The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Strand Magazine, Vol. 01, No. 05, May 1891

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Title: The Strand Magazine, Vol. 01, No. 05, May 1891

Author: Various

Editor: George Newnes

Release date: July 30, 2014 [eBook #46452]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Dianna Adair, Jonathan Ingram
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

An Illustrated Monthly



Vol. I



[Pg 445]
[Pg 446]

Table of Contents Added by Transcriber

An Eighteenth Century Juliet.
A Day With an East-end Photographer.
The Notorious Miss Anstruther.
The Guest of a Cannibal King.
Old Stone Signs of London.
Captain Jones of the "Rose."
Child Workers in London.
Portraits of Celebrities at Different Times of Their Lives.
Humours of the Post Office.
The State of the Law Courts.
The Pastor's Daughter of Seiburg.
Stories of the Victoria Cross: Told by Those Who Have Won It.
The Enchanted Whistle.


(An Eighteenth Century Juliet.)

[Pg 447]

An Eighteenth Century Juliet.

By James Mortimer.


French judicial annals are rich in strange and romantic episodes, but there are few narratives so replete with pathetic interest as the story of Gabrielle de Launay, a lady whose cause was tried before the High Court of Paris about the middle of the eighteenth century, and created a profound sensation throughout France at that epoch.

Mademoiselle de Launay was the only child of an eminent judge of Toulouse, where Gabrielle was born about the year 1730. M. de Launay, as the President of the Civil Tribunal of Toulouse, occupied a position of distinction, to which he was additionally entitled as a member of one of the leading families of the province. Between himself and the son of the late General de Serres, a deceased friend of the President de Launay, there existed an intimacy which gave colour to the belief entertained in the most exclusive social circles of Toulouse that young Captain Maurice de Serres was selected to be the future husband of the judge's beautiful daughter, then in her eighteenth year, whilst Maurice was nine years her senior. The birth and fortune of the two young people were equally in harmony, and the match thus appeared in every way suitable.

The surmises of the gossips were shortly confirmed by the formal announcement of the betrothal, and Maurice was on the point of asking the approval of his widowed mother, who resided in Paris, when an incident occurred which threatened to dash the cup of happiness from his lips. An official letter from the Minister of War reached Captain de Serres, instructing him, with all despatch, to rejoin his regiment, suddenly ordered abroad on active service in the far East.

The next morning, at an early hour, the young officer presented himself at the residence of President de Launay, greatly to the surprise of the worthy judge and his daughter, to whom he despairingly imparted the untoward tidings. The grief of Maurice and Gabrielle at the prospect of their sudden separation, for a long and uncertain period, was poignant in the extreme, and M. de Launay was himself profoundly distressed by this unexpected blow to his projects for his only child's happiness. After the first outburst, Maurice entreated the President to hasten the marriage and permit Gabrielle to accompany her husband to the Indies, if she would consent to undertake the voyage. Gabrielle joined her prayers to her lover's, but her father refused absolutely to listen to the proposal. Apart from his reluctance to part from his child for an indefinite term, the good President pointed out to the young man the hardships of a voyage to the most distant quarter of the globe, and the danger of exposure to a climate then regarded as fatal to many Europeans.

"Suppose Gabrielle, young as she is, were to sicken and die thousands of miles from her native land," said the President; "could you ever recover from the consequences of your rash imprudence, or could I forgive myself for my own weakness and folly?"

"Then, sir," exclaimed Maurice, passionately, "I only know of one alternative. I will at once resign my commission, and adopt a new profession—I care not what, so that it shall not separate me from the woman I love."

M. de Launay shook his head, and, with a grave smile, replied that such an act would be unworthy of a French soldier and a scion of the noble house of de Serres. As a last resort, Maurice implored the President to sanction the immediate celebration of the marriage, with the understanding that Gabrielle should remain under her father's protection until her husband's return from foreign service, which, he anticipated, would be in about two years. To[Pg 448] this request, also, M. de Launay returned an inflexible negative, without vouchsafing any reason, except that such was his decision.

Finding all his efforts vain, Maurice resigned himself to the inevitable, whilst Gabrielle sadly prepared to obey the command of one to whose behests she had ever yielded a dutiful submission, comforting herself, perchance, with the secret hope that her love and fidelity to Maurice would be more cherished, and invested with a greater heroism in his eyes, after two long, weary years of trial and separation.

In maintaining an attitude of firmness throughout the dilemma in which he had been placed by the inconsiderate passion of the young officer, M. de Launay manifested the possession of all the wisdom requisite in dealing with a difficult problem; but in adhering strictly to the French custom of decorously assisting at all interviews between unmarried young people of opposite sexes, and in failing to leave the lovers together alone for a short time, the President showed a deplorable want of knowledge of the human heart. The thought did not occur to him that a few tears, kisses, and vows of constancy would go far towards reconciling Maurice and Gabrielle to the sweet sorrow of parting, and that with these innocent crumbs of comfort the parental presence is totally uncongenial. Never in the history of love has it been deemed admissible that there should be witnesses to the tender words of farewell, the fond look in each other's eyes, the soft pressure of each other's hands, the whispered oath of eternal fidelity, and the many mysterious nothings which at such times are held sacred. Oblivious of these delicate considerations, the worthy President gave the young people no opportunity for a leave-taking which would have been to them a relief and a precious souvenir. Their parting was one of silence and dejection, but at the last moment Maurice found means to murmur in Gabrielle's ear, "I will be in the garden at midnight, under your window; meet me there to say good-bye." She spoke no word of reply, but a glance at her face assured him that his prayer had been heard and granted. With a tranquil smile, he bade farewell to the President, who again betrayed a sad lack of penetration in accompanying him to the gate, without the remotest suspicion that a clandestine midnight meeting of the lovers had been planned under his own eyes, and that the young officer's sudden composure arose from a joy he found it difficult to conceal.



