By which time Hogarth was standing at a cubical cabin of steel on the roof, with him Loveday and Quilter-Beckett, his brow puckered with wrinkles, the sun troubling his eyes.
"I suppose the chef is warned?"—he threw away his cigar.
"Oh, yes, my Lord King", Quilter-Beckett answered.
And Loveday: "She sweats like a thoroughbred"—haggard, but assuming calm: "few things could be more profusely expeditious".
"Ah, make phrases, John," murmured Hogarth...."Well, but hadn't you better be getting out the boats?"
Upon which Quilter-Beckett stepped into the little erection, touched a button, and in a minute the water round the southern side was swarming with twenty-three boats whose blue-jackets began to row toward the Kaiser.
And presently, "It's no use waiting", said Hogarth, looking in upon Quilter-Beckett: "I should mine and shell her at the same moment, if I were you; tell them to get it in well amidships".
Now a few seconds, full of expectation, passed, the Kaiser Wilhelm already two miles away: till suddenly space opened its throat in a gulf to bay gruff and hollow like hell-gate dogs; and, almost at the same moment, close by the Kaiser a column of water hopped with one humph of venom two hundred feet on high: when this dropped back broad-showering with it came showering a rain of wreckage; and instantly a shriek of lamentation floated over the sea, mixed with another shriek of steam.
For the moment the ship, enveloped in vapours, could not be seen; but in two minutes glimpses of her hull appeared, shewing the bluff bulge of her starboard bottom: for she leaned steeply to port with a forward crank, her two starboard screws, now free, spinning asleep like humming-tops. A six-inch shell, beautifully aimed, had shattered her engines, killing two stokers, and a torpedo-mine had knocked a hole nine feet across in her port beam.
But as the Boodah's boats, meanwhile, had been racing toward her, and as her own port boats were quickly out, all were got off; in fact, she floated so long, that her ship's papers with L270,000 in specie, and a few hundred-weight of mailbags were saved, and even after the boats reached the Boodah she still stretched there motionless, until, with a sudden flurry, she determined to plunge.
Soon afterwards Hogarth had the Captain in his suite, to tell him that he did not wish any intelligence of the event to reach the world for four days, during which passengers and crew would be his guests, and then be sent on to America, his object, he said, being to impress the loss of the Kaiser upon the consciousness of all, by making all anxious as to her fate.
So that night her passengers danced till late, for there was no resisting the hospitality of Hogarth, or the witchery of those vistas and arcades, grand hall and lost grot, salons and conservatories, there in the dark of the ocean, or such an enchantment of music, and fabulousness of table; the host, too, pleaded prettily for himself; and now they pardoned, and now they pouted, but always they banqueted, kissed, lost themselves in visions, were charmed, and danced.
THE CUP OF TREMBLING
It was by the merest chance that Baruch Frankl and his daughter were not on the Kaiser: for Frankl was the half-nephew of Mrs. Charles P. Stickney, a New York Jewess, and as the marriage of Miss Stickney with Lord Alfred Cowern was only fifteen days off, Frankl had made arrangements to accompany the bridegroom across, but had been detained by stress of business; happily for him—for Lord Alfred, the bridegroom, was a dancing prisoner in the Boodah.
Early, then, on the third morning thence, Charles P. Stickney, the bride's father, a natty little Yankee, hurried a-foot to the Maritime Exchange: for, to his infinite surprise, the Kaiser's arrival had not been in the morning's paper: so the little arch- millionaire stepped toward Beaver Street, sure that the Kaiser had come in too late for the press.
Early as it was, he found the place as thickly a-buzz as though it was that feverish hour between eleven and twelve.
He pushed his way to the bulletin-board, inscribed with the hours at which ships are sighted and entered into dock: the Kaiser was not there: and with prone outlook he went seeking an assistant superintendent; but, sighting a fellow-operator, come, as usual, to digest the world, from barometer-reports to coffee-quotations at Rio, Charles P. Stickney cried to him: "Funny about the Kaiser! Know anything?"
"It's the darndest thing..." mumbled the other, still star-gazing at a blackboard prices-current of American staples: "raise Hell this day, I guess"....
And on through the rooms Stickney shouldered: all in the air here an odour of the sea, and of them that go down to it in ships; pilot, captain, supercargo, purser; abstracts from logs, copies of manifests and clearances, marks and numbers of merchandise, with quantities, shippers, consignees; here peaked caps, and the jaw that chewed once, and paused long, and, lo, it moved anew; Black Books, massive volumes enshrining ancient wrecks; vast newspaper-files in every tongue; records of changes in lightships, lights, buoys, and beacons, from Shanghai to Cape Horn; reports, charts, atlases, globes; the progress of the rebellion in Shantung, and the earthquake last night in Quito; directories, and high-curved reference-books, and storm-maps; every minute the arrival of cipher cablegrams, breathless with the day's Amsterdam exchange on London, or with the quantities of tea in transitu via Suez or Pacific Railway; and the drift of ocean-currents, and the latest position of the Jane Richardson, derelict, and the arrival of the Ladybird at Bahia; and the probabilities of wind-circulation, atmospheric moisture, aberrations of audibility in fog; and in the middle of it the pulse of the sun, the thundering engines and shooting shuttles of this Loom; a tiptop briskness and bustle of action; a scramble of wits; a melee to the death; mixed with pea-jackets, and aromas of chewed pigtail, and a rolling in the gait.
Into this roar of life that word Kaiser stole: and it grew to a chorus.
Charles P. Stickney, butting upon a tearing clerk who was holding aloft a bulletin of icebergs and derelicts, tried to stop him: upon which the clerk, who would not be stopped, cried with a back-looking face of passionate haste: "London message just received—no intelligence of Kaiser—"
But he had hardly disappeared, when another man from an inner room rushed, waving something: the Navesink Highlands lookout had wired the Kaiser in sight! And while the Exchange rang with cheers, Stickney, a colour now in his sere cheeks, went boring his way outward.
The lookout had said it—those blue eyes that never failed there on his watch-tower, he knowing the ships that sail the sea as the Cyclops his sheep, in his heart so knowing them all, that as that sea-glass detected a speck on the horizon, those sea-wise nostrils sniffed its name: for between the Mary Jane and the Mary Anne, both off-shore schooners, is all the world of difference: if you would not see it, he knows. And he had wired the Kaiser!—so expectant his outlook: and that day wept like a ruined man.
Swift upon his first wire a second flashed: and one of those craped days of the tragedies of commerce followed, the boding, the loss, flashed everywhere, pervading Europe and America.
The next morning the Exchange, all the exchanges, the Lloyds', the bourses, were crowded from an early hour, but subdued: no news, not a word; but still—there was certainty: for had the Kaiser and her wireless been merely disabled, she would undoubtedly by now have been reported: she had foundered.
Foundered!—in the serenest weather in which ship ever crossed the water....
But at eleven the truth came: for the brig which had lain becalmed near the Boodah at the moment of the tragedy, and now was nearer England, had flashed the news: "many of the Kaiser's passengers mutilated, many drowned".
Death, then, was in the pottage of Life; the air tainted with specks of blood....
That day Man, as it were, rent his garments, sitting in ashes, and to Heaven sent up a howl of fear, of anguish, and of hissing hate.
Those who lacked the intelligence to feel the fear, felt the hate: every girl, the shirt-maker, the shopman, feeling himself robbed of his very own; the Duke in the centre of his oak-lands felt it; the burglar, the junk-dweller of the Yangtse, the pariah of the Hugli. Lamentation and a voice in Ramah, wail on wail. For God had given the sea to man, and it had been seized by a devil.
God had also given the shore; and it, too, had been seized: but, as that had been before their birth, they had not observed it—in such a numb somnambulism shambles humanity.
But the theft of the sea was new and flagrant, it, and the air, being all that had remained: and a roar for vengeance—sharp, and rolled in blood—rose from the throat of man.
Accordingly, when Mr. C. P. Stickney during the afternoon wired for information to the White House, he received the reply: "Encourage calm on 'Change. Government in touch with Europe. Great naval activity. Await good news, seven P.M."
It was about seven P.M. that what the White House would have considered specially good news occurred: for the Boodah then telegraphed through to O'Hara's Mahomet at the Straits:
"B. 7651. Begins. After to-morrow (Monday) you begin taxation, as per Order B., 7315, of 2nd inst. But if warships desire to pass out, (not in), permit, till further order. Richard. Ends".
Which meant that if any Power, or Powers, desired to concentrate force upon the attack of any island, the Lord of the Sea granted them facilities.
The Kaiser passengers had now been sent off to New York, the Boodah's halls seemed the home of desolation; and, as the night advanced, Hogarth and Loveday walked on the roof: for they could find no rest, the sky without moon or star, the sea making of three sides of the Boodah a roaring reef, the wind blowing cold, they two wrapped to the nose in oilskins with sou'-westers, lashed by rages of rain and spray.
Yonder, to the north-west, appeared a ghost, a thing, a derelict brig, driving downhill on the billows, like a blind man gadding aimless with a crazy down-look, the rags of her one sail drumming on the gusts; and near, nearer, within a stone's-throw of the Boodah, she swaggered wearily, drab Arab, doomed despondent Ahasuerus of the deep, nomad on the nomad sea; and on into the gloom of the south- west she roamed, to be again and again re-created by the rolling light-drum, while Hogarth with a groan said: "If I were only dead! I feel to-night like a man abandoned by the Almighty".
