from the darkness at the back where the inflated
forms of wine skins hung on nails could be vaguely
distinguished. He was a tall, one-eyed Asturian
with scrubby, hollow cheeks; a grave expression
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 183
of countenance contrasted enigmatically with the
roaming restlessness of his solitary eye. On
learning that the matter in hand was the sending
on his way of that English mariner toward a certain
Gonzales in the mountains, he closed his good eye
for a moment as if in meditation. Then opened it,
very lively again.
" Possibly, possibly. It could be done."
A friendly murmur arose in the group in the door-
way at the name of Gonzales, the local leader
against the French. Inquiring as to the safety
of the road Byrne was glad to learn that no troops
of that nation had been seen in the • ;ighbourh&od
for months. Not the smallest little detachment
of these impious poUzones. While giving these
answers the owner of the wine-shop busied himself
in drawing into an earthenware jug some wine
which he set before the heretic English, pocketing
with grave abstraction the small piece of money
the oflficer threw upon the table in recognition of
the unwritten law that none may enter a wine-
shop without buying drink. His eye was in con-
stant motion as if it were trying to do the work of
the two; but when Byrne made inquiries as to the
possibility of hiring a mule, it became immovably
fixed in the direction of the door which was closely
besieged by the curious. In front of them, just
within the threshold, the Uttle man in the large
184 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
cloak and ycUow hat had taken his stand. He
was a diminutive person, a mere homunculus,
Byrne describes him, in a ridiculously mysterious,
yet assertive attitude, a comer of his cloak thrown
cavalierly over his left shoulder, muffling his chin
and mouth; while the broad-brimmed yellow hat
hung on a comer of his square little head. He
stood there taking snuff, repeatedly.
"A mule," repeated the wine-seUer, his eyes
fixed on that qraint and snuffy figure. ... " No,
sefior officer I Decidedly no mule is to be got in
this poor p!ace."
The coxswain, who stood by with the true
sailor's air of unconcem in strange surroundings,
struck in quietly —
" If your honour will believe me Shank's pony's
the best for this job. I would have to leave the
beast somewhere, anyhow, since the captain has
told me that half my way will be along paths fit
only for goats."
The diminutive man made a step forward, and
speakmg through the folds of the cloak which
seemed to muffle a sarcastic intention—
" Si, sefior. They are too honest in this village
to have a single mule amongst them for your
worship's service. To that I can bear testimony.
In these times it's only rogues or very clever men
who can manage to have mules or any other four-
THE INN OF THE IWO WITCHES 185
footed beasts and the wherewithal to keep them
But what this valiant mariner wants is a guide-
and here, sefior, behold my brother-in-law. Bernar-
dmo, wine-seller, and alcade of this most Christian
and hospitable village, who wiU find you one."
This. Mr. Byrne says in his relation, was the only
thing to do. A youth in a ragged coat and goat-
skm breeches was produced after some more talk
The English officer stood treat to the whole village
and while the peasants drank he and tuba Tom'
took their depirture accompanied by the guide
The diminutive man in the cloak had disappeared '
Byrne went along with the coxswain out c ■ e
village. He wanted to see him fairly on his way
and he would have gone a greater distance, if the
seaman had not suggested respectfully the advis-
abiUty of return so as not to keep the ^Hp a moment
longer than necessary so close in with the shore
on such an unpromising looking morning. A t«ld
gloomy sky hung over their heads when they took
leave of each other, and their surroundings of
rank bushes and stony fields wer- dreary.
"In four days' time," were byrne's last words
tte ship will stand in and send a boat on shore
If the weather pennits. If not you'U have to make
It out on shore the best you can tiU we come along
to take you ofi." *
" Right you are. sir," answered Tom, and strode
l86 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
on. Byrne watched him step out on a narrow
path. In a thick pea-jacket with a pair of pistols
in his belt, a cutlass by his side, and a stout cudgel
in his hand, he looked a sturdy figure and well able
to take care of himself. He turned round for a
moment to wave his hand, giving to Byrne one
more view of his honest bronzed face with bushy
whiskers. The lad in goatskin breeches looking,
Byrne says, like a faun or a young satyr leaping
ahead, stopped to wait for him, and then went off
at a bound. Both disappeared.
Byrne tumeil back. The hamlet was hidden in
a fold of the ground, and the spot seemed the most
lonely comer of the earth and as if accursed in its
uninhabited desolate barrenness. Before he had
walked many yards, there appeared very suddenly
from behind a bush the muffled up diminutive
Spaniard. Naturally Byrne stopped short.
The other made a mysterious gesture with a tiny
hand peeping from tmder his cloak. His hat hung
very much at the side of his head. " Sefior," he
said without any preliminaries. "Caution I It
is a positive fact that one-eyed Bernardino, my
brother-in-law, has at this moment a mule in his
stable. And why he who is not clever has a mule
there? Because he is a rogue; a man without
conscience. Because I had to give up the macho
to him to secure for myself a roof to sleep under
THE INN OF TIIE TWO WITCHES 187
and a mouthfuJ of o'ln to keep my soul in this
insignificant body of mine. Yet, sefior. it cont 'ns
a heart many times bigger than the mean thing
which beats in the breast of that brute connection
of mme of which I am ashamed, though I jpposed
that marriage with all my power. Well, the
misguided woman suffered enough. She had her
purgatory on this earth— God i t her soul."
Byrne says he was so astonished by the sudden
appearance of that sprite-like being, and by the
sardonic bitterness of the speech, that he was un-
able to disentangle the significant fact fro what
seemed but a piece of family history firea out at
him without rhyme or reason. Not at first. He
was confounded and a. the same time he was
impressed by the rapid forcible deUvery, quite
different from the frothy excited loquacity of an
Italian. So he stared while the homunculus,
letting his cloak fall about him, aspired an immense
quantity of snuff out of the hoUow of his palm.
" A mule," exclaimed Byrne seizing at last the
real aspect of the discourse. " You say he has
got a mule? That's queer! Why did he refuse
to let me have it ? "
The diminutive Spaniard muffled himself up
again with great dignity.
" Quien saber he said coldly, with a shrug of
his draped shoulders. " He is a great politico in
i88 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
everything he does. But one thing your worship
may be certain of — that his intentions are always
rascally. This husband of my defunta sister ought
to have been married a long time ago to the widow
with the wooden legs.^ "
" I see. But remember that, whatever your
motives, ycur worship countenanced him in this
The bright imhappy eyes on each side of a pre-
datory nose confronted Byrne without wincing,
while with that testiaess which lurks so often at
the bottom of Spanish dignity —
" No doubt the senor officer would not lose an
ounce of blood if 1 were stuck under the fifth rib,"
he retorted. " But what of this poor sinner here ? "
Then changing his tone. " Senor, by the necessi-
ties of the times I live here in exile, a Castilian
and an old Christian, existing miserably in the
midst of these brute Asturians, and dependent
on the worst of them all, who has less conscience
and scruples than a wolf. And being a man of
intelligence I govern myself accordingly. Yet I
can hardly contain my scorn. You have heard
the way I spoke. A caballero of parts like your
worship might have guessed that there was a cat
' The gallows, suppoeed to be widowed of the last executed
criminal and waiting for another.
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 189
" What cat ? " said Byrne uneasily. " Oh, I
see. Something suspicious. No.senor. I guessed
nothing. My nation are not good guessers at that
sort of thing; and, therefore, I ask you plainly
whether that wine-seller has spoken the truth in
other particulars? "
" There are certainly no Frenchmen anywhere
about," said the little man with a return to his
" Or Tohbei^—ladronei, ? "
" Ladrones en grande—no\ Assuredly not,"
was the answer in a cold philosophical tone.
"What is there left for them to do after the
French? And nobody travels in these times.
But who can say ! Opportunity makes the robber.
Still that mariner of yours has a fierce aspect, and
with the son of a cat rats will have no play. ' But
there is a saying, too, that where honey is there
will soon be flies."
This oracular discourse exasperated Byrne
" In the name of God," he cried, " teU me plainly
if you think my man is reasonably safe on his
The homunculus, undergoing one of his rapid
changes, seized the officer's arm. The grip of
his little hand was astonishing.
" Senorl Bernardino had taken notice of him.
What more do you want ? And listen— men have
190 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
disappeared on this road — on a certain portion of
this road, when Bernardino kept a meson, an inn,
and I, his brother-in-law, had coaches and mules
for hire. Now there are no travellers, no coaches.
The French have ruined me. Bernardino has
retired here for reasons of his own after my sister
died. They were three to torment the life out of
her, he and Erminia and Lucilla, two aunts of his
— all affiliated to the devil. And now he has
robbed me of my last mule. You are an armed
man. Demand the macho from him, with a pistol
to his head, senor — it is not his, I tell you — and
ride after your man who is so precious to you.
And then you shall both be safe, for no two travel-
lers have been ever known to disappear together
in those days. As to the beast, I, its owner, I
confide it to your honour."
They were staring hard at each other, and Bjrme
nearly burst into a laugh at the ingenuity and
transparency of the little man's plot to regain
possession of his mule. But he had no difficulty
to keep a straight face because he felt deep within
himself a strange incUnation to do that very extra-
ordinary thing. He did not laugh, but his lip
quivered; at which the diminutive Spaniard,
detacliing his black glittering eyes from Byrne's
face, turned his back on him brusquely with a
gesture and a fling of the cloak which somehow
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 191
expressed contempt, bitterness, and discourage-
ment all at once. He turned away and stood still,
his hat aslant, muffled up to the ears. But he
was not offended to the point of refusing the silver
dun which Byrne offered him with a non-committal
speech as if nothing extraordinary had passed
" I must make haste on board now," said Byrne,
" Vaya usted con Dios." muttered the gnome.
And this interview ended with a sarcastic low sweep
of the hat which was replaced at the same perilous
angle as before.
Directly the boat had been hoisted the ship's
sails were filled on the off-shore tack, and Byrne
imparted the whole story to his captain, who was
but a very few years older than himself. There
was some amused indignation at it— but while
they laughed they looked gravely at each other.
A Spanish dwarf trying to beguile an officer of his
majesty's navy into steaUng a mule for him— that
was too funny, too ridiculous, too incredible.
Those were the exclamations of the captain. He
couldn't get over the grotesqueness of it.
" Incredible. That's just it," murmured Byrne
at last in a significant tone.
They exchanged a long stare. " It's as clear
as daylight," affirmed the captain impatiently.
192 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
because in his heart he was not certain. And
Tom the best seaman in the ship for one, the good-
humouredly deferential friend of his boyhood for
the other, was becoming endowed with a compelling
fascination, like a symbolic figure of loyalty appeal-
ing to their feeUngs and their conscience, so that
they could not detach their thoughts from his
safety. Several times they went up on deck, only
to look at the coast, as if it could tell them some-
thing of his fate. It stretched away, lengthening
in the distance, mute, naked, and savage, veiled
now and then by the slanting cold shafts of rain.
The westerly sweU rolled its interminable angry
lines of foam and big dark clouds flew over the
ship in a sinister procession.
" I wish to goodness you had done what your
Uttle friend in the yellow hat 'vanted you to do,"
said the commander of the sloop late in the after-
noon with visible exasperation.
" Do you, sir? " answered Byrne, bitter with
positive anguish. " I wonder what you would
have said afterwards? Why! I might have been
kicked out of the service for looting a mule from a
nation in alliance with His Majesty. Or I might
have been battered to a pulp with flails and pitch-
forks-a pretty tale to get abroad about one of your
officers-while trying to steal a mule. Or chased
ignominiously to the boat— for you would not have
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 193
expected me to shoot down unoffending people for
the sake of a mangy mule And yet," he added
in a low voice, " I almost wish myself I had
Before dark those two young men had worked
themselves up into a highly complex psychological
state of scornful scepticism and alanned credulity.
It tonnented them exceedingly; and the thought
that it would have to last for six days at least, and
possibly be prolonged further for an indefinite
time, was not to be borne. The ship was therefore
put on the inshore tack at dark. All through the
gusty daik night she went towards the land to
look for hfcr man, at times lying over in the heavy
puffe, at others rolling idle in the swell, nearly
stationary, as if she too had a mind of her own to
swing perplexed between cool reason and warm
Then just at daybreak a boat put off from her
and went on tossed by the seas towards the shallow
cove where, with considerable difficulty, an officer
in a thick coat and a round hat managed to land
on a strip of shingle.
" It was my wish," writes Mr. Byrne, " a wish
of which my captain approved, to land secretly if
possible. I did not want to be seen either by my
aggrieved friend in the yellow hat, whose motives
were not clear, or by the one-eyed wine-seller, who
194 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
may or may not have been affiliated to the devil,
or indeed by any other dweller in that primitive
village. But unfortunately the cove was the only
possible landing place for miles; and from the
steepness of the ravine I couldn't make a circuit
to av3id the houses."
