The Treasure of Heaven - A Romance of Riches
by Marie Corelli
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"Yet if I were really poor," he argued with himself, "if I were in very truth a tramp, I should have to do exactly what I am doing now. If one man can stand 'life on the road,' so can another."

And he would not allow his mind to dwell on the fact that a temperament which has become accustomed to every kind of comfort and luxury is seldom fitted to endure privation. On he jogged steadily, and by and by began to be entertained by his own thoughts as pleasantly as a poet or romancist is entertained by the fancies which come and go in the brain with all the vividness of dramatic reality. Yet always he found himself harking back to what he sometimes called the "incurability" of life. Over and over again he asked himself the old eternal question: Why so much Product to end in Waste? Why are thousands of millions of worlds, swarming with life-organisms, created to revolve in space, if there is no other fate for them but final destruction?

"There must be an Afterwards!" he said. "Otherwise Creation would not only be a senseless joke, but a wicked one! Nay, it would almost be a crime. To cause creatures to be born into existence without their own consent, merely to destroy them utterly in a few years and make the fact of their having lived purposeless, would be worse than the dreams of madmen. For what is the use of bringing human creatures into the world to suffer pain, sickness, and sorrow, if mere life-torture is all we can give them, and death is the only end?"

Here his meditations were broken in upon by the sound of a horse's hoofs trotting briskly behind him, and pausing, he saw a neat little cart and pony coming along, driven by a buxom-looking woman with a brown sun-hat tied on in the old-fashioned manner under her chin.

"Would ye like a lift?" she asked. "It's mighty warm walkin'."

Helmsley raised his eyes to the sun-bonnet, and smiled at the cheerful freckled face beneath its brim.

"You're very kind——" he began.

"Jump in!" said the woman. "I'm taking cream and cheeses into Watchett, but it's a light load, an' Jim an' me can do with ye that far. This is Jim."

She flicked the pony's ears with her whip by way of introducing the animal, and Helmsley clambered up into the cart beside her.

"That's a nice little dog you've got," she remarked, as Charlie perked his small black nose out from under his protector's arm to sniff the subtle atmosphere of what was going to happen next. "He's a real beauty!"

"Yes," replied Helmsley, without volunteering any information as to how he had found the tiny creature, whom he now had no inclination to part with. "He got his paw caught in a trap, so I'm obliged to carry him."

"Poor little soul! There's a-many traps all about 'ere, lots o' the land bein' private property. Go on, Jim!" And she shook the reins on her pony's neck, thereby causing that intelligent animal to start off at a pleasantly regular pace. "I allus sez that if the rich ladies and gentlemen as eats up every bit o' land in Great Britain could put traps in the air to catch the noses of everything but themselves as dares to breathe it, they'd do it, singin' glory all the time. For they goes to church reg'lar."

"Ah, it's a wise thing to be seen looking good in public!" said Helmsley.

The woman laughed.

"That's right! You can do a lot o' humbuggin' if you're friends with the parson, what more often than not humbugs everybody hisself. I'm no church-goer, but I turn out the best cheese an' butter in these parts, an' I never tells no lies nor cheats any one of a penny, so I aint worryin' about my soul, seein' it's straight with my neighbours."

"Are there many rich people living about here?" inquired Helmsley.

"Not enough to do the place real good. The owners of the big houses are here to-day and gone to-morrow, and they don't trouble much over their tenantry. Still we rub on fairly well. None of us can ever put by for a rainy day,—and some folk as is as hard-working as ever they can be, are bound to come on the parish when they can't work no more—no doubt o' that. You're a stranger to these parts?"

"Yes, I've tramped from Bristol."

The woman opened her eyes widely.

"That's a long way! You must be fairly strong for your age. Where are ye wantin' to get to?"


"My word! You've got a goodish bit to go. All Devon lies before you."

"I know that. But I shall rest here and there, and perhaps get a lift or two if I meet any more such kind-hearted folk as yourself."

She looked at him sharply.

"That's what we may call a bit o' soft soap," she said, "and I'd advise ye to keep that kind o' thing to yourself, old man! It don't go down with Meg Ross, I can tell ye!"

"Are you Meg Ross?" he asked, amused at her manner.

"That's me! I'm known all over the countryside for the sharpest tongue as ever wagged in a woman's head. So you'd better look out!"

"I'm not afraid of you!" he said smiling.

"Well, you might be if you knew me!" and she whipped up her pony smartly. "Howsomever, you're old enough to be past hurtin' or bein' hurt."

"That's true!" he responded gently.

She was silent after this, and not till Watchett was reached did she again begin conversation. Rattling quickly through the little watering-place, which at this hour seemed altogether deserted or asleep, she pulled up at an inn in the middle of the principal street.

"I've got an order to deliver here," she said. "What are you going to do with yourself?"

"Nothing in particular," he answered, with a smile. "I shall just take my little dog to a chemist's and get its paw dressed, and then I shall walk on."

"Don't you want any dinner?"

"Not yet. I had a good breakfast, I daresay I'll have a glass of milk presently."

"Well, if you come back here in half an hour I can drive you on a little further. How would you like that?"

"Very much! But I'm afraid of troubling you——"

"Oh, you won't do that!" said Meg with a defiant air. "No man, young or old, has ever troubled me! I'm not married, thank the Lord!"

And jumping from the cart, she began to pull out sundry cans, jars, and boxes, while Helmsley standing by with the small Charlie under his arm, wished he could help her, but felt sure she would resent assistance even if he offered it. Glancing at him, she gave him a kindly nod.

"Off you go with your little dog! You'll find me ready here in half an hour."

With that she turned from him into the open doorway of the inn, and Helmsley made his way slowly along the silent, sun-baked little street till he found a small chemist's shop, where he took his lately found canine companion to have its wounded paw examined and attended to. No bones were broken, and the chemist, a lean, pale, kindly man, assured him that in a few days the little animal would be quite well.

"It's a pretty creature," he said. "And valuable too."

"Yes. I found it on the highroad," said Helmsley; "and of course if I see any advertisement out for it, I'll return it to its owner. But if no one claims it I'll keep it."

"Perhaps it fell out of a motor-car," said the chemist. "It looks as if it might have belonged to some fine lady who was too wrapped up in herself to take proper care of it. There are many of that kind who come this way touring through Somerset and Devon."

"I daresay you're right," and Helmsley gently stroked the tiny dog's soft silky coat. "Rich women will pay any amount of money for such toy creatures out of mere caprice, and will then lose them out of sheer laziness, forgetting that they are living beings, with feelings and sentiments of trust and affection greater sometimes than our own. However, this little chap will be safe with me till he is rightfully claimed, if ever that happens. I don't want to steal him; I only want to take care of him."

"I should never part with him if I were you," said the chemist. "Those who were careless enough to lose him deserve their loss."

Helmsley agreed, and left the shop. Finding a confectioner's near by, he bought a few biscuits for his new pet, an attention which that small animal highly appreciated. "Charlie" was hungry, and cracked and munched the biscuits with exceeding relish, his absurd little nose becoming quite moist with excitement and appetite. Returning presently to the inn where he had left Meg Ross, Helmsley found that lady quite ready to start.

"Oh, here you are, are you?" she said, smiling pleasantly, "Well, I'm just on the move. Jump in!"

Helmsley hesitated a moment, standing beside the pony-cart.

"May I pay for my ride?" he said.

"Pay?" Meg stuck her stout arms akimbo, and glanced him all over. "Well, I never! How much 'ave ye got?"

"Two or three shillings," he answered.

Meg laughed, showing a very sound row of even white teeth.

"All right! You can keep 'em!" she said. "Mebbe you want 'em. I don't! Now don't stand haverin' there,—get in the cart quick, or Jim'll be runnin' away."

Jim showed no sign of this desperate intention, but, on the contrary, stood very patiently waiting till his passengers were safely seated, when he trotted off at a great pace, with such a clatter of hoofs and rattle of wheels as rendered conversation impossible. But Helmsley was very content to sit in silence, holding the little dog "Charlie" warmly against his breast, and watching the beauties of the scenery expand before him like a fairy panorama, ever broadening into fresh glimpses of loveliness. It was a very quiet coastline which the windings of the road now followed,—a fair and placid sea shining at wide intervals between a lavish flow of equally fair and placid fields. The drive seemed all too short, when at the corner of a lane embowered in trees, Meg Ross pulled up short.

"The best of friends must part!" she said. "I'm right sorry I can't take ye any further. But down 'ere's a farm where I put up for the afternoon an' 'elps 'em through with their butter-makin', for there's a lot o' skeery gals in the fam'ly as thinks more o' doin' their 'air than churnin', an' doin' the 'air don't bring no money in, though mebbe it might catch a 'usband as wasn't worth 'avin'. An' Jim gets his food 'ere too. Howsomever, I'm real put about that I can't drive ye a bit towards Cleeve Abbey, for that's rare an' fine at this time o' year,—but mebbe ye're wantin' to push on quickly?"

"Yes, I must push on," rejoined Helmsley, as he got out of the cart; then, standing in the road, he raised his cap to her. "And I'm very grateful to you for helping me along so far, at the hottest time of the day too. It's most kind of you!"

"Oh, I don't want any thanks!" said Meg, smiling. "I'm rather sweet on old men, seein' old age aint their fault even if trampin' the road is. You'd best keep on the straight line now, till you come to Blue Anchor. That's a nice little village, and you'll find an inn there where you can get a night's lodging cheap. I wouldn't advise you to stay much round Cleeve after sundown, for there's a big camp of gypsies about there, an' they're a rough lot, pertikly a man they calls Tom o' the Gleam."

