RETURNING HOME

It is generally supposed that people who live at home,–good domestic
people, who love tea and their arm-chairs, and who keep the parlour
hearth-rug ever warm,–it is generally supposed that these are the
people who value home the most, and best appreciate all the comforts of
that cherished institution. I am inclined to doubt this. It is, I think,
to those who live farthest away from home, to those who find the
greatest difficulty in visiting home, that the word conveys the sweetest
idea. In some distant parts of the world it may be that an Englishman
acknowledges his permanent resting place; but there are many others in
which he will not call his daily house, his home. He would, in his own
idea, desecrate the word by doing so. His home is across the blue
waters, in the little northern island, which perhaps he may visit no
more; which he has left, at any rate, for half his life; from which
circumstances, and the necessity of living, have banished him. His home
is still in England, and when he speaks of home his thoughts are there.

No one can understand the intensity of this feeling who has not seen or
felt the absence of interest in life which falls to the lot of many who
have to eat their bread on distant soils. We are all apt to think that a
life in strange countries will be a life of excitement, of stirring
enterprise, and varied scenes;–that in abandoning the comforts of home,
we shall receive in exchange more of movement and of adventure than
would come in our way in our own tame country; and this feeling has, I
am sure, sent many a young man roaming. Take any spirited fellow of
twenty, and ask him whether he would like to go to Mexico for the next
ten years! Prudence and his father may ultimately save him from such
banishment, but he will not refuse without a pang of regret.

Alas! it is a mistake. Bread may be earned, and fortunes, perhaps, made
in such countries; and as it is the destiny of our race to spread itself
over the wide face of the globe, it is well that there should be
something to gild and paint the outward face of that lot which so many
are called upon to choose. But for a life of daily excitement, there is
no life like life in England; and the farther that one goes from England
the more stagnant, I think, do the waters of existence become.

But if it be so for men, it is ten times more so for women. An
Englishman, if he be at Guatemala or Belize, must work for his bread,
and that work will find him in thought and excitement. But what of his
wife? Where will she find excitement? By what pursuit will she repay
herself for all that she has left behind her at her mother’s fireside?
She will love her husband. Yes; that at least! If there be not that,
there will be a hell, indeed. Then she will nurse her children, and talk
of her–home. When the time shall come that her promised return thither
is within a year or two of its accomplishment, her thoughts will all be
fixed on that coming pleasure, as are the thoughts of a young girl on
her first ball for the fortnight before that event comes off.

On the central plain of that portion of Central America which is called
Costa Rica stands the city of San José. It is the capital of the
Republic,–for Costa Rica is a Republic,–and, for Central America, is a
town of some importance. It is in the middle of the coffee district,
surrounded by rich soil on which the sugar-cane is produced, is blessed
with a climate only moderately hot, and the native inhabitants are
neither cut-throats nor cannibals. It may be said, therefore, that by
comparison with some other spots to which Englishmen and others are
congregated for the gathering together of money, San José may be
considered as a happy region; but, nevertheless, a life there is not in
every way desirable. It is a dull place, with little to interest either
the eye or the ear. Although the heat of the tropics is but little felt
there on account of its altitude, men and women become too lifeless for
much enterprise. There is no society. There are a few Germans and a few
Englishmen in the place, who see each other on matters of business
during the day; but, sombre as life generally is, they seem to care
little for each other’s company on any other footing. I know not to what
point the aspirations of the Germans may stretch themselves, but to the
English the one idea that gives salt to life is the idea of home. On
some day, however distant it may be, they will once more turn their
faces towards the little northern island, and then all will be well with
them.

To a certain Englishman there, and to his dear little wife, this
prospect came some few years since somewhat suddenly. Events and
tidings, it matters not which or what, brought it about that they
resolved between themselves that they would start immediately;–almost
immediately. They would pack up and leave San José within four months of
the day on which their purpose was first formed. At San José a period of
only four months for such a purpose was immediately. It creates a
feeling of instant excitement, a necessity for instant doing, a
consciousness that there was in those few weeks ample work both for the
hands and thoughts,–work almost more than ample. The dear little wife,
who for the last two years had been so listless, felt herself flurried.

“Harry,” she said to her husband, “how shall we ever be ready?” And her
pretty face was lighted up with unusual brightness at the happy thought
of so much haste with such an object. “And baby’s things too,” she said,
as she thought of all the various little articles of dress that would be
needed. A journey from San José to Southampton cannot in truth be made
as easily as one from London to Liverpool. Let us think of a month to be
passed without any aid from the washerwoman, and the greatest part of
that month amidst the sweltering heats of the West Indian tropics!

In the first month of her hurry and flurry Mrs. Arkwright was a happy
woman. She would see her mother again and her sisters. It was now four
years since she had left them on the quay at Southampton, while all
their hearts were broken at the parting. She was a young bride then,
going forth with her new lord to meet the stern world. He had then been
home to look for a wife, and he had found what he looked for in the
younger sister of his partner. For he, Henry Arkwright, and his wife’s
brother, Abel Ring, had established themselves together in San José. And
now, she thought, how there would be another meeting on those quays at
which there should be no broken hearts; at which there should be love
without sorrow, and kisses, sweet with the sweetness of welcome, not
bitter with the bitterness of parting. And people told her,–the few
neighbours around her,–how happy, how fortunate she was to get home
thus early in her life. They had been out some ten,–some twenty years,
and still the day of their return was distant. And then she pressed her
living baby to her breast, and wiped away a tear as she thought of the
other darling whom she would leave beneath that distant sod.

And then came the question as to the route home. San José stands in the
middle of the high plain of Costa Rica, half way between the Pacific and
the Atlantic. The journey thence down to the Pacific is, by comparison,
easy. There is a road, and the mules on which the travellers must ride
go steadily and easily down to Punta Arenas, the port on that ocean.
There are inns, too, on the way,–places of public entertainment at
which refreshment may be obtained, and beds, or fair substitutes for
beds. But then by this route the traveller must take a long additional
sea voyage. He must convey himself and his weary baggage down to that
wretched place on the Pacific, there wait for a steamer to take him to
Panamá, cross the isthmus, and reship himself in the other waters for
his long journey home. That terrible unshipping and reshipping is a sore
burden to the unaccustomed traveller. When it is absolutely
necessary,–then indeed it is done without much thought; but in the case
of the Arkwrights it was not absolutely necessary. And there was another
reason which turned Mrs. Arkwright’s heart against that journey by Punt’
Arenas. The place is unhealthy, having at certain seasons a very bad
name;–and here on their outward journey her husband had been taken ill.
She had never ceased to think of the fortnight she had spent there among
uncouth strangers, during a portion of which his life had trembled in
the balance. Early, therefore, in those four months she begged that she
might not be taken round by Punt’ Arenas. There was another route.
“Harry, if you love me, let me go by the Serapiqui.” As to Harry’s
loving her, there was no doubt about that, as she well knew.

There was this other route by the Serapiqui river, and by Greytown.
Greytown, it is true, is quite as unhealthy as Punt’ Arenas, and by that
route one’s baggage must be shipped and unshipped into small boats.
There are all manner of difficulties attached to it. Perhaps no direct
road to and from any city on the world’s surface is subject to sharper
fatigue while it lasts. Journeying by this route also, the traveller
leaves San José mounted on his mule, and so mounted he makes his way
through the vast primeval forests down to the banks of the Serapiqui
river. That there is a track for him is of course true; but it is simply
a track, and during nine months of the twelve is so deep in mud that the
mules sink in it to their bellies. Then, when the river has been
reached, the traveller seats him in his canoe, and for two days is
paddled down,–down along the Serapiqui, into the San Juan River, and
down along the San Juan till he reaches Greytown, passing one night at
some hut on the river side. At Greytown he waits for the steamer which
will carry him his first stage on his road towards Southampton. He must
be a connoisseur in disagreeables of every kind who can say with any
precision whether Greytown or Punt’ Arenas is the better place for a
week’s sojourn.

For a full month Mr. Arkwright would not give way to his wife. At first
he all but conquered her by declaring that the Serapiqui journey would
be dangerous for the baby; but she heard from some one that it could be
made less fatiguing for the baby than the other route. A baby had been
carried down in a litter strapped on to a mule’s back. A guide at the
mule’s head would be necessary, and that was all. When once in her boat
the baby would be as well as in her cradle. What purpose cannot a woman
gain by perseverance? Her purpose in this instance Mrs. Arkwright did at
last gain by persevering.

And then their preparations for the journey went on with much flurrying
and hot haste. To us at home, who live and feel our life every day, the
manufacture of endless baby-linen and the packing of mountains of
clothes does not give an idea of much pleasurable excitement; but at San
José, where there was scarcely motion enough in existence to prevent its
waters from becoming foul with stagnation, this packing of baby-linen
was delightful, and for a month or so the days went by with happy wings.

But by degrees reports began to reach both Arkwright and his wife as to
this new route, which made them uneasy. The wet season had been
prolonged, and even though they might not be deluged by rain themselves,
the path would be in such a state of mud as to render the labour
incessant. One or two people declared that the road was unfit at any
time for a woman,–and then the river would be much swollen. These
tidings did not reach Arkwright and his wife together, or at any rate
not till late amidst their preparations, or a change might still have
been made. As it was, after all her entreaties, Mrs. Arkwright did not
like to ask him again to alter his plans; and he, having altered them
once, was averse to change them again. So things went on till the mules
and the boats had been hired, and things had gone so far that no change
could then be made without much cost and trouble.

During the last ten days of their sojourn at San José, Mrs. Arkwright
had lost all that appearance of joy which had cheered up her sweet face
during the last few months. Terror at that terrible journey obliterated
in her mind all the happiness which had arisen from the hope of being
soon at home. She was thoroughly cowed by the danger to be encountered,
and would gladly have gone down to Punt’ Arenas, had it been now
possible that she could so arrange it. It rained, and rained, and still
rained, when there was now only a week from the time they started. Oh!
if they could only wait for another month! But this she said to no one.
After what had passed between her and her husband, she had not the heart
to say such words to him. Arkwright himself was a man not given to much
talking, a silent thoughtful man, stern withal in his outward bearing,
but tender-hearted and loving in his nature. The sweet young wife who
had left all, and come with him out to that dull distant place, was very
dear to him,–dearer than she herself was aware, and in these days he
was thinking much of her coming troubles. Why had he given way to her
foolish prayers? Ah, why indeed?

And thus the last few days of their sojourn in San José passed away from
them. Once or twice during these days she did speak out, expressing her
fears. Her feelings were too much for her, and she could not restrain
herself. “Poor mamma,” she said, “I shall never see her!” And then
again, “Harry, I know I shall never reach home alive.”

“Fanny, my darling, that is nonsense.” But in order that his spoken word
might not sound stern to her, he took her in his arms and kissed her.

“You must behave well, Fanny,” he said to her the day before they
started. Though her heart was then very low within her, she promised him
that she would do her best, and then she made a great resolution. Though
she should be dying on the road, she would not complain beyond the
absolute necessity of her nature. She fully recognised his thoughtful
tender kindness, for though he thus cautioned her, he never told her
that the dangers which she feared were the result of her own choice. He
never threw in her teeth those prayers which she had made, in yielding
to which he knew that he had been weak.

Then came the morning of their departure. The party of travellers
consisted of four besides the baby. There was Mr. Arkwright, his wife,
and an English nurse, who was going to England with them, and her
brother, Abel King, who was to accompany them as far as the Serapiqui
River. When they had reached that, the real labour of the journey would
be over. They had eight mules; four for the four travellers, one for
the baby, a spare mule laden simply with blankets, so that Mrs.
Arkwright might change in order that she should not be fatigued by the
fatigue of her beast, and two for their luggage. The heavier portion of
their baggage had already been sent off by Punt’ Arenas, and would meet
them at the other side of the Isthmus of Panamá.

For the last four days the rain had ceased,–had ceased at any rate at
San José. Those who knew the country well, would know that it might
still be raining over those vast forests; but now as the matter was
settled, they would hope for the best. On that morning on which they
started the sun shone fairly, and they accepted this as an omen of good.
Baby seemed to lay comfortably on her pile of blankets on the mule’s
back, and the face of the tall Indian guide who took his place at that
mule’s head pleased the anxious mother.

“Not leave him ever,” he said in Spanish, laying his hand on the cord
which was fastened to the beast’s head; and not for one moment did he
leave his charge, though the labour of sticking close to him was very
great.

They had four attendants or guides, all of whom made the journey on
foot. That they were all men of mixed race was probable; but three of
them would have been called Spaniards, Spaniards, that is, of Costa
Rica, and the other would be called an Indian. One of the Spaniards was
the leader, or chief man of the party, but the others seemed to stand on
an equal footing with each other; and indeed the place of greatest care
had been given to the Indian.

For the first four or five miles their route lay along the high road
which leads from San José to Punt’ Arenas, and so far a group of
acquaintances followed them, all mounted on mules. Here, where the ways
forked, their road leading through the great forests to the Atlantic,
they separated, and many tears were shed on each side. What might be the
future life of the Arkwrights had not been absolutely fixed, but there
was a strong hope on their part that they might never be forced to
return to Costa Rica. Those from whom they now parted had not seemed to
be dear to them in any especial degree while they all lived together in
the same small town, seeing each other day by day; but now,–now that
they might never meet again, a certain love sprang up for the old
familiar faces, and women kissed each other who hitherto had hardly
cared to enter each other’s houses.

And then the party of the Arkwrights again started, and its steady work
began. In the whole of the first day the way beneath their feet was
tolerably good, and the weather continued fine. It was one long gradual
ascent from the plain where the roads parted, but there was no real
labour in travelling. Mrs. Arkwright rode beside her baby’s mule, at the
head of which the Indian always walked, and the two men went together in
front. The husband had found that his wife would prefer this, as long as
the road allowed of such an arrangement. Her heart was too full to admit
of much speaking, and so they went on in silence.

The first night was passed in a hut by the roadside, which seemed to be
deserted,–a hut or rancho as it is called in that country. Their food
they had, of course, brought with them; and here, by common consent,
they endeavoured in some sort to make themselves merry.

“Fanny,” Arkwright said to her, “it is not so bad after all; eh, my
darling?”

“No,” she answered; “only that the mule tires one so. Will all the days
be as long as that?”

He had not the heart to tell her that as regarded hours of work, that
first day must of necessity be the shortest. They had risen to a
considerable altitude, and the night was very cold; but baby was
enveloped among a pile of coloured blankets, and things did not go very
badly with them; only this, that when Fanny Arkwright rose from her hard
bed, her limbs were more weary and much more stiff than they had been
when Arkwright had lifted her from her mule.

On the second morning they mounted before the day had quite broken, in
order that they might breakfast on the summit of the ridge which
separates the two oceans. At this spot the good road comes to an end,
and the forest track begins; and here also, they would, in truth, enter
the forest, though their path had for some time been among straggling
trees and bushes. And now, again, they rode two and two, up to this
place of halting, Arkwright and Ring well knowing that from hence their
labours would in truth commence.

Poor Mrs. Arkwright, when she reached this resting-place, would fain
have remained there for the rest of the day. One word, in her low,
plaintive voice, she said, asking whether they might not sleep in the
large shed which stands there. But this was manifestly impossible. At
such a pace they would never reach Greytown; and she spoke no further
word when he told her that they must go on.

At about noon that day the file of travellers formed itself into the
line which it afterwards kept during the whole of the journey, and then
started by the narrow-path into the forest. First walked the leader of
the guides, then another man following him; Abel Ring came next, and
behind him the maid-servant; then the baby’s mule, with the Indian ever
at its head; close at his heels followed Mrs. Arkwright, so that the
mother’s eye might be always on her child; and after her her husband;
then another guide on foot completed the number of the travellers. In
this way they went on and on, day after day, till they reached the banks
of the Serapiqui, never once varying their places in the procession. As
they started in the morning, so they went on, till their noon-day’s
rest, and so again they made their evening march. In that journey there
was no idea of variety, no searching after the pleasures of scenery, no
attempts at conversation with any object of interest or amusement. What
words were spoken were those simply needful, or produced by sympathy for
suffering. So they journeyed, always in the same places, with one
exception. They began their work with two guides leading them, but
before the first day was over one of them had fallen back to the side of
Mrs. Arkwright, for she was unable to sit on her mule without support.

Their daily work was divided into two stages, so as to give some hours
for rest in the middle of the day. It had been arranged that the
distance for each day should not be long,–should be very short as was
thought by them all when they talked it over at San José; but now the
hours which they passed in the saddle seemed to be endless. Their
descent began from that ridge of which I have spoken, and they had no
sooner turned their faces down upon the mountain slopes looking towards
the Atlantic, than that passage of mud began to which there was no
cessation till they found themselves on the banks of the Serapiqui
river. I doubt whether it be possible to convey in words an adequate
idea of the labour of riding over such a path. It is not that any active
exertion is necessary,–that there is anything which requires doing. The
traveller has before him the simple task of sitting on his mule from
hour to hour, and of seeing that his knees do not get themselves jammed
against the trees; but at every step the beast he rides has to drag his
legs out from the deep clinging mud, and the body of the rider never
knows one moment of ease. Why the mules do not die on the road, I cannot
say. They live through it, and do not appear to suffer. They have their
own way in everything, for no exertion on the rider’s part will make
them walk either faster or slower than is their wont.

On the day on which they entered the forest,–that being the second of
their journey,–Mrs. Arkwright had asked for mercy, for permission to
escape that second stage. On the next she allowed herself to be lifted
into her saddle after her mid-day rest without a word. She had tried to
sleep, but in vain; and had sat within a little hut, looking out upon
the desolate scene before her, with her baby in her lap. She had this
one comfort, that of all the travellers, she, the baby, suffered the
least. They had now left the high grounds, and the heat was becoming
great, though not as yet intense. And then, the Indian guide, looking
out slowly over the forest, saw that the rain was not yet over. He spoke
a word or two to one of his companions in a low voice and in a patois
which Mrs. Arkwright did not understand, and then going after the
husband, told him that the heavens were threatening.

“We have only two leagues,” said Arkwright, “and it may perhaps hold
up.”

“It will begin in an hour,” said the Indian, “and the two leagues are
four hours.”

“And to-morrow,” asked Arkwright.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow it will still rain,” said the
guide, looking as he spoke up over the huge primeval forest.

“Then we had better start at once,” said Arkwright, “before the first
falling drops frighten the women.” So the mules were brought out, and he
lifted his uncomplaining wife on to the blankets which formed her
pillion. The file again formed itself, and slowly they wound their way
out from the small enclosure by which the hut was surrounded;–out from
the enclosure on to a rough scrap of undrained pasture ground from which
the trees had been cleared. In a few minutes they were once more
struggling through the mud.

The name of the spot which our travellers had just left is Carablanco.
There they found a woman living all alone. Her husband was away, she
told them, at San José, but would be back to her when the dry weather
came, to look up the young cattle which were straying in the forest.
What a life for a woman! Nevertheless, in talking with Mrs. Arkwright
she made no complaint of her own lot, but had done what little she could
to comfort the poor lady who was so little able to bear the fatigues of
her journey.

“Is the road very bad?” Mrs. Arkwright asked her in a whisper.

“Ah, yes; it is a bad road.”

“And when shall we be at the river?”

“It took me four days,” said the woman.

“Then I shall never see my mother again,” and as she spoke Mrs.
Arkwright pressed her baby to her bosom. Immediately after that her
husband came in, and they started.

Their path now led away across the slope of a mountain which seemed to
fall from the very top of that central ridge in an unbroken descent down
to the valley at its foot. Hitherto, since they had entered the forest,
they had had nothing before their eyes but the trees and bushes which
grew close around them. But now a prospect of unrivalled grandeur was
opened before them, if only had they been able to enjoy it. At the
bottom of the valley ran a river, which, so great was the depth, looked
like a moving silver cord; and on the other side of this there arose
another mountain, steep but unbroken like that which they were
passing,–unbroken, so that the eye could stretch from the river up to
the very summit. Not a spot on that mountain side or on their side
either was left uncovered by thick forest, which had stood there
untouched by man since nature first produced it.

But all this was nothing to our travellers, nor was the clang of the
macaws anything, or the roaring of the little congo ape. Nothing was
gained by them from beautiful scenery, nor was there any fear from the
beasts of prey. The immediate pain of each step of the journey drove all
other feelings from them, and their thoughts were bounded by an intense
desire for the evening halt.

And then, as the guide had prophesied, the rain began. At first it came
in such small soft drops that it was found to be refreshing, but the
clouds soon gathered and poured forth their collected waters as though
it had not rained for months among those mountains. Not that it came in
big drops, or with the violence which wind can give it, beating hither
and thither, breaking branches from the trees, and rising up again as it
pattered against the ground. There was no violence in the rain. It fell
softly in a long, continuous, noiseless stream, sinking into everything
that it touched, converting the deep rich earth on all sides into mud.

Not a word was said by any of them as it came on. The Indian covered the
baby with her blanket, closer than she was covered before, and the guide
who walked by Mrs. Arkwright’s side drew her cloak around her knees.
But such efforts were in vain. There is a rain that will penetrate
everything, and such was the rain which fell upon them now.
Nevertheless, as I have said, hardly a word was spoken. The poor woman,
finding that the heat of her cloak increased her sufferings, threw it
open again.

“Fanny,” said her husband, “you had better let him protect you as well
as he can.”

She answered him merely by an impatient wave of her hand, intending to
signify that she could not speak, but that in this matter she must have
her way.

After that her husband made no further attempt to control her. He could
see, however, that ever and again she would have slipped forward from
her mule, and fallen, had not the man by her side steadied her with his
hand. At every tree he protected her knees and feet, though there was
hardly room for him to move between the beast and the bank against which
he was thrust.

And then, at last, that day’s work was also over, and Fanny Arkwright
slipped from her pillion down into her husband’s arms at the door of
another rancho in the forest. Here there lived a large family adding
from year to year to the patch of ground which they had rescued from the
wood, and valiantly doing their part in the extension of civilisation.
Our party was but a few steps from the door when they left their mules,
but Mrs. Arkwright did not now as heretofore hasten to receive her baby
in her arms. When placed upon the ground, she still leaned against the
mule, and her husband saw that he must carry her into the hut. This he
did, and then, wet, mud-laden, dishevelled as she was, she laid herself
down upon the planks that were to form her bed, and there stretched out
her arms for her infant. On that evening they undressed and tended her
like a child; and then when she was alone with her husband, she repeated
to him her sad foreboding.

“Harry,” she said, “I shall never see my mother again.”

“Oh, yes, Fanny, you will see her and talk over all these troubles with
pleasure. It is very bad, I know; but we shall live through it yet.”

“You will, of course; and you will take baby home to her.”

“And face her without you! No, my darling. Three more days’ riding, or
rather two and a half, will bring us to the river, and then your trouble
will be over. All will be easy after that.”

“Ah, Harry, you do not know.”

“I do know that it is very bad, my girl, but you must cheer up. We shall
be laughing at all this in a month’s time.”

On the following morning she allowed herself to be lifted up, speaking
no word of remonstrance. Indeed she was like a child in their hands,
having dropped all the dignity and authority of a woman’s demeanour. It
rained again during the whole of this day, and the heat was becoming
oppressive as every hour they were descending nearer and nearer to the
sea level. During this first stage hardly a word was spoken by any one;
but when she was again taken from her mule she was in tears. The poor
servant-girl, too, was almost prostrate with fatigue, and absolutely
unable to wait upon her mistress, or even to do anything for herself.
Nevertheless they did make the second stage, seeing that their mid-day
resting place had been under the trees of the forest. Had there been any
hut there, they would have remained for the night.

On the following day they rested altogether, though the place at which
they remained had but few attractions. It was another forest hut
inhabited by an old Spanish couple who were by no means willing to give
them room, although they paid for their accommodation at exorbitant
rates. It is one singularity of places strange and out of the way like
such forest tracks as these, that money in small sums is hardly valued.
Dollars there were not appreciated as sixpences are in this rich
country. But there they stayed for a day, and the guides employed
themselves in making a litter with long poles so that they might carry
Mrs. Arkwright over a portion of the ground. Poor fellows! When once she
had thus changed her mode of conveyance, she never again was lifted on
to the mule.

There was strong reason against this day’s delay. They were to go down
the Serapiqui along with the post, which would overtake them on its
banks. But if the post should pass them before they got there, it could
not wait; and then they would be deprived of the best canoe on the
water. Then also it was possible, if they encountered further delay,
that the steamer might sail from Greytown without them, and a month’s
residence at that frightful place be thus made necessary.

The day’s rest apparently did little to relieve Mrs. Arkwright’s
sufferings. On the following day she allowed herself to be put upon the
mule, but after the first hour the beasts were stopped and she was taken
off it. During that hour they had travelled hardly over half a league.
At that time she so sobbed and moaned that Arkwright absolutely feared
that she would perish in the forest, and he implored the guides to use
the poles which they had prepared. She had declared to him over and over
again that she felt sure that she should die, and, half-delirious with
weariness and suffering, had begged him to leave her at the last hut.
They had not yet come to the flat ground over which a litter might be
carried with comparative ease; but nevertheless the men yielded, and she
was placed in a recumbent position upon blankets, supported by boughs of
trees. In this way she went through that day with somewhat less of
suffering than before, and without that necessity for self-exertion
which had been worse to her than any suffering.

