As the Arab finished speaking, we saw a woman approach, bearing a torch. Obedient to Wimpai's command, she moved towards one of the rocky passages, and motioned to us to follow. We advanced in single file behind our strange guide, and soon found ourselves in another of the great fissures, which seemed to traverse the heart of the volcano in all directions. Before us, by the light of the flaring torch, we saw a wide stream flowing between lava walls, the lofty top of these meeting far above our heads, and supporting long crystal prisms of a yellowish hue, which hung down in thousands.
The woman who was appointed to guide us pointed to where the native boat had been placed, and into it we leapt, eager to see the treasure taken from the lost galleon. Although there were two pairs of oars of peeled wood ready to hand, we had no occasion to use them, for the underground river carried us along with its steady current. We each held aloft a blazing torch, which the female warrior had thrust into our hands before she took her seat in the prow of the boat, where she sat facing us.
For more than an hour we passed on, watching the shifting lights of that wonderful scene, and the grey mist that stole upwards from the hot spring down which our little craft was floating fast.
At last we saw several narrow channels into which the stream was divided by its rocky bed, and down one of these we passed in devious turns until our new-found guide rose again in the boat and pointed to a jagged fissure which faced us. Denviers seized a pair of the rude oars and pulled the boat towards it, then leaping out he secured our frail conveyance, after which the woman handed to him a fresh torch, and we all advanced into the cave before us, vaguely wondering what treasure would be revealed to us.
All doubts as to the truth of the wreck of the richly-laden galleon off the coast about which Hassan had told us vanished as soon as ever we entered there. The various things which had formed the cargo of the vessel lay strewed in confused heaps about us. There were wedges of gold and bars of silver, discoloured by the fumes from the crater and the mists from the hot stream, while Spanish muskets, strange-looking pistols, and swords with richly-chased handles, and rust-incrusted barrels and blades lay about in piles. Among these weapons I observed a pair of pistols with gems studding their handles, and thrust them into my sash, besides a splendid sword, which proved very serviceable when polished up, especially as my own defensive arms had been taken away.
Hassan and Denviers followed my example, and then the latter remarked:—
"We may as well make the most of Wimpai's permission to enrich ourselves," and he raised several wedges of gold, which he proceeded to carry towards the entrance of the cave. Hassan and I assisted to load the boat, then we threw in a few more weapons which we thought might prove useful to us, and with a look of regret at the wealth we were forced to leave behind us we turned to leave the place. Just then Hassan moved away from us to another part of the cave, and a moment afterwards he called out to us. Going over to him, we found the Arab and the tribeswoman both looking intently at something lying upon the rocky floor.
"Every word of Hassan's singular story is undoubtedly true," I said to Denviers, in sheer amazement, as we stooped over the object and observed it in the torch-light. The wild tribe had carried and placed the slain sailor by the spoils of the galleon which he had claimed for his own in the very face of Don Luego, the Spanish commander.
There, before our eyes, was stretched the outline of a human form, above which was spread all that remained of the tattered flag that once had fluttered from the masthead of the ship which chased the Spanish galleon, and went down with it on the coral reefs of the Formosan shore!
Slowly we moved away from the spot towards where our boat was, and re-entered it. The task which we had undertaken, however—that of pulling against the stream, with such a weight of treasure as we had obtained—proved a most difficult one. Indeed, Denviers and I exerted ourselves to little purpose for some time, then found that the boat was slowly making headway. We reached the spot where the underground stream divided into its several channels, and then, by an unlucky accident, the prow of our craft was dashed against one of the many rocks which lay between. For a minute we entirely lost control of it, and back it drifted down one of the other channels. At this the female warrior rose, and thrusting the head of her long spear against the rock tried to assist us to get the boat back into the main stream before us. Our efforts were made in vain, for the bed of the narrow channel into which we had got sloped rapidly down, and its waters hurried us along at a speed which defied all our attempts to force the boat back. The woman had dropped her torch when she came to our assistance, and in the light of the solitary one still flaring, as Hassan held it, I saw a look upon her face which startled me. She pointed before us, uttering a wild, despairing cry, which was drowned a moment after in a dull roar which struck upon our ears.
"Pull, sahibs; in Allah's name, pull!" cried Hassan, who was looking ahead at the danger which we faced. "If the boat cannot be stopped from drifting on before a few more hundred yards are gone over, we are lost!"
We gripped the rude oars again, and strained till our arms ached, but still the relentless current bore us on. I gave another glance at the danger ahead, then Hassan wildly exclaimed:—
"Allah and Mahomet help us! We are on the verge of a cataract!"
"Throw the treasure overboard!" cried Denviers, and each of us worked desperately to free the boat of what we had been so eager to obtain. Into the stream we cast the wedges of gold and Spanish arms, and scarcely had our purpose been accomplished, when the boat, lightened of its heavy cargo, was caught up by the rushing stream, swirled round, and then borne madly forward at a rate which brought another despairing cry from the woman's lips.
"Pull with all your might with the stream, Harold!" said Denviers to me, as we drew close to where the roaring waters were leaping down. "Pull, pull, it is our last chance!"
We both knew that if we failed to shoot the rapid ahead we should be sucked down and drowned. We tugged at the oars together, then amid a cloud of blinding spray our boat seemed to hover for a moment over the tumbling waters, then shot forward and left the danger behind.
"We are saved, thank Allah!" cried Hassan, and as we ventured to look round we saw the wonderful escape which had been ours. Swiftly we were carried along by the stream, which began to widen out as it passed between the precipitous sides of a vast ravine.
"Daylight at last!" I exclaimed, with a feeling of relief. "I wonder where we are now being hurried towards."
For a considerable time the stream kept on its rapid course, then grew less violent, and we floated down it gently at last, until we were carried to where we saw the river flowing into the sea, when we at once sprang out upon the rough coral beach.
The Formosan woman hastened away along the shore, making for the distant cave by which we first entered into the strange haunt of her tribe, while we followed slowly after her, having drawn the rude boat high up on the beach.
"Well!" said Denviers, when at last we found our junk, after walking several miles along the coast, and prepared to launch it into the sea in order to leave the island. "We lost the treasure after all, but still we have something left to recall this strange adventure at times," and he drew from his sash the Spanish sword which he had thrust there. After examining it I passed to him the arms which I had taken from the cave. The pistols, although proving useless, were fine specimens of workmanship, and as richly chased as the jewel-studded hilt of the sword which I had also obtained.
"Mahomet has well rewarded the sahibs with such treasures," interposed Hassan, gravely, "and has not forgotten their slave." We glanced towards his waist as he spoke, and saw that the Arab had certainly taken care to arm himself well from the treasures of the lost galleon, for he bristled with swords and poniards like a small armoury.
"Come on, Hassan," said Denviers, with an amused smile at the Arab's weapons, "Mahomet evidently looks with high favour upon you."
We pushed the junk through the surf, then entering it, put out for the distant coast of the mainland, which we reached in safety.
Zig-Zags at the Zoo
By Arthur Morrison and J. A. Shepherd.
When an animal is more than usually a fool for its size, Nature indulgently permits it to go about with a pouch that it may not lose its family. Nature also sends it to live in Australia, and man, seeing more common sense in the pouch than anywhere else in the creature, calls the entire organism a marsupial, after the pouch. Only one marsupial is allowed to live out of Australia, and that is the opossum; but, then, the opossum is no fool, and can take care of itself in the outer world. Here at the Zoo, besides the opossum, we have kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos, wombats, and certain other eccentric things, including the Tasmanian devil; but none is a bigger fool than the biggest marsupial, the kangaroo. This is natural, because he has most room to store his imbecility. The kangaroo's general weakness of character is visible all over him. He has never quite made up his mind what to be even now; he is nothing but a flabby compromise.
There would appear to be two plausible theories about the construction of the kangaroo; when, in the beginning, the animals chose their parts, the kangaroo may have been first, and weakly and indecisively chose at random, of no set purpose; or he may have been last, and obliged to put up with what was left. I incline to the first theory, partly because the kangaroo is well furnished as regards quality of parts, although they are oddly assorted, and partly because to make an indecisive selection would be just in accord with his character. He fancied a sheep's head, rather, but hadn't enough decision of character to take a sheep's head as it was and be thankful for it. He preferred a donkey's ears to the sheep's, so had them substituted. Even then, some mistrust of the boldness of the design intimidated him, and he cautiously compromised by having them small. The only part of a kangaroo or wallaby that has the least independence about it is the tail; and the wallabies are so proud of the individuality, that they sit with their tails extended before them all day: and the colonist acknowledges the merit of the kangaroo's tail by making soup of it. Let us grant the kangaroo his tail, since it is the only thing that is unmistakably his own. Abashed at his own temerity in venturing to take an independent tail, all the kangaroo's other selections became hopelessly demoralized. He took a grasshopper's hind legs, and plagiarized a rat's fore-paws. Obviously, he got the design of his coat partly from the rabbit and partly from the rat, and the idea of his pouch from the bookmaker.