Loveday muttered those words so loved by Hogarth:
"....this is my favoured lot, My exaltation to afflictions high"....
And Hogarth: "Do you know what is burdening me tonight? It is the curses which the world is at this moment hurling upon me: as when one man, thinking evilly of another, sticks needles into wax, and needles of pain pierce the other..." a sense of evil which was deepened the next day by an ominous little accident, when one of his old gunpractice hulks arrived from Bombay, bearing the throne: for as this was being conveyed into the Boodah a front leg was broken.
Meantime, the world's trade went on as before: only, night and day, its ships lay-to, to pay rent with threat and curse: in all only thirteen ships being sunk ere sea and earth had learned the new conditions.
And from the very first day of this taxing a deeper sense of pain and hardship pervaded the world, the Lord of the Sea now taxing at 4s. per ton a world's tonnage of 29 millions, 7 1/2 millions in sailing-ships, 21 1/2 millions in steamships, once in a voyage—a little less than the revenue of Britain.
So one night he received message from O'Hara that "British Mediterranean fleet has passed through the Straits, homeward".
It was not for nothing that the nations had allowed three weeks to pass before avenging the Kaiser: soon enough the Cabinets had been in intercommunication; but in the "Concert" had occurred—a hitch.
Britain had proposed the destruction of the islands in detail, the Powers to contribute weights of metal proportionate to their mercantile marines: as a basis for calculation she had offered her force in Home and Mediterranean waters; and, this having been accepted, by the 5th ships were under the pennant, and outfitting.
Now, all this time, things had been in a pretty whirl: oratory from pulpit, platform, stump, eyes on fire, mobs that went in haste, shrieks of newspaper passion, organized burglary, and a strange epidemic of fires: for the modern nations lived by the sea, and it was seized. Moreover, on the 6th, after a meeting at the Albert Hall, organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce, our Government—"Liberal", under Sir Moses Cohen—suffered a defeat of thirty-four votes on a division.
And it was during the turmoil that ensued upon this that the German Foreign Office (on the 9th) sent to the new Russian the wireless "Bion"-meaning—"Let us meet to discuss the subject of-England".
That meeting took place at Konigsberg.
It was now that a fort-man—formerly a Nottingham shoemaker—landed from the Truth's yacht at Frederikshavn, and thence wrote to the Daily Chronicle, to say, briefly, this: That, supposing the European navies joined to batter away with l5-inch guns and torpedoes at five feet of steel, they might finally succeed in mining a hole in it; but if the thick steel happened to have still bigger guns, "and other things", with which, meantime, to batter back at the thin ships, then it would be the ships, probably, which would get holes in them: it was a question of Time. Also he said that the islands were defended by devoted men, every one of intelligence and high principle, who knew what they wanted, and meant to have it—their shooting average being 97 per 100. He advised his country not to try it, especially in view of certain political rumours which he had picked up in the Cattegat.
This letter, although badly spelled, aroused a sensation The "high principle" of the fort-men, indeed, met with bitter laughter; but its hearty patriotism, simplicity, technical knowledge, were so remarkable, that now a doubt as to the battleship arose—and with it a gnashing of teeth. The service-clubs, the "experts", wrote this and that; the publics poured forth letters, schemes, plots, inventions—like the brain of the world versus the brain of Hogarth. "Starve Him Out", was a title in the Contemporary: but the reply was bitterly obvious. And into the midst of this racket burst the news that the negotiations with Germany, Russia and France were at a deadlock.
These Powers had raised this question: "In case of the capture of the islands—what shall be done with those most powerful engines?"
Here was a riddle. For whichever nation took even one would score a vast advantage.
If, now, Britain had had the greatness of mind to declare for the sinking, in any case, of all the islands, the difficulty was solved, but the new-Government brooms would score a point and gain a trick, and they proposed the division of surviving forts in the proportion of fighting-power contributed.
The Continent objected: Britain was "firm"; whereupon the French Ambassador sent to Downing Street his withdrawal from the crusade.
And so when—on the 22nd—the fleets assembled at Portland and Milford Haven before rendezvous at the Lizard, the whole original proposal had fallen through: for here was neither tricolour nor saltire, only three German ships, only five Italian; the "probability", moreover, of the capture of a sea-fort by England was imminent: and on the evening of the mobilisation of the squadrons feverish activity was reported from Toulon; a British Legation attache,, seeing fit to stroll round the Caserne Pepiniere, beheld in the yard an extraordinary crowd of limbers: and, pitching into a cab, from the nearest postes et telegraphes wired to London the word: "Angleterre".
Too late: the British fleets were gone, leaving the Channel and Western Mediterranean desert.
Now the nation awoke to a consciousness of dark skies: cloud of the west rushing to meet a yet lurider eastern—with probability of lightning.
The fleet could hardly return in less than five days—if it returned! Would the hostile nations be good enough to await its return? The lightning would be "near".
A day of fear, in which flash tracked flash: till at 11.30 P.M. the rumour pervaded the crowd round St. Stephen's that the new Ministry had suffered defeat: and the drifting ship was captainless.
And early the next morning a number of Boodah boats, out running a regatta, came tearing back, all fluttered; soon after which Quilter- Beckett was hurrying into Hogarth's presence, who was at coffee, to say: "Well, my Lord King, here they come at last—and enough of them, I think".
THE "BOODAH" AND THE BATTLESHIPS
The ships had gone forth in two lines ahead at ten knots, Admiral Sir Henry Yerburgh, K.C.B., being in the flagship Queen Mary, with the capital-ships being nearly all of the five mosquito flotillas, and half the Home submarine; though what was the object of the torpedo craft (unless they were to go within 2,000 yards of the Boodah's guns) was not very evident.
At that news, Hogarth, putting on a wide-awake, and lighting a cigar with rough perfunctory puffs, ran along a corridor to call Loveday, whereupon the two went out to the ledge and up to the roof.
There, at the south edge, stood a marine trumpeting something at Hogarth's yacht; and, just landing at the Boodah from his gig, a fretful Yankee skipper, register in hand with a bag of L900 sea-rent in gold, while twenty yards yonder rode his smoking ship loaded with grain for Rouen; and on the eastern horizon the armada, in crescent at present, moving with fires banked at two knots, a glare hiding them from the naked eye, but the glass revealing them like toys in the abstract, ethereally hazy.
And now the yacht's cones shewed steam, three of her boats making toward the Boodah; soon at the landing-place stood Wanda, some interpreters, Mons. Roche (the chef), women, engineers, paymasters, civil servants, waiters, etc.; and Hogarth, seeing them, approached, questioned them, and, hearing that they had been ordered a day's pleasure-trip round the Solon, with lifting hat shook hands all round.
By this time some fifty officers and blue-jackets were about the roof and ledge, some discussing, others unfixing lanterns and festoons, with shouted directions. Leaving which, Hogarth and Loveday descended to an office of Loveday's, and Hogarth was just saying: "Quilter-Beckett could destroy a quarter of those warships yonder—now, if he chose—without firing a gun—" when in, with flushed face and stretched stalk, hurried Quilter-Beckett, crying: "My Lord King, I thought you would be here—just look—!"
He held out a Sea telegraph-form-from O'Hara:
"F. 39241. Begins. Almost certainty of war: Germany, France, Russia against England. Three corps massing between Harfleur and Rouen, two upon Petersburg, transports at Havre. England undefended on sea. Ministry fallen. Toulon outfitting. Donald, Admiral. Ends.
Hogarth, with an all-gone gesture, handed the telegram to Loveday.
But with lightning energy he was at a desk, scribbling:
"F. 39242. Begins. To Donald, Admiral, Mahomet. Be in half-hourly communication with Beech's Bank, Paris and Petersburg branches. Send hourly bulletins of news. War to be averted by every means. Let Beech threaten. Warn Cattegat. Richard. Ends."
And "Quick, Quilter-Beckett", he cried, "send that! What is the speed of your quickest picket—?"
"Then, go yourself to the British Admiral. Make him fly back: he has years to attack me in, tell him—I'll write a dispatch—"
On which Quilter-Beckett telephoned up for a picket, took the dispatch, and was soon away, while Hogarth watched his flight over the Sea.
An anxious hour passed, and by then a line of ships had been sighted to the west—the Americans at last; ten minutes later, the picket, too, was seen returning.
"Well, now", said Hogarth, watching her, "I wonder. The ships seem to be coming on just the same. You have no idea, John, how the mind of people in office becomes fixed, like hardened putty in a hole: I am sorry now I didn't go myself".
Some minutes more and Quilter-Beckett was pelting up the steps, his face pink as prickly-heat, blurting out: "My Lord King! I have been grossly insulted...!"
"Ha!" went Hogarth.