Helmsley smiled.

"I know Tom o' the Gleam," he said. "He's a friend of mine."

Meg Ross opened her round, bright brown eyes.

"Is he? Dear life, if I'd known that, I mightn't 'ave been so ready to give you a ride with me!" she said, and laughed. "Not that I'm afraid of Tom, though he's a queer customer. I've given a good many glasses of new milk to his 'kiddie,' as he calls that little lad of his, so I expect I'm fairly in his favour."

"I've never seen his 'kiddie,'" said Helmsley. "What is the boy like?"

"A real fine little chap!" said Meg, with heartiness and feeling. "I'm not a crank on children, seein' most o' them's muckers an' trouble from mornin' to night, but if it 'ad pleased the Lord as I should wed, I shouldn't 'a wished for a better specimen of a babe than Tom's kiddie. Pity the mother died!"

"When the child was born?" queried Helmsley gently.

"No—oh no!"—and Meg's eyes grew thoughtful. "She got through her trouble all right, but 'twas about a year or eighteen months arterwards that she took to pinin' like, an' droopin' down just like the poppies droops in the corn when the sun's too fierce upon 'em. She used to sit by the roadside o' Sundays, with a little red handkerchief tied across her shoulders, and all her dark 'air tumblin' about 'er face, an' she used to look up with her great big black eyes an' smile at the finicky fine church misses as come mincin' an' smirkin' along, an' say: 'Tell your fortune, lady?' She was the prettiest creature I ever saw—not a good lass—no!—nobody could say she was a good lass, for she went to Tom without church or priest, but she loved him an' was faithful. An' she just worshipped her baby." Here Meg paused a moment. "Tom was a real danger to the country when she died," she presently went on. "He used to run about the woods like a madman, calling her to come back to 'im, an' threatenin' to murder any one who came nigh 'im;—then, by and by, he took to the kiddie, an' he's steadier now."

There was something in the narration of this little history that touched Helmsley too deeply for comment, and he was silent.

"Well!"—and Meg gave her pony's reins a shake—"I must be off! Sorry to leave ye standin' in the middle o' the road like, but it can't be helped. Mind you keep the little dog safe!—and take a woman's advice—don't walk too far or too fast in one day. Good luck t' ye!"

Another shake of the reins, and "Jim" turned briskly down the lane. Once Meg looked back and waved her hand,—then the green trees closed in upon her disappearing vehicle, and Helmsley was again alone, save for "Charlie," who, instinctively aware that some friend had left them, licked his master's hand confidentially, as much as to say "I am still with you." The air was cooler now, and Helmsley walked on with comparative ease and pleasure. His thoughts were very busy. He was drawing comparisons between the conduct of the poor and the rich to one another, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter class.

"If a wealthy man has a carriage," he soliloquised, "how seldom will he offer it or think of offering its use to any one of his acquaintances who may be less fortunate! How rarely will he even say a kind word to any man who is 'down'! Do I not know this myself! I remember well on one occasion when I wished to send my carriage for the use of a poor fellow who had once been employed in my office, but who had been compelled to give up work, owing to illness, my secretary advised me not to show him this mark of sympathy and attention. 'He will only take it as his right,' I was assured,—'these sort of men are always ungrateful.' And I listened to my secretary's advice—more fool I! For it should have been nothing to me whether the man was ungrateful or not; the thing was to do the good, and let the result be what it might. Now this poor Meg Ross has no carriage, but such vehicle as she possesses she shares with one whom she imagines to be in need. No other motive has moved her save womanly pity for lonely age and infirmity. She has taught me a lesson by simply offering a kindness without caring how it might be received or rewarded. Is not that a lovely trait in human nature?—one which I have never as yet discovered in what is called 'swagger society'! When I was in the hey-dey of my career, and money was pouring in from all my business 'deals' like water from a never-ending main, I had a young Scotsman for a secretary, as close-fisted a fellow as ever was, who managed to lose me the chance of doing a great many kind actions. More than that, whenever I was likely to have any real friends whom I could confidently trust, and who wanted nothing from me but affection and sincerity, he succeeded in shaking off the hold they had upon me. Of course I know now why he did this,—it was in order that he himself might have his grip of me more securely, but at that time I was unsuspicious, and believed the best of every one. Yes! I honestly thought people were honest,—I trusted their good faith, with the result that I found out the utter falsity of their pretensions. And here I am,—old and nearing the end of my tether—more friendless than when I first began to make my fortune, with the certain knowledge that not a soul has ever cared or cares for me except for what can be got out of me in the way of hard cash! I have met with more real kindness from the rough fellows at the 'Trusty Man,' and from the 'Trusty Man's' hostess, Miss Tranter, and now from this good woman Meg Ross, than has ever been offered to me by those who know I am rich, and who have 'used' me accordingly."

Here, coming to a place where two cross-roads met, he paused, looking about him. The afternoon was declining, and the loveliness of the landscape was intensified by a mellow softness in the sunshine, which deepened the rich green of the trees and wakened an opaline iridescence in the sea. A sign-post on one hand bore the direction "To Cleeve Abbey," and the road thus indicated wound upward somewhat steeply, disappearing amid luxuriant verdure which everywhere crowned the higher summits of the hills. While he yet stood, looking at the exquisitely shaded masses of foliage which, like festal garlands, adorned and over-hung this ascent, the discordant "hoot" of a motor-horn sounded on the stillness, and sheer down the winding way came at a tearing pace the motor vehicle itself. It was a large, luxurious car, and pounded along with tremendous speed, swerving at the bottom of the declivity with so sharp a curve as to threaten an instant overturn, but, escaping this imminent peril by almost a hairsbreadth, it dashed onward straight ahead in a cloud of dust that for two or three minutes entirely blurred and darkened the air. Half-blinded and choked by the rush of its furious passage past him, Helmsley could only just barely discern that the car was occupied by two men, the one driving, the other sitting beside the driver,—and shading his eyes from the sun, he strove to track its way as it flew down the road, but in less than a minute it was out of sight.

"There's not much 'speed limit' in that concern!" he said, half-aloud, still gazing after it. "I call such driving recklessly wicked! If I could have seen the number of that car, I'd have given information to the police. But numbers on motors are no use when such a pace is kept up, and the thick dust of a dry summer is whirled up by the wheels. It's fortunate the road is clear. Yes, Charlie!"—this, as he saw his canine foundling's head perk out from under his arm, with a little black nose all a-quiver with anxiety,—"it's just as well for you that you've got a wounded paw and can't run too far for the present! If you had been in the way of that car just now, your little life would have been ended!"

Charlie pricked his pretty ears, and listened, or appeared to listen, but had evidently no forebodings about himself or his future. He was quite at home, and, after the fashion of dogs, who are often so much wiser than men, argued that being safe and comfortable now, there was no reason why he should not be safe and comfortable always. And Helmsley presently bent himself to steady walking, and got on well, only pausing to get some tea and bread and butter at a cottage by the roadside, where a placard on the gate intimated that such refreshments were to be had within. Nevertheless, he was a slow pedestrian, and what with lingering here and there for brief rests by the way, the sun had sunk fully an hour before he managed to reach Blue Anchor, the village of which Meg Ross had told him. It was a pretty, peaceful place, set among wide stretches of beach, extending for miles along the margin of the waters, and the mellow summer twilight showed little white wreaths of foam crawling lazily up on the sand in glittering curves that gleamed like snow for a moment and then melted softly away into the deepening darkness. He stopped at the first ale-house, a low-roofed, cottage-like structure embowered in clambering flowers. It had a side entrance which led into a big, rambling stableyard, and happening to glance that way he perceived a vehicle standing there, which he at once recognised as the large luxurious motor-car that had dashed past him at such a tearing pace near Cleeve. The inn door was open, and the bar faced the road, exhibiting a brave show of glittering brass taps, pewter tankards, polished glasses and many-coloured bottles, all these things being presided over by a buxom matron, who was not only an agreeable person to look at in herself, but who was assisted by two pretty daughters. These young women, wearing spotless white cuffs and aprons, dispensed the beer to the customers, now and then relieving the monotony of this occupation by carrying trays of bread and cheese and meat sandwiches round the wide room of which the bar was a part, evidently bent on making the general company stay as long as possible, if fascinating manners and smiling eyes could work any detaining influence. Helmsley asked for a glass of ale and a plate of bread and cheese, and on being supplied with these refreshments, sat down at a small table in a corner well removed from the light, where he could see without being seen. He did not intend to inquire for a night's lodging yet. He wished first to ascertain for himself the kind of people who frequented the place. The fear of discovery always haunted him, and the sight of that costly motor-car standing in the stableyard had caused him to feel a certain misgiving lest any one of marked wealth or position should turn out to be its owner. In such a case, the world being proverbially small, and rich men being in the minority, it was just possible that he, David Helmsley, even clad as he was in workman's clothes and partially disguised in features by the growth of a beard, might be recognised. With this idea, he kept himself well back in the shadow, listening attentively to the scraps of desultory talk among the dozen or so of men in the room, while carefully maintaining an air of such utter fatigue as to appear indifferent to all that passed around him. Nobody noticed him, for which he was thankful. And presently, when he became accustomed to the various contending voices, which in their changing tones of gruff or gentle, quick or slow, made a confused din upon his ears, he found out that the general conversation was chiefly centred on one subject, that of the very motor-car whose occupants he desired to shun.

"Serve 'em right!" growled one man. "Serve 'em right to 'ave broke down! 'Ope the darned thing's broke altogether!"

