philosophers contend that man is a mere machine; but there is one
capital difference between a man and a machine, I do not say there
is only one, that you cannot bribe a machine. Now I bribed a
girl with a shilling yesterday to get a letter into the post in
time. She said she could run down in eight minutes, and she
did. Our clock takes eight days to run down. To be sure
she has never been bribed to be quicker; but it is open to any man
to try her with a bribe if he likes. As to running to the
post, I know she would not do it to oblige a prime-minister.
We may therefore fairly turn the contention the other way, and
declare that a machine is not a mere man.
These remarks are owing to some made by Katharina when I said
the scheme was slippery, and changed at every point where I took
hold of it. She answered: "When we have finished it and set it
going will be time enough to expect completeness and regularity of
it as if it went by machinery."
A man can sometimes hold his own with one woman, but never
"It will provide a mission for Katharina," Anna reminded me.
It will be a career for her; think of that!
I did not believe that Katharina really wanted a career, any
more than my dog Tobias wants a wig, or than my dun cow wants a pair
of pattens, two pairs, I mean; but when I said so they veered
round again to remind me what a blessing their precious scheme would
be to the community of inmates. These were to be all
comfortable, instead of always straitened and always anxious, living
in pokey little places, and not knowing how to make both ends meet.
But some people, I am convinced, would rather have pokey
little places to themselves than dwell with others in larger ones.
There is a great deal of pity wasted in this world.
I once fell asleep and dreamed that I was a frog.
Immediately, and quite naturally, I began to croak, and
thought I need not have pitied frogs for not having the gift of
speech. Croaking is just as good as talk, and much easier.
One croak, my first, has expressed all that and more. "Croak!"
And in this, my second, I have uttered the sweetness of life, and
the meaning of the world.
I related my dream to them with the pathos that such a
subject deserved and they laughed.
They informed me that they should continue to exercise Pity,
also to make the scheme answer well if possible. They had
written to four more sets of people to join, People whom they knew
personally, people gently born but dragged down by circumstances.
So wearisome, as Anna explained, had been their struggle with
life, that even Hope had got quite out of heart.
"Then you should have gilded her anchor for her," I rejoined,
"which would have pleased the old thing. Do I hear you say
that you have done so already? You never said anything so
ridiculous! Then you might have done so; you need not be
ashamed of your good deeds. You gilded her anchor for her and
immediately she 'told you a flattering tale' which you repeated to
all the future partners of your scheme."
Flattery, in my opinion, has been too much abused. It
is often merely the expression of one's good wishes. What can
be more appropriate, for instance, than the flattery of the doctor
who, hanging out a lamp as a guide to his patients in the dark,
always makes it couleur de rose.
"So now," I continued, "you have got all the people excepting
the only two of any consequence, Godfrey and your grandmother."
Thus I continued gently to oppose them, for I was now fully
determined that the scheme should be tried; and what so likely to
forward it as a little judicious opposition?
Why had I turned round, do I hear the reader ask?
Well, partly because of that tinker. I had seen the
tinker and his spouse the previous evening, for this good lady had
now joined her husband.
They were seated together on a bank of heather, and they were
both crying because, forsooth, her wedding ring had dropped off her
finger and they could not find it.
I cast my eyes about, and almost directly I saw it lying on
the ground. I pointed it out and the tinker ran at it, but he
had great difficulty in poising himself so as to pick it up.
However, he managed this at last. She put it on, got up, and
as the planet Saturn rolls on within his ring, so did she roll on
within hers. She was slightly drunk, and he was slightly
sober. It came with both to much the same thing.
But to return to these two young ladies, what is a man when
woman gets hold of him? Or, to put the question with direct
reference to an answer, you can say, "Where is he?" to which you
can reply, "Nowhere!"
The grandmother slowly got better, and I took her home,
leaving Katharina behind, with her sister and the two little boys
and Martha, in the hotel.
The grandmother was feeble and in low spirits. She rued
her evening in the tent and her long drive in the fog. I was
in low spirits too; in fact I was perfectly miserable.
But how can a man be expected to tell the reason to a person
whom he never saw in his life, that probably stupid, vulgar,
pay-twopence-a-volume-to-a-circulating-library, disagreeable, and as
likely as not dishonest person, the reader. No! if this is
simply spleen, you may make the best of it, or not, as you please.
I was miserable, but I am pleased with sympathy. Sometimes,
when I was a little morose and inclined to be short in my answers, a
wrinkled hand would be laid on mine, and rather a trembling voice
would murmur: "I have no patience with you, Jack, any more than I
have with him. Throw it off, do! Depend on it they are
none of them worth all this, not one."
Yes, sympathy is very soothing. Shortly I had a letter
from Anna. The families written to had all answered that they
should be delighted to join the scheme, if Godfrey would be
responsible for the houses in case it did not answer and they had to
separate. One of these was an artist, a second-cousin of
Godfrey's. I knew him. He had a wife, and three boys at
school. When I was a lad I sat to him for a bandit. I
came out a capital bandit too, but I shall always say it was the hat
that did it. Costume, in a certain kind of art, is everything.
I call that sort, dog-art. Why not? We call a violet
without scent a dog-violet, poetry without the essence, dog-poetry.
Do we though? Never mind! my argument is the same; and every
one says dog-Latin.
In future I shall call our mongrel scientific nomenclature
dog-Greek. It is hard on the dogs perhaps, but let us not
"weep for them." They don't know that we do it.
Dog-English is coming in fast, perhaps to revenge these faithful
quadrupeds on us. They never ill use their simple language
thus. But to point out only one example of this dog-English,
some of our writers have taken lately to ill-using our neat and
compact verb by ramming an adverb into its midst. They will
"To appreciatively drink bottled stout"
"To energetically walk to Paddington;"
"To incessantly think;"
"To ably reason;"
Where was this dog-English whelped?
You should say, " to think incessantly to reason ably." Let
us suppose that " bow-wow " means to drink. Do you ever hear your
dog say Bow wagging my tail wow"?
A North-Britisher writes better English, but he has certain
pet words which the ear tires of. To mention only one: I, who
am an Englishman, never commence to eat my dinner, I always
A Scotchman is frequently so fond of this word that I have
known him commence to put his hat on.
Do I hear you saying, "What business is this of yours?" and
grumbling that you shall do just as you please? I know it, I
know you will write just as you please. I am not responsible.
Writing vulgar or ugly English is not an indictable offence.
I only wish it was; I would indict you all.
I would fain be tenderly careful of the language if I might,
but it often pains me to think that the language cares not a straw
for my pains.
I once tied a delicate plant to a stick, designing thereby to
afford it support and save it from being beaten down and trodden on.
