Puslapio vaizdai

as bad.

bury. It was not a very heavy trunk, hour as this. I forgot my awkwardness, and, as I dressed, I began to wish it had I forgot that strange environment. She been. Still, my razor was in it, with

my drew me out, and I made music, and we brushes and a comb.

two, like the morning stars, were singing I was for putting on my blue serge, the together half-way through that meal. suit I wore on state occasions. It had I remember one passage only. grown sleek and shiny, and of my three "You are going to write monsignor's shirts the best was a much-frayed affair. book for him," she said. “It is so kind of But I had reckoned without George. He you to do it for him. My brother has put his foot down heavily, or, rather, he told me all about it." carried off my things. "Mr. Janvier's “And me as well,” said I; “but I did orders," was all he said, and at once re- n't reckon on this." The last was a foolplaced what he had confiscated with some- ish remark, but probably the rest was just thing more suitable and quite as well-fitting.

I learned that Hugh Janvier was out “All right,” said I—"all right.” By shooting with some neighbors, and that now I had ceased to care or wonder. Be- he was an ardent sportsman. It was the low, where I next ventured, I found a reason why they lived so much in Enghall, a library, a ball-room, and a winter- land. He hunted, he kept a racing-stable, garden, and there was every conceivable he fished, he shot, he stalked in Scotland. kind of servant. They let me roam and But what did I care about Hugh! There gape at them until luncheon.

was this wonderful creature sitting oppoTo-day I can hardly recover the full site me. I am sure I lunched off her more effect of that first impression. I refer, of than off what I made pretense to eat that course, to my initial meeting with Bettina day. Janvier. I had never spoken to a beauti- “And, Mr. Loughborough,” she ended, ful and high-born girl before, nor been in “Hugh says you are my prisoner. I seem the same room with one, and as for sit- to be in charge of you. He has an idea ting alone at the same table-I leave the that you may not want to write monsituation to the imaginative reader. He signor's book, and that you may try to run may do it justice; I cannot.

away from us. I am responsible for you She was awaiting me in a room on the at least, that 's what Hugh says. Will ground floor; a table there was arranged you promise me one thing,” she ran on: for two, and I was to be the other.

"you will tell me first before you try to "Mr. Loughborough?" she said, giving escape? It 'll be easier for us that way, me her hand.

won't it? Give me your hand on it.” I stammered something, and I made her Hers was held out, and what could I smile. Her smile was not at all like that answer? of the disdainful man-servant. I felt no "Escape!" I cried. "You will have to worse for it; the better, rather. That drive me away with guns and beaters.” meal was one of my dreams come down "And what about monsignor's book?" to earth.

she asked, clear-headed. I do not know what she said, I do not "Ah, monsignor --I owe him anything know what I said. There was a some- he demands." thing inside of me which purred; that is “You 'll do your best for him?” the sole word for it. Or, perhaps, I "I will do my best."

" was like a kettle on the hob, making some And then she was gone, and there was blissful noise which could hardly be no one in the room with me but George. I classed as conversation. And yet I know would see her again, perhaps that very that every word I spoke came from the evening. I lighted one of the large cigars, central heart of me, where all one's hot and made my way into the park. thoughts sleep and mutter until some such At the north lodge there was a gate,

or she


[ocr errors]

which opened on the outer world. Ab- tion was the man's devotion to his sister. sently, I made for it. A man barred my A good many years lay between them, and progress.

Janvier's pride in her was almost fatherly. “Mr. Loughborough ?” he asked. She had held on to her fine breeding, and I nodded.

viewed his haste and fierce impulsiveness “I 'm afraid you can't go on, sir," he with a whimsical humor which I soon said. “Mr. Janvier's orders.”

learned to share. They were the most He was civil, yet firmly and squarely loyal of friends, however, and at Sanborne he turned me back.

Park, where we were wintering, or at “I was n't going on,” was my lame re- Wexford House in town, his will was ply, and I wheeled, and continued my law with her. She did not question it: it walk within the limits of the park.

was just Hugh's way.

At first I had no over-great intercourse

with either of them. I was there for a During the next weeks I began to under- certain purpose; I must not disgrace the stand things.

First of all there was Hugh house. When I had done what Janvier Janvier. He was American and immensely required of me, I would be free to go, wealthy, and he lived over here because and, if I wished, claim any reasonable he enjoyed the easy gentleman's life which sum as a reward. They saw to it that I England offered, and, more still, because was suitably dressed, and I had no hesiAmerica had of late years become too hot tation in accepting so much from them, to hold him. He had done something in especially as I was curious about the soconnection with a railroad, and something ciety they kept, and, without an evening else in connection with a bank, and then suit, I do not suppose I would have venthere was a trust which he had controlled, tured to their table. and an insurance company into the pockets It was my first experience of the life I of which he had dipped, and come out had spied upon in treading the London smiling. But America was not smiling streets. We were in a different theater, any longer; the days of such adventurers but the parts were filled by the same acwere past. They had developed a tenderer tors, and I at last was allowed to come conscience over there, and this had made inside. Hugh Janvier had them all at matters rather trying for the Hugh Jan- his command, these fine ladies who folviers. And, further, I discovered that he lowed his hounds so bravely, who ate his was of an old Southern family, so poor, dinners, and won his money at the cardso proud, that, as a boy, he had deter- table; these ruddy men who shot over his mined to go a different way. Poverty dis- coverts, backed his steeple-chasers, and agreed with him, and as for pride-he had made light of ancient names and titles. I hastened to escape the pair of them. was permitted to mix with them all and