There were places between that and the river at which one would have
said that it was impossible that a litter should be carried, or even
impossible that a mule should walk with a load on his back. But still
they went on, and the men carried their burden without complaining. Not
a word was said about money, or extra pay;–not a word, at least by
them; and when Arkwright was profuse in his offer, their leader told him
that they would not have done it for money. But for the poor suffering
Señora they would make exertions which no money would have bought from
them.

On the next day about noon the post did pass them, consisting of three
strong men carrying great weights on their backs, suspended by bands
from their foreheads. They travelled much quicker than our friends, and
would reach the banks of the river that evening. In their ordinary
course they would start down the river close upon daybreak on the
following day; but, after some consultation with the guides, they agreed
to wait till noon. Poor Mrs. Arkwright knew nothing of hours or of any
such arrangements now, but her husband greatly doubted their power of
catching this mail despatch. However, it did not much depend on their
exertions that afternoon. Their resting-place was marked out for them,
and they could not go beyond it, unless indeed they could make the whole
journey, which was impossible.

But towards evening matters seemed to improve with them. They had now
got on to ground which was more open, and the men who carried the litter
could walk with greater ease. Mrs. Arkwright also complained less, and
when they reached their resting-place on that night, said nothing of a
wish to be left there to her fate. This was a place called Padregal, a
cacao plantation, which had been cleared in the forest with much labour.
There was a house here containing three rooms, and some forty or fifty
acres round it had been stripped of the forest trees. But nevertheless
the adventure had not been a prosperous one, for the place was at that
time deserted. There were the cacao plants, but there was no one to pick
the cacao. There was a certain melancholy beauty about the place. A few
grand trees had been left standing near the house, and the grass around
was rich and park-like. But it was deserted, and nothing was heard but
the roaring of the congos. Ah me! Indeed it was a melancholy place as it
was seen by some of that party afterwards.

On the following morning they were astir very early, and Mrs. Arkwright
was so much better that she offered to sit again upon her mule. The men,
however, declared that they would finish their task, and she was placed
again upon the litter. And then with slow and weary step they did make
their way to the river bank. It was not yet noon when they saw the mud
fort which stands there, and as they drew into the enclosure round a
small house which stands close by the river side, they saw the three
postmen still busy about their packages.

“Thank God!” said Arkwright.

“Thank God, indeed!” said his brother. “All will be right with you now.”

“Well, Fanny,” said her husband, as he took her very gently from the
litter and seated her on a bench which stood outside the door. “It is
all over now,–is it not?”

She answered him by a shower of tears, but they were tears which brought
her relief. He was aware of this, and therefore stood by her, still
holding her by both her hands while her head rested against his side.
“You will find the motion of the boat very gentle,” he said “indeed
there will be no motion, and you and baby will sleep all the way down to
Greytown.” She did not answer him in words, but she looked up into his
face, and he could see that her spirit was recovering itself.

There was almost a crowd of people collected on the spot, preparatory to
the departure of the canoes. In the first place there was the commandant
of the fort, to whom the small house belonged. He was looking to the
passports of our friends, and with due diligence endeavouring to make
something of the occasion, by discovering fatal legal impediments to the
further prosecution of their voyage, which impediments would disappear
on the payment of certain dollars. And then there were half a dozen
Costa Rican soldiers, men with coloured caps and old muskets, ready to
support the dignity and authority of the commandant. There were the
guides taking payment from Abel Ring for their past work, and the
postmen preparing their boats for the further journey. And then there
was a certain German there, with a German servant, to whom the boats
belonged. He also was very busy preparing for the river voyage. He was
not going down with them, but it was his business to see them well
started. A singular looking man was he, with a huge shaggy beard, and
shaggy uncombed hair, but with bright blue eyes, which gave to his face
a remarkable look of sweetness. He was an uncouth man to the eye, and
yet a child would have trusted herself with him in a forest.

At this place they remained some two hours. Coffee was prepared here,
and Mrs. Arkwright refreshed herself and her child. They washed and
arranged their clothes, and when she stepped down the steep bank,
clinging to her husband’s arm as she made her way towards the boat, she
smiled upon him as he looked at her.

“It is all over now,–is it not, my girl?”–he said, encouraging her.

“Oh, Harry, do not talk about it,” she answered, shuddering.

“But I want you to say a word to me to let me know that you are better.”

“I am better,–much better.”

“And you will see your mother again; will you not; and give baby to her
yourself?”

To this she made no immediate answer, for she was on a level with the
river, and the canoe was close at her feet. And then she had to bid
farewell to her brother. He was now the unfortunate one of the party,
for his destiny required that he should go back to San José alone,–go
back and remain there perhaps some ten years longer before he might look
for the happiness of home.

“God bless you, dearest Abel,” she said, kissing him and sobbing as she
spoke.

“Good-bye, Fanny,” he said, “and do not let them forget me in England.
It is a great comfort to think that the worst of your troubles are
over.”

“Oh,–she’s all right now,” said Arkwright. “Good-bye, old boy,”–and
the two brothers-in-law grasped each other’s hands heartily. “Keep up
your spirits, and we’ll have you home before long.”

“Oh, I’m all right,” said the other. But from the tone of the voices, it
was clear that poor Ring was despondent at the thoughts of his coming
solitude, and that Arkwright was already triumphing in his emancipation.

And then, with much care, Fanny Arkwright was stowed away in the boat.
There was a great contest about the baby, but at last it was arranged,
that at any rate for the first few hours she should be placed in the
boat with the servant. The mother was told that by this plan she would
feel herself at liberty to sleep during the heat of the day, and then
she might hope to have strength to look to the child when they should be
on shore during the night. In this way therefore they prepared to start,
while Abel Ring stood on the bank looking at them with wishful eyes. In
the first boat were two Indians paddling, and a third man steering with
another paddle. In the middle there was much luggage, and near the
luggage so as to be under shade, was the baby’s soft bed. If nothing
evil happened to the boat, the child could not be more safe in the best
cradle that was ever rocked. With her was the maid-servant and some
stranger who was also going down to Greytown.

In the second boat were the same number of men to paddle, the Indian
guide being one of them, and there were the mails placed. Then there was
a seat arranged with blankets, cloaks, and cushions, for Mrs. Arkwright,
so that she might lean back and sleep without fatigue, and immediately
opposite to her her husband placed himself. “You all look very
comfortable,” said poor Abel from the bank.

“We shall do very well now,” said Arkwright.

“And I do think I shall see mamma again,” said his wife.

“That’s right, old girl;–of course you will see her. Now then,–we are
all ready.” And with some little assistance from the German on the bank,
the first boat was pushed off into the stream.

The river in this place is rapid, because the full course of the water
is somewhat impeded by a bank of earth jutting out from the opposite
side of the river into the stream; but it is not so rapid as to make any
recognised danger in the embarkation. Below this bank, which is opposite
to the spot at which the boats were entered, there were four or five
broken trees in the water, some of the shattered boughs of which showed
themselves above the surface. These are called snags, and are very
dangerous if they are met with in the course of the stream; but in this
instance no danger was apprehended from them, as they lay considerably
to the left of the passage which the boats would take. The first canoe
was pushed off by the German, and went rapidly away. The waters were
strong with rain, and it was pretty to see with what velocity the boat
was carried on some hundred of yards in advance of the other by the
force of the first effort of the paddle. The German, however, from the
bank holloaed to the first men in Spanish, bidding them relax their
efforts for a while; and then he said a word or two of caution to those
who were now on the point of starting.

The boat then was pushed steadily forward, the man at the stern keeping
it with his paddle a little farther away from the bank at which they had
embarked. It was close under the land that the stream ran the fastest,
and in obedience to the directions given to him he made his course
somewhat nearer to the sunken trees. It was but one turn of his hand
that gave the light boat its direction, but that turn of the hand was
too strong. Had the anxious master of the canoes been but a thought less
anxious, all might have been well; but, as it was, the prow of the boat
was caught by some slight hidden branch which impeded its course and
turned it round in the rapid river. The whole length of the canoe was
thus brought against the sunken tree, and in half a minute the five
occupants of the boat were struggling in the stream.

Abel Ring and the German were both standing on the bank close to the
water when this happened, and each for a moment looked into the other’s
face. “Stand where you are,” shouted the German, “so that you may assist
them from the shore. I will go in.” And then, throwing from him his
boots and coat, he plunged into the river.

The canoe had been swept round so as to be brought by the force of the
waters absolutely in among the upturned roots and broken stumps of the
trees which impeded the river, and thus, when the party was upset, they
were at first to be seen scrambling among the branches. But
unfortunately there was much more wood below the water than above it,
and the force of the stream was so great, that those who caught hold of
the timber were not able to support themselves by it above the surface.
Arkwright was soon to be seen some forty yards down, having been carried
clear of the trees, and here he got out of the river on the further
bank. The distance to him was not above forty yards, but from the nature
of the ground he could not get up towards his wife, unless he could have
forced his way against the stream.

The Indian who had had charge of the baby rose quickly to the surface,
was carried once round in the eddy, with his head high above the water,
and then was seen to throw himself among the broken wood. He had seen
the dress of the poor woman, and made his effort to save her. The other
two men were so caught by the fragments of the boughs, that they could
not extricate themselves so as to make any exertions; ultimately,
however, they also got out on the further bank.

Mrs. Arkwright had sunk at once on being precipitated into the water,
but the buoyancy of her clothes had brought her for a moment again to
the surface. She had risen for a moment, and then had again gone down,
immediately below the forked trunk of a huge tree;–had gone down, alas,
alas! never to rise again with life within her bosom. The poor Indian
made two attempts to save her, and then came up himself, incapable of
further effort.

It was then that the German, the owner of the canoes, who had fought his
way with great efforts across the violence of the waters, and indeed up
against the stream for some few yards, made his effort to save the life
of that poor frail creature. He had watched the spot at which she had
gone down, and even while struggling across the river, had seen how the
Indian had followed her and had failed. It was now his turn. His life
was in his hand, and he was prepared to throw it away in that attempt.
Having succeeded in placing himself a little above the large tree, he
turned his face towards the bottom of the river, and dived down among
the branches. And he also, after that, was never again seen with the
life-blood flowing round his heart.

When the sun set that night, the two swollen corpses were lying in the
Commandant’s hut, and Abel Ring and Arkwright were sitting beside them.
Arkwright had his baby sleeping in his arms, but he sat there for
hours,–into the middle of the long night,–without speaking a word to
any one.

“Harry,” said his brother at last, “come away and lay down. It will be
good for you to sleep.”

“Nothing ever will be good again for me,” said he.

“You must bear up against your sorrow as other men do,” said Ring.

“Why am I not sleeping with her as the poor German sleeps? Why did I let
another man take my place in dying for her?” And then he walked away
that the other might not see the tears on his face.

It was a sad night,–that at the Commandant’s hut, and a sad morning
followed upon it. It must be remembered that they had there none of
those appurtenances which are so necessary to make woe decent and
misfortune comfortable. They sat through the night in the small hut, and
in the morning they came forth with their clothes still wet and dirty,
with their haggard faces, and weary stiff limbs, encumbered with the
horrid task of burying that loved body among the forest trees. And then,
to keep life in them till it was done, the brandy flask passed from hand
to hand; and after that, with slow but resolute efforts, they reformed
the litter on which the living woman had been carried thither, and took
her body back to the wild plantation at Padregal. There they dug for her
her grave, and repeating over her some portion of the service for the
dead, left her to sleep the sleep of death. But before they left her,
they erected a pallisade of timber round the grave, so that the beasts
of the forest should not tear the body from its resting-place.

When that was done Arkwright and his brother made their slow journey
back to San José. The widowed husband could not face his darling’s
mother with such a tale upon his tongue as that.

A RIDE ACROSS PALESTINE.

Circumstances took me to the Holy Land without a companion, and
compelled me to visit Bethany, the Mount of Olives, and the Church of
the Sepulchre alone. I acknowledge myself to be a gregarious animal, or,
perhaps, rather one of those which nature has intended to go in pairs.
At any rate I dislike solitude, and especially travelling solitude, and
was, therefore, rather sad at heart as I sat one night at Z—-’s
hotel, in Jerusalem, thinking over my proposed wanderings for the next
few days. Early on the following morning I intended to start, of course
on horseback, for the Dead Sea, the banks of Jordan, Jericho, and those
mountains of the wilderness through which it is supposed that Our
Saviour wandered for the forty days when the devil tempted him. I would
then return to the Holy City, and remaining only long enough to refresh
my horse and wipe the dust from my hands and feet, I would start again
for Jaffa, and there catch a certain Austrian steamer which would take
me to Egypt. Such was my programme, and I confess that I was but ill
contented with it, seeing that I was to be alone during the time.

I had already made all my arrangements, and though I had no reason for
any doubt as to my personal security during the trip, I did not feel
altogether satisfied with them. I intended to take a French guide, or
dragoman, who had been with me for some days, and to put myself under
the peculiar guardianship of two Bedouin Arabs, who were to accompany me
as long as I should remain east of Jerusalem. This travelling through
the desert under the protection of Bedouins was, in idea, pleasant
enough; and I must here declare that I did not at all begrudge the forty
shillings which I was told by our British consul that I must pay them
for their trouble, in accordance with the established tariff. But I did
begrudge the fact of the tariff. I would rather have fallen in with my
friendly Arabs, as it were by chance, and have rewarded their fidelity
at the end of our joint journeyings by a donation of piastres to be
settled by myself, and which, under such circumstances, would certainly
have been as agreeable to them as the stipulated sum. In the same way I
dislike having waiters put down in my bill. I find that I pay them twice
over, and thus lose money; and as they do not expect to be so treated, I
never have the advantage of their civility. The world, I fear, is
becoming too fond of tariffs.

“A tariff!” said I to the consul, feeling that the whole romance of my
expedition would be dissipated by such an arrangement. “Then I’ll go
alone; I’ll take a revolver with me.”

“You can’t do it, sir,” said the consul, in a dry and somewhat angry
tone. “You have no more right to ride through that country without
paying the regular price for protection, than you have to stop in Z—-
’s hotel without settling the bill.”

I could not contest the point, so I ordered my Bedouins for the
appointed day, exactly as I would send for a ticket-porter at home, and
determined to make the best of it. The wild unlimited sands, the
desolation of the Dead Sea, the rushing waters of Jordan, the outlines
of the mountains of Moab;–those things the consular tariff could not
alter, nor deprive them of the glories of their association.

I had submitted, and the arrangements had been made. Joseph, my
dragoman, was to come to me with the horses and an Arab groom at five in
the morning, and we were to encounter our Bedouins outside the gate of
St. Stephen, down the hill, where the road turns, close to the tomb of
the Virgin.

I was sitting alone in the public room at the hotel, filling my flask
with brandy,–for matters of primary importance I never leave to
servant, dragoman, or guide,–when the waiter entered, and said that a
gentleman wished to speak with me. The gentleman had not sent in his
card or name; but any gentleman was welcome to me in my solitude, and I
requested that the gentleman might enter. In appearance the gentleman
certainly was a gentleman, for I thought that I had never before seen a
young man whose looks were more in his favour, or whose face and gait
and outward bearing seemed to betoken better breeding. He might be some
twenty or twenty-one years of age, was slight and well made, with very
black hair, which he wore rather long, very dark long bright eyes, a
straight nose, and teeth that were perfectly white. He was dressed
throughout in grey tweed clothing, having coat, waistcoat, and trousers
of the same; and in his hand he carried a very broad-brimmed straw hat.

“Mr. Jones, I believe,” he said, as he bowed to me. Jones is a good
travelling name, and, if the reader will allow me, I will call myself
Jones on the present occasion.

“Yes,” I said, pausing with the brandy-bottle in one hand, and the flask
in the other. “That’s my name; I’m Jones. Can I do anything for you,
sir?”

“Why, yes, you can,” said he. “My name is Smith,–John Smith.”

“Pray sit down, Mr. Smith,” I said, pointing to a chair. “Will you do
anything in this way?” and I proposed to hand the bottle to him. “As far
as I can judge from a short stay, you won’t find much like that in
Jerusalem.”

He declined the Cognac, however, and immediately began his story. “I
hear, Mr. Jones,” said he, “that you are going to Moab to-morrow.”

“Well,” I replied, “I don’t know whether I shall cross the water. It’s
not very easy, I take it, at all times; but I shall certainly get as far
as Jordan. Can I do anything for you in those parts?”

And then he explained to me what was the object of his visit. He was
quite alone in Jerusalem, as I was myself, and was staying at H—-’s
hotel. He had heard that I was starting for the Dead Sea, and had called
to ask if I objected to his joining me. He had found himself, he said,
very lonely; and as he had heard that I also was alone, he had ventured
to call and make his proposition. He seemed to be very bashful, and half
ashamed of what he was doing; and when he had done speaking he declared
himself conscious that he was intruding, and expressed a hope that I
would not hesitate to say so if his suggestion were from any cause
disagreeable to me.

As a rule I am rather shy of chance travelling English friends. It has
so frequently happened to me that I have had to blush for the
acquaintances whom I have selected, that I seldom indulge in any close
intimacies of this kind. But, nevertheless, I was taken with John Smith,
in spite of his name. There was so much about him that was pleasant,
both to the eye and to the understanding! One meets constantly with men
from contact with whom one revolts without knowing the cause of such
dislike. The cut of their beard is displeasing, or the mode in which
they walk or speak. But, on the other hand, there are men who are
attractive, and I must confess that I was attracted by John Smith at
first sight. I hesitated, however, for a minute; for there are sundry
things of which it behoves a traveller to think before he can join a
companion for such a journey as that which I was about to make. Could
the young man rise early, and remain in the saddle for ten hours
together? Could he live upon hard-boiled eggs and brandy-and-water?
Could he take his chance of a tent under which to sleep, and make
himself happy with the bare fact of being in the desert? He saw my
hesitation, and attributed it to a cause which was not present in my
mind at the moment, though the subject was one of the greatest
importance when strangers consent to join themselves together for a
time, and agree to become no strangers on the spur of the moment.

“Of course I will take half the expense,” said he, absolutely blushing
as he mentioned the matter.

“As to that there will be very little. You have your own horse, of
course?”

“Oh, yes.”

“My dragoman and groom-boy will do for both. But you’ll have to pay
forty shillings to the Arabs! There’s no getting over that. The consul
won’t even look after your dead body, if you get murdered, without going
through that ceremony.”

Mr. Smith immediately produced his purse, which he tendered to me. “If
you will manage it all,” said he, “it will make it so much the easier,
and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.” This of course I declined to
do. I had no business with his purse, and explained to him that if we
went together we could settle that on our return to Jerusalem. “But
could he go through really hard work?” I asked. He answered me with an
assurance that he would and could do anything in that way that it was
possible for man to perform. As for eating and drinking he cared nothing
about it, and would undertake to be astir at any hour of the morning
that might be named. As for sleeping accommodation, he did not care if
he kept his clothes on for a week together. He looked slight and weak;
but he spoke so well, and that without boasting, that I ultimately
agreed to his proposal, and in a few minutes he took his leave of me,
promising to be at Z—-’s door with his horse at five o’clock on the
following morning.

“I wish you’d allow me to leave my purse with you,” he said again.

“I cannot think of it. There is no possible occasion for it,” I said
again. “If there is anything to pay, I’ll ask you for it when the
journey is over. That forty shillings you must fork out. It’s a law of
the Medes and Persians.”

“I’d better give it you at once,” he said again, offering me money. But
I would not have it. It would be quite time enough for that when the
Arabs were leaving us.

“Because,” he added, “strangers, I know, are sometimes suspicious about
money; and I would not, for worlds, have you think that I would put you
to expense.” I assured him that I did not think so, and then the subject
was dropped.

He was, at any rate, up to his time, for when I came down on the
following morning I found him in the narrow street, the first on
horseback. Joseph, the Frenchman, was strapping on to a rough pony our
belongings, and was staring at Mr. Smith. My new friend, unfortunately,
could not speak a word of French, and therefore I had to explain to the
dragoman how it had come to pass that our party was to be enlarged.

“But the Bedouins will expect full pay for both,” said he, alarmed. Men
in that class, and especially Orientals, always think that every
arrangement of life, let it be made in what way it will, is made with
the intention of saving some expense, or cheating somebody out of some
money. They do not understand that men can have any other object, and
are ever on their guard lest the saving should be made at their cost, or
lest they should be the victims of the fraud.

“All right,” said I.

“I shall be responsible, Monsieur,” said the dragoman, piteously.

“It shall be all right,” said I, again. “If that does not satisfy you,
you may remain behind.”

“If Monsieur says it is all right, of course it is so;” and then he
completed his strapping. We took blankets with us, of which I had to
borrow two out of the hotel for my friend Smith, a small hamper of
provisions, a sack containing forage for the horses, and a large empty
jar, so that we might supply ourselves with water when leaving the
neighbourhood of wells for any considerable time.

“I ought to have brought these things for myself,” said Smith, quite
unhappy at finding that he had thrown on me the necessity of catering
for him. But I laughed at him, saying that it was nothing; he should do
as much for me another time. I am prepared to own that I do not
willingly rush up-stairs and load myself with blankets out of strange
rooms for men whom I do not know; nor, as a rule, do I make all the
Smiths of the world free of my canteen. But, with reference to this
fellow I did feel more than ordinarily good-natured and unselfish. There
was something in the tone of his voice which was satisfactory; and I
should really have felt vexed had anything occurred at the last moment
to prevent his going with me.

Let it be a rule with every man to carry an English saddle with him when
travelling in the East. Of what material is formed the nether man of a
Turk I have never been informed, but I am sure that it is not flesh and
blood. No flesh and blood,–simply flesh and blood,–could withstand the
wear and tear of a Turkish saddle. This being the case, and the
consequences being well known to me, I was grieved to find that Smith
was not properly provided. He was seated on one of those hard, red,
high-pointed machines, in which the shovels intended to act as stirrups
are attached in such a manner, and hang at such an angle, as to be
absolutely destructive to the leg of a Christian. There is no part of
the Christian body with which the Turkish saddle comes in contact that
does not become more or less macerated. I have sat in one for days, but
I left it a flayed man; and, therefore, I was sorry for Smith.

I explained this to him, taking hold of his leg by the calf to show how
the leather would chafe him; but it seemed to me that he did not quite
like my interference. “Never mind,” said he, twitching his leg away, “I
have ridden in this way before.”

“Then you must have suffered the very mischief?”

“Only a little, and I shall be used to it now. You will not hear me
complain.”

“By heavens, you might have heard me complain a mile off when I came to
the end of a journey I once took. I roared like a bull when I began to
cool. Joseph, could you not get a European saddle for Mr. Smith?” But
Joseph did not seem to like Mr. Smith, and declared such a thing to be
impossible. No European in Jerusalem would think of lending so precious
an article, except to a very dear friend. Joseph himself was on an
English saddle, and I made up my mind that after the first stage, we
would bribe him to make an exchange. And then we started. The Bedouins
were not with us, but we were to meet them, as I have said before,
outside St. Stephen’s gate. “And if they are not there,” said Joseph,
“we shall be sure to come across them on the road.”

“Not there!” said I. “How about the consul’s tariff, if they don’t keep
their part of the engagement?” But Joseph explained to me that their
part of the engagement really amounted to this,–that we should ride
into their country without molestation, provided that such and such
payments were made.

It was the period of Easter, and Jerusalem was full of pilgrims. Even at
that early hour of the morning we could hardly make our way through the
narrow streets. It must be understood that there is no accommodation in
the town for the fourteen or fifteen thousand strangers who flock to the
Holy Sepulchre at this period of the year. Many of them sleep out in the
open air, lying on low benches which run along the outside walls of the
houses, or even on the ground, wrapped in their thick hoods and cloaks.
Slumberers such as these are easily disturbed, nor are they detained
long at their toilets. They shake themselves like dogs, and growl and
stretch themselves, and then they are ready for the day.

We rode out of the town in a long file. First went the groom-boy; I
forget his proper Syrian appellation, but we used to call him Mucherry,
that sound being in some sort like the name. Then followed the horse
with the forage and blankets, and next to him my friend Smith in the
Turkish saddle. I was behind him, and Joseph brought up the rear. We
moved slowly down the Via Dolorosa, noting the spot at which our Saviour
is said to have fallen while bearing his cross; we passed by Pilate’s
house, and paused at the gate of the Temple,–the gate which once was
beautiful,–looking down into the hole of the pool in which the maimed
and halt were healed whenever the waters moved. What names they are! And
yet there at Jerusalem they are bandied to and fro with as little
reverence as are the fanciful appellations given by guides to rocks and
stones and little lakes in all countries overrun by tourists.

“For those who would still fain believe,–let them stay at home,” said
my friend Smith.

“For those who cannot divide the wheat from the chaff, let _them_ stay
at home,” I answered. And then we rode out through St. Stephen’s gate,
having the mountain of the men of Galileo directly before us, and the
Mount of Olives a little to our right, and the Valley of Jehoshaphat
lying between us and it. “Of course you know all these places now?” said
Smith. I answered that I did know them well.