I went away, and when I returned the plant had grown high and
strong, and had tugged at the stick till it had pulled it out of the
ground and borne it some way up, still carefully tied; so the stem
now supported the stick. I left it there, as I now leave the
But I ramble unconscionably.
The next set of people consisted of three maiden ladies
daughters of a deceased rector and their three nieces, from eight
to ten years old, whom they were bringing up, one of them acting
as governess, and being willing for a small sum to teach the other
children in the house.
They were to have four rooms, small ones, and pay in
proportion. Concerning them I may say that they were likely to
make any reasonable scheme answer. They were such undoubted
ladies that everything they did would appear to be a becoming
occupation for a lady. They had excellent sense, a good deal
of vigour, and that natural joyousness which is a very uncommon
endowment after early youth.
Then there was a bachelor a clerk in a government office
with his sister, a widow. She, together with the sisters
before mentioned, was very much given to good works; but it was
fully understood that they were to do their share in keeping the
house going, before they presumed to attempt anything outside.
Thus there were to be only seven sets of people in my two
houses, and all the rooms would be filled.
I was entreated in this letter to go up to London and look
at the houses. They hoped I would do this, for I was always so
kind, and Godfrey had been told of the great scheme and would meet
me there; and then, as I was so good to them and always liked them
to be happy, would I oh, would I undertake to tell their
grandmother and make her like it? for they wanted to be together,
and Katharina loved the two little boys, and Anna was so tired of
the tents and of never seeing her own people. Yes, if I told
the grandmother at all, of course it behooved me to make her like
the scheme; so I did my best, and after her first surprise she
listened and cogitated, questioning me with her questioning natural
shrewdness, and smiling over the more unpractical parts of the
scheme with a certain air of grim delight, which is not very grim
after all. She nodded at last: "That'll do, Jack."
"You understand it?"
"I understand the gist of it well enough, which is that
Godfrey is responsible."
"Then you will join?"
"Certainly I will join. Anna will find out almost at
once what parts of her scheme will not work, and she must make
Godfrey change them for her."
"Of course! Anna has had no power hitherto, she has
simply followed his ridiculous lead; but let her once get Godfrey
into a scrape, let him find himself entangled in the meshes of such
a complicated plan, and he will be thankful to make use of her wits
and to depend on her invention for getting him out of it or, as I
hope, for leading him smoothly on in it. She is a clever
little baggage; and those two, if they can only be together, will be
as happy as queens in spite of Godfrey and Another. At least
they will if, through Godfrey's over-sensitive conscience, Anna can
get the upper hand."
"They will not be together long when Another comes home," I
"If I never have speech of him but once so long
as I live, he shall that once hear a piece of my mind," said my
"No, you would not wish a life-long division from your other
granddaughter; and what future has she to look forward to but his
gracious return and kind consent to a marriage with her?"
"She is a very foolish girl."
"She is not a very happy one just now; but as to this scheme,
your judgment, you know, will be a great thing, you will help them
with your advice."
She fell into my little trap at once, assented, and added:
"But though I join the scheme entirely because Godfrey is in it, yet
he really is the one supernumerary. It cannot truly answer
while he remains, and if it threatens to answer independently of him
he will have to go out."
"But is it likely to answer independently of him?"
"Very likely indeed. It is a good thought, that of
doing without servants so far as possible, but there is nothing
respectable and fitting in his turning himself into a servant out of
singularity or caprice; and if you say 'out of philanthropy' you
make the thing into a charity at once. Anna's chance of what I
may call reforming him lies not in his making himself into a
voluntary drudge, but in his working with her to extend such a
scheme as this. He must go into it from above, not from
"But he has been tricked into it," I observed, "by the
promise that he shall descend."
"Let him descend then," said my aunt, "till he is thoroughly
tired of it, when, like a good wife, she can haul him up again."
Well, enough of this conversation. I did go up to
London, and on a fine September afternoon I let myself into the
lower of my two houses with a key, and found Godfrey there before
Shall I ever forget the candid air of open good will with
which he sat on the kitchen dresser and looked blandly at the stove?
"O yes, certainly, if I would let him have leases of the
two houses he should be glad to take them and do anything that his
dear Anna felt to be necessary."
Anna wished to have all the floors stained, I told him, and
to do without carpets.
Godfrey's face glowed. It would please him much, he
said, that his boys should be brought up to do without such luxury.
As to his dear Anna, he felt that she was coming on; he was proud of
I explained to him that he must have coal bunks made at the
top of each house, and that the water must be laid on, and then that
he must make a lift. He thought it would have been easy for
him to have carried up the coal that would be wanted. I said
no, for it might be required sometimes when he was out doing
necessary errands. He was impressed with the reasonableness of
this remark, and when we parted he walked down the street with a
rapt air of sweet elation. All seemed to be going well with
When I got to my hotel I found a letter awaiting me, a joint
production containing the combined wisdom of Anna and Katharina.
It ran thus. Anna began.
JACK, What about the
pots and kettles? Mrs. John Blank has been making us aware
that we are not strong enough to lift them; so what is to be done?
I promised Godfrey that we would not have servants; but she says we
must have one strong woman a charwoman to come in every morning
and light the kitchen fire, put the sauce-pans on for the early
dinner, and then get the hot joints out into the dishes and set
these in the lift. She must dine herself, and then she might
go. Will you break this to Godfrey? Mrs. John Blank says
it will only come to about twopence each day for each family to pay
in wages. Half a servant among seven does not seem much; but
Godfrey will think we are putting in the thin edge of the wedge.
Your ever grateful
This is Anna's usual signature. Under it followed
JACK, When Anna told
Godfrey of her scheme he appeared at first hardly to understand it;
but as she unfolded it and he saw how many it would make
comfortable, and also how much that was menial would fall to his own
share, he could not speak for pleasure, and tears rolled down his
"When Anna saw this she was so touched and so shocked to
think why she was inveigling him into it that she burst into tears
too, and darted a displeased look at me as if it was my fault.
It was a little awkward for me. I thought she was going to
confess all; but she didn't.
"They sat together and loved one another a good deal, and he
said it was the happiest day of his life, and she said she wished
she was more worthy of him.
"What a goose he is, Jack; but oh, how good!
Well, we put workmen into the houses, who soon began to knock
them about. Some of the future inmates sent in furniture.
Godfrey superintended and I went home.
It was evening. I bought a Globe newspaper; but there
were people whom I knew in the railway carriage, and we talked all
the way down, my paper, folded together, lying on the seat.
When I got out at our little country station, I forgot it and left
it there. A great deal of misery and expense, and a projected
journey thousands of miles long, would have been saved to a certain
person but for that momentary lapse of memory.
I crossed the bridge over the line, and arranged to have my
effects sent on, a fish-basket was among them, for my Malay boy
having levanted, and his place not having been supplied, there was
no one to meet me.