Now, it is a noticeable thing, illustrative of the mental stagnation of the kangaroo, that, having adopted the crude idea of the bookmaker's or 'bus-conductor's pouch, he—or, rather, she—through all the generations, has never developed an improvement on that pouch, either by evolution, selection, or natural adaptation. Even in these days of improvement, the kangaroo's pouch has no separate compartment for silver. Of course it is mainly used to carry the family in, but in any really intelligent and enterprising class of animals that pouch would long ago have improved and developed, through the countless ages, into a convenient perambulator, with rubber tires and a leather hood. As it is, the kangaroo has not so much as added a patent clasp.
Still, in its merely primitive form, the pouch is found useful by the small kangaroo. It is an ever-ready refuge from the prowling dingo dog, and any little kangaroo who breaks a window has always a capital hiding-place handy. Indeed, the young kangaroo would fare ill without this retreat, because any other cradle the mother, being a kangaroo, would probably forget all about, and lose. It is only because the pouch hangs under her very nose that she remembers she has a family at all. All the kangaroo's strength seems to have settled down into the hind legs and the tail, leaving the other parts comparatively weak, and the head superlatively useless, except as an attachment for the mouth. One would imagine that in the period which has elapsed since the Creation the feeblest-minded of animals would have had time to arrive at some final choice in the matter of coat-colour; but the kangaroo hasn't. He never makes up his mind about anything; he begins life in a pale-grey colour; in a year or two he changes his mind and turns very dark—darker than either his father or his mother. The originality pleases him for a little while, and then he gets doubtful of his choice, and makes a wretched compromise—the kangaroo is compromise all over—settling down for the rest of his life to a tint midway between the light and the dark. If he lived a little longer he would probably experiment in blue. As it is, he sometimes makes an attempt in pink—with powder. Only the male kangaroo uses this cosmetic, and where he finds it and how he keeps it is a mystery; he doesn't put it on his face—he devotes it entirely to the complexion of his chest and stomach.
Australians call a full-grown male kangaroo a "boomer": why, I don't know. I could understand the application of the term in this country, where such a thing as a boom in boxing kangaroos has been heard of, and—this some while ago—a "white kangaroo" boom. The boxing kangaroo has made a very loud boom indeed, and has done something to earn the title of "boomer." Here, at the Zoo, however, there would seem to be little ambition among the kangaroos to distinguish themselves as boxing boomers; but there is a very frequent attitude suggestive of wrestling practice—perhaps because these would-be boomers have muddled things, and are thinking of the wrestling lion. Personally, I am not anxious either to box or to wrestle with a kangaroo; for the beast has a plaguey unpleasant hind foot, armed with a claw like a marline-spike, and a most respectable ability to kick a hole in a stranger with it. It is a kind of weapon that ordinary boxing and wrestling systems don't allow for, and not at all an amusing sort of thing to have lashing about among one's internal machinery. I don't wish to attribute any unsportsmanlike proceedings to the kangaroo now before the public, but to point out that the indiscriminate election of kangaroos into boxing clubs should be discouraged; especially of raw young kangaroos, ready to put on the gloves with anybody and to lose their tempers. Beware of kangaroo upper-cuts. Indeed, the boxing kangaroo should properly wear two pairs of gloves, and the bigger and softer pair should go upon his hind feet. For his is a form of la savate which admits neither of duck, guard, nor counter; and leaves its signature in a form long to be remembered and hard to stitch up.
The white kangaroo was much less of a boomer. He dared to be original as to colour, and has been shivering and cowering and looking miserable ever since in terror of his own independence; he looks only a sort of unhappy white rabbit, overgrown in the hinder half. But there is encouragement to be got from the case of the boxing boomer. The kangaroo will never become clever of himself, but perhaps the showman may teach him. There are many comic opportunities in the kangaroo—particularly in the pouch. Let the showman see to it.
The most entirely objectionable of all the marsupials is the Tasmanian devil. It is only a little devil, a couple of feet or so long, but its savagery is beyond measuring by anything like a two-foot rule. No reasonable devils could wish to be treated with more indulgence than the Zoological Society extends to these. A rolling blind is provided to keep the sun out of their eyes, and they are politely labelled "Ursine Dasyures," for fear of offending them. They ill deserve either attention, and at any rate I should like to see the label changed. The function of the Tasmanian devil in the economy of Nature is to bite, scratch, tear and mangle whatever other work of Nature happens to be within reach. It is touching to observe the preference exhibited by the Tasmanian devil for its keeper, who feeds it; it tries to bite him much oftener and more savagely than anybody else. Thus you observe that kindness has some effect, even with the Tasmanian devil. Of course, by its nature, it resents kindness more than anything else, but it will also attack anybody for cruelty, or indifference, or admiration, or curiosity, or for looking at it, or for not looking at it, or any other injury. You can't drive it away with anything; it won't go for a stick and it won't go for a gun; nevertheless it will go for you, like three hundred wild cats.
The Tasmanian method of taming it is to blow it into space with a heavy charge of buckshot; and this seems to be the only way of rendering it quite harmless. In life the Tasmanian devil has one desire, one belief, one idea—general devastation. Herein, perhaps, he is the superior of the kangaroo, who doesn't have ideas. There is a superstition that once, in distant ages, a kangaroo had an idea, and if you closely observe a kangaroo who is left to himself, you may see something in that superstition. Ever since the time of that idea (which, of course, the kangaroo forgot) the whole race of kangaroos has been trying desperately to remember it. Whenever a kangaroo finds himself alone, and unobserved, he addresses himself to recollecting that idea. He gazes thoughtfully at his paws, finding no inspiration. Then, he tries the vacant air above him, with equal ill-success. He brown-studies at the fence, at the ground, at his own tail; he will never, never rescue that lost idea (which is probably a most insane one, not worth rescuing), but he is always persuading himself that he is on the very point of catching it; frowning and turning his head aside as though the words were in his mouth but wouldn't come off the tongue. You will also notice that he wrestles desperately with it in his sleep, with his fore paw over his nose. If in his waking efforts he sees you watching him, he instantly assumes an air of alert wisdom, intended to convey the belief that he has known all about the idea for years, and is only thinking about applying it in some practical way or making a book of it. But the attempt is a failure—those ears give it away. For intellectual pursuits the kangaroo is not fitted. But he can jump; and the disconsolate grasshopper, whose hind-leg copyright the kangaroo has infringed, is far behind the record. It is, in fact, reported of an educated West Indian that, visiting New South Wales and encountering his first kangaroo, he sat down immediately to write an essay on the unusually large grasshoppers of Australasia.
Whether or not a serious naturalist is justified in excluding from a chapter on marsupial animals a careful and detailed consideration of the bookmaker and the 'bus-conductor, I will not stay to argue. I refrain from dealing at length with these interesting creatures in this place, because of the regrettable absence of specimens from the Zoo. The conductor (Bellpunchus familiaris) is readily capturable in this country. The habits of the bookmakers (marsupialis vulgaris) may be studied, and their curious habits learned by anybody willing to incur the expense in the inclosures set apart for their exhibition at the various racecourses, where their sportive gambles are the subject of great interest (and principal) on the part of speculative inquirers.