"I met a dispatch-boat coming to make summons of surrender, and, in spite of my white flag, they took me prisoner! How I restrained myself—and these people in the hollow of my hand! When I got at last to the Admiral—it is Yerburgh on the Queen Mary—he 'pirated' me—but I have no time Yonder, you see, are the Americans. British won't go back: I doubt if they believe—'under orders', and so on. By the way, you shouldn't stay there—no longer safe—"
He was away: for the moment was near, the Boodah now surrounded with a series of floating squares hanging deep torpedo-nets against submarines, on both horizons effusions of smoke, the ships no more visions, but middle-sized sea-things, seeming fixed in the thick of the sea, though steaming quickly. Hogarth watched them through a hand-glass, while Loveday, ghastly pallid, whispered: "Come, Richard, come", but still lingered a little, seeing them grow up— like the infant, the lad, the hairy man—toiling at the bigness of the sea, looking stripped, prepared for tempest They were six miles away—five.
Mute lay the Boodah; and, surrounding her, perniciously moved the ships at forty-eight revolutions a minute, hardly a cable's interval between the host of them, they seeming no more the playthings of the sea, but its masters, each a travelling throne of power; and as they pared so taciturn, with baleful aspect they trained their cannon upon the sea-fort in their midst: not a soul visible on fort or ships.
A long while it seems to last, that noonday stillness, a noonday breezy and oceanic, the sea sharp-edged, hard-looking, dark-blue, tossing spray along its ridges, not rough, but restless, shewing against the ships white foams a moment, which silently glide away.
But their Admiral is signalling: Let her have it! and in some moments more yonder to the far north the Florida breaks into quick-flashing ecstasy, like quick-winking Gorgon glances; and the north-east catches it in a single boom; and in ten seconds more it is as if Nature, with sudden yell, feels to her womb the birth-hour come and rueful throes: and where ships had been appears in one minute nothing but a ring of stagnant smoke, tugged into rays and out-sticking clouds, flushed with glares and rouges.
And no question of missing: the Boodah stationary and huge; every shell told. But, the deluge over, that thunder-marred visage again looked grimly forth, a face new-risen from smallpox, an apparition, roof-houses gone, lighthouse tops, one of her great 19.5 inchers in fragments, in her casemates seventeen dead.
But where now is the one-masted Hercules, which but a moment since went trembling at the bale of her own bellowing barbettes? The Hercules is in a Nessus-shirt of flame. And whither the Hercules is going, thither is the Idaho going, and the Dante gone, and gone the elongated length of the Invincible, and twenty destroyers, and the bow-works of the old Powerful, which stoops woefully there, screws in air, as the camel of the desert kneels and waits, while into her beam comes crashing the ram of the poopless Deutschland.
Yet the Boodah has not fired a gun!
But now she fires: as the broadsides drench her anew, she fires, the hulk—all round the horizon—lowing in travail: and as there is no question of missing on the one side, so on the other is assurance, the Boodah's broad-sides of 19.5-inchers and 9.5-inchers, ninety- two in all, being fired by the hand of Quilter-Beckett, who sits at a table grim with knobs, buttons, dial-faces, in a cabinet near a saloon where Hogarth, Loveday, and five lieutenants are lunching; and where he sits he can hear the band in an alcove rendering for the eaters Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: hear, not heed: for two gunners in each casemate have sighted a ship through pivoted glasses, whose fixing, disturbing an electrical circuit, prints the ship's distance on an indicator before the Admiral: whereupon he touches a button—many buttons—in intense succession: the Boodah bawls: and the thrust-back of her resentment becomes intolerable, the ships just like fawns under the paws of an old lion whose grisly jaws drip gore; the sharks that infest her will fare well of her hand.
Of forty-three ships fixed, thirty-nine are hit, eleven founder: wreckage so vast and swift, that the Admiral, still afloat in a Queen Mary pierced above-belt, is like a man stung by the tarantulas of distraction: tries to signal flight—flags cannot be seen; fires coloured pistol-lights: "Retire!"—and soon, all round, the circle is in flight.
But hapless flight: the Boodah is an octopus whose feelers reach far, and they, within her toils, cannot escape her omnipresence. She sends after them no guns: yet they are blown to atoms; the sea becomes a death-trap thick with pitfalls and shipwreck; one by one they are caught, they fly aloft like startled fowl, or they succumb, and lean, and stoop, and sink: the sea, for mile on mile, proving a hell of torpedoes-dirigible, automobile, mine.
For in the matter of mines the Boodah had all the advantages of a shore, and as to dirigible torpedoes more than all.
Her mines, whose weight was adjusted to the specific gravity of salt water, sank till the pressure at ten fathoms arrested them, they, electrically connected with the forts, reaching out twenty miles; and the whole network, charted to an inch, was coordinated with the range-tables.
The ordinary l8-inch Whiteheads, moreover, were replaced by a longer design running 6,000 yards, the added length being occupied by the flask, whose compressed air runs the engine, they not sinking on finishing their course: so, if they missed, there they lay, a trap of 380 pounds of gun-cotton in the course of the numerous moving foe.
With these three forms of the same plague the Boodah hunted the fleeing ships, and drove them stumbling through complicated miseries, amazed and thunderstruck: so that seventy-three only, several of them half-wrecks, reached her twenty-five mile limit; and, there, over the mines of the Solon, reassembled.
Amid the throng on his ruined roof Hogarth watched their flight and the ever-coming boatloads of blue-jackets through a mist of smoke and the after-smell of war, while under the sea wide eyes in hosts were a-gaze at a windfall of 2,400 bodies.
About half-past four captains and commanders of the survivors were in the ward-room of the Second-in-Command on the Orion—the Queen Mary gone—when he, with splendid infatuation, proposed a return to the attack, with a change of tactics to concentration upon one side only of the Boodah; but the foreigners pointed out the obvious added dangers; and in the midst of a wrangle a dispatch-boat from the Solon, eleven miles south, arrived, demanding the usual sea- rent, by draft, if not in gold; so out, at this unlooked-for incident, broke a new quarrel, the British for a whole hour resisting the inexorable; till the Solon Lieutenant, his eyes moist with pleading, explained their helplessness, adding that war between the four Powers had been declared that day at noon from the Stock Exchange steps: and only then the Vice-Admiral, breaking into tears, yielded to destiny.
Hogarth, meanwhile, was like a wild man, imprisoned, till his yacht returned at dusk with her excursionists; and without delay he was on her, and away for England.
In England, meantime, was nothing but dismay.
The Government, whose defeat was accidental, on being hurriedly patched up, threw itself passionately into the work of defence, calling up every enrolled man, while at regimental centres the enlistment of volunteers went forward, Weedon alone turning out 7,000 rifles a day.
But on the night of the Declaration the Under-secretary announced in the House that the Russians were moving down the Baltic, the French toward the Straits: and the next morning dawned with the dreariness of last mornings and days. However, soon after 1 P.M., the Lord of the Sea landed at Bristol, his yacht being one of the swiftest things afloat; there heard the known facts; and thence wired to Beech's London house, to the London Foreign Office, to Cadiz and to Frederikshavn, where he had wireless for the Mahomet at the Straits, and for the Truth in the Cattegat.
His wire to the Foreign Office was as follows:
"I have come to England hoping to avert European war by fiscal means, not knowing that the passage of ships into open water was of first importance. Since this is so, accept my assurance, there will be no war, except on the part of Britain, which I should much resent. British Government, I suggest, should forthwith allay national anxiety.
But the Foreign Office did not publish this telegram, not knowing what to make of it—unless Hogarth were vehemently the friend of England, while every British being regarded him not so much as the enemy of man, as the special Anti-Christ of England. And how came he to be in England, when he should be at the bottom of the Atlantic? The telegram was passed through the agitated departments, but kept dark....
So the afternoon passed without news: and tension grew to agony.
Hogarth spent the evening in his Berkeley Square house with the Manager of Beech's, examining office-books and specimens of some new Sea-coins, till near eleven, when, being alone, he put on a mackintosh, shaded his face well with hat and collar-flap, and went out into the drizzling night.
Even his Berkeley Square was peopled, and, as he strolled toward Pall Mall, he found it ever harder to advance, till he became jammed. Never had he seen such a crowd, all in the air a sound, vague and general, which was like a steam of thought-made-audible; till presently, while trying in vain to get away, he was startled by a tumult that travelled, a rumour of woe that noised and swelled, terrifying, the voice of the people, the voice of God: and though he did not know its meaning, it keenly afflicted him.
The fastest of the survivors from the battle with the Boodah had wirelessed: on that commonplace bulletin at the War Office the news stood written...
But the rumour of that despair had not yet attained its culmination, when another rumour roared after and over it, roar upon roar, like tempest poured through the multitudinous forest, joyance now overtaking sorrow, and a noise of roistering overwhelming lamentation. And all at once a great magnetic hysteria seized them all, and the many became as one, and the bursting bosom burst: men weeping like infants, laughing foolishly, grasping each other's hand, and one cried "Hurrah!", and another, catching it, cried "Hurrah!"
For the French, German, and Russian fleets, in attempting to pass the two narrows north and south of Europe, had been stopped by the two sea-forts there; and though they had been so eager to pass, that they had even offered to pay sea-rent, this, too, had been refused. They had then, at five and at five-thirty in the afternoon, offered battle to the islands: with the result that half their weight had been annihilated before they took to flight. So said the bulletin....
And Hogarth in the midst of the jubilee saw the man who jammed his left shoulder, a broker in spectacles, grip the hand of the man on his right, a ragamuffin, to cry out: "That scoundrel Hogarth! Isn't there good in the damned thief, after all?"