I may have spent five minutes in the station when, coming
out, I found that the train I had travelled down in had been shunted
on to the other rails and was waiting just beyond the platform.
My friends saw me and waved something pink at me. It
was the Globe newspaper.
They flung it forth. It opened in the descent, fell
full face on a heap of wet mud, and got so dirty that I left it
there and went home without it. When I reached home I
perceived that the house was empty. The servants were
attentive, the rooms were fresh and well lighted. I could not
detect any change, but something that had all the worst effects of a
change, something accustomed which had become unbearable, assured me
that the place was empty.
I knew what it meant; it had driven me from my own country
twice before. Still, as I said to myself that night, "many
fellows travel and stay away for years, entirely for their own
I was very bad company to Myself that evening. There
was nothing bitter and contemptuous that I did not say to Myself,
and I got from Myself as good as I gave.
I went to bed, and saw the dark out and the new day in, and
saw the sun come up, and felt more miserable than ever.
At last I fell asleep. I had slept, I know not how
long, when I seemed to hear, athwart a deep chasm into which I was
peering, a sort of gentle I may say apologetic knocking. I
took no notice, but soon saw that the knocking was caused by a
gnome, a small and very shabby one, who was tapping feebly at the
side of the chasm.
The tapping went on at short intervals for about a quarter of
an hour, when I observed that I was awake. There was silence,
followed by a sort of female hue and cry, two or three people were
running upstairs, and they fell on my door with such an ecstasy of
banging and shaking and thumping that I could not have made myself
heard in answer, however loudly I had shouted. So I was quiet
till they ceased and listened. I then said, "Is anything the
"O sir," cried my housekeeper, "we thought you were dead!"
"Is anything else the matter?" I shouted.
"Nothing so very particular, sir," she replied.
I began to get up. I found it was eleven o'clock.
I am a sound sleeper. There was no man-servant to come into my
room and rouse me as usual; hence these ineffectual tappings, and
hence a good deal besides.
While I was at breakfast my housekeeper came in to apologize
for the noise she and her subordinates had made, and to tell me that
my aunt's man on his way to the station had left a note. My
dog, in fact, was at that moment touzling the note, and under his
auspices it was already open on the rug; for I had looked on it as
merely a piece of waste paper.
In a shaking hand it demanded my presence. No doubt I
knew what the writer feared, and would I come and advise with her as
soon as I possibly could?
I SET forth
hastily with Tobias. Now whether or not Tobias is a literary
dog, and takes to reviewing line in the dog's form of it, I cannot
say; but the fact is certain that printed paper has an extraordinary
fascination for him, and he no sooner sees a leaf of it than he
tries to tear it to pieces, just as a reviewer might. Then he
brings it me, who am his world and his public, and lays it at my
I am afraid he is a beast. However, he does but act
according to his lights or his darks, whichever you like to call
them. Tobias saw the rejected "Globe" and brought it to me.
Well, I did not throw the paper away, or he would have rushed after
it again and brought it back. It had been dried in the wind.
I folded and put it in my pocket.
My heart seemed to be lying in the dust for my own feet to
tread on it; and what an indifferent and cruelly peaceful world I
was walking in. However, enough of that. I heard a
sweet voice singing as I came up to the open window.
Katharina, yes, there she sat, her head bent low over some writing
materials. Like a moth I made for the candle.
"You did not send for me?"
"No, grandmother did. I had better ring and let her
know that you are here."
"Is anything the matter?"
"Oh no, Jack, not that I know of."
"Then you have seen her this morning?"
"Seen her? Of course, several times but Jack, you
know the stud belongs to me; grandmother does not object, so
I am going to sell the stud."
The stud consisted of one rather elderly cob.
She looked more like Mary Queen of Scots than ever: a Mary
smiling, innocent, speaking in modern English and dressed in a
garb of a golden brown colour, made of some soft material which gave
her a delightfully domestic air.
I looked at her. Another might be expected any day.
Perhaps he would see her in that very gown, that very day.
"Jack, what makes you look so dull this morning?"
"Nothing that I can tell to you. What about selling the
stud? It would amuse me to hear of it."
"I have made some advertisements. Tommy, as you know,
is rather old, and he goes very well unless he takes it into his
head to cogitate; then he stops, and will not stir unless I stand up
in the carriage and hit him with the butt end of the whip.
Still, he has always been our stud. Grandmother cannot drive
now, so I shall sell the whole. But how to say what is true,
and yet get any one to buy him! What do you think of such an
advertisement as this? 'To be sold without reserve the Hertfordshire
highflyer, beautiful horse; four legs, a fine gray tail, a pleasant
Thus far Katharina.
"If you please, sir, mistress would like to see you
Upstairs I went, and there my aunt sat.
"O Jack, O my good, kind nephew! oh! what is to be done?
You've seen it?"
"Seen it? No. Seen what?"
"Married! Who is married?"
I had seen Katharina below, joyous, contented, calm.
I looked earnestly at the grandmother, and with anxious pity
sat down by her and took her hand. In one instant she divined
my thought, snatched her hand away with a vigour and a bitterness
indescribable. "So you think my wits are to blame, and not my
circumstances? It was all in the papers last night, the
I pulled the sheet of the Globe from my pocket.
"If any other man ever had such a name as his," she
continued, "there is a chance for Katharina. If not, there is
Well, there, looking me in the face, was the name of
Another, his baptismal name, a very singular one, and his surname
If this record were not true, I could tell the names at once
to the reader. As it is, I must invent two, as strange and not
at all like them, to call him by. If any one finds him out,
even through this disguise, it will serve him right.
This was the paragraph:
"Accident to Mrs. Tudor Smutt. A carriage accident,
which was very near having disastrous consequences, took place at
the Tiverton and Hemyock Junction yesterday. Mr. Tudor Smutt,
of a family well known in this neighbourhood, had just left the
station, and with his wife and his three step-daughters had entered
an open carriage, when the train starting off frightened the horses,
and they ran away at a frightful rate, finally overthrowing the
carriage at the foot of the hill, and actually tossing Mrs. Tudor
Smutt on to the top of a newly cut hawthorn hedge. Mr. Smutt
was not hurt, and his daughters were rescued from the overturned
phaeton without injury beyond a few bruises; but Mrs. Smutt's arm
was badly sprained, and her face was much cut and torn by the
thorns. She was taken back to Tiverton with her family, and
they are now staying at the Castle Hotel," etc.
I was amazed and sat silent, revolving the matter in my mind.
I had supposed that Another was still in the East.
"Do you think there is a mistake in the Christian name?" said
my aunt. "Another has two brothers." Then she paused,
till I told her that one of these brothers was but lately married to
a young girl, and the second, to my certain knowledge, was with his
regiment at Bermuda, having lately returned from his leave.
Then she said: "And I have telegraphed to the Castle Hotel.