" Fortimately," he goes on, " all the people
were yet in their beds. It was barely dayUght
when I fotmd m3rself walking on the thick layer of
sodden leaves filling the only street. No soul was
stirring abroad, no dog barked. The silence was
profound, and I had concluded with some wonder
that apparently no dogs were kept in the hamlet,
when I heard a low snarl, and from a noisome
alley between two hovels emerged a vile ciu: with
its tail between its legs. He slunk ofi silently
showing me his teeth as he ran before me, and he
disappeared so suddenly that he might have been
the imclean incarnation of the Evil One. There
was, too, something so reird in the manner of its
coming and vanishing, that my spirits, already by
no means very high, became further depressed
by the revolting sight of this creature as if by an
He got away from the coast unobserved, as far
as he knew, then struggled manfully to the west
against wind and rain, on a barren dark upland,
under a sky of ashes. Far away the harsh and
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 195
denuded ndges seemed to wait for him meTadngly
T^e^emng found him fairly near to them, but,
in sailor language, uncertain of his position
hungr-. wet, and tired out by a day oE^eldv
^"ZT ""''■: ^"""^ *^^ ^^<=^ he ha J
seen veiy fe^ p^^pj^ ^^ ^^^
^tam the sHghtest intelligence of Tom Corbi,^:
^e "Onl on! I must push on," he had b^n
saymg to himself through the hours of soliUrJ
effort spurred more by incertitude than by an^
definite fear or definite hope ^
Mo tt "" %'"*'" '"'*«^' "« descended
nto he ra,ane, forded a narrow stream by the
heother side was met by the night which fell li^e
a bandage over his eyes. The wind sweeping in
he ^kness the broadside of the sierra Ued
his ears by a continuous roaring noise as of a
d^fS Tt !^'' °^ outcropping stone, it was
difficult to distinguish from the dreary waste o
Dusnes. But, as he says " he <!fMr«/i k-
196 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
again from mere weariness of mind rather than of
body — as if not Lis strength but his resolution were
being overtaxed by the strain of endeavour half
suspected to be vain, and by the unrest of his
In one of these pauses borne in the wind faintly
as if from very far away he heard a sound of
knocking, just knocking on wood. He noticed
that the wind had lulled suddenly.
His heart started beating tumultuously because
in himself he carried the impression of the desert
soUtudes he had been traversing for the last six
hours — the oppressive sense of an uninhabited
world. When he raised his head a gleam of Ught,
illusory as it often happens in dense darkness,
swam before his eyes. V/hile he peered, the sound
of feeble knocking was repeated — and suddenly
he felt rather than saw the existence of a massive
obstacle in his path. What was it? The spur of
a hill? Or was it a house I Yes. It was a house
right close, as though it had risen from the ground
or had come gUding to meet him, dumb and
paUid, from some dark recess of the night. It
towered loftily. He had come up under its lee;
another three steps and he could have touched the
wall with his hand. It was no doubt a posada and
some other traveller was trying for admittance.
He heard again the soimd of cautious knocking.
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 197
Next moment a broad band of light feU into the
night through the opened door. Byrne stepped
eagerly into it, whereupon the person outside leaped
with a stifled cry away into the night. An excla-
mation of surprise was heard too, from within.
Bynie, flinging himself against the half closed door,
foiced his way in against some considerable
A miserable candle, a mere rushlight, burned at
the end of a long deal table. And in its hght
Byrne saw, staggering yet, the girl he had driven
from the door. She had a short black skirt, an
orange shawl, a dark complexion— and the
escaped single hairs from the mass, sombre and
thick like a forest and held up by a comb, made a
black mist about her low forehead. A shrill
lamentable howl of: " Misericordia! " came in two
voices from the further end of the long room,
where the fire-light of an open hearth played
between heavy shadows. The girl recovering her-
self drew a hissing breath through her set teeth.
It is unnecessary to report the long process of
questions and answers by which he soothed the
fears of two old women who sat on each side of the
fire, on which stood a large earthenware pot. Byrne
thought at once of two witches watching the brew-
ing of some deadly potion. But all the same, when
one of them raising forward painfully her broken
196 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
form lifted the cover of the pot, the escajiing steam
had an appetising smell. The other did not budge,
but sat hunched up, her head trembling all the time.
They were horrible. There was something
grotesque '->. their decrepitude. Their toothless
mouths, their hooked noses, the meagreness of the
active one, and the hanging yellow cheeks of the
other (the stiU one, whose head trembled) would
have been laughable if the sight of their dreadful
physical degradation had not been appalling to
one's eyes, had not gripped one's heart with
poignant amazement at the unspeakable misery
of age, at the awful persistency of life becoming
at last an object of disgust and dread.
To get over it Byrne began to talk, saying that
he was an Englishman, and that he was in search
of a countryman who ought to have passed this
way. Directly he had spoken the recollection of
his parting with Tom came up in his mind with
amazing vividness: the silent villagers, the angry
gnome, the one-eyed wine-seller, Bernardino.
Why! These two unspeakable frights must be that
man's aunts — affiliated to the devil.
Whatever they had been once it was impossible
to imagine what use such feeble creatures could be
to the devil, now, in the world of the living. Which
was Ludlla and which was Erminia? They were
now things without a name. A moment of sus-
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 199
pended animation followed Byrne's words. The
sorceress with the spoon ceased stirring the mess
in the iron pot, ■- . very trembling of the other's
head stopped for the space of breath. In this
infinitesimal fraction of a second Byrne had the
sense of being really on his quest, of having
reached the turn of the path, ahnost within hail
" They have seen him," he thought with con-
viction. Here was at last somebody who had seen
him. He made sure they would deny all knowledge
of the Ingles; but on the contrary they were eager
to tell him that he had eaten and slept the night
in the house. They both started talking together,
describing his appearance and behaviour. An
excitement quite fierce in its feebleness possessed
them. The doubled-up sorceress floiuished aloft
her wooden spoon, the puffy monster got ofi her
stool and screeched, stepping from one foot to
the other, while the trembling of her head was
accelerated to positive vibration. Byrne was quite
disconcerted by their excited behaviour Yes I
The big, fierce Ingles went away in the morning,
after eating a piece of bread and drinking some
wine. And if the caballero wished to follow the
same path nothing could be easier — ^in the morning.
" You will give me somebody to show me the
way? "said Byrne.
300 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
"Si, Kfior. A proper youth. The man the
caballero saw going out."
"But he was knocking at the door." protested
Byrne. " He only bolted when he saw me. He
was coming in."
"No! No! " the two horrid witches screamed
out tf ether. " Going out. Going out I"
Aftc. all it may have been true. The sound of
knocking had been faint, elusive, reflected Byrne.
Perhaps only the effect of his fancy. He
"Who is that man?"
" Her novio." They screamed pointing to the
girl. " He is gone home to a village far away from
here. But he will return in the morning. Her
novio t And she is an orphan— the child of poor
Christian people. She lives with us for the love
of God, for the love of God."
The orphan crouching on the comer of the hearth
had been looking at Byrne. He thought that she
was more like a child of Satan kept there by these
two weird harridans for the love of the Devil.
Her eyes were a Httle obUque, her mouth rather
thick, but admirably formed; her dark face had a
wild beauty, voluptuous and untamed. As to the
character of her steadfast gaze attached upon him
with a sensuously savage attention, "to know
what it was like." says Mr. Byrne, " you have only
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES aoi
to observe a hungry cat watching a bird in a cage
or a mouM inside a trap."
It was she who served him the food, of ifhich lie
was glad; though with those big slanting black
eyes examining him at close range, as if he had
something curious written on his face, she gave
Wm an uncomfortable sensation. But anything
was better than being approached by these blear-
eyed nightmarish witches. His apprehensions
somehow had been soothed; perhaps by the sensa-
tion of wamth after severe exposure and the ease
of r ling after the exertion of fighting the gale
inch by inch all the way. He had no doubt of
Tom's safety. He was now sleeping in the moun-
tain camp having been met by Gonzales' men.
Byrne rose, filled a tin goblet with wine out of
a skin hanging on the wall, and sat down again.
The witch with the mummy face began to talk to
him, ramblingly of old tuTies; she boasted of the
mn's fame in those better days. Great people
m their own coaches stopped there. An arch-
bishop slept once in the casa. a long, long time ago
The witch with the puffy face seemed to be
listening from her stool, motionless, except for the
trembling of her head. The girl (Byrne was
certam she wis a casual gipsy admitted there for
some reason or other) sat on the hearth stone in the
glow of the embers. She hummed a tune to her-
203 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
self, rattling a pair of castanets slightly now and
then. At the mention of the archbishop she
chuckled impiously and turned her head to look
at Byrne, so that the red glow of the fire flashed
in her black eyes and on her white teeth under the
dark cowl of the enormous overmantel. And he
smiled at her.
He rested now in the ease of security. His
advent not having been expected there could be
no plot against him in existence. Drowsiness stole
upon his senses. He enjoyed it, but keeping a
hold, so he thought at least, on his wits; but he
must have been gone further than he thought
because he was startled beyond measure by a
fiendish uproar. He had never heard anjrthing
so pitilessly strident in his Ufe. The witches had
started a fierce quarrel about something or other.
Whatever its origin they were now only abusing
each other violently, without arguments; theii-
senile screams expressed nothing but wicked
anger and ferocious dismay. The gipsy girl's
black eyes flew from one to the other. Never
before had Byrne felt himself so removed from
fellowship with human beings. Before he had
really time to understand the subject of the
quarrel, the girl jumped up rattling her castanets
loudly. A silence fell. She came up to the table
and bending over, her eyes in his —
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 303
" Senor," she said with decision, " You shaU
sleep in the archbishop's room."
Neither of the witches objected. The dried-up
one bent double was propped on a stick. The
puffy faced one had now a crutch.
Byrne got up, walked to the door, and turning
the key in the enormous lock put it coolly in his
pocket. This was clearly the only entrance, and
he did not mean to be taken unawares by whatever
danger there might have been lurking outside.
When he turned from the door he saw the two
witches " afiUiated to the Devil " and the Satanic
girl looking at him in silence. He wondered if
Tom Corbin took the same precaution last night.
And thinking of him he had again that queer
impression of his nearness. The world was
perfectly dumb. And in this stiUness he heard
the blood beating in h:s ears with a confused
rushing noise, in which there seemed to be a voice
uttering the words: " Mr. Byrne, look out, sir."
Tom's voice. He shuddered; for the delusions of
the senses of hearing are the most vivid of all, and
from then- nature have a compelling character.
It seemed impossible that Tom should not be
there. Again a slight chill as of stealthy draught
penetrated through his very clothes and passed
over aU his body. He shook off the impression
with an effort.
204 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
It was the girl who preceded him upstairs carry-
ing an iron lamp from the naked flame of which
ascended a thin thread of smoke. Her soiled
white stockings were full of holes.
With the same quiet resolution with which he
had locked the door below, B3rme threw open one
after another the doors in the corridor. All the
rooms were empty except for som? nondescript
lumber in one or two. And the girl seeing what
he would be at stopped every time, raising the
smoky light in each doorway patiently. Meantime
she observed him with sustained attention. The
last door of all she threw open herself.
" You sleep here, sefior," she murmured in a
voice light like a child's breath, offering him the
"Buenos noches, senorita," he said politely,
taking it from her.
She didn't return the wish audibly, though her
lips did move a Uttle, while her gaze black Uke a
starless night never for a moment wavered before
him. He stepped in, and as he turned to close
the door she was stiU there motionless and dis-
turbing, with her voluptuous mouth and slanting
eyes, with the expression of exp>ectant sensual
ferocity of a baffled cat. He hesitated for a
moment, and in the dumb house he heard again
the blood pulsating ponderously in his ears.
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 205
while once more the illusion of Tom's voice speak-
ing earnestly somewhere near by was specially
terrifying, because this time he could not make
out the words.
He slammed the door in the girl's face at last,
leaving her in the dark; and he opened it again
ahnost on the instant. Nobody. She had vanished
without the slightest sound. He closed the door
quickly and boiced it with two heavy bolts.
A profound mistrust possessed him suddenly.
Why did the witches quarrel about letting him sleep
here? And what meant that stare of the girl as
if she wanted to impress his features for ever in
her mind? His own nervousness alarmed him.
He seemed to himself to be removed very far from
He examined his room. It was not very high, just
high enough to take the bed which stood under an
enormous baldaquin-like canopy from which fell
heavy curtains at foot and head; a bed certainly
worthy of an archbishop. There was a heavy
table carved aU round the edges, some arm-chairs
of enormous weight Uke the spoils of a grandee's
palace; a tall shaUow wardrobe placed against
the wall and with double doors. He tried them.
Locked. A suspicion came into his mind, and he
snatched the lamp to make a closer examination.
No, it was not a disguised entrance. That heavy.
306 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
tall piece of furniture stood clear of the wall by
quite an inch. He glanced at the bolts of his room
door. No I No one could get at him treacherously
while he slept. But would he be able to sleep? he
asked himself anxiously. If only he had Tom
there— the trusty seaman who had fought at his
right hand in a cutting out affair or two, and had
always preached to him *ke necessity to take care
of himself. " For it's no great trick." he used to
say, " to get yourself killed in a hot fight. Any fool
can do that. The proper pastime is to fight the
Frenchies and then live to fight another day."
Byrne found it a hard maUer not to fall into
listening to the silence. Somehow he had the con-
viction that nothing would break it unless he heard
again the haunting sound of Tom's voice. He had
heard it twice before. Odd I And yet no wonder,
he argued with himself reasonably, since he had
been thinking of the man for over thirty hours
continuously and, what's more, inronclusively.