Mansbridge is the guardian of the kangaroos in the Zoo—or the kangaruler, as one may say. Most pouched things in the Gardens are given to the care of Mansbridge, which involves a sort of compliment, for a pouched thing is never clever by itself, and wants a keeper who can think for it. He has the wallabies, the kangaroo hares, the kangaroo rats (mad things these, greater hotch-potches than the others), and the wombats. The wombat cannot jump like the kangaroo or the wallaby, and his sprightliness and activity are the sprightliness and activity of a cast-iron pig. He is slow, but I scarcely think he is quite such an ass as the kangaroo. I have even found him indulging in repartee, as you shall see. Every single movement of any part of the wombat is deliberate and well considered; it is apparently debated at great length by all the other parts, and determined upon by a formal resolution, duly proposed, seconded, and carried by the complete animal properly assembled. Once the motion is carried, nothing can stop it. If the wombat's travels are crossed by a river, he merely walks into it, across the bottom, and out at the other side. Here, in lairs side by side, live a common wombat and a hairy-nosed wombat. They don't come out much in daylight, and they had been here some time before they found themselves both out for an airing together. "Halloa," reflected the hairy-nosed wombat, "here is my neighbour. I'll chaff him!" and he straightway set to work to invent some facetious observation. In an hour or so an idea struck him, and, advancing to the partition bars, he said to the common wombat, "Here, I say—you're common!" and laughed uproariously. The common wombat felt the sting of the remark and determined upon a crushing repartee. While the other chuckled over his achievement (about an hour and a half) the common wombat laboriously constructed his retort. "Yah! hairy-nose!" he said, when the reply was properly finished and polished. And then he chuckled, while the other thought it over. The hairy-nosed wombat thought it over and the common wombat thought it over (chuckling the while) for some hours without arriving at any more epigrams. After that they went into their dens to take a rest. And to this day it is a matter of dispute as to which has the best of that chaffing match: and the hairy-nosed wombat is as far off a brilliant reply to the common wombat as ever, while, of course, the common wombat need not begin to think of another witticism until the hairy-nosed wombat invents, constructs and delivers his. Which is why they never speak to one another now, as anybody may see for himself in proof of the anecdote, if he feel inclined to doubt it. Both are good—tempered and affable in their way; but while they still have this portentous combat of wits on hand they can't afford much time and attention for visitors. The common wombat still meditates and chuckles inwardly over his victory, and the hairy-nosed wombat is thinking hard, and mustn't be disturbed. It is difficult to imagine what may be the end of the affair, or when the minds of both the wombats may be free to attend to the friendly greetings of visitors; in the meantime, it is well that the reason for their preoccupation may be known. They are not proud. The intelligence of the marsupials is in some sort redeemed by the wombat, who is given a slow and inelastic gait to accord with his mental weight, while the frivolous kangaroo bounces about the world like a thing of india-rubber, and plays a game of leap-frog with all Nature.
Portraits of Celebrities at Different Times of their Lives.
MISS IZA DUFFUS HARDY.
Miss Iza Duffus Hardy, only daughter of the late Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy, was educated chiefly at home, and began writing stories at a very early age. Amongst the many popular novels she has published are "A New Othello," "Glencairn," "Only a Love Story," "A Broken Faith," "Hearts or Diamonds," and "Love in Idleness." She has also published two well-known volumes of American reminiscences, "Between Two Oceans" and "Oranges and Alligators." The opening tale of our present number, "In the Shadow of the Sierras," is an excellent specimen of her abilities as a story-writer.
HUBERT HERKOMER, R.A.
Mr. Herkomer, who was born at Waal, in Bavaria, is the son of a wood engraver who settled at Southampton in 1857. At thirteen he entered the Art School in that town, and afterwards studied for a time at South Kensington. His first Academy picture was "After the Toil of the Day," exhibited in 1873, when he was twenty-four, a work which extended his reputation and prepared the way for "The Last Muster," 1875, the memorable picture of the Chelsea pensioners, which afterwards figured in the Paris Exhibition of 1878, and was there awarded one of the two Grand Medals of Honour carried off by the English School. Among his best known later pictures may be mentioned "Missing" (1881), "Homeward" (1882), and "The Chapel of the Charterhouse" (1889). He was elected A.R.A. in 1879 and R.A. in 1890.
THE HON. ERSKINE NICOL, A.R.A.
The Hon. Erskine Nicol, A.R.A., was born at Leith, Scotland, in 1825, and received his art education in the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, under Sir William Allan and Mr. Thomas Duncan. In 1846 he went to reside in Ireland, where he remained three or four years. It was this residence in the sister isle which decided the painter's choice of his peculiar field of representation, for most of his subsequent pictures have been Irish in subject. From Ireland he returned to Edinburgh, and after exhibiting for some time, he was ultimately elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy. In 1862 he settled in London, and after that date contributed regularly to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, of which body he was elected an Associate in June, 1866.
JOHN MACWHIRTER, A.R.A.
Mr. John MacWhirter, A.R.A., was born at Slateford, near Edinburgh, and educated at Peebles. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1863. In the following year he came to London, and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy on January 22nd, 1879. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Scotch Academy in 1882; elected member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, same year; exhibited in R.A., 1884, "The Windings of the Forth," "A Sermon by the Sea," and "Home of the Grizzly Bear"; 1885, "Track of a Hurricane," "Iona," "Loch Scavaig"; "The Three Witches," 1886. Mr. MacWhirter has painted "Loch Cornisk, Skye," 1867; "A great while ago the world began with hey ho, the wind and the rain," 1871; "Caledonia," 1875; "The Lady of the Woods," 1876; "The Three Graces," 1878; "The Valley by the Sea," 1879; "The Lord of the Glen," 1880; "Sunday in the Highlands," and "Mountain Tops," 1881; "A Highland Auction" and "Ossian's Grave," 1882; "Corrie, Isle of Arran," "Sunset Fires," "Nature's Mirror," "A Highland Harvest," 1883; and "Edinburgh from Salisbury Crag," 1887.
Mr. Forbes-Robertson, who is the son of the well-known art critic and historian, Mr. John Forbes-Robertson, was educated at the Charterhouse, and afterwards at various art schools in France and Germany. Being intended for an artist, he in due course entered the Royal Academy as a student, where he proved a most promising pupil, but his great natural bent towards the stage was too strong to be overcome, and he made his debut as Chastelard in "Marie Stuart," at the Princess's. He rapidly made a very high reputation, especially as Baron Scarpia in "La Tosca," in which he displayed extraordinary passion, power, and earnestness. At the present time he is appearing in the remarkable revival of "Diplomacy" at the Garrick.
Mr. Edward Lloyd, the famous tenor vocalist, was born in London in 1845. When seven years of age he entered Westminster Abbey choir. Afterwards he became solo tenor at the Chapel Royal, St. James's. Mr. Lloyd sang in Novello's Concerts in 1867, and at the Gloucester Festival in 1871, where he attracted much attention by his part in Bach's "Passion." In 1888 he went on tour in America, and sang in the Cincinnati Festival. In the same year he sang also in the Handel Festival; and was principal tenor in the Leeds Musical Festival in 1889. Mr. Edward Lloyd is an artist "to the manner born," gifted with a perfect ear, a voice not only of exquisite quality, but of remarkable flexibility, and is without doubt the most popular tenor now before the public.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
XVIII.—THE ADVENTURE OF THE MUSGRAVE RITUAL.
BY A. CONAN DOYLE.
An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction. Not that I am in the least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble work in Afghanistan, coming on the top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. I have always held, too, that pistol practice should distinctly be an open-air pastime; and when Holmes in one of his queer humours would sit in an arm-chair, with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.
Our chambers were always full of chemicals and of criminal relics, which had a way of wandering into unlikely positions, and of turning up in the butter-dish, or in even less desirable places. But his papers were my great crux. He had a horror of destroying documents, especially those which were connected with his past cases, and yet it was only once in every year or two that he would muster energy to docket and arrange them, for as I have mentioned somewhere in these incoherent memoirs, the outbursts of passionate energy when he performed the remarkable feats with which his name is associated were followed by reactions of lethargy, during which he would lie about with his violin and his books, hardly moving, save from the sofa to the table. Thus month after month his papers accumulated, until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on no account to be burned, and which could not be put away save by their owner.
One winter's night, as we sat together by the fire, I ventured to suggest to him that as he had finished pasting extracts into his commonplace book he might employ the next two hours in making our room a little more habitable. He could not deny the justice of my request, so with a rather rueful face he went off to his bedroom, from which he returned presently pulling a large tin box behind him. This he placed in the middle of the floor, and squatting down upon a stool in front of it he threw back the lid. I could see that it was already a third full of bundles of paper tied up with red tape into separate packages.
"There are cases enough here, Watson," said he, looking at me with mischievous eyes. "I think that if you knew all that I had in this box you would ask me to pull some out instead of putting others in."
"These are the records of your early work, then?" I asked. "I have often wished that I had notes of those cases."
"Yes, my boy; these were all done prematurely, before my biographer had come to glorify me." He lifted bundle after bundle in a tender, caressing sort of way. "They are not all successes, Watson," said he, "but there are some pretty little problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife. And here—ah, now! this really is something a little recherche."
He dived his arm down to the bottom of the chest, and brought up a small wooden box, with a sliding lid, such as children's toys are kept in. From within he produced a crumpled piece of paper, an old-fashioned brass key, a peg of wood with a ball of string attached to it, and three rusty old discs of metal.
"Well, my boy, what do you make of this lot?" he asked, smiling at my expression.
"It is a curious collection."
"Very curious, and the story that hangs round it will strike you as being more curious still."
"These relics have a history, then?"
"So much so that they are history."
"What do you mean by that?"
Sherlock Holmes picked them up one by one, and laid them along the edge of the table. Then he reseated himself in his chair, and looked them over with a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes.
"These," said he, "are all that I have left to remind me of 'The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual.'"
I had heard him mention the case more than once, though I had never been able to gather the details.
"I should be so glad," said I, "if you would give me an account of it."