“And was it not better for you when you knew them only in Holy Writ?” he
asked.

“No, by Jove,” said I. “The mountains stand where they ever stood. The
same valleys are still green with the morning dew, and the water-courses
are unchanged. The children of Mahomet may build their tawdry temple on
the threshing-floor which David bought that there might stand the Lord’s
house. Man may undo what man did, even though the doer was Solomon. But
here we have God’s handiwork and His own evidences.”

At the bottom of the steep descent from the city gate we came to the
tomb of the Virgin; and by special agreement made with Joseph we left
our horses here for a few moments, in order that we might descend into
the subterranean chapel under the tomb, in which mass was at this moment
being said. There is something awful in that chapel, when, as at the
present moment, it is crowded with Eastern worshippers from the very
altar up to the top of the dark steps by which the descent is made. It
must be remembered that Eastern worshippers are not like the churchgoers
of London, or even of Rome or Cologne. They are wild men of various
nations and races,–Maronites from Lebanon, Roumelians, Candiotes, Copts
from Upper Egypt, Russians from the Crimea, Armenians and Abyssinians.
They savour strongly of Oriental life and of Oriental dirt. They are
clad in skins or hairy cloaks with huge hoods. Their heads are shaved,
and their faces covered with short, grisly, fierce beards. They are
silent mostly, looking out of their eyes ferociously, as though murder
were in their thoughts, and rapine. But they never slouch, or cringe in
their bodies, or shuffle in their gait. Dirty, fierce-looking, uncouth,
repellent as they are, there is always about them a something of
personal dignity which is not compatible with an Englishman’s ordinary
hat and pantaloons.

As we were about to descend, preparing to make our way through the
crowd, Smith took hold of my arm. “That will never do, my dear fellow,”
said I, “the job will be tough enough for a single file, but we should
never cut our way two and two. I’m broad-shouldered and will go first.”
So I did, and gradually we worked our way into the body of the chapel.
How is it that Englishmen can push themselves anywhere? These men were
fierce-looking, and had murder and rapine, as I have said, almost in
their eyes. One would have supposed that they were not lambs or doves,
capable of being thrust here or there without anger on their part; and
they, too, were all anxious to descend and approach the altar. Yet we
did win our way through them, and apparently no man was angry with us. I
doubt, after all, whether a ferocious eye and a strong smell and dirt
are so efficacious in creating awe and obedience in others, as an open
brow and traces of soap and water. I know this, at least,–that a dirty
Maronite would make very little progress, if he attempted to shove his
way unfairly through a crowd of Englishmen at the door of a London
theatre. We did shove unfairly, and we did make progress, till we found
ourselves in the centre of the dense crowd collected in the body of the
chapel.

Having got so far, our next object was to get out again. The place was
dark, mysterious, and full of strange odours; but darkness, mystery, and
strange odours soon lose their charms when men have much work before
them. Joseph had made a point of being allowed to attend mass before the
altar of the Virgin, but a very few minutes sufficed for his prayers. So
we again turned round and pushed our way back again, Smith still
following in my wake. The men who had let us pass once let us pass again
without opposition or show of anger. To them the occasion was very holy.
They were stretching out their hands in every direction, with long
tapers, in order that they might obtain a spark of the sacred fire which
was burning on one of the altars. As we made our way out we passed many
who, with dumb motions, begged us to assist them in their object. And we
did assist them, getting lights for their tapers, handing them to and
fro, and using the authority with which we seemed to be invested. But
Smith, I observed, was much more courteous in this way to the women than
to the men, as I did not forget to remind him when we were afterwards on
our road together.

Remounting our horses we rode slowly up the winding ascent of the Mount
of Olives, turning round at the brow of the hill to look back over
Jerusalem. Sometimes I think that of all spots in the world this one
should be the spot most cherished in the memory of Christians. It was
there that He stood when He wept over the city. So much we do know,
though we are ignorant, and ever shall be so, of the site of His cross
and of the tomb. And then we descended on the eastern side of the hill,
passing through Bethany, the town of Lazarus and his sisters, and turned
our faces steadily towards the mountains of Moab.

Hitherto we had met no Bedouins, and I interrogated my dragoman about
them more than once; but he always told me that it did not signify; we
should meet them, he said, before any danger could arise. “As for
danger,” said I, “I think more of this than I do of the Arabs,” and I
put my hand on my revolver. “But as they agreed to be here, here they
ought to be. Don’t you carry a revolver, Smith?”

Smith said that he never had done so, but that he would take the charge
of mine if I liked. To this, however, I demurred. “I never part with my
pistol to any one,” I said, rather drily. But he explained that he only
intended to signify that if there were danger to be encountered, he
would be glad to encounter it; and I fully believed him. “We shan’t
have much, fighting,” I replied; “but if there be any, the tool will
come readiest to the hand of its master. But if you mean to remain here
long I would advise you to get one. These Orientals are a people with
whom appearances go a long way, and, as a rule, fear and respect mean
the same thing with them. A pistol hanging over your loins is no great
trouble to you, and looks as though you could bite. Many a dog goes
through the world well by merely showing his teeth.”

And then my companion began to talk of himself. “He did not,” he said,
“mean to remain in Syria very long.”

“Nor I either,” said I. “I have done with this part of the world for the
present, and shall take the next steamer from Jaffa for Alexandria. I
shall only have one night in Jerusalem on my return.”

After this he remained silent for a few moments and then declared that
that also had been his intention. He was almost ashamed to say so,
however, because it looked as though he had resolved to hook himself on
to me. So he answered, expressing almost regret at the circumstance.

“Don’t let that trouble you,” said I; “I shall be delighted to have your
company. When you know me better, as I hope you will do, you will find
that if such were not the case I should tell you so as frankly. I shall
remain in Cairo some little time; so that beyond our arrival in Egypt, I
can answer for nothing.”

He said that he expected letters at Alexandria which would govern his
future movements. I thought he seemed sad as he said so, and imagined,
from his manner, that he did not expect very happy tidings. Indeed I had
made up my mind that he was by no means free from care or sorrow. He had
not the air of a man who could say of himself that he was “totus teres
atque rotundus.” But I had no wish to inquire, and the matter would have
dropped had he not himself added–“I fear that I shall meet
acquaintances in Egypt whom it will give me no pleasure to see.”

“Then,” said I, “if I were you, I would go to Constantinople
instead;–indeed, anywhere rather than fall among friends who are not
friendly. And the nearer the friend is, the more one feels that sort of
thing. To my way of thinking, there is nothing on earth so pleasant as a
pleasant wife; but then, what is there so damnable as one that is
unpleasant?”

“Are you a married man?” he inquired. All his questions were put in a
low tone of voice which seemed to give to them an air of special
interest, and made one almost feel that they were asked with some
special view to one’s individual welfare. Now the fact is, that I am a
married man with a family; but I am not much given to talk to strangers
about my domestic concerns, and, therefore, though I had no particular
object in view, I denied my obligations in this respect. “No,” said I;
“I have not come to that promotion yet. I am too frequently on the move
to write myself down as Paterfamilias.”

“Then you know nothing about that pleasantness of which you spoke just
now?”

“Nor of the unpleasantness, thank God; my personal experiences are all
to come,–as also are yours, I presume?”

It was possible that he had hampered himself with some woman, and that
she was to meet him at Alexandria. Poor fellow! thought I. But his
unhappiness was not of that kind. “No,” said he; “I am not married; I am
all alone in the world.”

“Then I certainly would not allow myself to be troubled by unpleasant
acquaintances.”

It was now four hours since we had left Jerusalem, and we had arrived at
the place at which it was proposed that we should breakfast. There was a
large well there, and shade afforded by a rock under which the water
sprung; and the Arabs had constructed a tank out of which the horses
could drink, so that the place was ordinarily known as the first stage
out of Jerusalem.

Smith had said not a word about his saddle, or complained in any way of
discomfort, so that I had in truth forgotten the subject. Other matters
had continually presented themselves, and I had never even asked him how
he had fared. I now jumped from my horse, but I perceived at once that
he was unable to do so. He smiled faintly, as his eye caught mine, but I
knew that he wanted assistance. “Ah,” said I, “that confounded Turkish
saddle has already galled your skin. I see how it is; I shall have to
doctor you with a little brandy,–externally applied, my friend.” But I
lent him my shoulder, and with that assistance he got down, very gently
and slowly.

“We ate our breakfast with a good will; bread and cold fowl and
brandy-and-water, with a hard-boiled egg by way of a final delicacy; and
then I began to bargain with Joseph for the loan of his English saddle.
I saw that Smith could not get through the journey with that monstrous
Turkish affair, and that he would go on without complaining till he
fainted or came to some other signal grief. But the Frenchman, seeing
the plight in which we were, was disposed to drive a very hard bargain.
He wanted forty shillings, the price of a pair of live Bedouins, for the
accommodation, and declared that, even then, he should make the
sacrifice only out of consideration to me.

“Very well,” said I. “I’m tolerably tough myself, and I’ll change with
the gentleman. The chances are that I shall not be in a very liberal
humour when I reach Jaffa with stiff limbs and a sore skin. I have a
very good memory, Joseph.”

“I’ll take thirty shillings, Mr. Jones; though I shall have to groan all
the way like a condemned devil.”

I struck a bargain with him at last for five-and-twenty, and set him to
work to make the necessary change on the horses. “It will be just the
same thing to him,” I said to Smith. “I find that he is as much used to
one as to the other.

“But how much money are you to pay him?” he asked. “Oh, nothing,” I
replied. “Give him a few piastres when you part with him at Jaffa.” I do
not know why I should have felt thus inclined to pay money out of my
pocket for this Smith,–a man whom I had only seen for the first time on
the preceding evening, and whose temperament was so essentially
different from my own; but so I did. I would have done almost anything
in reason for his comfort; and yet he was a melancholy fellow, with good
inward pluck as I believed, but without that outward show of dash and
hardihood which I confess I love to see. “Pray tell him that I’ll pay
him for it,” said he. “We’ll make that all right,” I answered; and then
we remounted,–not without some difficulty on his part. “You should have
let me rub in that brandy,” I said. “You can’t conceive how
efficaciously I would have done it.” But he made me no answer.

At noon we met a caravan of pilgrims coming up from Jordan. There might
be some three or four hundred, but the number seemed to be treble that,
from the loose and straggling line in which they journeyed. It was a
very singular sight, as they moved slowly along the narrow path through
the sand, coming out of a defile among the hills, which was perhaps a
quarter of a mile in front of us, passing us as we stood still by the
wayside, and then winding again out of sight on the track over which we
had come. Some rode on camels,–a whole family, in many cases, being
perched on the same animal. I observed a very old man and a very old
woman slung in panniers over a camel’s back,–not such panniers as might
be befitting such a purpose, but square baskets, so that the heads and
heels of each of the old couple hung out of the rear and front. “Surely
the journey will be their death,” I said to Joseph. “Yes it will,” he
replied, quite coolly; “but what matter how soon they die now that they
have bathed in Jordan?” Very many rode on donkeys; two, generally, on
each donkey; others, who had command of money, on horses; but the
greater number walked, toiling painfully from Jerusalem to Jericho on
the first day, sleeping there in tents and going to bathe on the second
day, and then returning from Jericho to Jerusalem on the third. The
pilgrimage is made throughout in accordance with fixed rules, and there
is a tariff for the tent accommodation at Jericho,–so much per head per
night, including the use of hot water.

Standing there, close by the wayside, we could see not only the garments
and faces of these strange people, but we could watch their gestures and
form some opinion of what was going on within their thoughts. They were
much quieter,–tamer, as it were,–than Englishmen would be under such
circumstances. Those who were carried seemed to sit on their beasts in
passive tranquillity, neither enjoying nor suffering anything. Their
object had been to wash in Jordan,–to do that once in their lives;–and
they had washed in Jordan. The benefit expected was not to be
immediately spiritual. No earnest prayerfulness was considered necessary
after the ceremony. To these members of the Greek Christian Church it
had been handed down from father to son that washing in Jordan once
during life was efficacious towards salvation. And therefore the journey
had been made at terrible cost and terrible risk; for these people had
come from afar, and were from their habits but little capable of long
journeys. Many die under the toil; but this matters not if they do not
die before they have reached Jordan. Some few there are, undoubtedly,
more ecstatic in this great deed of their religion. One man I especially
noticed on this day. He had bound himself to make the pilgrimage from
Jerusalem to the river with one foot bare. He was of a better class, and
was even nobly dressed, as though it were a part of his vow to show to
all men that he did this deed, wealthy and great though he was. He was a
fine man, perhaps thirty years of age, with a well-grown beard
descending on his breast, and at his girdle he carried a brace of
pistols. But never in my life had I seen bodily pain so plainly written
in a man’s face. The sweat was falling from his brow, and his eyes were
strained and bloodshot with agony. He had no stick, his vow, I presume,
debarring him from such assistance, and he limped along, putting to the
ground the heel of the unprotected foot. I could see it, and it was a
mass of blood, and sores, and broken skin. An Irish girl would walk from
Jerusalem to Jericho without shoes, and be not a penny the worse for it.
This poor fellow clearly suffered so much that I was almost inclined to
think that in the performance of his penance he had done something to
aggravate his pain. Those around him paid no attention to him, and the
dragoman seemed to think nothing of the affair whatever. “Those fools of
Greeks do not understand the Christian religion,” he said, being himself
a Latin or Roman Catholic.

At the tail of the line we encountered two Bedouins, who were in charge
of the caravan, and Joseph at once addressed them. The men were mounted,
one on a very sorry-looking jade, but the other on a good stout Arab
barb. They had guns slung behind their backs, coloured handkerchiefs on
their heads, and they wore the striped bernouse. The parley went on for
about ten minutes, during which the procession of pilgrims wound out of
sight; and it ended in our being accompanied by the two Arabs, who thus
left their greater charge to take care of itself back to the city. I
understood afterwards that they had endeavoured to persuade Joseph that
we might just as well go on alone, merely satisfying the demand of the
tariff. But he had pointed out that I was a particular man, and that
under such circumstances the final settlement might be doubtful. So they
turned and accompanied us; but, as a matter of fact, we should have been
as well without them.

The sun was beginning to fall in the heavens when we reached the actual
margin of the Dead Sea. We had seen the glitter of its still waters for
a long time previously, shining under the sun as though it were not
real. We have often heard, and some of us have seen, how effects of
light and shade together will produce so vivid an appearance of water
where there is no water, as to deceive the most experienced. But the
reverse was the case here. There was the lake, and there it had been
before our eyes for the last two hours; and yet it looked, then and now,
as though it were an image of a lake, and not real water. I had long
since made up my mind to bathe in it, feeling well convinced that I
could do so without harm to myself, and I had been endeavouring to
persuade Smith to accompany me; but he positively refused. He would
bathe, he said, neither in the Dead Sea nor in the river Jordan. He did
not like bathing, and preferred to do his washing in his own room. Of
course I had nothing further to say, and begged that, under these
circumstances, he would take charge of my purse and pistols while I was
in the water. This he agreed to do; but even in this he was strange and
almost uncivil. I was to bathe from the farthest point of a little
island, into which there was a rough causeway from the land made of
stones and broken pieces of wood, and I exhorted him to go with me
thither; but he insisted on remaining with his horse on the mainland at
some little distance from the island. He did not feel inclined to go
down to the water’s edge, he said.

I confess that at this moment I almost suspected that he was going to
play me foul, and I hesitated. He saw in an instant what was passing
through my mind. “You had better take your pistol and money with you;
they will be quite safe on your clothes.” But to have kept the things
now would have shown suspicion too plainly, and as I could not bring
myself to do that, I gave them up. I have sometimes thought that I was a
fool to do so.

I went away by myself to the end of the island, and then I did bathe. It
is impossible to conceive anything more desolate than the appearance of
the place. The land shelves very gradually away to the water, and the
whole margin, to the breadth of some twenty or thirty feet, is strewn
with the débris of rushes, bits of timber, and old white withered reeds.
Whence these bits of timber have come it seems difficult to say. The
appearance is as though the water had receded and left them there. I
have heard it said that there is no vegetation near the Dead Sea; but
such is not the case, for these rushes do grow on the bank. I found it
difficult enough to get into the water, for the ground shelves down very
slowly, and is rough with stones and large pieces of half-rotten wood;
moreover, when I was in nearly up to my hips the water knocked me down;
indeed, it did so when I had gone as far as my knees, but I recovered
myself, and by perseverance did proceed somewhat farther. It must not be
imagined that this knocking down was effected by the movement of the
water. There is no such movement. Everything is perfectly still, and the
fluid seems hardly to be displaced by the entrance of the body; but the
effect is that one’s feet are tripped up, and that one falls prostrate
on to the surface. The water is so strong and buoyant, that, when above
a few feet in depth has to be encountered, the strength and weight of
the bather are not sufficient to keep down his feet and legs. I then
essayed to swim; but I could not do this in the ordinary way, as I was
unable to keep enough of my body below the surface; so that my head and
face seemed to be propelled down upon it. I turned round and floated,
but the glare of the sun was so powerful that I could not remain long in
that position. However, I had bathed in the Dead Sea, and was so far
satisfied.

Anything more abominable to the palate than this water, if it be water,
I never had inside my mouth. I expected it to be extremely salt, and no
doubt, if it were analysed, such would be the result; but there is a
flavour in it which kills the salt. No attempt can be made at describing
this taste. It may be imagined that I did not drink heartily, merely
taking up a drop or two with my tongue from the palm of my hand; but it
seemed to me as though I had been drenched with it. Even brandy would
not relieve me from it. And then my whole body was in a mess, and I felt
as though I had been rubbed with pitch. Looking at my limbs, I saw no
sign on them of the fluid. They seemed to dry from this as they usually
do from any other water; but still the feeling remained. However, I was
to ride from hence to a spot on the banks of Jordan, which I should
reach in an hour, and at which I would wash; so I clothed myself, and
prepared for my departure.

Seated in my position in the island I was unable to see what was going
on among the remainder of the party, and therefore could not tell
whether my pistols and money was safe. I dressed, therefore, rather
hurriedly, and on getting again to the shore, found that Mr. John Smith
had not levanted. He was seated on his horse at some distance from
Joseph and the Arabs, and had no appearance of being in league with
those, no doubt, worthy guides. I certainly had suspected a ruse, and
now was angry with myself that I had done so; and yet, in London, one
would not trust one’s money to a stranger whom one had met twenty-four
hours since in a coffee-room! Why, then, do it with a stranger whom one
chanced to meet in a desert?

“Thanks,” I said, as he handed me my belongings. “I wish I could have
induced you to come in also. The Dead Sea is now at your elbow, and,
therefore, you think nothing of it; but in ten or fifteen years’ time,
you would be glad to be able to tell your children that you had bathed
in it.”

“I shall never have any children to care for such tidings,” he replied.

The river Jordan, for some miles above the point at which it joins the
Dead Sea, runs through very steep banks,–banks which are almost
precipitous,–and is, as it were, guarded by the thick trees and bushes
which grow upon its sides. This is so much the case, that one may ride,
as we did, for a considerable distance along the margin, and not be
able even to approach the water. I had a fancy for bathing in some spot
of my own selection, instead of going to the open shore frequented by
all the pilgrims; but I was baffled in this. When I did force my way
down to the river side, I found that the water ran so rapidly, and that
the bushes and boughs of trees grew so far over and into the stream, as
to make it impossible for me to bathe. I could not have got in without
my clothes, and having got in, I could not have got out again. I was,
therefore obliged to put up with the open muddy shore to which the
bathers descend, and at which we may presume that Joshua passed when he
came over as one of the twelve spies to spy out the land. And even here
I could not go full into the stream as I would fain have done, lest I
should be carried down, and so have assisted to whiten the shores of the
Dead Sea with my bones. As to getting over to the Moabitish side of the
river, that was plainly impossible; and, indeed, it seemed to be the
prevailing opinion that the passage of the river was not practicable
without going up as far as Samaria. And yet we know that there, or
thereabouts, the Israelites did cross it.

I jumped from my horse the moment I got to the place, and once more gave
my purse and pistols to my friend. “You are going to bathe again?” he
said. “Certainly,” said I; “you don’t suppose that I would come to
Jordan and not wash there, even if I were not foul with the foulness of
the Dead Sea!” “You’ll kill yourself, in your present state of heat;” he
said, remonstrating just as one’s mother or wife might do. But even had
it been my mother or wife I could not have attended to such remonstrance
then; and before he had done looking at me with those big eyes of his,
my coat and waistcoat and cravat were on the ground, and I was at work
at my braces; whereupon he turned from me slowly, and strolled away into
the wood. On this occasion I had no base fears about my money.

And then I did bathe,–very uncomfortably. The shore was muddy with the
feet of the pilgrims, and the river so rapid that I hardly dared to get
beyond the mud. I did manage to take a plunge in, head-foremost, but I
was forced to wade out through the dirt and slush, so that I found it
difficult to make my feet and legs clean enough for my shoes and
stockings; and then, moreover, the flies plagued me most unmercifully. I
should have thought that the filthy flavour from the Dead Sea would have
saved me from that nuisance; but the mosquitoes thereabouts are probably
used to it. Finding this process of bathing to be so difficult, I
inquired as to the practice of the pilgrims. I found that with them,
bathing in Jordan has come to be much the same as baptism has with us.
It does not mean immersion. No doubt they do take off their shoes and
stockings; but they do not strip, and go bodily into the water.

As soon as I was dressed I found that Smith was again at my side with
purse and pistols. We then went up a little above the wood, and sat down
together on the long sandy grass. It was now quite evening, so that the
short Syrian twilight had commenced, and the sun was no longer hot in
the heavens. It would be night as we rode on to the tents at Jericho;
but there was no difficulty as to the way, and therefore we did not
hurry the horses, who were feeding on the grass. We sat down together on
a spot from which we could see the stream,–close together, so that when
I stretched myself out in my weariness, as I did before we started, my
head rested on his legs. Ah, me! one does not take such liberties with
new friends in England. It was a place which led one on to some special
thoughts. The mountains of Moab were before us, very plain in their
outline. “Moab is my wash-pot, and over Edom will I cast out my shoe!”
There they were before us, very visible to the eye, and we began
naturally to ask questions of each other. Why was Moab the wash-pot, and
Edom thus cursed with indignity? Why had the right bank of the river
been selected for such great purposes, whereas the left was thus
condemned? Was there, at that time, any special fertility in this land
of promise which has since departed from it? We are told of a bunch of
grapes which took two men to carry it; but now there is not a vine in
the whole country side. Now-a-days the sandy plain round Jericho is as
dry and arid as are any of the valleys of Moab. The Jordan was running
beneath our feet,–the Jordan in which the leprous king had washed,
though the bright rivers of his own Damascus were so much nearer to his
hand. It was but a humble stream to which he was sent; but the spot
probably was higher up, above the Sea of Galilee, where the river is
narrow. But another also had come down to this river, perhaps to this
very spot on its shores, and submitted Himself to its waters;–as to
whom, perhaps, it will be better that I should not speak much in this
light story.

The Dead Sea was on our right, still glittering in the distance, and
behind us lay the plains of Jericho and the wretched collection of huts
which still bears the name of the ancient city. Beyond that, but still
seemingly within easy distance of us, were the mountains of the
wilderness. The wilderness! In truth, the spot was one which did lead to
many thoughts.

We talked of these things, as to many of which I found that my friend
was much more free in his doubts and questionings than myself; and then
our words came back to ourselves, the natural centre of all men’s
thoughts and words. “From what you say,” I said, “I gather that you have
had enough of this land?”

“Quite enough,” he said. “Why seek such spots as these, if they only
dispel the associations and veneration of one’s childhood?”

“But with me such associations and veneration are riveted the stronger
by seeing the places, and putting my hand upon the spots. I do not speak
of that fictitious marble slab up there; but here, among the sandhills
by this river, and at the Mount of Olives over which we passed, I do
believe.”

He paused a moment, and then replied: “To me it is all
nothing,–absolutely nothing. But then do we not know that our thoughts
are formed, and our beliefs modelled, not on the outward signs or
intrinsic evidences of things,–as would be the case were we always
rational,–but by the inner workings of the mind itself? At the present
turn of my life I can believe in nothing that is gracious.”

“Ah, you mean that you are unhappy. You have come to grief in some of
your doings or belongings, and therefore find that all things are bitter
to the taste. I have had my palate out of order too; but the proper
appreciation of flavours has come back to me. Bah,–how noisome was that
Dead Sea water!”

“The Dead Sea waters are noisome,” he said; “and I have been drinking of
them by long draughts.”

“Long draughts!” I answered, thinking to console him. “Draughts have not
been long which can have been swallowed in your years. Your disease may
be acute, but it cannot yet have become chronic. A man always thinks at
the moment of each misfortune that that special misery will last his
lifetime; but God is too good for that. I do not know what ails you; but
this day twelvemonth will see you again as sound as a roach.”

“We then sat silent for a while, during which I was puffing at a cigar.
Smith, among his accomplishments, did not reckon that of smoking,–which
was a grief to me; for a man enjoys the tobacco doubly when another is
enjoying it with him.

“No, you do not know what ails me,” he said at last, “and, therefore,
cannot judge.”

