In his youth he studied hard under a very learned man, called Master Tubal Holofermes, and, after studying with him for five years and three months, he learnt so much that he was able to say the alphabet backwards. About this time, the king of Numidia sent out of the country of Africa to Grangousier, the hugest and most enormous mare that was ever seen. She was as large as six elephants, and of a burnt sorrel colour with dapple grey spots; but, above all, she had a horrible tail. For it was little more or less as great as the pillar of St. Mars, which, as you know, is eighty-six feet in height.
When Grangousier saw her, he said, "Here is the very thing to carry my son to Paris. He shall go there and learn what the study of the young men of France is, and in time to come he shall be a great scholar!"
The next morning, after, of course, drinking, Gargantua set out on his journey. He passed his time merrily along the highway, until he came a little above Orleans, in which place there was a forest five-and-thirty leagues long and seventeen wide. This forest was most horribly fertile and abundant in gadflies and hornets, so that it was a very purgatory for asses and horses. But Gargantua's mare handsomely avenged all the outrages committed upon beasts of her kind. For as soon as she entered the forest, and the hornets gave the attack, she drew out her tail and swished it about, and swept down all the trees with as much ease as a mower cuts grass. And since then there has been neither a forest nor a hornet's nest in that place, for all the country was thereby reduced to pasture land.
At last Gargantua came to Paris, and inquired what wine they drank there, and what learning was to be had. Everybody in Paris looked upon him with great admiration. For the people of this city are by nature so sottish, idle, and good-for-nothing, that a mountebank, a pardoner come from Rome to sell indulgences, or a fiddler in the crossways, will attract together more of them than a good preacher of the Gospel. So troublesome were they in pursuing Gargantua, that he was compelled to seek a resting-place on the towers of Notre Dame. There he amused himself by ringing the great bells, and it came into his mind that they would serve as cowbells to hang on the neck of his mare, so he carried them off to his lodging.
At this all the people of Paris rose up in sedition. They are, as you know, so ready to uproars and insurrections, that foreign nations wonder at the stupidity of the kings of France at not restraining them from such tumultuous courses, seeing the manifold inconveniences which thence arise from day to day. Believe for a truth, that the place where the people gathered together was called Nesle; there, after the case was proposed and argued, they resolved to send the oldest and most able of their learned men unto Gargantua to explain to him the great and horrible prejudice they sustained by the want of their bells. Thereupon Gargantua put up the bells again in their place, and in acknowledgement of his courtesy, the citizens offered to maintain and feed his mare as long as he pleased. And they sent her to graze in the forest of Biere, but I do not think she is there now.
For some years Gargantua studied at Paris under a wise and able master, and grew expert in manly sports of all kinds, as well as in learning of every sort. Then he was called upon to return to his country to take part in a great and horrible war.
II.—The Marvellous Deeds of Friar John
The war began in this way: At the time of the vintage, the shepherds of Grangousier's country were set to guard the vines and hinder the starlings from eating the grapes. Seeing some cake-bakers of Lerne passing down the highway with ten or twelve loads of cakes, the shepherds courteously asked them to sell some of their wares at the market price. The cake-bakers, however, were in no way inclinable to the request of the shepherds; and, what is worse, they insulted them hugely, calling them babblers, broken-mouths, carrot-pates, tunbellies, fly-catchers, sneakbies, joltheads, slabberdegullion druggels, and other defamatory epithets. And when one honest shepherd came forward with the money to buy some of the cakes, a rude cake-baker struck him a rude lash with a whip. Thereupon some farmers and their men, who were watching their walnuts close by, ran up with their great poles and long staves, and thrashed the cake-bakers as if they had been green rye.
When they were returned to Lerne, the cake-makers complained to their king, Picrochole, saying that all the mischief was done by the shepherds of Grangousier. Picrochole incontinently grew angry and furious, and without making any further question, he had it cried throughout his country that every man, under pain of hanging, should assemble in arms at noon before his castle. Thereupon, without order or measure, his men took the field, ravaging and wasting everything wherever they passed through. All that they said to any man that cried them mercy, was: "We will teach you to eat cakes!"
Having pillaged the town of Seuille, they went on with the horrible tumult to an abbey. Finding it well barred and made fast, seven companies of foot and two hundred lances broke down the walls of the close, and began to lay waste the vineyard. The poor devils of monks did not know to what saint to pray in their extremity, and they made processions and said litanies against their foes. But in the abbey at that time was a cloister-monk named Friar John of the Trenchermen, young, gallant, frisky, lusty, nimble, quick, active, bold, resolute, tall, wide-mouthed, and long-nosed; a fine mumbler of matins, a fair runner through masses, and a great scourer of vigils—to put it short, a true monk, if ever there was one since the monking world monked a monkery. This monk, hearing the noise that the enemy made in the vineyard, went to see what they were doing, and perceiving that they were gathering the grapes out of which next year's drink of the abbey ought to be made, he grew mighty angry. "The devil take me," he cried, "if they have not already chopped our vines so that we shall have no drink for years to come! Did not St. Thomas of England die for the goods of the church? If I died in the same cause should I not be a saint likewise? However, I shall not die for them, but make other men to do so."
Throwing off his monk's habit, he took up a cross made out of a sour apple-tree, which was as long as a lance, and with it he laid on lustily upon his enemies. He scattered the brains of some, and the legs and arms of others. He broke their necks; he had off their heads; he smashed their bones; he caved in their ribs; he impaled them, and he transfixed them. Believe me, it was a most horrible spectacle that ever man saw. Some died without speaking, others spoke without dying; some died while they were speaking, others spoke while they were dying. So great was the cry of the wounded, that the prior and all his monks came forth, and seeing the poor wretches hurt to death, began to confess them. But when those who had been shriven tried to depart, Friar John felled them with a terrible blow, saying, "These men have had confession and are repentant, so straight they go into Paradise!"
Thus by his prowess and valour were discomfited all those of the army, under the number of thirteen thousand six hundred and twenty-two, that entered the abbey close. Gargantua, who had come from Paris to help his father against Picrochole, heard of the marvellous feats of Friar John, and sought his aid, and by means of it utterly defeated the enemy. What became of Picrochole after his defeat I cannot say with certainty, but I was told that he is now a porter at Lyons. He always inquires of all strangers on the coming of the Cocquecigrues, for an old woman has prophesied that at their coming he shall be re-established in his kingdom.
III.—The Abbey of Thelema
Gargantua was mightily pleased with Friar John, and he wanted to make him abbot of several abbeys in his country. But the monk said he would never take upon him the government of monks. "Give me leave," he said, "to found an abbey after my own fancy." The notion pleased Gargantua, who thereupon offered him all the country of Thelema by the river of Loire. Friar John then asked Gargantua to institute his religious order contrary to all others. At that time they placed no women into nunneries save those who were ugly, ill-made, foolish, humpbacked, or corrupt; nor put any men into monasteries save those that were sickly, ill-born, simple-witted, and a burden to their family. Therefore, it was ordained that into this abbey of Thelema should be admitted no women that were not beautiful and of a sweet disposition, and no men that were not handsome, well-made, and well-conditioned. And because both men and women that are received into religious orders are constrained to stay there all the days of their lives, it was therefore laid down that all men and women admitted to Thelema should have leave to depart whenever it seemed good to them. And because monks and nuns made three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, it was appointed that those who entered into the new order might be rich and honourably married and live at liberty.
For the building of the abbey Gargantua gave twenty-seven hundred thousand eight hundred and thirty-one long-wooled sheep; and for the maintenance thereof he gave an annual fee-farm rent of twenty-three hundred and sixty-nine thousand five hundred and fourteen rose nobles. In the building were nine thousand three hundred and thirty-two apartments, each furnished with an inner chamber, a cabinet, a wardrobe, a chapel, and an opening into a great hall. The abbey also contained fine great libraries and spacious picture galleries.
All the life of the Thelemites was laid out, not by laws and rules, but according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose from their beds when it seemed good to them; they drank, worked, ate, slept, when the wish came upon them. No one constrained them in anything, for so had Gargantua established it. Their rule consisted of this one clause:
DO WHAT THOU WILT
Because men are free, well-born, well-bred, conversant in honest company, have by nature an instinct and a spur that always prompt them to virtuous actions and withdraw them from vice; and this they style honour. When the time was come that any man wished to leave the abbey, he carried with him one of the ladies who had taken him for her faithful servant, and they were married together; and if they had formerly lived together in Thelema in devotion and friendship, still more did they so continue in wedlock; insomuch that they loved one another to the end of their lives, as on the first day of their marriage.
IV.—Pantagruel and Panurge
At the age of four hundred four score and forty-four years, Gargantua had a son by his wife, Badebec, daughter of one of the kings of Utopia. And because in the year that his son was born there was a great drought, Gargantua gave him the name of Pantagruel; for panta in Greek is as much as to say all, and gruel in the Arabic language has the same meaning as thirsty. Moreover, Gargantua foresaw, in the spirit of prophesy, that Pantagruel would one day be the ruler of the thirsty race, and that if he lived very long he would arrive at a goodly age.
Like his father, Pantagruel went to Paris to study. There his spirit among his books was like fire among heather, so indefatigable was it and ardent. One day as Pantagruel was taking a walk without the city he met a man of a comely stature and elegant in all the lineaments of his body, but most pitifully wounded, and clad in tatters and rags.
"Who are you, my friend?" said Pantagruel. "What do you want, and what is your name?" The man answered him in German, gibberish, Italian, English, Basque, Lantern-language, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Hebrew, Greek, Breton, and Latin.