"And leave the litter as it is," he cried, mischievously. "Your tidiness won't bear much strain, after all, Watson. But I should be glad that you should add this case to your annals, for there are points in it which make it quite unique in the criminal records of this or, I believe, of any other country. A collection of my trifling achievements would certainly be incomplete which contained no account of this very singular business.
"You may remember how the affair of the Gloria Scott, and my conversation with the unhappy man whose fate I told you of, first turned my attention in the direction of the profession which has become my life's work. You see me now when my name has become known far and wide, and when I am generally recognised both by the public and by the official force as being a final court of appeal in doubtful cases. Even when you knew me first, at the time of the affair which you have commemorated in 'A Study in Scarlet,' I had already established a considerable, though not a very lucrative, connection. You can hardly realize, then, how difficult I found it at first, and how long I had to wait before I succeeded in making any headway.
"When I first came up to London I had rooms in Montague Street, just round the corner from the British Museum, and there I waited, filling in my too abundant leisure time by studying all those branches of science which might make me more efficient. Now and again cases came in my way principally through the introduction of old fellow students, for during my last years at the university there was a good deal of talk there about myself and my methods. The third of these cases was that of the Musgrave Ritual, and it is to the interest which was aroused by that singular chain of events, and the large issues which proved to be at stake, that I trace my first stride towards the position which I now hold.
"Reginald Musgrave had been in the same college as myself, and I had some slight acquaintance with him. He was not generally popular among the undergraduates, though it always seemed to me that what was set down as pride was really an attempt to cover extreme natural diffidence. In appearance he was a man of an exceedingly aristocratic type, thin, high-nosed, and large-eyed, with languid and yet courtly manners. He was indeed a scion of one of the very oldest families in the kingdom, though his branch was a cadet one which had separated from the Northern Musgraves some time in the sixteenth century, and had established itself in Western Sussex, where the manor house of Hurlstone is perhaps the oldest inhabited building in the county. Something of his birthplace seemed to cling to the man, and I never looked at his pale, keen face, or the poise of his head without associating him with grey archways and mullioned windows and all the venerable wreckage of a feudal keep. Once or twice we drifted into talk, and I can remember that more than once he expressed a keen interest in my methods of observation and inference.
"For four years I had seen nothing of him, until one morning he walked into my room in Montague Street. He had changed little, was dressed like a young man of fashion—he was always a bit of a dandy—and preserved the same quiet, suave manner which had formerly distinguished him.
"'How has all gone with you, Musgrave?' I asked, after we had cordially shaken hands.
"'You probably heard of my poor father's death,' said he. 'He was carried off about two years ago. Since then I have, of course, had the Hurlstone estates to manage, and as I am member for my district as well, my life has been a busy one; but I understand, Holmes, that you are turning to practical ends those powers with which you used to amaze us?'
"'Yes,' said I, 'I have taken to living by my wits.'
"'I am delighted to hear it, for your advice at present would be exceedingly valuable to me. We have had some very strange doings at Hurlstone, and the police have been able to throw no light upon the matter. It is really the most extraordinary and inexplicable business.'
"You can imagine with what eagerness I listened to him, Watson, for the very chance for which I had been panting during all those months of inaction seemed to have come within my reach. In my inmost heart I believed that I could succeed where others failed, and now I had the opportunity to test myself.
"'Pray let me have the details,' I cried.
"Reginald Musgrave sat down opposite to me, and lit the cigarette which I had pushed towards him.
"'You must know,' said he, 'that though I am a bachelor I have to keep up a considerable staff of servants at Hurlstone, for it is a rambling old place, and takes a good deal of looking after. I preserve, too, and in the pheasant months I usually have a house party, so that it would not do to be short-handed. Altogether there are eight maids, the cook, the butler, two footmen, and a boy. The garden and the stables, of course, have a separate staff.
"'Of these servants the one who had been longest in our service was Brunton, the butler. He was a young schoolmaster out of place when he was first taken up by my father, but he was a man of great energy and character, and he soon became quite invaluable in the household. He was a well-grown, handsome man, with a splendid forehead, and though he has been with us for twenty years he cannot be more than forty now. With his personal advantages and his extraordinary gifts, for he can speak several languages and play nearly every musical instrument, it is wonderful that he should have been satisfied so long in such a position, but I suppose that he was comfortable and lacked energy to make any change. The butler of Hurlstone is always a thing that is remembered by all who visit us.
"'But this paragon has one fault. He is a bit of a Don Juan, and you can imagine that for a man like him it is not a very difficult part to play in a quiet country district.
"'When he was married it was all right, but since he has been a widower we have had no end of trouble with him. A few months ago we were in hopes that he was about to settle down again, for he became engaged to Rachel Howells, our second housemaid, but he has thrown her over since then and taken up with Janet Tregellis, the daughter of the head gamekeeper. Rachel, who is a very good girl, but of an excitable Welsh temperament, had a sharp touch of brain fever, and goes about the house now—or did until yesterday—like a black-eyed shadow of her former self. That was our first drama at Hurlstone, but a second one came to drive it from our minds, and it was prefaced by the disgrace and dismissal of butler Brunton.
"'This is how it came about. I have said that the man was intelligent, and this very intelligence has caused his ruin, for it seems to have led to an insatiable curiosity about things which did not in the least concern him. I had no idea of the lengths to which this would carry him until the merest accident opened my eyes to it.
"'I have said that the house is a rambling one. One night last week—on Thursday night, to be more exact—I found that I could not sleep, having foolishly taken a cup of strong cafe noir after my dinner. After struggling against it until two in the morning I felt that it was quite hopeless, so I rose and lit the candle with the intention of continuing a novel which I was reading. The book, however, had been left in the billiard-room, so I pulled on my dressing-gown and started off to get it.
"'In order to reach the billiard-room I had to descend a flight of stairs, and then to cross the head of a passage which led to the library and the gun-room. You can imagine my surprise when as I looked down this corridor I saw a glimmer of light coming from the open door of the library. I had myself extinguished the lamp and closed the door before coming to bed. Naturally, my first thought was of burglars. The corridors at Hurlstone have their walls largely decorated with trophies of old weapons. From one of these I picked a battle-axe, and then, leaving my candle behind me, I crept on tip-toe down the passage and peeped in at the open door.
"'Brunton, the butler, was in the library. He was sitting, fully dressed, in an easy chair, with a slip of paper, which looked like a map, upon his knee, and his forehead sunk forward upon his hand in deep thought. I stood, dumb with astonishment, watching him from the darkness. A small taper on the edge of the table shed a feeble light, which sufficed to show me that he was fully dressed. Suddenly, as I looked, he rose from his chair, and walking over to a bureau at the side he unlocked it and drew out one of the drawers. From this he took a paper, and, returning to his seat, he flattened it out beside the taper on the edge of the table, and began to study it with minute attention. My indignation at this calm examination of our family documents overcame me so far that I took a step forward, and Brunton looking up saw me standing in the doorway. He sprang to his feet, his face turned livid with fear, and he thrust into his breast the chart-like paper which he had been originally studying.
"'So!' said I, 'this is how you repay the trust which we have reposed in you! You will leave my service to-morrow.'
"'He bowed with the look of a man who is utterly crushed, and slunk past me without a word. The taper was still on the table, and by its light I glanced to see what the paper was which Brunton had taken from the bureau. To my surprise it was nothing of any importance at all, but simply a copy of the questions and answers in the singular old observance called the Musgrave Ritual. It is a sort of ceremony peculiar to our family, which each Musgrave for centuries past has gone through upon his coming of age—a thing of private interest, and perhaps of some little importance to the archaeologist, like our own blazonings and charges, but of no practical use whatever.'
"'We had better come back to the paper afterwards,' said I.
"'If you think it really necessary,' he answered, with some hesitation. 'To continue my statement, however, I re-locked the bureau, using the key which Brunton had left, and I had turned to go, when I was surprised to find that the butler had returned and was standing before me.
"'Mr. Musgrave, sir,' he cried, in a voice which was hoarse with emotion, 'I can't bear disgrace, sir. I've always been proud above my station in life, and disgrace would kill me. My blood will be on your head, sir—it will, indeed—if you drive me to despair. If you cannot keep me after what has passed, then for God's sake let me give you notice and leave in a month, as if of my own free will. I could stand that, Mr. Musgrave, but not to be cast out before all the folk that I know so well.'
"'You don't deserve much consideration, Brunton,' I answered. 'Your conduct has been most infamous. However, as you have been a long time in the family, I have no wish to bring public disgrace upon you. A month, however, is too long. Take yourself away in a week, and give what reason you like for going.'
"'Only a week, sir?' he cried in a despairing voice. 'A fortnight—say at least a fortnight.'
"'A week,' I repeated, 'and you may consider yourself to have been very leniently dealt with.'
"'He crept away, his face sunk upon his breast, like a broken man, while I put out the light and returned to my room.