For his anxiety for Tom had never taken a definite
shape. " Disappear," was the only word con-
nected with the idea of Tom's danger. It was
very vague and awfil. "Disappear!" What
did that mean?
Byrne shuddered, and then saiJ to himself that
he must be a little feverish. But Tom had not
disappeared. Byrne had just heard of him. And
THE INN OF THE TWO vv^ITCHES 207
again t^ young man felt the blood beating in his
ears. He sat still expecting every moment to
hear through the pulsating strokes the sound of
Tom s voice. He waited straining his ears, but
noUnng came. Suddenly the thought occurred
to hm,: He has not disappeared, but he cannot
make himself heard."
Lavmg his pistol and his hanger on the table he
took off lus boots and, feeling suddenly too tired
to stand, flung himself on the bed which he found
soft and comfortable beyond his hopes
He had felt very wakeful, but hemust have dozed
off after aU, because the next thing he knew he was
sittmg up in bed and trying to recoUect what it
was that Tom's voire had said. Oh! He remem-
bered ,t now. Ithads^id: "Mr. Byrne! Look
« ^y ' A warning this. But against what ?
He landed with one leap in the middle of the
floor, gasped once, then looked all round the room
The wmdow was shuttered and barred with an
Tk ^^^^^ his eyes slowly aUromid
the bait- walls, and even lo< :ed up at the ceiUng
which was rather high. Afterwards he went to the
door to examine the fastenings. They consisted
of ^o enormous iron bolts sliding into holes made
m the waU; and as the corridor outside was too
narrow to admit of any battering arrangement "
308 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
even to permit an axe to be swung, nothing could
burst the door open — unless gunpowder. But
while he was still making sure that the lower bolt
was pushed well home, he received the impression
of somebody's presence in the room. It was so
strong that he spun round quicker than Ughtning.
There was no one. Who could there be? And
yet . . .
It was then that he lost the decorum and re-
straint a man keeps up for his own sake. He got
down on his hands and knees, with the lamp on the
floor, to look under the bed, like a silly girl. He
saw a lot of dust and nothing else. He got up,
his cheeks burning, and wall:ed about discontented
with his own behaviour and unreasonably angry
with Tom for not leaving him alone. The words:
" Mr. Byrne! Look out, sir," kept on repeating
themselves in his head in a tone of warning.
" Hadn't I better just throw myself on the bed
and try to go to sleep," he asked himself. But
his eyes fell on the tall wardrobe, and he went
towards it feeling irritated with himself and yet
unable to desist. How he could explain to-morrow
the burglarious misdeed to the two odious witches
he had no idea. Nevertheless he inserted the point
of his hanger between the two halves of the door
and tried to prize them open. They resisted. He
swore, sticking now hotly to his purpose. His
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 209
you wa. addressed to the absen' Tcm. Just
then the doors gave way and flew open
He was there. '
was thet^ drawn up shadowy and stiff, in a prudent
s lence. which his wide-open eyes by therfix^
glea^ seemed to command Byrne to respect. B^
Byrne was too startled to make a sound. Amazed
he stepped back a little-and on the ins^t the
-aman flung himself forward headlong as f to
clasp his officer round the neck. Instinctively
Byrnepuouthisfaltering arms; he felt the horrible
as their heads knocked together and their fac s
came mto contact. They reeled. Byrne hugZ
Tom close to his breast in order not tolet hi,^^,'
-.th a crash. He had just strength eno^h to
nead swam, his legs gave way, and he sank on his
kn«s, leamng over the body with his hands resting
on the breast of that man once full of generous We
and now as msensible as a stone.
"Deadf my poor Tom, dead," he reneatA^
m«>taUy. The light of the lamp st^d^^H ^
he edge of the table fell from above straight ^
nad a mobile and merry expression.
210 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
Byrne turned his own away from them. Tom's
black silk neckerchief was not knotted on his
breast. It was gone. The murderers had also
taken ofi his shoes and stockings. And noticing
this spoliation, the exposed throat, the bare up-
turned feet, Byrne felt his eyes nm full of tears.
In other respects the seaman was fully dressed;
neither was his clothing disarranged as it must
have been in a violent struggle. Only his checked
shirt had been pulled a little out the waistband in
one place, just enough to ascertain whether he
had a money belt fastened round his body. Byrne
began to sob into his handkerchief.
It was a nervous outburst which passed off
quickly. Remaining on his knees he contemplated
sadly the athletic body of as fine a seaman as ever
had drawn a cutlass, laid a gun, or passed the
weather earring in a gale, lying stiff and cold, his
cheery, fearless spirit departed — perhaps turning
to him, his boy chum, to his ship out there rolling
on the grey seas of! an iron-bound coast, at the
very moment of its flight.
He perceived that the six brass buttons of Tom's
jacket had been cut ofi. He shuddered at the
notion of the two miserable and repulsive witches
busying themselves ghoulishly alxut the defence-
less body of his friend. Cut off. Perhaps with
the same knife which . . . The head of one trembled ;
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES an
the other was bent double, and their eyes were red
and bleared, their infamous claws unsteady.
It must have been in this very room too, for Tom
could not have been killed in the open and brought
in here afterwards. Of that Byrne was certain.
Yet those devilish crones could not have killed him
themselves even by taking him unawares— and
Tom would be always on his guard of course. Tom
was a very wide awake wary man when engaged
on any service. . . . And in fact how did they
murder him? Who did? In what way?
Byrne jumped up, snatched the lamp off the
table, and stooped swiftly over the body. The
light revealed on the clothing no stain, no trace,
no spot of blood anywhere. Byrne's hands began
to shake so that ne had to set the lamp on the floor
and turn away his head in order to recover from
Then he began to explore that cold, stiU, and
rigid body for a stab, a gunshot wound, for the
trace of some killing blow. He felt all over the
skull anxiously. It was whole. He slipped his
hand under the neck. It was unbroken. With
terrified eyes he peered close under the chin and
saw no marks of strangulation on the throat.
There were no signs anywhere. He was just dead.
Impulsively Byrne got away from the body as
If the mystery of an incomprehensible death had
3ia THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
changed his pity into suspicion and dread. The
lamp on the floor near the set, still face of the sea-
man showed it staring at the ceiling as if despair-
ingly. In the circle of light Byrne saw by the
undisturbed patches of thick dust on the floor
that there had been no struggle in that room.
" He has died outside." he thought. Yes, outside
in that narrow corridor, where there was hardly
room to turn, the mysterious death had come to
his poor dear Tom. The impulse of snatching up
his pistols and rushing out of the room abandoned
Byrne suddenly. For Tom, too, had been armed—
with just such powerless weapons as he himself
possessed— pistols, a cutlass I And Tom had died
a nameless death, by incomprehensible means.
A new thought came to Byrne. That stranger
knocking at the door and fleeing so swiftly at his
appearance had come there to remove the body.
Aha! That was the guide the withered witch had
promised would show the English ofiicer the
shortest way of rejoining his man. A promise,
he saw it now, of dreadful import. He who had
knocked would ha"e two bodies to deal with.
Man and officer would go forth from the house
together. For Byrne was certain now that he
would have to die before the morning— and in the
same mysterious manner, leaving behind h-m an
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 213
The sight of a smashed head, of a throat cut, of
a gaping gunshot wound, would have been an in-
expressible relief. It would have soothed all his
fears. His soul cried vithin him to that dead man
whom he had never found wanting in danger.
" Why don't you tell me what I am to look for.
Tom? Why don't you?" But in rigid immo-
bility, extended on his back, he seemed to preserve
an austere silence, as if disdaining in the finality
of his awful knowledge to hold converse with the
Suddenly Byrne flung himself on his knees by
the side of the body, and dry-eyed, fierce, opened
the shirt wide on the breast, as if to tear the secret
forcibly from that cold heart which had been so
loyal to him in hfe! Nothing I Nothing! He
raised the lamp, and aU the sign vouchsafed to
him by that face which used to be so kindly in
expression was a small bruise on the forehead—
the least thing, a mere mark. The skin even was
not broken. He stared at it a long time as if lost
in a dreadful dream. Then he observed that Tom's
hands were clenched as though he had faUen facing
somebody in a fight with fists. His knuckles, on
closer view, appeared somewhat abraded. Both
The discovery of tnese slight signs was more
appalling to Byrne than the absolute absence of
every mark would have been. So Tom had died
ai4 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
•triking against scanething which could be hit
and yet couJd Idll one without leaving a wound-'
by a breath.
Terror, hot terror, began to play about Byrne's
h«rt hke a tongue of flame that touches and with-
draws before it turns a thing to ashes. He backed
away from the body as far as he could, then came
forward stealthily casting fearful glances to steal
another look at the bruised forehead. There
would perhaps be such a faint bruise on his own
forehead— before the morning.
"I can't bear it," he whispered to himself. Tom
was for him now an object of horror, a sight at
once tempting and revolting to his fear He
couldn't bear to look at him.
At last, desperation getting the better of his
increasing horror, he stepped forward from the
waU against which he had been leaning, seized
the corpse under the annpits, and began to lug
|tov«tothebed. The bare heels of the seaman
traUed on the floor noiselessly. He was heavy
with the dead weight of inanimate objects. With
a last effort Byrne landed him face downwards
on the edge of the bed, rolled him over, snatched
irom under this stiff passive thing a sheet with
which he covered it over. Then he spread the
curtains at head and foot so that joining together
as he shook their folds they hid the bed altogether
zrom bis sig'i i .
THE IN- OF THE TWO WITCHES 215
He itumbled towards a chair, and fell on it.
The perspiration poured from his face for a moment,
and then his veins seemed to carry for a while a
thin stream of half-frozen blood. Complete terror
liad possession of him now, a nameless terror which
had turned his heart to ashes.
He sat upright in the straight-backed chair, the
lamp burning at his feet, his pistols and his hanger
at his left elbow on the end of the table, his eyes
turning incessantly in their sockets round the walls,
over the ceiling, over the floor, in the expectation
of a mysterious and appalling vision. The thing
which could deal death in a breath was outside that
bolted door. But Byrne believed neither in walls
nor bolts now. Unreasoning terror turning every-
thing to account, his old time boyish admiration
of the athletic Tom, the undaunted Tom (he had
seemed to him invincible), helped to paralyse his
faculties, added to his despair.
He was no longer Edgar Byrne. He was a
tortured soul sufiering more anguish than any
sinner's body had ever suffered from rack or boot.
The depth of bis torment may be measured when I
say that this young man, as brave at least as the
average of his kind, contemplated seizing a pistol
and firing into his own head. But a deadly, chilly,
langour was spreading over his limbs. It was as
if his flesh had been wet plaster stiffening stowly
about his ribs. Presently, he thought, the two
2i6 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
witches will be coming in, with crutch and stick-
horrible, grotesque, monstrous— affiliated to the
devil— to put a mark on his forehead, the tiny
little bruise of death. And he wouldn't be able
to do anything. Tom had struck out at some-
thing, but he was not like Tom. His limbs were
dead akeady. He sat still, dying the death over
and over again; and the only part of him which
moved were his eyes, turning round and round in
their sockets, running over the walls, the floor, the
ceiling, again and again till suddenly they became
motionless and stony — starting out of his head
fixed in the direction of the bed.
He had seen the heavy curtains stir and shake
as if the dead body they concealed had turned over
and sat up. Byrne, who thought the world could
hold no more terrors in store, felt his hair stir at the
roots. He gripped the arms of the chair, his jaw
fell, and the sweat broke out on his brow while
his dry tongue clove suddenly to the roof of his
mouth. Again the curtains stirred, but did not
open. "Don't, Tom!" Byrne made effort to
shout, but all he heard was a slight moan such as
an uneasy sleeper may make. He felt that his
brain was going, for, now, it seemed to him that
the ceiling over the bed had moved, had slanted,
and came level again — and once more the closed
curtains swayed gently as if about to part.
Byrne closed his eyes not to see the awful appari-
»t *m^if¥ -?■.■•"■
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 217
tion of the seaman's corpse corning ouf animated
by an evU spirit. In the pic' )nnd silence of the
room he endured a moment of frightful agony, then
opened his eyes again. And he saw at once that
the curtains remained closed still, but that the
ceiling over the bed had risen quite a foot. With
the last gleam of reason left to him he under-
stood that it was the enormous baldaquin over the
bed which was coming down, while the curtains
attached to it swayed softly, sinking gradually
to the floor. His drooping jaw snapped to— and
half rising in his chair he watched mutely the
noiseless descent of the monstrous canopy. It
came down in short smooth rushes till lowered
half way or more, when it took a run and settled
swiftly its turtle-back shape with the deep border
piece fitting exactly the edge of the bedstead. A
sUght crack or two of wood were heard, and the
overpowering stiUness of the room resumed its sway.
Byrne stood up, gasped for breath, and let out
a cry of rage and dismay, the first sound which he
is perfectly certain did make its way past his lips
on this night of terrors. This then was the death
he had escaped! This was the devilish artifice
of murder poor Tom's soul had perhaps tried from
beyond the border to warn him of. For this was
how he had died. Bynie was certain he had
aeard the voice of the seaman. fainUy distinct in
his familiar phrase. " Mr. Byrne! Look out. sir! "
2i8 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
and again uttering words he could not make
out. But then the distance separating the living
from the dead is so great! Poor Tom had tried.