"Well, well, my friend," replied Pantagruel, when the man had come to an end, "can you speak French?"
"That I can very well, sir," he replied, "for my name is Panurge, and I was bred and born in Touraine, which is the garden of France. I have just come from Turkey, where I was taken prisoner, and my throat is so parched and my stomach so empty that if you will only put a meal before me, it will be a fine sight for you to see me walk into it."
Pantagruel had conceived a great affection for the wandering scholar, and he took him home and set a great store of food before him. Panurge ate right on until the evening, went to bed as soon as he finished, slept till dinner time next day, so that he only made three steps and a jump from bed to table. Panurge was of a middle height, and had a nose like that of the handle of a razor. He was a very gallant and proper man in his person, and the greatest thief, drinker, roysterer, and rake in Paris. With all that, he was the best fellow in the world, and he was always contriving some mischief or other. Pantagruel, being pleased with him, gave him the castellany of Salmigondin, which was yearly worth 6,789,106,789 royals of certain rent; besides the uncertain revenue of cockchafers and snails, amounting one year with another to the value of 2,435,768, or 2,435,769 French crowns of Berry. Sometimes it amounted to 1,234,554,321 seraphs, when it was a good season, and cockchafers and snails in request; but that was not every year.
The new castellan conducted himself so well and prudently than in less than fourteen days he wasted all the revenue of his castellany for three whole years. Yet he did not throw it away in building churches and founding monasteries, but spent it in a thousand little banquets and joyful festivals, keeping open house for all good fellows and pretty girls who came that way.
Pantagruel being advertised of the affair was in no wise offended. He only took Panurge aside, and sweetly represented to him that if he continued to live in this manner it would be difficult at any time to make him rich.
"Rich?" answered Panurge. "Have you undertaken the impossible task to make me rich? Be prudent, like me, and borrow money beforehand, for you never know how things will turn out."
"But," said Pantagruel, "when will you be out of debt?"
"The Lord forbid I should ever be out of debt," replied Panurge. "Are you indebted to somebody? He will pray night and morning that your life may be blessed, long and prosperous. Fearing to lose his debt, he will always speak good of you in every company; moreover, he will continually get new creditors for you, in the hope, that, through them, you will be able to pay him."
To this Pantagruel answering nothing. Panurge went on with his discourse, saying: "To think that you should run full tilt at me and twit me with my debts and creditors! In this one thing only do I esteem myself worshipful, reverend, and formidable. I have created something out of nothing—a line of fair and jolly creditors! Imagine how glad I am when I see myself, every morning, surrounded by them, humble, fawning, and full of reverence. You ask me when I will be out of debt. May the good Saint Babolin snatch me, if I have not always held that debt was the connection and tie between the heavens and the earth; the only bond of union of the human race; without it the whole progeny of Adam would soon perish. A world without debts! Everything would be in disorder. The planets, reckoning they were not indebted to each other, would thrust themselves out of their sphere. The sun would not lend any light to the earth. No rain would descend on it, no wind blow there, and there would be no summer or harvest. Faith, hope, and charity will be quite banished from such a world; and what would happen to our bodies? The head would not lend the sight of its eyes to guide the hands and the feet; the feet would refuse to carry the head, and the hands would leave off working for it. Life would go out of the body, and the chafing soul would take its flight after my money.
"On the contrary, I shall be pleased to represent unto your fancy another world, in which everyone lends and everyone owes. Oh, how great will be the harmony among mankind! I lose myself in this contemplation. There will be peace among men; love, affection, fidelity, feastings, joy, and gladness; gold, silver, and merchandise will trot from hand to hand. There will be no suits of law, no wars, no strife. All will be good, all will be fair, all will be just. Believe me, it is a divine thing to lend, and an heroic virtue to owe. Yet this is not all. We owe something to posterity."
"What is that?" said Pantagruel.
"The task of creating it," said Panurge. "I have a mind to marry and get children."
"We must consult the Oracle of the Divine Bottle," exclaimed Pantagruel, "before you enter on so dangerous an undertaking. Come, let us prepare for the voyage."
V.—The Divine Bottle
Pantagruel knew that the Oracle of the Divine Bottle could only be reached by a perilous voyage in unknown seas and strange islands. But, undismayed by this knowledge, he fitted out a great fleet at St. Malo, and sailed beyond the Cape of Good Hope to Lantern Land. As they were voyaging along, beyond the desolate land of the Popefigs and the blessed island of the Papemanes, Pantagruel heard voices in the air, and the pilot said: "Be not afraid, my lord! We are on the confines of the frozen sea, where there was a great fight last winter between the Arimaspians and the Nepheliabetes. The cries of the men, the neighing of the horses, and all the din of battle froze in the air, and now that the warm season is come, they are melting into sound."
"Look," said Pantagruel, "here are some that are not yet thawed." And he threw on deck great handfuls of frozen words, seeming like sugar-plums of many colours. Panurge warmed some of them in his hands, and they melted like snow into a barbarous gibberish. Panurge prayed Pantagruel to give him some more, but Pantagruel told him that to give words was the part of a lover.
"Sell me some, then," cried Panurge.
"That is the part of a lawyer," said Pantagruel. But he threw three or four more handfuls of them on the deck, and as they melted all the noises of the battle rang about the ship.
From this point Pantagruel sailed straight for Lantern Land, and came to the desired island in which was the Oracle of the Bottle. On the front of the Doric portal was engraved in fine gold the sentence: "In Wine, Truth." The noble priestess, Bachuc, led Panurge to the fountain in the temple, within which was placed the Divine Bottle. After he had danced round it three Bacchic dances, she threw a magic powder into the fountain, and its water began to boil violently and Panurge sat upon the ground and waited for the oracle. First of all a noise like that made by bees at their birth came from the Divine Bottle, and immediately after this was heard the word, "Drink!"
The priestess then filled some small leather vessels with this fantastic water, and gave them to Panurge and Pantagruel, saying: "If you have observed what is written above the temple gates, you at last know that truth is hidden in wine. Be yourselves the expounders of your undertaking, and now go, friends, in the protection of that intellectual sphere, the centre of which is in all places and the circumference nowhere, which we call God. What has become of the art of calling down from heaven, thunder and celestial fire, once invented by the wise Prometheus? You have certainly lost it. Your philosophers who complain that all things were written by the ancients, and that nothing is left for them to invent, are evidently wrong. When they shall give their labour and study to search out, with prayer to the sovereign God (whom the Egyptians named the Hidden and Concealed, and invoking Him by that name, besought Him to manifest and discover Himself to them), He will grant to them, partly guided by good Lanterns, knowledge of Himself and His creatures. For all philosophers and ancient sages have considered two things necessary for the sure and pleasant pursuit of the way of divine knowledge and choice of wisdom—the goodness of God, and the company of men.
"Now go, in the name of God, and may He guide you."
* * * * *
Charles Reade made his first appearance as an author comparatively late in life. He was the son of an English squire, born at Ipsden on June 8, 1814, and was educated for the Bar, being entered at Lincoln's Inn in 1843. His literary career began as dramatist, and it is significant that it was his own wish that the word "dramatist" should stand first in the description of his works on his tombstone. His maiden effort in stage literature, "The Ladies' Battle," was produced in 1851; but it was not until November, 1852, with the appearance of "Masks and Faces"—the story which he afterwards adapted into prose under the title of "Peg Woffington"—that Reade became famous as a playwright. From 1852 until his death, which occurred on April 11, 1884, Reade's life is mainly a catalogue of novels and dramas. Like many of Charles Reade's works, "Hard Cash, a Matter-of-Fact Romance," is a novel with a purpose, and was written with the object of exposing abuses connected with the lunacy laws and the management of private lunatic asylums. Entitled "Very Hard Cash," it first appeared serially in the pages of "All the Year Round," then under the editorship of Charles Dickens, and although its success in that form was by no means extraordinary, its popularity on its publication in book form in 1863 was well deserved and emphatic. The appearance of "Hard Cash," which is a sequel to a comparatively trivial tale, "Love me Little, Love me Long," provoked much hostile criticism from certain medical quarters—criticism to which Reade replied with vehemence and characteristic vigour. His activity in the campaign against the abuses of lunacy law did not end with the publication of this story, since he conducted personal investigations in many individual cases of false imprisonment under pretence of lunacy.
I.—The Dodd and Hardie Families
In a snowy-villa, just outside the great commercial seaport, Barkington, there lived, a few years ago, a happy family. A lady, middle-aged, but still charming; two young friends of hers, and an occasional visitor.
The lady was Mrs. Dodd; her periodical visitor her husband, the captain of an East Indiaman; her friends were her son Edward, aged twenty, and her daughter, Julia, nineteen.
Mrs. Dodd was the favourite companion and bosom friend of both her children. They were remarkably dissimilar. Edward was comely and manly, no more; could walk up to a five-barred gate and clear it; could row all day, and then dance all night; and could not learn his lessons to save his life.
In his sister Julia modesty, intelligence, and, above all, enthusiasm shone, and made her an incarnate sunbeam.
This one could learn her lessons with unreasonable rapidity, and Mrs. Dodd educated her herself, from first to last; but Edward she sent to Eton, where he made good progress—in aquatics and cricket.
In spite of his solemn advice—"you know, mamma, I've got no headpiece"—he was also sent to Oxford, and soon found he could not have carried his wares to a better market. Advancing steadily in that line of study towards which his genius lay, he was soon as much talked about in the university as any man in his college, except one. Singularly enough, that one was his townsman—much Edward's senior in standing, though not in age. Young Alfred Hardie was doge of a studious clique, and careful to make it understood that he was a reading man who boated and cricketed to avoid the fatigue of lounging.