* * * * *
"'For two days after this Brunton was most assiduous in his attention to his duties. I made no allusion to what had passed, and waited with some curiosity to see how he would cover his disgrace. On the third morning, however, he did not appear, as was his custom, after breakfast to receive my instructions for the day. As I left the dining-room I happened to meet Rachel Howells, the maid. I have told you that she had only recently recovered from an illness, and was looking so wretchedly pale and wan that I remonstrated with her for being at work.
"'You should be in bed,' I said. 'Come back to your duties when you are stronger.'
"'She looked at me with so strange an expression that I began to suspect that her brain was affected.
"'I am strong enough, Mr. Musgrave,' said she.
"'We will see what the doctor says,' I answered. 'You must stop work now, and when you go downstairs just say that I wish to see Brunton.'
"'The butler is gone,' said she.
"'Gone! Gone where?'
"'He is gone. No one has seen him. He is not in his room. Oh, yes, he is gone—he is gone!' She fell back against the wall with shriek after shriek of laughter, while I, horrified at this sudden hysterical attack, rushed to the bell to summon help. The girl was taken to her room, still screaming and sobbing, while I made inquiries about Brunton. There was no doubt about it that he had disappeared. His bed had not been slept in; he had been seen by no one since he had retired to his room the night before; and yet it was difficult to see how he could have left the house, as both windows and doors were found to be fastened in the morning. His clothes, his watch, and even his money were in his room—but the black suit which he usually wore was missing. His slippers, too, were gone, but his boots were left behind. Where, then, could butler Brunton have gone in the night, and what could have become of him now?
"'Of course we searched the house from cellar to garret, but there was no trace of him. It is as I have said a labyrinth of an old house, especially the original wing, which is now practically uninhabited, but we ransacked every room and cellar without discovering the least sign of the missing man. It was incredible to me that he could have gone away leaving all his property behind him, and yet where could he be? I called in the local police, but without success. Rain had fallen on the night before, and we examined the lawn and the paths all round the house, but in vain. Matters were in this state when a new development quite drew our attention away from the original mystery.
"'For two days Rachel Howells had been so ill, sometimes delirious, sometimes hysterical, that a nurse had been employed to sit up with her at night. On the third night after Brunton's disappearance the nurse, finding her patient sleeping nicely, had dropped into a nap in the arm-chair, when she woke in the early morning to find the bed empty, the window open, and no signs of the invalid. I was instantly aroused, and with the two footmen started off at once in search of the missing girl. It was not difficult to tell the direction which she had taken, for, starting from under her window, we could follow her footmarks easily across the lawn to the edge of the mere, where they vanished, close to the gravel path which leads out of the grounds. The lake there is 8 ft. deep, and you can imagine our feelings when we saw that the trail of the poor demented girl came to an end at the edge of it.
"'Of course, we had the drags at once, and set to work to recover the remains; but no trace of the body could we find. On the other hand, we brought to the surface an object of a most unexpected kind. It was a linen bag, which contained within it a mass of old rusted and discoloured metal and several dull-coloured pieces of pebble or glass. This strange find was all that we could get from the mere, and although we made every possible search and inquiry yesterday, we know nothing of the fate either of Rachel Howells or Richard Brunton. The county police are at their wits' end, and I have come up to you as a last resource.'
"You can imagine, Watson, with what eagerness I listened to this extraordinary sequence of events, and endeavoured to piece them together, and to devise some common thread upon which they might all hang.
"The butler was gone. The maid was gone. The maid had loved the butler, but had afterwards had cause to hate him. She was of Welsh blood, fiery and passionate. She had been terribly excited immediately after his disappearance. She had flung into the lake a bag containing some curious contents. These were all factors which had to be taken into consideration, and yet none of them got quite to the heart of the matter. What was the starting point of this chain of events? There lay the end of this tangled line.
"'I must see that paper, Musgrave,' said I, 'which this butler of yours thought it worth his while to consult, even at the risk of the loss of his place.'
"'It is rather an absurd business, this Ritual of ours,' he answered, 'but it has at least the saving grace of antiquity to excuse it. I have a copy of the questions and answers here, if you care to ran your eye over them.'
"He handed me the very paper which I have here, Watson, and this is the strange catechism to which each Musgrave had to submit when he came to man's estate. I will read you the questions and answers as they stand:—
"'Whose was it?
"'His who is gone.
"'Who shall have it?
"'He who will come.
"'Where was the sun?
"'Over the oak.
"'Where was the shadow?
"'Under the elm.
"'How was it stepped?
"'North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.
"'What shall we give for it?
"'All that is ours.
"'Why should we give it?
"'For the sake of the trust.'
"'The original has no date, but is in the spelling of the middle of the seventeenth century,' remarked Musgrave. 'I am afraid, however, that it can be of little help to you in solving this mystery.'
"'At least,' said I, 'it gives us another mystery, and one which is even more interesting than the first. It may be that the solution of the one may prove to be the solution of the other. You will excuse me, Musgrave, if I say that your butler appears to me to have been a very clever man, and to have had a clearer insight than ten generations of his masters.'
"'I hardly follow you,' said Musgrave. 'The paper seems to me to be of no practical importance.'
"'But to me it seems immensely practical, and I fancy that Brunton took the same view. He had probably seen it before that night on which you caught him.'
"'It is very possible. We took no pains to hide it.'
"'He simply wished, I should imagine, to refresh his memory upon that last occasion. He had, as I understand, some sort of map or chart which he was comparing with the manuscript, and which he thrust into his pocket when you appeared?'
"'That is true. But what could he have to do with this old family custom of ours, and what does this rigmarole mean?'
"'I don't think that we should have much difficulty in determining that,' said I. 'With your permission we will take the first train down to Sussex and go a little more deeply into the matter upon the spot.'
"The same afternoon saw us both at Hurlstone. Possibly you have seen pictures and read descriptions of the famous old building, so I will confine my account of it to saying that it is built in the shape of an L, the long arm being the more modern portion, and the shorter the ancient nucleus from which the other has developed. Over the low, heavy-lintelled door, in the centre of this old part, is chiselled the date 1607, but experts are agreed that the beams and stone-work are really much older than this. The enormously thick walls and tiny windows of this part had in the last century driven the family into building the new wing, and the old one was used now as a storehouse and a cellar when it was used at all. A splendid park, with fine old timber, surrounded the house, and the lake, to which my client had referred, lay close to the avenue, about two hundred yards from the building.
"I was already firmly convinced, Watson, that there were not three separate mysteries here, but one only, and that if I could read the Musgrave Ritual aright, I should hold in my hand the clue which would lead me to the truth concerning both the butler Brunton and the maid Howells. To that, then, I turned all my energies. Why should this servant be so anxious to master this old formula? Evidently because he saw something in it which had escaped all those generations of country squires, and from which he expected some personal advantage. What was it, then, and how had it affected his fate?
"It was perfectly obvious to me on reading the Ritual that the measurements must refer to some spot to which the rest of the document alluded, and that if we could find that spot we should be in a fair way towards knowing what the secret was which the old Musgraves had thought it necessary to embalm in so curious a fashion. There were two guides given us to start with, an oak and an elm. As to the oak, there could be no question at all. Right in front of the house, upon the left-hand side of the drive, there stood a patriarch among oaks, one of the most magnificent trees that I have ever seen.
"'That was there when your Ritual was drawn up?' said I, as we drove past it.
"'It was there at the Norman Conquest, in all probability,' he answered. 'It has a girth of 23 ft.'
"Here was one of my fixed points secured.
"'Have you any old elms?' I asked.
"'There used to be a very old one over yonder, but it was struck by lightning ten years ago, and we cut down the stump.'
"'You can see where it used to be?'
"'There are no other elms?'
"'No old ones, but plenty of beeches.'
"'I should like to see where it grew.'
"'We had driven up in a dog-cart, and my client led me away at once, without our entering the house, to the scar on the lawn where the elm had stood. It was nearly midway between the oak and the house. My investigation seemed to be progressing.
"'I suppose it is impossible to find out how high the elm was?' I asked.
"'I can give you it at once. It was 64 ft.'
"'How do you come to know it?' I asked in surprise.
"'When my old tutor used to give me an exercise in trigonometry it always took the shape of measuring heights. When I was a lad I worked out every tree and building on the estate.'
"This was an unexpected piece of luck. My data were coming more quickly than I could have reasonably hoped.
"'Tell me,' I asked, 'did your butler ever ask you such a question?'
"Reginald Musgrave looked at me in astonishment. 'Now that you call it to my mind,' he answered, 'Brunton did ask me about the height of the tree some months ago, in connection with some little argument with the groom.'