“Perhaps not, my dear fellow. But my experience tells me that early
wounds are generally capable of cure; and, therefore, I surmise that
yours may be so. The heart at your time of life is not worn out, and has
strength and soundness left wherewith to throw off its maladies. I hope
it may be so with you.”

“God knows. I do not mean to say that there are none more to be pitied
than I am; but at the present moment, I am not–not light-hearted.”

“I wish I could ease your burden, my dear fellow.”

“It is most preposterous in me thus to force myself upon you, and then
trouble you with my cares. But I had been alone so long, and I was so
weary of it!”

“By Jove, and so had I. Make no apology. And let me tell you
this,–though perhaps you will not credit me,–that I would sooner laugh
with a comrade than cry with him is true enough; but, if occasion
demands, I can do the latter also.”

He then put out his hand to me, and I pressed it in token of my
friendship. My own hand was hot and rough with the heat and sand; but
his was soft and cool almost as a woman’s. I thoroughly hate an
effeminate man; but, in spite of a certain womanly softness about this
fellow, I could not hate him. “Yes,” I continued, “though somewhat
unused to the melting mood, I also sometimes give forth my medicinal
gums. I don’t want to ask you any questions, and, as a rule, I hate to
be told secrets, but if I can be of any service to you in any matter I
will do my best. I don’t say this with reference to the present moment,
but think of it before we part.”

I looked round at him and saw that he was in tears. “I know that you
will think that I am a weak fool,” he said, pressing his handkerchief to
his eyes.

“By no means. There are moments in a man’s life when it becomes him to
weep like a woman; but the older he grows the more seldom those moments
come to him. As far as I can see of men, they never cry at that which
disgraces them.”

“It is left for women to do that,” he answered.

“Oh, women! A woman cries for everything and for nothing. It is the
sharpest arrow she has in her quiver,–the best card in her hand. When a
woman cries, what can you do but give her all she asks for?”

“Do you–dislike women?”

“No, by Jove! I am never really happy unless one is near me, or more
than one. A man, as a rule, has an amount of energy within him which he
cannot turn to profit on himself alone. It is good for him to have a
woman by him that he may work for her, and thus have exercise for his
limbs and faculties. I am very fond of women. But I always like those
best who are most helpless.”

We were silent again for a while, and it was during this time that I
found myself lying with my head in his lap. I had slept, but it could
have been but for a few minutes, and when I woke I found his hand upon
my brow. As I started up he said that the flies had been annoying me,
and that he had not chosen to waken me as I seemed weary. “It has been
that double bathing,” I said, apologetically; for I always feel ashamed
when I am detected sleeping in the day. “In hot weather the water does
make one drowsy. By Jove, it’s getting dark; we had better have the
horses.”

“Stay half a moment,” he said, speaking very softly, and laying his hand
upon my arm, “I will not detain you a minute.”

“There is no hurry in life,” I said.

“You promised me just now you would assist me.”

“If it be in my power, I will.”

“Before we part at Alexandria I will endeavour to tell you you the story
of my troubles, and then if you can aid me—-” It struck me as he
paused that I had made a rash promise, but nevertheless I must stand by
it now–with one or two provisoes. The chances were that the young man
was short of money, or else that he had got into a scrape about a girl.
In either case I might give him some slight assistance; but, then, it
behoved me to make him understand that I would not consent to become a
participator in mischief. I was too old to get my head willingly into a
scrape, and this I must endeavour to make him understand.

“I will, if it be in my power,” I said. “I will ask no questions now;
but if your trouble be about some lady—-”

“It is not,” said he.

“Well; so be it. Of all troubles those are the most troublesome. If you
are short of cash—-”

“No, I am not short of cash.”

“You are not. That’s well too; for want of money is a sore trouble
also.” And then I paused before I came to the point. “I do not suspect
anything bad of you, Smith. Had I done so, I should not have spoken as I
have done. And if there be nothing bad—-”

“There is nothing disgraceful,” he said.

“That is just what I mean; and in that case I will do anything for you
that may be within my power. Now let us look for Joseph and the
mucherry-boy, for it is time that we were at Jericho.”

I cannot describe at length the whole of our journey from thence to our
tents at Jericho, nor back to Jerusalem, nor even from Jerusalem to
Jaffa. At Jericho we did sleep in tents, paying so much per night,
according to the tariff. We wandered out at night, and drank coffee with
a family of Arabs in the desert, sitting in a ring round their
coffee-kettle. And we saw a Turkish soldier punished with the
bastinado,–a sight which did not do me any good, and which made Smith
very sick. Indeed after the first blow he walked away. Jericho is a
remarkable spot in that pilgrim week, and I wish I had space to describe
it. But I have not, for I must hurry on, back to Jerusalem and thence to
Jaffa. I had much to tell also of those Bedouins; how they were
essentially true to us, but teased us almost to frenzy by their
continual begging. They begged for our food and our drink, for our
cigars and our gunpowder, for the clothes off our backs, and the
handkerchiefs out of our pockets. As to gunpowder I had none to give
them, for my charges were all made up in cartridges; and I learned that
the guns behind their backs were a mere pretence, for they had not a
grain of powder among them.

We slept one night in Jerusalem, and started early on the following
morning. Smith came to my hotel so that we might be ready together for
the move. We still carried with us Joseph and the mucherry-boy; but for
our Bedouins, who had duly received their forty shillings a piece, we
had no further use. On our road down to Jerusalem we had much chat
together, but only one adventure. Those pilgrims, of whom I have spoken,
journey to Jerusalem in the greatest number by the route which we were
now taking from it, and they come in long droves, reaching Jaffa in
crowds by the French and Austrian steamers from Smyrna, Damascus, and
Constantinople. As their number confers security in that somewhat
insecure country, many travellers from the west of Europe make
arrangements to travel with them. On our way down we met the last of
these caravans for the year, and we were passing it for more than two
hours. On this occasion I rode first, and Smith was immediately behind
me; but of a sudden I observed him to wheel his horse round, and to
clamber downwards among bushes and stones towards a river that ran below
us. “Hallo, Smith,” I cried, “you will destroy your horse, and yourself
too.” But he would not answer me, and all I could do was to draw up in
the path and wait. My confusion was made the worse, as at that moment a
long string of pilgrims was passing by. “Good morning, sir,” said an old
man to me in good English. I looked up as I answered him, and saw a
grey-haired gentleman, of very solemn and sad aspect. He might be
seventy years of age, and I could see that he was attended by three or
four servants. I shall never forget the severe and sorrowful expression
of his eyes, over which his heavy eyebrows hung low. “Are there many
English in Jerusalem?” he asked. “A good many,” I replied; “there always
are at Easter.” “Can you tell me anything of any of them?” he asked.
“Not a word,” said I, for I knew no one; “but our consul can.” And then
we bowed to each other and he passed on.

I got off my horse and scrambled down on foot after Smith. I found him
gathering berries and bushes as though his very soul were mad with
botany; but as I had seen nothing of this in him before, I asked what
strange freak had taken him.

“You were talking to that old man,” he said.

“Well, yes, I was.”

“That is the relation of whom I have spoken to you.”

“The d—- he is!”

“And I would avoid him, if it be possible.”

I then learned that the old gentleman was his uncle. He had no living
father or mother, and he now supposed that his relative was going to
Jerusalem in quest of him. “If so,” said I, “you will undoubtedly give
him leg bail, unless the Austrian boat is more than ordinarily late. It
is as much as we shall do to catch it, and you may be half over Africa,
or far gone on your way to India, before he can be on your track again.”

“I will tell you all about it at Alexandria,” he replied; and then he
scrambled up again with his horse, and we went on. That night we slept
at the Armenian convent at Ramlath, or Ramath. This place is supposed to
stand on the site of Arimathea, and is marked as such in many of the
maps. The monks at this time of the year are very busy, as the pilgrims
all stay here for one night on their routes backwards and forwards, and
the place on such occasions is terribly crowded. On the night of our
visit it was nearly empty, as a caravan had left it that morning; and
thus we were indulged with separate cells, a point on which my companion
seemed to lay considerable stress.

On the following day, at about noon, we entered Jaffa, and put up at an
inn there which is kept by a Pole. The boat from Beyrout, which,
touches at Jaffa on its way to Alexandria, was not yet in, nor even
sighted; we were therefore amply in time. “Shall we sail to-night?” I
asked of the agent. “Yes, in all probability,” he replied. “If the
signal be seen before three we shall do so. If not, then not;” and so I
returned to the hotel.

Smith had involuntarily shown signs of fatigue during the journey, but
yet he had borne up well against it. I had never felt called on to grant
any extra indulgence as to time because the work was too much for him.
But now he was a good deal knocked up, and I was a little frightened,
fearing that I had over-driven him under the heat of the sun. I was
alarmed lest he should have fever, and proposed to send for the Jaffa
doctor. But this he utterly refused. He would shut himself for an hour
or two in his room, he said, and by that time he trusted the boat would
be in sight. It was clear to me that he was very anxious on the subject,
fearing that his uncle would be back upon his heels before he had
started.

I ordered a serious breakfast for myself, for with me, on such
occasions, my appetite demands more immediate attention than my limbs. I
also acknowledge that I become fatigued, and can lay myself at length
during such idle days and sleep from hour to hour; but the desire to do
so never comes till I have well eaten and drunken. A bottle of French
wine, three or four cutlets of goats’ flesh, an omelet made out of the
freshest eggs, and an enormous dish of oranges, was the banquet set
before me; and though I might have found fault with it in Paris or
London, I thought that it did well enough in Jaffa. My poor friend could
not join me, but had a cup of coffee in his room. “At any rate take a
little brandy in it,” I said to him, as I stood over his bed. “I could
not swallow it,” said he, looking at me with almost beseeching eyes.
“Beshrew the fellow,” I said to myself as I left him, carefully closing
the door, so that the sound should not shake him; “he is little better
than a woman, and yet I have become as fond of him as though he were my
brother.”

I went out at three, but up to that time the boat had not been
signalled. “And we shall not get out to-night?” “No, not to-night,” said
the agent. “And what time to-morrow?” “If she comes in this evening, you
will start by daylight. But they so manage her departure from Beyrout,
that she seldom is here in the evening.” “It will be noon to-morrow
then?” “Yes,” the man said, “noon to-morrow.” I calculated, however,
that the old gentleman could not possibly be on our track by that time.
He would not have reached Jerusalem till late in the day on which we saw
him, and it would take him some time to obtain tidings of his nephew.
But it might be possible that messengers sent by him should reach Jaffa
by four or five on the day after his arrival. That would be this very
day which we were now wasting at Jaffa. Having thus made my
calculations, I returned to Smith to give him such consolation as it
might be in my power to afford.

He seemed to be dreadfully afflicted by all this. “He will have traced
me to Jerusalem, and then again away; and will follow me immediately.”

“That is all very well,” I said; “but let even a young man do the best
he can, and he will not get from Jerusalem to Jaffa in less than twelve
hours. Your uncle is not a young man, and could not possibly do the
journey under two days.”

“But he will send. He will not mind what money he spends.”

“And if he does send, take off your hat to his messengers, and bid them
carry your complaints back. You are not a felon whom he can arrest.”

“No, he cannot arrest me; but, ah! you do not understand;” and then he
sat up on the bed, and seemed as though he were going to wring his hands
in despair.

I waited for some half hour in his room, thinking that he would tell me
this story of his. If he required that I should give him my aid in the
presence either of his uncle or of his uncle’s myrmidons, I must at any
rate know what was likely to be the dispute between them. But as he said
nothing I suggested that he should stroll out with me among the
orange-groves by which the town is surrounded. In answer to this he
looked up piteously into my face as though begging me to be merciful to
him. “You are strong,” said he, “and cannot understand what it is to
feel fatigue as I do.” And yet he had declared on commencing his journey
that he would not be found to complain? Nor had he complained by a
single word till after that encounter with his uncle. Nay, he had borne
up well till this news had reached us of the boat being late. I felt
convinced that if the boat were at this moment lying in the harbour all
that appearance of excessive weakness would soon vanish. What it was
that he feared I could not guess; but it was manifest to me that some
great terror almost overwhelmed him.

“My idea is,” said I,–and I suppose that I spoke with something less
of good-nature in my tone than I had assumed for the last day or two,
“that no man should, under any circumstances, be so afraid of another
man, as to tremble at his presence,–either at his presence or his
expected presence.”

“Ah, now you are angry with me; now you despise me!”

“Neither the one nor the other. But if I may take the liberty of a
friend with you, I should advise you to combat this feeling of horror.
If you do not, it will unman you. After all, what can your uncle do to
you? He cannot rob you of your heart and soul. He cannot touch your
inner self.”

“You do not know,” he said.

“Ah but, Smith, I do know that. Whatever may be this quarrel between you
and him, you should not tremble at the thought of him; unless
indeed—-”

“Unless what?”

“Unless you had done aught that should make you tremble before every
honest man.” I own I had begun to have my doubts of him, and to fear
that he had absolutely disgraced himself. Even in such case I,–I
individually,–did not wish to be severe on him; but I should be annoyed
to find that I had opened my heart to a swindler or a practised knave.

“I will tell you all to-morrow,” said he; “but I have been guilty of
nothing of that sort.”

In the evening he did come out, and sat with me as I smoked my cigar.
The boat, he was told, would almost undoubtedly come in by daybreak on
the following morning, and be off at nine; whereas it was very
improbable that any arrival from Jerusalem would be so early as that.
“Beside,” I reminded him, “your uncle will hardly hurry down to Jaffa,
because he will have no reason to think but what you have already
started. There are no telegraphs here, you know.”

In the evening he was still very sad, though the paroxysm of his terror
seemed to have passed away. I would not bother him, as he had himself
chosen the following morning for the telling of his story. So I sat and
smoked, and talked to him about our past journey, and by degrees the
power of speech came back to him, and I again felt that I loved him!
Yes, loved him! I have not taken many such fancies into my head, at so
short a notice; but I did love him, as though he were a younger brother.
I felt a delight in serving him, and though I was almost old enough to
be his father, I ministered to him as though he had been an old man, or
a woman.

On the following morning we were stirring at daybreak, and found that
the vessel was in sight. She would be in the roads off the town in two
hours’ time, they said, and would start at eleven or twelve. And then we
walked round by the gate of the town, and sauntered a quarter of a mile
or so along the way that leads towards Jerusalem. I could see that his
eye was anxiously turned down the road, but he said nothing. We saw no
cloud of dust, and then we returned to breakfast.

“The steamer has come to anchor,” said our dirty Polish host to us in
execrable English. “And we may be off on board,” said Smith. “Not yet,”
he said; “they must put their cargo out first.” I saw, however, that
Smith was uneasy, and I made up my mind to go off to the vessel at once.
When they should see an English portmanteau making an offer to come up
the gangway, the Austrian sailors would not stop it. So I called for the
bill, and ordered that the things should be taken down to the wretched
broken heap of rotten timber which they called a quay. Smith had not
told me his story, but no doubt he would as soon as he was on board.

I was in the act of squabbling with the Pole over the last demand for
piastres, when we heard a noise in the gateway of the inn, and I saw
Smith’s countenance become pale. It was an Englishman’s voice asking if
there were any strangers there; so I went into the courtyard, closing
the door behind me, and turning the key upon the landlord and Smith.
“Smith,” said I to myself, “will keep the Pole quiet if he have any wit
left.”

The man who had asked the question had the air of an upper English
servant, and I thought that I recognised one of those whom I had seen
with the old gentleman on the road; but the matter was soon put at rest
by the appearance of that gentleman himself. He walked up into the
courtyard, looked hard at me from under those bushy eyebrows, just
raised his hat, and then said, “I believe I am speaking to Mr. Jones.”

“Yes,” said I, “I am Mr. Jones. Can I have the honour of serving you?”

There was something peculiarly unpleasant about this man’s face. At the
present moment I examined it closely, and could understand the great
aversion which his nephew felt towards him. He looked like a gentleman
and like a man of talent, nor was there anything of meanness in his
face; neither was he ill-looking, in the usual acceptation of the word;
but one could see that he was solemn, austere, and overbearing; that he
would be incapable of any light enjoyment, and unforgiving towards all
offences. I took him to be a man who, being old himself, could never
remember that he had been young, and who, therefore, hated the levities
of youth. To me such a character is specially odious; for I would fain,
if it be possible, be young even to my grave. Smith, if he were clever,
might escape from the window of the room, which opened out upon a
terrace, and still get down to the steamer. I would keep the old man in
play for some time; and, even though I lost my passage, would be true to
my friend. There lay our joint luggage at my feet in the yard. If Smith
would venture away without his portion of it, all might yet be right.

“My name, sir, is Sir William Weston,” he began. I had heard of the name
before, and knew him to be a man of wealth, and family, and note. I took
off my hat, and said that I had much honour in meeting Sir William
Weston.

“And I presume you know the object with which I am now here,” he
continued.

“Not exactly,” said I. “Nor do I understand how I possibly should know
it, seeing that, up to this moment, I did not even know your name, and
have heard nothing concerning either your movements or your affairs.”

“Sir,” said he, “I have hitherto believed that I might at any rate
expect from you the truth.”

“Sir,” said I, “I am bold to think that you will not dare to tell me,
either now, or at any other time, that you have received, or expect to
receive, from me anything that is not true.”

He then stood still, looking at me for a moment or two, and I beg to
assert that I looked as fully at him. There was, at any rate, no cause
why I should tremble before him. I was not his nephew, nor was I
responsible for his nephew’s doings towards him. Two of his servants
were behind him, and on my side there stood a boy and girl belonging to
the inn. They, however, could not understand a word of English. I saw
that he was hesitating, but at last he spoke out. I confess, now, that
his words, when they were spoken, did, at the first moment, make me
tremble.

“I have to charge you,” said he, “with eloping with my niece, and I
demand of you to inform me where she is. You are perfectly aware that I
am her guardian by law.”

I did tremble;–not that I cared much for Sir William’s guardianship,
but I saw before me so terrible an embarrassment! And then I felt so
thoroughly abashed in that I had allowed myself to be so deceived! It
all came back upon me in a moment, and covered me with a shame that even
made me blush. I had travelled through the desert with a woman for
days, and had not discovered her, though she had given me a thousand
signs. All those signs I remembered now, and I blushed painfully. When
her hand was on my forehead I still thought that she was a man! I
declare that at this moment I felt a stronger disinclination to face my
late companion than I did to encounter her angry uncle.

“Your niece!” I said, speaking with a sheepish bewilderment which should
have convinced him at once of my innocence. She had asked me, too,
whether I was a married man, and I had denied it. How was I to escape
from such a mess of misfortunes? I declare that I began to forget her
troubles in my own.

“Yes, my niece,–Miss Julia Weston. The disgrace which you have brought
upon me must be wiped out; but my first duty is to save that unfortunate
young woman from further misery.”

“If it be as you say,” I exclaimed, “by the honour of a gentleman—-”

“I care nothing for the honour of a gentleman till I see it proved. Be
good enough to inform me, sir, whether Miss Weston is in this house.”

For a moment I hesitated; but I saw at once that I should make myself
responsible for certain mischief, of which I was at any rate hitherto in
truth innocent, if I allowed myself to become a party to concealing a
young lady. Up to this period I could at any rate defend myself, whether
my defence were believed or not believed. I still had a hope that the
charming Julia might have escaped through the window, and a feeling that
if she had done so I was not responsible. When I turned the lock I
turned it on Smith.

For a moment I hesitated, and then walked slowly across the yard and
opened the door. “Sir William,” I said, as I did so, “I travelled here
with a companion dressed as a man; and I believed him to be what he
seemed till this minute.”

“Sir!” said Sir William, with a look of scorn in his face which gave me
the lie in my teeth as plainly as any words could do. And then he
entered the room. The Pole was standing in one corner, apparently amazed
at what was going on, and Smith,–I may as well call her Miss Weston at
once, for the baronet’s statement was true,–was sitting on a sort of
divan in the corner of the chamber hiding her face in her hands. She had
made no attempt at an escape, and a full explanation was therefore
indispensable. For myself I own that I felt ashamed of my part in the
play,–ashamed even of my own innocency. Had I been less innocent I
should certainly have contrived to appear much less guilty. Had it
occurred to me on the banks of the Jordan that Smith was a lady, I
should not have travelled with her in her gentleman’s habiliments from
Jerusalem to Jaffa. Had she consented to remain under my protection, she
must have done so without a masquerade.

The uncle stood still and looked at his niece. He probably understood
how thoroughly stern and disagreeable was his own face, and considered
that he could punish the crime of his relative in no severer way than by
looking at her. In this I think he was right. But at last there was a
necessity for speaking. “Unfortunate young woman!” he said, and then
paused.

“We had better get rid of the landlord,” I said, “before we come to any
explanation.” And I motioned to the man to leave the room. This he did
very unwillingly, but at last he was gone.

“I fear that it is needless to care on her account who may hear the
story of her shame,” said Sir William. I looked at Miss Weston, but she
still sat hiding her face. However, if she did not defend herself, it
was necessary that I should defend both her and me.

“I do not know how far I may be at liberty to speak with reference to
the private matters of yourself or of your–your niece, Sir William
Weston. I would not willingly interfere—-”

“Sir,” said he, “your interference has already taken place. Will you
have the goodness to explain to me what are your intentions with regard
to that lady?”

My intentions! Heaven help me! My intentions, of course, were to leave
her in her uncle’s hands. Indeed, I could hardly be said to have formed
any intention since I had learned that I had been honoured by a lady’s
presence. At this moment I deeply regretted that I had thoughtlessly
stated to her that I was an unmarried man. In doing so I had had no
object. But at that time “Smith” had been quite a stranger to me, and I
had not thought it necessary to declare my own private concerns. Since
that I had talked so little of myself that the fact of my family at home
had not been mentioned. “Will you have the goodness to explain what are
your intentions with regard to that lady?” said the baronet.

“Oh, Uncle William!” exclaimed Miss Weston, now at length raising her
head from her hands.

“Hold your peace, madam,” said he. “When called upon to speak, you will
find your words with difficulty enough. Sir, I am waiting for an answer
from you.”

“But, uncle, he is nothing to me;–the gentleman is nothing to me!”

“By the heavens above us, he shall be something, or I will know the
reason why! What! he has gone off with you; he has travelled through the
country with you, hiding you from your only natural friend; he has been
your companion for weeks—-”

“Six days, sir,” said I.

“Sir!” said the baronet, again giving me the lie. “And now,” he
continued, addressing his niece, “you tell me that he is nothing to you.
He shall give me his promise that he will make you his wife at the
consulate at Alexandria, or I will destroy him. I know who he is.”

“If you know who I am,” said I, “you must know—-”

But he would not listen to me. “And as for you, madam, unless he makes
me that promise—-” And then he paused in his threat, and, turning
round, looked me in the face. I saw that she also was looking at me,
though not openly as he did; and some flattering devil that was at work
round my heart, would have persuaded that she also would have heard a
certain answer given without dismay,–would even have received comfort
in her agony from such an answer. But the reader knows how completely
that answer was out of my power.

“I have not the slightest ground for supposing,” said I, “that the lady
would accede to such an arrangement,–if it were possible. My
acquaintance with her has been altogether confined to—-. To tell the
truth, I have not been in Miss Weston’s confidence, and have only taken
her for that which she has seemed to be.”

“Sir!” said the baronet, again looking at me as though he would wither
me on the spot for my falsehood.

“It is true!” said Julia, getting up from her seat, and appealing with
clasped hands to her uncle–“as true as Heaven.”

“Madam!” said he, “do you both take me for a fool?”

“That you should take me for one,” said I, “would be very natural. The
facts are as we state to you. Miss Weston,–as I now learn that she
is,–did me the honour of calling at my hotel, having heard—-” And
then it seemed to me as though I were attempting to screen myself by
telling the story against her, so I was again silent. Never in my life
had I been in a position of such extraordinary difficulty. The duty
which I owed to Julia as a woman, and to Sir William as a guardian, and
to myself as the father of a family, all clashed with each other. I was
anxious to be generous, honest, and prudent, but it was impossible; so I
made up my mind to say nothing further.

“Mr. Jones,” said the baronet, “I have explained to you the only
arrangement which under the present circumstances I can permit to pass
without open exposure and condign punishment. That you are a gentleman
by birth, education, and position I am aware,”–whereupon I raised my
hat, and then he continued: “That lady has three hundred a year of her
own—-”

“And attractions, personal and mental, which are worth ten times the
money,” said I, and I bowed to my fair friend, who looked at me the
while with sad beseeching eyes. I confess that the mistress of my bosom,
had she known my thoughts at that one moment, might have had cause for
anger.

“Very well,” continued he. “Then the proposal which I name, cannot, I
imagine, but be satisfactory. If you will make to her and to me the only
amends which it is in your power as a gentleman to afford, I will
forgive all. Tell me that you will make her your wife on your arrival in
Egypt.”

I would have given anything not to have looked at Miss Weston at this
moment, but I could not help it. I did turn my face half round to her
before I answered, and then felt that I had been cruel in doing so. “Sir
William,” said I, “I have at home already a wife and family of my own.”

“It is not true!” said he, retreating a step, and staring at me with
amazement.