Byrne ran to the bed and attempted to lift up, to
push ofi the horrible lid smothering the body. It
resisted his efiforts, heavy as lead, immovable like
a tombstone. The rage of vengeance made him
desist; his head buzzed with chaotic thoughts of
extermination, he turned round the room as if he
could find neither his weapons nor the way out;
and all the time he stammered awful menaces. . . .
A violent battering at the door of the inn re-
called him to his soberer senses. He flew to the
window, pulled the shutters open, and looked out.
In the faint dawn he saw below him a mob of men.
Ha! He would go and face at once this murderous
lot collected no doubt for his undoing. After his
struggle with nameless terrors he yearned for an
open fray with armed enemies. But he must have
remained yet bereft of his reason, because forgetting
his weapons he rushed downstairs with a wild cry,
unbarred the door while blows were raining on it
outside, and flinging it open flew with his bare
hands at the throat of the first man he saw before
him. They rolled over together. Byrne's hazy
intention was to break through, to fly up the
mountain path, and come back presently with
Gonzales' men to exact an exemplary vengeance.
He fought furiously till a tree, a house, a mountain.
THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES 219
seemed to crash down upon his head— and he
knew no more.
Here Mr. Byrne describes in detail the skilful
manner in which he found his broken head ban-
daged, informs us that he had lost a great deal of
blood, and ascribes the preservation of his sanity
to that circumstance. He sets down Gonzales'
profuse apologies in full too. For it was Gonzales
who, tired of waiting for news from the English,
had come down to the inn with half his band,
on his way to the sea. " His excellency," he
explained, "rushed out with fierce impetuosity,
and, moreover, was not known to us for a friend,
and so we . . . etc., etc. When asked what had
become of the witches, he only pointed his finger
silently to the ground, then voiced cahnly a moral
reflection: " The passion for gold is pitiless in the
very old, senor," he said. " No doubt in former
days they have put many a soUtary traveUer to
sleep in the archbishop's bed."
" There was also a gipsy girl there," said Byrne
feebly from the improvised litter on which he was
being carried to the coast by a squad of guerilleros.
" It was she who winched up that infernal
machine, and it was she too who lowered it that
night," was the answer.
" But why? Why? " exclaimed Byrne. " Why
should she wish for my death ? "
.& •f*! i
230 THE INN OF THE TWO WITCHES
" No doubt for the sake of your exceUency's
coat buttons," said poKtely the saturnine Gonzales.
" We found those of the dead mariuer concealed
on her person. But your excellency may rest
assured that everything that is fitting has been
done 0.1 this occasion."
Byrne asked no more questions. There was still
another death which was considered by Gonzales
as •• fitting to the occasion." The one-eyed Bernar-
dino stuck against the waU of his wine-shop
received the charge of six escopettas into his breast.
As the shots rang out the rough bier with Tom's
body on it went past carried by a bandit-like
gang of Spanish patriots down the ravine to the
shore, where two boats from the ship were waiting
for what was left on earth of her best seaman.
Mr. Byrne, very pale and weak, stepped into the
boat which carried the body of his humble friend.
For it was decided that Tom Corbin should rest
far out in the bay of Biscay. The officer took the
tiller and, turning his head for the la.st look at
the shore, saw on the grey hillside something
moving, which he made out to be a little man in a
yellow hat mounted on a mule— that mule without
which the fate of Tom Corbin would have remained
mjraterious for ever.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
- »-i-S» 'W
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
While we were hanging about near the water's
edge, as sailors idling ashore will do (it was in the
open space before the Harbour Office of a great
Eastern port), a man came towards us from the
" front " of business houses, aiming obUquely at
the landing steps. He attracted my attention
because in the movement of figures in white drill
suits on the pavement from which he stepped, hU
costume, the usual tunic and trousers, being made
of Ught grey flannel, made him noticeable.
I had time to observe him. He was stout, but
he was not grotesque. His face was round and
smooth, his complexion very fair. On his nearer
approach I saw a Uttle moustache made aU the
faurer by a good many white hairs. And he had,
for a stout man, quite a good chin. In passing us'
he exchanged nods with the friend I was with
My friend was Hollis, the fellow who had so
many adventures and had known so many queer
people m that part of the (more or less) gorgeous
224 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
East in the days of his youth. He said: "That's a
good man. I don't mean good in the sense of
smart or skilful in his trade. I mean a really
I turned round at once to look at the pheno-
menon. The " really good man " had a very broad
back. I saw him signal a sampan to come along-
side, get into it, and go off in the direction of a
cluster of local steamers anchored close inshore.
I said: " He's a seaman, isn't he? "
" Yes. Commands that biggish dark-green
steamer : ' Sissie — Glasgow.' He has never
commanded anything else but the ' Sissie —
Glasgow,' only it wasn't always the same Sissie.
The first he had was about half the length of this
one, and we used to tell poor Davidson that she was
a size too small for him. Even at that time David-
son had bulk. We warned him he would get
callosities on his shoulders and elbows because of
the tight fit of his command. And Davidson could
well afiord the smiles he gave us for our chafi. He
made lots of money in her. She belonged to a
portly Chinaman resembling a mandarin in a
picture-book, with goggles and thin drooping
moustaches, and as dignified as only a Celestial
knows how to be.
"The best of Chinamen as employers is that
they have such gentlemanly instincts. Once they
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 235
become convinced that you are a straight man.
they give you their unbounded confidence. You
simply can't do wrong, then. And they are pretty
quick judges of character. .00. Davidson's China-
man was the first to find out his worth, on some
theoretical principle. One day in his counting-
house, before several white men he was heard to
declare: ' Captain Davidson is a good man.' And
that settled it. After that you couldn't teU if it
was Davidson who belonged to the Chinaman or
the Chinaman who belonged to Davidson. It was
he who, shortly before he died, ordered in Glasgow
the new Sissie for Davidson to command."
We walked into the shade of the Harbour Office
and leaned our elbows on the parapet of the quay.
" She was really meant to comfort poor David-
son." continued Hollis. " Can you fancy anything
more naively touching than this old mandarin
spending several thousand pounds to console his
white man? Well, there she is. The old man-
darin's sons have inherited her. and Davidson with
her; and he commands her; and what with his
salary and trading privileges he makes a lot of
money; and everything is as before; and David-
son even smiles— you have seen it? Well, the
smile's the only thing which isn't as before."'
" Tell me. Hollis." I asked. " what do you mean
by good in this connection? "
aa6 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
" Well, there are men who are bom good just as
others are bom witty. What I mean is his nature.
No simpler, more scrapulously delicate soul had
ever lived in such a — a — comfortable envelope.
How we used to laugh at Davidson's fine scruples I
In short, he's thoroughly humane, and I don't
imagine there can be much of any other sort of
goodness that counts on this earth. And as he's
that with a shade of particular refinement, I may
well call him a ' really good man.' "
I knew from old thar Hollis was a firm believer
in the final value of shades. And I said : " I see "
—because I really did see Holli^'s Davidson in the
sympathetic stout man who had passed us a little
while before. But I remembered that at the very
moment he smiled his placid face appeared veiled
in melancholy — a sort of spiritual shadow. I
" Who on earth has paid him off for being so
fine by spoiling his smile ? "
" That's quite a story, and I will tell it to you if
you like. Confound it! It's quite a surprising
one, too. Surprising in every way, but mostly in
the way it knocked over poor Davidson — and
apparently only because he is such a good sort.
He was telling me all about it only a few days ago.
He said that when he saw these four fellows with
their heads in a bunch over the table, he at once
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 237
didn't like it. He didn't Uke it at aU. You
mustn't suppose that Davidson is a soft fool.
" But I had better begin at the beginning. We
must go back to the first time the old doUars had
been called in by our Government in exchange for a
new issue. Just about the time when I left these
parts to go home for a long stay. Every trader in
the Ulands was thinking of getting his old dollars
sent up here in time, and the demand for empty
French wine cases— you know the dozen of ver-
mouth or claret size— was something unprece-
dented. The custom was to pack the dollars in
little bags of a hundred each. I don't know how
many bags each case would hold. A good lot.
Pretty tidy sums must have been moving afloat
just then. But let us get away from here. Won't
do to stay in the sun. Where could we ? I
know! let us go to those tiffin-rooms over there."
We moved over accordingly. Our appearance
m the long empty room at that early hour caused
visible consternation amongst the China boys.
But Mollis led the way to one of the tables between
the windows screened by rattan blinds. A bril-
liant half-light t:«mbled on the ceiling, on the
whitewashed waUs, bathed the multitude of vacant
chairs and tables in a peculiar, stealthy glow.
" All right. We will get something to eat when
328 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
ii's ready," he said, waving the anxious Chinaman
waiter aside. He took his temples touched with
grey between his hands, leaning over the table to
bring his face, his dark, keen eyes, closer to mine.
" Davidson then was commanding the steamer
Siss»«— the little one which we used to chaff him
about. He ran her alone, with only the Malay
serang for a deck officer. The nearest approach
to another white man on board of her was the
engineer, a Portuguese half-caste, as thin as a lath
and quite a youngster at that. For all practical
purposes Davidson was managing that command
of his single-handed ; and of course this was known
in the port. I am telling you of it because the fact
had its influence on the developments you shall
hear of presently.
" His steamer, being so small, could go up tiny
creeks and into shallow bays and through reefs and
over sand-banks, collecting produce, where no
other vessel but a native craft would think of
venturing. It is a paying game, often. Davidson
was known to visit in her places that no one else
could find and that hardly anybody had ever
"The old dollars being caUed in, Davidson's
Chinaman thought that the Sissie would be just
the thing to collect them from small traders in
the less frequented parts of the Archipelago. It's a
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS aa9
good business. Such cases of doUars are dumped
aft in the ship's lazarette. and you get good freight
for very httle trouble and space.
"Davidson, too, thought it was a good idea-
and together they made up a list of his calU on his
next tnp Then Davidson (he had naturally the
chart of his voyages in his head) remarked that on
his way back he might look in at a certain settle-
ment up a mere creek, where a poor sort of white
man hved in a native village. Davidson pointed
out to h.s Chinaman that the feUow was certain to
nave some rattans to ship.
" 'Probably enough to fill her forward,' said
Davidson. ' And that'll be better than bringing
her back with empty holds. A day more or iZ
" y*-'' und talk, and the Chinaman owner
coul . : , ,. But if it hadn't been sound
r " ,'^' "' •'* ^'"'* ^^^ *^^- Davidson did
whai he hked. He was a man that could do no
wrong. However, this suggestion of his was not
merely a business matter. There was in it a touch
of Davidsonian kindness. For you must know
that the man could not have continued to live
quietly up that creek if it had not been for David-
«.n s wiUmgness to call there from time to time.
And Davidson's Chinaman knew tUs perfectly
weu. too. So he only smUed his dignified, bland
a •. fet"
330 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
smile, and said: 'All right, Captain. You do
what you like.'
" I will explain presently how this connection
between Davidson and that fellow came about.
Now I want to tell you about the part of this
affair which happened here — the preliminaries
" You know as well as I do that these tiffin-
rooms where we are sitting now have been in
existence for many years. Well, next day about
twelve o'clock, Davidson dropped in here to get
something to eat.
" And here comes the only moment in this story
where accident — mere accident — plays a part. If
Davidson had gone home that day for tiffin, there
would be now, after twelve years or more, nothing
changed in his kindly, placid smile.
" But he came in here ; and perhaps it was sitting
at this very table that he remarked to a friend of
mine that his next trip was to be a dollar-collecting
trip. He added, laughing, that his wife was
making rather a fuss about it. She had begged
him to stay ashore and get somebody else to take
his place for a voyage. She thought there was
some danger on account of the dollars. He told
her, he said, that there were no Java-sea pirates
nowadajrs except in boys' books. He had laughed
at her fears, but he was very sorry, too; for when
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 231
she took any notion in her head it was impossible
to argue her out of it. She would be wonying
herself all the time he was away. Well, he couldn't
help it. There was no one ashore- fit to take his
place for the trip.
" This friend of mine and I went home together
in the same mail-boat, and he mentioned that
conversation one evening in the Red Sea while we
were talking over the things and people we had
just left, with more or less regret.
" I can't say that Davidson occupied a very
prominent place. Moral exceUence seldom does.
He was quietly appreciated by those who knew him
weU; but his more obvious distinction consisted in
this, that he was married. Ours, as you remember,
was a bachelor crowd; in spirit anyhow, if not
absolutely in fact. There might have been a few
wives in existence, but if so they were invisible
distant, never aUuded to. For what would have
been the good? Davidson alone was visibly
" Being married suited him exactly. It fitted
him so weU that the wildest of us did not resent the
fact when it was disclosed. Directly he had felt
his feet out here, Davidson sent for his wife. She
came out (from West Australia) in the Somerset.
under the care of Captain Ritchie— you know
Monkey-face Ritchie-who couldn't praise enough
a3!» BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
her sweetness, her gentleness, and her chann.
She seemed to be the heaven-bora mate for David-
son. She found on arrival a very pretty bungalow
on the hill, ready for her and the little girl they had.