And the other: "Aye, he knows how to give it 'em 'ot, don't 'e, after all! Thank God for that!"
Three weeks later peace was proclaimed by a procession at Temple Bar between England, Austro-Germany, France, Russia, and the Sea.
The last effort of Europe to resist the Sea was made on the afternoon of the 14th of October, when the British Prime Minister refused to conclude a treaty of peace.
"Your master is only a pirate—on a large scale", he said to a Minister of the Sea.
That was on the 14th.
On the 15th there was a stoppage of British trade nearly all the world over.
On the 20th England was in a state of emeute resembling revolution.
On the 28th the Treaty of Peace was signed.
Its principal conditions were: (1) The undertaking by the Sea not to raise sea-rent on British ships without certain formalities of notice; and (2) The undertaking by Britain not to engage in the making of any railway or overland trade-route, or of any marine engine of war, without the consent of the Sea. And similar treaties were signed by the Sea with the other nations.
Then followed the rush of the Ambassadors to the Boodah, and the frivolous round of Court-life revolved, levee, audience, dinner, drawing-room, investiture; the Lord of the Sea descended from the throne before the Court to pin a cross upon the humble breast of his best shot and give him the title of Praeceps, gave fanciful honours to emperors, received them of them—wore when throned a brow-band of gold with only one stone, the biggest of the meteor octahedrons, that glanced about his brow like an icicle in whose glass gallivanted a fairy clad in rags of the rainbow.
Now the old gaieties recommenced, but more Olympian in tone, as befitted the ruler of rulers, terrible now being the lifting of Hogarth's brows at the least lapse in ritual; and only the chastest- nurtured of the earth ever now stalked through gavotte or pavane in those halls of the sea.
The world now lay at his feet. The dependence upon him of England, of France, of that part of Austro-Germany called Germany, was obvious: he could starve them. But over Austria proper, Russia, Italy, his sway was no less omnipotent: for the panic cheapness of scrip which followed the destruction of the Kaiser had, of course, been foreseen, and used by him; Beech had bought up, easily ousting the Rothschilds from their old financial kingship: by tens of millions the process had gone on; and still it continued increasingly, for the wealth of Hogarth now, as compared with that of other rich men, was like a ship to a skiff. If he threw upon the market, the bankruptcy of several nations might follow: it was doubtful if the United States could survive; certainly, Austria, Russia, South America must go under.
Nor was the East less his slave: Japan a mercantile nation, China and Turkey in his fiscal net. So, looking round the globe toward the middle of November, he could observe scarcely a nation which he could not, by scribbling a telegram, crush out of recognition.
It was precisely then that Richard Hogarth revealed himself.
On the 15th of November appeared his Manifesto.
This Charter, which everlastingly must remain one of the Scriptures of our planet, simple as a baby's syllables, yet large like the arch of Heaven, has left its mark on the human soul.
On the morning of the 16th its twenty clauses occupied in pica a page of every newspaper, and it was posted up big in the streets of cities.
The document ran:
Richard, by the Will of God....I do hereby discern, declare, and lay down: That:
1. What is no good cannot be owned: only goods can be owned.
2. "Good" is well, or pleasant; goods is wellth (wealth) or pleasures: thus, a coal-mine, being no pleasure, cannot be owned.
3. Coal becomes goods after being moved, or taken. Moving does not make it good; its nature does not make it good: moving-plus-Nature makes it good, ownable. At the pit-head, already, it is a pleasure, fewer pains being now needed to move it to a fireplace. Thus, Nature apart from motion cannot be owned, being no good, as a cave is no good to a caveman outside it: rain is wetting him; if he takes it, moves in, it is good.
Animals and plants, by taking things from the planets presented to them, by moving things, raise Nature into wealth, and own things.
4. For Jack to own, have a thing for Jack's own, Jack must by his own force have subdued Nature, must have taken the thing by moving the thing's atoms, or moving something relatively to the thing, or, negatively, by not evading, but accepting, the thing in motion—a wind, tide, light-wave; else Jack must have taken something (by as much work) to purchase the thing from its (true) owner, or accepted it as a favour from Nature in motion, or from its (true) owner. To say "own" is to say "take"; to say "take" is to say "motion", i.e., the doing of work: "work done" being FD, i.e., Force used into Distance moved-over. I cannot own the air: it is no good; I own the air in my lungs, having taken, moved, it, done FD on it: it is very good; and I own the air which, doing FD, moving to my face, I do not evade, but accept, take: it is very good.
I say to Jack "take a cigar"; he loudly says "yes!", but does not move it to his mouth, nor moves his mouth to it; instead, he moves a pen to his mouth; this makes me laugh: he has not taken a cigar.
Jack is catching fish in a boat; Tom owns the boat: so Jack gives fish to Tom, until Jack's FD done on the fish is equivalent to Tom's FD done on the boat; and now Jack owns the boat. If "the law" says that Tom still owns the boat, this makes me laugh: for how can Tom come to own two boats' good by the FD done on one only?
Jack is ploughing the sea with a ship: just there he owns the sea, has taken, is moving, it for his good. He does not own the sea before, nor the sea behind, him: for the motions behind made by him have ceased to do good.
Jack is ploughing soil: he owns the soil ploughed, has taken it, and will own it while the motions he has made do good: so that, if Tom who has not moved it says "I own the soil, for 'the law' declares that I have taken it by moving a pen two inches", this makes me laugh. Or, if Jack says "I own it for ever", this makes me laugh. Or, if anyone says "I own both the soil and the site" (relative position), this makes me laugh: for what can one man move to make a relative position good? He can neither move a field toward anything nor move much toward a field. If many men move railways that way, or move things to rear towns round the field, this makes the site good, moving it from outside a community to inside a community; and the many who make it good own it.
5. The site is the field's chief good: so the plougher owes something to those who, making it good, own it, This something is named "rent".
6. Suppose that the plougher, or dweller-on, is an Englishman: he owes rent to the English. And, since the site of England is made good by movements made in America, he owes rent to the Americans.
7. This the mind readily descries to be true: it is a "truism", and is necessarily the Fundamental Principle of Society throughout the universe. So that, summing up, we may define: "Rent" is "right", based on truth when paid to those by whose movements a site is made good.
8. One might readily guess (if there were no example of it) that any violation of a Principle so fundamental would be avenged by Nature upon the planet which violated it.
9. Our planet is such an example: for here Two Separate Violations of the Principle appear; each great in itself; but one small in comparison.
10. Accordingly, for the small violation Nature has not failed to send upon Man a small penalty; and for the great violation great penalties.
11. The small violation consists in the claim by nations to have taken, without having moved, sites called "countries".
12. For this Nature has sent upon man the small penalty of War.
13. To abolish War men must remove its cause.
Therefore let the site-rental of England (i.e., the excess of English goods over what English goods would be, if no other country existed) be handed over to a World Council; and the site-rental of America to the same; and the World Council shall disburse such funds for the majesty and joy of Man: and War shall terminate.
14. This way the Lord of the Sea indicates to the world, though with its initiation he is not personally concerned.
15. Beside the small violation of the Fundamental Principle of Society, there is a great on the earth.
16. The Great Violation consists in the claim by individuals to have taken, without having moved, sites and soils called "estates", "domains", "plots": for, as rent tends to rightness when paid to the fifty millions of a nation, fifty-millionfold is its wrongness when paid to one; and as rent is right when paid to the thousand million inhabitants of a planet, a thousand-millionfold is its wrongness when paid to one.
17. For this Great Violation of the Fundamental Principle of Society Nature has sent upon Man great penalties: poverties, frenzies, depravities, horrors, sorrows, lowness, dulness.
18. Lowness, dulness: for by far the greatest of these penalties is a restraint on Man's development. Man is an animal, Man is a mind: and since the wing of mind is Pride, Assurance, or Self-esteem, and since the home of an animal is a Planet, and an animal without a home is a thing without Assurance or Pride, so Man without Earth is a mind without wing. Even so, a few, having Assurance, make what we call "Progress", i.e., the discovering of truth—a crawling which might become flight, had all minds but the wing of Pride to co- operate in discovering truth. But Man lacks assurance and foothold, founded home and domain: his sole heritage, though he is neither fish nor fowl, being sea and air.
19. This is a great violation.
20. And with this great violation of the Fundamental Principle of Society the Lord of the Sea is personally concerned. In the name of Heaven and of Earth he urges upon the nations of men to amend it in the month of the promulgation of this Manifesto: and this summons he strengthens with a threat of his resentment.
As the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, I will see to it.
THE "BOODAH'S" LOCK-UP
Three days after the Manifesto the marriage of Miss Stickney of New York with Lord Alfred Cowern was to take place, this having been put off owing to the Kaiser tragedy; and so, on the day of the Manifesto, Baruch Frankl, the Jew, was crossing to a wedding which, even in the midst of great events, had stirred up a considerable rumour and sensation, since the American guests were to consist of the coterie known as the "Thirty-four", all millionaires, while "the cake" was to weigh three-quarters of a ton, each guest's grub to cost $500, and for that breakfast the Neva had been ravished for fish and Siamese crags for nests.