"You shouldn't say that,—'taint Christian," expostulated his neighbour at the same table. "Them cars cost a heap o' money, from eight 'undred to two thousand pounds, I've 'eerd tell."

"Who cares!" retorted the other. "Them as can pay a fortin on a car to swish 'emselves about in, should be made to keep on payin' till they're cleaned out o' money for good an' all. The road's a reg'lar hell since them engines started along cuttin' everything to pieces. There aint a man, woman, nor child what's safe from the moneyed murderers."

"Oh come, I say!" ejaculated a big, burly young fellow in corduroys. "Moneyed murderers is going a bit too strong!"

"No 'taint!" said the first man who had spoken. "That's what the motor-car folks are—no more nor less. Only t' other day in Taunton, a woman as was the life an' soul of 'er 'usband an' childern, was knocked down by a car as big as a railway truck. It just swept 'er off the curb like a bundle o' rags. She picked 'erself up again an' walked 'ome, tremblin' a little, an' not knowin' rightly what 'ad chanced to 'er, an' in less than an hour she was dead. An' what did they say at the inquest? Just 'death from shock'—an' no more. For them as owned the murderin' car was proprietors o' a big brewery, and the coroner hisself 'ad shares in it. That's 'ow justice is done nowadays!"

"Yes, we's an obligin' lot, we poor folks," observed a little man in the rough garb of a cattle-driver, drawing his pipe from his mouth as he spoke. "We lets the rich ride over us on rubber tyres an' never sez a word on our own parts, but trusts to the law for doin' the same to a millionaire as 'twould to a beggar,—but, Lord!—don't we see every day as 'ow the millionaire gets off easy while the beggar goes to prison? There used to be justice in old England, but the time for that's gone past."

"There's as much justice in England as you'll ever get anywheres else!" interrupted the hostess at the bar, nodding cheerfully at the men, and smiling,—"And as for the motor-cars, they bring custom to my house, and I don't grumble at anything which does me and mine a good turn. If it hadn't been for a break-down in that big motor standing outside in the stableyard, I shouldn't have had two gentlemen staying in my best rooms to-night. I never find fault with money!"

She laughed and nodded again in the pleasantest manner. A slow smile went round among the men,—it was impossible not to smile in response to the gay good-humour expressed on such a beaming countenance.

"One of them's a lord, too," she added. "Quite a young fellow, just come into his title, I suppose." And referring to her day-book, she ran her plump finger down the various entries. "I've got his name here—Wrotham,—Lord Reginald Wrotham."

"Wrotham? That aint a name known in these parts," said the man in corduroys. "Wheer does 'e come from?"

"I don't know," she replied. "And I don't very much care. It's enough for me that he's here and spending money!"

"Where's his chauffy?" inquired a lad, lounging near the bar.

"He hasn't got one. He drives his car himself. He's got a friend with him—a Mr. James Brookfield."

There was a moment's silence. Helmsley drew further back into the corner where he sat, and restrained the little dog Charlie from perking its inquisitive head out too far, lest its beauty should attract undesirable attention. His nervous misgivings concerning the owner of the motor-car had not been entirely without foundation, for both Reginald Wrotham and James Brookfield were well known to him. Wrotham's career had been a sufficiently disgraceful one ever since he had entered his teens,—he was a modern degenerate of the worst type, and though his coming-of-age and the assumption of his family title had caused certain time-servers to enrol themselves among his flatterers and friends, there were very few decent houses where so soiled a member of the aristocracy as he was could find even a semblance of toleration. James Brookfield was a proprietor of newspapers as well as a "something in the City," and if Helmsley had been asked to qualify that "something" by a name, he would have found a term by no means complimentary to the individual in question. Wrotham and Brookfield were always seen together,—they were brothers in every sort of social iniquity and licentiousness, and an attempt on Brookfield's part to borrow some thousands of pounds for his "lordly" patron from Helmsley, had resulted in the latter giving the would-be borrower's go-between such a strong piece of his mind as he was not likely to forget. And now Helmsley was naturally annoyed to find that these two abandoned rascals were staying at the very inn where he, in his character of a penniless wayfarer, had hoped to pass a peaceful night; however, he resolved to avoid all danger and embarrassment by leaving the place directly he had finished his supper, and going in search of some more suitable lodgment. Meanwhile, the hum of conversation grew louder around him, and opinion ran high on the subject of "the right of the road."

"The roads are made for the people, sure-ly!" said one of a group of men standing near the largest table in the room—"And the people 'as the right to 'xpect safety to life an' limb when they uses 'em."

"Well, the motors can put forward the same claim," retorted another. "Motor folks are people too, an' they can say, if they likes, that if roads is made for people, they're made for them as well as t' others, and they expects to be safe on 'em with their motors at whatever pace they travels."

"Go 'long!" exclaimed the cattle-driver, who had before taken part in the discussion—"Aint we got to take cows an' sheep an' 'osses by the road? An' if a car comes along at the rate o' forty or fifty miles an hour, what's to be done wi' the animals? An' if they're not to be on the road, which way is they to be took?"

"Them motors ought to have roads o' their own like the railways," said a quiet-looking grey-haired man, who was the carrier of the district. "When the steam-engine was invented it wasn't allowed to go tearin' along the public highway. They 'ad to make roads for it, an' lay tracks, and they should do the same for motors which is gettin' just as fast an' as dangerous as steam-engines."

"Yes, an' with makin' new roads an' layin' tracks, spoil the country for good an' all!" said the man in corduroys—"An' alter it so that there aint a bit o' peace or comfort left in the land! Level the hills an' cut down the trees—pull up the hedges an' scare away all the singin' birds, till the hull place looks like a football field!—all to please a few selfish rich men who'd be better dead than livin'! A fine thing for England that would be!"

At that moment, there was the noise of an opening door, and the hostess, with an expressive glance at her customers, held up her finger warningly.

"Hush, please!" she said. "The gentlemen are coming out."

A sudden pause ensued. The men looked round upon one another, half sheepishly, half sullenly, and their growling voices subsided into a murmur. The hostess settled the bow at her collar more becomingly, and her two pretty daughters feigned to be deeply occupied with some drawn thread work. David Helmsley, noting everything that was going on from his coign of vantage, recognised at once the dissipated, effeminate-looking young man, who, stepping out of a private room which opened on a corridor apparently leading to the inner part of the house, sauntered lazily up to the bar and, resting his arm upon its oaken counter, smiled condescendingly, not to say insolently, upon the women who stood behind it. There was no mistaking him,—it was the same Reginald Wrotham whose scandals in society had broken his worthy father's heart, and who now, succeeding to a hitherto unblemished title, was doing his best to load it with dishonour. He was followed by his friend Brookfield,—a heavily-built, lurching sort of man, with a nose reddened by strong drink, and small lascivious eyes which glittered dully in his head like the eyes of poisonous tropical beetle. The hush among the "lower" class of company at the inn deepened into the usual stupid awe which at times so curiously affects untutored rustics who are made conscious of the presence of a "lord." Said a friend of the present writer's to a waiter in a country hotel where one of these "lords" was staying for a few days: "I want a letter to catch to-night's post, but I'm afraid the mail has gone from the hotel. Could you send some one to the post-office with it?" "Oh yes, sir!" replied the waiter grandiloquently. "The servant of the Lord will take it!" Pitiful beyond most piteous things is the grovelling tendency of that section of human nature which has not yet been educated sufficiently to lift itself up above temporary trappings and ornaments; pitiful it is to see men, gifted in intellect, or distinguished for bravery, flinch and cringe before one of their own flesh and blood, who, having neither cleverness nor courage, but only a Title, presumes upon that foolish appendage so far as to consider himself superior to both valour and ability. As well might a stuffed boar's head assume a superiority to other comestibles because decorated by the cook with a paper frill and bow of ribbon! The atmosphere which Lord Reginald Wrotham brought with him into the common-room of the bar was redolent of tobacco-smoke and whisky, yet, judging from the various propitiatory, timid, anxious, or servile looks cast upon him by all and sundry, it might have been fragrant and sacred incense wafted from the altars of the goddess Fortune to her waiting votaries. Helmsley's spirit rose up in contempt against the effete dandy as he watched him leaning carelessly against the counter, twirling his thin sandy moustache, and talking to his hostess merely for the sake of offensively ogling her two daughters.

"Charming old place you have here!—charming!" drawled his lordship. "Perfect dream! Love to pass all my days in such a delightful spot! 'Pon my life! Awful luck for us, the motor breaking down, or we never should have stopped at such a jolly place, don't-cher-know. Should we, Brookfield?"

Brookfield, gently scratching a pimple on his fat, clean-shaven face, smiled knowingly.

"Couldn't have stopped!" he declared. "We were doing a record run. But we should have missed a great deal,—a great deal!" And he emitted a soft chuckle. "Not only the place,—but——!"

He waved his hand explanatorily, with a slight bow, which implied an unspoken compliment to the looks of the mistress of the inn and her family. One of the young women blushed and peeped slyly up at him. He returned the glance with interest.

"May I ask," pursued Lord Wrotham, with an amicable leer, "the names of your two daughters, Madam? They've been awfully kind to us broken-down-travellers—should just like to know the difference between them. Like two roses on one stalk, don't-cher-know! Can't tell which is which!"

The mother of the girls hesitated a moment. She was not quite sure that she liked the "tone" of his lordship's speech. Finally she replied somewhat stiffly:—

"My eldest daughter is named Elizabeth, my lord, and her sister is Grace."