I had difficulty in hiding what I was about from Katharina, and I
have got no answer."
She had requested to know whether Mr. Tudor Smutt was still
at the Castle Hotel, Tiverton, and desired that if he was he would
immediately communicate with her. While I sat with her came an
answer to her telegram. Mr. Tudor Smutt was in the hotel, but
was about to start for the North. That was all; and the answer
came from the proprietor of the hotel, not from Another.
I did not tell Katharina's grandmother that she had herself
destroyed her chance of finding out what she wanted to know, but I
thought so. If he had come home he had intended for some
reason or other that Katharina should not know it. If he had
married he had not courage to tell her so, and but for this accident
her family might not have known it for months. If he had got
himself into a scrape, he was just the kind of man to trust to
circumstances for working him out of it.
"Katharina will break her heart," sobbed the good old
grandmother; "and it's such a slight to us all; and she has waited
so long and been so patient. And I always disliked him to
that degree; and it was such a cruel disadvantage, her being
bound to him for so long, that, as I did make up my mind to it and
she depends on him, it is doubly hard that he should throw us over."
To make a long story short, as I sat still talking I turned
with a sudden start; not that any sound had called my eyes in that
direction, only that I was conscious of a presence in the room,
some one not moving, only being.
Within the door, standing silent as a vision, her eyes a
little widened by wonder, her cheek a little paled by suspense, and
her two hands put forward as if (sweet thing!) to ward off some evil
news, she knew not what, stood Katharina.
"There is something for me to hear," she said without moving,
and in a tone so low and dim that I caught her words with
Neither of us spoke.
"If he is dead," she began, and her eyes with their far-away
look rested on mine, "if he is dead, no one can say I was not
She spoke with the tone and air of one talking in sleep, in
a low, passionless, expressionless fashion. It was almost a
whisper, and still she seemed to be holding off the answer with her
"He is not dead, my dear and precious child," murmured her
grandmother; and then she slowly bent forward and tears rained upon
"Is he ill?"
"No." We both spoke then.
"What is it all, then? What is the matter? Nobody
knows whether anything is the matter or not."
"That was Jack's voice?"
"Yes, my dear, Jack is here. Don't you see him?
You must not be frightened, Katharina." Presently we got her
to sit down and drink some water, and very soon we had told her all
Her comment on it was unexpected: "Somebody must have stolen
She and her grandmother were both sobbing now with all their
hearts; but presently recovering herself my venerable relative burst
forth into such a tirade against Another, showered upon him such a
hailstorm of contemptuous words, and peppered him with such epithets
of scorn, that I lifted myself bolt upright to gaze at her as I sat
between the two, and found Myself, as is often the case on
momentous occasions, drawn away from the main question to consider
the accidental ornaments and fringes of circumstance in which it was
What a fine indignation there was in that agèd
face, what a flash in the usually cold blue eyes, what a flush of
pure red over the clear-cut features!
When she saw my attentive surprise she soon collapsed again,
and Katharina spoke on the other side with a calm almost equally
"You have always been my good, good friend." She laid
her hand on my arm. "You have seen the state of the case, but
you have always perceived what was my duty, and helped me to do it
and to be loyal."
"The state of the case!" I exclaimed. I hated myself
when I had said it; but the words had been uttered, and they rang in
my own ears as they manifestly stung hers. Her eyelids drooped
as if they were weighed down by a beautiful shame, and her face was
all coloured with one blush of pure carnation. I felt that her
confession had been made inadvertently. She had ceased to love
him, but she meant to be faithful to her engagement.
I looked at her as she sat for two or three moments, still,
as if in a dream. I felt keenly how dear she was, how dear she
always had been to me; but I knew she was far from suspecting this.
"We have been friends so long," I began, "that if you have
said anything you did not mean to say, surely you will depend on me
forever to consider the words unsaid."
No answer. She manifestly could not recover herself.
"I shall wish just as much as ever to help you, in spite of
this report in the paper; and there is still a possibility of
explanation. What would you like me to do?"
"I don't know."
I had not believed her capable of being so much out of
countenance; but, as if the sound of her words roused her by their
whispered unlikeness to her usual voice, she manifestly struggled
with her shy astonished trouble, and presently she breathed more
freely, the blush faded, and she said almost in her usual tone, "I
should like that you and grandmother would consult as to what is
best to be done."
"I shall not believe that he has done this thing," she
presently added, "unless some one, whom I can trust, actually sees
him with this lady, and he, himself, acknowledges that he has
No other possibility than that Another had married
"this lady" ever entered her mind for a moment.
A few years ago, when railroads were not, if a man
with a wife and family and a lot of luggage set forth from some
given hotel, and another man set forth in chase of him, he was sure
sooner or later to be found. By the coach, or by the
post-horses he had used, he could be traced from stage to stage.
It is different now. People buy tickets at a railway station,
and nobody hears their names or knows anything about them.
Now I am not writing this book to chronicle the flight of
Another, or my chase after him, though I had a long one.
Sometimes I tried to believe that I wished her first thought
was correct, and that "somebody else had stolen his name;" but when
I had reached the hotel at Tiverton, and been told that the Tudor
Smutts were off with the three young ladies, and when I had been
favoured with a minute description of Tudor Smutt himself, I gave
up that, was sure that the fugitive was Another, and sure also that
he felt he should be chased, and was doing what he could to hide
But why? He had committed no offence that he was likely
to get anything worse than scorn and contumely for. I was
thinking of this while eating a hasty dinner in the coffee-room of
the hotel, when in walked Godfrey and Anna; the former in a mild
state of incredulity, he could not believe Another would be so
dishonourable; the latter in a high state of indignation, her
grandmother had written to her on the previous night.
"Odious little horror," exclaimed Anna when the waiter had
left us, and she could take to personalities, as ladies always do on
such occasions, "I could tear his little heart out with pleasure,
if he had one!"
"My sweetest Anna," said Godfrey in his candid leisurely
style, "can this be you? Be calm! Let us not be unjust,
and say things that afterwards we shall have reason to be sorry for.
No one, my dearest wife, is in general so reasonable as you are."
"O Godfrey!" exclaimed Anna, "don't! I can't always be
straining up to your level. I don't want to be reasonable."
Godfrey looked mildly disturbed, and she went on: "But I hope
he has done this thing, Oh, I do hope that with all my heart!"
"Well," I exclaimed, when I saw him set his great hands on
his large knees and look at her almost with alarm, "this is as fine
an autumnal evening as I ever saw, and we must set off in fifty
minutes, for we have to travel all night; we are going to Liverpool.
Waiter, what is there in the hotel?"
I had rung furiously, and in a short time food of various
sorts was on the table. Anna and Godfrey were seated before
it, and we were all making as good a meal as if such a man as
Another had never been born.
