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bury. It was not a very heavy trunk, and, as I dressed, I began to wish it had been. Still, my razor was in it, with my brushes and a comb.
I was for putting on my blue serge, the suit I wore on state occasions. It had grown sleek and shiny, and of my three shirts the best was a much-frayed affair. But I had reckoned without George. He put his foot down heavily, or, rather, he carried off my things. "Mr. Janvier's orders," was all he said, and at once replaced what he had confiscated with something more suitable and quite as well-fitting.
"All right," said I-"all right." By now I had ceased to care or wonder. Below, where I next ventured, I found a hall, a library, a ball-room, and a wintergarden, and there was every conceivable kind of servant. They let me roam and gape at them until luncheon.
To-day I can hardly recover the full effect of that first impression. I refer, of course, to my initial meeting with Bettina Janvier. I had never spoken to a beautiful and high-born girl before, nor been in the same room with one, and as for sitting alone at the same table-I leave the situation to the imaginative reader. He or she may do it justice; I cannot.
She was awaiting me in a room on the ground floor; a table there was arranged for two, and I was to be the other.
"Mr. Loughborough?" she said, giving me her hand.
I felt no
I stammered something, and I made her smile. Her smile was not at all like that of the disdainful man-servant. worse for it; the better, rather. That meal was one of my dreams come down to earth.
I do not know what she said, I do not know what I said. There was a something inside of me which purred; that is the sole word for it. Or, perhaps, I was like a kettle on the hob, making some blissful noise which could hardly be classed as conversation. And yet I know that every word I spoke came from the central heart of me, where all one's hot thoughts sleep and mutter until some such
hour as this. I forgot my awkwardness, I forgot that strange environment. She drew me out, and I made music, and we two, like the morning stars, were singing together half-way through that meal. I remember one passage only.
"You are going to write monsignor's book for him," she said. "It is so kind of you to do it for him. My brother has told me all about it."
"And me as well," said I; "but I did n't reckon on this." The last was a foolish remark, but probably the rest was just as bad.
I learned that Hugh Janvier was out shooting with some neighbors, and that he was an ardent sportsman. It was the reason why they lived so much in England. He hunted, he kept a racing-stable, he fished, he shot, he stalked in Scotland. But what did I care about Hugh! There was this wonderful creature sitting opposite me. I am sure I lunched off her more than off what I made pretense to eat that day.
"And, Mr. Loughborough," she ended, "Hugh says you are my prisoner. I seem to be in charge of you. He has an idea that you may not want to write monsignor's book, and that you may try to run away from us. I am responsible for you
at least, that 's what Hugh says. Will you promise me one thing," she ran on: "you will tell me first before you try to escape? It'll be easier for us that way, won't it? Give me your hand on it."
Hers was held out, and what could I answer?
"Escape!" I cried. "You will have to drive me away with guns and beaters." "And what about monsignor's book?" she asked, clear-headed.
"Ah, monsignor-I owe him anything he demands."
"You'll do your best for him?"
And then she was gone, and there was no one in the room with me but George. I would see her again, perhaps that very evening. I lighted one of the large cigars, and made my way into the park.
At the north lodge there was a gate,
He was civil, yet firmly and squarely loyal of friends, however, and at Sanborne he turned me back.
"I was n't going on," was my lame reply, and I wheeled, and continued my walk within the limits of the park.
DURING the next weeks I began to understand things. First of all there was Hugh Janvier. He was American and immensely wealthy, and he lived over here because he enjoyed the easy gentleman's life which England offered, and, more still, because America had of late years become too hot to hold him. He had done something in connection with a railroad, and something else in connection with a bank, and then there was a trust which he had controlled, and an insurance company into the pockets of which he had dipped, and come out smiling. But America was not smiling any longer; the days of such adventurers were past. They had developed a tenderer conscience over there, and this had made matters rather trying for the Hugh Janviers. And, further, I discovered that he was of an old Southern family, so poor, so proud, that, as a boy, he had determined to go a different way. Poverty disagreed with him, and as for pride—he had hastened to escape the pair of them.
I hardly know how I divined these matters. Possibly by intuition; yet Hugh Janvier was never reticent, and he called a spade a spade. There were, however, other and nobler sides to this outrageous brigand, this modern bucaneer; for such, indeed, he was, rather than a peaceful gentleman or man of business.
His attachment to so feeble a creature as monsignor was a leading instance, and I could multiply examples of this nature. Where Janvier liked, he liked whole-heartedly; and where he hated, he hated. A second and more natural affec
Park, where we were wintering, or at Wexford House in town, his will was law with her. She did not question it: it was just Hugh's way.