"Elizabeth and Grace! Charming!" murmured Wrotham, leaning a little more confidentially over the counter—"Now which—which is Grace?"

At that moment a tall, shadowy form darkened the open doorway of the inn, and a man entered, carrying in his arms a small oblong bundle covered with a piece of rough horse-cloth. Placing his burden down on a vacant bench, he pushed his cap from his brows and stared wildly about him. Every one looked at him,—some with recognition, others in alarm,—and Helmsley, compelled as he was to keep himself out of the general notice in his corner, almost started to his feet with an involuntary cry of amazement. For it was Tom o' the Gleam.


Tom o' the Gleam,—Tom, with his clothes torn and covered with dust,—Tom, changed suddenly to a haggard and terrible unlikeness of himself, his face drawn and withered, its healthy bronze colour whitened to a sickly livid hue,—Tom, with such an expression of dazed and stupid horror in his eyes as to give the impression that he was heavily in drink, and dangerous.

"Well, mates!" he said thickly—"A fine night and a clear moon!"

No one answered him. He staggered up to the bar. The hostess looked at him severely.

"Now, Tom, what's the matter?" she said.

He straightened himself, and, throwing back his shoulders as though parrying a blow, forced a smile.

"Nothing! A touch of the sun!" A strong shudder ran through his limbs, and his teeth chattered,—then suddenly leaning forward on the counter, he whispered: "I'm not drunk, mother!—for God's sake don't think it!—I'm ill. Don't you see I'm ill?—I'll be all right in a minute,—give me a drop of brandy!"

She fixed her candid gaze full upon him. She had known him well for years, and not only did she know him, but, rough character as he was, she liked and respected him. Looking him squarely in the face she saw at once that he was speaking the truth. He was not drunk. He was ill,—very ill. The strained anguish on his features proved it.

"Hadn't you better come inside the bar and sit down?" she suggested, in a low tone.

"No, thanks—I'd rather not. I'll stand just here."

She gave him the brandy he had asked for. He sipped it slowly, and, pushing his cap further off his brows, turned his dark eyes, full of smouldering fire, upon Lord Wrotham and his friend, both of whom had succeeded in getting up a little conversation with the hostess's younger daughter, the girl named Grace. Her sister, Elizabeth, put down her needlework, and watched Tom with sudden solicitude. An instinctive dislike of Lord Wrotham and his companion caused her to avoid looking their way, though she heard every word they were saying,—and her interest became centred on the handsome gypsy, whose pallid features and terrible expression filled her with a vague alarm.

"It would be awfully jolly of you if you'd come for a spin in my motor," said his lordship, twirling his sandy moustache and conveying a would-be amorous twinkle into his small brown-green eyes for the benefit of the girl he was ogling. "Beastly bore having a break-down, but it's nothing serious—half a day's work will put it all right, and if you and your sister would like a turn before we go on from here, I shall be charmed. We can't do the record business now—not this time,—so it doesn't matter how long we linger in this delightful spot."

"Especially in such delightful company!" added his friend, Brookfield. "I'm going to take a photograph of this house to-morrow, and perhaps"—here he smiled complacently—"perhaps Miss Grace and Miss Elizabeth will consent to come into the picture?"

"Ya-as—ya-as!—oh do!" drawled Wrotham. "Of course they will! You will, I'm sure, Miss Grace! This gentleman, Mr. Brookfield, has got nearly all the pictorials under his thumb, and he'll put your portrait in them as 'The Beauty of Somerset,' won't you, Brookfield?"

Brookfield laughed, a pleased laugh of conscious power.

"Of course I will," he said. "You have only to express the wish and the thing is done!"

Wrotham twirled his moustache again.

"Awful fun having a friend on the press, don't-cher-know!" he went on. "I get all my lady acquaintances into the papers,—makes 'em famous in a day! The women I like are made to look beautiful, and those I don't like are turned into frights—positive old horrors, give you my life! Easily done, you know!—touch up a negative whichever way you fancy, and there you are!"

The girl Grace lifted her eyes,—very pretty sparkling eyes they were,—and regarded him with a mutinous air of contempt.

"It must be 'awfully' amusing!" she said sarcastically.

"It is!—give you my life!" And his lordship played with a charm in the shape of an enamelled pig which dangled at his watch-chain. "It pleases all parties except those whom I want to rub up the wrong way. I've made many a woman's hair curl, I can tell you! You'll be my 'Somersetshire beauty,' won't you, Miss Grace?"

"I think not!" she replied, with a cool glance. "My hair curls quite enough already. I never use tongs!"

Brookfield burst into a laugh, and the laugh was echoed murmurously by the other men in the room. Wrotham flushed and bit his lip.

"That's a one—er for me," he said lazily. "Pretty kitten as you are, Miss Grace, you can scratch! That's always the worst of women,—they've got such infernally sharp tongues——"

"Grace!" interrupted her mother, at this juncture—"You are wanted in the kitchen."

Grace took the maternal hint and retired at once. At that instant Tom o' the Gleam stirred slightly from his hitherto rigid attitude. He had only taken half his glass of brandy, but that small amount had brought back a tinge of colour to his face and deepened the sparkle of fire in his eyes.

"Good roads for motoring about here!" he said.

Lord Wrotham looked up,—then measuring the great height, muscular build, and commanding appearance of the speaker, nodded affably.

"First-rate!" he replied. "We had a splendid run from Cleeve Abbey."

"Magnificent!" echoed Brookfield. "Not half a second's stop all the way. We should have been far beyond Minehead by this time, if it hadn't been for the break-down. We were racing from London to the Land's End,—but we took a wrong turning just before we came to Cleeve——"

"Oh! Took a wrong turning, did you?" And Tom leaned a little forward as though to hear more accurately. His face had grown deadly pale again, and he breathed quickly.

"Yes. We found ourselves quite close to Cleeve Abbey, but we didn't stop to see old ruins this time, you bet! We just tore down the first lane we saw running back into the highroad,—a pretty steep bit of ground too—and, by Jove!—didn't we whizz round the corner at the bottom! That was a near shave, I can tell you!"

"Ay, ay!" said Tom slowly, listening with an air of profound interest. "You've got a smart chauffeur, no doubt!"

"No chauffeur at all!" declared Brookfield, emphatically. "His lordship drives his car himself."

There followed an odd silence. All the customers in the room, drinking and eating as many of them were, seemed to be under a dumb spell. Tom o' the Gleam's presence was at all times more or less of a terror to the timorous, and that he, who as a rule avoided strangers, should on his own initiative enter into conversation with the two motorists, was of itself a circumstance that awakened considerable wonder and interest. David Helmsley, sitting apart in the shadow, could not take his eyes off the gypsy's face and figure,—a kind of fascination impelled him to watch with strained attention the dark shape, moulded with such herculean symmetry, which seemed to command and subdue the very air that gave it force and sustenance.

"His lordship drives his car himself!" echoed Tom, and a curious smile parted his lips, showing an almost sinister gleam of white teeth between his full black moustache and beard,—then, bringing his sombre glance to bear slowly down on Wrotham's insignificant form, he continued,—"Are you his lordship?"

Wrotham nodded with a careless condescension, and, lighting a cigar, began to smoke it.

"And you drive your car yourself!" proceeded Tom,—"you must have good nerve and a keen eye!"

"Oh well!" And Wrotham laughed airily—"Pretty much so!—but I won't boast!"

"How many miles an hour?" went on Tom, pursuing his inquiries with an almost morbid eagerness.

"Forty or fifty, I suppose—sometimes more. I always run at the highest speed. Of course that kind of thing knocks the motor to pieces rather soon, but one can always buy another."

"True!" said Tom. "Very true! One can always buy another!" He paused, and seemed to collect his thoughts with an effort,—then noticing the half-glass of brandy he had left on the counter, he took it up and drank it all off at a gulp. "Have you ever had any accidents on the road?"

"Accidents?" Lord Wrotham put up an eyeglass. "Accidents? What do you mean?"

"Why, what should I mean except what I say!" And Tom gave a sudden loud laugh,—a laugh which made the hostess at the bar start nervously, while many of the men seated round the various tables exchanged uneasy glances. "Accidents are accidents all the world over! Haven't you ever been thrown out, upset, shaken in body, broken in bone, or otherwise involved in mischief?"

Lord Wrotham smiled, and let his eyeglass fall with a click against his top waistcoat button.

"Never!" he said, taking his cigar from his mouth, looking at it, and then replacing it with a relish—"I'm too fond of my own life to run any risk of losing it. Other people's lives don't matter so much, but mine is precious! Eh, Brookfield?"

Brookfield chuckled himself purple in the face over this pleasantry, and declared that his lordship's wit grew sharper with every day of his existence. Meanwhile Tom o' the Gleam moved a step or two nearer to Wrotham.

"You're a lucky lord!" he said, and again he laughed discordantly. "Very lucky! But you don't mean to tell me that while you're pounding along at full speed, you've never upset anything in your way?—never knocked down an old man or woman,—never run over a dog,—or a child?"

"Oh, well, if you mean that kind of thing!" murmured Wrotham, puffing placidly at his cigar—"Of course! That's quite common! We're always running over something or other, aren't we, Brookie?"

"Always!" declared that gentleman pleasantly. "Really it's half the fun!"

"Positively it is, don't-cher-know!" and his lordship played again with his enamelled pig—"But it's not our fault. If things will get into our way, we can't wait till they get out. We're bound to ride over them. Do you remember that old hen, Brookie?"

Brookfield spluttered into a laugh, and nodded in the affirmative.