A wonderful night followed. Little pricks in the
salmon-coloured west sparkled and shook, reporting themselves as
small adornments loath to be overlooked. The jewellery of
heaven, visible in all the worlds that go round this our little sun!
Have their possible inhabitants better eyes than we? Can they
discriminate this active globe, the earth, and the small green
island lying on the sides of the north, and the tiny lines scored
upon it which go by the name of railroads, and the flying carriages
with their trail of snow-white scud?
I tell you candidly that I do not know whether they can or
not, but I do know that the sleep of the just is occasionally
accompanied by the snoring of the just; and if it pleases us to
think that the inhabitants of Orion, of Rigel or Aldebaran, may
possibly see our railway trains, it is only fair to suppose that
they can also hear us snore, hear Godfrey at least. At the
same time I consider that the guard who once looked in at a junction
was distinctly mistaken, for he declared that "that gentleman's
snoring was enough to wake the dead, and leave as much noise over as
ought to make Niagara Falls ashamed of themselves for having
pretended to be anyway obstreperous."
Anna and I did not argue with that guard. The person
that I argued with was Myself. As for her, she slumbered, for
she was used to the marital serenade. This was the gist of my
I. So you are secretly glad, you
mean hound, that this poor sweet girl, whom you pretend to love, has
probably met with a misfortune which is likely to wreck her
Myself. This really is not like you,
Sir. She could not have been happy with Another. He is a
prig; he is precise, domineering, egotistic, cold.
I. But still he is the man of her
Myself. And it appears that he has
run away from her; and your conduct will be almost as bad, Jack, if,
this proving to be true, you step up and try to work upon her
I. She might do worse.
Myself. Perhaps, but that you will
never know, for if you go limping up to her, she will have to take
I. She shall never take me against
her true wish.
Myself. She must.
I. That is a lie!
Myself. It is not! Do you
propose to do other than confess your life-long love.
I. What chance shall I have if I do
Myself. And what chance has she if
you do? You saved the lives of both her sisters; you act like
a son to her old grandmother.
I. These are old arguments. I
yielded to them when she was eighteen. I went away; I almost
ate my heart out in absence; and what is she the happier? Now
let me alone !
Myself. But you won't do it, Jack; I
hope better of you.
I. "Man is born to trouble as the
sparks to fly upward." Well, if I am to forego my only chance
Myself. [Interrupting.] and
of tricking her, while she smarts under this indignity, into a mere
marriage of esteem.
I. my only chance of happiness, as
I was saying, I shall have to make myself scarce again. I'll
go away. O my Katharina! Yes, I must go; I think I'll go
We were waiting in a station while this argument was
proceeding. Day had dawned. Godfrey had awoke, and was
shivering a little; and Anna said to me, Oh, so pathetically, "Dear
Jack, I cannot bear it!"
"To hear you sigh so. Don't!"
"He is hungry, no doubt," said Godfrey; "emptiness is enough
to make a fellow sigh."
I made no cavil, but let the explanation pass. We had
better have come up straight to London, and then proceeded to
Liverpool at once, for we had several delays while getting across to
the North-western Line.
WHEN we reached
Liverpool we divided, and made research in the different hotels.
No need to chronicle our failures.
I had begun to give up hope, and to feel what a ridiculous
position we were in, when Godfrey and Anna, thinking they had got a
clue, went off to Edinburgh, and I, tired and vexed, returned to my
hotel, sat down in the coffee-room, and began to consider what I
would do next. A family sat at a table near me. I took
no notice of that family. "Dear papa," was appealed to a good
deal. I did not notice his answers, never so much as looked
at him. "Dear mamma," a ponderous woman very much bedizened
with jewels, wore her arm in a sling. My attention was not
arrested even by that. I merely observed that her hair was too
black to be of true English product, and her nose a little too
aquiline. I was reminded by them all of Jewesses, but not
Being tired I half dozed, dropped my hat on the polished
floor with a smart report, and, starting up awake, met the eyes of
the man. He had been sitting with his back to me and had
turned at the noise.
I was so astonished that I sat dumb; and he, rising, said to
the ladies that he had forgotten to give orders about his letters,
and glided out of the room. I doubt whether he was sure that I
recognized him. I followed. He quickened his pace, made
for a vestibule. My steps were behind him. He hurried to
a door that he might escape me. It proved to be merely a
cupboard-door. He bolted into the cupboard and shut himself
up; but I opened the door, peeped into the little dark place, and
there he stood, red in the face and deeply ashamed of himself.
"Tudor Smutt, I believe?" quoth I, rather blandly.
"Ah! Oh! Yes indeed! I believe it is
Jerome. Who could have expected to meet you here?"
"I fully expected to meet you here," was my reply. "I
have been chasing you up all the way from the Castle Hotel at
Tiverton. Hadn't you better come out?"
He came out and sat down; he was now white to the lips.
"Anything said before that lady (I hope you will be careful,
Jerome; I hope you don't mean to be inconsiderate) might wreck,
well, it might wreck my chance of happiness altogether."
"You had better look out, then," I answered aloud, "and tell
me all I want to know, or I shall have to apply to that lady."
"What what I mean what do you want to know?"
"I want to know whether that lady is your wife."
"Yes, she is."
"Prove it! You had better be quick; they will be coming
"Prove prove it? How can I, on the spur of the
moment? Is not my word enough?"
"Nonsense, Smutt! Why am I to suppose that your word is
any better than your deed?"
"On my sacred honour, Jerome."
"Your sacred honour! I like that! Have done with
such rubbish, and answer me."
"You are insulting me! How dare you? What right
have you to asperse the character of my wife with your vile doubts?"
"There, don't tremble so! This bluster, ridiculous as
it may be under the circumstances, becomes you better. Have
you got your marriage certificate about you? or has she?"
"No. What do you want it for?"
"That I may see when you were married, and where."
"We were married in London, on the third of August, at St.
George's, Bloomsbury. I met with her on my return voyage."
"And the clergyman's name, or the clerk's?"
He told me.
"We must telegraph for that certificate at once. You
have been base enough, by your own account, to marry one woman
without releasing another from a promise that you have held her to
for several years; and it is my belief that you meant to go off to
America, and save yourself the disgrace of making any explanation at
all. Waiter," I continued, as one of that fraternity passed
through the vestibule, "please to let Mrs. Smutt know that Mr. Smutt
has gone out for a few minutes."
I made him get his hat.
"Why are you in such a hurry?" he exclaimed nervously.
"Because I do not want to be in your company longer than can
It was a shame I said that, under the circumstances, which
were that I was inwardly glad to believe as I did that he really was
married, and that I had always disliked him heartily.
A telegraph office was close at hand. I telegraphed in
Tudor's presence to the clergyman then officiating at St. George's,
Bloomsbury; for it was Wednesday morning, and I felt sure there
would be service going on.