“There is something, sir,” I replied, “in the unprecedented
circumstances of this meeting, and in your position with regard to that
lady, which, joined to your advanced age, will enable me to regard that
useless insult as unspoken. I am a married man. There is the signature
of my wife’s last letter,” and I handed him one which I had received as
I was leaving Jerusalem.

But the coarse violent contradiction which Sir William had given me was
nothing compared with the reproach conveyed in Miss Weston’s
countenance. She looked at me as though all her anger were now turned
against me. And yet, methought, there was more of sorrow than of
resentment in her countenance. But what cause was there for either? Why
should I be reproached, even by her look? She did not remember at the
moment that when I answered her chance question as to my domestic
affairs, I had answered it as to a man who was a stranger to me, and not
as to a beautiful woman, with whom I was about to pass certain days in
close and intimate society. To her, at the moment, it seemed as though I
had cruelly deceived her. In truth, the one person really deceived had
been myself.

And here I must explain, on behalf of the lady, that when she first
joined me she had no other view than that of seeing the banks of the
Jordan in that guise which she had chosen to assume, in order to escape
from the solemnity and austerity of a disagreeable relative. She had
been very foolish, and that was all. I take it that she had first left
her uncle at Constantinople, but on this point I never got certain
information. Afterwards, while we were travelling together, the idea had
come upon her, that she might go on as far as Alexandria with me. And
then—-. I know nothing further of the lady’s intentions, but I am
certain that her wishes were good and pure. Her uncle had been
intolerable to her, and she had fled from him. Such had been her
offence, and no more.

“Then, sir,” said the baronet, giving me back my letter, “you must be a
double-dyed villain.”

“And you, sir,” said I—- But here Julia Weston interrupted me.

“Uncle, you altogether wrong this gentleman,” she said. “He has been
kind to me beyond my power of words to express; but, till told by you,
he knew nothing of my secret. Nor would he have known it,” she added,
looking down upon the ground. As to that latter assertion, I was at
liberty to believe as much as I pleased.

The Pole now came to the door, informing us that any who wished to start
by the packet must go on board, and therefore, as the unreasonable old
gentleman perceived, it was necessary that we should all make our
arrangements. I cannot say that they were such as enable me to look back
on them with satisfaction. He did seem now at last to believe that I had
been an unconscious agent in his niece’s stratagem, but he hardly on
that account became civil to me. “It was absolutely necessary,” he said,
“that he and that unfortunate young woman,” as he would call her,
“should depart at once,–by this ship now going.” To this proposition of
course I made no opposition. “And you, Mr. Jones,” he continued, “will
at once perceive that you, as a gentleman, should allow us to proceed on
our journey without the honour of your company.”

This was very dreadful, but what could I say; or, indeed, what could I
do? My most earnest desire in the matter was to save Miss Weston from
annoyance; and under existing circumstances my presence on board could
not but be a burden to her. And then, if I went,–if I did go, in
opposition to the wishes of the baronet, could I trust my own prudence?
It was better for all parties that I should remain.

“Sir William,” said I, after a minute’s consideration, “if you will
apologise to me for the gross insults you have offered me, it shall be
as you say.”

“Mr. Jones,” said Sir William, “I do apologise for the words which I
used to you while I was labouring under a very natural misconception of
the circumstances.” I do not know that I was much the better for the
apology, but at the moment I regarded it sufficient.

Their things were then hurried down to the strand, and I accompanied
them to the ruined quay. I took off my hat to Sir William as he was
first let down into the boat. He descended first, so that he might
receive his niece,–for all Jaffa now knew that it was a lady,–and then
I gave her my hand for the last time. “God bless you, Miss Weston,” I
said, pressing it closely. “God bless you, Mr. Jones,” she replied. And
from that day to this I have neither spoken to her nor seen her.

I waited a fortnight at Jaffa for the French boat, eating cutlets of
goat’s flesh, and wandering among the orange groves. I certainly look
back on that fortnight as the most miserable period of my life. I had
been deceived, and had failed to discover the deceit, even though the
deceiver had perhaps wished that I should do so. For that blindness I
have never forgiven myself.

THE HOUSE OF HEINE BROTHERS, IN MUNICH.

The house of Heine Brothers, in Munich, was of good repute at the time
of which I am about to tell,–a time not long ago; and is so still, I
trust. It was of good repute in its own way, seeing that no man doubted
the word or solvency of Heine Brothers; but they did not possess, as
bankers, what would in England be considered a large or profitable
business. The operations of English bankers are bewildering in their
magnitude. Legions of clerks are employed. The senior book-keepers,
though only salaried servants, are themselves great men; while the real
partners are inscrutable, mysterious, opulent beyond measure, and
altogether unknown to their customers. Take any firm at random,–Brown,
Jones, and Cox, let us say,–the probability is that Jones has been dead
these fifty years, that Brown is a Cabinet Minister, and that Cox is
master of a pack of hounds in Leicestershire. But it was by no means so
with the house of Heine Brothers, of Munich. There they were, the two
elderly men, daily to be seen at their dingy office in the Schrannen
Platz; and if any business was to be transacted requiring the
interchange of more than a word or two, it was the younger brother with
whom the customer was, as a matter of course, brought into contact.
There were three clerks in the establishment; an old man, namely, who
sat with the elder brother and had no personal dealings with the public;
a young Englishman, of whom we shall anon hear more; and a boy who ran
messages, put the wood on to the stoves, and swept out the bank. Truly
the house of Heine Brothers was of no great importance; but nevertheless
it was of good repute.

The office, I have said, was in the Schrannen Platz, or old
Market-place. Munich, as every one knows, is chiefly to be noted as a
new town,–so new that many of the streets and most of the palaces look
as though they had been sent home last night from the builders, and had
only just been taken out of their bandboxes. It is angular, methodical,
unfinished, and palatial. But there is an old town; and, though the old
town be not of surpassing interest, it is as dingy, crooked, intricate,
and dark as other old towns in Germany. Here, in the old Market-place,
up one long broad staircase, were situated the two rooms in which was
held the bank of Heine Brothers.

Of the elder member of the firm we shall have something to say before
this story be completed. He was an old bachelor, and was possessed of a
bachelor’s dwelling somewhere out in the suburbs of the city. The junior
brother was a married man, with a wife some twenty years younger than
himself, with two daughters, the elder of whom was now one-and-twenty,
and one son. His name was Ernest Heine, whereas the senior brother was
known as Uncle Hatto. Ernest Heine and his wife inhabited a portion of
one of those new palatial residences at the further end of the Ludwigs
Strasse; but not because they thus lived must it be considered that they
were palatial people. By no means let it be so thought, as such an idea
would altogether militate against whatever truth of character painting
there may be in this tale. They were not palatial people, but the very
reverse, living in homely guise, pursuing homely duties, and satisfied
with homely pleasures. Up two pairs of stairs, however, in that street
of palaces, they lived, having there a commodious suite of large rooms,
furnished, after the manner of the Germans, somewhat gaudily as regarded
their best salon, and with somewhat meagre comfort as regarded their
other rooms. But, whether in respect of that which was meagre, or
whether in respect of that which was gaudy, they were as well off as
their neighbours; and this, as I take it, is the point of excellence
which is desirable.

Ernest Heine was at this time over sixty; his wife was past forty; and
his eldest daughter, as I have said, was twenty-one years of age. His
second child, also a girl, was six years younger; and their third child,
a boy, had not been born till another similar interval had elapsed. He
was named Hatto after his uncle, and the two girls had been christened
Isa and Agnes. Such, in number and mode of life, was the family of the
Heines.

We English folk are apt to imagine that we are nearer akin to Germans
than to our other continental neighbours. This may be so in blood, but,
nevertheless, the difference in manners is so striking, that it could
hardly be enhanced. An Englishman moving himself off to a city in the
middle of Central America will find the customs to which he must adapt
himself less strange to him there, than he would in many a German town.
But in no degree of life is the difference more remarkable than among
unmarried but marriageable young women. It is not my purpose at the
present moment to attribute a superiority in this matter to either
nationality. Each has its own charm, its own excellence, its own
Heaven-given grace, whereby men are led up to purer thoughts and sweet
desires; and each may possibly have its own defect. I will not here
describe the excellence or defect of either; but will, if it be in my
power, say a word as to this difference. The German girl of
one-and-twenty,–our Isa’s age,–is more sedate, more womanly, more
meditative than her English sister. The world’s work is more in her
thoughts, and the world’s amusements less so. She probably knows less of
those things which women learn than the English girl, but that which she
does know is nearer to her hand for use. She is not so much accustomed
to society, but nevertheless she is more mistress of her own manner. She
is not taught to think so much of those things which flurry and disturb
the mind, and therefore she is seldom flurried and disturbed. To both of
them, love,–the idea of love,–must be the thought of all the most
absorbing; for is it not fated for them that the joys and sorrows of
their future life must depend upon it? But the idea of the German girl
is the more realistic, and the less romantic. Poetry and fiction she may
have read, though of the latter sparingly; but they will not have imbued
her with that hope for some transcendental paradise of affection which
so often fills and exalts the hearts of our daughters here at home. She
is moderate in her aspirations, requiring less excitement than an
English girl; and never forgetting the solid necessities of life,–as
they are so often forgotten here in England. In associating with young
men, an English girl will always remember that in each one she so meets
she may find an admirer whom she may possibly love, or an admirer whom
she may probably be called on to repel. She is ever conscious of the
fact of this position; and a romance is thus engendered which, if it may
at times be dangerous, is at any rate always charming. But the German
girl, in her simplicity, has no such consciousness. As you and I, my
reader, might probably become dear friends were we to meet and know each
other, so may the German girl learn to love the fair-haired youth with
whom chance has for a time associated her; but to her mind there occurs
no suggestive reason why it should be so,–no probability that the youth
may regard her in such light, because that chance has come to pass. She
can therefore give him her hand without trepidation, and talk with him
for half an hour, when called on to do so, as calmly as she might do
with his sister.

Such a one was Isa Heine at the time of which I am writing. We English,
in our passion for daily excitement, might call her phlegmatic, but we
should call her so unjustly. Life to her was a serious matter, of which
the daily duties and daily wants were sufficient to occupy her thoughts.
She was her mother’s companion, the instructress of both her brother and
her sister, and the charm of her father’s vacant hours. With such calls
upon her time, and so many realities around her, her imagination did not
teach her to look for joys beyond those of her present life and home.
When love and marriage should come to her, as come they probably might,
she would endeavour to attune herself to a new happiness and a new
sphere of duties. In the meantime she was contented to keep her mother’s
accounts, and look after her brother and sister up two pair of stairs in
the Ludwigs Strasse. But change would certainly come, we may prophesy;
for Isa Heine was a beautiful girl, tall and graceful, comely to the
eye, and fit in every way to be loved and cherished as the partner of a
man’s home.

I have said that an English clerk made a part of that small
establishment in the dingy banking-office in the Schrannen Platz, and I
must say a word or two of Herbert Onslow. In his early career he had not
been fortunate. His father, with means sufficiently moderate, and with a
family more than sufficiently large, had sent him to a public school at
which he had been very idle, and then to one of the universities, at
which he had run into debt, and had therefore left without a degree.
When this occurred, a family council of war had been held among the
Onslows, and it was decided that Herbert should be sent off to the
banking-house of Heines, at Munich, there being a cousinship between the
families, and some existing connections of business. It was, therefore,
so settled; and Herbert, willing enough to see the world,–as he
considered he should do by going to Munich,–started for his German
home, with injunctions, very tender from his mother, and very solemn
from his aggrieved father. But there was nothing bad at the heart about
young Onslow, and if the solemn father had well considered it, he might
perhaps have felt that those debts at Cambridge reflected more fault on
him than on his son. When Herbert arrived at Munich, his cousins, the
Heines,–far-away cousins though they were,–behaved kindly to him.
They established him at first in lodgings, where he was boarded with
many others, having heard somewhat of his early youth. But when Madame
Heine, at the end of twelve months, perceived that he was punctual at
the bank, and that his allowances, which, though moderate in England,
were handsome in Munich, carried him on without debt, she opened her
motherly arms and suggested to his mother and to himself, that he should
live with them. In this way he also was domiciled up two pairs of stairs
in the palatial residence in the Ludwigs Strasse.

But all this happened long ago. Isa Heine had been only seventeen when
her cousin had first come to Munich, and had made acquaintance with him
rather as a child than as a woman. And when, as she ripened into
womanhood, this young man came more closely among them, it did not
strike her that the change would affect her more powerfully than it
would the others. Her uncle and father, she knew, had approved of
Herbert at the bank; and Herbert had shown that he could be steady;
therefore he was to be taken into their family, paying his annual
subsidy, instead of being left with strangers at the boarding-house. All
this was very simple to her. She assisted in mending his linen, as she
did her father’s; she visited his room daily, as she visited all the
others; she took notice of his likings and dislikings as touching their
table arrangements,–but by no means such notice as she did of her
father’s; and without any flutter, inwardly in her imagination or
outwardly as regarded the world, she made him one of the family. So
things went on for a year,–nay, so things went on for two years with
her, after Herbert Onslow had come to the Ludwigs Strasse.

But the matter had been regarded in a very different light by Herbert
himself. When the proposition had been made to him, his first idea had
been that so close a connection with a girl so very pretty would be
delightful. He had blushed as he had given in his adhesion; but Madame
Heine, when she saw the blush, had attributed it to anything but the
true cause. When Isa had asked him as to his wants and wishes, he had
blushed again, but she had been as ignorant as her mother. The father
had merely stipulated that, as the young Englishman paid for his board,
he should have the full value of his money, so that Isa and Agnes gave
up their pretty front room, going into one that was inferior, and Hatto
was put to sleep in the little closet that had been papa’s own peculiar
property. But nobody complained of this, for it was understood that the
money was of service.

For the first year Herbert found that nothing especial happened. He
always fancied that he was in love with Isa, and wrote some poetry about
her. But the poetry was in English, and Isa could not read it, even had
he dared to show it to her. During the second year he went home to
England for three months, and by confessing a passion to one of his
sisters, really brought himself to feel one. He returned to Munich
resolved to tell Isa that the possibility of his remaining there
depended upon her acceptance of his heart; but for months he did not
find himself able to put his resolution in force. She was so sedate, so
womanly, so attentive as regarded cousinly friendship, and so cold as
regarded everything else, that he did not know how to speak to her. With
an English girl whom he had met three times at a ball, he might have
been much more able to make progress. He was alone with Isa frequently,
for neither father, mother, nor Isa herself objected to such communion;
but yet things so went between them that he could not take her by the
hand and tell her that he loved her. And thus the third year of his life
in Munich, and the second of his residence in the Ludwigs Strasse, went
by him. So the years went by, and Isa was now past twenty. To Herbert,
in his reveries, it seemed as though life, and the joys of life, were
slipping away from him. But no such feeling disturbed any of the Heines.
Life, of course, was slipping away; but then is it not the destiny of
man that life should slip away? Their wants were all satisfied, and for
them, that, together with their close family affection, was happiness
enough.

At last, however, Herbert so spoke, or so looked, that both Isa and her
mother that his heart was touched. He still declared to himself that he
had made no sign, and that he was an oaf, an ass, a coward, in that he
had not done so. But he had made some sign, and the sign had been read.
There was no secret,–no necessity for a secret on the subject between
the mother and daughter, but yet it was not spoken of all at once. There
was some little increase of caution between them as Herbert’s name was
mentioned, so that gradually each knew what the other thought; but for
weeks, that was all. Then at last the mother spoke out.

“Isa,” she said, “I think that Herbert Onslow is becoming attached to
you.”

“He has never said so, mamma.”

“No; I am sure he has not. Had he done so, you would have told me.
Nevertheless, is it not true?”

“Well, mamma, I cannot say. It may be so. Such an idea has occurred to
me, but I have abandoned it as needless. If he has anything to say he
will say it.”

“And if he were to speak, how should you answer him?”

“I should take time to think. I do not at all know what means he has for
a separate establishment.” Then the subject was dropped between them for
that time, and Isa, in her communications with her cousin, was somewhat
more reserved than she had been.

“Isa, are you in love with Herbert?” Agnes asked her, as they were
together in their room one night.

“In love with him? No; why should I be in love with him?”

“I think he is in love with you,” said Agnes.

“That is quite another thing,” said Isa, laughing. “But if so, he has
not taken me into his confidence. Perhaps he has you.”

“Oh no. He would not do that, I think. Not but what we are great
friends, and I love him dearly. Would it not be nice for you and him to
be betrothed?”

“That depends on many things, my dear.”

“Oh yes, I know. Perhaps he has not got money enough. But you could live
here, you know, and he has got some money, because he so often rides on
horseback.” And then the matter was dropped between the two sisters.

Herbert had given English lessons to the two girls, but the lessons had
been found tedious, and had dwindled away. Isa, nevertheless, had kept
up her exercises, duly translating German into English, and English into
German; and occasionally she had shown them to her cousin. Now, however,
she altogether gave over such showing of them, but, nevertheless, worked
at the task with more energy than before.

“Isa,” he said to her one day,–having with some difficulty found her
alone in the parlour, “Isa, why should not we go on with our English?”

“Because it is troublesome,–to you I mean.”

“Troublesome. Well; yes; it is troublesome. Nothing good is to be had
without trouble. But I should like it if you would not mind.”

“You know how sick you were of it before;–besides, I shall never be
able to speak it.”

“I shall not get sick of it now, Isa.”

“Oh yes you would;–in two days.”

“And I want you to speak it. I desire it especially.”

“Why especially?” asked Isa. And even she, with all her tranquillity of
demeanour, could hardly preserve her even tone and quiet look, as she
asked the necessary question.

“I will tell you why,” said Herbert; and as he spoke, he got up from his
seat, and took a step or two over towards her, where she was sitting
near the window. Isa, as she saw him, still continued her work, and
strove hard to give to the stitches all that attention which they
required. “I will tell you why I would wish you to talk my language.
Because I love you, Isa, and would have you for my wife,–if that be
possible.”

She still continued her work, and the stitches, if not quite as perfect
as usual, sufficed for their purpose.

“That is why I wish it. Now will you consent to learn from me again?”

“If I did, Herbert, that consent would include another.”

“Yes; certainly it would. That is what I intend. And now will you learn
from me again?”

“That is,–you mean to ask, will I marry you?”

“Will you love me? Can you learn to love me? Oh, Isa, I have thought of
this so long! But you have seemed so cold that I have not dared to
speak. Isa, can you love me?” And he sat himself close beside her. Now
that the ice was broken, he was quite prepared to become an ardent
lover,–if she would allow of such ardour. But as he sat down she rose.

“I cannot answer such a question on the sudden,” she said. “Give me till
to-morrow, Herbert, and then I will make you a reply;” whereupon she
left him, and he stood alone in the room, having done the deed on which
he had been meditating for the last two years. About half an hour
afterwards he met her on the stairs as he was going to his chamber. “May
I speak to your father about this,” he said, hardly stopping her as he
asked the question. “Oh yes; surely,” she answered; and then again they
parted. To him this last-accorded permission sounded as though it
carried with it more weight than it in truth possessed. In his own
country a reference to the lady’s father is taken as indicating a full
consent on the lady’s part, should the stern paterfamilias raise no
objection. But Isa had no such meaning. She had told him that she could
not give her answer till the morrow. If, however, he chose to consult
her father on the subject, she had no objection. It would probably be
necessary that she should discuss the whole matter in family conclave,
before she could bring herself to give any reply.

On that night, before he went to bed, he did speak to her father; and
Isa also, before she went to rest, spoke to her mother. It was singular
to him that there should appear to be so little privacy on the subject;
that there should be held to be so little necessity for a secret. Had he
made a suggestion that an extra room should be allotted to him at so
much per annum, the proposition could not have been discussed with
simpler ease. At last, after a three days’ debate, the matter ended
thus,–with by no means a sufficiency of romance for his taste. Isa had
agreed to become his betrothed if certain pecuniary conditions should or
could be fulfilled. It appeared now that Herbert’s father had promised
that some small modicum of capital should be forthcoming after a term of
years, and that Heine Brothers had agreed that the Englishman should
have a proportionate share in the bank when that promise should be
brought to bear. Let it not be supposed that Herbert would thus become a
millionaire. If all went well, the best would be that some three hundred
a year would accrue to him from the bank, instead of the quarter of that
income which he at present received. But three hundred a year goes a
long way at Munich, and Isa’s parents were willing that she should be
Herbert’s wife if such an income should be forthcoming.

But even of this there was much doubt. Application to Herbert’s father
could not be judiciously made for some months. The earliest period at
which, in accordance with old Hatto Heine’s agreement, young Onslow
might be admitted to the bank, was still distant by four years; and the
present moment was thought to be inopportune for applying to him for any
act of grace. Let them wait, said papa and mamma Heine,–at any rate
till New Year’s Day, then ten months distant. Isa quietly said that she
would wait till New Year’s Day. Herbert fretted, fumed, and declared
that he was ill-treated. But in the end he also agreed to wait. What
else could he do?

“But we shall see each other daily, and be close to each other,” he said
to Isa, looking tenderly into her eyes. “Yes,” she replied, “we shall
see each other daily–of course. But, Herbert—-”

Herbert looked up at her and paused for her to go on.

“I have promised mamma that there shall be no change between us,–in our
manner to each other, I mean. We are not betrothed as yet, you know, and
perhaps we may never be so.”

“Isa!”

“It may not be possible, you know. And therefore we will go on as
before. Of course we shall see each other, and of course we shall be
friends.”

Herbert Onslow again fretted and again fumed, but he did not have his
way. He had looked forward to the ecstasies of a lover’s life, but very
few of those ecstasies were awarded to him. He rarely found himself
alone with Isa, and when he did do so, her coldness overawed him. He
could dare to scold her, and sometimes did do so, but he could not dare
to take the slightest liberty. Once, on that night when the qualified
consent of papa and mamma Heine had first been given, he had been
allowed to touch her lips with his own; but since that day there had
been for him no such delight as that. She would not even allow her hand
to remain in his. When they all passed their evenings together in the
beer-garden, she would studiously manage that his chair should not be
close to her own. Occasionally she would walk with him, but not more
frequently now than of yore. Very few, indeed, of a lover’s privileges
did he enjoy. And in this way the long year wore itself out, and Isa
Heine was one-and-twenty.

All those family details which had made it inexpedient to apply either
to old Hatto or to Herbert’s father before the end of the year need not
be specially explained. Old Hatto, who had by far the greater share in
the business, was a tyrant somewhat feared both by his brother and
sister-in-law; and the elder Onslow, as was known to them all, was a man
straitened in circumstances. But soon after New Year’s Day the
proposition was made in the Schrannen Platz, and the letter was written.
On this occasion Madame Heine went down to the bank, and together with
her husband, was closeted for an hour with old Hatto. Uncle Hatto’s
verdict was not favourable. As to the young people’s marriage, that was
his brother’s affair, not his. But as to the partnership, that was a
serious matter. Who ever heard of a partnership being given away merely
because a man wanted to marry? He would keep to his promise, and if the
stipulated moneys were forthcoming, Herbert Onslow should become a
partner,–in four years. Nor was the reply from England more favourable.
The alliance was regarded by all the Onslows very favourably. Nothing
could be nicer than such a marriage! They already knew dear Isa so well
by description! But as for the money,–that could not in any way be
forthcoming till the end of the stipulated period.

“And what shall we do?” said Herbert to Papa Heine.

“You must wait,” said he.

“For four years?” asked Herbert.

“You must wait,–as I did,” said Papa Heine. “I was forty before I could
marry.” Papa Heine, however, should not have forgotten to say that his
bride was only twenty, and that if he had waited, she had not.

“Isa,” Herbert said to her, when all this had been fully explained to
her, “what do you say now?”

“Of course it is all over,” said she, very calmly.

“Oh, Isa, is that your love?”

“No, Herbert, that is not my love; that is my discretion;” and she even
laughed with her mild low laughter, as she answered him. “You know you
are too impatient to wait four years, and what else therefore can I
say?”

“I wonder whether you love me?” said Herbert, with a grand look of
injured sentiment.

“Well; in your sense of the word I do not think I do. I do not love you
so that I need make every one around us unhappy because circumstances
forbid me to marry you. That sort of love would be baneful.”

“Ah no, you do not know what love means!”

“Not your boisterous, heartbreaking English love, Herbert. And, Herbert,
sometimes I think you had better go home and look for a bride there.
Though you fancy that you love me, in your heart you hardly approve of
me.”

“Fancy that I love you! Do you think, Isa, that a man can carry his
heart round to one customer after another as the huckster carries his
wares?”

“Yes; I think he can. I know that men do. What did your hero Waverley do
with his heart in that grand English novel which you gave me to read? I
am not Flora Mac Ivor, but you may find a Rose Bradwardine.”

“And you really wish me to do so?”

“Look here, Herbert. It is bad to boast, but I will make this boast. I
am so little selfish, that I desire above all that you should do that
which may make you most happy and contented. I will be quite frank with
you. I love you well enough to wait these four years with the hope of
becoming your wife when they are over. But you will think but little of
my love when I tell you that this waiting would not make me unhappy. I
should go on as I do now, and be contented.”

“Oh heavens!” sighed Herbert.