Very soon he got for her a two-wheeled trap and a
Burmah pony, and she used to drive down of an
evening to pick up Davidson, on the quay. When
Davidson, beaming, got into the trap, it would
become very full all at once.
"We used to admire Mrs. Davidson from a
distance. It was a girlish head out of a keepsake.
From a distance. We had not many opportunities
for a closer view, because she did not care to give
them to us. We would have been glad to drop in at
the Davidson bungalow, but we were made to feel
somehow that we were not very welcome there.
Not that she ever said anything ungracious. She
never had much to say for herself. I was perhaps
the one who saw most of the Davidsons at home.
What I noticed under the superfirial aspect of
vapid sweetness was her convex, obstinate fore-
head, and her small, red, pretty, imgenerous mouth.
But then I am an observer with strong prejudices.
Most of us were fetched by her white, swan-like
neck, by that drooping, innocent profile. There
was a lot of latent devotion to Davidson's wife
hereabouts, at that time, I can tell you. But my
idea was that she repaid it by a profound suspicion
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 333
of the sort of men we were; a mistrust which
extended— I fancied— to her very husband at
times. And I thought then she was jealous of him
in a way; though there were no women that she
could be jealous about. She had no women's
society. It's difficult for a shipmaster's wife
unless there are other shipmasters' wives about,
and there were none here then. I know that the
dock manager's wife called on her; but that was
all. The fellows here formed the opinion that
Mrs. Davidson was a meek, shy litttle thing. She
looked it, I must say. And this opinion was so
universal that the friend I have been telling you of
remembered his conversation with Davidson simply
because of the statement about Davidson's wife.
He even wondered to me: ' Fancy Mrs. Davidson
making a fuss to that extent. She didn't seem to
me the sort of woman that would know how to
make a fuss about anything.'
" I wondered, too— but not so much. That
bumpy forehead— eh? I had always suspected
her of being silly. And I observed that Davidson
must have been vexed by this display of wifely
"My friend said: 'No. He seemed rather
touched and distressed. There reaUy was no one
he could ask to relieve him; mainly because he
intended to make a caU in some God-forsakea
a34 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
creek, to look up a fellow of the name of Bamtz
who apparently had settled there.'
" And again my friend wondered. ' Tell me," he
cried, 'what connection can there be between
Davidson and such a creature as Bamtz? '
" I don't remember now what answer I made.
A sufficient one could have been given in two
words: 'Davidson's goodness." That never
boggled at unworthiness if there was the slightest
reason for cc mpassion. I don't want you to think
that Dav' \ on had no discrimination at all. Bamtz
could not have imposed on him. Moreover,
everybody knew what Bamtz was. He was a
loafer with a beard. When I think of Bamtz, the
first thing I see is that long black beard and a lot
of propitiatory wrinkles at the comers of two Uttle
eyes. There was no such beard from here to Poly-
nesia, where a beard is a valuable property in itself.
Bamtz's beard was valuable to him J.i another way.
You know how impressed Orientals aie by a fine
. beard. Years and years ago, I remember, the grave
Abdullah, the great trader of Sambir. unable to
repress signs of astonishment and admiration at
the first sight of that imposing beard. And it's
very well known that Bamtz Uved on Abdullah off
and on for several years. It was a unique beard,
and so was the bearer of the same. A unique
loafer. He made a fine art of it, or rather a sort of
li ' .:l
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 335
craft and mystery. One can understand a fellow
living by cadging and small swindles in towns, in
large communities of people; but Bamtz managed
to do that trick in the wilderness, to loaf on the
outskirts of the virgin forest.
" He understood how to ingratiate himself with
the natives. He would arrive in some settlement
up a river, make a present of a cheap carbine or a
pair of shoddy binoculars, or something of that
sort, to the Rajah, or the head-man, or the principal
trader; and on the strength of that gift, ask for a
house, posing mysteriously as a very special trader.
He would spin them no end of yams, live on the fat
of the land for a while, and then do some mean
swindle or other — or else they would get tired of
him and ask him to quit. And he would go off
meekly with an air of injured innocence. Funny
life. Yet, he never got hurt somehow. I've heard
of the Rajah of Dongala giving him fifty dollars'
worth of trade goods and paying his passage in a
prau only to get rid of him. Fact. And observe
that nothing prevented the old fellow having
Bamtz's throat cut and the carcase thrown into
deep water outside the reefs; for who on earth
would have inquired after Bamtz?
" He had been known to loaf up and down the
wilderness as far north as the Gulf of Tonkin.
Neither did he disdain a spell of civilisation from
336 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
time to time. And it was while loafing and cadging
in Saigon, bearded and dignified (he gave himself
out there as a bookkeeper), that he came across
" The less said of her early history the better, but
something must be said. We may safely suppose
there was very little heart left in her famous laugh
when Bamtz spoke first to her in some low ca.i6.
She was stranded in Saigon with precious little
money and in great trouble about a kid she had,
a boy of five or six.
" A fellow I just remember, whom they called
Pearler Harry, brought her out first into these
parts — from AustraUa, I believe. He brought her
out and then dropped her, and she remained knock-
ing about here and there, known to most of us by
sight, at any rate. Everybody in the Archipelago
had heard of Laughing Anne. She had really a
pleasant silvery laugh always at her disposal, so to
speak, but it wasn't enough apparently to make
her fortune. The poor creature was ready to stick
to any half-decent man if he would only let her,
but she always got dropped, as it might have been
" She had been left in Saigon by the skipper of a
German ship with whom she had been going up and
down the China coast as far as Vladivostok for
near upon two years. The German said to her:
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 337
'This is aU over, metn Taubchen. I am going
home now to get married to the girl I got engaged
to before coming out here.' And Anne said : ' All
right. I'm ready to go. We part friends, don't we ?'
" She was always anxious to part friends. The
German told her that of course they were parting
friends. He looked rather glum at the moment of
parting. She laughed and went ashore.
" But it was no laughing matter for her. She
had some notion that this would be her last
chance. What frightened her most was the
future of her child. She had left her boy in
Saigon before gomg off with the German, in the
care of an elderly French couple. The husband
was a doorkeeper in some Government office, but
his time was up, and they were returning to France.
She had to take the boy back from them; and
after she had got him back, she did not Uke to part
with him any more.
" That w<ts the situation when she and Bamtz
got acquainted casually. She could not have had
any illusions about that fellow. To pick up with
Bamtz was coming down pretty low in the world,
even from a material point of view. She had
always been decent, in her way; whereas Bamtz
was, not to mince words, an abject sort of creature.
On the other hand, that bearded loafer, who looked
much more like a pirate than a bookkeeper, was not
338 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
a brute. He was gentle — rather— even in his
cups. And then, despair, like misfortune, makes
us acquainted with strange bed-fellows. For she
may well have despaired. She was no longer
young — you know.
" On the man's side 'his conjunction is more
difficult to explain, perhaps. One thing, however,
must be said of Bamtz ; he had always kept clear of
native women. As one can't suspect him of moral
delicacy, I surmise that it must have been from
prudence. And he, too, was no longer young.
There were many white hairs in his valuable black
beard by then. He may have simply longed for
some kind of companionship in his queer, degraded
existence. Whatever their motives, they vanished
from Saigon together. And of course nobody
cared what had become of them.
" Six months later Davidson came into the
Mirrah Settlement. It was the very first time he
had been up that creek, where no European vessel
had ever been seen before. A Javanese passenger
he had on board ofiered him fifty dollars to call in
there— it must have been some very particular
business— and Davidson consented to try. Fifty
dollars, he told me, were neither here nor there;
but he was curious to see the place, and the little
Sissie could go an)where where there was water
enough to float a soup-plate.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS ,39
„ K^K^I'*'^" ^'^'^^ ^' J*^'^'^ P'^to^rat. and.
as he had to wait a couple of houn, for the tide, he
went ashore himself to stretch his legs
most of them built on piles over the river, the rest
scattered m the long grass; the usual pathway at
the back: the forest hemming in the clearing and
smothenng what there might have been of air into
a dead, hot stagnation.
"AU the population was on the river-bank
stanng silently, as Malays wiU do, at the Sissie
anchored m the stream. She was almost as won-
derful to them as an angel's visit. Many of the old
people had only heard vaguely of fire-ships, and not
many of the yomiger generation had seen one. On
the back path Davidson stroUed in perfect solitude.
But he became aware of a bad smell and concluded
he would go no farther.
" While he stood wiping his forehead, he heard
from somewhere the exclamation: 'My Godr
•It s Davy I '
•' Davidson's lower jaw, as he expressed it, came
was the name used by the associates of his young
«^ys: he hadn't heard it for many years He
stared about with his mouth open and L a whit
woman issue from the long grass in which a smaU
hut stood buried nearly up to the roof .
240 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
" Try to imagine the shock: in that wild place
that you couldn't find on a map, and more squalid
than the most poverty-stricken Malay settlement
had a right to be, this Euroi)ean woman coming
swishing out of the long grass in a fanciful tea-
gown thing, dingy pink satin, with a long train and
frayed lace trimmings; her eyes like black coals
in a pasty-white face. Davidson thought that
he was asleep, that he was delirious. From the
offensive village mudhole (it was what Davidson
had sniffed just before) a couple of filthy buffaloes
uprose with loud snorts and lumbered off crashing
through the bushes, panic-struck by this appari-
" The woman came forward, her arms extended,
and laid her hands on Davidson's shoulders,
exclaiming: 'Why! You have hardly changed
at all. The same good Davy.' And she laughed
a little wildly.
" This sovmd was to Davidson like a galvanic
shock to a corpse. He started in every muscle.
' Laughing Anne,' he said in an awe-struck voice.
" ' All that's left of her, Davy. All that's left
" Davidson looked up at the sky; but there was
to be seen no balloon from which she could have
fallen on that spot. When he brought his dis-
tracted gaze down, it rested on a child holding on
BECAUSE OF IHE DOLURS ,4.
freckliM] fa«. J ^ sunburnt tegs, a
and when he had disappeared i„ ?h ^"*'
tunied to Davidson S! ^^ ^^''' '^^
ting out the J:S 'SwT ' '"k ''*" ^^*-
long fit of crvinr <:k t .^ ^°°y' ''""* '"to »
should r ST'distfi!^'' *° ''"" °° ^^^^-"'^
upon him. ™ *"® "^'^ come
youth h^^" ^ '^''^^ '^^^^ « his
a4a BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
the path, with Bamt. himself. She ran back to the
hut to fetch him, and he came out lounging, with
hi8 hands in his pockets, with the detached, casual
manner under which he concealed his propensity to
cringe Ya-a-as-as. He thought he would settle
here permanently-with her. This with a nod
at Laughing Anne, who stood by. a haggard,
tragically anxious figure, her black hair hangmg
over her shoulders. ^
•• ' No more paint and dyes for me, Davy, she
struck in. ' if only you wiU do what he wants you
to do. You know that I was always ready to stand
by my men— if they had only let me.'
" Davidson had no doubt of her earnestness.
It was of Bamtz's good faith that he was not at aU
sure Bamtt wanted Davidson to promise to caU
at Mirrah more or less regularly. He thought he
saw an opening to do business with rattans there,
if only he could depend on some craft to bring out
trading goods and take away his produce.
" * 1 have a few dollars to make a start on. The
people are all right.'
" He had come there, where he was not known,
in a native prau. and had managed, with his sedate
manner and the exactly right kind of yam he knew
how to teU to the natives, to ingratiate himself with
the chief man.
" • The Orang Kaya has given me that empty
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS ,43
houM there to live in as long as I will stay,' added
"•Do it Davy/ cried the woman suddenly.
Think of that poor kid.'
"•Seen him? 'Cute Uttle customer,' said the
reformed loafer in such a tone of interest as to
surprise Davidson into a kindly glance.
•"I certainly can do it, ' he declared. He thought
of at i St making some stipulation as to Bamtz
behaving decently to the woman, but his exagger-
ated delicacy and also the conviction that such a
feUow's promises were worth nothing restrained
hmi. Anne went a Uttle distance down the path
with him talking anxiously.
" ' It's for the kid. How could I have kept him
with me if I had to knock about in towns? Here
he will never know that his mother was a painted
woman. And this Bamtz likes him. He's real
fond of him. I suppose I ought to thank God
•; Davidson shuddered at any human creature
bemg brought so low as to have to thank God for
the favours or affection of a Bamtz.
" 'And do you think that you can make out to
live here? ' he asked gently.
Can't I? You know I have always stuck to
men through thick and thin till they had enough
of me. And now look at me! But inside I am as
244 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
I always was. I have acted on the square to them
all one after another. Only they do get tired some-
how. Oh, Davy! Harry ought not to have cast
me off. It was he that led me astray.'
" Davidson mentioned to her that Harry the
Pearler had been dead now for some years. Per-
haps she had heard?
" She made a sign that she had heard; and
walked by the side of Davidson in silence nearly to
the bank. Then she told him that her meeting
with him had brought back the old times to her
mind. She had not cried for years. She was not a
crying woman either. It was hearing herself called
Laughing Anne that had started her sobbing Uke a
fool. Harry was the only man she had loved.
" She shrugged her shoulders. But she prided
herself on her loyalty to the successive partners of
her dismal adventures. She had never played
any tricks in her Ufe. She was a pal worth having.