To both the lovers the hours seemed leaden indeed, until night came. At last, the church clock of Toulouse chimed three-quarters past eleven, and Gabrielle stole tremblingly down to the garden. The night was dark, and not a sound could the young girl hear but the tumultuous beating of her own heart, as she gently withdrew the bolts from the outer door and stepped lightly upon the soft green sward. Filled with dread of the consequences which might ensue if her secret meeting with Maurice should be[Pg 449] discovered by her father, the poor child's remorse for her act of disobedience, as she regarded it, caused her to pause more than once, undecided whether to keep her tacit promise, or to creep back swiftly to her chamber. Before she could adopt the course dictated by prudence and submission to her father's will, she heard a light step behind her, and in another instant she was clasped in her lover's arms. Gently releasing herself, she placed her hand in his, and led him to a low bench close by, under the shadow of a tree. Seated side by side, they spoke in low whispers of their approaching separation and of their mutual sorrow during Maurice's long absence from France. They talked of their occupations, and of the expedients each would adopt to make the time seem less wearisome. They arranged the employment of every day, and fixed the hours when each should breathe the other's name, and thus know that they were in communion of thought, though thousands of miles of ocean rolled between them, forgetting that in widely different climes the day to one would be night to the other. Then, perhaps, this geographical obstacle occurred to them, and they triumphantly vanquished it by promising to think of each other always, awake by day and in dreams by night, which would be the surest method of never being absent for an instant from each other's meditations.

In these lover-like communings the night sped quickly, and over the tree-tops came the silver streaks in the clouds which herald the approach of dawn. They knew that their remaining time must now be short, and for a while they spoke no words. Still they sat side by side upon the bench, Maurice holding Gabrielle's hand folded within his own. Motionless, and with her head leaning forward, she wept in silence, tears of mingled joy and anguish. Maurice felt a strange thrill of rapture in his heart as he gazed in the sweet face of his beautiful betrothed, illumined by the soft rays of the moon, and as if seized with a sudden impulse, he fell upon his knees before her.

"Do you love me, dearest?" he murmured in trembling accents.

"God is my witness," she answered gently, "that I love you better than aught else on earth."

As if startled by the danger of discovery to which they were becoming every instant more and more exposed, the young man sprang hastily to his feet, clasped her in his arms, and kissed her passionately.

"Farewell, my own true love," he said softly. "Farewell until we meet again."

"Must you then leave me?"

"Alas, yes!"

She feared that her own gentleness and calmness at the supreme moment of parting would seem cold and tame in contrast with his exaltation, and, throwing her arms around his neck, she cried—

"Kiss me once more, Maurice; once more!"

Again he pressed his burning lips to hers in one long, last embrace.

"Farewell, Maurice," she sighed. "I feel that, if I were in my shroud, your kiss would recall me back to life!"

And with these prophetic words ringing strangely in his ears, he turned, and fled from her presence.


Four long and eventful years had passed since the lovers' clandestine parting, when Captain de Serres again set foot on the soil of his native land. The transport which brought a portion of his regiment home entered the harbour of Brest early one bright morning in June, and Maurice the same day set out for Paris, his first thought being to embrace his widowed mother, whom he idolised. He had taken the precaution to send her previous intelligence of his return to France, and of his safety, for the poor lady, during nearly two years, had mourned her only son as dead. Of his betrothal to Mademoiselle de Launay she had never known, though she knew of the President by name as one of her late husband's early friends.

When Maurice arrived in Paris, on the second morning after his departure from Brest, and it was vouchsafed to his mother to clasp in her arms the son she had thought gone from her for ever, her joy can only be pictured by those to whom it has been given to taste an unhoped-for happiness. Maurice, too, was happy; but still, after the first emotions of such a meeting, Madame de Serres' keenly observant glance detected in her son's face a strange expression of melancholy, and an air of abstraction in his replies to her anxious questions, which at once aroused all her solicitude. Alarmed at his singular demeanour, she tenderly pressed him to confide to her the cause of his sadness, that she might at least attempt to soothe and console him.

[Pg 450]

"It is nothing, mother," he said, with an effort to smile, "merely a childish folly, of which a man should be ashamed; but since you imagine that there is some serious cause for my ill-timed depression, I must do my best to reassure you, though I fear you will only laugh at me."

"No, no, my son, I shall not laugh, whatever it may be," replied Madame de Serres. "Explain yourself fully, Maurice, and trust my good sense to make all due allowances."

"Very well, mother," was the answer, "you shall know the exact truth. On my way home this morning, I passed before the church of St. Roch, the entire front of which was heavily hung with black, and decorated for the funeral of some person of note. Such a circumstance, I am aware, is of every-day occurrence in Paris, and would not likely attract the attention of an indifferent passerby. But upon me the sight of those mournful preparations had a strange and mystic effect, which seemed to chill my blood, and imbued me with a presentiment of evil. I feared—ah! you are smiling at my superstitious weakness, and you are right. But three years of captivity and horrible sufferings have so unstrung me that my restoration to liberty and home seems a miraculous dream, and I tremble to awake lest I should indeed find it to be only a vision after all."

"My dear Maurice," said his mother, imprinting a kiss on his brow, "let this convince you that it is no dream. The feelings you have described to me I can well understand, and they prove that you cling strongly to your recovered happiness, since you tremble lest it may again be snatched from you by relentless destiny. You must try to forget the trials of the past, and accustom yourself to the present, as if you had never known what it is to suffer. As for your mournful impression at the sight of a church hung with black, you have been so long absent from France that a very ordinary occurrence seems invested with a significance it really does not possess, except for those who have sustained the loss of a dear relative or friend. The funeral decorations you saw this morning were no doubt in honour of the young and beautiful Madame du Bourg, wife of the President du Bourg, chief judge of the Civil Tribunal of Paris."