I hardly know how I divined these mat- listen. ters. Possibly by intuition; yet Hugh Jan- I remember the day when Bettina Janvier was never reticent, and he called a vier told me that she had stayed up till a spade a spade. There were, however, small hour over my book, and reveled in other and nobler sides to this outrageous the camps and battle-fields of Charles XII brigand, this modern bucaneer; for such, of Sweden. She had not been able to put indeed, he was, rather than a peaceful gen- it down, she said, eying me with a new tleman or man of business.

interest, as though she had suddenly realHis attachment to so feeble a ized that there was a something in me beture as monsignor was a leading instance, yond the ordinary. and I could multiply examples of this na- "Would you like to hear a little of the ture. Where Janvier liked, he liked book I am writing now?” I answered her. whole-heartedly; and where he hated, he "So you have begun? Oh, won't mon

? hated. A second and more natural affec- signor be pleased !" was her reply.


a man.


Most certainly I had begun, and that It extended to Hugh Janvier, who became very afternoon I read her my opening each king in turn; it embraced even chapters. And every day after this there George the man-servant. My Perkin bewas an instalment waiting her pleasure if came a hero. I let chance play with him she would listen. She rarely failed me. at first, just as it had played with me; but Once free of the tea-table, she came down once that mile-stone passed, he grew into to the library, where I worked, and asked

The adventure had produced the me to go on.

arch-adventurer. Henceforth he was to Hugh Janvier smiled broadly when he run his own race and win or lose as desheard the news.

tiny decreed. I led his enterprises, his haz"I said he 'd get busy. People always ardous descents and landings on a foreign do what I tell them to do,” he cried; and coast; I claimed the English crown for he telegraphed an exclamatory despatch him with a brazen hardihood. I was the to monsignor. That watery biographer true, unmurdered prince who had escaped had ceased to trouble me. He was now cold Crookback's treachery in the Tower, somewhere in Italy, making a long stay and at my word the crafty Henry tremwith his cousin, the Earl of Chart.

bled. There was fighting, combat on combat, I ever in the van and princely in

swordsmanship. I was beaten, wounded, The public is familiar with my story of and cast down, never outgeneraled, always Perkin Warbeck; the public welcomed it, outnumbered. I fell to rise again. My raved about it, and one can hardly discuss hairbreadth 'scapes made Bettina Janvier's it as a book, for during the best part of a heart stand in her mouth. Can you not year it was more an epidemic.

hear her exclaiming, her words of wonder It is a dishonest book from beginning and encouragement? to end; yet viewed solely as romance, as And about the house I had become hewhat might have been, but never was, I roic, too, all aware of my power; so that take it to be the sincerest thing that I now I looked with a royal gaze upon behave done. It springs right out of the ings as lowly as George, the trusted manheart of youth. It is a bath of youth, if servant, nor did I quail before the dark I may quote old fogies whose praises fell and eagle glance of Hugh Janvier. True, about me like a shower. How could it I wore his clothes, slept in his bed, and ate have been otherwise, given the conditions ? his dinners. It was the man's privilege so Yet the story of its writing is a better to entertain me, I discovered, the one outstory still, and certainly more honest. standing act of his life that would surely

During those winter mornings I had survive. gone down-stairs to the library with mon- And Bettina Janvier, who was followsignor's ill-fated manuscript, which I was ing where I led-what of Bettina Janlearning to know by heart. It had pur- vier? I wrote that book to her, and she sued me here; I seemed never to be rid had become its heroine. The Lady Kathof it. And then on one morning I began crine Gordon, Perkin's wife, instead of to write something, and on the next morn- espousing four successive husbands, looked ing to add to it, and the same the day only to me; and, moreover, it was I who after. There was little else to do. I had encouraged her cousin the King of Scotforgotten all about monsignor and most land, I who planned the invasion from the about Perkin Warbeck, for I was writing

north, and, when he failed me, -of course, about myself rather than of that hero. in reality, it was Perkin who failed him,

I was writing of myself, poor, lonely, -set out alone for Ireland, and thence and obscure, adventuring here among the

for Cornwall, where I put all to the test. powerful, much as he had adventured at I say “alone,” yet Bettina came with me. the French, the Burgundian, and Scottish We called her Katherine in the book, but, courts. There was a remote resemblance. inside of us, we knew better. She would

[graphic][merged small]
« AnkstesnisTęsti »