"This was excellent news, Watson, for it showed me that I was on the right road. I looked up at the sun. It was low in the heavens, and I calculated that in less than an hour it would lie just above the topmost branches of the old oak. One condition mentioned in the Ritual would then be fulfilled. And the shadow of the elm must mean the further end of the shadow, otherwise the trunk would have been chosen as the guide. I had then to find where the far end of the shadow would fall when the sun was just clear of the oak."
"That must have been difficult, Holmes, when the elm was no longer there."
"Well, at least, I knew that if Brunton could do it I could also. Besides, there was no real difficulty. I went with Musgrave to his study and whittled myself this peg, to which I tied this long string, with a knot at each yard. Then I took two lengths of a fishing-rod, which came to just six feet, and I went back with my client to where the elm had been. The sun was just grazing the top of the oak. I fastened the rod on end, marked out the direction of the shadow, and measured it. It was 9 ft. in length.
"Of course, the calculation now was a simple one. If a rod of 6 ft. threw a shadow of 9 ft., a tree of 64 ft. would throw one of 96 ft., and the line of the one would of course be the line of the other. I measured out the distance, which brought me almost to the wall of the house, and I thrust a peg into the spot. You can imagine my exultation, Watson, when within 2 in. of my peg I saw a conical depression in the ground. I knew that it was the mark made by Brunton in his measurements, and that I was still upon his trail.
"From this starting point I proceeded to step, having first taken the cardinal points by my pocket compass. Ten steps with each foot took me along parallel with the wall of the house, and again I marked my spot with a peg. Then I carefully paced off five to the east and two to the south. It brought me to the very threshold of the old door. Two steps to the west meant now that I was to go two paces down the stone-flagged passage, and this was the place indicated by the Ritual.
"Never have I felt such a cold chill of disappointment, Watson. For a moment it seemed to me that there must be some radical mistake in my calculations. The setting sun shone full upon the passage floor, and I could see that the old foot-worn grey stones, with which it was paved, were firmly cemented together, and had certainly not been moved for many a long year. Brunton had not been at work here. I tapped upon the floor, but it sounded the same all over, and there was no sign of any crack or crevice. But fortunately, Musgrave, who had begun to appreciate the meaning of my proceedings, and who was now as excited as myself, took out his manuscript to check my calculations.
"'And under,' he cried: 'you have omitted the "and under."'
"I had thought that it meant that we were to dig, but now of course I saw at once that I was wrong. 'There is a cellar under this, then?' I cried.
"'Yes, and as old as the house. Down here, through this door.'
"We went down a winding stone stair, and my companion, striking a match, lit a large lantern which stood on a barrel in the corner. In an instant it was obvious that we had at last come upon the true place, and that we had not been the only people to visit the spot recently.
"It had been used for the storage of wood, but the billets, which had evidently been littered over the floor, were now piled at the sides so as to leave a clear space in the middle. In this space lay a large and heavy flagstone, with a rusted iron ring in the centre, to which a thick shepherd's check muffler was attached.
"'By Jove!' cried my client, 'that's Brunton's muffler. I have seen it on him, and could swear to it. What has the villain been doing here?'
"At my suggestion a couple of the county police were summoned to be present, and I then endeavoured to raise the stone by pulling on the cravat. I could only move it slightly, and it was with the aid of one of the constables that I succeeded at last in carrying it to one side. A black hole yawned beneath, into which we all peered, while Musgrave, kneeling at the side, pushed down the lantern.
"A small chamber about 7 ft. deep and 4 ft. square lay open to us. At one side of this was a squat, brass-bound, wooden box, the lid of which was hinged upwards, with this curious, old-fashioned key projecting from the lock. It was furred outside by a thick layer of dust, and damp and worms had eaten through the wood so that a crop of livid fungi was growing on the inside of it. Several discs of metal—old coins apparently—such as I hold here, were scattered over the bottom of the box, but it contained nothing else.
"At the moment, however, we had no thought for the old chest, for our eyes were riveted upon that which crouched beside it. It was the figure of a man, clad in a suit of black, who squatted down upon his hams with his forehead sunk upon the edge of the box and his two arms thrown out on each side of it. The attitude had drawn all the stagnant blood to the face, and no man could have recognised that distorted, liver-coloured countenance; but his height, his dress, and his hair were all sufficient to show my client, when we had drawn the body up, that it was, indeed, his missing butler. He had been dead some days, but there was no wound or bruise upon his person to show how he had met his dreadful end. When his body had been carried from the cellar we found ourselves still confronted with a problem which was almost as formidable as that with which we had started.
"I confess that so far, Watson, I had been disappointed in my investigation. I had reckoned upon solving the matter when once I had found the place referred to in the Ritual; but now I was there, and was apparently as far as ever from knowing what it was which the family had concealed with such elaborate precautions. It is true that I had thrown a light upon the fate of Brunton, but now I had to ascertain how that fate had come upon him, and what part had been played in the matter by the woman who had disappeared. I sat down upon a keg in the corner and thought the whole matter carefully over.
"You know my methods in such cases, Watson: I put myself in the man's place, and having first gauged his intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the same circumstances. In this case the matter was simplified by Brunton's intelligence being quite first rate, so that it was unnecessary to make any allowance for the personal equation, as the astronomers have dubbed it. He knew that something valuable was concealed. He had spotted the place. He found that the stone which covered it was just too heavy for a man to move unaided. What would he do next? He could not get help from outside, even if he had someone whom he could trust, without the unbarring of doors, and considerable risk of detection. It was better, if he could, to have his helpmate inside the house. But whom could he ask? This girl had been devoted to him. A man always finds it hard to realize that he may have finally lost a woman's love, however badly he may have treated her. He would try by a few attentions to make his peace with the girl Howells, and then would engage her as his accomplice. Together they would come at night to the cellar, and their united force would suffice to raise the stone. So far I could follow their actions as if I had actually seen them.
"But for two of them, and one a woman, it must have been heavy work, the raising of that stone. A burly Sussex policeman and I had found it no light job. What would they do to assist them? Probably what I should have done myself. I rose and examined carefully the different billets of wood which were scattered round the floor. Almost at once I came upon what I expected. One piece, about 3 ft. in length, had a marked indentation at one end, while several were flattened at the sides as if they had been compressed by some considerable weight. Evidently as they had dragged the stone up they had thrust the chunks of wood into the chink, until at last, when the opening was large enough to crawl through, they would hold it open by a billet placed length-wise, which might very well become indented at the lower end, since the whole weight of the stone would press it down on to the edge of this other slab. So far I was still on safe ground.
"And now, how was I to proceed to reconstruct this midnight drama? Clearly only one could get into the hole, and that one was Brunton. The girl must have waited above. Brunton then unlocked the box, handed up the contents, presumably—since they were not to be found—and then—and then what happened?
"What smouldering fire of vengeance had suddenly sprung into flame in this passionate Celtic woman's soul when she saw the man who had wronged her—wronged her perhaps far more than we suspected—in her power? Was it a chance that the wood had slipped and that the stone had shut Brunton into what had become his sepulchre? Had she only been guilty of silence as to his fate? Or had some sudden blow from her hand dashed the support away and sent the slab crashing down into its place. Be that as it might, I seemed to see that woman's figure, still clutching at her treasure-trove, and flying wildly up the winding stair with her ears ringing perhaps with the muffled screams from behind her, and with the drumming of frenzied hands against the slab of stone which was choking her faithless lover's life out.
"Here was the secret of her blanched face, her shaken nerves, her peals of hysterical laughter on the next morning. But what had been in the box? What had she done with that? Of course, it must have been the old metal and pebbles which my client had dragged from the mere. She had thrown them in there at the first opportunity, to remove the last trace of her crime.
"For twenty minutes I had sat motionless thinking the matter out. Musgrave still stood with a very pale face swinging his lantern and peering down into the hole.
"'These are coins of Charles I.,' said he, holding out the few which had been left in the box. 'You see we were right in fixing our date for the Ritual.'
"'We may find something else of Charles I.,' I cried, as the probable meaning of the first two questions of the Ritual broke suddenly upon me. 'Let me see the contents of the bag which you fished from the mere.'
"We ascended to his study, and he laid the debris before me. I could understand his regarding it as of small importance when I looked at it, for the metal was almost black, and the stones lustreless and dull. I rubbed one of them on my sleeve, however, and it glowed afterwards like a spark, in the dark hollow of my hand. The metal-work was in the form of a double ring, but it had been bent and twisted out of its original shape.
"'You must bear in mind,' said I, 'that the Royal party made head in England even after the death of the King, and that when they at last fled they probably left many of their most precious possessions buried behind them, with the intention of returning for them in more peaceful times.'
"'My ancestor, Sir Ralph Musgrave, was a prominent Cavalier, and the right-hand man of Charles II. in his wanderings,' said my friend.
"'Ah, indeed!' I answered. 'Well, now, I think that really should give us the last link that we wanted. I must congratulate you on coming into the possession, though in rather a tragic manner, of a relic which is of great intrinsic value, but of even greater importance as an historical curiosity.'