“But as I know that this would not suit you,–as I feel sure that such
delay would gall you every day, as I doubt whether it would not make
you sick of me long before the four years be over,–my advice is, that
we should let this matter drop.”

He now walked up to her and took her hand, and as he did so there was
something in his gait and look and tone of voice that stirred her heart
more sharply than it had yet been stirred. “And even that would not make
you unhappy,” he said.

She paused before she replied, leaving her hand in his, for he was
contented to hold it without peculiar pressure. “I will not say so,” she
replied. “But, Herbert, I think that you press me too hard. Is it not
enough that I leave you to be the arbiter of my destiny?”

“I would learn the very truth of your heart,” he replied.

“I cannot tell you that truth more plainly. Methinks I have told it too
plainly already. If you wish it, I will hold myself as engaged to
you,–to be married to you when those four years are past. But,
remember, I do not advise it. If you wish it, you shall have back your
troth. And that I think will be the wiser course.”

But neither alternative contented Herbert Onslow, and at the time he did
not resolve on either. He had some little present income from home, some
fifty pounds a year or so, and he would be satisfied to marry on that
and on his salary as a clerk; but to this papa and mamma Heine would not
consent;–neither would Isa.

“You are not a saving, close man,” she said to him when he boasted of
his economies. “No Englishmen are. You could not live comfortably in two
small rooms, and with bad dinners.”

“I do not care a straw about my dinners.”

“Not now that you are a lover, but you would do when you were a husband.
And you change your linen almost every day.”

“Bah!”

“Yes; bah, if you please. But I know what these things cost. You had
better go to England and fetch a rich wife. Then you will become a
partner at once, and Uncle Hatto won’t snub you. And you will be a grand
man, and have a horse to ride on.” Whereupon Herbert went away in
disgust. Nothing in all this made him so unhappy as the feeling that
Isa, under all their joint privations, would not be unhappy herself. As
far as he could see, all this made no difference in Isa.

But, in truth, he had not yet read Isa’s character very thoroughly. She
had spoken truly in saying that she knew nothing of that boisterous love
which was now tormenting him and making him gloomy; but nevertheless she
loved him. She, in her short life, had learnt many lessons of
self-denial; and now with reference to this half-promised husband she
would again have practised such a lesson. Had he agreed at once to go
from her, she would have balanced her own account within her own breast,
and have kept to herself all her sufferings. There would have been no
outward show of baffled love,–none even in the colour of her cheeks;
for such was the nature of her temperament. But she did suffer for him.
Day by day she began to think that his love, though boisterous as she
had at first called it, was more deep-seated than she had believed. He
made no slightest sign that he would accept any of those proffers which
she had made him of release. Though he said so loudly that this waiting
for four years was an impossibility, he spoke of no course that would be
more possible,–except that evidently impossible course of an early
marriage. And thus, while he with redoubled vehemence charged her with
coldness and want of love, her love waxed warmer and warmer, and his
happiness became the chief object of her thoughts. What could she do
that he might no longer suffer?

And then he took a step which was very strange to them all. He banished
himself altogether from the house, going away again into lodgings, “No,”
he said, on the morning of his departure, “I do not release you. I will
never release you. You are mine, and I have a right so to call you. If
you choose to release yourself, I cannot help it; but in doing so you
will be forsworn.”

“Nay, but, Herbert, I have sworn to nothing,” said she, meaning that she
had not been formally betrothed to him.

“You can do as you please; it is a matter of conscience; but I tell you
what are my feelings. Here I cannot stay, for I should go mad; but I
shall see you occasionally;–perhaps on Sundays.”

“Oh, Herbert!”

“Well, what would you have? If you really care to see me it would not be
thus. All I ask of you now is this, that if you decide,–absolutely
decide on throwing me over, you will tell me at once. Then I shall leave
Munich.”

“Herbert, I will never throw you over.” So they parted, and Onslow went
forth to his new lodgings.

Her promise that she would never throw him over was the warmest word of
love that she had ever spoken, but even that was said in her own quiet,
unimpassioned way. There was in it but very little show of love, though
there might be an assurance of constancy. But her constancy he did not,
in truth, much doubt. Four years,–fourteen,–or twenty-four, would be
the same to her, he said, as he seated himself in the dull, cold room
which he had chosen. While living in the Ludwigs Strasse he did not know
how much had been daily done for his comfort by that hand which he had
been so seldom allowed to press; but he knew that he was now cold and
comfortless, and he wished himself back in the Ludwigs Strasse.

“Mamma,” said Isa, when they were alone. “Is not Uncle Hatto rather hard
on us? Papa said that he would ask this as a favour from his brother.”

“So he did, my dear; and offered to give up more of his own time. But
your Uncle Hatto is hard.”

“He is rich, is he not?”

“Well; your father says not. Your father says that he spends all his
income. Though he is hard and obstinate, he is not selfish. He is very
good to the poor, but I believe he thinks that early marriages are very
foolish.”

“Mamma,” said Isa again, when they had sat for some minutes in silence
over their work.

“Well, my love?”

“Have you spoken to Uncle Hatto about this?”

“No, dear; not since that day when your papa and I first went to him. To
tell the truth, I am almost afraid to speak to him; but, if you wish it,
I will do so.”

“I do wish it, mamma. But you must not think that I am discontented or
impatient. I do not know that I have any right to ask my uncle for his
money;–for it comes to that.”

“I suppose it does, my dear.”

“And as for myself, I am happy here with you and papa. I do not think so
much of these four years.”

“You would still be young, Isa;–quite young enough.”

“And what if I were not young? What does it matter? But, mamma, there
has been that between Herbert and me which makes me feel myself bound to
think of him. As you and papa have sanctioned it, you are bound to think
of him also. I know that he is unhappy, living there all alone.”

“But why did he go, dear?”

“I think he was right to go. I could understand his doing that. He is
not like us, and would have been fretful here, wanting that which I
could not give him. He became worse from day to day, and was silent and
morose. I am glad he went. But, mamma, for his sake I wish that this
could be shortened.”

Madame Heine told her daughter that she would, if Isa wished it, herself
go to the Schrannen Platz, and see what could be done by talking to
Uncle Hatto. “But,” she added, “I fear that no good will come of it.”

“Can harm come, mamma?”

“No, I do not think harm can come.”

“I’ll tell you what, mamma, I will go to Uncle Hatto myself, if you will
let me. He is cross I know; but I shall not be afraid of him. I feel
that I ought to do something.” And so the matter was settled, Madame
Heine being by no means averse to escape a further personal visit to the
Head of the banking establishment.

Madame Heine well understood what her daughter meant, when she said she
ought to do something, though Isa feared that she had imperfectly
expressed her meaning. When he, Herbert, was willing to do so much to
prove his love,–when he was ready to sacrifice all the little comforts
of comparative wealth to which he had been accustomed, in order that she
might be his companion and wife,–did it not behove her to give some
proof of her love also? She could not be demonstrative as he was. Such
exhibition of feeling would be quite contrary to her ideas of female
delicacy, and to her very nature. But if called on to work for him, that
she could do as long as strength remained to her. But there was no
sacrifice which would be of service, nor any work which would avail.
Therefore she was driven to think what she might do on his behalf, and
at last she resolved to make her personal appeal to Uncle Hatto.

“Shall I tell papa?” Isa asked of her mother.

“I will do so,” said Madame Heine. And then the younger member of the
firm was informed as to the step which was to be taken; and he, though
he said nothing to forbid the attempt, held out no hope that it would be
successful.

Uncle Hatto was a little snuffy man, now full seventy years of age, who
passed seven hours of every week-day of his life in the dark back
chamber behind the banking-room of the firm, and he had so passed every
week-day of his life for more years than any of the family could now
remember. He had made the house what it was, and had taken his brother
into partnership when that brother married. All the family were somewhat
afraid of him, including even his partner. He rarely came to the
apartments in the Ludwigs Strasse, as he himself lived in one of the
older and shabbier suburbs on the other side of the town. Thither he
always walked, starting punctually from the bank at four o’clock, and
from thence he always walked in the morning, reaching the bank
punctually at nine. His two nieces knew him well; for on certain stated
days they were wont to attend on him at his lodgings, where they would
be regaled with cakes, and afterwards go with him to some old-fashioned
beer-garden in his neighbourhood. But these festivities were of a sombre
kind; and if, on any occasion, circumstances prevented the fulfilment of
the ceremony, neither of the girls would be loud in their lamentations.

In London, a visit paid by a niece to her uncle would, in all
probability, be made at the uncle’s private residence; but at Munich
private and public matters were not so effectually divided. Isa
therefore, having put on her hat and shawl, walked off by herself to the
Schrannen Platz.

“Is Uncle Hatto inside?” she asked; and the answer was given to her by
her own lover. Yes, he was within; but the old clerk was with him. Isa,
however, signified her wish to see her uncle alone, and in a few minutes
the ancient grey-haired servant of the house came out into the larger
room.

“You can go in now, Miss Isa,” he said. And Isa found herself in the
presence of her uncle before she had been two minutes under the roof. In
the mean time Ernest Heine, her father, had said not a word, and Herbert
knew that something very special must be about to occur.

“Well, my bonny bird,” said Uncle Hatto, “and what do you want at the
bank?” Cheery words, such as these, were by no means uncommon with Uncle
Hatto; but Isa knew very well that no presage could be drawn from them
of any special good nature or temporary weakness on his part.

“Uncle Hatto,” she began, rushing at once into the middle of her affair,
“you know, I believe, that I am engaged to marry Herbert Onslow?”

“I know no such thing,” said he. “I thought I understood your father
specially to say that there had been no betrothal.”

“No, Uncle Hatto, there has been no betrothal; that certainly is true;
but, nevertheless, we are engaged to each other.”

“Well,” said Uncle Hatto, very sourly; and now there was no longer any
cheery tone, or any calling of pretty names.

“Perhaps you may think all this very foolish,” said Isa, who, in spite
of her resolves to do so, was hardly able to look up gallantly into her
uncle’s face as she thus talked of her own love affairs.

“Yes, I do,” said Uncle Hatto. “I do think it foolish for young people
to hold themselves betrothed before they have got anything to live on,
and so I have told your father. He answered me by saying that you were
not betrothed.”

“Nor are we. Papa is quite right in that.”

“Then, my dear, I would advise you to tell the young man that, as
neither of you have means of your own, the thing must be at an end. It
is the only step for you to take. If you agreed to wait, one of you
might die, or his money might never be forthcoming, or you might see
somebody else that you liked better.”

“I don’t think I shall do that.”

“You can’t tell. And if you don’t, the chances are ten to one that he
will.”

This little blow, which was intended to be severe, did not hit Isa at
all hard. That plan of a Rose Bradwardine she herself had proposed in
good faith, thinking that she could endure such a termination to the
affair without flinching. She was probably wrong in this estimate of her
power; but, nevertheless, her present object was his release from
unhappiness and doubt, not her own.

“It might be so,” she said.

“Take my word for it, it would. Look all around. There was Adelaide
Schropner,–but that was before your time, and you would not remember.”
Considering that Adelaide Schropner had been for many years a
grandmother, it was probable that Isa would not remember.

“But, Uncle Hatto, you have not heard me. I want to say something to
you, if it will not take too much of your time.” In answer to which,
Uncle Hatto muttered something which was unheeded, to signify that Isa
might speak.

“I also think that a long engagement is a foolish thing, and so does
Herbert.”

“But he wants to marry at once.”

“Yes, he wants to marry–perhaps not at once, but soon.”

“And I suppose you have come to say that you want the same thing.”

Isa blushed ever so faintly as she commenced her answer. “Yes, uncle, I
do wish the same thing. What he wishes, I wish.”

“Very likely,–very likely.”

“Don’t be scornful to me, uncle. When two people love each other, it is
natural that each should wish that which the other earnestly desires.”

“Oh, very natural, my dear, that you should wish to get married!”

“Uncle Hatto, I did not think that you would be unkind to me, though I
knew that you would be stern.”

“Well, go on. What have you to say? I am not stern; but I have no doubt
you will think me unkind. People are always unkind who do not do what
they are asked.”

“Papa says that Herbert Onslow is some day to become a partner in the
bank.”

“That depends on certain circumstances. Neither I nor your papa can say
whether he will or no.”

But Isa went on as though she had not heard the last reply. “I have come
to ask you to admit him as a partner at once.”

“Ah, I supposed so;–just as you might ask me to give you a new ribbon.”

“But uncle, I never did ask you to give me a new ribbon. I never asked
you to give me anything for myself; nor do I ask this for myself.”

“Do you think that if I could do it,–which of course I can’t,–I would
not sooner do it for you, who are my own flesh and blood, than for him,
who is a stranger?”

“Nay; he is no stranger. He has sat at your desk and obeyed your orders
for nearly four years. Papa says that he has done well in the bank.”

“Humph! If every clerk that does well,–pretty well, that is,–wanted a
partnership, where should we be, my dear? No, my dear, go home and tell
him when you see him in the evening that all this must be at an end.
Men’s places in the world are not given away so easily as that. They
must either be earned or purchased. Herbert Onslow has as yet done
neither, and therefore he is not entitled to take a wife. I should have
been glad to have had a wife at his age,–at least I suppose I should,
but at any rate I could not afford it.”

But Isa had by no means as yet done. So far the interview had progressed
exactly as she had anticipated. She had never supposed it possible that
her uncle would grant her so important a request as soon as she opened
her mouth to ask it. She had not for a moment expected that things would
go so easily with her. Indeed she had never expected that any success
would attend her efforts; but, if any success were possible, the work
which must achieve that success must now commence. It was necessary that
she should first state her request plainly before she began to urge it
with such eloquence as she had at her command.

“I can understand what you say, Uncle Hatto.”

“I am glad of that, at any rate.”

“And I know that I have no right to ask you for anything.”

“I do not say that. Anything in reason, that a girl like you should ask
of her old uncle, I would give you.”

“I have no such reasonable request to make, uncle. I have never wanted
new ribbons from you or gay toys. Even from my own mother I have not
wanted them;–not wanted them faster than they seemed to come without
any asking.”

“No, no; you have been a good girl.”

“I have been a happy girl; and quite happy with those I loved, and with
what Providence had given me. I had nothing to ask for. But now I am no
longer happy, nor can I be unless you do for me this which I ask of you.
I have wanted nothing till now, and now in my need I come to you.”

“And now you want a husband with a fortune!”

“No!” and that single word she spoke, not loudly, for her voice was low
and soft, but with an accent which carried it sharply to his ear and to
his brain. And then she rose from her seat as she went on. “Your scorn,
uncle, is unjust,–unjust and untrue. I have ever acted maidenly, as has
become my mother’s daughter.”

“Yes, yes, yes;–I believe that.”

“And I can say more than that for myself. My thoughts have been the
same, nor have my wishes even, ever gone beyond them. And when this
young man came to me, telling me of his feelings, I gave him no answer
till I had consulted my mother.”

“She should have bade you not to think of him.”

“Ah, you are not a mother, and cannot know. Why should I not think of
him when he was good and kind, honest and hard-working? And then he had
thought of me first. Why should I not think of him? Did not mamma listen
to my father when he came to her?”

“But your father was forty years old, and had a business.”

“You gave it him, Uncle Hatto. I have heard him say so.”

“And therefore I am to do as much for you. And then next year Agnes will
come to me; and so before I die I shall see you all in want, with large
families. No, Isa; I will not scorn you, but this thing I cannot do.”

“But I have not told you all yet. You say that I want a husband.”

“Well, well; I did not mean to say it harshly.”

“I do want–to be married.” And here her courage failed her a little,
and for a moment her eye fell to the ground. “It is true, uncle. He has
asked me whether I could love him, and I have told him I could. He has
asked me whether I would be his wife, and I have given him a promise.
After that, must not his happiness be my happiness, and his misery my
misery? Am I not his wife already before God?”

“No, no,” said Uncle Hatto, loudly.

“Ah, but I am. None feel the strength of the bonds but those who are
themselves bound. I know my duty to my father and mother, and with God’s
help I will do it, but I am not the less bound to him. Without their
approval I will not stand with him at the altar; but not the less is my
lot joined to his for this world. Nothing could release me from that but
his wish.”

“And he will wish it in a month or two.”

“Excuse me, Uncle Hatto, but in that I can only judge for myself as best
I may. He has loved me now for two years—-”

“Psha!”

“And whether it be wise or foolish, I have sanctioned it. I cannot now
go back with honour, even if my own heart would let me. His welfare must
be my welfare, and his sorrow my sorrow. Therefore I am bound to do for
him anything that a girl may do for the man she loves; and, as I knew of
no other resource, I come to you to help me.”

“And he, sitting out there, knows what you are saying.”

“Most certainly not. He knows no more than that he has seen me enter
this room.”

“I am glad of that, because I would not wish that he should be
disappointed. In this matter, my dear, I cannot do anything for you.”

“And that is your last answer, uncle?”

“Yes, indeed. When you come to think over this some twenty years hence,
you will know then that I am right, and that your request was
unreasonable.”

“It may be so,” she replied, “but I do not think it.”

“It will be so. Such favours as you now ask are not granted in this
world for light reasons.”

“Light reasons! Well, uncle, I have had my say, and will not take up
your time longer.”

“Good-bye, my dear. I am sorry that I cannot oblige you;–that it is
quite out of my power to oblige you.”

Then she went, giving him her hand as she parted from him; and he, as
she left the room looked anxiously at her, watching her countenance and
her gait, and listening to the very fall of her footstep. “Ah,” he said
to himself, when he was alone, “the young people have the best of it.
The sun shines for them; but why should they have all? Poor as he is,
he is a happy dog,–a happy dog. But she is twice too good for him. Why
did she not take to one of her own country?”

Isa, as she passed through the bank, smiled sweetly on her father, and
then smiled sweetly at her lover, nodding to him with a pleasant kindly
nod. If he could have heard all that had passed at that interview, how
much more he would have known of her than he now knew, and how proud he
would have been of her love. No word was spoken as she went out, and
then she walked home with even step, as she had walked thither. It can
hardly be said that she was disappointed, as she had expected nothing.
But people hope who do not expect, and though her step was even and her
face calm, yet her heart was sad.

“Mamma,” she said, “there is no hope from Uncle Hatto.”

“So I feared, my dear.”

“But I thought it right to try–for Herbert’s sake.”

“I hope it will not do him an injury in the bank.”

“Oh, mamma, do not put that into my head. If that were added to it all,
I should indeed be wretched.”

“No; he is too just for that. Poor young man! Sometimes I almost think
it would be better that he should go back to England.”

“Mamma, if he did, I should–break my heart.”

“Isa!”

“Well, mamma! But do not suppose that I mean to complain, whatever
happens.”

“But I had been so sure that you had constrained your feelings!”

“So I had,–till I knew myself. Mamma, I could wait for years, if he
were contented to wait by my side. If I could see him happy, I could
watch him and love him, and be happy also. I do not want to have him
kneeling to me, and making sweet speeches; but it has gone too far
now,–and I could not bear to lose him.” And thus to her mother she
confessed the truth.

There was nothing more said between Isa and her mother on the subject,
and for two days the matter remained as it then stood. Madame Heine had
been deeply grieved at hearing those last words which her daughter had
spoken. To her also that state of quiescence which Isa had so long
affected seemed to be the proper state at which a maiden’s heart should
stand till after her marriage vows had been pronounced. She had watched
her Isa, and had approved of everything,–of everything till this last
avowal had been made. But now, though she could not approve, she
expressed no disapproval in words. She pressed her daughter’s hand and
sighed, and then the two said no more upon the matter. In this way, for
two days, there was silence in the apartments in the Ludwigs Strasse;
for even when the father returned from his work, the whole circle felt
that their old family mirth was for the present necessarily laid aside.

On the morning of the third day, about noon, Madame Heine returned home
from the market with Isa, and as they reached the landing, Agnes met
them with a packet. “Fritz brought it from the bank,” said Agnes. Now
Fritz was the boy who ran messages and swept out the office, and Madame
Heine put out her hand for the parcel, thinking, not unnaturally, that
it was for her. But Agnes would not give it to her mother. “It is for
you, Isa,” she said. Then Isa, looking at the address, recognised the
handwriting of her uncle. “Mamma,” she said, “I will come to you
directly;” and then she passed quickly away into her own room.

The parcel was soon opened, and contained a note from her uncle, and a
stiff, large document, looking as though it had come from the hands of a
lawyer. Isa glanced at the document, and read some few of the words on
the outer fold, but they did not carry home to her mind any clear
perception of their meaning. She was flurried at the moment, and the
words, perhaps, were not very plain. Then she took up her note, and that
was plain enough. It was very short, and ran as follows:–

“My dear Niece,

“You told me on Monday that I was stern, and harsh, and unjust.
Perhaps I was. If so, I hope the enclosed will make amends, and
that you will not think me such an old fool as I think myself.

“Your affectionate uncle,

“HATTO HEINE.

“I have told nobody yet, and the enclosed will require my brother’s
signature; but I suppose he will not object.”

* * * * *

“But he does not know it, mamma,” said Isa. “Who is to tell him? Oh,
mamma, you must tell him.”

“Nay, my dear; but it must be your own present to him.”

“I could not give it him. It is Uncle Hatto’s present Mamma, when I left
him I thought that his eye was kind to me.”

“His heart, at any rate, has been very kind.” And then again they looked
over the document, and talked of the wedding which must now be near at
hand. But still they had not as yet decided how Herbert should be
informed.

At last Isa resolved that she herself would write to him. She did write,
and this was her letter:–

“Dear Herbert,

“Mamma and I wish to see you, and beg that you will come up to us
this evening. We have tidings for you which I hope you will receive
with joy. I may as well tell you at once, as I do not wish to
flurry you. Uncle Hatto has sent to us a document which admits you
as a partner into the bank. If, therefore, you wish to go on with
our engagement, I suppose there is nothing now to cause any very
great delay.

“ISA.”

The letter was very simple, and Isa, when she had written it, subsided
into all her customary quiescence. Indeed, when Herbert came to the
Ludwigs Strasse, not in the evening as he was bidden to do, but
instantly, leaving his own dinner uneaten, and coming upon the Heines in
the midst of their dinner, she was more than usually tranquil. But his
love was, as she had told him, boisterous. He could not contain himself,
and embraced them all, and then scolded Isa because she was so calm.

“Why should I not be calm,” said she, “now that I know you are happy?”

The house in the Schrannen Platz still goes by the name of Heine
Brothers, but the mercantile world in Bavaria, and in some cities out of
Bavaria, is well aware that the real pith and marrow of the business is
derived from the energy of the young English partner.

THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX.

I first saw the man who kept his money in a box in the midst of the
ravine of the Via Mala. I interchanged a few words with him or with his
wife at the hospice, at the top of the Splugen; and I became acquainted
with him in the courtyard of Conradi’s hotel at Chiavenna. It was,
however, afterwards at Bellaggio, on the lake of Como, that that
acquaintance ripened into intimacy. A good many years have rolled by
since then, and I believe this little episode in his life may be told
without pain to the feelings of any one.

His name was —-; let us for the present say that his name was Greene.
How he learned that my name was Robinson I do not know, but I remember
well that he addressed me by my name at Chiavenna. To go back, however,
for a moment to the Via Mala;–I had been staying for a few days at the
Golden Eagle at Tusis,–which, by-the-bye, I hold to be the best small
inn in all Switzerland, and its hostess to be, or to have been,
certainly the prettiest landlady,–and on the day of my departure
southwards, I had walked on, into the Via Mala, so that the diligence
might pick me up in the gorge. This pass I regard as one of the grandest
spots to which my wandering steps have ever carried me, and though I had
already lingered about it for many hours, I now walked thither again to
take my last farewell of its dark towering rocks, its narrow causeway
and roaring river, trusting to my friend the landlady to see that my
luggage was duly packed upon the diligence. I need hardly say that my
friend did not betray her trust.

As one goes out from Switzerland towards Italy, the road through the Via
Mala ascends somewhat steeply, and passengers by the diligence may walk
from the inn at Tusis into the gorge, and make their way through the
greater part of the ravine before the vehicle will overtake them. This,
however, Mr. Greene with his wife and daughter had omitted to do. When
the diligence passed me in the defile, the horses trotting for a few
yards over some level portion of the road, I saw a man’s nose pressed
close against the glass of the coupé window. I saw more of his nose than
of any other part of his face, but yet I could perceive that his neck
was twisted and his eye upturned, and that he was making a painful
effort to look upwards to the summit of the rocks from his position
inside the carriage.

There was such a roar of wind and waters at the spot that it was not
practicable to speak to him, but I beckoned with my finger and then
pointed to the road, indicating that he should have walked. He
understood me, though I did not at the moment understand his answering
gesture. It was subsequently, when I knew somewhat of his habits, that
he explained to me that on pointing to his open mouth, he had intended
to signify that he would be afraid of sore throat in exposing himself to
the air of that damp and narrow passage.

I got up into the conductor’s covered seat at the back of the diligence,
and in this position encountered the drifting snow of the Splugen. I
think it is coldest of all the passes. Near the top of the pass the
diligence stops for awhile, and it is here, if I remember, that the
Austrian officials demand the travellers’ passports. At least in those
days they did so. These officials have now retreated behind the
Quadrilatère,–soon, as we hope, to make a further retreat,–and the
district belongs to the kingdom of United Italy. There is a place of
refreshment or hospice here, into which we all went for a few moments,
and I then saw that my friend with the weak throat was accompanied by
two ladies.