To this young Apollo, crowned with variegated laurel, Edward looked up from a distance, praised him and recorded his triumphs in all his letters; but he, thinking nothing human worthy of reverence but intellect, was not attracted by Edward, till at Henley he saw Julia, and lo! true life had dawned. He passed the rest of the term in a soft ecstasy, called often on Edward, and took a prodigious interest in him, and counted the days till he should be for four months in the same town as his enchantress. Within a month of his arrival in Barkington he obtained Mrs. Dodd's permission to ask his father's consent to propose an engagement to Julia, which was promptly refused; and inquiry, petulance, tenderness, and logic were alike wasted on Mr. Hardie by his son in vain. He would give no reason. But Mrs. Dodd, knowing him of old, had little doubt, and watched her daughter day and night to find whether love or pride was the stronger, all the mother in arms to secure her daughter's happiness. Finding this really at stake, she explained that she knew the nature of Mr. Hardie's objections, and they were objections that her husband, on his return, would remove. "My darling," she said, "pray for your father's safe return, for on him, and on him alone, your happiness depends, as mine does."
Next day Mrs. Dodd walked two hours with Alfred, and his hopes revived under her magic, as Julia's had. The wise woman quietly made terms. He was not to come to the house except on her invitation, unless indeed he had news of the Agra to communicate; but he might write once a week, and enclose a few lines to Julia. On this he proceeded to call her his best, dearest, loveliest friend—his mother. That touched her. Hitherto he had been to her but a thing her daughter loved. Her eyes filled.
"My poor, warm-hearted, motherless boy," she said, "pray for my husband's safe return."
So now two more bright eyes looked longingly seaward for the Agra, homeward bound.
II.—Richard Hardie's Villainy
Richard Hardie was at that moment the unlikeliest man in Barkington to decline Julia Dodd, with hard cash in five figures, for his daughter-in-law.
The great banker stood, a colossus of wealth and stability to the eye, though ready to crumble at a touch, and, indeed, self-doomed; for bankruptcy was now his game. This was a miserable man, far more so than his son, whose happiness he was thwarting; and of all things that gnawed him, none was more bitter than to have borrowed L5,000 of his children's trust money, and sunk it. His son's marriage would expose him; lawyers would peer into trusts, etc.
When his son announced his attachment to a young lady living in a suburban villa it was a terrible blow, but if Alfred had told him hard cash in five figures could be settled by the bride's family on the young couple, he would have welcomed the wedding with a secret gush of joy, for he could then have thrown himself on Alfred's generosity, and been released from that one corroding debt.
He had for months spent his days poring over the books, fabricating and maturing a false balance-sheet. Suspecting that the cashier was watching him, he one day handed him his dismissal, polite but peremptory, and went on cooking his accounts with surpassing dignity. Rage supplying the place of courage, the cashier let him know that he—poor, despised Noah Skinner—had kept genuine books while he had been preparing false ones.
He was at the mercy of his servant, and bowed his pride to flatter Skinner, and soon saw this was the way to make him a clerk of wax. He became his accomplice, and on this his master told him everything it was impossible to keep from him. At this moment Captain Dodd was announced. Mr. Hardie explained to his new ally the danger that threatened him from Miss Julia Dodd.
"And now," said he, "the women have sent the father to soften me. I shall be told his girl will die if she can't have my boy."
But, instead of the heartbroken father he expected, in came the gallant sailor, with a brown cheek reddened with triumph and excitement, who held out his hand cordially, almost shouting in a jovial voice, "Well, sir, here I am, just come ashore, and visiting you before my very wife; what d'ye think of that?"
Hardie stared, and remained on his guard, puzzled; while David Dodd showed his pocket-book, and in the pride of his heart, and the fever in his blood—for there were two red spots on his cheeks all the time—told the cold pair its adventures in a few glowing words; the Calcutta firm—the two pirates—the hurricane—the wrecks, the land-sharks he had saved it from. "And here it is safe, in spite of them all, and you must be good enough to take care of it for me."
He then opened the pocket-book, and Mr. Hardie ran over the notes and bills, and said the amount was L14,010 12s. 6d.
Dodd asked for a receipt, and while it was written poor Dodd's heart overflowed.
"It's my children's fortune, you see; I don't look on a sixpence of it as mine. It belongs to my little Julia, bless her, she's a rosebud if ever there was one; and my boy Edward, he's the honestest young chap you ever saw; but how could they miss either good looks or good hearts, and her children? Here's a Simple Simon vaunting his own flesh and blood, but you know how it is with us fathers; our hearts are so full of the little darlings, out it must come. You can imagine how joyful I feel at saving their fortune from land-sharks, and landing it safe in an honest man's hands."
Skinner gave him the receipt.
"All right, little gentleman; now my heart is relieved of such a weight. Good-bye, shake hands. God bless you! God bless you both!" And with this he was out and making ardently for Albion Villa.
* * * * *
Ten minutes later the door burst open, and David Dodd stood on the threshold, looking terrible. He seemed black and white with anger and anxiety. Making a great effort to control his agitation, he said, "I have changed my mind, sir; I want my money back."
Mr. Hardie said faintly, "Certainly; may I ask——"
"No matter," cried Dodd. "Come! My money! I must and will have it."
Hardie drew himself up majestically; and Dodd said, "Well, I beg your pardon, but I can't help it!"
The banker's mind went into a whirl. It was death to part with this money and get nothing by it. He made excuses. Dodd eyed him sternly, and said quietly, "So you can't give me my money because your cashier has carried it away. It is not in this room, then?"
"What, not in that safe there?"
"Certainly not," said Hardie stoutly.
"My money! My money!" cried David fiercely. "No more words. I know you now. I saw you put it in that safe. You want to steal my children's money. My money, ye pirate, or I'll strangle you!"
While Hardie unlocked the safe with trembling hands, Dodd stood like a man petrified; the next moment his teeth gnashed loudly together, and he fell headlong on the floor in a fit. So the L14,000 remained with the banker.
Not many days after this a crowd stood in front of the old bank, looking at the shutters, and a piece of paper announcing a suspension, only for a month or so.
Many things now came to Alfred Hardie's knowledge till he began to shudder at his own father, and was troubled with dark, mysterious surmises, and wandered alone, or sat brooding and dejected. Richard Hardie's anxiety to know whether David Dodd was to live or die increased. He was now resolved to fly to the United States with his booty, and cheat his son with the rest. On his putting a smooth inquiry to Alfred, his face flushed with shame or anger, and he gave a very short, obscure reply. So he invited the doctor to dinner, and elicited the information that David's life indeed was saved, but he was a maniac; and his sister, a sensible, resolute woman, had signed the certificate, and he was now in a private asylum.
Mr. Hardie smiled, and sipped his tea luxuriously; he would not have to go to a foreign land after all. Who would believe a lunatic? He said, "I presume, Alfred, you are not so far gone as to insist on propagating insanity by a marriage with Captain Dodd's daughter now?"
Alfred ground his teeth, and replied that his father should be the last man to congratulate himself on the affliction that had fallen on that family he aspired to enter, all the more now they had calamities for him to share.
"More fool you," put in Mr. Hardie calmly.
"For I much fear you are the cause of that calamity."
"I really don't know what you allude to."
The son fixed his eyes on his father, and said, "The fourteen thousand pounds, sir!"
One unguarded look confirmed Alfred's suspicions; he could not bear to go on exposing his father, and wandered out, sore perplexed and nobly wretched, into the night.
III.—Alfred in Confinement
At last Alfred decided that justice must be done, and confided his suspicions to the Dodds. Edward's good commonsense at once settled that, as the man who married Julia would be the greatest sufferer by Hardie senior's fraud, Hardie junior should settle his own L10,000 on her, and marry her as soon as he came of age. Alfred joyfully agreed, privately arranging that the money should be settled on Julia's parents, and preparations went on apace.
But on the wedding-day the bridal party waited in vain for the bridegroom, and Edward ran to his lodgings to fetch him.
He came back alone, white with wrath, hurried the insulted bride and her mother into the carriage, and they went home as if from a funeral. Aye, and a funeral it was; for the sweetest girl in England buried her hopes, her laugh, her May of youth that day.
As soon as possible this heartbroken trio removed to London, where Mrs. Dodd became a dressmaker, and Edward a fireman.
It was true Alfred had received a letter in a female hand, but it was from a discharged servant of his father's, offering information about the L14,000 if he would come to a house about ten miles off the next morning. He calculated he could do so, and still be in the church in time, and drove there with all his luggage, only to find himself shut up in a lunatic asylum.
He made a desperate resistance, but was soon overpowered and left handcuffed, hobbled, and strapped down, more helpless than a swaddled infant. He lay mute as death in his gloomy cell; deeper horror grew and grew, gusts of rage swept over him, gusts of despair. What would his Julia think? He shouted, he screamed, he prayed. He saw her, lovelier than ever, all in white, waiting for him, with sweet concern in her peerless face. Half-past ten struck. He struggled, he writhed, he made the very room shake, and lacerated his flesh, but that was all. No answer, no help, no hope.
