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hour struck, at last it struck, and I was The fire was a gas-stöve; we sat together free to ring the bell of Wexford House. and looked at it. His costume was some
I stood in the porch of that great man- thing like that of an ordinary parson, and sion, expecting a lobby full of footmen, a included legs and trousers. His head, I hall of dazzling splendor, and, beyond have before remarked, was bare and bald. these, Monsignor Canon Bellamy, with “It was good of you to come,” he becassock and skull-cap, seated in a deep gan; “I feared you might not care to face chair before the blazing fire that cunning this dreadful weather.” hands had laid in the big library. It was .“Not at all, not at all,” said I, puffing an interior by Fortuny. Actually, the away at the large cigar. face of Wexford House was dark and “It occurred to me after I had sent my blind, with only a single muffled light letter that possibly you did not live in burning below-stairs, and presenting that London. A lucky chance," he added. aspect of desertion which great houses Naturally, I agreed with him. show in the dead season.
"Mr. Janvier will be in presently," he The door swung back, and I discerned pursued. "This is his house; but of course a hall and only a single man-servant. Both
you know it." were dimmed by the intruding fog. Still, Again I assented, omitting, however, to it was a fine hall, and more brilliantly oc- state the precise circumstances in which I cupied and illuminated
had acquired my information. "Mr. Loughborough ?" The man-ser- "Do you know why I wrote to you?” vant had recalled my wits from their he inquired, after these preliminaries. wool-gathering; and without waiting for "You liked my book," I began. a reply, "This way," he added, examining "Certainly, I liked your book; but I me with all the odious insolence of his want you to write another one,
I want you class. He felt and made me feel my shab- to collaborate." biness.
"Collaborate?" It was the first I had I followed him, and scorned him in re- heard of it. turn. He was a big fellow, and would “The last ten years,” he pursued, “I have made two of me. He led me up
have devoted myself to a task which the a wide and enshrouded staircase, -that historian has neglected. There exists no whole house seemed deathly and en- life, there has been no memoir, of the shrouded, -we passed into a corridor, then greatest adventurer who ever lived." up more stairs, and so to a small study. I pricked up my ears at this. Within this cozy chamber sat monsignor. “The greatest adventurer who ever
I had expected a stout, benignant priest, lived,” he repeated, and then added: "I shrewd, able, and pink-jowled with good am no hand at a novel, but with your living, or else a lean and ardent-eyed as- magic pen-the pen of a wizard, if I may cetic. Monsignor was neither. He pos- say so—we might do something considsessed a watery quality which I have since erable. I have all the materials; the relearned to associate with the more schol- search work is done; it only remains for arly among our aristocracy. A wisp of a you to write the story.” man, thin, bald, ancient, with a lamenta- "What story?" I interrupted. ble nose and vague, blue eyes, he stood up "We are coming to that,” said he, risto receive me. His courtesy contrasted ing from his chair and crossing over to a well with that of the disdainful man-ser- side-table. vant. He did his best to put me at my
He returned with a bulky pile of manuBreeding is breeding, and no mat- script, typed and all ready for the pubter how lamentable the personage, it is lishers, which he dumped down before me. the last thing to decay.
It looked as though it had traveled overHe offered me a chair, and a large cigar much, and had been rudely treated in the
, similar to the one he himself was smoking. process.
"This is my 'Life of Perkin War- We started at Tournai, and finished on beck,'” he resumed. “The publishers to the scaffold, and this story, no less than whom I have submitted it decline it. They the manner of its telling, wearied me as have used it badly, have they not? One nothing has ever wearied me before or has even gone so far as to spill coffee upon since. Though monsignor might have chapter eleven. They say - their letters, spent ten years and as many hundred at least, are very courteous— they say that pounds on research work and the collectas an historical work my book stands no ing of materials, it seemed to me that chance of success; that, despite its unique there were no materials to collect. He interest, there exists no public demand for had only a bare and unconvincing outline, such a biography. Their letters are virtu- plentifully provided with gaps, with guessally of one mind, and maybe the public work. The motive force and the psycholdoes adopt this attitude. I have, however, ogy alike were incomplete; he had no spent ten years of my life and as many clear, inevitable picture of his hero, and hundred pounds on the bare collection of no more have I. To this day I fail to my materials. Is all this labor and ex- see him, despite all that was to follow, penditure to run to waste?"