"There it was skipping over the road in front of us in as great a hurry as ever hen was," went on Wrotham. "Going back to its family of eggs per express waddle! Whiz! Pst—and all its eggs and waddles were over! By Jove, how we screamed! Ha—ha—ha!—he—he—he!"

Lord Wrotham's laugh resembled that laugh peculiar to "society" folk,—the laugh civil-sniggering, which is just a tone between the sheep's bleat and the peewit's cry. But no one laughed in response, and no one spoke. Some heavy spell was in the air like a cloud shadowing a landscape, and an imaginative onlooker would have been inclined to think that this imperceptible mystic darkness had come in with Tom o' the Gleam and was centralising itself round him alone. Brookfield, seeing that his lordly patron was inclined to talk, and that he was evidently anxious to narrate various "car" incidents, similar to the hen episode, took up the conversation and led it on.

"It is really quite absurd," he said, "for any one of common sense to argue that a motorist can, could, or should pull up every moment for the sake of a few stray animals, or even people, when they don't seem to know or care where they are going. Now think of that child to-day! What an absolute little idiot! Gathering wild thyme and holding it out to the car going full speed! No wonder we knocked it over!"

The hostess of the inn looked up quickly.

"I hope it was not hurt?" she said.

"Oh dear no!" answered Lord Wrotham lightly. "It just fell back and turned a somersault in the grass,—evidently enjoying itself. It had a narrow escape though!"

Tom o' the Gleam stared fixedly at him. Once or twice he essayed to speak, but no sound came from his twitching lips. Presently, with an effort, he found his voice.

"Did you—did you stop the car and go back to see—to see if—if it was all right?" he asked, in curiously harsh, monotonous accents.

"Stop the car? Go back? By Jove, I should think not indeed! I'd lost too much time already through taking a wrong turning. The child was all right enough."

"Are you sure?" muttered Tom thickly. "Are you—quite—sure?"

"Sure?" And Wrotham again had recourse to his eyeglass, which he stuck in one eye, while he fixed his interlocutor with a supercilious glance. "Of course I'm sure! What the devil d' ye take me for? It was a mere beggar's brat anyhow—there are too many of such little wretches running loose about the roads—regular nuisances—a few might be run over with advantage—Hullo! What now? What's the matter? Keep your distance, please!" For Tom suddenly threw up his clenched fists with an inarticulate cry of rage, and now leaped towards Wrotham in the attitude of a wild beast springing on its prey. "Hands off! Hands off, I say! Damn you, leave me alone! Brookfield! Here! Some one get a hold of this fellow! He's mad!"

But before Brookfield or any other man could move to his assistance, Tom had pounced upon him with all the fury of a famished tiger.

"God curse you!" he panted, between the gasps of his labouring breath—"God burn you for ever in Hell!"

Down on the ground he hurled him, clutching him round the neck, and choking every attempt at a cry. Then falling himself in all his huge height, breadth, and weight, upon Wrotham's prone body he crushed it under and held it beneath him, while, with appalling swiftness and vehemence, he plunged a drawn claspknife deep in his victim's throat, hacking the flesh from left to right, from right to left with reckless ferocity, till the blood spurted about him in horrid crimson jets, and gushed in a dark pool on the floor.

Piercing screams from the women, groans and cries from the men, filled the air, and the lately peaceful scene was changed to one of maddening confusion. Brookfield rushed wildly through the open door of the inn into the village street, yelling: "Help! Help! Murder! Help!" and in less than five minutes the place was filled with an excited crowd. "Tom!" "Tom o' the Gleam!" ran in frightened whispers from mouth to mouth. David Helmsley, giddy with the sudden shock of terror, rose shuddering from his place with a vague idea of instant flight in his mind, but remained standing inert, half paralysed by sheer panic, while several men surrounded Tom, and dragged him forcibly up from the ground where he lay, still grasping his murdered man. As they wrenched the gypsy's grappling arms away, Wrotham fell back on the floor, stone dead. Life had been thrust out of him with the first blow dealt him by Tom's claspknife, which had been aimed at his throat as a butcher aims at the throat of a swine. His bleeding corpse presented a frightful spectacle, the head being nearly severed from the body.

Brookfield, shaking all over, turned his back upon the awful sight, and kept on running to and fro and up and down the street, clamouring like a madman for the police. Two sturdy constables presently came, their appearance restoring something like order. To them Tom o' the Gleam advanced, extending his blood-stained hands.

"I am ready!" he said, in a quiet voice. "I am the murderer!"

They looked at him. Then, by way of precaution, one of them clasped a pair of manacles on his wrists. The other, turning his eyes to the corpse on the floor, recoiled in horror.

"Throw something over it!" he commanded.

He was obeyed, and the dreadful remains of what had once been human, were quickly shrouded from view.

"How did this happen?" was the next question put by the officer of the law who had already spoken, opening his notebook.

A chorus of eager tongues answered him, Brookfield's excited explanation echoing above them all. His dear friend, his great, noble, good friend had been brutally murdered! His friend was Lord Wrotham, of Wrotham Hall, Blankshire! A break-down had occurred within half a mile of Blue Anchor, and Lord Wrotham had taken rooms at the present inn for the night. His lordship had condescended to enter into a friendly conversation with the ruffian now under arrest, who, without the slightest cause or provocation whatsoever, had suddenly attacked and overthrown his lordship, and plunged a knife into his lordship's throat! He himself was James Brookfield, proprietor of the Daily Post-Bag, the Pictorial Pie, and the Illustrated Invoice, and he should make this outrageous, this awful crime a warning to motorists throughout the world——!"

"That will do, thank you," said the officer briefly—then he gave a sharp glance around him—"Where's the landlady?"

She had fled in terror from the scene, and some one went in search of her, returning with the poor woman and her two daughters, all of them deathly pale and shivering with dread.

"Don't be frightened, mother!" said one of the constables kindly—"No harm will come to you. Just tell us what you saw of this affair—that's all."

Whereat the poor hostess, her narrative interrupted by tears, explained that Tom o' the Gleam was a frequent customer of hers, and that she had never thought badly of him.

"He was a bit excited to-night, but he wasn't drunk," she said. "He told me he was ill, and asked for a glass of brandy. He looked as if he were in great pain, and I gave him the brandy at once and asked him to step inside the bar. But he wouldn't do that,—he just stood talking with the gentlemen about motoring, and then something was said about a child being knocked over by the motor,—and all of a sudden——"

Here her voice broke, and she sank on a seat half swooning, while Elizabeth, her eldest girl, finished the story in low, trembling tones. Tom o' the Gleam meanwhile stood rigidly upright and silent. To him the chief officer of the law finally turned.

"Will you come with us quietly?" he asked, "or do you mean to give us trouble?"

Tom lifted his dark eyes.

"I shall give no man any more trouble," he answered. "I shall go nowhere save where I am taken. You need fear nothing from me now. But I must speak."

The officer frowned warningly.

"You'd better not!" he said.

"I must!" repeated Tom. "You think,—all of you,—that I had no cause—no provocation—to kill the man who lies there"—and he turned a fierce glance upon the covered corpse, from which a dark stream of blood was trickling slowly along the floor—"I swear before God that I had cause!—and that my cause was just! I had provocation!—the bitterest and worst! That man was a murderer as surely as I am. Look yonder!" And lifting his manacled hands he extended them towards the bench where lay the bundle covered with horse-cloth, which he had carried in his arms and set down when he had first entered the inn. "Look, I say!—and then tell me I had no cause!"

With an uneasy glance one of the officers went up to the spot indicated, and hurriedly, yet fearfully, lifted the horse-cloth and looked under it. Then uttering an exclamation of horror and pity, he drew away the covering altogether, and disclosed to view the dead body of a child,—a little curly-headed lad,—lying as if it were asleep, a smile on its pretty mouth, and a bunch of wild thyme clasped in the clenched fingers of its small right hand.

"My God! It's Kiddie!"

The exclamation was uttered almost simultaneously by every one in the room, and the girl Elizabeth sprang forward.

"Oh, not Kiddie!" she cried—"Oh, surely not Kiddie! Oh, the poor little darling!—the pretty little man!"

And she fell on her knees beside the tiny corpse and gave way to a wild fit of weeping.

There was an awful silence, broken only by her sobbing. Men turned away and covered their eyes—Brookfield edged himself stealthily through the little crowd and sneaked out into the open air—and the officers of the law stood inactive. Helmsley felt the room whirling about him in a sickening blackness, and sat down to steady himself, the stinging tears rising involuntarily in his throat and almost choking him.

"Oh, Kiddie!" wailed Elizabeth again, looking up in plaintive appeal—"Oh, mother, mother, see! Grace come here! Kiddie's dead! The poor innocent little child!" They came at her call, and knelt with her, crying bitterly, and smoothing back with tender hands the thickly tangled dark curls of the smiling dead thing, with the fragrance of wild thyme clinging about it, as though it were a broken flower torn from the woods where it had blossomed. Tom o' the Gleam watched them, and his broad chest heaved with a sudden gasping sigh.

"You all know now," he said slowly, staring with strained piteous eyes at the little lifeless body—"you understand,—the motor killed my Kiddie! He was playing on the road—I was close by among the trees—I saw the cursed car coming full speed downhill—I rushed to take the boy, but was too late—he cried once—and then—silence! All the laughter gone out of him—all the life and love——" He paused with a shudder.—"I carried him all the way, and followed the car," he went on—"I would have followed it to the world's end! I ran by a short cut down near the sea,—and then—I saw the thing break down. I thanked God for that! I tracked the murderers here,—I meant to kill the man who killed my child!—and I have done it!" He paused again. Then he held out his hands and looked at the constable.