"'What is it, then?' he gasped in astonishment.
"'It is nothing less than the ancient crown of the Kings of England.'
"'Precisely. Consider what the Ritual says. How does it run? "Whose was it?" "His who is gone." That was after the execution of Charles. Then, "Who shall have it?" "He who will come." That was Charles II., whose advent was already foreseen. There can I think be no doubt that this battered and shapeless diadem once encircled the brows of the Royal Stuarts.'
"'And how came it in the pond?'
"'Ah, that is a question which will take some time to answer,' and with that I sketched out to him the whole long chain of surmise and of proof which I had constructed. The twilight had closed in and the moon was shining brightly in the sky before my narrative was finished.
"'And how was it, then, that Charles did not get his crown when he returned?' asked Musgrave, pushing back the relic into its linen bag.
"'Ah, there you lay your finger upon the one point which we shall probably never be able to clear up. It is likely that the Musgrave who held the secret died in the interval, and by some oversight left this guide to his descendant without explaining the meaning of it. From that day to this it has been handed down from father to son, until at last it came within reach of a man who tore its secret out of it and lost his life in the venture.'
"And that's the story of the Musgrave Ritual, Watson. They have the crown down at Hurlstone—though they had some legal bother, and a considerable sum to pay before they were allowed to retain it. I am sure that if you mentioned my name they would be happy to show it to you. Of the woman nothing was ever heard, and the probability is that she got away out of England, and carried herself, and the memory of her crime, to some land beyond the seas."
From Behind the Speaker's Chair.
(VIEWED BY HENRY W. LUCY.)
SIR CHARLES LEWIS.
The history of Sir Charles Lewis, long time member for Derry, who sat in the last Parliament for North Antrim, is full of instruction for young members. Mr. Charles Lewis, as he was most familiarly known, entered the House as member for Derry in 1872, representing the city for just fourteen years. He was returned again at the General Election of 1886; and it was part of the evil fate that pursued him through his Parliamentary career that he should have been unseated on a petition. In the following February he was returned for North Antrim, and with the Salisbury Parliament disappeared from the political arena.
It was in the Session of 1874 that he bounded into fame. Conservatives were in high spirits, just entering under Mr. Disraeli's leadership upon a long lease of untrammelled power. Mr. Lewis, unnoticed in the preceding Parliament, came to the front in the earliest weeks of the new one, buzzing around in what some of his contemporaries were inclined to regard as an unnecessarily blatant manner. He attracted the notice of the World, just then founded, and, under the new and vigorous system of editorship inaugurated by Mr. Edmund Yates, boldly striking out for a leading place in weekly journalism. Mr. Lewis, whom his most relentless detractors would not accuse of lack of courage, resented the playfully bitter attacks of the World, and brought before Mr. Justice Coleridge and a special jury what, at the time, achieved some notoriety as the great White Waistcoat question.
It must be admitted that whether a member of the House of Commons wears a white waistcoat or a black one is no business of anyone but himself; certainly has nothing to do with his political position. But of Mr. Lewis's once famous white waistcoat it may be said, as was written long ago in another connection, "which thing is an allegory." A white waistcoat worn in sultry weather with light tweed or other summer suit is appropriate to the occasion and pleasant to the eye. It was an indication of Mr. Lewis's character—perhaps too subtly, possibly erroneously, deduced—that in bleak March weather he should have breasted an angry House of Commons in a spacious white waistcoat, made all the more aggressive since it was worn in conjunction with a stubbornly-shaped black frock-coat and a pair of black trousers of uncompromising Derry cut. However it be, Mr. Lewis would stand no reflections upon his white waistcoat, and gave the new World an appreciable fillip on its career by haling it into court on a charge of libel, which Lord Coleridge dismissed without thinking it necessary to trouble a jury.
That was not a hopeful start for a new member. But Mr. Lewis was not the kind of man to be daunted by repulse. It supplies testimony to his strong personality that, whilst more or less damaging himself, he succeeded on more than one occasion in seriously compromising his political friends and the House itself. In the whirlwind that followed it was forgotten that it was Mr. Lewis (now Sir Charles, "B.B.K." as the Claimant put it) who brought about the appointment of the Parnell Commission and all it boded. When in May, 1887, the Times published an article accusing Mr. Parnell of wilful and deliberate falsehood in denying his connection with P. J. Sheridan, Sir Charles Lewis reappeared on the scene, and, with protest of his desire that the Irish leader should have the earliest opportunity of clearing his character from the slur cast upon it, moved that the printers of the Times be brought to the Bar on a charge of breach of privilege. Mr. W. H. Smith, then fresh to the leadership, did his best to shake off this inconvenient counsellor. Sir Charles's proposal was burked; but he had laid the powder, which was soon after fired and led to the successive explosions around the Parnell Commission.
That in later life Sir Charles Lewis should have taken this precise means of bringing himself once more to the front was fresh proof of his courage. It was on an analogous motion that he had made his earliest mark. A Select Committee sitting on Foreign Loans, the morning papers had, as usual, given some report of the proceedings. But though this was customary, it was, none the less, technically a breach of Standing Order. Mr. Charles Lewis, availing himself of the existence of the anachronism, moved that the printers of the Times and the Daily News be summoned to the Bar, charged with breach of privilege. Mr. Disraeli, then leader, did his best to get out of the difficulty. Mr. Lewis, in full flush with the white waistcoat, was inexorable. The printers were ordered to appear. They obeyed the summons, and the House finding itself in a position of ludicrous embarrassment, they were privily entreated to withdraw, and, above all, to be so good as to say nothing more on the matter.
Never since the House of Commons grew out of the Wittenagemot has that august Assembly been brought so nearly into the position of Dogberry. "You shall comprehend all vagrom men; you are to bid any man stand, in the Prince's name." "How, if a' will not stand?" queried the wary second watchman. "Why, then," said the unshakable City officer, "take no note of him, but let him go; and presently call the rest of the watch together, and thank God you are rid of a knave." Thus, in the spring of 1875, under the temporary leadership of Mr. Charles Lewis, did the House of Commons act towards the representatives of the Times and the Daily News, with the added embarrassment that the vagrom men in question had not refused to stand, but were even then in the lobby awaiting judgment.
In the following Session Mr. Lewis succeeded in stirring up another historic scene. It was he who brought under the notice of the House of Commons Mr. Lowe's historic declaration, made in a speech delivered at Retford, that before Mr. Disraeli had undertaken to pass a Bill creating the Queen Empress of India, two other Prime Ministers had been approached on the subject by Her Majesty, and had declined to be a party to the proceedings. Mr. Lewis was utterly devoid of sense of humour, a poverty that largely accounts for his failure in public life. The only joke he ever made was unconsciously produced. It happened one night in Committee of Supply, when, girding at the Irish members opposite, he sarcastically expressed the hope that the vote before the Committee "would not prove another fly in the ointment to spoil the digestion of honourable gentlemen opposite."
"Mr. Chairman," observed Mr. Delahunty, who then represented Waterford City, "we have many peculiarities in Ireland, but we don't eat ointment."
Thus, though Mr. Lewis had no humour in his own nature, he was occasionally the cause of its ebullition in others. The short note he elicited from Mr. Lowe when he assumed the right to call the right hon. gentleman to task for this indiscretion hugely delighted the House of Commons.
"Sir," snapped Mr. Lowe, "my recent speech at Retford contains nothing relating to you. I must therefore decline to answer your questions."
That would have shut up some men. It had the effect of inciting Mr. Charles Lewis to further action. He brought forward a motion for a return setting forth the text of the oath of Privy Councillors, explaining that he desired to show that Mr. Lowe had, in the disclosure made, violated his oath. There followed an animated and angry scene. Disraeli, whilst dealing a back-handed blow at the inconvenient friend behind him, struck out at his ancient enemy, Lowe, whose statement he said was "monstrous, if true." He added that he was permitted to state on the personal authority of the Queen it was absolutely without foundation.
These are some of the episodes writ large in a notable Parliamentary career. Their range shows that Mr. Lewis was a man of high, if ill-directed, capacity. No mere blunderer could have stirred the depths of the House of Commons as from time to time he did. He was, in truth—and here is the pity of it—a man of great ability, an admirable speaker. If his instincts had been finer and his training more severe he would have made a position of quite another kind in Parliamentary annals. Vain, restless, with narrow views and strong prejudices, he was his own worst enemy. But he will not have lived in vain if new members, entering the House from whatever quarter, sitting on whichever side, will study his career, and apply its lesson. His character in its main bearings is by no means unfamiliar in the House of Commons. It was his special qualities of courage and capacity that made him so beneficially prominent as an example of what to avoid.