and the ridiculous chain of accident which He eyed me, and I quailed before the
and fame with this sudden ferocity wherewith he put the "feigned boy." question. The matter of his frustrate toil Monsignor had set himself down again had moved him, and he was now as nearly and told this story. He told it as a sucplebeian and human as myself. More so, cession of craven episodes, and it was perhaps; for when your true aristocrat never explained why one episode rose out once begins, he runs to an extremity. of the other. So do schoolmasters inflict
"I read your novel," he continued, ris- their lessons on the defenseless young. I ing and striding to and fro before me. had looked for more sense in a monsignor, “ 'If this young man can do so much with more genuine culture in Wexford Charles XII,' I said, 'what would he not House, St. James's Place. I was at that make of Perkin Warbeck?' Reshaped time young enough to be honest, so I told into a historical romance,- for that is him exactly what I felt about it. what the fickle public asks of us, - my "This Perkin Warbeck," I said, "as book would make the lasting fame of any you describe him, and as no doubt he is writer. There is a fortune in this scheme, depicted by your leaky chroniclers, is and there is fame as well. As to the nothing more than a driveling, base-born money, I ask no more than the bare re- coward, as passive as a Hindu, yet withturn of what I have expended; the fame out the Hindu's deep philosophy. His adwe will share alike. Its glory must cover ventures seem to be forced on him; they both our names and hand them down.” arise from no inner need or impulse.
I was moved. Eloquence, sincerity, had When they become at all dangerous, he then more weight with me; nor had I runs away, and leaves his followers in the counted on anything so savage and deter- lurch; when at last he is caught, he is as mined from this watery old gentleman. abject as a worm. He is supposed to be
“I am afraid that I know next to noth- a pretender to the throne of England, and ing of Perkin Warbeck,” I replied, as
to win that throne he tries on five sepasoon as ever he gave me an opportunity. rate occasions, with more or less success, “Apart from Dr. Gairdner and what we to raise the country against Henry VII. learned at school —”
In reality, or, rather, as you have de“He was the greatest adventurer who scribed him to me, he is ever the tool of ever lived," monsignor had interrupted greater men, the weakling, the cat's-paw, me, and then and there, in so far as he had ready to their hand, the victim of their fathomed it, he told me the story of Per- policy or their ambitions. He is entirely kin's life from beginning to end.
negative, and even his one romance was
with a woman who took and buried four fog outside Hayes. Ever go fox-hunting, husbands! How can one make a hero of Mr. Loughborough?" an adventurer who never struck or re- “I 'm afraid not,” was my reply. ceived a blow, a heroine of a lady so im- His dark gaze rested for a moment on partial? His adventures leave me cold. my face, then passed into a smile. What could I do with him? He became "Neither does our friend here,” he said. an impostor because he was bullied into it, Then, looking me over more intently still, and finding here an easy means of escaping he added: "You and monsignor are going honest work, he stuck to the job, and to collaborate. It will be the opportunity courts and princes used him. He is ever of a lifetime.” a pawn, and you cannot build a historical "But there is nothing in the story that romance about a pawn. Give me a king I could seize on," I began. or queen, a knight or bishop! I want life, “If monsignor says there is, there is.” blood, the joy and fire of passion, the surge He laughed. of great events; I want the clash of weap- Again I protested. ons, a dazzling, fated, or romantic fig- “Of course-of course you will. What
terms? I sce we must make What else I might have said to that terms." poor man I do not know, for at this par- I looked from one to the other. ticular juncture he leaped up from his "I have already spent a thousand seat.
pounds in travel and the collection of ma“But I have spent ten years over it !” terials,” chimed in monsignor. he cried in desperation. "And Perkin "Leave Mr. Loughborough to me," inWarbeck was the greatest adventurer- terposed our host; and, taking me by the ah, here is Mr. Janvier."
shoulder, added, "I am monsignor's man The reader will guess the cause of this of business. Monsignor is a child when diversion: we had been interrupted by no it comes to business. Rewritten as a hisless a personage than the lord and master torical novel, he feels that his 'Life of of Wexford House himself.