"The beautiful Madame du Bourg?" repeated the young officer, inquiringly. "Was the fame of her beauty, then, so universal as to become proverbial?"

"Yes, poor young creature," replied Madame de Serres, "though she had only resided in Paris since her union with the President du Bourg, about eighteen months ago. Her husband was nearly thirty years her senior, and the unhappy lady died after an illness of only two days, so I was informed yesterday, leaving an infant six months old. The unfortunate lady herself was scarcely more than a child, and, before her marriage, was the belle of Toulouse, Mademoiselle Gabrielle de Launay."


This disclosure, so simple and so brusque, of a terrible calamity to him, did not at once penetrate sharply and clearly the[Pg 451] mind of Maurice de Serres. He was so utterly unprepared for the blow that for a moment he was unable to realise the disastrous news thus unconsciously imparted to him by his mother. He gazed at her with the air of a man who had not fully grasped the meaning of the words she had spoken, and asked her to repeat them. Then Madame de Serres, remembering that her son had been stationed at Toulouse a few years previously, and might consequently have met the President de Launay and his daughter, framed an evasive reply; but the instant she again named Mademoiselle de Launay, and reverted to the story of her sudden death, Maurice fell, with a cry of anguish, at his mother's feet, as though struck by a mortal wound—a livid pallor overspread his features, his breathing was that of a man struggling against suffocation, and he might have died, had not a flood of tears come to his relief.

In this critical emergency Madame de Serres fortunately retained her presence of mind, and with the ingenuity of maternal instinct, she found means to alleviate the violent grief of her son. With his head pillowed upon her bosom, she talked to him of his lost bride, divining all that had occurred without a word of explanation from Maurice, and gently reproaching him for having failed to tell her, his mother, the story of his love. She found means to reconcile him to the death of Gabrielle—that, he said, was the will of God—but how could he ever forget the broken vow, or forgive the perfidy of her who had called Heaven to witness her promise of fidelity? Then, with admirable tact and delicacy, his mother recalled to his mind his capture by the enemy, and the official report of his death, which, no doubt, had reached Toulouse, and had left Mademoiselle de Launay no resource but resignation to the decree of Providence. Probably, she said, after a long resistance and many tears, the unhappy girl had at last yielded an unwilling obedience to her father's commands, and had consented to a marriage of convenience, in which her affections had borne no part. And so natural and plausible was this theory, that in devising these simple motives in mitigation of Gabrielle's conduct, Madame de Serres told her son the exact truth. Finally, she poured balm into his heart by asking him to consider whether the real cause of Mademoiselle de Launay's early death might not have been sorrow for Maurice's loss, and the bitter wretchedness of her forced marriage with a husband whom she could never love?

These wise arguments were, indeed, not without soothing effect. At all events, after listening to his mother's words for some time, he became more calm, though a keen observer would have divined that his silence was not that of resignation, but the refuge of a mind which conceives a desperate project, weighs its possibility, and resolves upon carrying it into immediate execution. Madame de Serres watched with deep anxiety the expression of her son's face, and, had he once raised his eyes despairingly to hers, she might have read in them a determination to put an end to his life. But she never suspected him of harbouring any design so terrible, and when he entreated that he might be left alone, she acquiesced without hesitation.

Towards nightfall she had the satisfaction of seeing him rejoin her, apparently almost restored to tranquillity. In her presence, and without disguise or concealment, he provided himself with a considerable sum in gold, kissed her, and left the house without uttering a word, nor did Madame de Serres ask for an explanation, or seek to detain him. It was quite dark when Maurice sallied forth into the street, and walked rapidly in the direction of the Rue St. Honoré. On reaching the church of St. Roch, he lost no time in finding the sacristan, and inquired the name of the place where Madame du Bourg had been buried that morning. The information was supplied to him without hesitation, and he set off immediately for the designated cemetery. On arriving at the gates, he found them closed for the night, and experienced some difficulty in rousing the janitor, who was asleep in his lodge. After some demur, the man opened the door to his nocturnal visitor, and inquired his business.

"Let me come in," said Captain de Serres, "and I will tell you."

Seeing before him a young man of aristocratic mien and appearance, the grave-digger, whose curiosity was now fairly aroused, offered no further objection, and showed the way to a little room on the ground floor of the lodge.

"Be seated, sir," he said, civilly, placing a chair. "You are, perhaps, fatigued with your walk."

"No," replied the young officer; "there is no time to be lost."

Then, to the terror and amazement of[Pg 452] the grave-digger, Maurice, placing in his trembling hands more gold than he had ever before seen in his whole life, implored him to accept it as a reward for committing an act of sacrilege—a crime then punishable with death. Maurice entreated him to remove the earth from the grave he had filled that day, to exhume the corpse of Madame du Bourg, and to break open the coffin which covered the remains of that most unhappy lady, that he, Maurice de Serres, her affianced husband, might look once again upon the woman he had so passionately loved.


Then ensued a long and painful discussion, for the glittering heap of gold, pressed upon the poor man by his tempter, did not succeed in overcoming either the fears or the scruples of the honest grave-digger. To the distracted young officer it was a maddening blow to find that the cupidity upon which he had counted to vanquish the obstacles in his way had no existence, or if it had, was less powerful than the grave-digger's dread of the consequences. Maurice gave full vent to his despair and his tears so moved the heart of the poor man, at whose feet he grovelled in agony, that out of the commiseration he succeeded in inspiring came a consent which neither gold nor entreaties had been able to obtain.