By-and-by his good wit told him his only chance was calmness; they could not long confine him as a madman, being sane. But all his efforts to convince his keepers that he was sane were useless; his letters seemed to go, but he got no answers; his appeals to visiting justices were in vain. The responsibility rested with the people who signed the certificates, and he could not even find out who they were. After months of softening hearts and buying consciences, he was on the point of escape, when he was moved to another asylum. Here there was no brutality, but constant watchfulness; and he had almost prevailed on the doctor to declare him cured when he was again moved to a still more brutal place, if possible, than the first.
One day he found himself locked in his room. This was unusual, for though they called him a lunatic in words, they called him sane by all their acts. He thought the commissioners must be in the house; had he known who really was in the house he would have beaten himself to pieces against the door.
At dinner there was a new patient, very mild and silent, with a beautiful mild brown eye like some gentle animal's. Alfred contrived to say some kind word to him; and the newcomer handled his forelock, and announced himself as William Thompson, adding, with simple pride, "Able seaman, just come aboard, your honour."
At night Alfred dreamed he heard Julia's sweet, mellow voice speaking to him; and lo, it was the able seaman. He slept no more, but lay sighing.
The matron told him this was David Dodd, Alfred redoubled his efforts to escape, and at last one of the keepers consented to help him off. He was sitting on his bed full dressed, full of hope, his money in his pocket, waiting for his liberator. Every moment he expected to hear the key in the door.
Then came a smell of burning, and feet ran up and down. "Fire!" rang from men's voices. Fire cracked above his head; he sprang up at the window, and dashed his hand through it, and fell back. He sprang again, and caught the woodwork; it gave way, and he fell back, nearly stunning himself. The flames roared fearfully now, and David, thinking it was a tempest, shouted appropriate orders. Alfred implored him, and got him to kneel down with him, and prayed. He gave up all hope, and prepared to die.
Crash! As if discharged from a cannon, came bursting through the window a helmeted figure, rope in hand, and alighted erect and commanding on the floor. All three faces came together, and Edward recognised his father and Alfred Hardie. Edward clawed his rope to the bed, and hauled up a rope ladder, crying, "Now, men, quick for your lives!" But poor David called that deserting the ship, and demurred, till Alfred assured him the captain had ordered it. He then touched his forelock to Edward, and went down the ladder. Alfred followed.
They were at once overpowered with curiosity and sympathy, and had to shake a hundred hands.
"Gently, good friends; don't part us," said Alfred.
"He's the keeper," said one of the crowd, and all helped them to the back door.
Alfred ran off across country for bare life. To his horror, David followed him, shouting cheerily, "Go ahead, messmate, I smell blue water."
"Come on, then!" cried Alfred, half mad himself; and the pair ran furiously the livelong night. Free!
IV.—Into Smooth Waters
Exhilarated by freedom, Alfred began to nurse aspiring projects; he would indict his own father and the doctor, and wipe off the stigma they had cast on him. Meantime, he would cure David and restore him to his family. They bowled along towards blue water with a perfect sense of security. But at Folkestone, David disappeared, and Alfred, hearing as he ran wildly all over the place that there was "another party on the same lay"—the mad gentleman's wife—took the first train to London, dispirited and mortified. David was in good hands, however, and Alfred had glorious work on hand—love and justice.
He at once put his affairs into a lawyer's hands, and thought of love alone. After a violent encounter with his late keepers and a narrow escape from capture, in the midst of Elysium with Julia, her mother returned in despair. David had completely disappeared. Again these lovers were separated, and again Edward's commonsense came to the rescue. Alfred went back to Oxford to read for his first class, and Julia to her district visiting, while the terrible delays of the law went on. Alfred had begun to believe trial by jury would never be allowed him, and when at last, after many postponements, the trial did come on, he was being examined in the schools, and refused to come till his counsel had actually opened the case. Mr. Thomas Hardie, Alfred's uncle, was the defendant, for it was proved he had authorised Alfred's arrest.
A detective had been employed to find Mr. Barkington, a little man in Julia's district, whom the lawyers suspected might be useful; and when the trial was half over, he led them all in great excitement to the back slums of Westminster. Mr. Barkington, alias Noah Skinner, was wanted by another client of his.
The room was full of an acrid vapour, and a mummified figure sat at the table, dead this many a day of charcoal fumes; in his hand a banker's receipt to David Dodd, Esq., for L14,000. The lawyer was handing it to Julia, having just found a will bequeathing all Skinner had in the world to her, with his blessing, when a solemn voice said: "No; it is mine."
A keen cry from Julia's heart, and in an instant she was clinging round her father's neck. Edward could only get at his hand. Instinct told them Heaven had given them back their father, mind and all.
Alfred Hardie slipped out, and ran like a deer to tell Mrs. Dodd.
Husband and wife met alone in Mrs. Dodd's room. No eyes ventured to witness a scene so strange, so sacred.
They all thought in their innocence that Hardie v. Hardie was now at an end, with Captain Dodd ready to prove Alfred's sanity; but the lawyer advised them not to put the captain to the agitation of the witness-box.
Mr. Thomas Hardie, the defendant, won the case for Alfred by admitting in the witness-box that his brother Richard had declared that "if you don't put Alfred in a madhouse, I will put you in one."
The jury found for the plaintiff, Alfred Hardie, and gave the damages at L3,000. The verdict was received with acclamation by the people, and in the midst of this Alfred's lawyer announced that the plaintiff had just gained his first class at Oxford.
Mr. Richard Hardie restored the L14,000, and a few years later died a monomaniac, believing himself penniless when he possessed L60,000.
Alfred married Julia, and, with the consent of his wife, took his father to live with them. Then Alfred determined to pay in full all who had been ruined by the bank failure, and in time the old bank was reopened with Edward Dodd as managing partner. In the end, no creditor of Richard Hardie was left unpaid. Alfred went in for politics and became an M.P. for Barkington; whence to dislodge him I pity anyone who tries.
* * * * *
It Is Never Too Late to Mend
"It is Never Too Late to Mend, a Matter-of-Fact Romance," published in 1856, is, like "Hard Cash," a story with a purpose, the object in this instance being to illustrate the abuses of prison discipline in England and Australia. Many of the passages describing Australian life are exceptionally vivid and imaginative, and exhibit Charles Reade, if not in the front rank of novelists of his day, at least occupying a high position.
George Fielding, assisted by his brother William, tilled The Grove—as nasty a little farm as any in Berkshire. It was four hundred acres, all arable, and most of it poor, sour land. A bad bargain, and the farmer being sober, intelligent, proud, sensitive, and unlucky, is the more to be pitied.
Susanna Merton was beautiful and good; George Fielding and she were acknowledged lovers, but latterly old Merton had seemed cool whenever his daughter mentioned the young man's name.
William Fielding, George's brother, was in love with his brother's sweetheart, but he never looked at her except by stealth; he knew he had no business to love her.
While George Fielding had been going steadily down-hill, till even the bank declined to give him credit, Mr. Meadows, who had been a carter, was, at forty years of age, a rich corn-factor and land surveyor.
This John Meadows was not a common man. He had a cool head, and an iron will; and he had the soul of business—method.
Meadows was generally respected; by none more than by old Merton. In fact, it seemed to Merton that John Meadows would make a better son-in-law than George Fielding.
The day came when a distress was issued against Fielding's farm for the rent, and as it happened on that very day Susan and her father had come to dinner at The Grove. Old Merton, knowing how things stood, spoke his mind to George.
"You are too much of a man, I hope, to eat a woman's bread; and if you are not, I am man enough to keep the girl from it. If Susan marries you she will have to keep you instead of you her."
"Is this from Susanna, as well as you?" said George, with a trembling lip.
"Susan is an obedient daughter. What I say she'll stand to."
This was blow number two for George Fielding. The third stroke on that day was the arrest of Mr. Robinson who had been staying at The Grove as a lodger. Mr. Robinson dressed well, too well, perhaps, but somehow the rustics wouldn't accept him for a gentleman. George had taken a great liking to his lodger, and Mr. Robinson was equally sincere in his friendship for Fielding. And now it turned out that the fools who had disparaged Robinson were right, and he, George Fielding, wrong. Before his eyes, and amidst the grins of a score of gaping yokels, Thomas Robinson, alias Scott, a professional thief, was handcuffed and carried off to the county gaol.
This finished George. An invitation to go out to Australia with the younger son of a neighbouring landowner, hitherto disregarded, was now accepted.
Old Merton approved the decision, and when his daughter implored him not to let George go, he replied plainly, to both of them:
"Susan! Mayhap the lad thinks me his enemy, but I'm not. My daughter shall not marry a bankrupt farmer, but you bring home a thousand pounds—just one thousand pounds—to show me you are not a fool, and you shall have my daughter, and she shall have my blessing." And the old farmer gave George his hand upon it.
Meadows exulted, thinking, with George in Australia, he could secure his own way with Susan and old Merton. He had forgotten one man; old Isaac Levi, of whom he had made an implacable enemy, by insisting on his turning out of the house where he lived. Meadows, having bought the house, intended to live in it himself, and treated the prayers and entreaties of the old Jew with contempt. Only the interference of George Fielding, on the day of his own ruin, had saved old Levi from personal violence at the hands of Meadows; and so while George was sinking under the blows of fortune, he had made a friend in Isaac Levi.
Before George sailed William promised that he would think no more of Susan as a sweetheart.
"She's my sister from this hour—no more, no less," he declared. "And may the red blight fall on my arm and my heart if I or any man takes her from you—any man! Sooner than a hundred men should take her from you while I am here I'd die at their feet a hundred times."
William kept his eye on Meadows, but Meadows soon had William in his clutches. For John Meadows lent money upon ricks, waggons, leases, and such things, to farmers in difficulties, employing as his agent in these transactions a middle-aged, disreputable lawyer named Peter Crawley—a cunning fool and a sot.