Perkin Warbeck' would be the novel of He had come in breezily, and was still
He tells me that he is unable wearing his hunting-dress-pink coat, to write a novel, but that, helped by your white breeches, and topped boots. Yet it brilliant pen—" was his face which most impressed me at “Really," I interrupted, “I am afraid that moment. Swarthy and brigandlike, that monsignor is mistaken. Warbeck, as clean-shaved, and with a jaw of steel, he he has been explained to me, is one of looked as though here, indeed, was the those shadowy figures of whom one knows arch-adventurer so coveted by monsignor. next to nothing, and apart from a few
"This is the Mr. Loughborough of curious facts that have been rescued, I whom I told you," said that venerable bi- fear one cares very little about him." ographer.
“But we are not going to disappoint “Mr. Loughborough-pleased to meet monsignor. Bettina and I are very fond you, sir," remarked the new-comer. I of him.” judged by his accent and this cordial turn "Well, why don't you collaborate? that he was an American; and, as the And there are other writers--" event proved, I was right.
“But he wants you—particularly you. He was not at all concerned with Per- Come, now, is it a question of money?" kin Warbeck.
I rose, and recovered my hat and over“There was no fog in the country," he coat. announced. “Had a great run.
"It is a question of conscience," I thunDetling Forstal, found two foxes and dered, sick and tired of the pair of them. killed one; other one got away. All over "It is a question of my artistic honesty, of by three. Motored back, and caught the everything that I hold sacred. I take no
interest in Perkin Warbeck. He is a lay- see the lights of the green park, and, befigure and a poltroon. Give me one of yond these, like mystic flowers, the golden the great figures of history-"
globes that burn in clusters outside Buck"You won't do it?” interposed Hugh ingham Palace. Thus, from my prison, Janvier.
I could see the stronghold of my king "Certainly not,” said I. “Neither for without being able to call on him for aid money nor any consideration whatsoever.”
“I guess you will. If monsignor wants it done, it will be done."
III “But, Hugh—” protested monsignor. It must have been at some small hour in
"You have set your heart on this, have the morning that I was aroused and n't you?" asked Janvier.
gagged and pinioned. The sturdy manMonsignor admitted that such was the servant saw to this, and seemed thoroughly case.
to enjoy it. Hugh Janvier, in evening “This young fool here is not going to dress and a fur coat, stood over us and break your heart.”
issued his directions. "My heart will not be broken."
“We are motoring into the country," "I say it will.” Hugh Janvier touched said he. "London in the winter months the bell.
is more than I can stand.” And into the The man-servant who had let me in re- country we went. turned.
I was carried down-stairs, bundled into "Put this gentleman into one of the top the waiting car, and off we started. The attics," said Hugh Janvier, "and lock him man-servant sat on the box beside the in and feed hiin."
driver; within the limousine were Janvier "Yes, sir," said the domestic.
and I. St. James's Place was fast asleep “He had better have this bundle to and took no notice. browse on," added Janvier, indicating the Once outside London-and it was swift pile of manuscript.
and easy going at this hour—my compan"Yes, sir."
ion untied me, and I was free to speak and I was staring aghast at all three of them.