At first I had no over-great intercourse with either of them. I was there for a certain purpose; I must not disgrace the house. When I had done what Janvier required of me, I would be free to go, and, if I wished, claim any reasonable sum as a reward. They saw to it that I was suitably dressed, and I had no hesitation in accepting so much from them, especially as I was curious about the society they kept, and, without an evening suit, I do not suppose I would have ventured to their table.
It was my first experience of the life I had spied upon in treading the London streets. We were in a different theater, but the parts were filled by the same actors, and I at last was allowed to come inside. Hugh Janvier had them all at his command, these fine ladies who followed his hounds so bravely, who ate his dinners, and won his money at the cardtable; these ruddy men who shot over his coverts, backed his steeple-chasers, and made light of ancient names and titles. I was permitted to mix with them all and listen.
I remember the day when Bettina Janvier told me that she had stayed up till a small hour over my book, and reveled in the camps and battle-fields of Charles XII of Sweden. She had not been able to put it down, she said, eying me with a new interest, as though she had suddenly realized that there was a something in me beyond the ordinary.
"Would you like to hear a little of the book I am writing now?" I answered her. "So you have begun? Oh, won't monsignor be pleased!" was her reply.
Most certainly I had begun, and that very afternoon I read her my opening chapters. And every day after this there was an instalment waiting her pleasure if she would listen. She rarely failed me. Once free of the tea-table, she came down to the library, where I worked, and asked me to go on.
Hugh Janvier smiled broadly when he heard the news.
"I said he 'd get busy. People always do what I tell them to do," he cried; and he telegraphed an exclamatory despatch to monsignor. That watery biographer had ceased to trouble me. He was now somewhere in Italy, making a long stay with his cousin, the Earl of Chart.
THE public is familiar with my story of Perkin Warbeck; the public welcomed it, raved about it, and one can hardly discuss it as a book, for during the best part of a year it was more an epidemic.
It is a dishonest book from beginning to end; yet viewed solely as romance, as what might have been, but never was, I take it to be the sincerest thing that I have done. It springs right out of the heart of youth. It is a bath of youth, if I may quote old fogies whose praises fell about me like a shower. How could it have been otherwise, given the conditions? Yet the story of its writing is a better story still, and certainly more honest.
During those winter mornings I had gone down-stairs to the library with monsignor's ill-fated manuscript, which I was learning to know by heart. It had pursued me here; I seemed never to be rid of it. And then on one morning I began to write something, and on the next morning to add to it, and the same the day after. There was little else to do. I had forgotten all about monsignor and most about Perkin Warbeck, for I was writing about myself rather than of that hero.
I was writing of myself, poor, lonely, and obscure, adventuring here among the powerful, much as he had adventured at the French, the Burgundian, and Scottish courts. There was a remote resemblance.
It extended to Hugh Janvier, who became each king in turn; it embraced even George the man-servant. My Perkin became a hero. I let chance play with him at first, just as it had played with me; but once that mile-stone passed, he grew into a man. The adventure had produced the arch-adventurer. Henceforth he was to run his own race and win or lose as destiny decreed. I led his enterprises, his hazardous descents and landings on a foreign coast; I claimed the English crown for him with a brazen hardihood. I was the true, unmurdered prince who had escaped cold Crookback's treachery in the Tower, and at my word the crafty Henry trembled. There was fighting, combat on combat, I ever in the van and princely in swordsmanship. I was beaten, wounded, and cast down, never outgeneraled, always outnumbered. I fell to rise again. My hairbreadth 'scapes made Bettina Janvier's heart stand in her mouth. Can you not hear her exclaiming, her words of wonder and encouragement?
And about the house I had become heroic, too, all aware of my power; so that now I looked with a royal gaze upon beings as lowly as George, the trusted manservant, nor did I quail before the dark and eagle glance of Hugh Janvier. True, I wore his clothes, slept in his bed, and ate his dinners. It was the man's privilege so to entertain me, I discovered, the one outstanding act of his life that would surely survive.
And Bettina Janvier, who was following where I led-what of Bettina Janvier? I wrote that book to her, and she had become its heroine. The Lady Katherine Gordon, Perkin's wife, instead of espousing four successive husbands, looked only to me; and, moreover, it was I who encouraged her cousin the King of Scotland, I who planned the invasion from the north, and, when he failed me, -of course, in reality, it was Perkin who failed him,