I was right. That very clergyman answered: Service was
just over; what did I want?
In less than an hour I got what I wanted. He
telegraphed the words of an entry which set forth that on the third
of August he, A. B., had performed the ceremony of marriage between
Tudor Smutt, bachelor, and Lavinia Cohen, widow.
For a "consideration" to the clerk, as he told me, I could
have a certified copy of the register by post the next morning.
Tudor took out his purse to pay for the messages.
"No, thank you," quoth I, "but I will accept a little
information from you if you will give it. Why did you run
away? Did you really think such people as we are were likely
to sue you for breach of promise?"
"I thought the circumstances might get to the ears of my wife
and displease her; and of course I desire harmony in my own house."
"Oh, then," said I, "you were not able to get it
settled on you. Ah! I see. You have to keep her in good
He darted an angry look at me, and drew himself up. "Do
you mean to insinuate that I married her for her money?" he
"Tudor," quoth I, counting the change and putting it in my
pocket, "you are quite safe, man; we are not going to do anything to
you; and (I speak for myself) I should scorn to annoy an innocent
lady because she happens to be your wife. In return for this,
the least you can do is to receive my little insinuations with
civility. Of course you may deny their truth if you can.
I have now got what I want; pray consider yourself free."
So he departed, for the first few steps with amazing
dignity, and then with a certain urgency and alacrity. About
an hour after, I saw him taking a drive. He was packed into an
open carriage with his wife and her three daughters. The
former was resplendent in flying feathers and dangling chains.
I heard afterwards that he had actually contemplated a trip
to America, and had almost persuaded his wife to take it as part of
their wedding tour. This was on account of their name having
got into the papers. Luckily for the wife, her accident proved
to be, in reality, of no consequence at all; but the dread of
exposure had filled his little soul with despair.
I wrote to Katharina, sparing her the details of her late
lover's contemptible bearing and poltroonery, but sending her a copy
of the marriage certificate, and telling her I hoped she would soon
forget Tudor and meet with some man more worthy of her. Then I
mentioned that I was about to take a tour abroad, and hoped to be in
London some time in the following spring, time enough, in fact, to
see them all in the houses and their great experiment fully
answering. I have a conscience, as I hope, and various long
arguments with myself had convinced me of my duty. I did not
even return home, but sent to my housekeeper for my traps, and
shortly stepped on board one of the finest steamers of the finest
line bound for New York.
The sea, especially when it is stormy, has a strange
fascination, a strangely exhilarating effect on me. It takes
half the sting from trouble, and more than half the disadvantage
from lameness. My sea-legs are almost as good as another
man's. But, alas! on landing I met with an accident. I
got a fall, and injured the lame foot again.
I was carried to an hotel; and without wanting in the least
to excite pity, for nothing is further from my thought than the
least pity for myself, I must admit that for about six weeks I had
an evil and painful time of it. I spent it chiefly lying on a
bed or a couch, receiving such kindly visitors as chose to come
and see me, and writing the later chapters of this book.
I saw nothing whatever of the American continent excepting
the sky, which is not at all like our sky, the snow, which has not
the least the effect of our snow, and one street, which was not
like our streets.
In case you should desire to argue with me, I will tell you
the why and the wherefore of these things; and then I shall not feel
obliged to care, whatever you may say.
First I must observe that the human eyes are impressed by the
effects more than by the facts of nature, are beguiled by colour to
forget form, and deceived by light as much as by darkness.
The sky was vastly more blue and high to my eyes, for we were
much farther south. Also the dark was a much deeper and purer
darkness. But the snow was not so white. No, I say it
was not! Because the light from that sky got down into it,
searched it out, and, so to speak, burrowed into it. So that,
where it had not been trodden, it might have been better compared to
delicately drifted swan's-down than to opaque "icing" on the top of
a wedding cake, which is the effect of English snow. In the
same latitudes of Europe I have not seen like effects.
As to that street, the difference between it and our streets, if not
organic, was convincing.
It had not that solid, stolid, majestic air of dirt, that
ancient, strong, old-fashioned, last-forever, don't-care-for-you
sort of aspect, that one meets with in parts of our old towns.
No, it was painted up, which gave it the look of being not
substantial enough. It was impudent and gimcracky. And
whereas our folks in their streets stump about in cold weather
looking as solid as milestones, these had the air of draped laths.
But they were most kind and friendly laths. Some of
them had come back from Europe in the same ship with me; and they
came evening after evening, ladies as well as men, and sat with me
or played at chess and at whist. I made several friends whom I
hope to keep and behave better to in the future than in the past;
for I am sensible of having been snappish to them when I was in
pain, and they did not resent it.
Some of these friends, Mr. and Mrs. Ezra P. Smyth and Mr. and
Mrs. James Z. Pelliver, helped to write this book at my dictation;
in fact I dictated it all to them, as far as the commencement of my
voyages; but the best of it was that thought it was all pure
fiction. They had no notion that it chronicled anything but my
invention, and would come in evening after evening to beguile me
into going on with it because they thought it amused me. But
to proceed. I had a kind and skilful doctor, a very good
fellow, an Englishman; and he also had come over with me, and was
studying some branch of chemistry. He called in a New Yorker
too, and they both agreed.
About the middle of January I was pronounced quite well
enough to travel, and they recommended me to go as far south as I
I had noticed for some time that my friends the Pellivers
were very fond of leading the conversation to an uncle of theirs, a
wonderful man, a celebrated bone-setter, a quack, in short, and
neither more nor less.
The third time this subject came up, it was brought a long
way round before it reached home. I observed the process with
It professed to take its rise with certain devout remarks on
the rarer gifts bestowed by the Creator on particular highly
favoured mortals. Now, there was St. Francis of Assisi!
There could be no doubt that he really had the power to tame and
attract many kinds of wild animals, just as Rarey in modern days,
indeed in these days, could tame the most vicious horse in a few
minutes. Then as to another rare gift, that of almost
instantaneous calculation, calculation so swift that those who
possessed the power could not follow their own paths and explain the
process; like the lightning they started and were instantly at the
goal. They need only mention Babbage, for instance, and the
Calculating Boy. I rather thought that Babbage and the
Calculating Boy were one and the same person; but I said nothing,
and they proceeded. It was impossible, they said, to deny the
existence of such gifts, and it would be a great foible to demand an
investigation as to their nature before availing one's self of them;
just as much as it would be to decline the services of those rare
mortals who almost from childhood could tell by the merest touch,
and sometimes by a look, when a bone was out of its place, having at
the same time a heaven-taught knack of putting it in again.
There was a celebrated man in London who had such a gift.