First William Fielding, and then old Merton were heavy debtors to Peter Crawley, that is to John Meadows; for Merton, a solid enough farmer, was beguiled into rash and ruinous speculations by a friend of Meadows'.
And now George Fielding is gone to Australia to make a thousand pounds by farming and cattle-feeding, so that he may marry Susan. Susan, at home, is often pensive and always anxious, but not despondent. Meadows is falling deeper and deeper in love, but keeping it jealously secret; on his guard against Isaac Levi, and on his guard against William; hoping everything from time and accidents, and from George's incapacity to make money; and watching with keen eye and working with subtle threads to draw everybody into his power who could assist or thwart him in his object. William Fielding is going down the hill, Meadows was mounting; getting the better of his passion, and gradually substituting a brother-in-law's regard. Within eighteen months William was happily married to another farmer's daughter in the neighbourhood.
Under Governor Hawes the separate and silent system flourished in —— gaol, and the local justices entirely approved the system. In the view of Hawes and the justices severe punishment of mind and body was the essential object of a gaol.
Now Tom Robinson had not been in gaol these four years, and though he had heard much of the changes in gaol treatment, they had not yet come home to him. When, therefore, instead of being greeted with the boisterous acclamations of other spirits as bad as himself, he was ushered into a cell white as driven snow, and his duties explained to him, the heavy penalty he was under should a speck of dirt ever be discovered on the walls or floor, Thomas looked blank and had a misgiving. To his dismay he found that the silent cellular system was even carried out in the chapel, where each prisoner had a sort of sentry-box to himself, and that the hour's promenade for exercise conversation was equally impossible.
The turnkeys were surly and forbidding, and the hours dragged wearily to this active-minded prisoner. Robinson was driven to appeal to the governor to put him on hard labour.
"We'll choose the time for that," said the governor, with a knowing smile. "You'll be worse before you are better, my man."
On the tenth day Robinson tried to exchange a word with a prisoner in chapel, and for this he was taken to the black-hole.
Now Robinson was a man of rare capacity, full of talent and the courage and energy that show in action, but not rich in the fortitude that bears much. When they took him out of the black-hole, after six hours' confinement, he was observed to be white as a sheet, and to tremble violently all over.
The day after this the doctor reported No. 19—this was Robinson—to be sinking, and on this Hawes put him to garden work. The man's life and reason were saved by that little bit of labour. Then for a day or two he was employed in washing the corridors, and in making brushes; after that, came the crank. This was a machine consisting of a vertical post with an iron handle, and it was worked as villagers draw a bucket up from a well.
"Eighteen hundred revolutions per hour, and two hours before dinner," was the order given to No. 19, a touch of fever a few days later made it impossible for him to get through his task, and Hawes brutally had the unfortunate prisoner placed in the jacket.
This horrible form of torture consisted of a stout waistcoat, with a rough-edged collar. Robinson knew resistance was useless. He was jammed in the jacket, pinned tight to the collar, and throttled in the collar. Weakened by fever, he succumbed sooner than the torturers had calculated upon, and a few minutes later No. 19 would have been a corpse if he had not been released.
Water was dashed over him, and then Hawes shouted: "I never was beat by a prisoner yet, and I never will be," and had him put back again. Every time he fainted, water was thrown over him.
The plan pursued by the governor with Robinson was to keep him low so that he failed at the crank, and then torture him in the jacket. "He will break out before long," said Hawes to himself, "and then—"
Robinson saw the game, and a deep hatred of his enemy fought on the side of his prudence. This bitter struggle in the thief's heart harmed his soul more than all the years of burglary and petty larceny. All the vices of the old gaol system were nothing compared with the diabolical effect of solitude on a heart smarting with daily wrongs. He made a desperate appeal to the chaplain: "We have no friends here, sir, but you—not one. Have pity on us."
But Mr. Jones, the chaplain, was a weak man—unequal to the task of standing between the prisoners and their torturers, the justices and governor, and he held out no hope to No. 19.
Robinson now became a far worse man. He hated the human race, and said to himself, "From this hour I speak no more to any of these beasts!"
It was then that Mr. Jones, unequal to his task, resigned his office, and a new chaplain, the Rev. Francis Eden, took his place.
Mr. Eden, having ascertained the effects of both the black-hole and the punishment jacket, at once began a strenuous battle for the prisoners, and in the end triumphed handsomely. Hawes, in the face of an official inquiry by the Home Office, threw up the governorship, and a more humane regime was instituted in the gaol.
For a time Robinson resisted all the advances of the new chaplain, but when Mr. Eden came to him in the black-hole, and cheered him through the darkness and solitude by talking to him, not only was Robinson's sanity preserved,—the man's heart was touched, and from that hour he was sworn to honesty.
Then came the time for Robinson to be transported to Australia, with the promise of an early ticket-of-leave. Mr. Eden, anxious for the man's future, thought of George Fielding. Taking Sunday duty in the parish where Merton and his neighbours lived, Mr. Eden had become acquainted with Susan, and had learnt her story. He now wrote to her: "Thomas Robinson goes to Australia next week; he will get a ticket-of-leave almost immediately. I have thought of George Fielding, and am sure that poor Robinson with such a companion would be as honest as the day, and a useful friend, for he is full of resources. So I want you to do a Christian act, and write a note to Mr. Fielding, and let this poor fellow take it to him."
Susan's letter came by return of post. Robinson sailed in the convict ship for Australia, and in due time was released. He found George Fielding at Bathurst recovering from fever, and the letter from Susan, and his own readiness to help, soon revived the old good feeling between the two men.
III.—Between Australia and Berkshire
Meadows, having the postmaster at Farnborough under his thumb, read all George's letters to Susan before they were delivered. As long as George was in difficulties—and the thousand pounds seemed as far off as ever until Tom Robinson struck gold and shared the luck with his partner—the letters gave Meadows no uneasiness. With the discovery of gold he decided Susan must hear no more from her lover, and that Fielding must not return. By this time, old Merton was heavily in debt to Meadows, and saw escape from bankruptcy only in Meadows becoming his son-in-law, while Susan was kindly disposed to Meadows because he said nothing of love, and was willing to talk about Australia.
Meadows confided his plan to Peter Crawley.
"My plan has two hands; I must be one, you the other. I work thus: I stop all letters from him to her. Presently comes a letter from Australia telling how George Fielding has made his fortune and married a girl out there. She won't believe it at first, perhaps, but when she gets no more letters from him she will. Of course, I shall never mention his name, but I make one of my tools hang gaol over old Merton. Susan thinks George married. I strike upon her pique and her father's distress. I ask him for his daughter; offer to pay my father-in-law's debts and start him afresh. Susan likes me already. She will say no, perhaps, three or four times, but the fifth she will say yes. Crawley, the day that John and Susan Meadows walk out of church man and wife I put a thousand pounds into your hand and set you up in any business you like; in any honest business, that is. But suppose, Crawley, while I am working, this George Fielding were to come home with money in both pockets?"
"He would kick it all down in a moment."
"Crawley, George Fielding must not come back this year with a thousand pounds. That paper will prevent him; it is a paper of instructions. My very brains lie in that paper; put it in your pocket. You are going a journey, and you will draw on me for one hundred pounds per month."
"When am I to start, sir? Where am I to go to?"
"To-morrow morning. To Australia."
A dead silence on both sides followed these words, as the two colourless faces looked into one another's eyes across the table.
To Australia Peter Crawley went, and with half-a-dozen of the most villainous ruffians on earth in his pay, it seemed impossible for Fielding and Robinson to escape. But here the ex-thief's alertness came to George Fielding's aid, and the two men managed to get the better of all the robbers and assassins who attacked their tent. Robinson, in fact, not only saved his own and his partner's lives, by common consent he was elected captain at the gold-diggings, and by his authority some sort of law and order were established throughout the camp, and all thefts were heavily punished.
The finding of a large nugget by Robinson ended gold-digging for these two men. The nugget was taken to Sydney and fetched L3,800, and when Crawley, who had pursued them from the camp, reached the city, he found they had already sailed for England.
George Fielding went to Australia to make L1,000, and by industry, sobriety, and cattle, he did not make L1,000; but, with the help of a converted thief, he did by gold-digging, industry, and sobriety, make several thousand pounds, and take them safe away home, spite of many wicked devices and wicked men.
Mr. Meadows flung out Peter Crawley, his left hand, into Australia to keep George from coming back to Susan with L1,000, and his left hand failed, and failed completely. But his right hand?
IV.—George Fielding's Return
One market day a whisper passed through Farnborough that George Fielding had met with wonderful luck. That he had made his fortune by gold, and was going to marry a young lady out in Australia. Farmer Merton brought the whisper home; Meadows was sure he would.
When eight months had elapsed without a letter from George, Susan could no longer deceive herself with hopes. George was either false to her or dead. She said as much to Meadows, and this inspired him with the idea of setting about a report that George was dead. Susan's mind had long been prepared for bitter tidings, and when old Merton tried in a clumsy way to prepare her for sad news, she fixed her eyes on him, and said, "Father, George is dead."
Old Merton hung his head, and made no reply. Susan crept from the room pale as ashes.
Then Meadows contradicted this report, and showed a letter he had received, saying that "George Fielding was married yesterday to one of the prettiest girls in Sydney. I met them walking in the street to-day."
"He is alive!" Susan said. "Thank God he is alive. I will not cry for another woman's husband."