Frankl, however, was never destined to taste those five hundred dollar mouthfuls. It happened in this way: as the Boodah's searchlights, destroyed in the battle, were not yet repaired, in the interval some lawless ships took the chance on dark nights to skulk past with extinguished lights; now, the captain of Frankl's chartered steamer had that bright idea (being of adventurous turn), when night fell forty knots east of the Boodah, so he came to Frankl, and broached the scheme.
"Not for Joe", was Frankl's answer: "pay the Pirate his taxes and be done".
"It could be worked as sweet as a nut, sir!" persisted the skipper, with a watering mind.
"Well, so long us you take the risk, perhaps—but no, sir, I'd rather not".
On which the skipper winked self-willed to himself, and, putting out nine miles from the Boodah his three lights, went dashing past.
And the attempt would have succeeded, had it not been for the fact that the night was pitch-dark, and that another ship was trying that very venture with extinguished lights. And these two ships met, bow to bow, with such an energy of adventurous smartness, that both sharply sank.
The sea, however, being smooth, all hands were saved; and now, since the boats lay forlorn on the vast, with nothing but the Boodah's swarm of moons to move to, for the Boodah they started, while Frankl cast twinkling fingers to the sky, and cursed that night, as the oars with slow wash journeyed through turgid murk toward the very den of the devil.
When they reached the Boodah they were conducted down to a police- court, and there shivered an hour in a dreary light, till three officials in peaked caps and frock-coats came, sat on a Bench, and, after hearing evidence, pronounced sentence of seven months against the captains, and one against Frankl.
These were led away by police blue-jackets, and Frankl groaned through the night in a box as cold as the cells of Colmoor.
The next morning Quilter-Beckett, making a report in Hogarth's salon, mentioned the incident, saying: "Here are the names, with the sentences; I shall send the sailors home..." and Hogarth's eyes, resting on the document, chanced to catch that name of Frankl.
At once he turned pale, for his first thought was: "Frankl must have been going to the wedding, in which case Someone Else may be with him".
But her name was not there....
He rose and paced; and he said low: "No one else on either of the ships?"
"No, my Lord King".
Then up lifted Hogarth's brow, alight with fun, and he muttered: "All right, Caps-and-tassels".
He said aloud: "Quilter-Beckett, this Frankl I know. Did you never hear anything about Caps-and-tassels at Westring? He is Caps-and- tassels. Now tell me, which is your biggest blue-jacket?"
"Man called Young, my Lord King".
"Then, have a suit of Young's sea-clothes put upon this Frankl, and let him be brought before me in the Throne Room this morning after the Audience. He was fond of liveries...."
Accordingly, by half-past eleven Frankl entered the Throne Room, where, as soon as its rosy translucency broke upon his gaze, an "Oh!" of admiration groaned from him, in spite of his weight of misery, he not walking, but being lifted forward in successive swings by his armpits—up the first steps to the outer circle of balustrade, forward to the second steps and the inner balustrade, within which shone the throne, and Hogarth, crowned and large in robes, on it.
The two warders, intent upon portering Frankl, and not noticing the cap which still covered his eyebrows, one now in sudden scare whispered: "Off with your cap, you...!" on which Frankl snatched it off, grasping through superabundant sleeves, he at the same moment a fury and a dazzled man, the throne before him incredible, like a dream which one knows to be a dream, in structure not unlike the Peacock Throne of Akbar, its length fourteen feet, seating thirteen persons in recesses, standing on a gold platform with three concave steps set with rings of sapphire, and consisting of a central part and two wings, the wings being supported on twisted legs (one had been broken), and made of fretted ivory mosaicked with cabochon emerald, ruby, topaz, turquoise, chrysoberyl, diamond, opal, the large central part, with its recesses, being also of ivory, gold- arabesqued, its mosque-shape canopy (of Hindoo enamel-work on the outside) being supported by eleven pillars of emerald; at the top of each pillar a dolphin (hence the name "Dolphin Throne") made of turquoise, jasper, pearl, sardius, and at the bottom of each pillar a guldusta, or bouquet, of gems; the concave ceiling one mass of stones, representing a sea in which sailed three Dutch galleons, and seven dolphins sported.
But all that Frankl saw of it was its opulence: for his terror lest the warders should let him go occupied his mind.
And precisely the thing which he feared came upon him, for Hogarth said: "Warders, retire".
And now Frankl, all unsupported, stood in unstable equilibrium, anon stooping to his finger-tips, then straining doubtfully forward with struggling arms from a too backward poise: for not only did the trousers lie a twisted emptiness far below his feet, but the feet themselves were lost in Young's boots, so he stood like Scaramouch, a mere sack, a working of his chin wobbling down his beard, and there was a blaze in his stare which Hogarth, unfortunately, did not well estimate.
They faced each other, alone, save for the body-guard at the circumference of the room.
"Was it you that sent me to Colmoor?" Hogarth suddenly asked in a low voice, stooping forward.
"Me!" shrieked Baruch Frankl, pointing a hanging sleeve-end to his breast: "as Jehovah is my witness—"
"Were you about to swear? For ever the same?—tyrant and worm? It was you. Now tell it me right out: you have nothing to fear: for you cannot be vain enough to imagine that I would harbour enmity against you".
"It wasn't me, I say again, my Lord King!"—Frankl trampled a little backward, then stooped over-poised to his finger-tips: "with what motive? Oh, that's hard—to be accused. They have already given me a month—my God! a month! And only because I am a Jew. But it wasn't me—that I'll swear to God—"
Hogarth rose to his height, descended, put his hand upon Frankl's shoulder. "Well, leave that. But—my sister!"
His hand felt the shoulder beneath it start like fits.
"Your sister!" Frankl screamed with a face of scare: "Why, what of her now?"
"Frankl, you are frightened: you know, Frankl, where she is!"
"Me? O, my Good God, what is this! Me, poor sinner, know where your sister is, my Lord King? Why, spare me! spare me, God of Hosts! Why, you've only got to ask yourself the question—"
"Listen to me, Frankl", said Hogarth, bending his blazing brow low over the Jew: "I have searched for that woman through the world, and have not found her. All the time, mind you, I felt convinced that you know where she is; and you may wonder why—years ago—I did not have you seized. I will tell you why: it was because I had a sort of instinct that God, whom I serve continually with tears and prayers, would not fail in His day to show me her face: and to-day you are here. Do you suppose, Frankl, that you will go away without telling me where she is? And in order to hurry you, listen to what I say to your warders—"
He touched a button in the balustrade, and to the warders said: "If at any time this man should demand pencil and paper, supply them, and take to your Admiral what he writes. To-day his food shall be fare from your own table; to-morrow three loaves and water; from the third day one loaf and water; till further orders".
Up shot Frankl's shivering arms, while Hogarth, training his ermines and purples, paced away.
That was on the day following the Manifesto.
By the time Frankl's three loaves had become one, that amazement with which men received the Manifesto had commenced to give place to more coherent impressions.
He was not a "Monster"! that was the first realization—no pirate, nor lurid Anti-Christ, nor vainglorious Caesar! And in two days, the first astonishment over, there arose a noise in the world: for the Lord of the Sea had given to the nations one month only in which to do that thing: and the peoples took passionately to meetings.
In England Land Leagues, Chambers of Agriculture, Restoration Leagues, Nationalization Leagues, many Leagues, were organizing furiously, stretching the right arm of oratory; deputations, petitions in wagons, demonstrations en bloc, party cannonades, racket heaven-high. Sir Moses Cohen, the Jew-Liberal Leader, appealing to the strongest prejudice in Englishmen, spoke one night at Newcastle of "the interference of a foreign prince in the affairs of Britain"; used the word: "Never!", and on this cry secured an enormous following: so that, within a week, he was instrumental in forming the formidable League of Resistance—destined to prove so tragic for Hogarth, and for England.
It was in the midst of this world-turmoil that—on the third day— the marriage-morning of Miss Cecil Stickney dawned; and that same evening Rebekah Frankl, convalescent from influenza, was seated over a bedroom fire in Hanover Square, a cashmire round her shoulders, her sickness cured by herbs, her physician then hobbling with a stick down the stairs—Estrella of Lisbon—her back almost horizontal now with age.
And as Rebekah mused there, two newsboys below, whose shouts pursued each other, went proclaiming through November gloom as it were the day of doom, crying, even in that uproar of Europe, a private event:
LORD ALFRED COWERN
AND MISS CECIL STICKNEY
And soon a girl ran in, gasping: "Miss Frankl!—this is too awful— your father—"
The news, having been flashed to Paris by Mackay-Bennett cable, now appeared in detail after the New York Herald's French edition, and Rebekah's eyes ran wildly over details as to the "bevy of beauty", daughters of "the Thirty-four", and the church of waiting ladies, the carpeted path between palms and exotics, and how the ticket- holders heard the organ tell the Cantilenet Nuptiale and Bennett's Minuet; and then the multitudinous stir: behold the bridegroom cometh!—the little necessary bridegroom of no importance, and then the white entry of bride and bridal train, while the choir knelt to sing "O Perfect Love".
Perfect love, however, was hardly the order of that day, but rather perfect hate: for in Madison Square—the church being at the upper end of Fifth Avenue—a mob was being harangued on the subject of this very wedding: and when they heard and realized the thing that was being done before their eyes they were swept as by a wind of fire, and under its impulse set out like some swollen Rhone with a rushing sound to pounce upon the church, full of perfect hate: and the choir sang "O perfect love".