"Come!" said the grave-digger; "if it must be so, follow me!"

He led the way to the dark and silent cemetery, armed with a spade, a coil of rope, and a thick chisel, Maurice carrying his companion's lantern. Stumbling over many a mound of earth, they at last reached the grave in which the dead woman had been buried only a few hours previously. Taking off his jacket, the grave-digger set to work, without uttering a single syllable. In an hour, which to Maurice seemed years of torture, the hollow sound of the spade striking the top of the coffin told them that their sacrilegious task was nearly accomplished. A few moments more, and the united efforts of the two men had succeeded in raising the coffin to the surface. Maurice whispered to the man to remove the lid without noise, but as may well be imagined, such an injunction was needless. Proceeding with the utmost silence and precaution, the grave-digger was not long in loosening the fastenings of the coffin. Then, having now recovered his customary coolness and self-command, he sat down quietly upon a neighbouring tombstone, and mutely motioned to Maurice, who stood gazing at the corpse, as if petrified by the horrible sight. Finding the young man still remained immovable, the grave-digger pointed with his long, bony finger, to the still, white object, and muttered, "Look, 'tis she!"

But Maurice made no response, and[Pg 453] appeared no longer to remember why he was there, nor the crime he had instigated. He heard not the words of his companion, his gaze was fixed upon vacancy, the breath seemed to leave him, and he would have fallen to the ground, had not the other, alarmed at this strange lethargy, seized the young man's arm, and again whispered "Look!" Then slowly lifting the shroud from the face of the corpse, he added, "Convince yourself. Is it this lady?"

At this instant the moon burst forth from behind the clouds, and its pale, mysterious light fell full upon the lineaments of her whom Maurice had idolised, and for whose sake he had committed this horrible deed. Her features bore still the sad, sweet expression he knew so well; the colour of her cheeks had lost little of its rosy tint, and, though her eyes were closed, her lips were half parted, as if about to speak.

Flinging himself upon his knees beside the body, Maurice wept tears which brought his anguish some relief. With passionate sobs he recalled the story of their love, of their young hopes, of their betrothal, and of their sudden and piteous separation, and he bitterly reproached himself for having yielded obedience to her father's commands, and left her to be sacrificed a victim to that father's unbending will.

As he spoke he gently raised her in his arms and looked closely in her face. At that instant memory brought back to him her parting words, years before, when, as they said farewell, he had pressed his lips to hers. The scene flashed across his brain with the rapidity of lightning, and, as if urged by some sudden inspiration, he stooped and kissed her, as he had kissed her on that too well remembered night.

No sooner had his lips touched hers than he uttered a terrible cry, and rose to his feet, trembling convulsively. Then, with a wild laugh, he seized the body, and before the astonished grave-digger could interpose, the young officer fled from the spot with his burden in his arms, springing over the graves, and threading his rapid course among the tombs, as if the weight he bore were no more encumbrance to his flight than a flake of falling snow. With almost supernatural force and rapidity the madman, as the amazed and bewildered grave-digger now felt assured he was, made good his escape, like a tiger carrying off his prey.


Seeing that pursuit was useless—even if[Pg 454] he had contemplated such a course—the poor man hastened to remove the evidence of the sacrilege in which he had played so prominent a part. Lowering the empty coffin into the open grave, he rapidly threw in the earth, and in a short time the spot showed no trace of having been disturbed since the interment of the preceding morning. Then the grave-digger gathered together the implements of his trade and stole back to his lodge, muttering imprecations upon his mad visitor, and upon himself for having assisted in committing a crime fraught with such formidable danger to its perpetrators, should the horrible deed ever be brought to light.


Nearly five years had passed away since that eventful night, and, during that long period, nothing had occurred to revive the fears of the conscience-stricken grave-digger, or to give rise to his misgivings that the theft of Madame du Bourg's corpse might by some means be discovered. In fact, after carefully weighing all the circumstances, he had finally come to the conclusion that he had been the victim of a conspiracy hatched by medical students, one having played the principal part in the abominable transaction, and the other or others waiting outside the cemetery to assist in making off with the "subject," should the nefarious plot succeed. The students (if this hypothesis were correct) would never betray the secret, for obvious reasons; and so long a time having now elapsed since the burial of the unhappy lady, the contingency of an authorised exhumation for any cause whatever became daily more and more remote.

On All Souls' Day the bereaved husband came regularly each year to pray at his dead wife's tomb, and each year the grave-digger observed him with feelings of remorse, as if it were adding to his weight of guilt in standing near while the worthy President du Bourg knelt reverently beside the mound beneath which was buried only an empty coffin. The sight of this futile annual pilgrimage possessed for the repentant grave-digger a fascination impossible to resist, and amongst all the mourners who visited the cemetery on that solemn day, he took note of none save M. du Bourg, before whom he more than once felt tempted to throw himself and confess all.

When the anniversary came round again, the grave-digger stationed himself at his usual post of observation, and saw the President draw near to his wife's tomb, over which he immediately bent in prayer. Both he and the contrite grave-digger were so deeply absorbed in thought that they did not notice the approach of a woman, who uttered a suppressed cry as she caught sight of the recumbent figure. Turning involuntarily and looking quickly up, M. du Bourg instantly recognised, in the person who had interrupted his meditations, no other than the wife whose death he had mourned so long. The grave-digger also remembered well the pale, beautiful face, from which he had removed the shroud five years before, and he instantly fell to the ground, insensible. But before the startled husband could recover from his amazement, Gabrielle, for it was she, swept past him like the wind and was gone. Following her retreating form in the distance, the President reached the cemetery gates in time to see her leap into a carriage with emblazoned panels, which, before he could reach the spot, was driven rapidly away towards the centre of Paris. M. du Bourg then returned to the place where he had seen the grave-digger fall in a swoon, hoping to derive some information from the stranger who had been thus terror-struck at sight of the unexpected apparition, but the man had been already carried to his lodge, and died an hour afterwards without recovering consciousness.