"May I—before I go—take him in my arms—and kiss him?" he asked.

The chief officer nodded. He could not speak, but he unfastened Tom's manacles and threw them on the floor. Then Tom himself moved feebly and unsteadily to where the women knelt beside his dead child. They rose as he approached, but did not turn away.

"You have hearts, you women!" he said faintly. "You know what it is to love a child! And Kiddie,—Kiddie was such a happy little fellow!—so strong and hearty!—so full of life! And now—now he's stiff and cold! Only this morning he was jumping and laughing in my arms——" He broke off, trembling violently, then with an effort he raised his head and turned his eyes with a wild stare upon all around him. "We are only poor folk!" he went on, in a firmer voice. "Only gypsies, tinkers, road-menders, labourers, and the like! We cannot fight against the rich who ride us down! There's no law for us, because we can't pay for it. We can't fee the counsel or dine the judge! The rich can pay. They can trample us down under their devilish motor-cars, and obliging juries will declare our wrongs and injuries and deaths to be mere 'accident' or 'misadventure'! But if they can kill, by God!—so can we! And if the law lets them off for murdering our children, we must take the law into our own hands and murder them in turn—ay! even if we swing for it!"

No one spoke. The women still sobbed convulsively, but otherwise there was a great silence. Tom o' the Gleam stretched forth his hands with an eloquent gesture of passion.

"Look at him lying there!" he cried—"Only a child—a little child! So pretty and playful!—all his joy was in the birds and flowers! The robins knew him and would perch on his shoulder,—he would call to the cuckoo,—he would race the swallow,—he would lie in the grass and sing with the skylark and talk to the daisies. He was happy with the simplest things—and when we put him to bed in his little hammock under the trees, he would smile up at the stars and say: 'Mother's up there! Good-night, mother!' Oh, the lonely trees, and the empty hammock! Oh, my lad!—my little pretty lad! Murdered! Murdered! Gone from me for ever! For ever! God! God!"

Reeling heavily forward, he sank in a crouching heap beside the child's dead body and snatched it into his embrace, kissing the little cold lips and cheeks and eyelids again and again, and pressing it with frantic fervour against his breast.

"The dark hour!" he muttered—"the dark hour! To-day when I came away over the moors I felt it creeping upon me! Last night it whispered to me, and I felt its cold breath hissing against my ears! When I climbed down the rocks to the seashore, I heard it wailing in the waves!—and through the hollows of the rocks it shrieked an unknown horror at me! Who was it that said to-day—'He is only a child after all, and he might be taken from you'? I remember!—it was Miss Tranter who spoke—and she was sorry afterwards—ah, yes!—she was sorry!—but it was the spirit of the hour that moved her to the utterance of a warning—she could not help herself,—and I—I should have been more careful!—I should not have left my little one for a moment,—but I never thought any harm could come to him—no, never to him! I was always sure God was too good for that!"

Moaning drearily, he rocked the dead boy to and fro.

"Kiddie—my Kiddie!" he murmured—"Little one with my love's eyes!—heart's darling with my love's face! Don't go to sleep, Kiddie!—not just yet!—wake up and kiss me once!—only once again, Kiddie!"

"Oh, Tom!" sobbed Elizabeth,—"Oh, poor, poor Tom!"

At the sound of her voice he raised his head and looked up at her. There was a strange expression on his face,—a fixed and terrible stare in his eyes. Suddenly he broke into a wild laugh.

"Ha-ha!" he cried. "Poor Tom! Tom o' the Gleam! That's me!—the me that was not always me! Not always me—no!—not always Tom o' the Gleam! It was a bold life I led in the woods long ago!—a life full of sunshine and laughter—a life for a man with man's blood in his veins! Away out in the land that once was old Provence, we jested and sang the hours away,—the women with their guitars and mandolines—the men with their wild dances and tambourines,—and love was the keynote of the music—love!—always love! Love in the sunshine!—love under the moonbeams!—bright eyes in which to drown one's soul,—red lips on which to crush one's heart!—Ah, God!—such days when we were young!

'Ah! Craignons de perdre un seul jour, De la belle saison de l'amour!'"

He sang these lines in a rich baritone, clear and thrilling with passion, and the men grouped about him, not understanding what he sang, glanced at one another with an uneasy sense of fear. All at once he struggled to his feet without assistance, and stood upright, still clasping the body of his child in his arms.

"Come, come!" he said thickly—"It's time we were off, Kiddie! We must get across the moor and into camp. It's time for all lambs to be in the fold;—time to go to bed, my little lad! Good-night, mates! Good-night! I know you all,—and you all know me—you like fair play! Fair play all round, eh? Not one law for the rich and another for the poor! Even justice, boys! Justice! Justice!"

Here his voice broke in a great and awful cry,—blood sprang from his lips—his face grew darkly purple,—and like a huge tree snapped asunder by a storm, he reeled heavily to the ground. One of the constables caught him as he fell.

"Hold up, Tom!" he said tremulously, the thick tears standing in his eyes. "Don't give way! Be a man! Hold up! Steady! Here, let me take the poor Kiddie!"

For a ghastly pallor was stealing over Tom's features, and his lips were widely parted in a gasping struggle for breath.

"No—no!—don't take my boy!" he muttered feebly. "Let me—keep him—with me! God is good—good after all!—we shall not—be parted!"

A strong convulsion shook his sinewy frame from head to foot, and he writhed in desperate agony. The officer put an arm under his head, and made an expressive sign to the awed witnesses of the scene. Helmsley, startled at this, came hurriedly forward, trembling and scarcely able to speak in the extremity of his fear and pity.

"What—what is it?" he stammered. "Not—not——?"

"Death! That's what it is!" said the officer, gently. "His heart's broken!"

One rough fellow here pushed his way to the side of the fallen man,—it was the cattle-driver who had taken part in the previous conversation among the customers at the inn before the occurrence of the tragedy. He knelt down, sobbing like a child.

"Tom!" he faltered, "Tom, old chap! Hearten up a bit! Don't leave us! There's not one of us us'll think ill of ye!—no, not if the law was to shut ye up for life! You was allus good to us poor folk—an' poor folk aint as forgittin' o' kindness as rich. Stay an' help us along, Tom!—you was allus brave an' strong an' hearty—an' there's many of us wantin' comfort an' cheer, eh Tom?"

Tom's splendid dark eyes opened, and a smile, very wan and wistful, gleamed across his lips.

"Is that you, Jim?" he muttered feebly. "It's all dark and cold!—I can't see!—there'll be a frost to-night, and the lambs must be watched a bit—I'm afraid I can't help you, Jim—not to-night! Wanting comfort, did you say? Ay!—plenty wanting that, but I'm past giving it, my boy! I'm done."

He drew a struggling breath with pain and difficulty.

"You see, Jim, I've killed a man!" he went on, gaspingly—"And—and—I've no money—we all share and share alike in camp—it won't be worth any one's while to find excuses for me. They'd shut me up in prison if I lived—but now—God's my judge! And He's merciful—He's giving me my liberty!"

His eyelids fell wearily, and a shadow, dark at first, and then lightening into an ivory pallor, began to cover his features like a fine mask, at sight of which the girls, Elizabeth and Grace, with their mother, knelt down and hid their faces. Every one in the room knelt too, and there was a profound stillness. Tom's breathing grew heavier and more laboured,—once they made an attempt to lift the weight of his child's dead body from his breast, but his hands were clenched upon it convulsively and they could not loosen his hold. All at once Elizabeth lifted her head and prayed aloud—

"O God, have mercy on our poor friend Tom, and help him through the Valley of the Shadow! Grant him Thy forgiveness for all his sins, and let him find——" here she broke down and sobbed pitifully,—then between her tears she finished her petition—"Let him find his little child with Thee!"

A low and solemn "Amen" was the response to her prayer from all present, and suddenly Tom opened his eyes with a surprised bright look.

"Is Kiddie all right?" he asked.

"Yes, Tom!" It was Elizabeth who answered, bending over him—"Kiddie's all right! He's fast asleep in your arms."

"So he is!" And the brilliancy in Tom's eyes grew still more radiant, while with one hand he caressed the thick dark curls that clustered on the head of his dead boy—"Poor little chap! Tired out, and so am I! It's very cold surely!"

"Yes, Tom, it is. Very cold!"

"I thought so! I—I must keep the child warm. They'll be worried in camp over all this—Kiddie never stays out so late. He's such a little fellow—only four!—and he goes to bed early always. And when—when he's asleep—why then—then—the day's over for me,—and night begins—night begins!"

The smile lingered on his lips, and settled there at last in coldest gravity,—the fine mask of death covered his features with an impenetrable waxen stillness—all was over! Tom o' the Gleam had gone with his slain child, and the victim he had sacrificed to his revenge, into the presence of that Supreme Recorder who chronicles all deeds both good and evil, and who, in the character of Divine Justice, may, perchance, find that the sheer brutal selfishness of the modern social world is more utterly to be condemned, and more criminal even than murder.