What happened now was described as a nightmare. The same elemental instincts of the Stone Age which had exhibited themselves in the $5OO-worth of food wrought in another form, but with no less savagery, in assassins as in victims: and a massacre ensued, bride and bridegroom passing away like bubbles, of "the Thirty-four" five only escaping. The report ended with the words: "The ringleaders have been arrested; quiet reigns through the city"; then a list of the guests, with asterisks indicating those killed.
Rebekah searched for her father's name, and when she became certain that it was not there, her lips moved in thanksgiving.
But since Frankl was not at the wedding, where, then, was Frankl? She counted the days on her fingers: he could not have been late.
Unless there had been an accident to his ship....
Her brows knit a little; she peered into the fire: and thought of the Boodah....
It was possible that when her father's steamer stopped to pay sea- rent, Hogarth might have heard, and seized him. That notion occurred to her.
And at once it threw her into an extraordinary fever, her bosom swelling like elastic in her heavings to catch breath, though she did not realize the wild thought that was working up to birth within her. She rose and paced, furiously fast.
If he was in the hands of Hogarth?
"He is a British subject", she muttered: "Hogarth has not the right...Oh, he has not the right...!"
She was fearfully agitated! something fighting up and up within her, stifling her, working to burst into birth; she flung the cashmire from her shoulders, her bosom rowing like two oarsmen. "Because we are Jews...!" she went.
"If he dared do that—!"
What then? Say! Rebekah!
"I would go to him myself—"
All at once that thought was born, and she stood shockingly naked to her own eyes, her hands rushing to cover a face washed in shame. "But, surely", she whispered, "I could never be so bold, good Heavens? Why, Never! Never—!"
However, an hour later, with flaming eyes, she was writing a letter to Frankl's manager.
Frankl's Bank was scanning the agents' yacht-lists for her, when Sir Moses Cohen, who was closely associated with Frankl, placed his own three-master at her disposal; and she set out from Bristol, with her being three Jewish ladies, Frankl's manager, and a snuffy Portuguese rabbi who resembled a Rembrandt portrait.
It was late at night, and Hogarth, who had lately acquired a passion for those Mathematics which touch upon Mysticism, was bent over Quaternions and the quirks of [Proofers note: checkmark symbol] (—i) in an alcove of his Boodah suite hardly fourteen feet square, cosy, rosy, and homely: he sitting at a sofa-head, and, lying on the sofa, Loveday, his head on Hogarth's thigh, escaped from office and frockcoat, in happy shirt-sleeves, between sleeping and waking.
Hogarth was interrupted by a telephone bell.
"Well?" he answered.
"My Lord King", from Quilter-Beckett, "Frankl has handed to his warder something written: will your Lordship's Majesty see it now?"
"Yes!" Then: "John! Frankl has yielded!"
Up Loveday started with "Thank God!" while Hogarth: "When does my yacht arrive?"
"At midnight"—from Quilter-Beckett.
"She starts back immediately for England with me and Mr. Loveday".
Now an officer entered to present an envelope, and the two looked together over these words:
"Your Lordship's Majesty's sister, Margaret Hogarth, is at No. 11, Market Street, Edgware Road, London. She goes under the name of Rachel Oppenheimer, I don't know why. As God is my witness, I repent in ashes. Won't your Lordship's Majesty have mercy on a worm of the earth? I am an old man, getting on, and starved to madness. The ever devoted slave, from this day forth, of my Lord King.
Hogarth 'phoned up: "Give Frankl food now, and put him where it is not cold...." and to Loveday he said, "Well, you see, she is there: 'No. 11, Market Street'. And under the name of—what? 'Rachel Oppenheimer'...John Loveday, do you fathom the meaning of that?"
"No—don't bother me about meanings, but shout, like her, 'O Happy Day!' I say, Richard, you remember that singing? how we would hear her from the forge? All day, washing, cooking—melodious soul! There was 'O Happy Day', and there was—By God, how charmingly holy! how English! And, Richard, you remember—?"
Another telephone bell: Hogarth turned to hear.
"Just arrived in the yacht, Tyre, my Lord King", said Quilter- Beckett's voice, "four Jewish ladies, a Jewish gentleman, and a rabbi, who request early audience to-morrow; they lie-to, and have sent a boat—"
"Rubbish! I shall not be here to-morrow, and even if I was—Who are they? By the way, no sign of the yacht?"
"Not yet. They are Miss Frankl—"
"Miss Rebekah Frankl—"
"God", went Hogarth faintly, stabbed to the heart.
"Miss Agnes Friedrich, Mrs.—"
But the rest fell upon ears deaf as death, the teeth of Hogarth now chattering as with cold, that haggard, gaunt yellow, which was his pallor, overspreading his face. So long was he speechless, that Quilter-Beckett asked: "Are you there, my Lord King?"
"Yes, my Lord King?"
"Will you go yourself—for me—to them? Make them sleep here, will you? This is most urgent, I assure you. And go quick, will you?"
That night did not the Lord of the Sea sleep: she under his roof...
Nor did he go that night to find Margaret—nor the next day, nor the next, though Loveday chafed: for, gyrating through the giddy air of a galaxy where Margaret was not, he forgot her.
At that time Hogarth, personally, was in close relation with the score of Embassies that inhabited the belly of the Boodah, these intriguing incessantly for half-hours at his ear, and in communication, meanwhile, with their Governments through O'Hara's Mahomet: so that Hogarth had to get up early, and his mornings sweated with audience and negotiation.
The German and Russian Emperors, with the Prince of Wales (then virtually Regent), had hurriedly met at Vienna—presumably for the discussion of the Manifesto; and immediately after it, the Prince, who had the reputation of being one of the most tactful of men-of- the-world, took a step which hinted that the Royal House, as often before, meant to come to the rescue of the country which loved it however the politicians might bungle: Hogarth was invited to accept the Garter.
He accepted: and the ceremony in the Boodah was witnessed, as it were, by Europe, King-at-Arms in a new tabard, with his suite, going to invest him, taking the Statute of the Chapter, with the Great Seal of England, and a set of habiliments—white-silk stockings, gold sword Spanish hat, stars, gloves. And the effect was speedy, the other rulers, dumbfounded before, said now: "England will comply with the Manifesto; and, if before us, the taxed sea opens to her....Yield, moreover, we must: let us make haste!"
But to consent was one thing: the how another: the mere suspicion of the willingness of Kaiser or Tsar shook their thrones. Whereupon Russia said to Hogarth: "Recently dispossessed, they cling dyingly now to their lands, so I will buy the land from them, and you will lend me the money"; to which Hogarth virtually replied: "It is too childish to talk of buying part of a heavenly body from a Russian: have you no sense of humour? You may give the Russian 'nobles' some money, if that pleases you: but without my help. If His Majesty the Tsar is more afraid of them than of me, my only way will be to prove myself more truly terrible than they".
But high words hurl down no hundred-headed hydra: in France—fast, faster—with dizzy vertigo—millions were forming themselves into secret societies, while in England was One only—but stronger than the many of France.
By the date of Rebekah's pilgrimage Hogarth had so far failed and yielded, as almost to decide that from the Boodah nothing could be done, unless he went to the extent of ruining and starving. The other alternative was the fixing upon one nation, becoming its recognized ruler, and there furnishing an example both of modus operandi, and of a subsequent state of happiness, which others could not long refrain from imitating.
But this modification was still in the air; and, meanwhile, he listened, weighed, revolved: using men, impressing, convincing, extracting for his use the wisdom of their experience, estimating the exact pressure of the Time, the timbre of its roar.
So on the morning after Rebekah's arrival his Gold Stick became his rack from the moment of the bow from the throne till noon: name after name—cordons, orders, gold-lace, sashes, stars, tiaras; till enter the four Jewesses, the bank-manager, the rabbi, Hogarth's pallor showing up his three moles and nose-freckles, adding a glare to his eyes, he suffering from the runaway drumming of his heart.
The ladies stoop through curtseys; the men do reverence; Hogarth bows.
There like a Begum of Bhopal stood Rebekah, floridly reflected in the glassy floor, sallow under the eyes, smiling at him, he at her; and very quickly now, she once in his sight, he recovered comparative calm, and the strength of his heart.
"Your first visit to the Boodah, I think?"—looking at her.
"Yes, my Lord King"—curtseying.
"Do you like her?"
"Why, yes: she is solid, and mighty, and rich. In my own, and the name of my friends, I beg to thank your Lordship's Majesty for your Lordship's Majesty's kind and good hospitality to us".
"Humbugging little beggar", thought Hogarth, his mind slowly gathering tone, but rushing meanwhile into a species of frivolous assurance after those agitations, his hands still cold.
"Well", he said, "but you have not seen her! I think I know her fairly well, and I propose to be myself your guide, if that will interest you—"
The Rabbi spoke with trembling voice: "It is gracious, my Lord King. We are here, however, humbly to present an urgent petition to your Lordship's Majesty. Baruch Frankl, at present a prisoner in the Boodah, a man no longer young, and habituated to comfort—"
"Stay", interrupted Hogarth: "if you have a petition the day and hour must be arranged by negotiation between yourself and my Chamberlain. But surely, meantime, I may consider you my guest? Miss Frankl and I—have met—in the world. Come, ladies—come, sirs—say yes!"