But men did get tired. They did not understand
women. She supposed it had to be.
" Davidson was attempting a veiled warning as
to Bamtz, but she interrupted him. She knew
what men were. She knew what this man was
like. But he had taken wonderfully to the kid.
And Davidson desisted wiUingly, saying to himself
that surely poor Laughing Anne could have no
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 245
iUusions by this time. She wrung his hand hard
I«!''*k*''k'-'"u"'' ^'^' ^^^-"'s for the kid.
Isn t he a bright litUe chap ? '
"All this happened about two years before the
day when Davidson, fitting in this very room,
talked to my friend. You will see presently how
this room can get full. Every seat'll be occupied
aad as you notice, the tables ar. set close, so that
the backs of the chairs are ahnost touching. There
?c?^ ^ ^"^ ^"^^ °* "°''^ ^""^^ ^^'^ ^^^*- °°«
'• I don't suppose Davidson was talking very
loudly; but very likely he had to raise his voici
across the table to my friend. And here accident
^ere acadent, put in its work by providing a pai;
of fine ears close behind Davidson's chair ItvTs
ten to one against the owner of the same having
enough change in his pockets to get his tiffin here
But he had. Most likely had rooked somebody of
a few doUaxs at cards overnight. Hewasabr^ht
creature of the name of Fector, a spare, shJrt
jumpy feUow with a red face and mudd^eyes He
described himself as a journalist as certain kind of
246 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
women give themselves out as actresses in the dock
of a poUce-court.
" He used to introduce himself to strangers as a
man with a mission to track out abuses and fight
them whenever found. He would also hint that
he was a martyr. And it's a fact that he had been
kicked, horsewhipped, imprisoned, and hounded
with ignominy out of pretty well every place
between Ceylon and Shanghai, for a professional
" I suppose,, in that trade, you've got to have
active wits and sharp ears. It's not likely that he
overheard every word Davidson said about his
dollar collecting trip, but he heard enough to set his
wits at work.
" He let Davidson go out, and then hastened
away down to the native slums to a sort of lodging-
house kept in partnership by the usual sort of
Portuguese and a very disreputabk Chinaman.
Macao Hotel, it was called, but it was mostly a
gambling den that one used to warn fellows against.
Perhaps you remember?
" There, the evening before, Fector had met a
precious couple, a partnership even more queer
than the Portuguese and the Chinaman. One of
the two was Niclaus — you know. Why! the
fellow with a Tartar moustache and a yellow com-
plexion, hke a MongoUan, only that his eyes were
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 247
set straight and his face was not so flat. One
couldn't teU what breed he was. A nondescript
beggar. From a certain angle you would think
a very bilious white man. And I daresay he was.
He owned a Malay prau and called himself The
Nakhoda, as one would say: The Captain. Aha I
Now you remember. He couldn't, apparently,
speak any other European language than English,
but he flew the Dutch flag on his prau.
" The other was the Frenchman without hands.
Yes. The very same we used to know in '79 in]
Sydney, keeping a Uttle tobacco shop at the lower
end of George Street. You remember the huge
carcase hunched up behind the counter, the big
white face and the long bkck hair brushed back
off a high forehead like a bard's. He was always
trying to roU cigarettes on his knee with his stumps,
telling endless yams of Polynesia and whining and
cursing in turn about ' mon nudheur: His hands
had been blown away by a dynamite cartridge
whUe fishing in some lagoon. This accident, I
believe, had made him more wicked than before,
which is saying a good deal.
"He was always talking about 'resuming his
activities ' some day, whatever they were, -f he
could only get an intelligent companion. It was
evidoit that the Uttle shop was no field for his
activities, and the sickly woman with her face tied
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
up, who used to look in sometimes through the back
door, was no companion for him.
" And, true enough, he vanished from Sydney
before long, after some trouble with the Excise
fellows about his stock. Goods stolen out of a
warehouse or something similar. He left the woman
behind, but he must have secured some sort of
companion — he could not have shifted for himself;
but whom he went away with, anJ wher?, and what
other companions he might have picked up after-
wards, it is impossible to make the remotest guess
" Why exactly he came this way I can't tell.
Towards the end of my time here we began to hear
talk of a maimed Frenchman who had been seen
here and there. But no one knew then that he
had foregathered with Niclaus and lived in his
prau. I daresay he put Niclaus up to a thing or
two. Anyhow, it was a partnership. Niclaus was
somewhat afraid of the Frenchman on account of
his tempers, which were awful. He looked then Uke
a devil; but a man without hands, unable to load
or handle a weapon, can at best go for one only
with his teeth. From that danger Niclaus felt
certain he could always defend himself.
" The couple were alone together loafing in the
common-room of that infamous hotel when Fector
turned up. After some beating about the bush.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 249
for he was doubtful how far he could trust these
two. he repeated what he had overheard in the
•• His tale did not have much success till he came
to mention the creek and Bamtz's name. Niclaus
saJmg about like a native in a prau, was, in his
own words, ' familiar with the locality. The huge
Frenchman, walking up and down the room with
h.s stumps in the pockets of his jacket, stopped
short m surprise. 'Comment? Bamtz! BanUz''
He had run across him several times in his Ufe
He exclaimed: ' Bamtz, Mais je ne cannais que
cal And he appHed such a contemptuously in-
decent epithet to Bamtz that when, later, he alluded
to hun as • une chiffe ' (a mere rag) it sounded quite
comphmentary. • We can do with him what we
Hite, he asserted confidently. 'Oh yes Cer
tamly we must hasten to pay a visit to that '
(another awful descriptive epithet quite unfit for
repetition). • Devil take me if we don't puU ofi
a coup that will set us all up for a long time '
'• He saw all that lot of doUars melted into bars
and disposed of somewhere on the China coast
Of the escape after the coup he never doubted
There was Niclaus's prau to manaje that in
In his enthusiasm he puUed his stumps out
of his pockets and waved them about. Then,
catching sight of them, as it were, he
held them in
250 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
front of his eyes, cursing and blaspheming and
bewailing his misfortune and his helplessness, till
Niclaus quieted him down.
" But it was his mind that planned out the afiair
and it was his spirit which carried the other two on.
Neither of them was of the bold buccaneer type;
and Fector, especially, had never in his adventurous
life used other weapons than slander and lies.
" That very evening they departed on a visit to
Bamtz in Niclaus's prau, which had been lying,
emptied of her cargo of cocoanuts, for a day or two
under the canal bridge. They must have crossed
the bows of the anchored Sissie, and no doubt
looked at her with interest as the scene of their
future exploit, the great haul, le grand coup I
" Davidson's wife, to his great surprise, sulked
with him for several days before he left. I don't
know whether it occurred to him that, for all her
angelic profile, she was a very stupidly obstinate
girl. She didn't like the tropics. He had brought
her out there, where she had no friends, and
now, she said, he was becoming inconsiderate. She
had a presentiment of some misfortune, and not-
withstanding Davidson's painstaking explanations,
she could not see why her presentiments were to
be disregarded. On the very last evening before
Davidson went away she asked him in a suspicious
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS ,51
•" I am not anxious,' protested the good David-
son ' I simply can't help myself. There's no
one else to go in my place.'
slowly.^' ^'"'' "° °"''' ^' '^^' *'™'"e *^y
•■ She was so distant with him that evening that
Da^adson from a sense of delicacy made up his
mmd to say good-bye to her at once and go and
s^eep on board. He felt very miserable and
strangely enough, more on his own account than
on account of his wife. She seemed to him much
more offended than grieved.
•■ Three weeks later, having collected a good many
cases of old doUars (they were stowed aft in the
azarette with an iron bar and a padlock securing
he hatch under his cabin-table), yes, with a bigger
lo than he had expected to coUect, he found hL-
self homeward bomid and off the entrance of the
creek where Bamtz Uved and even, in a sense
•* It v^ so late in the day that Davidson
actuaUy hesitated whether he should not pass by
thistmie. He had no regard for Bamtz, who was
a degraded but not a really unhappy man. His
pity for Laughing Anne was no more than her case
deserved. But his goodness was of a particularly
252 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
delicate sort. He realised how these people were
dependent on him, and how they would feel their
dependence (if he failed to turn up) through a
long month of anxious waiting. Prompted by his
sensitive humanity, Davidson, in the gathering
dusk, turned the Sissie's head towards the hardly
discernible coast, and navigated her safety through
a maze of shallow patches. But by the time he
got to the mouth of the creek the night had come.
" The narrow waterway lay like a black cutting
through the forest. And as there were always
grounded snaggs in the channel which it would
be unpossible to make out, Davidson very prudently
turned the Sissie round, and with only enough steam
on the boilers to give her a touch ahead if necessary,
let her drift up stem first with the tide, silent and
invisible in the impenetrable darkness and in the
" It was a long job, and when at the end of two
hours Davidson thought he must be up to the
clearing, the settlement slept aheady, the whole
land of forests and rivers was asleep.
" Davidson, seeing a soUtary light in the massed
darkness of the shore, knew that it was burning
in Bamtz's house. This was imexpected at this
time of the night, but convenient as a guide. By
a turn of the screw and a touch of the helm he
sheered the Sissie alongside Bamtz's wharf—
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 853
a miserable structure of a dozen piles and a few
planks, of which the ex-vagabond was very proud
A couple of Kalashes jumped down on it, took a
turn with the ropes thrown to them round the posts
and the Sissie came to rest without a single loud
word or the slightest noise. And just in time too
for the tide turned even before she was properly
moored. r i~ j'
" Davidson had something to eat, and then
commg on deck for a last look round, noticed that
the light was still burning in the house.
" This was very unusual, but since they were
awake so late, Davidson thought that he would
go up to say that he was in a hurry to be off and
to ask that what rattans there were in store should
be sent on board with the first sign of dawn.
" He stepped carefuUy over the shaky planks not
bemg anxious to get a sprained ankle, and picked
his way across the waste ground to the foot of the
house ladder. The house was but a glorified hut
on piles, unfenced and lonely.
" Like many a stout man, Davidso.. . very
lightfooted. He climbed the seven steps or so
stepped across the bamboo platform quietly but
what he saw through the doorway stopped' him
"Four men were sitting by the light of a solitary
candle. There was a bottle, a jug and glasses on
354 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
the table, but they were not engaged in drinking.
Two packs of cards were lying there too, but they
were not preparing to play. They were talking
together in whispers, and remained quite unaware
of him. He himself was too astonished to make
a sound for some time. The world was still,
except for the sibilation of the whispering heads
bunched together over the table.
" And Davidson, as I have quoted him to you
before, didn't Uke it. He didn't Uke it at all.
" The situation ended with a scream proceeding
from the dark, interior part of the room. ' O
Davy I you've given me a turn.'
" Davidson made out beyond the table Anne's
very pale face. She laughed a Uttle hysterically,
out of the deep shadows between the gloomy mat
walls. 'Hal ha! hal '
" The four heads sprang apart at the first sound,
and four pairs of eyes became fixed stonily on
Davidson. The woman came forward, having little
more on her than a loose chintz wrapper and straw
sUppers on her bare feet. Her head was tied up
Malay fashion in a red handkerchief, with a mass
of loose hair hanging under it behind. Her pro-
fessional, gay, European feathers had Uterally
dropped off her in the course of these two years,
but a long necklace of amber beads himg round
her uncovered neck. It was the only ornament shej
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS ,35
tri^vlf ; ^^^ ^^ "''^ *" ^'' poor-enough
tnnket. dunng the flight from Salgon-when th^r
li«hfUrV°"^''' P*** "•' **^'''' '"t" the
tlnln "'"*' ^'"P'"^ «««*"'<' of ex-
2e^.Tf' " *'^°"^'" ''^ '^'^' P°°' *Wng' had
gone bhnd long ago, her , hite cheeks hoUow her
eyes darkly wUd, distracted, as Davidson CgM
She came on swiftly, grabbed him by the in'
d^edhnnm. ' It's heaven itself thai sends^u
to-mgh . My Tonys so bad-come and see Z
Come along — do! '
••Davidson submitted. The only one of the
men to move was Bamtz, who made as if to get
up but dropped back in his chair again. Da,dd-
son m passing heard him mutter confusedly some-
thmg that sounded like ' poor little beggar '
cnil^''^^'^- ^^^ ""^ ^"^^^ ^ » miserable
cot knocked up out of gin-cases, stared at David-
son w.th wide, drowsy eyes. It was a bad bout
of fever clearly. But whUe Davidson was promis-
mg to go on board and fetch some medicines, and
gen«a^y teymg to say reassuring things, he could
not help bemg struck by the extraordinary mam.er
of the woman standing by his side. Gazing with
despamng expression down at the cot, she would
T^ltz '^ •'"^'='' '"^^ «^- ^* ^
son and then towards the other room.
aje BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
" ' Yes, my poor girl,' he whispered, interpreting
her distraction in his own way, though he bad
nothing precise in his mind. ' I'm afraid this bode«>
no good to you. How is it they are here? '
" She seized his forearm and breathed out
forcibly: ' No good to me I Oh, not But what
about you I They are after the dollars you
have on board.'
" Davidson let out an astonished ' How do they
know there are any dollars? '
" She clapped her hands lightly, in distress.
' So it's true! You have them on board? Then
look out for yourself.'