Their uncle had been over to Europe and had visited and compared
notes (so far as a man could who knew no language but his own) with
the most gifted of that fraternity, and thought this London man the
greatest of them all. Had I ever heard of him? Yes; I
had. As I was going South I should pass their uncle's
location. He was a quack doctor, it was true. Might he
look at me? I said that to please them I would have let him
look at me if I had had anything for him to exercise his craft
"This man frequently found out that people had little bones
out when they did not know it."
"But I had been attended by some of the first English
surgeons, and, as they knew, by one in New York."
They were not satisfied.
"And besides, if these were wrong it must be too late to do
They were not convinced.
Well, would I at least think it over?
I promised that I would.
"And as to going to see their old uncle, he did not pretend
to be a general practitioner; would I go and see him on my return?"
I replied by warm thanks for their friendship and their great
wish to serve me; and then I shirked the subject. We parted,
and I went South, where I enjoyed my usual health and limped about
exactly as usual; but cutting that three months or so out of my
life, for my travels are not worth recording I go on to about the
last day of March, when, on a beautiful morning, descending from a
railway car, I saw written up the very name of the place where this
kindly old uncle lived. It was a junction, and I shall always
be thankful for a disappointment that befell me there. A
friend, who was to have met me, let me know that he could not come
for two or three days; and there I was left stranded.
"There's a Divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will."
A wagon drove into the station, with a somewhat countrified
looking old fellow in it who demanded some parcels, mentioning the
bone-setter's name. I stepped forward and mentioned mine.
He was the very man. He had heard of me from his niece and
nephew. He was cordial, and insisted. I could, I must, I
should, he was sure I would, come and see him and his two
Come I did. "It was strange," I remarked, "that you
should have driven into the station just as I was there."
"Many strange things happen to such as wait on the ways of
Providence," said he with his Yankee tone and a certain devoutness
of manner. "I s'pose you air aware that you came to me by that
I answered by informing him that his art could not help me.
I had no bone out.
He smiled. "Wa'll, you have," he answered.
"How do you know?" I exclaimed.
"He was silent for at least five minutes, while we jolted
over a road so vile that any man but an American would thankfully
have walked on it rather than driven. Then he said, "It will
hurt you to the pint of making you holler, but we'll talk of that
I had not the least intention of anything more than talk.
Then we drew near to a pretty house with many trees about it,
and three pretty girls in the porch.
Two of them were extremely tall. Those, he said, were
his daughters; they had both suffered from delicate lungs, and for
their sake he had come to the South. "The young lady in the
flowered pinafore," he continued, "is a friend." He was a very
large tall man himself, almost gigantic.
So I was introduced to his two daughters and to the young
lady in the flowered pinafore. It was, in point of fact, a
sort of apron with a bib. I had often seen Katharina wear such
a one when she was painting. It was made of a kind of
cream-coloured stuff which, I think, is called tick, and it was
worked all about with oranges, lemons, and leaves.
I made myself as agreeable as I possibly could to those
girls. We had a very pleasant afternoon. I drove them
over to a merry-making at another farmhouse, and we did not return
till late. When the girls had retired, the father began again
to talk, and that in a fashion almost paternal. In short, he
examined the lame foot.
"You air very onbelieving," he remarked.
"There is nothing in reason that I would not give to walk as
other men do," I replied, at the same time letting him know that I
knew a cure was not possible.
"Well, we ken talk about the fee afterwards," said be,
purposely misunderstanding me. "So you've consulted several of
the faculty, here and there. It 's not often I've had a
chance of gitting a rise out of a Britisher."
This audacious confidence astonished me, and he sent me off
to bed admonishing me to sleep well. He laughed and chuckled
all the way upstairs as he conducted me to my room, as if something
gave him keen delight, and then he left me.
It was about ten o'clock the next day, I think, that he said:
"Wa'll, Jacob Jacob 's my man is here; and you've slept over it.
What do you say?"
I looked into the confident eyes of the gigantic old fellow,
and almost to my own astonishment replied: "I say yes, and God speed
you." Two minutes before I had not intended to give him any
Wa'll, as he would have said, it behooves me to made
this chronicle very brief, and yet I can tell all.
There was a couch in his room. Jacob asked me to sit on
it, to look out of the window, and let him hold my arms.
In two minutes, the old man's soft hands being on my foot, I
felt a most outrageous and astonishing wrench in it. I
shouted, "hollered," as he would have said.
The chronicle is over.
The next thing I noticed was that several bees were buzzing
in my ears, and I vainly endeavoured to lift my hands and dash them
away; and then I noticed that this buzzing of bees had resolved
itself into the sound of voices, the voices of girls.
"He looks very strong. Why did he faint?" quoth the
voice of her with the flowered pinafore.
"They 'most always do," said Jacob.
A nice little hand was busy with my necktie.
"Here is some coffee, Mr. Jerome," said another of the girls.
So I sat up and drank it; and at the same time feeling sorry for my
host, who stood apart looking at me, as I supposed, with deep
gravity and discomfiture, I said, "This is a bad beginning, is it
"Ahem!" was all his answer.
"Now you girls ken go, ef you feel like it," he
He sat looking at me for at least five minutes, and said
nothing. Then he proceeded, "You may put your foot to the
ground, ef you feel like it."
I did so.
"Wa'll, what do you say 'bout it?" he next inquired.
"It feels very odd very strange. It seems to me to go
flat on the ground like the other foot."
He took out his watch, and sat staring at it and at me for
perhaps three minutes more; then he said, "Wa'll, sir! now you ken
stand up and now you ken walk to the window, ef you feel like
I did get up. I walked to the window, just as other men
walk, but gently and almost reverentially, the joy was so
subduing. I walked, and I never limped more.
Oh how sweet were those words of quiet authoritative
permission. They often appear to sound in my ears even to this
day; and how sweet were the first steps across that floor, even so
sweet, I thought (if it could be so), as their steps who walk in the
Golden Street of the New Jerusalem.
He desired that I would stay there a week to be under his
charge, and that he might be sure I was all right.
Of course I did so.
"And 'bout that fee," he one day began.
I begged him to name anything he pleased.
"You will give it?"
"That doctor of yourn in New York? He was a Britisher?"
"Yes, but he does not practise in New York; and he is gone
"My folks wrote to me 'bout you, and I wrote to him."
"Nobody told me that."
"No. I gave my view of what might be wrong, and said he
could send his patient to me; and he told them that I was a quack
and was quite mistaken, and he never even answered me."
"Wa'll I de-mend of you that you search out that man, ef he
is in his own location, and let him see this foot of yourn, which I
calc'late 'll make him feel small. And you ken tell him that I
said it was a very simple case." Here he chuckled, and seemed
to think he had no more to say.
"I will. But that is not all? Surely you will
accept a real fee."
"Who gave you that watch you wear? You told me it was a
chronometer, a good one."