Rebekah, standing averted, flashed a look at him, reading his heart, and Jews and Jewesses laid heads together, whispering a little, until the Rabbi said, bowing: "We bend to your Lordship's Majesty's most gracious will".
"Agreed, then, sir. We might now see the Boodah, and if you will luncheon with me—Mr. Chamberlain! direct Admiral Quilter-Beckett to meet me at once in the north corridor".
He rose, master of his limbs now, descended, unrobed in an alcove, and in a corridor above the circular stair came upon Quilter- Beckett, who, acting as guide, Rebekah's hand now resting on Hogarth's arm, led them about the Boodah, now walking, now slipping in little trains over eighty-foot rails, rolled in one heat, laid down the vanishing length of dim-lit corridors floored with white tiles, their frieze of majolica, with rows of ceramics; and they saw the armouries, piles of rifles, cutlasses, pistols; ferneries grown by electric light; great cold-storage rooms that struck a chill, for preserving meats, butter, fruit; the doctors' environ, the dispensary, and roomy hospital; watched from a railing the working engines that fixed the Boodah's position, Hogarth here saying: "There you have a menagerie of gnome-land: observe those two black beetles, sedately nodding; and there is daddy-longlegs, working his legs gymnastically; and the three pairs of gallant grey stallions, galloping grandly neck to neck; and those two ridiculous beings, rubbing their palms together, round and round: each preoccupied, comically solemn, busied about its own quaint affairs—like a varied gnomeland".
And Rebekah said in a meek tone, like the hen submitting: "Yes, I see now you say it, my Lord King".
Up stairs and down, round semicircles, up lifts, through nooks, corridors: saw the guns, and how by hydraulics everything was done— the hoisting of ammunition, loading, training: guns intact, guns wrecked by the Dreadnoughts; and shimmering kitchens, which reeked a smell of heat, and the dairy-maids, and the line of kine, and the row of prison-doors, and the mechanism of ventilation, fans and blowers, the drainage-system, and the dynamos for lighting, for supplying power to motors, for heating, and for shimmering forth rich in the search-lights; and the central ballroom, the clothes store, the original one-ninety-sixth model, the Ambassador-region, the steaming laundry, and the roof, where Rebekah saw her initials on the breeze, and the vertical pop-guns under shields for dealing with aeroplane attack, and the cream theatre, and the paymaster's suite, and the bunkers, the Government-offices, and the tax- receiving rooms, the telephone system, and the lady-telegraphists— till all were tired, though half had not been seen. They luncheoned together; in the early afternoon there was an Investiture, and she was there; for "five-o'clock" there was a Gounod concert in the theatre, and she sat in his box; at night the Bulgarian Ambassador gave a ball, and she danced a gavotte with him.
When they parted a dying wind sighed his name: "Hogarth..."; and when Loveday before sleeping happened to ask: "When do we set out for London, Richard?" Hogarth with a laugh turned upon him, replying: "When do we set out for Arcturus and the Pleiades? Do give one time to look round him!"
The next morning Rebekah, led forward from a semicircle of courtiers by a backing Silver Stick, approached within four feet of the Throne, and after the protracted humiliation of her curtsey, said ruefully: "Our party have failed, my Lord King, to obtain audience for our humble petition till after four days".
"Is that too long?"
"We could not wait beyond to-night. Our good Rabbi, and my father's Manager—both must hurry back, and we others with them. This being so, I appeal to Your Lordship's Majesty ".
"A personal appeal?"
"Then, I grant an audience".
"Who will be here?"
"Why—you and I."
"No"—very low, with pressed lips.
"I am so sorry", says he: "it is the only chance I shall have; not for long—a few minutes—I am so busy. Otherwise, you will have to stay four days—and your poor father suffering—"
She seemed unsure now, and his hands in the uncertainty of that moment were moist like melting ice.
"So, then, you accept", said he: "a little audience—you grant me? Or rather, I grant you".
"When, my Lord King?"
"At three—No, what folly! At four. Will you? At four? And here? Say at four".
He spoke leaning keenly forward; and she, with a curtsey of acquiescence, retired.
They were near again, and yet far, in the salle a manger at luncheon, a function of a hundred guests at small tables, with more of orchestra than of talk; and even as Hogarth and his train entered, and the crowd rose, she saw his eyes, by some power, prowl and find her.
Afterwards there were two hours to wait.
Such a heat of haste now possessed them both! Hogarth locked himself from his attendants into his bed-chamber, and, tumbling a chaos of clothes and uniforms upon the carpet, stumbled bitterly among them, hunting for a cravat whose effect he remembered; wished at the mirror that he had no moles and nose-freckles, or that his father had turned him out rather less black; and anon a delicious chill pang of mingled sugar and peppermint would gash his heart at the thought: "she consented!" He broke glass, dropped his watch to fragments, hissing "damn the thing!"; and about half-past three the hands of Rebekah, too, in her locked closet, were like the scattering sirocco among powder-boxes brushes, jewel-cases, and toilet-toys. What a hot haste was here! She too much blued her eyes, and bruised the skin in wiping, intense the contest between poudre blanche and poudre Rachel, violette and germandree, she manoeuvring among mirrors to catch each angle of view, but with a blind impatience; and, if she wanted something, she tripped running, breathless: such a disease of flurry, an eruption and conflagration of haste—for nothing; yet, all the while, with a miserable sub- feeling of the penal creeping of time.
At four Hogarth in the Throne-room alone was now afraid that he would not be able to utter a syllable, and wished that she would not come; then, in a minute, began to fear that she would not, and wondered whether he was not a deluded fool ever to have dreamed it, he walking quick, or anon listening like a thief in that half-dark: for few lights were shining, the hall like the after-flush of sunset just before the dark.
At four past four he was aware of a rustling train's rush down the steps, and now was like a man with his neck on the block, awaiting the axe. A moment afterwards she was before him, and two moments afterwards he was collected and hot, and a man again.
"Dear", he whispered at her ear, leading her by the hand to an ottoman in a near alcove.
She, in self-defence, was repellent, breathlessly saying with galloping haste: "No—I will not sit: you sit, and I will stand here: do as I say, Hogarth—or I repent and go: I know you, and you know me—or you should. Our talk must be short. You say dear to me: that is very gentle, my friend; but it was not to bandy such words that I am here—alone—with you and your strength—Hogarth. I come as a suppliant, to implore you—firstly for the man who is my father—and secondly for yourself, to warn you. You are said to be about to become the sovereign of England—"
"I am?"—starting where he sat obediently before her, surprised that she should utter the purpose then forming in his mind: "witch— of Endor!"
"I am not the witch, but an old lady in whose predictions many Jews believe, who prophesies the return of the Jews to Palestine— through you. Be that as it may, if it is so that you are about to meddle with the institutions of England, oh beware, the resistence will be terrible!"
"With respect to England I am omnipotent".
"Yes, you can starve it, but will you? You won't. And listen to your friend: there is now in London a society, enormously powerful I believe, sworn to your destruction".
"What can they do—assassinate me?"
"Ah! who knows?"
"That would be too childish: I have sown my seed in Time, and it will grow: two thousand little lords could hardly obliterate the ploughing of my wrist. But you know this?"
"Richard, my father is of them".
"Ha!—I forgive him: his daughter seems to be on the other side—"
"Richard, you would not touch my hand? Ah, my friend, I warn you—! Now—you have agitated—I have been ill—my father is of them. And who is one of the closest associates of my father—?"
"The person known as Admiral Donald, whom I know very well to be Monsignor O'Hara. I think you might have been more—recondite—in your choice of an admiral, Richard!"
"Ah?—you surprise me".
"But why? You once sent that man to me as a notebearer: certainly, a singular selection. You must have known that he had been a convict—"
"I thought him innocent then!"
"But you know now—?"
"And is it not extraordinary that your ensign bears my initials, while this man is one of your commanders?"
"I confess that I do not see the point—"
"Then you cannot know, I suppose, that it was against me that his offence was directed".
Hogarth's left lid lowered....
"But my complaint is of the present: are you not aware of the scandal which the Mahomet is now creating in the world?"
"Thrice lately whispers have reached me of unnameable iniquities perpetrated there—Alexandria of the sixth century, Rome of the second! I believe the rumour is widely spread in London—no woman of the world now lands on the Mahomet".
"It was you whom he assaulted..." Hogarth laughed and was pale at once.
"Yes, but observe that I must go now, my friend. I have spoken of the things which I had in my mind: there remains—my father".
"He shall go with you".
"I thank you, my Lord King; that must be in an hour: so I say, Richard, good-bye".
"I do not suppose you can dream how dark—" he went woefully.
Of which she took no notice, but with rapid speech said: "How fair this hall is—one supposes that the art of impressions was lost with Solomon—like some chamber under a lake at set of sun, colour without substance, suspended, flushed—I cannot express—"
"Well, Richard, my poor friend?"