Amongst the characteristics of the present Government that make them in Ministries a thing apart is the almost total absence of the air of mystery that, through the ages, has enveloped Cabinets and their consultations. Never in times ancient or modern was there on the eve of a new Session so little mystery about the intentions of the Government. There was still practised by the morning newspapers the dear old farce of purporting to forecast the unknown. On the morning that opens the new Session there appears in all well-conducted morning papers an article delivered in the style of the Priestess Pythia in the temple at Delphi. Nothing is positively assumed, but the public are told that when the Queen's Speech is disclosed "it will probably contain promise of legislation" on such a head, whilst it will "doubtless be found that Her Majesty's Ministers have not been unmindful of" such another question.
This fashion was invented generations ago, either by the Times or the Morning Chronicle. The editor, having access to those gilded saloons to which Lord Palmerston once made historic reference, or profiting by personal acquaintance with a Minister, obtained more or less full knowledge of what the Queen's Speech would contain. But he was bound in honour to preserve his informant from possibly inconvenient consequences of his garrulity, and so the oracular style was adopted. When other papers, put on the track, obtained information in the same way they adopted the same quaint practice, till now it has become deeply ingrained in journalism. To-day, whilst there is no secret of the sources of information very properly conveyed to the Press on the eve of the Session, this same style of dealing with it, in which Mr. Wemmick would have revelled, is sedulously observed.
At the beginning of this Session other than newspaper editors had been made aware of the general legislative intentions of the Government. Ministers speaking at various public meetings had openly announced that their several departments were at the time engaged upon the preparation of particular Bills, the main directions of which were plainly indicated. It is true that details of the Home Rule Bill were lacking, though two or three weeks in advance of its presentation one journal, the Speaker, gave an exceedingly close summary of its clauses. But that a Home Rule Bill was to be introduced, that it would take precedence of all other measures, and that it would be thorough enough to satisfy the Irish members, were commonplaces of information long before the Speech was read in the House of Lords. It used to be different. Within the range of recent memory, the publication of the Queen's Speech, or at least a forecast in the morning papers, was the first authoritative indication of the drift of legislation in the new Session.
Talking of this new departure with one of the oldest members of the House, he tells me a delightful story, which I have never found recalled in print, and it is too good to be buried in the pages of Hansard. At one time, in the run of the Parliament of 1859-65, Lord Palmerston being Premier, a rumour shook the political world, affirming the resignation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gladstone. The newspapers were neither so alert nor so well informed in those days, and the rumour drifted about, neither confirmed nor contradicted. At length, Mr. Horsman could stand the uncertainty no longer, and from his place in the House of Commons he asked Lord Palmerston whether there was any truth in the report.
The Premier approached the table in his gravest manner, and the crowded House was hushed in silence for the anticipated disclosure. He had, he said, just come from a meeting of the Cabinet Council, and could not pretend to be uninformed on the matter of the question submitted to him. The House, however, knew how stringent was the oath of a Privy Councillor, and how impossible it was for one in ordinary circumstances either to affirm or deny a report current as to what had taken place within its doors. Lord Palmerston was evidently struggling between a desire to tell something and disinclination to tamper with his oath. As his manner grew more embarrassed, the interest of the House was quickened. All heads, including that of Mr. Horsman, were craned forward as he went on to observe that, perhaps, in the peculiar circumstances of the case, he would be justified in saying that, at the Council just held, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been present and had displayed no sign of intended resignation.
"In fact," said Lord Palmerston, turning round to face Mr. Horsman, seated at the corner bench below the Gangway, "my right hon. friend has had his ear at the keyhole of the wrong door."
THE PARLIAMENTARY OLD GUARD.
I have received a sheaf of correspondence arising out of the article in the February number, cataloguing the Old Guard who were in the House of Commons twenty years ago and stand there to-day. One or two demand acknowledgment as adding to the information there garnered. Mr. Thomas Whitworth, of Liverpool, a member of the House of Commons from 1869 to 1874, has made independent investigation, with the result of adding several to the names I gave. These are Sir Charles Dalrymple, Mr. Duff (who has just retired from Parliament on his appointment to the Governorship of New South Wales), Sir Julian Goldsmid, Sir John Hibbert, Sir J. W. Pease, Mr. J. G. Talbot, Mr. Abel Smith, and Mr. James Round. Mr. Whitworth adds Mr. Charles Seeley. That is an error, since Mr. Seeley does not sit in the present Parliament—having been defeated at the General Election when he stood for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottinghamshire.
"Sir Thomas Lea (not Mr. Lea) was, in 1873," Mr. Whitworth writes, "member for Kidderminster, and is the only English member of that date who has changed into an Irish one."
The present member for Londonderry was certainly "Mr." Lea in 1873, his baronetcy dating from 1892, being one of the recognitions made by Lord Salisbury of the services of the Dissentient Liberal allies. The reference to Sir William Dyke as Liberal Whip was, as the context shows, an obvious slip of the pen, Sir William having been for many years prominent in the Conservative ranks as an able Whip.
One of the late Mr. Miall's kinsmen points out that "it was Edward Miall, M.P. for Bradford, not Charles," who, side by side with the late Mr. Fawcett, fought Mr. Gladstone on the Irish University Bill, and did much to bring about the subsequent debacle of the Liberals.
Finally, Mr. Johnston, of Ballykilbeg, writes from the House of Commons: "In your interesting paper, 'From Behind the Speaker's Chair,' in THE STRAND MAGAZINE for this month, you say, 'Mr. Johnston, still of Ballykilbeg, but no longer a Liberal, as he ranked twenty years ago.' In politics I am to-day what I was twenty years ago. Always anxious to vote for measures for the good of the country, and sometimes being in the Lobby with Liberals, I never belonged to that party. Mr. Disraeli, in a letter which I have, expressed his regret that I should have been opposed, in 1868, by some Belfast Conservatives, and did all in his power to prevent this. I was always, as he knew, and Lord Rowton knows, a loyal follower of Disraeli."
In conversation, Mr. Johnston adds the interesting fact that when in 1868 he was first returned for Belfast, he was in the habit of receiving whips from both sides of the House, a remarkable testimony to the impression of his absolute impartiality thus early conveyed to observers. The House of Commons, by the way, is ignorant that in this sturdy Protestant it entertains a novelist unawares. Mr. Johnston has written at least two works of fiction, one entitled "Nightshade," which presumably deals with the epoch of the fellest domination of Rome; and the other "Under Which King?" a, perhaps unconscious, reflection of the unsettled state of mind with which the hon. gentleman entered politics, and which led to embarrassing attention from the rival Whips.
LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL.
The interest attached to Lord Randolph Churchill's reappearance on the Parliamentary scene proved one of the most interesting and significant incidents in the early days of the new Parliament. There is no doubt that, whatever be his present views and intentions, Lord Randolph years ago convinced himself that he was cut adrift from the political world, and that it had no charms to lure him back. He began by giving up to Newmarket what was meant for mankind, took a share in a stable, and regulated his social and other engagements in London not by the Order Book of the House of Commons, but by the fixtures in the "Racing Calendar." He was seen only fitfully in his place at the corner seat behind his esteemed friends and leaders then in office. A year later he went off to Mashonaland, and for a full Session Westminster knew him no more.
When the new Parliament began its sittings Lord Randolph in private conversation was not less insistent as to the permanency of his act of renunciation. He was tired of politics, he said, and saw no future for himself in an assembly where at one time he was a commanding figure. Some of his friends, whilst puzzled and occasionally staggered by his insistence on this point, have always refused to accept his view of the possibilities of the future. A dyspeptic duck gloomily eyeing an old familiar pond might protest that never again would it enter the water. But as long as the duck lives and the water remains, they are certain to come together again. So it has been with Lord Randolph Churchill, who in this Session has, quite naturally, returned to his old haunts, and with a single speech regained much of his old position.
It is possible that accident, untoward in itself, may have had something to do with hastening the conclusion. When the House first met amid a fierce tussle for seats, Lord Randolph found his place at the corner of the second bench in peril of appropriation. If he desired to retain it, it would obviously be necessary for him to be down every day in time for prayers. Rather than face that discipline he would suffer the company of his old colleagues on the Front Opposition Bench. As a Privy Councillor and ex-Minister he had a right to a seat on that bench equal, at least, to that of Sir Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett. One evening, coming in at question time and finding his seat appropriated by an Irish member, he dropped on to the remote end of the Front Opposition Bench, hoping he did not intrude. His old colleagues warmly welcomed him, made much of him, entreated him to go up higher, and it came to pass that the House of Commons grew accustomed to seeing the strayed reveller sitting in close companionship with Mr. Arthur Balfour. If the whole story of the tragedy of Christmas, 1886, were known, it would appear more remarkable still that from time to time he should have been observed in friendly conversation with Mr. Goschen.