“You should not have missed the Via Mala,” I said to him, as he stood
warming his toes at the huge covered stove.

“We miss everything,” said the elder of the two ladies, who, however,
was very much younger than the gentleman, and not very much older than
her companion.

“I saw it beautifully, mamma,” said the younger one; whereupon mamma
gave her head a toss, and made up her mind, as I thought, to take some
little vengeance before long upon her step-daughter. I observed that
Miss Greene always called her step-mother mamma on the first approach of
any stranger, so that the nature of the connection between them might be
understood. And I observed also that the elder lady always gave her head
a toss when she was so addressed.

“We don’t mean to enjoy ourselves till we get down to the lake of
Como,” said Mr. Greene. As I looked at him cowering over the stove, and
saw how oppressed he was with great coats and warm wrappings for his
throat, I quite agreed with him that he had not begun to enjoy himself
as yet. Then we all got into our places again, and I saw no more of the
Greenes till we were standing huddled together in the large courtyard of
Conradi’s hotel at Chiavenna.

Chiavenna is the first Italian town which the tourist reaches by this
route, and I know no town in the North of Italy which is so closely
surrounded by beautiful scenery. The traveller as he falls down to it
from the Splugen road is bewildered by the loveliness of the
valleys,–that is to say, if he so arranges that he can see them without
pressing his nose against the glass of a coach window. And then from the
town itself there are walks of two, three, and four hours, which I think
are unsurpassed for wild and sometimes startling beauties. One gets into
little valleys, green as emeralds, and surrounded on all sides by grey
broken rocks, in which Italian Rasselases might have lived in perfect
bliss; and then again one comes upon distant views up the river courses,
bounded far away by the spurs of the Alps, which are perfect,–to which
the fancy can add no additional charm. Conradi’s hotel also is by no
means bad; or was not in those days. For my part I am inclined to think
that Italian hotels have received a worse name than they deserve; and I
must profess that, looking merely to creature comforts, I would much
sooner stay a week at the Golden Key at Chiavenna, than with mine host
of the King’s Head in the thriving commercial town of Muddleboro, on the
borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

I am always rather keen about my room in travelling, and having secured
a chamber looking out upon the mountains, had returned to the court-yard
to collect my baggage before Mr. Greene had succeeded in realising his
position, or understanding that he had to take upon himself the duties
of settling his family for the night in the hotel by which he was
surrounded. When I descended he was stripping off the outermost of three
great coats, and four waiters around him were beseeching him to tell
them what accommodation he would require. Mr. Greene was giving sundry
very urgent instructions to the conductor respecting his boxes; but as
these were given in English, I was not surprised to find that they were
not accurately followed. The man, however, was much too courteous to say
in any language that he did not understand every word that was said to
him. Miss Greene was standing apart, doing nothing. As she was only
eighteen years of age, it was of course her business to do nothing; and
a very pretty little girl she was, by no means ignorant of her own
beauty, and possessed of quite sufficient wit to enable her to make the
most of it.

Mr. Greene was very leisurely in his proceedings, and the four waiters
were almost reduced to despair.

“I want two bed-rooms, a dressing-room, and some dinner,” he said at
last, speaking very slowly, and in his own vernacular. I could not in
the least assist him by translating it into Italian, for I did not speak
a word of the language myself; but I suggested that the man would
understand French. The waiter, however, had understood English. Waiters
do understand all languages with a facility that is marvellous; and this
one now suggested that Mrs. Greene should follow him up-stairs. Mrs.
Greene, however, would not move till she had seen that her boxes were
all right; and as Mrs. Greene was also a pretty woman, I found myself
bound to apply myself to her assistance.

“Oh, thank you,” said she. “The people are so stupid that one can really
do nothing with them. And as for Mr. Greene, he is of no use at all. You
see that box, the smaller one. I have four hundred pounds’ worth of
jewellery in that, and therefore I am obliged to look after it.”

“Indeed,” said I, rather startled at this amount of confidence on rather
a short acquaintance. “In that case I do not wonder at your being
careful. But is it not rather rash, perhaps—-”

“I know what you are going to say. Well, perhaps it is rash. But when
you are going to foreign courts, what are you to do? If you have got
those sort of things you must wear them.”

As I was not myself possessed of anything of that sort, and had no
intention of going to any foreign court, I could not argue the matter
with her. But I assisted her in getting together an enormous pile of
luggage, among which there were seven large boxes covered with canvas,
such as ladies not uncommonly carry with them when travelling. That one
which she represented as being smaller than the others, and as holding
jewellery, might be about a yard long by a foot and a half deep. Being
ignorant in those matters, I should have thought it sufficient to carry
all a lady’s wardrobe for twelve months. When the boxes were collected
together, she sat down upon the jewel-case and looked up into my face.
She was a pretty woman, perhaps thirty years of age, with long light
yellow hair, which she allowed to escape from her bonnet, knowing,
perhaps, that it was not unbecoming to her when thus dishevelled. Her
skin was very delicate, and her complexion good. Indeed her face would
have been altogether prepossessing had there not been a want of
gentleness in her eyes. Her hands, too, were soft and small, and on the
whole she may be said to have been possessed of a strong battery of
feminine attractions. She also well knew how to use them.

“Whisper,” she said to me, with a peculiar but very proper aspiration on
the h–“Wh-hisper,” and both by the aspiration and the use of the word I
knew at once from what island she had come. “Mr. Greene keeps all his
money in this box also; so I never let it go out of my sight for a
moment. But whatever you do, don’t tell him that I told you so.”

I laid my hand on my heart, and made a solemn asseveration that I would
not divulge her secret. I need not, however, have troubled myself much
on that head, for as I walked up stairs, keeping my eye upon the
precious trunk, Mr. Greene addressed me.

“You are an Englishman, Mr. Robinson,” said he. I acknowledged that I
was.

“I am another. My wife, however, is Irish. My daughter,–by a former
marriage,–is English also. You see that box there.”

“Oh, yes,” said I, “I see it.” I began to be so fascinated by the box
that I could not keep my eyes off it.

“I don’t know whether or no it is prudent, but I keep all my money
there; my money for travelling, I mean.”

“If I were you, then,” I answered, “I would not say anything about it to
any one.”

“Oh, no, of course not,” said he; “I should not think of mentioning it.
But those brigands in Italy always take away what you have about your
person, but they don’t meddle with the heavy luggage.”

“Bills of exchange, or circular notes,” I suggested.

“Ah, yes; and if you can’t identify yourself, or happen to have a
headache, you can’t get them changed. I asked an old friend of mine, who
has been connected with the Bank of England for the last fifty years,
and he assured me that there was nothing like sovereigns.”

“But you never get the value for them.”

“Well, not quite. One loses a franc, or a franc and a half. But still,
there’s the certainty, and that’s the great matter. An English sovereign
will go anywhere,” and he spoke these words with considerable triumph.

“Undoubtedly, if you consent to lose a shilling on each sovereign.”

“At any rate, I have got three hundred and fifty in that box,” he said.
“I have them done up in rolls of twenty-five pounds each.”

I again recommended him to keep this arrangement of his as private as
possible,–a piece of counsel which I confess seemed to me to be much
needed,–and then I went away to my own room, having first accepted an
invitation from Mrs. Greene to join their party at dinner. “Do,” said
she; “we have been so dull, and it will be so pleasant.”

I did not require to be much pressed to join myself to a party in which
there was so pretty a girl as Miss Greene, and so attractive a woman as
Mrs. Greene. I therefore accepted the invitation readily, and went away
to make my toilet. As I did so I passed the door of Mr. Greene’s room,
and saw the long file of boxes being borne into the centre of it.

I spent a pleasant evening, with, however, one or two slight drawbacks.
As to old Greene himself, he was all that was amiable; but then he was
nervous, full of cares, and somewhat apt to be a bore. He wanted
information on a thousand points, and did not seem to understand that a
young man might prefer the conversation of his daughter to his own. Not
that he showed any solicitude to prevent conversation on the part of his
daughter. I should have been perfectly at liberty to talk to either of
the ladies had he not wished to engross all my attention to himself. He
also had found it dull to be alone with his wife and daughter for the
last six weeks.

He was a small spare man, probably over fifty years of age, who gave me
to understand that he had lived in London all his life, and had made his
own fortune in the city. What he had done in the city to make his
fortune he did not say. Had I come across him there I should no doubt
have found him to be a sharp man of business, quite competent to teach
me many a useful lesson of which I was as ignorant as an infant. Had he
caught me on the Exchange, or at Lloyd’s, or in the big room of the Bank
of England, I should have been compelled to ask him everything. Now, in
this little town under the Alps, he was as much lost as I should have
been in Lombard Street, and was ready enough to look to me for
information. I was by no means chary in giving him my counsel, and
imparting to him my ideas on things in general in that part of the
world;–only I should have preferred to be allowed to make myself civil
to his daughter.

In the course of conversation it was mentioned by him that they intended
to stay a few days at Bellaggio, which, as all the world knows, is a
central spot on the lake of Como, and a favourite resting-place for
travellers. There are three lakes which all meet here, and to all of
which we give the name of Como. They are properly called the lakes of
Como, Colico, and Lecco; and Bellaggio is the spot at which their waters
join each other. I had half made up my mind to sleep there one night on
my road into Italy, and now, on hearing their purpose, I declared that
such was my intention.

“How very pleasant,” said Mrs. Greene. “It will be quite delightful to
have some one to show us how to settle ourselves, for really—-”

“My dear, I’m sure you can’t say that you ever have much trouble.”

“And who does then, Mr. Greene? I am sure Sophonisba does not do much to
help me.”

“You won’t let me,” said Sophonisba, whose name I had not before heard.
Her papa had called her Sophy in the yard of the inn. Sophonisba Greene!
Sophonisba Robinson did not sound so badly in my ears, and I confess
that I had tried the names together. Her papa had mentioned to me that
he had no other child, and had mentioned also that he had made his
fortune.

And then there was a little family contest as to the amount of
travelling labour which fell to the lot of each of the party, during
which I retired to one of the windows of the big front room in which we
were sitting. And how much of this labour there is incidental to a
tourist’s pursuits! And how often these little contests do arise upon a
journey! Who has ever travelled and not known them? I had taken up such
a position at the window as might, I thought, have removed me out of
hearing; but nevertheless from time to time a word would catch my ear
about that precious box. “I have never taken my eyes off it since I left
England,” said Mrs. Greene, speaking quick, and with a considerable
brogue superinduced by her energy.

“Where would it have been at Basle if I had not been looking afther it?”
“Quite safe,” said Sophonisba; “those large things always are safe.”
“Are they, Miss? That’s all you know about it. I suppose your bonnet-box
was quite safe when I found it on the platform at–at–I forget the name
of the place?”

“Freidrichshafen,” said Sophonisba, with almost an unnecessary amount of
Teutonic skill in her pronunciation. “Well, mamma, you have told me of
that at least twenty times.” Soon after that, the ladies took them to
their own rooms, weary with the travelling of two days and a night, and
Mr. Greene went fast asleep in the very comfortless chair in which he
was seated.

At four o’clock on the next morning we started on our journey.

“Early to bed, and early to rise,
Is the way to be healthy, and wealthy, and wise.”

We all know that lesson, and many of us believe in it; but if the lesson
be true, the Italians ought to be the healthiest and wealthiest and
wisest of all men and women. Three or four o’clock seems to them quite a
natural hour for commencing the day’s work. Why we should have started
from Chiavenna at four o’clock in order that we might be kept waiting
for the boat an hour and a half on the little quay at Colico, I don’t
know; but such was our destiny. There we remained an hour and a half,
Mrs. Greene sitting pertinaciously on the one important box. She had
designated it as being smaller than the others, and, as all the seven
were now ranged in a row, I had an opportunity of comparing them. It was
something smaller,–perhaps an inch less high, and an inch and a half
shorter. She was a sharp woman, and observed my scrutiny.

“I always know it,” she said in a loud whisper, “by this little hole in
the canvas,” and she put her finger on a slight rent on one of the ends.
“As for Greene, if one of those Italian brigands were to walk off with
it on his shoulders, before his eyes, he wouldn’t be the wiser. How
helpless you men are, Mr. Robinson!”

“It is well for us that we have women to look after us.”

“But you have got no one to look after you;–or perhaps you have left
her behind?”

“No, indeed. I’m all alone in the world as yet. But it’s not my own
fault. I have asked half a dozen.”

“Now, Mr. Robinson!” And in this way the time passed on the quay at
Colico, till the boat came and took us away. I should have preferred to
pass my time in making myself agreeable to the younger lady; but the
younger lady stood aloof, turning up her nose, as I thought, at her
mamma.

I will not attempt to describe the scenery about Colico. The little town
itself is one of the vilest places under the sun, having no
accommodation for travellers, and being excessively unhealthy; but there
is very little either north or south of the Alps,–and, perhaps, I may
add, very little elsewhere,–to beat the beauty of the mountains which
cluster round the head of the lake. When we had sat upon those boxes
that hour and a half, we were taken on board the steamer, which had
been lying off a little way from the shore, and then we commenced our
journey. Of course there was a good deal of exertion and care necessary
in getting the packages off from the shore on to the boat, and I
observed that any one with half an eye in his head might have seen that
the mental anxiety expended on that one box which was marked by the
small hole in the canvas far exceeded that which was extended to all the
other six boxes. “They deserve that it should be stolen,” I said to
myself, “for being such fools.” And then we went down to breakfast in
the cabin.

“I suppose it must be safe,” said Mrs. Greene to me, ignoring the fact
that the cabin waiter understood English, although she had just ordered
some veal cutlets in that language.

“As safe as a church,” I replied, not wishing to give much apparent
importance to the subject.

“They can’t carry it off here,” said Mr. Greene. But he was innocent of
any attempt at a joke, and was looking at me with all his eyes.

“They might throw it overboard,” said Sophonisba. I at once made up my
mind that she could not be a good-natured girl. The moment that
breakfast was over, Mrs. Greene returned again up-stairs, and I found
her seated on one of the benches near the funnel, from which she could
keep her eyes fixed upon the box. “When one is obliged to carry about
one’s jewels with one, one must be careful, Mr. Robinson,” she said to
me apologetically. But I was becoming tired of the box, and the funnel
was hot and unpleasant, therefore I left her.

I had made up my mind that Sophonisba was ill-natured; but,
nevertheless, she was pretty, and I now went through some little
manœuvres with the object of getting into conversation with her. This
I soon did, and was surprised by her frankness. “How tired you must be
of mamma and her box,” she said to me. To this I made some answer,
declaring that I was rather interested than otherwise in the safety of
the precious trunk. “It makes me sick,” said Sophonisba, “to hear her go
on in that way to a perfect stranger. I heard what she said about her
jewellery.”

“It is natural she should be anxious,” I said, “seeing that it contains
so much that is valuable.”

“Why did she bring them?” said Sophonisba. “She managed to live very
well without jewels till papa married her, about a year since; and now
she can’t travel about for a month without lugging them with her
everywhere. I should be so glad if some one would steal them.”

“But all Mr. Greene’s money is there also.”

“I don’t want papa to be bothered, but I declare I wish the box might be
lost for a day or so. She is such a fool; don’t you think so, Mr.
Robinson?”

At this time it was just fourteen hours since I first had made their
acquaintance in the yard of Conradi’s hotel, and of those fourteen hours
more than half had been passed in bed. I must confess that I looked upon
Sophonisba as being almost more indiscreet than her mother-in-law.
Nevertheless, she was not stupid, and I continued my conversation with
her the greatest part of the way down the lake towards Bellaggio.

These steamers which run up and down the lake of Como and the Lago
Maggiore, put out their passengers at the towns on the banks of the
water by means of small rowing-boats, and the persons who are about to
disembark generally have their own articles ready to their hands when
their turn comes for leaving the steamer. As we came near to Bellaggio,
I looked up my own portmanteau, and, pointing to the beautiful
wood-covered hill that stands at the fork of the waters, told my friend
Greene that he was near his destination. “I am very glad to hear it,”
said he, complacently, but he did not at the moment busy himself about
the boxes. Then the small boat ran up alongside the steamer, and the
passengers for Como and Milan crowded up the side.

“We have to go in that boat,” I said to Greene.

“Nonsense!” he exclaimed.

“Oh, but we have.”

“What! put our boxes into that boat,” said Mrs. Greene. “Oh dear! Here,
boatman! there are seven of these boxes, all in white like this,” and
she pointed to the one that had the hole in the canvas. “Make haste. And
there are two bags, and my dressing case, and Mr. Greene’s portmanteau.
Mr. Greene, where is your portmanteau?”

The boatman whom she addressed, no doubt did not understand a word of
English, but nevertheless he knew what she meant, and, being well
accustomed to the work, got all the luggage together in an incredibly
small number of moments.

“If you will get down into the boat,” I said, “I will see that the
luggage follows you before I leave the deck.”

“I won’t stir,” she said, “till I see that box lifted down. Take care;
you’ll let it fall into the lake. I know you will.”

“I wish they would,” Sophonisba whispered into my ear.

Mr. Greene said nothing, but I could see that his eyes were as anxiously
fixed on what was going on as were those of his wife. At last, however,
the three Greenes were in the boat, as also were all the packages. Then
I followed them, my portmanteau having gone down before me, and we
pushed off for Bellaggio. Up to this period most of the attendants
around us had understood a word or two of English, but now it would be
well if we could find some one to whose ears French would not be
unfamiliar. As regarded Mr. Greene and his wife, they, I found, must
give up all conversation, as they knew nothing of any language but their
own. Sophonisba could make herself understood in French, and was quite
at home, as she assured me, in German. And then the boat was beached on
the shore at Bellaggio, and we all had to go again to work with the
object of getting ourselves lodged at the hotel which overlooks the
water.

I had learned before that the Greenes were quite free from any trouble
in this respect, for their rooms had been taken for them before they
left England. Trusting to this, Mrs. Greene gave herself no
inconsiderable airs the moment her foot was on the shore, and ordered
the people about as though she were the Lady Paramount of Bellaggio.
Italians, however, are used to this from travellers of a certain
description. They never resent such conduct, but simply put it down in
the bill with the other articles. Mrs. Greene’s words on this occasion
were innocent enough, seeing that they were English; but had I been that
head waiter who came down to the beach with his nice black shiny hair,
and his napkin under his arm, I should have thought her manner very
insolent.

Indeed, as it was, I did think so, and was inclined to be angry with
her. She was to remain for some time at Bellaggio, and therefore it
behoved her, as she thought, to assume the character of the grand lady
at once. Hitherto she had been willing enough to do the work, but now
she began to order about Mr. Greene and Sophonisba; and, as it appeared
to me, to order me about also. I did not quite enjoy this; so leaving
her still among her luggage and satellites, I walked up to the hotel to
see about my own bed-room. I had some seltzer water, stood at the window
for three or four minutes, and then walked up and down the room. But
still the Greenes were not there. As I had put in at Bellaggio solely
with the object of seeing something more of Sophonisba, it would not do
for me to quarrel with them, or to allow them so to settle themselves
in their private sitting-room, that I should be excluded. Therefore I
returned again to the road by which they must come up, and met the
procession near the house.

Mrs. Greene was leading it with great majesty, the waiter with the shiny
hair walking by her side to point out to her the way. Then came all the
luggage,–each porter carrying a white canvas-covered box. That which
was so valuable no doubt was carried next to Mrs. Greene, so that she
might at a moment’s notice put her eye upon the well-known valuable
rent. I confess that I did not observe the hole as the train passed by
me, nor did I count the number of the boxes. Seven boxes, all alike, are
very many; and then they were followed by three other men with the
inferior articles,–Mr. Greene’s portmanteau, the carpet-bag, &c., &c.
At the tail of the line, I found Mr. Greene, and behind him Sophonisba.
“All your fatigues will be over now,” I said to the gentleman, thinking
it well not to be too particular in my attentions to his daughter. He
was panting beneath a terrible great-coat, having forgotten that the
shores of an Italian lake are not so cold as the summits of the Alps,
and did not answer me. “I’m sure I hope so,” said Sophonisba. “And I
shall advise papa not to go any farther unless he can persuade Mrs.
Greene to send her jewels home.” “Sophy, my dear,” he said, “for
Heaven’s sake let us have a little peace since we are here.” From all
which I gathered that Mr. Green had not been fortunate in his second
matrimonial adventure. We then made our way slowly up to the hotel,
having been altogether distanced by the porters, and when we reached the
house we found that the different packages were already being carried
away through the house, some this way and some that. Mrs. Green, the
meanwhile, was talking loudly at the door of her own sitting-room.

“Mr. Greene,” she said, as soon as she saw her heavily oppressed
spouse,–for the noonday sun was up,–“Mr. Greene, where are you?”

“Here, my dear,” and Mr. Greene threw himself panting into the corner of
a sofa.

“A little seltzer water and brandy,” I suggested. Mr. Greene’s inmost
heart leaped at the hint, and nothing that his remonstrant wife could
say would induce him to move, until he had enjoyed the delicious
draught. In the mean time the box with the hole in the canvas had been
lost.

Yes; when we came to look into matters, to count the packages, and to
find out where we were, the box with the hole in the canvas was not
there. Or, at any rate, Mrs. Greene said it was not there. I worked hard
to look it up, and even went into Sophonisba’s bed-room in my search. In
Sophonisba’s bed-room there was but one canvas-covered box. “That is my
own,” said she, “and it is all that I have, except this bag.”

“Where on earth can it be?” said I, sitting down on the trunk in
question. At the moment I almost thought that she had been instrumental
in hiding it.

“How am I to know?” she answered; and I fancied that even she was
dismayed. “What a fool that woman is!”

“The box must be in the house,” I said.

“Do find it, for papa’s sake; there’s a good fellow. He will be so
wretched without his money. I heard him say that he had only two pounds
in his purse.”

“Oh, I can let him have money to go on with,” I answered grandly. And
then I went off to prove that I was a good fellow, and searched
throughout the house. Two white boxes had by order been left downstairs,
as they would not be needed; and these two were in a large cupboard of
the hall, which was used expressly for stowing away luggage. And then
there were three in Mrs. Greene’s bed-room, which had been taken there
as containing the wardrobe which she would require while remaining at
Bellaggio. I searched every one of these myself to see if I could find
the hole in the canvas. But the hole in the canvas was not there. And,
let me count as I would, I could make out only six. Now there certainly
had been seven on board the steamer, though I could not swear that I had
seen the seven put into the small boat.

“Mr. Greene,” said the lady standing in the middle of her remaining
treasures, all of which were now open, “you are worth nothing when
travelling. Were you not behind?” But Mr. Greene’s mind was full, and he
did not answer.

“It has been stolen before your very eyes,” she continued.

“Nonsense, mamma,” said Sophonisba. “If ever it came out of the steamer
it certainly came into the house.”

“I saw it out of the steamer,” said Mrs. Greene, “and it certainly is
not in the house. Mr. Robinson, may I trouble you to send for the
police?–at once, if you please, sir.”

I had been at Bellaggio twice before, but nevertheless I was ignorant of
their system of police. And then, again, I did not know what was the
Italian for the word.

“I will speak to the landlord,” I said.

“If you will have the goodness to send for the police at once, I will
be obliged to you.” And as she thus reiterated her command, she stamped
with her foot upon the floor.

“There are no police at Bellaggio,” said Sophonisba.

“What on earth shall I do for money to go on with?” said Mr. Greene,
looking piteously up to the ceiling, and shaking both his hands.

And now the whole house was in an uproar, including not only the
landlord, his wife and daughters, and all the servants, but also every
other visitor at the hotel. Mrs. Greene was not a lady who hid either
her glories or her griefs under a bushel, and, though she spoke only in
English, she soon made her protestations sufficiently audible. She
protested loudly that she had been robbed, and that she had been robbed
since she left the steamer. The box had come on shore; of that she was
quite certain. If the landlord had any regard either for his own
character or for that of his house, he would ascertain before an hour
was over where it was, and who had been the thief. She would give him an
hour. And then she sat herself down; but in two minutes she was up
again, vociferating her wrongs as loudly as ever. All this was filtered
through me and Sophonisba to the waiter in French, and from the waiter
to the landlord; but the lady’s gestures required no translation to make
them intelligible, and the state of her mind on the matter was, I
believe, perfectly well understood.

Mr. Greene I really did pity. His feelings of dismay seemed to be quite
as deep, but his sorrow and solicitude were repressed into more decorum.
“What am I to do for money?” he said. “I have not a shilling to go on
with!” And he still looked up at the ceiling.

“You must send to England,” said Sophonisba.

“It will take a month,” he replied.

“Mr. Robinson will let you have what you want at present,” added
Sophonisba. Now I certainly had said so, and had meant it at the time.
But my whole travelling store did not exceed forty or fifty pounds, with
which I was going on to Venice, and then back to England through the
Tyrol. Waiting a month for Mr. Greene’s money from England might be even
more inconvenient to me than to him. Then it occurred to me that the
wants of the Greene family would be numerous and expensive, and that my
small stock would go but a little way among so many. And what also if
there had been no money and no jewels in that accursed box! I confess
that at the moment such an idea did strike my mind. One hears of
sharpers on every side committing depredations by means of most
singular intrigues and contrivances. Might it not be possible that the
whole batch of Greenes belonged to this order of society. It was a base
idea, I own; but I confess that I entertained it for a moment.