Sick at heart, and utterly overcome by the sudden and awful tragedy to which he had been an enforced silent witness, David Helmsley had now but one idea, and that was at once to leave the scene of horror which, like a ghastly nightmare, scarred his vision and dizzied his brain. Stumbling feebly along, and seeming to those who by chance noticed him, no more than a poor old tramp terrified out of his wits by the grief and confusion which prevailed, he made his way gradually through the crowd now pressing closely round the dead, and went forth into the village street. He held the little dog Charlie nestled under his coat, where he had kept it hidden all the evening,—the tiny creature was shivering violently with that strange consciousness of the atmosphere of death which is instinctive to so many animals,—and a vague wish to soothe its fears helped him for the moment to forget his own feelings. He would not trust himself to look again at Tom o' the Gleam, stretched lifeless on the ground with his slaughtered child clasped in his arms; he could not speak to any one of the terrified people. He heard the constables giving hurried orders for the removal of the bodies, and he saw two more police officers arrive and go into the stableyard of the inn, there to take the number of the motor-car and write down the full deposition of that potentate of the pictorial press, James Brookfield. And he knew, without any explanation, that the whole affair would probably be served up the next day in the cheaper newspapers as a "sensational" crime, so worded as to lay all the blame on Tom o' the Gleam, and to exonerate the act, and deplore the violent death of the "lordly" brute who, out of his selfish and wicked recklessness, had snatched away the life of an only child from its father without care or compunction. But it was the fearful swiftness of the catastrophe that affected Helmsley most,—that, and what seemed to him, the needless cruelty of fate. Only last night he had seen Tom o' the Gleam for the first time—only last night he had admired the physical symmetry and grace of the man,—his handsome head, his rich voice, and the curious refinement, suggestive of some past culture and education, which gave such a charm to his manner,—only last night he had experienced that little proof of human sympathy and kindliness which had shown itself in the gift of the few coins which Tom had collected and placed on his pillow,—only last night he had been touched by the herculean fellow's tenderness for his little "Kiddie,"—and now,—within the space of twenty-four hours, both father and child had gone out of life at a rush as fierce and relentless as the speed of the motor-car which had crushed a world of happiness under its merciless wheels. Was it right—was it just that such things should be? Could one believe in the goodness of God, in such a world of wanton wickedness? Moving along in a blind haze of bewilderment, Helmsley's thoughts were all disordered and his mind in a whirl,—what consciousness he had left to him was centred in an effort to get away—away!—far away from the scene of murder and death,—away from the scent and trail of blood which seemed to infect and poison the very air!

It was a calm and lovely night. The moon rode high, and there was a soft wind blowing in from the sea. Out over the waste of heaving water, where the moonbeams turned the small rippling waves to the resemblance of netted links of silver or steel, the horizon stretched sharply clear and definite, like a line drawn under the finished chapter of vision. There was a gentle murmur of the inflowing tide among the loose stones and pebbles fringing the beach,—but to Helmsley's ears it sounded like the miserable moaning of a broken heart,—the wail of a sorrowful spirit in torture. He went on and on, with no very distinct idea of where he was going,—he simply continued to walk automatically like one in a dream. He did not know the time, but guessed it must be somewhere about midnight. The road was quite deserted, and its loneliness was to him, in his present over-wrought condition, appalling. Desolation seemed to involve the whole earth in gloom,—the trees stood out in the white shine of the moon like dark shrouded ghosts waving their cerements to and fro,—the fields and hills on either side of him were bare and solitary, and the gleam of the ocean was cold and cheerless as a "Dead Man's Pool." Slowly he plodded along, with a thousand disjointed fragments of thought and memory teasing his brain, all part and parcel of his recent experiences,—he seemed to have lived through a whole history of strange events since the herb-gatherer, Matt Peke, had befriended him on the road,—and the most curious impression of all was that he had somehow lost his own identity for ever. It was impossible and ridiculous to think of himself as David Helmsley, the millionaire,—there was, there could be no such person! David Helmsley,—the real David Helmsley,—was very old, very tired, very poor,—there was nothing left for him in this world save death. He had no children, no friends,—no one who cared for him or who wanted to know what had become of him. He was absolutely alone,—and in the hush of the summer night he fancied that the very moon looked down upon him with a chill stare as though wondering why he burdened the earth with his presence when it was surely time for him to die!

It was not till he found that he was leaving the shore line, and that one or two gas lamps twinkled faintly ahead of him, that he realized he was entering the outskirts of a small town. Pausing a moment, he looked about him. A high-walled castle, majestically enthroned on a steep wooded height, was the first object that met his view,—every line of its frowning battlements and turrets was seen clearly against the sky as though etched out on a dark background with a pencil of light. A sign-post at the corner of a winding road gave the direction "To Dunster Castle." Reading this by the glimmer of the moon, Helmsley stood irresolute for a minute or so, and then resumed his tramp, proceeding through the streets of what he knew must be Dunster itself. He had no intention of stopping in the town,—an inward nervousness pushed him on, on, in spite of fatigue, and Dunster was not far enough away from Blue Anchor to satisfy him. The scene of Tom o' the Gleam's revenge and death surrounded him with a horrible environment,—an atmosphere from which he sought to free himself by sheer distance, and he resolved to walk till morning rather than remain anywhere near the place which was now associated in his mind with one of the darkest episodes of human guilt and suffering that he had ever known. Passing by the old inn known as "The Luttrell Arms," now fast closed for the night, a policeman on his beat stopped in his marching to and fro, and spoke to him.

"Hillo! Which way do you come from?"

"From Watchett."

"Oh! We've just had news of a murder up at Blue Anchor. Have you heard anything of it?"

"Yes." And Helmsley looked his questioner squarely in the face. "It's a terrible business! But the murderer's caught!"

"Caught is he? Who's got him?"

"Death!" And Helmsley, lifting his cap, stood bareheaded in the moonlight. "He'll never escape again!"

The constable looked amazed and a little awed.

"Death? Why, I heard it was that wild gypsy, Tom o' the Gleam——"

"So it was,"—said Helmsley, gently,—"and Tom o' the Gleam is dead!"

"No! Don't say that!" ejaculated the constable with real concern. "There's a lot of good in Tom! I shouldn't like to think he's gone!"

"You'll find it's true," said Helmsley. "And perhaps, when you get all the details, you'll think it for the best. Good-night!"

"Are you staying in Dunster?" queried the officer with a keen glance.

"No. I'm moving on." And Helmsley smiled wearily as he again said—"Good-night!"

He walked steadily, though slowly, through the sleeping town, and passed out of it. Ascending a winding bit of road he found himself once more in the open country, and presently came to a field where part of the fence had been broken through by the cattle. Just behind the damaged palings there was a covered shed, open in front, with a few bundles of straw packed within it. This place suggested itself as a fairly comfortable shelter for an hour's rest, and becoming conscious of the intense aching of his limbs, he took possession of it, setting the small "Charlie" down to gambol on the grass at pleasure. He was far more tired than he knew, and remembering the "yerb wine" which Matt Peke had provided him with, he took a long draught of it, grateful for its reviving warmth and tonic power. Then, half-dreamily, he watched the little dog whom he had rescued and befriended, and presently found himself vaguely entertained by the graceful antics of the tiny creature which, despite its wounded paw, capered limpingly after its own shadow flung by the moonlight on the greensward, and attempted in its own playful way to attract the attention of its new master and wile him away from his mood of utter misery. Involuntarily he thought of the frenzied cry of Shakespeare's "Lear" over the dead body of Cordelia:—

"What! Shall a dog, a horse, a rat, have life And thou no breath at all!"

What curious caprice of destiny was it that saved the life of a dog, yet robbed a father of his child? Who could explain it? Why should a happy innocent little lad like Tom o' the Gleam's "Kiddie" have been hurled out of existence in a moment as it were by the mad speed of a motor's wheels,—and a fragile "toy" terrier, the mere whim of dog-breeders and plaything for fanciful women, be plucked from starvation and death as though the great forces of creation deemed it more worth cherishing than a human being! For the murder of Lord Wrotham, Helmsley found excuse,—for the death of Tom there was ample natural cause,—but for the wanton killing of a little child no reason could justly be assigned. Propping his elbows on his knees, and resting his aching head on his hands, he thought and thought,—till Thought became almost as a fire in his brain. What was the use of life? he asked himself. What definite plan or object could there possibly be in the perpetuation of the human race?

"To pace the same dull round On each recurring day, For seventy years or more Till strength and hope decay,— To trust,—and be deceived,— And standing,—fear to fall! To find no resting-place— Can this be all?"

Beginning with hope and eagerness, and having confidence in the good faith of his fellow-men, had he not himself fought a hard fight in the world, setting before him a certain goal,—a goal which he had won and passed,—to what purpose? In youth he had been very poor,—and poverty had served him as a spur to ambition. In middle life he had become one of the richest men in the world. He had done all that rich and ambitious men set themselves out to do. He might have said with the Preacher:

"Whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them,—I withheld not my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced in all my labour, and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do, and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun."

He had loved,—or rather, he had imagined he loved,—he had married, and his wife had dishonoured him. Sons had been born to him, who, with their mother's treacherous blood in their veins, had brought him to shame by their conduct,—and now all the kith and kin he had sought to surround himself with were dead, and he was alone—as alone as he had ever been at the very commencement of his career. Had his long life of toil led him only to this? With a sense of dull disappointment, his mind reverted to the plan he had half entertained of benefiting Tom o' the Gleam in some way and making him happy by prospering the fortunes of the child he loved so well,—though he was fully aware that perhaps he could not have done much in that direction, as it was more than likely that Tom would have resented the slightest hint of a rich man's patronage. Death, however, in its fiercest shape, had now put an abrupt end to any such benevolent scheme, whether or not it might have been feasible,—and, absorbed in a kind of lethargic reverie, he again and again asked himself what use he was in the world?—what could he do with the brief remaining portion of his life?—and how he could dispose, to his own satisfaction, of the vast wealth which, like a huge golden mill-stone, hung round his neck, dragging him down to the grave? Such poor people as he had met with during his tramp seemed fairly contented with their lot; he, at any rate, had heard no complaints of poverty from them. On the contrary, they had shown an independence of thought and freedom of life which was wholly incompatible with the mere desire of money. He could put a five-pound note in an envelope and post it anonymously to Matt Peke at the "Trusty Man" as a slight return for his kindness, but he was quite sure that though Matt might be pleased enough with the money he would equally be puzzled, and not entirely satisfied in his mind as to whether he was doing right to accept and use it. It would probably be put in a savings bank for a "rainy day."