"I can't help it, you are all mixed up with my blood, don't go from me. If you think it a sin—the Gentile—God will forgive the charity. Come for ever—"
Now he sobbed once, and, as he sobbed, she was on her knees, in pagan posture, at his knees. "Do not—" distractedly—"see, I kiss your hand-do you doubt that I pity my love—as a mother has compassion—?"
Now were heaving breasts, a vehement fight for breaths, wild eyes, and a live brand in the marrow.
"You will not go! I have you! In God's name, what a mad thing—!"
"My furious king—you kiss—" the short-winded melee of whispers now suffocated in a passion of inarticulate breaths; but at that moment one of Rebekah's chaperons, wandering out of time and place, stood at the alcove entrance, and they, smitten into two, sprang straight, awaked from trance, Rebekah with half a sob and half a laugh.
And two hours later Hogarth, from the roof, saw the Jewish yacht disappear to the East, on board being the four—and Frankl.
As he descended, he threw up his head with: "Ha!—O'Hara"; announced his immediate departure with only a secretary and two lords-in-waiting, left a mystical note for Loveday, saying that he had decided to go alone in quest of Margaret, and went almost secretly, only the salute informing the Boodah as he steamed away. In reality he was in haste to face O'Hara, and the yacht's bows turned, not eastward, but southward, under forced draught, to arrive at the Mahomet in early afternoon. As her flags indicated the Lord of the Sea absent, there was no salute, and, landing in a panama and jacket, in the Collector's Office he gave the sign of mum, and, led only by a blue-jacket, went spying the depths of the Mahomet.
In many parts, noticing a singular odour, "What is it I smell?" he asked.
"Incense, my Lord King", the man answered.
On the fourth floor he entered the loveliest bijou chapel, the coenaculum gold-plated, altar flower-piled, frescoed roof, "stations" in oils, where a lonesome Moorish youth slothfully swung and swung a thurible ruby-studded: but in vestments of no enfant de choeur—of an ancient Phrygian.
Another descent and Hogarth reached a region of laugh and harping: whereupon, dismissing his guide, he tracked the music into a nook so rare, that he stood amazed—a Court of Love, or Mahommedan Heaven, or grot of Omar—anything old, lovely, and devil-sacred—the air chokingly odorous, near a fountain some brazen demon—Moloch or Baal—buried in roses, over everything roses, bounty of flowers, a very harvest-home of Chloris, Flora in revel; and smooth youths bearing cups for some twenty others, all garlanded, besides those on the marble stage; and on the stage itself a scene of dancing girls, Sevillian, Neapolitan, Algerian, mixed with masked Satyrs, which made Hogarth pale, while at a Herod's-table buried under fruits, wines, flowers and gold, reclined Pat O'Hara, tonsured now, crowned with ivy and violets, gowned in a violet toga; while under a pendulum whose swings left whiffs of incense behind lay Harris insensible.
As Hogarth descended into it, harp and dance ceased; some leapt to their feet: but O'Hara sat still, gazing in a dead silence through glairy eyes, while Hogarth, looking about, spied an electric button in a couch, touched it, and soon a man in uniform stood at a door above.
"Who are you?" asked Hogarth.
"John Souttar, head-telegraphist, may it please your Lordship's Majesty".
"Make haste: tell the First Lieutenant and the Chief Constable that the Lord of the Sea is here".
By now all the revellers were on their feet; no sound: only, the clicking pendulum voyaged, landed an incense-whiff, and voyaged, like traders.
Then the Lieutenant appeared, mottled and panting, and immediately the Constable.
"Ah, Royds", said Hogarth: "is it practicable to flood this room quickly with a hose?"
"I—should think so, my Lord King".
"See to it. First set guards at the exits".
He turned to the other: "Mr. Chief Constable, I give all present, except, of course, your Admiral, into custody, on a charge of misdemeanour on the high seas. The General Prosecutor will, in due course, forward the indictment to your Summary Court. Have your men here with handcuffs".
Again silence, till, in four minutes, two men appeared on the steps, ball-nozzle in hand; upon which Hogarth said to O'Hara: "Follow me", and as the two passed up, O'Hara tottery, care hanging on that ponderous nether-lip, Hogarth whispered the hose-bearers: "Drown the room well—man and woman—do not spare".
To O'Hara he said: "Lead to your suite", and, descending, they presently stood in a bed-temple, the bed surrounded with mirrors, and at the other end of the apartment an altar—pyx, six unflickering candles, and flowers, with rail and reredos, and maxims of St. Theresa.
Hogarth said: "Sleep two hours", and went out, turning the key.
But in half an hour O'Hara had started awake, sober, and, clapping his palms over his face, burst into tears.
That Hogarth might be capable of impeachment before a Court of Admirals, followed by death on the block, he feared; and he rolled, groaning, tugging his tonsure-fringe, which, on the forehead, lay a thin grey forelock, thinking: "Guilty wretch that I am! putrid, unwholesome, hopeless, I have befouled the holiest: how richly do I deserve to die!"; and even as he groaned and smote, his secret mind weighed up the chances of Hogarth's action.
He rose, listened, rushed to the door, found it locked, tossed up despairing hands, and tottered to the altar, at which he knelt, all sighs, and dying fish-eyes, and sideward-languishing face, and weary woe. Ah! how great the mountain of his iniquity: if he might be but once more spared, his evil remainder of days he would bury in some Carmelite retreat, with fastings and prayers; but no—he had too much tempted the Eternal patience, the sword was out against him. Yet he implored, he implored with groans: with half an eye, meanwhile, on the door; and, having with regard to Hogarth a piece of secret knowledge which he guarded deep for some possible emergency and use (the fact of Hogarth's Jewish birth), as he prayed, his brain with complete detachment worked out the question whether he might now reveal this with advantage.
Hogarth found him kneeling, said "Get up", and O'Hara stood, leaning upon the rail, too faint to stand unpropped, Hogarth contemplating him, tapping the toes.
"Well, sir! I know all: your whole past".
"Red as crimson—!" went O'Hara faintly, with tossed hands.
"Red enough, Admiral. You are a bad old man: merit death".
"Ah, God knows it, my Lord King! I do assure you, I am a leprous wretch: and I welcome death—I pray you, I pray Heaven, for it—"
"You should have it, if you were a better, or a younger, man: but I will not stain the Empire of which you were chosen to be a stay, and are the shame, with the blood of such as you. You are beneath judgment: and that clemency which is our scutcheon I extend to you. Live, therefore, and repent, O'Hara. I, however, you understand, now turn from you for ever. And I discharge you like a menial, sir. See to it that within six months you have your affairs regulated, and send in your resignation to the Government".
He turned and went; and, as he disappeared, O'Hara straightened, coolly went "H'm!", and took snuff. He lived, he lived: while there is life there is fun.
Fumbling about, searching for nothing, all relieved and rescued, yet stunned, he suddenly exclaimed: "What a noble fellow is my son Hogarth!", and knelt again.
Hogarth in the same hour was away for England; and on the fourth evening thence, the street-lamps just lit, stood before No. 11 Market Street, Edgware Road, come for Margaret; his carriage waiting at a corner forty yards away; and though within the last hour he had realized vividly that his voyage to the Mahomet had given Frankl time to remove her, or accomplish any devilish device in his power with respect to her, he was now all prospect and expectancy.
The house was three-storied, mean, unlighted, with an "area"; from a neighbouring window a woman screaming down to some playing children; and under her a shop sending out that fishy fume which "drove Asmodeus back to hell".
He rapped, received no answer, rapped again without reply, then stepped down and back, looking up: and suddenly, faintly, but distinctly, he heard her voice, high up—singing.
"O what a pretty place, And what a graceful city, Where the striplings are so gay, And the ladies are so pretty ".
It was she! He ran and banged at the door: no reply.
Back again he stepped; and now a window on the top floor went up, and she, putting out her head, twice beckoned him—listlessly, it seemed, then drew in; and instantly—again—he heard her sing.
As once more he ran to the door, he discovered now that it was open, darted into darkness, up uncarpeted stairs, making for that upper room, vague light through grimy stair-windows guiding his impassioned dash; and on the third floor entered a room with two doors, beyond one of which was the room he sought: but that door was locked.
At it he pushed, fumbled, called: "Margaret!" No reply. And suddenly he heard her singing, not before, but behind him.
"Happy day! Happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away "...
When he flew to the other door, and now found it, too, locked, gradually in that gloom all colour faded from his face; and the voice sang on: "Happy day! happy day"....
THE LAND BILL
The Manifesto's "month of grace" was passing, yet nothing had been done, second-rate Powers awaiting the Great, while the Great, appalled by the bigness of the demand, fussed and intrigued, consulted, fermented and proposed: but did nothing.
But at last, on the 3rd of December, the First Lord of the Treasury laid a Bill on the table of our Commons—at the end of an Autumn- session!
On the 3rd: and on the 1st the Lord of the Sea had been captured near Edgware Road, the probability being that this Bill was brought forward with a knowledge of that capture.
It consisted of three clauses and two schedules—called The Land Purchase Bill; and it had only to be published to produce the stormiest agitation ever known.
The Opposition was the Jew-Liberal-Labour party; and when the Labour Congress (met at Manchester) denounced the measure, there occurred a "split", a Liberal-Labour cave, the whole body of Jews, numbering 87, retiring to the Government ranks.