" They stood gazing down at the boy in the cot,
aware that they might be observed from the other
" ' We must get him to perspire as soon as
possible,' said Davidson in his ordinary voice.
' You'll have to give him hot drink of aomt kind.
I will go on board and bring you a spirit-kettle
amongst other things.' And he added imder his
breath: ' Do they actually mean murder? '
" She made no sign, she had returned to her deso-
late contemplation of the boy. Davidson thought
she had not heard him even, when with an un-
changed expression she spoke under her breath.
" ' The Frenchman would, in a minute. The
others shirk it— unless you resist. He's a devil.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 257
H« keep, them going. Without hin, they would
havedojjenothingbutuilc. IVegotchumiy with
JSthe^ "^ '" '" "''" y"" are with a n,a„
oTthi! rJ""'^*''"°*- Ba«-' is terrified
of them. «d they know it. He's in iv from f ...7
Oh. Davyl take your ship away- „urkl ■
alreaJ?'**"'"^''^'^'^"- ' ^^^-^ th. ...
" • If the kid hadn't been i., this sHac I would
have run off with him-to you-int. .h. .- Jl
anywhere. Oh. Davyl wiU he die> ' sh. cri^
aioud suddenly. ^^°
"Davidson met three men in the doorway
They made way for him without actually daring
who looked down with an air of guiJt The
"'Isn't it unfortunate about that child! The
distress o that woman there upsets me. but I al
^^owo,„.y dearest friend. I have r. hand.
Would you mmd sticking one of those -..are.^-c
^ere mto the mouth of a poor, hannl.. ^,,,;
My^ nerves want soothing-upon my ho.:..;,
"Davidson complied with his naturally kind
, J- *''S''. <■!
358 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
smUe. As his outward placidity becomes only
more pronounced, if possible, the more reason
there is for excitement; and as Davidson's eyes,
when his wits are hard at work, get very still and
as if sleepy, the huge Frenchman might have been
justified in concluding that the man there was a
mere sheep— a sheep ready for slaughter.' With a
•merci bien' he uplifted his huge carcase to reach
the Ught of the candle with his cigarette, and
Davidsor left the house.
"Going down to the ship and returning, he
had time to consider his position. At first he was
inclined to believe that these men (Niclaus— the
white Nakhoda— was the only one he knew by
sight before, besides Bamtz) were not of the stamp
to proceed to extremities. This was partly the
reason why he never attempted to take any
measures on board. His pacific Kalasbes were not
to be thought of as against white men. His
wretched engineer would have had a fit from fright
at the mere idea of any sort of combat. Davidson
knew that he would have to depend on himself in
this affair if it ever came off.
" Davidson underestimated naturally the driving
power of the Frenchman's character and the force
of the actuating motive. To that man so hope-
lessly crippled these dollars were an enormous
opportunity. With his share of the robbery he
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 259
would open another shop in Vladivostok Hai-
phong, Manila-somewhere far away
"Neither did it occur to Davidson, who is a man
of courage, .f ever there was one. that his psyXo
that to th.s particular lot of ruffians, who'udged
hmi by h,s appearance, he appeared an unsus
Picious, moffensive. soft creat^e, as Te Zld
agam through the room, his hand full of vS
object, and parcels destined for the sick ^y
Bamt ! ^r"""'" ''"^S ^"^ ^'^d the table,
to not havmg the pluck to open his mouth.
It was Niclaus who, as a collective voice called
ouMo^him thickly to come out soon an'ir;'
" • I think ru have to stay some little time in
here, to help her look after the boy.' B.^Ll
answered without stopping.
" ™' ^ ^ g°°d thing to say to allay a possible
usp.aon. And. as it was. Davidson felt h^mu
not stay very long.
" He sat down on an old empty nail-keg near the
-Prov^sed cot and looked at the chifd wht
Laugh A„„e, moving to and fro, preparing tj
v^^^.J^"' '"°*'°'^''' "* *^« fl"^hed face
wh.s^edd.,omted bits of information. She had
succeeded m makmg friends with that French
26o BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
devil. Davy would understand that she knew
how to make herself pleasant to a man.
" And Davidson nodded without looking at
" The big beast had got to be quite confidential
with her. She held his cards for him when they
were having a game. Bamtz! Oh! Bamtz in his
funk was only too glad to see the Frenchman
humoured. And the Frenchman had come to believe
that she was a woman who didn't care what she did.
That's how it came about they got to talk before
her openly. For a long time she could not make
out what game they were up to. The new arrivals,
not expecting to find a woman with Bamtz, had
been very startled and annoyed at first, she
" She busied herself in attending to the boy ;
and nobody looking into that room would have
seen anything suspicious in those two people
exchanging murmurs by the sick-bedside.
" ' But now they think I am a better man than
Bamtz ever was,' she said with a faint laugh.
" The child moaned. She went down ->n her
knees, and, bending low, contemplated him mourn-
fully. Then raising her head, she asked Davidson
whether he thought the child would get better.
Davidson was sure of it. She murmiu-ed sadly:
' Poor kid. There's nothing in life for such as he.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 261
Not a dog's chance. r.:t I couldn't let him go,
Davy! I couldn't.'
"Davidson felt a profound pity for the child.
She laid her hand on his knee and whispered an
earnest warning against the Frenchman. Davy
must never let him come to close quarters. Natur-
ally Davidson wanted to know the reason, for a
man without hands did not strike him a^ very
formidable under any circumstances.
'• 'Mind you don't let him-that's aU,' she in-
sisted anxiously, hesitated, and then confessed that
:*' P^^n^^hman had got her away from the others
do u if
io h 1
fioon and had ordered her to tie a seven-
'■ -eight (out of the set of weights Bamtz
■»' ■«) to his right stump. She had to
'»•«■ She had been afraid of his savage
••■ "tz was such a craven, and neither of
■-^■" would have cared what happened
■ '« Frenchman, however, with many
' V ' •■ •. -ts had warned her not to let the others
xno^ What she had done for him. Afterwards he
hadbeentryingtocajoleher. He had promised he.
that If she stood by him faithfully in this business
he would take her with him to Hai-phong or some
other place. A poor cripple needed somebocy to
take care of him— always.
" Davidson asked her again if they really meant
'n.schKf. It was, he told me, th. hardest thing to
26a BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
believe he had run up against, as yet, in his hfe.
Anne nodded. The Frenchmar.'s heart was set
on this robbery. Davy might expect them, about
midnight, creeping on board his ship, to steal
anyhow — to murc_ . , perhaps. Her voice sounded
weary, and her eyes remained fastened on her
" And still Davidson could not accept it some-
how ; his contempt for these men was too great.
" ' Look here, Davy,' she said. ' I'll go outside
with them when they start, and it will be hard
luck if I don't find something to laugh at. They
are used to that from me. Laugh or cry — what's
the odds. You will be able to hear me on board
on this quiet night. Dark it is too. Oh ! it's dark,
Davy! — it's dark! '
" ' Don't you run any risks," said Davidson.
Presently he called her attention to the boy, who,
less flushed now, had dropped into a sound sleep.
' Look. He'll be all right.'
" She made as if to snatch the child up to her
breast, but restrained herself. Davidson prepared
to go. She whisfiered hurriedly :
"'Mind, Davy! I've told them that you
generally sleep aft in the hammock under the
awning over the cabin. They have beer asking
me about your ways and about your ship, too. I
told them all I knew. I had to keep in with them.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 263
And Bamtz would have told them if I hadn't— you
" He made a friendly sign and went out. The
men about the table (except Bamtz) looked at
him. This time it was Fector who spoke. 'Won't
you join us in a quiet game, Captain? '
" Davidson said that now the child was better
he thought he would go on board and turn in
Fector was the only one of the four whom he had,
so to speak, never seen, for he had had a good look
at the Frenchman already. He observed Fector's
muddy eyes, his mean, bitter mouth. Davidson's
contempt for those men rose in his gorge, while
his placid smile, his gentle tones and general air of
innocence put heart into them. They exchanged
"'We shall be sitting late over the cards,'
Fector said in his harsh, low voice.
Don't make more noise than you can help.'
•"Oh! we are a quiet lot. And if the invalid
shouldn't be so weU. she wiU be sure to send one
of us down to call you, so that you may play the
doctor again. So don't shoot at sight.'
" ' He isn't i. shooting man,' struck in Niclaus.
"I never shoot before making sure there's a
reason for it— at any rate,' said Davidson.
'■ Bamtz let out a sickly snigger. The French-
man alone got up to make a bow to Davidson's
264 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
caxeless nod. His stumps were stuck immovably
in bis pockets. Davidson understood now the
" He went down to the ship. His wits were
working actively, and he was thoroughly angry.
He smiled, he says (it must have been the first grim
smile of his life), at the thought of the seven-pound
weight lashed to the end of the Frenchman's stump.
The ruffian had taken that precaution in case of a
quarrel that might arise over the division of the
spoil. A man with an unsuspected power to deal
killing blows could take his own part in a sudden
scrimmage round a heap of money, even against
adversaries armed with revolvers, especially if he
himself started the row.
" ' He's ready to face any of his friends with that
thing. But he will have no use for it. There will
be no occasion to quarrel about these dollars here,'
thought Davidson, getting on board quietly. He
never paused to look if there was anybody about
the decks. As a matter of fact, most of his crew
were on shore, and the rest slept, stowed away in
' He had his plan, and he went to work me-
" He fetched a lot of clothing from below and
disposed it in his hammock in such a way as to
distend it to the shape of a human body ; then he
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 265
threw over aU the light cotton sheet he used to
draw over himself when sleeping on deck. Having
done this, he loaded his two revolvers and clam-
bered mto one of the boats the Sissie carried right
aft. swung out on their davits. Then he waited.
" And again the doubt of such a thing happen-
ing to him crept into his mind. He was abnost
ashamed of this ridiculous vigil in a boat He
became bored. And then he became drowsy
The stiUness of the black universe wearied him
There was not even the lapping of the water to
keep him company, for the tide was out and the
Sissie was lying on soft mud. Suddenly in the
breathless, soundless, hot night an argus pheasant
screamed in the woods across tha stream. Davidson
started violently. aU his senses on the alert at once
" The candle was still burning in the h9use
Everything was quiet again, but Davidson' felt
drowsy no longer. An uneasy premonition of evil
Surely I am not afraid, ' he argued with himself.
" The silence was like a seal on his ears, and his
nervous inward impatience grev intolerable. He
commanded himself to keep still. But all the
same he was iust going to jump out of the boat
when a faint ripple on the immensity of silence
a mere tremor in the air, tiie ghost of a silvery
laugh, reached his ears.
266 BEr '.USE OF THE DOLLARS
" He kept very still. He had no difficulty now
in emulating the stillness of the mouse — a grimly
determined mouse. But he could not shake off
that premonition of evil unrelated to the mere
danger of the situi.' n. Nothing happened. It
had been an illus' ~>'. '
" A curiosity ame to him to learn how they
would go to work. He wondered and wondered,
till the whole thing seemed more absurd than ever.
" He had left the hanging lamp in the cabin
burning as usual. It was part of his plan that
everything should be as usual. Suddenly in the dim
glow of the skyhght panes a bulky shadow came
up the ladder without a sound, made two steps
towards the hammock (it hung right over the
skyhght), and stood motionless. The Frenchman!
" The minutes began to slip away. Davidson
guessed that the Frenchman's part (the poor
cripple) was to watch his (Davidson's) slmnbers
while the others were no doubt in the cabin busy
forcing off the lazarette hatch.
" What was the course they meant to pursue
once they got hold of the silver (there were ten
cases, and each could be carried easily by two men)
nobody can tell now. But so far, Davidson was
right. They were in the cabin. He expected to
hear the sounds of breaking-in every moment.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 267
But the fact was that one of them (perhaps Fector,
who had stolen papers out of desks in his time)
knew how to pick a lock, and apparently was
provided with the tools. Thus while Davidson
expected every moment to hear them begin down
there, they had the bar off already and two cases
actually up in the cabin out of the lazarette.
" In the diffi-, d faint glow of the skylight the
Frenchman moved no more than a statue. David-
son could have .hot him with the greatest ease-
but he was not homicidally inclined. Moreover
he wanted to make sure before opening fire that
the others had gone to work. Not hearing the
sci.ads he expected to hear, he felt uncertain
whether they all were on board yet.
"While he listened, the Frenchman, whose
unmobUity might have but cloaked an internal
struggle, moved forward a pace, then another
Davidson, entranced, watched him advance one leg
withdraw his right stump, the anned one, out of
his pocket, and swinging his body to put greater
force mto the blow, bring the seven-pound weight
down on the hammock where the head of the sleeper
ought to have been.
" Davidson admitted to me that his hair stirred
at the roots then. But for Anne, his unsuspecting
head would have been there. The Frenchman's
surpnse must have been simply overwhehning
a68 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
He staggered away from the lightly swinging
hammock, and before Davidson could make a
movement he had vanished, bounding down the
ladder to warn and alarm the other fellows.
" Davidson sprang instantly out of the boat,
threw up the skylight flap, and had a glimpse of
the men down there crouching round the hatch.