Losing no time, the President addressed himself to the Lieutenant-General of Police, by whom inquiries were set on foot without delay, and it was speedily established that the carriage, which many persons had observed in waiting at the cemetery gates, bore the arms of the noble house of de Serres. As M. du Bourg was aware of his late wife's early attachment to the young officer whose death abroad had been officially reported a few months previous to her marriage, the motive of her disappearance, if she were still alive, was clearly explained. But the mystery of her existence five years after her supposed death and burial must now be immediately unravelled.

By order of the authorities, the grave in which Madame du Bourg had been interred was opened, and the empty, broken coffin was found. This discovery fully confirmed the suspicions of the President du Bourg, and prompted him in the course he now resolved to pursue.

[Pg 455]


Meanwhile Madame Julie de Serres, the young and lovely wife whom Captain Maurice de Serres had married abroad five years previously, and now brought to Paris for the first time, returned that day to her husband's house in a state of the utmost alarm and agitation. Pale and trembling, she begged to be conducted to Maurice, and the pair remained closeted together for several hours. At last, in outward semblance perfectly calm, she rejoined the Countess, her husband's mother, and from that day resumed the ordinary current of life as though nothing had arisen to mar its serenity.

About a fortnight had elapsed since the occurrences above related, and the incident in the cemetery appeared to have been forgotten, or if remembered by the chance witnesses of the scene, it was generally supposed that the mysterious lady who had been seen by M. du Bourg merely bore a fortuitous resemblance to the President's deceased wife. But during these few days, aided by all the power in the hands of the Lieutenant-General of Police, M. du Bourg instituted a searching and systematic investigation, firmly resolved as he was to know the truth. Without in the least suspecting that their every movement was watched, Captain de Serres and his wife were surrounded with spies, who rendered a daily report of their minutest actions. Maurice having come to the conclusion that it would be imprudent to leave Paris, there was no difficulty in keeping him under constant observation. Setting to work like an experienced lawyer, M. du Bourg rapidly collected evidence of the greatest importance. Through the Minister of War, he ascertained the exact date of Captain de Serres' return to France, after his captivity and supposed death in the Indies. At the passport office he found out the day of the young officer's departure shortly after his arrival in Paris. The postillions whom he had employed on his journey to Havre were discovered and interrogated. From them it was elicited that the traveller had been accompanied to the coast by a lady closely veiled, who never left the carriage until the pair reached their destination. The name of the vessel in which M. de Serres and a lady inscribed as his cousin had taken passage to South America was ferreted out, and the ship's journal was brought to Paris.


Armed with these formidable proofs, the President du Bourg demanded from the High Court of Paris the dissolution of the illegal marriage between Captain Maurice de Serres and the pretended Julie de Serres, who, as M. du. Bourg solemnly declared, was Gabrielle du Bourg, his lawful wife.

The extraordinary novelty of this cause created an immense sensation throughout Europe, and pamphlets were exchanged by the faculty, some maintaining that a prolonged trance had given rise to the belief[Pg 456] in the apparent death of Madame du Bourg, whilst others as stoutly affirmed that resuscitation under such circumstances was an absolute impossibility. This latter theory secured the majority of partisans amongst medical men, and after calculating the number of hours which it was stated that Madame du Bourg had continued to exist in her grave, the fact was conclusively established that no case of a similar lethargy had ever previously been recorded. M. de Serres himself expressed the most profound and unaffected pity for his adversary, and acknowledged that when he had first met the lady who now bore his name, her marvellous likeness to Gabrielle de Launay had struck him with awe and amazement. This declaration was made with such evident sincerity that it carried conviction to the minds of all who heard it, and few doubted but that the President du Bourg had either lost his reason or was the instigator of a corrupt and knavish conspiracy.



In due course the hearing of this extraordinary suit came before the high tribunal of Paris, and Madame Julie de Serres was summoned to appear in court, and answer the questions of the judges. She was confronted with M. du Bourg, and was surprised and indignant at his pretensions. The father of Gabrielle de Launay came from Toulouse, and burst into tears at the sight of one who bore so wondrous a resemblance to his dead daughter; nor could he find words in which to address the lady who seemed the living image of his only child, and who calmly denied all knowledge of him. The judges, in much perplexity, looked at each other in troubled silence and indecision. Madame de Serres, in simple language, told the story of her entire life. She was an orphan, she said, born in South America, of a French father and a Spanish mother, and had never[Pg 457] left her native country until her marriage. The legal certificate was produced, attesting the marriage of Maurice de Serres and Julie de Nerval, and, with other formal documents, was laid before the court. After hearing the pleas of the distinguished advocates engaged on both sides, the judges consulted together for a short time, and announced that their decision would be given at the next sitting of the tribunal.

On the following day the court was crowded to excess, and it was rumoured amongst the many ladies and gentlemen of position who were present that a majority of the judges were so thoroughly convinced of the preposterous character of the President du Bourg's claim as to render certain a decree in favour of Captain de Serres and his wife. Amidst a sympathetic silence—for popular opinion was almost unanimously enlisted on the side of the defendants in this unprecedented case—the President of the High Court commenced in a grave voice the delivery of the judgment, when suddenly M. du Bourg, who had not been present at the commencement of that day's proceedings, entered the court, leading by the hand a little girl of five or six summers. At this moment Madame de Serres, her face lighted up with a smile of exultation, was seated by the side of her advocate, directly in front of the Bench, and in full view of the public. Conversing in animated tones with her counsel, she did not observe the entrance of M. du Bourg; but in a moment a tiny hand was placed in her own, and a child's soft voice said timidly—

"Mamma, won't you kiss me?"