"No one gave it to me; I bought it."
"You put no value on it, then, beyond the money you gave for
"None. It is yours if you will do me the honour to
"I will, sir."
He took it nobly, and I hope is wearing it to this day.
What a fine accomplishment is walking!
I admired myself as I stepped out.
I had dawdled away a good deal of time in the South, doing
little more than set up such birds as I shot for a little local
museum, and making careful drawings of such fish and insects as I
could get at that time of year.
But now I longed for my native country. Everything
seemed changed. There was no reason why I should not return,
every reason why I should.
Anna and Katharina had written many times and had expressed
the most kindly solicitude, and they amused me with accounts of what
they were about. They were installed and reigning in the
houses. Most of the ladies had made astonishing and most
ridiculous mistakes at first; that was because they had not given
their whole intelligence and interest to the problems before them.
Anna and Katharina had now done so, as it appeared.
They had studied these household matters, and got the better of
them. They could now be thoroughly their old selves.
They seemed to have subdued their work to their hands, and they did
it far better than servants ever can.
High praise, this. They said, moreover, that they were
happy; for Godfrey was settled, and they were together. I did
not tell them of my intended return, or anything about my visit to
the old doctor.
It was about the middle of April when, after a prosperous
voyage, I saw the roof of my own house again. It looked very
comfortable. I spare my readers the joy and congratulations of
my good housekeeper.
I meant to go to London the next day, but there was no good
train till noon; so, in the mean time, I walked out toward the now
deserted house which had so long been Katharina's home.
And lo! it was by no means deserted. I saw some people
drawing up blinds. It had evidently been let. So I did
not approach the windows closely, but turned away into a little lawn
before spoken of, little lawn at the edge of the wood, where were
always one or more fallen trees, and where silver-birches leaned out
their slender trunks toward the light. There Katharina and her
sisters in their childhood had loved to play. It was here that
she had made me the offer. Sweet thing, how often I had teased
her about it! And there, in that very same place, a newly
felled tree was lying.
I went and sat down on it, and I took off my hat and gave
Well, and then, so inconsistent is man, that I began to
blame myself for having fled from England; and I almost reached the
point of wishing that I had written to her, and got (who could be
sure I might not?) some word of affection perhaps of hope in
reply, as my old self. And next I felt what a fool I was; and
all on a sudden a little crackling noise close at hand made me turn,
and in an instant a girlish figure came darting out of the shrubbery
and ran into my arms.
She could not check herself; but yet, as the strange man
starting up received her in his arms, she saw who it was. Her
momentary air of consternation vanished. I beheld again the
beautiful blush, so rare on her face, and before either of us spoke
the first kiss had been given and returned.
And then Katharina drew back and gazed at me. She was
naturally astonished to meet me there, for I had given her no notice
of my intended return. It warmed my heart to find her
delighted and agitated. First she was a good deal out of
countenance; then she wept a little.
And I well, I got her to sit by me on the tree-trunk, and
felt as much as she did that our parting had not promised any such
meeting. The manner of it had taken us both unawares; and, her
surprise being not yet over, she heaved up a little sob, and said,
"I was sometimes afraid, dear Jack, that we should never see you
"So you thought of me?"
"You know we did. Were you lonely when you were ill?"
"Very. And so you thought of me, a poor limping
Katharina looked up. I was holding one of her hands
rather tightly clasped in mine; I did not feel able or willing to
give it up. She looked at me, as I said, and then she looked
round. I felt, as clearly as if she had said it, that she
remembered where we were. Her bosom heaved; her fair cheek
mustered colour. She had quickly recovered after her tears.
She now drew her hand away, and sat a minute or two looking rather
shy rather demure.
And then our eyes met again. I know not what mine
expressed, but in hers was shining a certain tender defiance, a
sweet audacity. She put her hand through my arm; and, as if
she would not look at me longer, she leaned her forehead against my
sleeve and laughed and said, "If he thinks I shall ever do it
again he never was more mistaken in his life."
No! I did it that time I mean I made the
offer, with some of the thankfulness for my position and the
reverence for her womanhood that I felt.
Enough to say that it was not declined; and we sat a little
longer under the sweet April sky, among budding leaves, and with
tufts of primroses and violets and wood-anemones at our feet.
She told me she had come from London to stay a few days in
her former home with some old friends who had taken the house, and I
began to feel that I had something difficult to tell her.
I declare I was half frightened, and broke into the subject
"And I wanted to speak as to that limp, Katharina!"
Her answer might have been addressed to the tree-stump
opposite, for she looked only at it. "I thought it was agreed
long ago that he did not limp worth mentioning." So
then, as she had made reference to Another, he had to be discussed;
after which, if I had intended to be jealous, I might have found it
But that came to pass which I had foreseen. When this
sweet and precious creature heard the great news she felt as if she
had been cheated. I knew she felt that she had been very
easily won. I ought to have let her know at first, she said;
and I perceived that, if it had been so, matters would have been
So, then, I administered as much of that impassioned flattery
of the affections as I had at command; and by degrees Katharina
graciously forgave me, as I told her, for not being quite such a bad
match for her as she had expected.
"You wished to be very generous and make a great sacrifice,"
I said, when she had let me take her hand again, and when her smiles
had begun to peep out at all the corners of her eyes and mouth.
"No, Jack," she answered in a deprecating tone, "but it was
not fair of you!"
"Every one would have said, 'How noble of her to marry that
limping cousin just because he has been in love with her all her
life!' You would have liked that!"
"No, Jack," she repeated; and she looked demure.
"Did you never suspect, then, that you had the lame man's
heart? Did not you generously decide to accept his hand?"
"Generously? No. But when you went away, Anna
said she was almost sure that you loved me; and almost directly I
began to love you too. I could not help it."
"This is the most delightful news I was ever told in my life.
You believed Anna fully, of course?"
"I hoped it was true; and I thought"
"What a sweet creature you are, Katharina, and I had no
notion you were so handsome! You thought what?"
I was standing before her.
"If I tell you, it is only to let you see how much I perceive
that you are different. I am grateful, of course, very
grateful; but you will have now to make me love you as your new
"I promise to try; but you thought?"
"Oh, I thought but I changed my mind the moment I saw you.
I thought, if it was necessary, I might perhaps do it again."
I never pledged myself to chronicle everything, all the
little incidents of this delightful morning. Suffice it to say
that I received that last speech in a natural and proper manner.
And now what more?
Am I expected to relate the experiments made in those houses?
I think not, my dear readers. I think I shall here bring my
first book to a conclusion. The second will be better, more
sensible, and more amusing, for Katharina will help me to write it;
and if she makes you laugh as much as she has made me laugh over
their acts and deeds, their work and their mistakes, their triumphs
and their contentment in the said houses, you will be secure of at
least one joyous day.