They looked up scared, and at that moment the
Frenchman outside the door bellowed out ' Trahison
—trahison I ' They bolted out of the cabin, falling
over each other and swearing awfully. The shot
Davidson let off down the skylight had hit no
one; but he ran to the edge of the cabin-top and
at once opened fire at the dark shapes rushing
about the deck. These shots were returned, and
a rapid fusillade burst out, reports and flashes,
Davidson dodging behind a ventilator and pulUng
the trigger till his revolver clicked, and then throw-
ing it down to take the other in his right hand.
" He had been hearing in the din the French-
man's infuriated yells ' Tuez-le t—tuez-k ! ' above
the fierce cursing of the others. But though they
fired at him they were only thinking of clearing
out. In the flashes of the last shots Davidson
saw them scrambling over the rail. That he had
hit more than one he was certain. Two different
voices had cried out in pain. But apparently
none of them were disabled.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 269
'■ Davidson leaned against the bulwark reload-
ing his revolver without haste. He had not the
shghtest apprehension of their coming back On
the other hand, he had no intention of pursuing
them on shore in the dark. What they were doing
he had no idea. Looking to their hurts probably
Not very far from the bank the invisible French-
man was blaspheming and cursing his associates
lus luck, and all the world. Heceased; thenwitha
sudden, vengeful yeU. ' Ifs that womanl-ifs that
•' Davidson caught his breath in a sudden pane
of remorse. He perceived with dismay that th!
stratagem of his defence had given Amie away
He did not hesitate a mo-ient. It was for him to
save her now. He leaped ashore. But even as he
landed on the wharf he heard a shrill shriek which
pierced his very soul.
"The light was still burning in the house
Davidson, revolver in hand, was making for it
when another shriek, away to his left, made him
change his direction.
"He changed his direction-but very soon he
stopped. It was then that he hesitated in cruel
perplexity. He guessed what had happened
The woman had managed to escape from the house
>n some way, and now was being chased in the
Mic«ocofr aisoiuTiON tbt chart
(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No. 2)
^ APPLIED IIVHGE In
^^^ 1653 East Moin Street
ST^ Rochester, New York 14609 USA
•,^S (716) 482 - 03O0 - Phone
^S ("6) 288 - 5989 - Fox
a70 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
open by the infuriated Frenchman. He trusted she
would try to run on board for protection.
" All was still around Davidson. Whether she
had run on board or not, this silence meant that
the Frenchman had lost her in the dark.
" Davidson, reheved, but still very anxious,
turned towards the river-side. He had not made
two steps in that direction when another shriek
burst out behind him, again close to the house.
" He thinks that the Frenchman had lost
sight of the poor woman right enough. Then came
that period of silence. But the horrible ruf&an
had not given up his murderous purpose. He
reasoned that she would try to steal back to her
child, and went to he in wait for her near the house.
" It must have been something hke that. As
she entered the Ught falling about the house-
ladder, he had rushed at her too soon, impatient
for vengeance. She had let out that second scream
of mortal fear when she caught sight of him, and
turned to run for life again.
" This tune she was making for the river, but
not in a straight line. Her shrieks circled about
Davidson. He turned on his heels, foUowing the
horrible trail of sound in the darkness. He wanted
to shout ' This way, Anne! I am here! ' but he
couldn't. At the horror of this chase, more ghastly
in his imagination than if he could have seen it.
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 271
scream was cut short suddenly ^""'
spot and walked st Sght ^0"! '"" *'^
revolver and peering?! .lu' ^PP'"8 ^^^
Suddenly a buTk"! "''^^"rity fearfully.
within a L y rd :rh^^^^^ '""^ ^--^
body. He picked himself unanH'""''""''^
his knees, tried to IfH " in H '""''"'"^ °"
her so limp that he g ve t " 17' ."' '^"
her face, her long hair slat^!" / """" '^"^ °°
Some of it was wet n T °" '^' «^°""d.
way under his fingers j,,^ ''"''^^^ ^one gave
^scove^heknewth^shewa :::; '^Th:^ '"-'
battering in her stu^'^T. °" '^^'^ "-J^- was
had fastened ; uZZl I "^'^'* '""^ ^"^^
expected Dav.^' ^ red utTn th^ ^°*f ^ """
scared him away. ^ *''" "'^''* *°d
272 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
" Davidson, kneeling by the side of that woman
done so miserably to death, was overcome by re-
morse. She had died for him. His manhood was
as « stunned. For the first time he felt afraid.
He might have been pounced upon in the dark at
any moment by the murderer of Laughing Amie.
He confesses to the impulse of creeping away from
that pitiful corpse on his hands and knees to the
refuge of the ship. He even says that he actually
began to do so. . . •
" One can hardly picture to oneself Davidson
crawling away on all fours from the murdered
woman— Davidson unmanned and crushed by the
idea that she had died for him in a sense. But
he could not have gone very far. What stopped
him was the thought of the boy, Laughing Anne's
child, that (Davidson remembered her very words)
would not have a dog's chance.
"This life the woman had left behind her
appeared to Davidson's conscience in the Ught of
a sacred trust. He assumed an erect attitude
and, quaking inwardly still, turned about and
walked towards the house.
" For aU his tremors he was very determined;
but that smashed skull had affected his imagina-
tion, and he felt very defenceless in the darkness,
in which he seemed to hear faintly now here, now
there, the prowling footsteps of the murderer with-
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 273
out hands. But he never faltered in his purpose
He got away with the boy «fely aftTau'
The hou^ he found empty. A profound Lee
encompassed him aU the time, except once ^ I
when' f "fli^r ''' ""'''' ^'' ^""^Tin hi:';^
wnen a famt groan reached his ears. It seemed to
come from the pitch-black space betw "n'^^t
J "k "°J''' *'"^"^ y°" ^ ^^t^" how Davidson
2 e^d thrust into his anns; how next mCng
S s^eofar' ^'*V^""^g fro™ a distancf
the state of affairs on board, rejoined with alacrity
how Davidson went ashore and, aided bv Ms
i^ughmg Anne's body in a cotton sheet «nH
brought it on board for burial at sea" ten wSe
bud^^d'^^ "1 ir '"' °' "'^^^ '='°"'-
Th;.f i* i comer-post of the house
not doubrx ; ''""'"^" '^« ^''^ ^« -^cl
not doubt. Takmg it in connection with the dismal
As to the others. Davidson never set eves o„
a-gleoneofthem. Whether they hadlo^^^:,"
274 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
themselves in the scared settlement, or bolted into
the forest, or were hiding on board Niclaus's prau,
which could be seen lying on the mud a hundred
yards or so higher up the creek, the fact is that they
vanished; and Davidson did not trouble his head
about them. He lost no time in getting out of
the creek directly the Sissie floated. After steam-
ing some twenty miles clear of the coast, he (in
his own words) ' committed the body to the deep.'
He did everything,himself . He weighted her down
with a few fire-bars, he read the service, he lifted
the plank, he was the only mourner. And while
he was rendering these last services to the dead,
the desolation of that life and the atrocious
wretchedness of its end cried aloud to his com-
passion, whispered to him in tones of self-reproach.
" He ought to have handled the warainj, she
had given him in another way. He was convinced
now that a simple display of watchfuhiess would
have been enough to restrain that vile and cowardly
crew. But the fact was that he had not quite
believed that anything would be attempted.
" The body of Laughing Anne having been • com-
mitted to the deep ' some twenty miles S.S.W.
from Cape Selatan, the task before Davidson was
to commit Laughing Anne's child to the care of
his wife. And there poor, good Davidson made a
fatal move. He didn't want to tell her the whole
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 273
awful story, since it involved the knowledge of the
dagger from which he. Davidson, hadlscap^d
And this, too. after he had been laughing at her
unreasonable fears only a short time before
D.vi/ "'°"^!'* *^* " ^ '"^^ ^-' everything,-
Davidson explained to me, 'she would ne^^v
a moment's peace while I was away on my tripl '
the child of some people to whom he, Davidson
was under the greatest obhgation. and that he
felt moraUy bound to look after him. Some dav
he would teU her more, he said, and meantime^'
trusted m the goodness and warmth of her heart
in her woman's natural compassion
•• He did not know that her heart was about the
«ze of a parched pea, and had the proportion'
amount of warmth; and that her facSty^rrom
Passion was mainly directed to herself. He was
only startled and disappointed at the air of coW
surprise and the suspicious look -^th which Z
received his imperfect tale. But she did not 1
much She never had much to say. She was a
fool of the silent, hopeless kind. ^°« «^as a
"What story Davidson's crew thought lit to
-t afloat in Malay town is neither here nor therl
Davidson hmiself took some of his friends i^o
876 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
" The Harbour Master was considerably aston-
ished. He didn't think, however, that a fonnal
complaint should be made to the Dutch Govern-
ment. They would probably do nothing in the
end, after a lot of trouble and correspondence.
The robbery had not come off, after all. Those
vagabonds could be trusted to go to the devil in
their own way. No amount of fuss would bring
the poor woman to Ufe again, and the actual
murderer had been done justice to by a chance
shot from Davidson. Better let the matter
" This was good common sense. But he was
" ' Sounds a terrible affair. Captain Davidson.'
" ' Aye, terrible enough,' agreed the remorseful
Davidson. But the most terrible thing for him,
though he didn't know it yet then, was that his
wife's silly brain was slowly coming to the con-
clusion that Tony was Davidson's child, and that
he had invented that lame story to introduce him
into her pure home in defiance of decency, of
virtue — of her most sacred feelings.
" Davidson was aware of some constraint in his
domestic relations. But at the best of times she
was not demonstrative; and perhaps that ve y
coldness was part of her charm in the placid
Davidson's eyes. Women are loved for all sorts
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 277
nursing he 'susSn, ''^^ "^' -*^^« »>- »«»
on"t?«r' °"' '^^' ^""^'^y-faced Ritchie caUed
on that sweet, shy Mrs. Davidson. She had
2r ""* r^ "« -«. and he conside^d ht
sdU pr^vjleged pe:^„_her oldest friend inte
tropics. He posed for a great admirer of hers
He was always a great chatterer. He had got h"d
of the story «ther vaguely, and he started chatter'
ing on that subject, thinking she knew aU al^u
"Ritchie plunged into circumlocution at once
" ' But you don't know for certain? '
" • Not How could I. Mrs. Davidson I '
.o'fo!^'" ^''^'^'°" "^' ^""^^ ^' "^as ready to
out as f tnckhng a stream of cold clear water
down his back. She talked of his base^tri^e
278 BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
with a vile woman, of being made a fool of, of the
insult to her dignity.
" Davidson begged her to iisten to him and told
her aU the siory, thinking that it would move a
heart of stone. He tried to make her understand
his remorse. She heard him to the end, said
' Indeed I ' and turned her back on him.
" ' Don't you believe me? " he asked, appalled.
" She didn't say yes or no. All she said was,
• Send that bi \t away at once.'
" • I can't throw him out into the street,' cried
Davidson. ' You don't mean it.'
" ' 1 don't care. There are charitable institu-
tions for such children, I suppose.'
" • That I will never do,' said Davidson.
" ' Very well. That's enough for me.'
" Davidson's home after this was Uke a sUent,
frozen hell for him. A stupid woman with a sense
of grievance is worse than an unchained devil.
He sent the boy to the White Fathers in Malacca.
This was not a very expensive sort of education,
but she could not forgive him for not casting the
offensive chUd away utterly. She worked up her
sense of her wifely wrongs and of her injured purity
to such a pitch that one day, when poor Davidson
was pleading with her to be reasonable and not to
make an impossible existence for them both, she
BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS 279
turned on him in a chiU pascion and told him th=
his very sight was odious to he
"Davidson, with his scrupulous delicacy of
feeling, was not the man to assert his rightsover a
woman who could not bear the sight of him He
bowed his head; and shortly afterwards arranged
for her to go back tc her parents. That was
exactly what she wanted in her outraged dignity
And then she had always disliked the tropics and
had detested secretly the people she had to live
amongst as Davidson's wife. She took her pure
sensitive, me in Mttle soul away to Fremantle or
somewhere in that direction. And of course the
httle girl went away with her too. Wha • .uld
poor Davidson have done with a little girl on h-s
hands, even if she had consented to leave her with
him— which is unthinkable.
" This is the story that has spVied Davidson's
smile for him-which perhaps it wouldn't have
done so thoroughly had he been less of a good
HoUis ceased. But before we rose from the
able I asked him if he knew what had become of
Laughing Anne's boy.
He counted carefully the change handed him
by the Chinaman waiter, and raised his head.
"Oh! that's the finishing touch. He was a
bright, taking little chap, as you know, and the
38o BECAUSE OF THE DOLLARS
Fathers took very special pains in his bringing up.
Davidson expected in his heart to have some com-
fort out of him. In his placid way he's a man who
needs affection. Well, Tony has grown into a
fine youth — but there you are I He wants to be a
priest ; his one dream is to be a missionary. The
Fathers assure Davidson that it is a serious voca-
tion. They tell him he has a special disposition
for mission work, too. Go Laughing Anne's boy
will lead a saintly life in China somewhere; he
may oven become a martyr; but poor Davidson
is 'eft out ii the cold. He will have to go down-
hill without a single human affection near him
because of these old dollars."
TBI TBUPLS PRESS, FRIMTZRS, LKTCUWORTH, ENGLAND