Madame de Serres turned quickly, uttered a sharp cry, and, clasping the child in her arms, covered it with tears and caresses. The daughter and wife had complete control over the emotions of Nature, but the mother's heart had not the strength to resist the sudden strain.

From that moment the case before the court, and still undecided, assumed a totally different aspect. Springing to his feet in an instant, the advocate of the unhappy lady unhesitatingly proclaimed the identity of his client, and now called upon the judges to annul her marriage with M. du Bourg, which had been dissolved, he declared solemnly, by the hand of death. Turning towards M. du Bourg, he exclaimed with fiery eloquence—

"Sir, you have no right to demand from the earth the body you have consigned to the grave. Leave this woman to him by whose act, and by whose act alone, she lives. Her existence belongs to him, and you can only claim a corpse."

Had the brilliant advocate been pleading the cause of a beautiful woman before a modern Parisian jury, he might have indulged some hope of success, but a hundred and fifty years ago the law of France was not swayed by sentiment. The judges were unmoved by this vehement outburst, and prepared to alter their decree in conformity with the facts elicited through the presence of the child. The wretched wife and mother then entreated permission to spend the remainder of her days in the seclusion of a convent. This, too, was refused, and she was formally condemned to return to the house of her first husband.

Two days after this judgment had been rendered, she obeyed. The gates swung wide open before her, and, dressed in white, pale and weeping, she entered the great hall, where the President du Bourg, surrounded by his entire household, stood awaiting her arrival.

Approaching him, and pressing a phial to her lips, she gasped forth the words, "I restore to you what you lost"—and fell dead at his feet, poisoned.

The same night, despite his devoted mother's efforts to save him, Captain du Serres died by his own hand.

[Pg 458]

A Day with an East-End Photographer.

"Here y'are now, on'y sixpence for yer likeness, the 'ole thing, 'strue's life. Come inside now, won'tcher? No waitin'. Noo instanteraneous process."

Thus, with the sweet seductiveness of an East-end tout, was a photographer endeavouring to inveigle 'Arry and 'Arriet into his studio, which was situated—well, "down East som'ere," as the inhabitants themselves would describe the locality. It was somewhere near the Docks; somewhere, you may be sure, close bordering upon that broad highway that runs 'twixt Aldgate and the Dockgates, for within those boundaries the tide of human life flows most strongly, and the photographer hoped, by stationing himself there, to catch a few of the passers-by, thrown in his way like flotsam and jetsam. He was not disappointed in this expectation. While daylight lasted there was generally a customer waiting in his little back parlour, enticed thither by the blandishments of the tout outside.

The establishment was not prepossessing to an eye cultivated in the appearance of the artistic façades of photographers in the West. The frontage consisted of a little shop, with diminutive windows, which it was the evident desire of the proprietor to make the most of by engaging in other commercial pursuits.


There seemed to be an incongruity in the art of the photographer being associated with the sale of coals, firewood, potatoes, sweets, and ginger-beer, but the East-enders apparently did not trouble themselves to consider this in the least. There was, indeed, a homely flavour about this miscellaneous assortment of useful and edible articles, which commended itself to their mind. What was more natural than that 'Arry, having indulged in the luxury of a photograph, should pursue his day's dissipation by treating his 'Arriet to a bottle of the exhilarating "pop," to say nothing of a bag of sweets to eat on their holiday journey.

The coals, firewood, and potato department, so far from being regarded as in any way derogatory to the photographer's profession, was rather calculated to impress the natives, who were accustomed to look upon a heap of coals—to say nothing of the firewood and potatoes—as a material sign of prosperity.

So far as the photographer was concerned it was a matter of necessity as well as choice that he came to be thus associated, for it transpired that he had married the buxom woman, whom we now see behind the counter, at a time when he was trying hard to make ends meet in the winter season, when photography is at a discount. She, on the[Pg 459] other hand, had a thriving little business of the general nature we have indicated, and was mourning the loss of the partner who had inaugurated the shop, and for a time had shared with her his joys and sorrows. The photographer had won her heart by practising his art on Hampstead Heath the last Bank Holiday, and the happy acquaintance thus formed had ripened into one of such mutual affection that the union was consummated, and another department was added to the little general business by the conversion of the yard at the back into a photographic studio.

The placards announcing the price of coals and firewood, and the current market rates of potatoes, were elevated to the topmost panes of the window, and the lower half was filled with a gorgeous array of specimen portraits in all the glory of their tinsel frames.

From that day the shop was a huge attraction, and the proprietor of the wax-work show over the way cast glances of ill-concealed envy and jealousy at the crowd which had deserted his frontage for the later inducements opposite.

The incoming vessels from foreign ports brought many visitors, and generally a few customers. To the foreign element the window was especially fascinating. Many a face of strange mien stared in at the window, and the photographer being somewhat of an adept with an instantaneous camera, would often secure a "snap shot" of some curious countenance, the owner of which could not be enticed within. These would duly appear in the show cases, and served as decoys to others of the same nationality.

There was the solemn-faced Turk in showy fez, and with dainty cigarette 'twixt his fingers, who surveyed the window with immutable countenance, and was impervious to all the unction of the tout. This latter worthy was not aware that it was against the religion of the "unspeakable Turk" to be photographed, or he would not have wasted his energy on such an unpromising customer.