It was not pique that made Susan accept John Meadows, it was to save her father from ruin. She said plainly that she could not pretend affection, and that it was only her indifference that made her consent. She tried to give happiness, and to avoid giving pain, but her heart of hearts was inaccessible.
The return of Crawley with the news that Fielding and Robinson were at hand, drove Meadows to persuade Susan to hasten the marriage. The following Monday had been fixed, Susan agreed to let it take place the preceding Thursday.
The next thing was Meadows himself recognised Fielding and Robinson; they were staying the night at the King's Head, in Farnborough, where Meadows was taking a glass of ale. He promptly decided on his game. The travellers called for hot brandy-and-water, and while the waiter left it for a moment, Meadows dropped the contents of a certain white paper into the liquor. In the dead of night he left his bedroom, and crept to the room where Robinson slept. The drug had done its work. Meadows found L7,000 under the sleeper's pillow, and carried the notes off undetected.
He returned in the early morning to his own house, he explained to Crawley why he had done this. "Don't you see that I have made George Fielding penniless, and that now old Merton won't let him have his daughter. He can't marry her at all now, and when the writ is served on old Merton he will be as strong as fire for me and against George Fielding. I am not a thief, and the day I marry Susan L7,000 will be put in George Fielding's hand; he won't know by whom, but you and I shall know. I am a sinner, but not a villain."
He lit a candle and placed it in the grate. "Come now," Meadows said coolly, "burn them; then they will tell no tale."
Crawley shrieked: "No, no, sir! Don't think of it, give them to me, and in twelve hours I will be in France!"
Meadows hesitated, and then agreed to give him the notes on condition Crawley went to France that very day.
Crawley kept faith. He hugged his treasure to his bosom, and sat down at the railway-station waiting for the train.
Old Isaac Levi was there, and a police officer whom Crawley knew.
"You have L7,000 about you, Mr. Crawley," whispered Isaac in his ear. "Stolen! Give it up to the police officer. Stolen by him, received by you. Give it up unless you prefer a public search. Here is a search warrant from the mayor."
"I won't without Mr. Meadows' authority. Send for Mr. Meadows, if you dare!"
"Well, we will take you to Mr. Meadows. Keep the money till you see him, but we must secure you. Let us go in a carriage."
Meantime, Mr. Meadows had gone to the bank, and had made over the sum of L7,000 to George Fielding and Thomas Robinson. Then he hastened to the church, for it was his wedding-day, and every delay was dangerous.
The parson was late, and while Meadows stood waiting outside the church, along with old Merton and his daughter, and a crowd of neighbours, George Fielding and Robinson came up.
"Susan!" cried a well-known voice behind her. The bride turned, and forgot everything at the sight of George's handsome, honest face, and threw herself into his arms. George kissed the bride.
"What have you done?" cried Susan. "You are false to me! You never wrote me a letter for twelve months, and you are married to a lady in Bathurst! Oh, George!"
"Who has been telling her I have ever had a thought of any girl but her?" said George sternly. "Here is the ring you gave me, Susan."
"Miss Merton and I are to be married to-day," said Meadows.
"I was there before you, Mr. Meadows, but I won't stand upon that, and I wouldn't give a snap of the finger to have her if her will was toward another. So please yourself, Susan, my lass; only this must end. Choose between John Meadows and George Fielding."
Susan looked up in astonishment.
"What choice can there be? The moment I saw your face I forgot there was a John Meadows in the world!" With that she bolted off home.
George turned to old Merton.
"I crossed the seas on the faith of your promise, and I have brought back the thousand pounds."
"John," said old Merton, "I must stand to my word, and I will—it is justice."
It was then that Robinson, producing his pocket-book, found they had been robbed. Despair fell upon George. But Meadows was promptly hindered from pursuing any advantage by the arrival of Isaac Levi, with a magistrate and police officers. Presently Crawley was produced. The game was up. Levi had overheard all that had passed between Meadows and Crawley. Crawley turned upon Meadows, and the magistrate had no choice but to commit Meadows for trial, while the notes were returned to their rightful owners.
A month later George and Susan were married, and Farmer Merton's debts paid.
Robinson wisely went back to Australia, and more wisely married an honest serving-maid. He is respected for his intelligence and good nature, and is industrious and punctilious in business.
When the assizes came on neither Robinson nor George was present to prosecute, and their recognisances were forfeited. Meadows and Crawley were released, and Meadows went to Australia. His mother, who hated her son's sins, left her native land at seventy to comfort him and win him to repentance.
"Even now his heart is softening," she said to herself. "Three times he has said to me 'That George Fielding is a better man than I am.' He will repent; he bears no malice, he blames none but himself. It is never too late to mend."
* * * * *
The Cloister and the Hearth
"The Cloister and the Hearth" a Tale of the Middle Ages, is by common consent the greatest of all Charles Reade's stories. A portion of it originally appeared in 1859 in "Once a Week," under the title of "A Good Fight," and such was its success in this guise that it increased the circulation of that periodical by twenty thousand. During the next two years Reade, recognising its romantic possibilities, expanded it to its present length. As a picture of the manners and customs of the times it is almost unsurpassable; yet pervading the whole is the strong, clear atmosphere of romantic drama never allowing the somewhat ample descriptions to predominate the thrilling interest with which the story is charged. Sir Walter Besant regarded it as the "greatest historical novel in the language." Swinburne remarked of it that "a story better conceived, better constructed, or better related, it would be difficult to find anywhere."
I.—Gerard Falls in Love
It was past the middle of the fifteenth century when our tale begins.
Elias, and Catherine his wife, lived in the little town of Tergon in Holland. He traded, wholesale and retail, in cloth and curried leather, and the couple were well to do. Nine children were born to them; four of these were set up in trade, one, Giles, was a dwarf, another, little Catherine, was a cripple. Cornelis, the eldest, and Sybrandt, the youngest, lived at home, too lazy to work, waiting for dead men's shoes.
There remained young Gerard, a son apart and distinct, destined for the Church. The monks taught him penmanship, and continued to teach him, until one day, in the middle of a lesson, they discovered he was teaching them. Then Gerard took to illuminating on vellum, and in this he was helped by an old lady, Margaret Van Eyck, sister of the famous brothers Van Eyck, who had come to end her days near Tergon. When Philip the Good, Count of Flanders, for the encouragement of the arts, offered prizes for the best specimens of painting on glass and illumination on vellum, Gerard decided to compete. He sent in his specimens, and his mother furnished him with a crown to go to Rotterdam and see the work of his competitors and the prize distribution. Gerard would soon be a priest, she argued; it seemed hard if he might not enjoy the world a little before separating himself from it for life.
It was on the road to Rotterdam, within a league of the city, that Gerard found an old man sitting by the roadside quite worn out, and a comely young woman holding his hand. The old man wore a gown, and a fur tippet, and a velvet cap—sure signs of dignity; but the gown was rusty, and the fur old—sure signs of poverty. The young woman was dressed in plain russet cloth, yet snow-white lawn covered her neck.
"Father, I fear you are tired," said Gerard bashfully.
"Indeed, my son, I am," replied the old man; "and faint for lack of food."
The girl whispered, "Father, a stranger—a young man!" But Gerard, with simplicity, and as a matter of course, was already gathering sticks for a fire. This done, he took down his wallet, and brought his tinder-box and an iron flask his careful mother had put in.
Ghysbrecht Van Swikten, the burgomaster of Tergon, an old man redolent of wealth, came riding by while Gerard was preparing a meal of soup and bread by the roadside. He reined in his steed and spoke uneasily: "Why, Peter—Margaret—what mummery is this?" Then, seeing Gerard, he cast a look of suspicion on Margaret, and rode on. The wayfarers did not know that more than half the wealth of the burgomaster belonged to old Peter Brandt, now dependent on Gerard for his soup; but Ghysbrecht knew it, and carried it in his heart, a scorpion of remorse that was not penitence.
From that hour Gerard was in love with Margaret, and now began a pretty trouble. For at Rotterdam, thanks to a letter from Margaret Van Eyck, Gerard won the favour of the Princess Marie, who, hearing that he was to be a priest, promised him a benefice. And yet no sooner was Gerard returned home to Tergon than he must needs go seeking Margaret, who lived alone with her father, old Peter Brandt, at Sevenbergen. Ghysbrecht's one fear was that if Gerard married Margaret the youth would sooner or later get to hear about certain documents in the burgomaster's possession, documents which established Brandt's right to lands held by the burgomaster, and which old Peter had long forgotten.
So Ghysbrecht went to Eli and Catherine and showed them a picture Gerard had made of Margaret Brandt, and said that if Eli ordered it his son should be locked up until he came to his senses. Henceforth there was no longer any peace in the little house at Tergon, and at last Eli declared before the whole family that he had ordered the burgomaster to imprison his son Gerard in the Stadthouse rather than let him marry Margaret. Gerard turned pale at this, and his father went on to say, "and a priest you shall be before this year is out, willy-nilly."
"Is it so?" cried Gerard. "Then hear me all. By God and St. Bavon, I swear I will never be a priest while Margaret lives. Since force is to decide it, and not love and duty, try force, father. And the day I see the burgomaster come for me I leave Tergon for ever, and Holland too, and my father's house, where it seems I am valued only for what is to be got out of me."
And he flung out of the room white with anger and desperation.
"There!" cried Catherine. "That comes of driving young folk too hard. Now, heaven forbid he should ever leave us, married or single."
Gerard went to his good friend Margaret Van Eyck, who advised him to go to Italy, where painters were honoured like princes, and to take the girl he loved with him. Ten golden angels she gave him besides to take him to Rome.