"It is the hardest thing in the world to do good with money!" he mused, sorrowfully. "Of course if I were to say this to the unthinking majority, they would gape upon me and exclaim—'Hard to do good! Why, there's nothing so easy! There are thousands of poor,—there are the hospitals—the churches!' True,—but the thousands of real poor are not so easily found! There are thousands, ay, millions of 'sham' poor. But the real poor, who never ask for anything,—who would not know how to write a begging letter, and who would shrink from writing it even if they did know—who starve patiently, suffer uncomplainingly, and die resignedly—these are as difficult to meet with as diamonds in a coal mine. As for hospitals, do I not know how many of them pander to the barbarous inhumanity of vivisection!—and have I not experienced to the utmost dregs of bitterness, the melting of cash through the hands of secretaries and under-secretaries, and general Committee-ism, and Red Tape-ism, while every hundred thousand pounds bestowed on these necessary institutions turns out in the end to be a mere drop in the sea of incessant demand, though the donors may possibly purchase a knighthood, a baronetcy, or even a peerage, in return for their gifts! And the churches!—my God!—as Madame Roland said of Liberty, what crimes are committed in Thy Name!"

He looked up at the sky through the square opening of the shed, and saw the moon, now changed in appearance and surrounded by a curious luminous halo like the nimbus with which painters encircle the head of a saint. It was a delicate aureole of prismatic radiance, and seemed to have swept suddenly round the silver planet in companionship with a light mist from the sea,—a mist which was now creeping slowly upwards and covering the land with a glistening wetness as of dew. A few fleecy clouds, pale grey and white, were floating aloft in the western half of the heavens, evoked by some magic touch of the wind.

"It will soon be morning,"—thought Helmsley—"The sun will rise in its same old glorious way—with as measured and monotonous a circuit as it has made from the beginning. The Garden of Eden, the Deluge, the building of the Pyramids, the rise and fall of Rome, the conquests of Alexander, the death of Socrates, the murder of Caesar, the crucifixion of Christ,—the sun has shone on all these things of beauty, triumph or horror with the same even radiance, always the generator of life and fruitfulness, itself indifferent as to what becomes of the atoms germinated under its prolific heat and vitality. The sun takes no heed whether a man dies or lives—neither does God!"

Yet with this idea came a sudden revulsion. Surely in the history of human events, there was ample proof that God, or the invisible Power we call by that name, did care? Crime was, and is, always followed by punishment, sooner or later. Who ordained,—who ordains that this shall be? Who is it that distinguishes between Right and Wrong, and adjusts the balance accordingly? Not Man,—for Man in a barbarous state is often incapable of understanding moral law, till he is trained to it by the evolution of his being and the ever-progressive working of the unseen spiritual forces. And the first process of his evolution is the awakening of conscience, and the struggle to rise from his mere Self to a higher ideal of life,—from material needs to intellectual development. Why is he thus invariably moved towards this higher ideal? If the instinct were a mistaken one, foredoomed to disappointment, it would not be allowed to exist. Nature does not endow us with any sense of which we do not stand in need, or any attribute which is useless to us in the shaping and unfolding of our destinies. True it is that we see many a man and woman who appear to have no souls, but we dare not infer from these exceptions that the soul does not exist. Soulless beings simply have no need of spirituality, just as the night-owl has no need of the sun,—they are bodies merely, and as bodies perish. As the angel said to the prophet Esdras:—"The Most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few. I will tell thee a similitude, Esdras; As when thou askest the earth, it shall say unto thee that it giveth much mould whereof earthern vessels are made, but little dust that gold cometh of, even so is the course of this present world!"

Weary of arguing with himself, Helmsley tried to reflect back on certain incidents of his youth, which now in his age came out like prominent pictures in the gallery of his brain. He remembered the pure and simple piety which distinguished his mother, who lived her life out as sweetly as a flower blooms,—thanking God every morning and night for His goodness to her, even at times when she was most sorrowful,—he thought of his little sister, dead in the springtime of her girlhood, who never had a doubt of the unfailing goodness and beneficence of her Creator, and who, when dying, smiled radiantly, and whispered with her last breath, "I wish you would not cry for me, Davie dear!—the next world is so beautiful!" Was this "next world" in her imagination, or was it a fact? Materialists would, of course, say it was imagination. But, in the light of present-day science and discovery, who can pin one's faith on Materialism?

"I have missed the talisman that would have made all the darkness of life clear to me," he said at last, half aloud; "and missing it, I have missed everything of real value. Pain, loss, old age, and death would have been nothing to me, if I had only won that magic glory of the world—Love!"

His eyes again wandered to the sky, and he noticed that the grey-and-white clouds in the west were rising still higher in fleecy pyramids, and were spreading with a wool-like thickness gradually over the whole heavens. The wind, too, had grown stronger, and its sighing sound had changed to a more strenuous moaning. The little dog, Charlie, tired of its master's gloomy absorption, jumped on his knee, and intimated by eloquent looks and wagging tail a readiness to be again nestled into some cosy corner. The shed was warm and comfortable, and after some brief consideration, he decided to try and sleep for an hour or so before again starting on his way. With this object in view, he arranged the packages of straw which filled one side of the shed into the form of an extemporary couch, which proved comfortable enough when he lay down with Charlie curled up beside him. He could not help thinking of the previous night, when he had seen the tall figure of Tom o' the Gleam approaching his bedside at the "Trusty Man," with the little "surprise" gift he had so stealthily laid upon his pillow,—and it was difficult to realise or to believe that the warm, impulsive heart had ceased to beat, and that all that splendid manhood was now but lifeless clay. He tried not to see the horribly haunting vision of the murdered Wrotham, with that terrible gash in his throat, and the blood pouring from it,—he strove to forget the pitiful picture of the little dead "Kiddie" in the arms of its maddened and broken-hearted father—but the impression was too recent and too ghastly for forgetfulness.

"And yet with it all," he mused, "Tom o' the Gleam had what I have never possessed—love! And perhaps it is better to die—even in the awful way he died—in the very strength and frenzy of love—rather than live loveless!"

Here Charlie heaved a small sigh, and nestled a soft silky head close against his breast. "I love you!" the little creature seemed to say—"I am only a dog—but I want to comfort you if I can!" And he murmured—"Poor Charlie! Poor wee Charlie!" and, patting the flossy coat of his foundling, was conscious of a certain consolation in the mere companionship of an animal that trusted to him for protection.

Presently he closed his eyes and tried to sleep. His brain was somewhat confused, and scraps of old songs and verses he had known in boyhood, were jumbled together without cause or sequence, varying in their turn with the events of his business, his financial "deals" and the general results of his life's work. He remembered quite suddenly and for no particular reason, a battle he had engaged in with certain directors of a company who had attempted to "better" him in a particularly important international trade transaction, and he recalled his own sweeping victory over them with a curious sense of disgust. What did it matter—now?—whether he had so many extra millions, or so many more degrees of power? Certain lines of Tennyson's seemed to contain greater truths than all the money-markets of the world could supply:—

"O let the solid earth Not fail beneath my feet, Before my life has found What some have found so sweet— Then let come what come may, What matter if I go mad, I shall have had my day!

"Let the sweet heavens endure Not close and darken above me, Before I am quite, quite sure That there is one to love me; Then let come what come may To a life that has been so sad, I shall have had my day!"

He murmured this last verse over and over again till it made mere monotony in his mind, and till at last exhausted nature had its way and lulled his senses into a profound slumber. Strange to say, as soon as he was fast asleep, Charlie woke up. Perking his little ears sharply, he sat briskly erect on his tiny haunches, his forepaws well placed on his master's breast, his bright eyes watchfully fixed on the opening of the shed, and his whole attitude expressing that he considered himself "on guard." It was evident that had the least human footfall broken the stillness, he would have made the air ring with as much noise as he was capable of. He had a vibrating bark of his own, worthy of a much larger animal, and he appeared to be anxiously waiting for an opportunity to show off this special accomplishment. No such chance, however, offered itself; the minutes and hours went by in undisturbed order. Now and then a rabbit scampered across the field, or an owl flew through the trees with a plaintive cry,—otherwise, so far as the immediate surroundings of the visible land were concerned, everything was perfectly calm. But up in the sky there were signs of gathering trouble. The clouds had formed into woollier masses,—their grey had changed to black, their white to grey, and the moon, half hidden, appeared to be hurrying downward to the west in a flying scud of etheric foam. Some disturbance was brewing in the higher altitudes of air, and a low snarling murmur from the sea responded to what was, perchance, the outward gust of a fire-tempest in the sun. The small Charlie was, no doubt, quite ignorant of meteorological portents, nevertheless he kept himself wide awake, sniffing at empty space in a highly suspicious manner, his tiny black nose moist with aggressive excitement, and his whole miniature being prepared to make "much ado about nothing" on the smallest provocation.

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