The negro sailor was apparently struck with the presentments of the other members of his race, but asseverated that he was "stone broke," and did not own a cent to pay for a photograph. He had spent such small earnings as he had received, and was now on his way back to his vessel. "Me no good, me no money," he told the tout, who turned away from him in disgust.

There has so far been a good many passers-by to-day for every likely customer, and the tout is almost in despair. "Rotters," he mutters; "not a blessed tanner among 'em."


Ah! here's his man, though, and he is on the alert for his prey, as he sees a[Pg 460] dapper little figure with unmistakable Japanese features come sauntering down the street. He is dressed in the most approved style of the East-end tailor, who no doubt has assured him that he is a "reg'lar masher." So evidently thinks the little Jap, as he shoots his cuffs forward, flourishes his walking cane, and displays a set of ivory white teeth in his guileless Celestial smile. The tout rubs his hands with a business-like air of satisfaction as he sees the victim safely handed over to the tender mercies of the operator within. "Safe for five bobs' worth, that 'un," he soliloquises, winking at no one in particular, but possibly just to relieve his feelings by the force of habit.

The next customer attracted was an Ayah, or Hindoo nurse, a type often to be seen in the show-case of the East-end photographer. These women find their way to England through engagements as nurses to Anglo-Indian families coming home, and they work their way back by re-engagements to families outward bound. Whenever a P. & O. boat arrives there will most probably be seen one or more of these women, whose stately walk and Oriental attire at once attract attention.

Prominent also among the natives who find their way up from the Docks are the Malay sailors, in their picturesque white dresses. Sometimes the photographer secures a couple for a photo, but as a rule they have little money. "Like all the rest o' them blessed haythens," says the tout, "not a bloomin' meg among a 'ole baker's dozen of 'em."


The faces of such types are not, however, interesting to the East-enders. Their interest in the window display is only heightened when familiar faces make their appearance in the tinsel frames. There was, for instance, positive excitement in the neighbourhood when a highly-coloured portrait of the landlord of a well-known beer-shop in the same street was added to the collection.

Everyone recognised the faithfulness at once, though it was irreverently hinted that in the colouring the exact shade of the gentleman's nose had not been faithfully copied.

One can imagine the feelings of pride with which the photographer had posed his worthy neighbour, who had arrayed himself in all the glory of his Sunday best suit.

"Head turned a little this way, please! Yes—now—look at this—yes—now, look pleasant!"

Everything would have gone well at this point, but the dog, which it was intended should form an important adjunct to the picture, and symbolically typify the sign of the house—"The Jolly Dog"—set up a mournful howl, and made desperate efforts to get away from the range of that uncanny instrument in front of him. However, the photographer waited for a more favourable moment, and while the dog was considering the force of his master's remarks, the exposure was successfully made. The result was regarded as quite a chef d'œuvre in the eyes of those who stopped to gaze at it as it hung in a place of honour in the window of the little front shop.

[Pg 461]

The "reg'lar" East-enders, as distinguished from the foreign element, were, indeed, very easy to please; but, unfortunately, they were not the mainstay of the photographer's business. He must needs look for other customers to eke out a living. And here his difficulties began. He had to be careful not to take a certain low type of Jewish features in profile, for the foreign Jew, once he has been acclimatised, does not like to look "sheeny"; and the descendants of Ham—euphemistically classed under the generic term of "gentlemen of colour"—were always fearful lest their features should come out too dark. One young negro who came to be photographed expressly stipulated that he should not be made to look black. To obviate this difficulty, the photographer wets his customer's face with water, so as to present a shiny appearance to the lens of the camera, and a brighter result is thus secured. On this particular occasion the ingenious dodge failed, and the vain young negro loudly denounced it as representing him a great deal blacker than he was in the flesh. Indeed, the tears sparkled in his eyes as he protested that he was "no black nigger." There is a subtle distinction, mark you, between a "nigger" and a "black nigger" in the mind of a "coloured person," and no greater insult can be levelled at him than to apply the latter epithet.

Too, too black.

The tout's thoughts are soon distracted by the appearance of a German fraulein, evidently of very recent arrival in England, who is admiring the photos in the window. She is arrayed in a highly-coloured striped dress, which is not of a length that would be accepted at the West-end, for it reaches only to the ankles, and shows her feet encased in a clumsy pair of boots. An abnormally large green umbrella which she carries is another characteristic feature that seems inseparable from women of this type.

The tout has a special method of alluring the women folk within the studio. He has a piece of mirror let into one of the tinsel frames which he carries in his hand as specimens. He holds this up before the woman's face, and asks her to observe what a picture she would make. This little artifice seldom fails to attract the women, whatever their nationality, for vanity is vanity all the world over.

John Chinaman is quite as easily satisfied, and the tout has no difficulty in drawing him within, but the drawback to his custom is that he seldom has any money, or, if he has any, is not inclined to part with it. It is just a "toss-up," as the tout says, whether he will pay, if he gets the Celestial inside, though it is worth the risk when business is not very brisk.

Here is one fine specimen of a Celestial coming along. Western civilisation, as yet, has made no impression upon him, and he looks for all the world the Chinaman of the willow-pattern plate in the window of the tea shop. John falls an easy prey to the tout, who ushers him inside, and whispers to the "Guv'nor" in a mysterious aside: "Yew du 'im for nothin', if ye can't get him to brass up. Lots o' Chaneymen about to-day, an' 'e'll advertise the business." The customer is thereupon posed with especial favour, the photographer feeling that the reputation of the business in the Celestial mind depends on the success of this effort. Chinese accessories are called into play; John Chinaman is seated in a bamboo chair, against a bamboo table, supporting a flower vase which looks suspiciously as though it had once served as a receptacle for preserved ginger. Overhead is hung a paper lantern, and the background is turned round so that the stretcher frame[Pg 462] of the canvas may give the appearance of a Chinese interior. There is no need to tell the sitter to look pleasant, for his features at once expand into that peculiar smile which Bret Harte has described as "child-like and bland."