I retired to my own room for a while that I might think over all the
circumstances. There certainly had been seven boxes, and one had had a
hole in the canvas. All the seven had certainly been on board the
steamer. To so much I felt that I might safely swear. I had not counted
the seven into the small boat, but on leaving the larger vessel I had
looked about the deck to see that none of the Greene trappings were
forgotten. If left on the steamer, it had been so left through an intent
on the part of some one there employed. It was quite possible that the
contents of the box had been ascertained through the imprudence of Mrs.
Greene, and that it had been conveyed away so that it might be rifled at
Como. As to Mrs. Greene’s assertion that all the boxes had been put into
the small boat, I thought nothing of it. The people at Bellaggio could
not have known which box to steal, nor had there been time to concoct
the plan in carrying the boxes up to the hotel. I came at last to this
conclusion, that the missing trunk had either been purloined and carried
on to Como,–in which case it would be necessary to lose no time in
going after it; or that it had been put out of sight in some uncommonly
clever way, by the Greenes themselves, as an excuse for borrowing as
much money as they could raise and living without payment of their
bills. With reference to the latter hypothesis, I declared to myself
that Greene did not look like a swindler; but as to Mrs. Greene–! I
confess that I did not feel so confident in regard to her.

Charity begins at home, so I proceeded to make myself comfortable in my
room, feeling almost certain that I should not be able to leave
Bellaggio on the following morning. I had opened my portmanteau when I
first arrived, leaving it open on the floor as is my wont. Some people
are always being robbed, and are always locking up everything; while
others wander safe over the world and never lock up anything. For
myself, I never turn a key anywhere, and no one ever purloins from me
even a handkerchief. Cantabit vacuus–, and I am always sufficiently
vacuus. Perhaps it is that I have not a handkerchief worth the stealing.
It is your heavy-laden, suspicious, mal-adroit Greenes that the thieves
attack. I now found out that the accommodating Boots, who already knew
my ways, had taken my travelling gear into a dark recess which was
intended to do for a dressing-room, and had there spread my portmanteau
open upon some table or stool in the corner. It was a convenient
arrangement, and there I left it during the whole period of my sojourn.

Mrs. Greene had given the landlord an hour to find the box, and during
that time the landlord, the landlady, their three daughters, and all the
servants in the house certainly did exert themselves to the utmost. Half
a dozen times they came to my door, but I was luxuriating in a
washing-tub, making up for that four-o’clock start from Chiavenna. I
assured them, however, that the box was not there, and so the search
passed by. At the end of the hour I went back to the Greenes according
to promise, having resolved that some one must be sent on to Como to
look after the missing article.

There was no necessity to knock at their sitting-room door, for it was
wide open. I walked in, and found Mrs. Greene still engaged in attacking
the landlord, while all the porters who had carried the luggage up to
the house were standing round. Her voice was loud above the others, but,
luckily for them all, she was speaking English. The landlord, I saw, was
becoming sulky. He spoke in Italian, and we none of us understood him,
but I gathered that he was declining to do anything further. The box, he
was certain, had never come out of the steamer. The Boots stood by
interpreting into French, and, acting as second interpreter, I put it
into English.

Mr. Greene, who was seated on the sofa, groaned audibly, but said
nothing. Sophonisba, who was sitting by him, beat upon the floor with
both her feet.

“Do you hear, Mr. Greene?” said she, turning to him. “Do you mean to
allow that vast amount of property to be lost without an effort? Are you
prepared to replace my jewels?”

“Her jewels!” said Sophonisba, looking up into my face. “Papa had to pay
the bill for every stitch she had when he married her.” These last words
were so spoken as to be audible only by me, but her first exclamation
was loud enough. Were they people for whom it would be worth my while to
delay my journey, and put myself to serious inconvenience with reference
to money?

A few minutes afterwards I found myself with Greene on the terrace
before the house. “What ought I to do?” said he.

“Go to Como,” said I, “and look after your box. I will remain here and
go on board the return steamer. It may perhaps be there.”

“But I can’t speak a word of Italian,” said he.

“Take the Boots,” said I.

“But I can’t speak a word of French.” And then it ended in my
undertaking to go to Como. I swear that the thought struck me that I
might as well take my portmanteau with me, and cut and run when I got
there. The Greenes were nothing to me.

I did not, however, do this. I made the poor man a promise, and I kept
it. I took merely a dressing-bag, for I knew that I must sleep at Como;
and, thus resolving to disarrange all my plans, I started. I was in the
midst of beautiful scenery, but I found it quite impossible to draw any
enjoyment from it;–from that or from anything around me. My whole mind
was given up to anathemas against this odious box, as to which I had
undoubtedly heavy cause of complaint. What was the box to me? I went to
Como by the afternoon steamer, and spent a long dreary evening down on
the steamboat quays searching everywhere, and searching in vain. The
boat by which we had left Colico had gone back to Colico, but the people
swore that nothing had been left on board it. It was just possible that
such a box might have gone on to Milan with the luggage of other
passengers.

I slept at Como, and on the following morning I went on to Milan. There
was no trace of the box to be found in that city. I went round to every
hotel and travelling office, but could hear nothing of it. Parties had
gone to Venice, and Florence, and Bologna, and any of them might have
taken the box. No one, however, remembered it; and I returned back to
Como, and thence to Bellaggio, reaching the latter place at nine in the
evening, disappointed, weary, and cross.

“Has Monsieur found the accursed trunk?” said the Bellaggio Boots,
meeting me on the quay.

“In the name of the —-, no. Has it not turned up here?”

“Monsieur,” said the Boots, “we shall all be mad soon. The poor master,
he is mad already.” And then I went up to the house.

“My jewels!” shouted Mrs. Greene, rushing to me with her arms stretched
out as soon as she heard my step in the corridor. I am sure that she
would have embraced me had I found the box. I had not, however, earned
any such reward. “I can hear nothing of the box either at Como or
Milan,” I said.

“Then what on earth am I to do for my money?” said Mr. Greene.

I had had neither dinner nor supper, but the elder Greenes did not care
for that. Mr. Greene sat silent in despair, and Mrs. Greene stormed
about the room in her anger. “I am afraid you are very tired,” said
Sophonisba.

“I am tired, and hungry, and thirsty,” said I. I was beginning to get
angry, and to think myself ill used. And that idea as to a family of
swindlers became strong again. Greene had borrowed ten napoleons from me
before I started for Como, and I had spent above four in my fruitless
journey to that place and Milan. I was beginning to fear that my whole
purpose as to Venice and the Tyrol would be destroyed; and I had
promised to meet friends at Innspruck, who,–who were very much
preferable to the Greenes. As events turned out, I did meet them. Had I
failed in this, the present Mrs. Robinson would not have been sitting
opposite to me.

I went to my room and dressed myself, and then Sophonisba presided over
the tea-table for me. “What are we to do?” she asked me in a
confidential whisper.

“Wait for money from England.”

“But they will think we are all sharpers,” she said; “and upon my word I
do not wonder at it from the way in which that woman goes on.” She then
leaned forward, resting her elbow on the table and her face on her hand,
and told me a long history of all their family discomforts. Her papa was
a very good sort of man, only he had been made a fool of by that
intriguing woman, who had been left without a sixpence with which to
bless herself. And now they had nothing but quarrels and misery. Papa
did not always got the worst of it;–papa could rouse himself sometimes;
only now he was beaten down and cowed by the loss of his money. This
whispering confidence was very nice in its way, seeing that Sophonisba
was a pretty girl; but the whole matter seemed to be full of suspicion.

“If they did not want to take you in in one way, they did in another,”
said the present Mrs. Robinson, when I told the story to her at
Innspruck. I beg that it may be understood that at the time of my
meeting the Greenes I was not engaged to the present Mrs. Robinson, and
was open to make any matrimonial engagement that might have been
pleasing to me.

On the next morning, after breakfast, we held a council of war. I had
been informed that Mr. Greene had made a fortune, and was justified in
presuming him to be a rich man. It seemed to me, therefore, that his
course was easy. Let him wait at Bellaggio for more money, and when he
returned home, let him buy Mrs. Greene more jewels. A poor man always
presumes that a rich man is indifferent about his money. But in truth a
rich man never is indifferent about his money, and poor Greene looked
very blank at my proposition.

“Do you mean to say that it’s gone for ever?” he asked.

“I’ll not leave the country without knowing more about it,” said Mrs.
Greene.

“It certainly is very odd,” said Sophonisba. Even Sophonisba seemed to
think that I was too off-hand.

“It will be a month before I can get money, and my bill here will be
something tremendous,” said Greene.

“I wouldn’t pay them a farthing till I got my box,” said Mrs. Greene.

“That’s nonsense,” said Sophonisba. And so it was.

“Hold your tongue, Miss!” said the step-mother.

“Indeed, I shall not hold my tongue,” said the step-daughter.

Poor Greene! He had lost more than his box within the last twelve
months; for, as I had learned in that whispered conversation over the
tea-table with Sophonisba, this was in reality her papa’s marriage trip.

Another day was now gone, and we all went to bed. Had I not been very
foolish I should have had myself called at five in the morning, and have
gone away by the early boat, leaving my ten napoleons behind me. But,
unfortunately, Sophonisba had exacted a promise from me that I would not
do this, and thus all chance of spending a day or two in Venice was lost
to me. Moreover, I was thoroughly fatigued, and almost glad of any
excuse which would allow me to lie in bed on the following morning. I
did lie in bed till nine o’clock, and then found the Greenes at
breakfast.

“Let us go and look at the Serbelloni Gardens,” said I, as soon as the
silent meal was over; “or take a boat over to the Sommariva Villa.”

“I should like it so much,” said Sophonisba.

“We will do nothing of the kind till I have found my property,” said
Mrs. Greene. “Mr. Robinson, what arrangement did you make yesterday with
the police at Como?”

“The police at Como?” I said. “I did not go to the police.”

“Not go to the police? And do you mean to say that I am to be robbed of
my jewels and no efforts made for redress? Is there no such thing as a
constable in this wretched country? Mr. Greene, I do insist upon it that
you at once go to the nearest British consul.”

“I suppose I had better write home for money,” said he.

“And do you mean to say that you haven’t written yet?” said I, probably
with some acrimony in my voice.

“You needn’t scold papa,” said Sophonisba.

“I don’t know what I am to do,” said Mr. Greene, and he began walking up
and down the room; but still he did not call for pen and ink, and I
began again to feel that he was a swindler. Was it possible that a man
of business, who had made his fortune in London, should allow his wife
to keep all her jewels in a box, and carry about his own money in the
same?

“I don’t see why you need be so very unhappy, papa,” said Sophonisba.
“Mr. Robinson, I’m sure, will let you have whatever money you may want
at present.” This was pleasant!

“And will Mr. Robinson return me my jewels which were lost, I must say,
in a great measure, through his carelessness,” said Mrs. Greene. This
was pleasanter!

“Upon my word, Mrs. Greene, I must deny that,” said I, jumping up. “What
on earth could I have done more than I did do? I have been to Milan and
nearly fagged myself to death.”

“Why didn’t you bring a policeman back with you?”

“You would tell everybody on board the boat what there was in it,” said
I.

“I told nobody but you,” she answered.

“I suppose you mean to imply that I’ve taken the box,” I rejoined. So
that on this, the third or fourth day of our acquaintance, we did not go
on together quite pleasantly.

But what annoyed me, perhaps, the most, was the confidence with which it
seemed to be Mr. Greene’s intention to lean upon my resources. He
certainly had not written home yet, and had taken my ten napoleons, as
one friend may take a few shillings from another when he finds that he
has left his own silver on his dressing-table. What could he have wanted
of ten napoleons? He had alleged the necessity of paying the porters,
but the few francs he had had in his pocket would have been enough for
that. And now Sophonisba was ever and again prompt in her assurances
that he need not annoy himself about money, because I was at his right
hand. I went upstairs into my own room, and counting all my treasures,
found that thirty-six pounds and some odd silver was the extent of my
wealth. With that I had to go, at any rate, as far as Innspruck, and
from thence back to London. It was quite impossible that I should make
myself responsible for the Greenes’ bill at Bellaggio.

We dined early, and after dinner, according to a promise made in the
morning, Sophonisba ascended with me into the Serbelloni Gardens, and
walked round the terraces on that beautiful hill which commands the view
of the three lakes. When we started I confess that I would sooner have
gone alone, for I was sick of the Greenes in my very soul. We had had a
terrible day. The landlord had been sent for so often, that he refused
to show himself again. The landlady–though Italians of that class are
always courteous–had been so driven that she snapped her fingers in
Mrs. Greene’s face. The three girls would not show themselves. The
waiters kept out of the way as much as possible; and the Boots, in
confidence, abused them to me behind their back. “Monsieur,” said the
Boots, “do you think there ever was such a box?” “Perhaps not,” said I;
and yet I knew that I had seen it.

I would, therefore, have preferred to walk without Sophonisba; but that
now was impossible. So I determined that I would utilise the occasion by
telling her of my present purpose. I had resolved to start on the
following day, and it was now necessary to make my friends understand
that it was not in my power to extend to them any further pecuniary
assistance.

Sophonisba, when we were on the hill, seemed to have forgotten the box,
and to be willing that I should forget it also. But this was impossible.
When, therefore, she told me how sweet it was to escape from that
terrible woman, and leaned on my arm with all the freedom of old
acquaintance, I was obliged to cut short the pleasure of the moment.

“I hope your father has written that letter,” said I.

“He means to write it from Milan. We know you want to get on, so we
purpose to leave here the day after to-morrow.”

“Oh!” said I, thinking of the bill immediately, and remembering that
Mrs. Greene had insisted on having champagne for dinner.

“And if anything more is to be done about the nasty box, it may be done
there,” continued Sophonisba.

“But I must go to-morrow,” said I, “at 5 A.M.”

“Nonsense,” said Sophonisba. “Go to-morrow, when I,–I mean we,–are
going on the next day!”

“And I might as well explain,” said I, gently dropping the hand that was
on my arm, “that I find,–I find it will be impossible for
me–to–to—-”

“To what?”

“To advance Mr. Greene any more money just at present.” Then
Sophonisba’s arm dropped all at once, and she exclaimed, “Oh, Mr.
Robinson!”

After all, there was a certain hard good sense about Miss Greene which
would have protected her from my evil thoughts had I known all the
truth. I found out afterwards that she was a considerable heiress, and,
in spite of the opinion expressed by the present Mrs. Robinson when Miss
Walker, I do not for a moment think she would have accepted me had I
offered to her.

“You are quite right not to embarrass yourself,” she said, when I
explained to her my immediate circumstances; “but why did you make papa
an offer which you cannot perform? He must remain here now till he hears
from England. Had you explained it all at first, the ten napoleons would
have carried us to Milan.” This was all true, and yet I thought it hard
upon me.

It was evident to me now, that Sophonisba was prepared to join her
step-mother in thinking that I had ill-treated them, and I had not much
doubt that I should find Mr. Greene to be of the same opinion. There was
very little more said between us during the walk, and when we reached
the hotel at seven or half-past seven o’clock, I merely remarked that I
would go in and wish her father and mother good-bye. “I suppose you will
drink tea with us,” said Sophonisba, and to this I assented.

I went into my own room, and put all my things into my portmanteau, for
according to the custom, which is invariable in Italy when an early
start is premeditated, the Boots was imperative in his demand that the
luggage should be ready over night. I then went to the Greene’s
sitting-room, and found that the whole party was now aware of my
intentions.

“So you are going to desert us,” said Mrs. Greene.

“I must go on upon my journey,” I pleaded in a weak apologetic voice.

“Go on upon your journey, sir!” said Mrs. Greene. “I would not for a
moment have you put yourself to inconvenience on our account.” And yet I
had already lost fourteen napoleons, and given up all prospect of going
to Venice!

“Mr. Robinson is certainly right not to break his engagement with Miss
Walker,” said Sophonisba. Now I had said not a word about an engagement
with Miss Walker, having only mentioned incidentally that she would be
one of the party at Innspruck. “But,” continued she, “I think he should
not have misled us.” And in this way we enjoyed our evening meal.

I was just about to shake hands with them all, previous to my final
departure from their presence, when the Boots came into the room.

“I’ll leave the portmanteau till to-morrow morning,” said he.

“All right,” said I.

“Because,” said he, “there will be such a crowd of things in the hall.
The big trunk I will take away now.”

“Big trunk,–what big trunk?”

“The trunk with your rug over it, on which your portmanteau stood.”

I looked round at Mr., Mrs., and Miss Greene, and saw that they were all
looking at me. I looked round at them, and as their eyes met mine I felt
that I turned as red as fire. I immediately jumped up and rushed away to
my own room, hearing as I went that all their steps were following me. I
rushed to the inner recess, pulled down the portmanteau, which still
remained in its old place, tore away my own carpet rug which covered the
support beneath it, and there saw—-a white canvas-covered box, with a
hole in the canvas on the side next to me!

“It is my box,” said Mrs. Greene, pushing me away, as she hurried up and
put her finger within the rent.

“It certainly does look like it,” said Mr. Greene, peering over his
wife’s shoulder.

“There’s no doubt about the box,” said Sophonisba.

“Not the least in life,” said I, trying to assume an indifferent look.

“Mon Dieu!” said the Boots.

“Corpo di Baccho!” exclaimed the landlord, who had now joined the party.

“Oh–h–h–h–!” screamed Mrs. Greene, and then she threw herself back
on to my bed, and shrieked hysterically.

There was no doubt whatsoever about the fact. There was the lost box,
and there it had been during all those tedious hours of unavailing
search. While I was suffering all that fatigue in Milan, spending my
precious zwanzigers in driving about from one hotel to another, the box
had been safe, standing in my own room at Bellaggio, hidden by my own
rug. And now that it was found everybody looked at me as though it were
all my fault. Mrs. Greene’s eyes, when she had done being hysterical,
were terrible, and Sophonisba looked at me as though I were a convicted
thief.

“Who put the box here?” I said, turning fiercely upon the Boots.

“I did,” said the Boots, “by Monsieur’s express order.”

“By my order?” I exclaimed.

“Certainly,” said the Boots.

“Corpo di Baccho!” said the landlord, and he also looked at me as
though I were a thief. In the mean time the landlady and the three
daughters had clustered round Mrs. Greene, administering to her all
manner of Italian consolation. The box, and the money, and the jewels
were after all a reality; and much incivility can be forgiven to a lady
who has really lost her jewels, and has really found them again.

There and then there arose a hurly-burly among us as to the manner in
which the odious trunk found its way into my room. Had anybody been just
enough to consider the matter coolly, it must have been quite clear that
I could not have ordered it there. When I entered the hotel, the boxes
were already being lugged about, and I had spoken a word to no one
concerning them. That traitorous Boots had done it,–no doubt without
malice prepense; but he had done it; and now that the Greenes were once
more known as moneyed people, he turned upon me, and told me to my face,
that I had desired that box to be taken to my own room as part of my own
luggage!

“My dear,” said Mr. Greene, turning to his wife, “you should never
mention the contents of your luggage to any one.”

“I never will again,” said Mrs. Greene, with a mock repentant air, “but
I really thought—-”

“One never can be sure of sharpers,” said Mr. Greene.

“That’s true,” said Mrs. Greene.

“After all, it may have been accidental,” said Sophonisba, on hearing
which good-natured surmise both papa and mamma Greene shook their
suspicious heads.

I was resolved to say nothing then. It was all but impossible that they
should really think that I had intended to steal their box; nor, if they
did think so, would it have become me to vindicate myself before the
landlord and all his servants. I stood by therefore in silence, while
two of the men raised the trunk, and joined the procession which
followed it as it was carried out of my room into that of the legitimate
owner. Everybody in the house was there by that time, and Mrs. Greene,
enjoying the triumph, by no means grudged them the entrance into her
sitting-room. She had felt that she was suspected, and now she was
determined that the world of Bellaggio should know how much she was
above suspicion. The box was put down upon two chairs, the supporters
who had borne it retiring a pace each. Mrs. Greene then advanced proudly
with the selected key, and Mr. Greene stood by at her right shoulder,
ready to receive his portion of the hidden treasure. Sophonisba was now
indifferent, and threw herself on the sofa, while I walked up and down
the room thoughtfully,–meditating what words I should say when I took
my last farewell of the Greenes.

But as I walked I could see what occurred. Mrs. Greene opened the box,
and displayed to view the ample folds of a huge yellow woollen
dressing-gown. I could fancy that she would not willingly have exhibited
this article of her toilet, had she not felt that its existence would
speedily be merged in the presence of the glories which were to follow.
This had merely been the padding at the top of the box. Under that lay a
long papier-maché case, and in that were all her treasures. “Ah, they
are safe,” she said, opening the lid and looking upon her tawdry pearls
and carbuncles.

Mr. Greene, in the mean time, well knowing the passage for his hand, had
dived down to the very bottom of the box, and seized hold of a small
canvas bag. “It is here,” said he, dragging it up, “and as far as I can
tell, as yet, the knot has not been untied.” Whereupon he sat himself
down by Sophonisba, and employing her to assist him in holding them,
began to count his rolls. “They are all right,” said he; and he wiped
the perspiration from his brow.

I had not yet made up my mind in what manner I might best utter my last
words among them so as to maintain the dignity of my character, and now
I was standing over against Mr. Greene with my arms folded on my breast.
I had on my face a frown of displeasure, which I am able to assume upon
occasions, but I had not yet determined what words I would use. After
all, perhaps, it might be as well that I should leave them without any
last words.

“Greene, my dear,” said the lady, “pay the gentleman his ten napoleons.”

“Oh yes, certainly;” whereupon Mr. Greene undid one of the rolls and
extracted eight sovereigns. “I believe that will make it right, sir,”
said he, handing them to me.

I took the gold, slipped it with an indifferent air into my waistcoat
pocket, and then refolded my arms across my breast.

“Papa,” said Sophonisba, in a very audible whisper, “Mr. Robinson went
for you to Como. Indeed, I believe he says he went to Milan.”

“Do not let that be mentioned,” said I.

“By all means pay him his expenses,” said Mrs. Greene; “I would not owe
him anything for worlds.”

“He should be paid,” said Sophonisba.

“Oh, certainly,” said Mr. Greene. And he at once extracted another
sovereign, and tendered it to me in the face of the assembled multitude.

This was too much! “Mr. Greene,” said I, “I intended to be of service to
you when I went to Milan, and you are very welcome to the benefit of my
intentions. The expense of that journey, whatever may be its amount, is
my own affair.” And I remained standing with my closed arms.

“We will be under no obligation to him,” said Mrs. Greene; “and I shall
insist on his taking the money.”

“The servant will put it on his dressing-table,” said Sophonisba. And
she handed the sovereign to the Boots, giving him instructions.

“Keep it yourself, Antonio,” I said. Whereupon the man chucked it to the
ceiling with his thumb, caught it as it fell, and with a well-satisfied
air, dropped it into the recesses of his pocket. The air of the Greenes
was also well satisfied, for they felt that they had paid me in full for
all my services.

And now, with many obsequious bows and assurances of deep respect, the
landlord and his family withdrew from the room. “Was there anything else
they could do for Mrs. Greene?” Mrs. Greene was all affability. She had
shown her jewels to the girls, and allowed them to express their
admiration in pretty Italian superlatives. There was nothing else she
wanted to-night. She was very happy and liked Bellaggio. She would stay
yet a week, and would make herself quite happy. And, though none of them
understood a word that the other said, each understood that things were
now rose-coloured, and so with scrapings, bows, and grinning smiles, the
landlord and all his myrmidons withdrew. Mr. Greene was still counting
his money, sovereign by sovereign, and I was still standing with my
folded arms upon my bosom.

“I believe I may now go,” said I.

“Good night,” said Mrs. Greene.

“Adieu,” said Sophonisba.

“I have the pleasure of wishing you good-bye,” said Mr. Greene.

And then I walked out of the room. After all, what was the use of saying
anything? And what could I say that would have done me any service? If
they were capable of thinking me a thief,–which they certainly
did,–nothing that I could say would remove the impression. Nor, as I
thought, was it suitable that I should defend myself from such an
imputation. What were the Greenes to me? So I walked slowly out of the
room, and never again saw one of the family from that day to this.

As I stood upon the beach the next morning, while my portmanteau was
being handed into the boat, I gave the Boots five zwanzigers. I was
determined to show him that I did not condescend to feel anger against
him.

He took the money, looked into my face, and then whispered to me, “Why
did you not give me a word of notice beforehand?” he said, and winked
his eye. He was evidently a thief, and took me to be another;–but what
did it matter?

I went thence to Milan, in which city I had no heart to look at
anything; thence to Verona, and so over the pass of the Brenner to
Innspruck. When I once found myself near to my dear friends the Walkers
I was again a happy man; and I may safely declare that, though a portion
of my journey was so troublesome and unfortunate, I look back upon that
tour as the happiest and the luckiest epoch of my life.