Gerard decided to marry Margaret Brandt at once, and a day or two later they stood before the altar of Sevenbergen Church. But the ceremony was never concluded, although Gerard got a certificate from the priest, for Ghysbrecht getting wind of what was afoot, sent his servants, who stopped the marriage, and carried Gerard off to the burgomaster's prison. In the room where he was confined were very various documents, which the prisoner got hold of.
Gerard escaped from the prison, and vowing he had done with Tergon, bade farewell to Margaret, and set off for Italy. Once across the frontier in Germany he was safe from Ghysbrecht's malice. He also had in his keeping the piece of parchment which gave certain lands to Peter Brandt, and which Ghysbrecht had hitherto held.
It is likely Gerard would never have reached Rome but for his faithful comrade Denys, a soldier making his way home to Burgundy, whom he met early on the road. Gerard, at first, was for going on alone, but his companion would not be refused.
"You will find me a dull companion, for my heart is very heavy," said Gerard, yielding.
"I'll cheer you, mon gars."
"I think you would," said Gerard sweetly; "and sore need have I of a kindly voice in mine ear this day."
"Oh, no soul is sad alongside me. I lift up their poor little hearts with my consigne; 'Courage, tout le monde, le diable est mort.' Ha! Ha!"
"So be it, then," said Gerard. "We will go together as far as Rhine, and God go with us both!"
"Amen!" said Denys, and lifted up his cap.
The pair trudged manfully on, and Denys enlivened the weary way. He chattered about battles and sieges, and things which were new to Gerard; and he was one of those who make little incidents wherever they go. He passed nobody without addressing him. "They don't understand it, but it wakes them up," said he. But, whenever they fell in with a monk or priest, he pulled a long face and sought the reverend father's blessing, and fearlessly poured out on him floods of German words in such order as not to produce a single German sentence. He doffed his cap to every woman, high or low, he caught sight of, and complimented her in his native tongue, well adapted to such matters; and at each carrion crow or magpie down came his crossbow, and he would go a furlong off the road to circumvent it; and indeed he did shoot one old crow with laudable neatness, and carried it to the nearest hen-roost, and there slipped in and sat it upon a nest. "The good-wife will say, 'Alack, here is Beelzebub a hatching of my eggs.'"
But the time came for parting and Denys, with a letter from Gerard to Margaret Brandt, reached Tergon, and found Eli and Catherine and gave them news of their son. "Many a weary league we trode together," said Denys. "Never were truer comrades; never will be while earth shall last. First I left my route a bit to be with him, then he his to be with me. We talked of Sevenbergen and Tergon a thousand times, and of all in this house. We had our troubles on the road, but battling them together made them light. I saved his life from a bear, he mine in the Rhine; for he swims like a duck, and I like a hod o' bricks; and we saved one another's lives at an inn in Burgundy, where we two held a room for a good hour against seven cut-throats, and crippled one and slew two; and your son met the stoutest champion I ever countered, and spitted him like a sucking-pig, else I had not been here. And at our sad parting, soldier though I be, these eyes did rain salt, scalding tears, and so did his, poor soul. His last word to me was: 'Go, comfort Margaret!' So here I be. Mine to him was: 'Think no more of Rome. Make for Rhine, and down stream home.'"
Margaret Brandt had removed to Rotterdam, and there was no love lost between her and Catherine; but Gerard's letter drew them to a reconciliation, and from that day Catherine treated Margaret as her own daughter, and made much of Gerard's child when it was born. Eli and his son Richart, now a wealthy merchant, decided that Gerard must be bidden return home on the instant, for they longed to see him, and since he was married to Margaret, it was useless for any further strife on the matter.
But Ghysbrecht, the burgomaster, knew by this time that Gerard had obtained the parchment relating to Peter Brandt's lands, and was anxious that Gerard should not return. Cornelis and Sybrandt were also against their brother, and willing to aid the burgomaster in any diabolical adventure. So a letter was concocted and Margaret Van Eyck's signature forged to it, and in this letter it was said that Margaret Brandt was dead.
In the meantime, Gerard had reached Rome. The ship he sailed in was wrecked off the coast between Naples and Rome, and here Gerard was nearly drowned. He and a Dominican friar clung to a mast when the ship had struck.
It was a terrible situation; one moment they saw nothing, and seemed down in a mere basin of watery hills; the next they caught glimpses of the shore speckled bright with people, who kept throwing up their arms to encourage them.
When they had tumbled along thus a long time, suddenly the friar said quietly: "I touched the ground."
"Impossible, father," said Gerard. "We are more than a hundred yards from shore. Prythee, leave not our faithful mast."
"My son," said the friar, "you speak prudently. But know that I have business of Holy Church on hand, and may not waste time floating, when I can walk in her service. There, I felt it with my toes again! Thy stature is less than mine; keep to the mast; I walk." He left the mast accordingly, and extending his powerful arms, rushed through the water. Gerard soon followed him. At each overpowering wave the monk stood like a tower, and, closing his mouth, threw his head back to encounter it, then emerged and ploughed lustily on. At last they came close to the shore, and then the natives sent stout fishermen into the sea, holding by long spears, and so dragged them ashore.
The friar shook himself, bestowed a short paternal benediction on the natives, and went on to Rome, without pausing.
Gerard grasped every hand upon the beach. They brought him to an enormous fire, left him to dry himself, and fetched clothes for him to wear.
Next day, towards afternoon, Gerard—twice as old as last year, thrice as learned in human ways, a boy no more, but a man who had shed blood in self-defence, and grazed the grave by land and sea—reached the Eternal City.
Gerard stayed in Rome, worked hard, and got money for his illuminations. He put by money of all he earned, and Margaret seemed nearer and nearer. Then came the day when the forged letter reached him. "Know that Margaret Brandt died in these arms on Thursday night last. The last words on her lips was 'Gerard!' She said: 'Tell him I prayed for him at my last hour, and bid him pray for me.'" The letter was signed with Margaret Van Eyck's signature, sure enough.
Gerard staggered against the window sill and groaned when he read this. His senses failed him; he ran furiously about the streets for hours. Despair followed.
On the second day he was raving with fever on the brain, and on his recovery from the fever a dark cloud fell on Gerard's noble mind.
His friend Fra Jerome, the same Dominican friar who had escaped from the wreck with him, exhorted him to turn and consecrate his gifts to the Church.
"Malediction on the Church!" cried Gerard. "But for the Church I should not lie broken here, and she lie cold in Holland." Fra Jerome left him at this.
Gerard's pure and unrivalled love for Margaret had been his polar star. It was quenched, and he drifted on the gloomy sea of no hope. He rushed fiercely into pleasure, and in those days, more than now, pleasure was vice. The large sums he had put by for Margaret gave him ample means for debauchery, and he sought for a moment's oblivion in the excitements of the hour. "Ghysbrecht lives; Margaret dies!" he would try out. "Curse life, curse death, and whosoever made them what they are!"
His heart deteriorated along with his morals, and he no longer had patience for his art, as the habits of pleasure grew on him.
Then life itself became intolerable to Gerard, and one night, in resolute despair, he flung himself into the river. But he was not allowed to drown, and was carried, all unconscious, to the Dominican convent. Gerard awoke to find Father Jerome by his bedside.
"Good Father Jerome, how came I hither?" he inquired.
"By the hand of Heaven! You flung away God's gift. He bestowed it on you again. Think of it! Hast tried the world and found its gall. Now try the Church! The Church is peace. Pax vobiscum!"
Gerard learnt that the man who had saved him from drowning was a professional assassin.
Saved from death by an assassin!
Was not this the finger of Heaven—of that Heaven he had insulted, cursed, and defied?
He shuddered at his blasphemies. He tried to pray, but found he could only utter prayers, and could not pray.
"I am doomed eternally!" he cried. "Doomed, doomed!" Then rose the voices of the choir chanting a full service. Among them was one that seemed to hover above the others—a sweet boy's voice, full, pure, angelic.
He closed his eyes and listened. The days of his own boyhood flowed back upon him.
"Ay," he sighed, "the Church is peace of mind. Till I left her bosom I ne'er knew sorrow, nor sin."
And the poor torn, worn creature wept; and soon was at the knees of a kind old friar, confessing his every sin with sighs and groans of penitence.
And, lo! Gerard could pray now, and he prayed with all his heart.
He turned with terror and aversion from the world, and begged passionately to remain in the convent. To him, convent nurtured, it was like a bird returning wounded, wearied, to its gentle nest.
He passed his novitiate in prayer and mortification and pious reading and meditation.
And Gerard, carried from the Tiber into that convent a suicide, now passed for a young saint within its walls.
Upon a shorter probation than usual, he was admitted to priests' orders, and soon after took the monastic vows, and became a friar of St. Dominic.
Dying to the world, the monk parted with the very name by which he had lived in it, and so broke the last link of association with earthly feelings. Here Gerard ended, and Brother Clement began.
The zeal and accomplishments of Clement, especially his rare mastery of language, soon transpired, and he was destined to travel and preach in England, corresponding with the Roman centre.
It was rather more than twelve months later when Clement and Jerome set out for England. They reached Rotterdam, and here Jerome, impatient because his companion lingered on the way, took ship alone, and advised Clement to stop awhile and preach to his own countrymen.