"I have a particular affection for mon“By what right—" I began. But Hugh signor," he said, offering me one of his Janvier laughed at me.
large cigars, “and there are so few things "Off with him, George!” he cried, he will accept from me. Now, you be a turning to the man-servant, and though I sensible young fellow and get busy. You struggled prodigiously, that muscular fel- can go back to where you came from as low, using some cunning grip, hoisted me soon as monsignor gives the word. I often to his shoulders as if I were a child. He
wonder what the dear old boy can see in walked up-stairs with me, up flight after I don't know why he should like Aight, and Aung me at last into a little me, but he does.” These concluding senroom on the top floor. There was elec- tences were spoken more to himself than tric light in it, a bed, and the usual furni- to a listener. ture. He put a match to the fire, turned "Extremes meet," I ventured, "and you the key in the door, and went down-stairs two are so utterly different." again. A few minutes later he came back “That 's it, I reckon,” he answered penand thrust upon me the type-written copy sively. “Say, you 're no fool, though you of monsignor's "Life of Perkin War- behave like one." beck,” which the publishers had refused "Your own behavior, judged by ordiwith good reason. I was left alone with nary civilized standards—” I began; but that ill-omened work.
he had interrupted me, and I was unable I went to the window. The fog had to finish. cleared a little, and far below me I could “By the way,” he had said, “I 've got
your box and paid the woman at your George stood in the doorway, and his lodgings; you 'll be our guest for several lips curved cynically as he surveyed me. months."
"I lay you are n't used to this," was For a reply I snorted, and that wretched what that look implied, though, as ever, car rushed forward in the dark.
he said nothing in so many words; yet the He dried up after this, and gave no
fellow's face was an open book, and I heed to my indignant questions. “You could read. keep still," was all he said; and soon I lay There was no key to my bedroom door, back in a doze from which I woke every nor any bolt. I was too tired to care now, now and then to look out of the window. too tired to think of anything but sleep. The fog had disappeared; it was a fine, When I had undressed and was all ready clear winter's night, with a moon and for bed, George paid me a good-night drifting clouds. A wind had sprung up, visit. Calmly, deliberately, he went and the air was fresh and good to breathe. through my clothes, and took away the
Our true direction I could not say, for eighteenpence that I had thrown upon the I had lost all count of the four quarters dressing-table. and even of time. A recent crisis had dis- "Mr. Janvier's orders,” he said laconipossessed me of my watch, and I only cally. knew that twice we had crossed the "Damn Mr. Janvier!" said I, and Thames, and might be going south or jumped into bed. west.
He went out silently, first putting a key At length-and the dawn had not yet into the keyhole, and extinguishing all the broken-we entered the gates of a private lights save one, which I could reach from park, ran down a dim avenue of naked where I lay. trees, and then kept to a winding road
IV that went through woodland and came out on a stretch which took us to the I SLEPT, and slept till noon. Then I awoke front of a great house.
and was very happy. I looked out of the “Here we are!" cried Janvier, spring- window and loved the landscape; I flung ing to his feet.
the casement wide and breathed the fresh, “Where are we?" I answered, very clean air. I was young and hearty despite limp and drowsy.
my predicament. A worse fate might be"That 's none of your business. You fall a man than to be an unconsulted guest 've got to set about that book. George in a great house away from town. will look after you till the morning. I "Suppose I ring the bell," I thought; may see you at lunch or I may not.”
and the action went with the idea. He left me, and somehow I found my- George found me singing. self within that darkened mansion, fol- "Good morning, George!" I cried as lowing on the heels of George, who led he came in. me to my room. It was no use quarrel- "Tea or coffee, sir?" he answered, and ing with my manifest destiny, I thought. I plumped for tea. I would stay here till the morning, and There was a bath-room adjoining, and then I would take stock of the situation he turned the taps and spread the towels. and see what could be done.
“It is n't the first time I've had a Through that sleeping palace we went, bath," I shouted, answering his ironic George in front and I a little way behind, grin. until we reached a large and spacious bed- "Luncheon is at one-thirty, sir," was room looking out upon the park. It was his reply. "Miss Bettina is expecting all ready for me, with a fire still burning, you." fresh pajamas invitingly displayed, and I could get no more from him than enough electric light to satisfy a lady at that, if I except my old tin trunk, which her mirror.
miraculously had arrived from Blooms