Clement was shocked and mortified at this contemptuous desertion. He promised to sleep at the convent and preach whenever the prior should appoint, and then withdrew abruptly. Shipwrecked with Jerome, and saved on the same fragment of the wreck; his pupil, and for four hundred miles his fellow traveller in Christ; and to be shaken off like dirt, the first opportunity. "Why, worldly hearts are no colder nor less trusty than this," said he. "The only one that ever really loved me lies in a grave hard by at Sevenbergen, and I will go and pray over it."
IV.—Cloister and Hearth
Friar Clement, preaching in Rotterdam, saw Margaret in the church and recognised her. Within a day or two he learnt from the sexton, who had been in the burgomaster's service, the story of the trick that had been played upon him by his brothers, in league with Ghysbrecht.
That same night a Dominican friar, livid with rage, burst into the room when Eli and Catherine were collected with their family round the table at supper.
Standing in front of Cornelius and Sybrandt he cursed them by name, soul and body, in this world and the next. Then he tore a letter out of his bosom, and flung it down before his father.
"Read that, thou hard old man, that didst imprison thy son, read, and see what monsters thou has brought into the world! The memory of my wrongs, and hers dwell with you all for ever! I will meet you again at the judgement day; on earth ye will never see me more!"
And in a moment, as he had come, so he was gone, leaving them stiff and cold, and white as statues, round the smoking board.
Eli drove Cornelis and Sybrandt out of doors at the point of a sword when he understood their infamy, and heavy silence reigned in his house that night.
And where was Clement?
Lying at full length upon the floor of the convent church, with his lips upon the lowest step of the altar, in an indescribable state of terror, misery, penitence, and self-abasement; through all of which struggled gleams of joy that Margaret was alive.
Then he suddenly remembered that he had committed another sin besides intemperate rage. He had neglected a dying man. He rose instantly, and set out to repair the omission.
The house he was called to was none other than the Stadthouse, and the dying man was his old enemy Ghysbrecht, the burgomaster.
Clement trembled a little as he entered, and said in a low voice "Pax vobiscum." Ghysbrecht did not recognise Gerard in the Dominican friar, and promised in his sickness to make full restitution to Margaret Brandt for the withholding of her property from her.
As soon as he was quite sure Margaret had her own, and was a rich woman, Friar Clement disappeared.
The hermit of Gouda had recently died, and Clement found his cell amidst the rocks, and appropriated it. The news that he had been made vicar of Gouda never reached his ears to disturb him.
It was Margaret who discovered Clement's hiding-place and sought him out, and begged him to leave the dismal hole he inhabited, and come to the vacant vicarage.
"My beloved," said he, with a strange mixture of tenderness and dogged resolution, "I bless thee for giving me one more sight of thy sweet face, and may God forgive thee, and bless thee, for destroying in a minute the holy place it hath taken six months of solitude to build. I am a priest, a monk, and though my heart break I must be firm. My poor Margaret, I seem cruel; yet I am kind; 'tis best we part; ay, this moment."
But Margaret went away, and, determined to drive Clement from his hermitage, returned again with their child, which she left in the cell in its owner's absence. Now, Clement was fond of children, and, thinking the infant had been deserted by some unfortunate mother, he at once set to work to comfort it.
"Now bless thee, bless thee sweet innocent! I would not change thee for e'en a cherub in heaven," said Clement. Soon the child was nestling in the hermit's arms.
"I ikes oo," said the little boy. "Ot is oo? Is oo a man?"
"Ay, little heart, and a great sinner to boot"
"I ikes great tingers. Ting one a tory."
Clement chanted a child's story in a sort of recitative. The boy listened with rapture, and presently succumbed to sleep.
Clement began to rock his new treasure in his arms, and to crone over him a little lullaby well known in Tergon, with which his own mother had often set him off.
He sighed deeply, and could not help thinking what might have been but for a piece of paper with a lie in it.
The next moment the moonlight burst into his cell, and with it, and in it, Margaret Brandt was down at his knee with a timorous hand upon his shoulder.
"Gerald, you do not reject us. You cannot."
The hermit stared from the child to her in throbbing amazement.
"Us?" he gasped at last.
Margaret was surprised in her turn.
"What!" she cried. "Doth not a father know his own child? Fie, Gerard, to pretend! 'Tis thine own flesh and blood thou holdest to thine heart."
Long they sat and talked that night, and the end of it was Clement promised to leave his cave for the manse at Gouda. But once the new vicar was installed Margaret kept away from the parsonage. She left little Gerard there to complete the conquest her maternal heart ascribed to him, and contented herself with stolen meetings with her child.
Then the new vicar of Gouda, his beard close shaved, and in a grey frock and large felt hat, came to bring her to the vicarage.
"My sweet Margaret!" he cried. "Why is this? Why hold you aloof from your own good deed? We have been waiting and waiting for you every day, and no Margaret."
And Margaret went to the manse, and found Catherine, Clement's mother, there; and next day being Sunday the two women heard the Vicar of Gouda preach in his own church. It was crammed with persons, who came curious, but remained. Never was Clement's gift as a preacher displayed more powerfully. In a single sermon, which lasted two hours, and seemed to last but twenty minutes, he declared the whole scripture.
The two women in a corner sat entranced, with streaming eyes.
As soon as they were by themselves, Margaret threw her arms round Catherine's neck and kissed her.
"Mother, mother, I am not quite a happy woman, but oh! I am a proud one."
And she vowed on her knees never by word or deed to let her love come between this young saint and heaven.
The child, who lived to become the great Erasmus, was already winning a famous name at school, when Margaret was stricken with the plague and died. A fortnight later and Clement left his vicarage and entered the Dominican convent to end life as he began it. A few days later and he, too, was dead, and the convent counted him a saint.
* * * * *
Samuel Richardson, the son of a joiner, was born at some place not identified in Derbyshire, England, 1689. After serving an apprenticeship to a stationer, he entered a printing office as compositor and corrector of the press. In 1719 Richardson, whose career throughout was that of the industrious apprentice, took up his freedom, and began business as printer and stationer in Salisbury Court, London. Success attended his venture; he soon published a newspaper, and also obtained the printing of the journals of the House of Commons. "Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded," was written as the result of a suggestion by two booksellers that Richardson should compose a volume of familiar letters for illiterate country folk. It was published towards the end of 1740, and its vogue, in an age particularly coarse and robust, was extraordinary. Of the many who ridiculed his performance the most noteworthy was Fielding, who produced what Richardson and his friends regarded as the "lewd and ungenerous engraftment of 'Joseph Andrews.'" The story has many faults, but the portrayal of Pamela herself is accomplished with the success of a master hand. Richardson died July 4, 1761.
I.—Pamela to her Parents
MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,—I have great trouble, and some comfort, to acquaint you with. The trouble is that my good lady died of the illness I mention'd to you, and left us all griev'd for the loss of her; for she was a dear good lady, and kind to all us her servants. Much I fear'd, that as I was taken by her ladyship to wait upon her person, I should be quite destitute again, and forc'd to return to you and my poor mother, who have enough to do to maintain yourselves; and, as my lady's goodness had put me to write and cast accounts, and made me a little expert at my needle, and otherwise qualify'd above my degree, it was not every family that could have found a place that your poor Pamela was fit for. But God, whose graciousness to us we have so often experienc'd, put it into my good lady's heart, on her death-bed, just an hour before she expir'd, to recommend to my young master all her servants, one by one; and when it came to my turn to be recommended (for I was sobbing and crying at her pillow) she could only say, "My dear son!" and so broke off a little; and then recovering—"remember my poor Pamela!" and those were some of her last words! O, how my eyes overflow! Don't wonder to see the paper so blotted!
Well, but God's will must be done, and so comes the comfort, that I shall not be obliged to return back to be a burden to my dear parents! For my master said, "I will take care of you all, my good maidens; and for you, Pamela (and took me by the hand before them all), for my dear mother's sake I will be a friend to you, and you shall take care of my linen." God bless him! and pray with me, my dear father and mother, for a blessing upon him, for he has given mourning and a year's wages to all my lady's servants; and I, having no wages as yet, my lady having said she would do for me as I deserv'd, ordered the housekeeper to give me mourning with the rest, and gave me with his own hand four guineas and some silver, which were in my lady's pocket when she died; and said if I was a good girl, and faithful and diligent, he would be a friend to me, for his mother's sake. And so I send you these four guineas for your comfort. I send them by John, our footman, who goes your way; but he does not know what he carries; because I seal them up in one of the little pill-boxes which my lady had, wrapp'd close in paper, that they may not chink, and be sure don't open it before him.
Pray for your Pamela; who will ever be—
Your dutiful Daughter.
I have been scared out of my senses, for just now, as I was folding up this letter in my lady's dressing-room, in comes my young master! Good sirs, how I was frightened! I went to hide the letter in my bosom, and he, seeing me tremble, said smiling, "To whom have you been writing, Pamela?" I said, in my confusion, "Pray your honour, forgive me! Only to my father and mother." "Well, then, let me see what a hand you write." He took it without saying more, and read it quite through, and then gave it me again. He was not angry, for he took me by the hand and said, "You are a good girl to be kind to your aged father and mother; tho' you ought to be wary what tales you send out of a family." And then he said, "Why, Pamela, you write a pretty hand, and spell very well, too. You may look into any of my mother's books to improve yourself, so you take care of them."
But I am making another long letter, so will only add to it, that I shall ever be your dutiful daughter.
II.—Twelve Months Later
MY DEAR MOTHER,—You and my good father may wonder you have not had a letter from me in so many weeks; but a sad, sad scene has been the occasion of it. But yet, don't be frightened, I am honest, and I hope God, in his goodness, will keep me so.