The photo is duly completed and handed over to the customer for his inspection and approval. He manifests quite a childish delight, and is about to depart with it, when he is reminded by word and sign that he has not paid. John very well understands the meaning of it all, but smiles vacuously. When, however, the photographer begins to look threatening, he whines in his best English that he has no money. The photographer slaps him all round in the hope of hearing a jingle of concealed coins, but to no purpose. "Another blessed specimen, gratis!" he mutters, as he allows his unprofitable customer to depart with the photo, in the hope that it will attract some of his fellow-countrymen to the studio. This seems quite likely, for the Chinaman goes off in a transport of delight. He stops now and again to survey the photo, and the appearance of it evidently gives such satisfaction that he goes dancing off like a child to show it to his Celestial brethren. They straightway resolve also to go and have a photograph for nothing.

A group of chattering Chinamen soon appear in front of the photographer's shop, with the late customer in the midst explaining how the trick is done. It seems to be finally resolved that they should go in one at a time, the others waiting outside. One young member of the party accordingly steps forward, and the tout, delighted to find the bait has so soon taken, never considers the possibility that this customer likewise has no money.

The same scene is enacted as in the previous case, but when it comes to the point of paying for the photo, and John Chinaman is found to be absolutely penniless, there is an unrehearsed ending to the little comedy. The proprietor of the photographic establishment seizes the Chinaman by the collar and drags him into the front shop, where the tout, in instant comprehension of the state of affairs, takes the offender in hand and very neatly kicks him over the doorstep, whence he falls into the midst of his compatriots, who all take to their heels, screaming in a high-pitched key. The tout looks at their rapidly retreating figures with a countenance eloquently expressive of mingled sorrow and anger, vowing vengeance on any other of "them haythen Chaynees" who might choose to try the game of securing photos for nothing. "Ought to be all jolly well drownded in the river," he remarks to his colleague indoors.


On the other hand, the heavy-browed, gaunt-cheeked, male Teuton is not[Pg 463] so easy to attract, but the photographer can trust the course of things to bring him eventually to the studio. When first imported he stares in at the window in a stolid, indifferent manner. His face has a hungry look, and is shadowed by a heavily slouched hat; his hair is unkempt; he wears an untidy and unclean scarf; his boots are big and heavy, and his trousers several inches too short for him.




In a short time, however, he will blossom forth into a billycock hat, with broad and curly brim of the most approved East-end cut; patent leather boots to match, and a very loud red tie. The hungry look has by this time given way to a sleek, well-fed nature, and he will stroll along with a Teuton sweetheart, likewise transformed very much from her former self. The short, gaudily-striped dress has given way to the latest "'krect thing" in East-end[Pg 464] fashion, and the green stuff umbrella has gone the way of the striped skirt, to be replaced by the latest novelty in "husband beaters." Then it is that the Teutonic 'Arry and 'Arriet patronise the photographer, and rejoice his heart with, perhaps, a five-shilling order.

The show-case of the East-end photographer gives one a very fair idea of the evolution of the foreign immigrant.

The tout seemed to know the history of every person whose photograph was displayed in the show-case, and he was rattling it off to us at a rate which precluded any possibility of storing it up in our memory, when a slight diversion was created by a coster's barrow, drawn by a smart little pony, being driven up to the front of the photographer's. The driver was Mr. Higgins, we learnt, and the other occupants of the barrow were Mrs. Higgins and the infant son and heir to the Higgins' estate, which was reputed to be something considerable in the costermongers' way, as was evidenced by the fact that Mr. Higgins was enabled to keep a pony to draw his barrow. Mrs. Higgins had determined that 'Enery—ætat one year and eight months—should have his photograph taken and afterwards be glorified in a coloured enlargement. Mr. Higgins had assented to this being done regardless of expense. It was a weighty responsibility for the photographer, who always considered the taking of babies was not his strong point. But he reflected upon the increased fame which would accrue to his business if he was successful, and he determined to do it or perish in the attempt.


He made hasty preparations by selecting the most tempting stick of toffy he could find in the sweet-stuff window, and the tout was instructed to procure from a neighbouring toy shop a doll, a rattle, a penny trumpet, and other articles dear to the juvenile mind.

The youthful Higgins was duly placed in a chair, behind which Mrs. Higgins was ensconced with a view to assisting the photographer by preserving a proper equilibrium in the sitter, and also ensuring confidence in the infantile mind.

So far, the child had been quietly sucking his thumb and surveying the studio with an interested air, but no sooner was his attention directed to the photographer than a distrustful frown settled upon his face, and his irritation at the photographer's presence found expression in a yell of infantile wrath. The more the photographer tried to conciliate by flourishing the toys the more the child yelled. The photographer danced and sung, and blew the penny trumpet, and was about to give up the operation in despair, when it dawned on him that he had forgotten the toffy stick. It was produced, and had its effect. On being assured by Mrs. Higgins, behind the chair, that the "ducksy darling would have its toffy stick," the youthful sitter held that prospective joy with his tear-glistening eye, and the photographer seizing a favourable moment performed the operation with a sigh of satisfaction. Baby Higgins had its toffy stick, Mrs. Higgins had a pleasing photo of her infant offspring, and the photographer proudly congratulated himself on[Pg 465] having so successfully performed his task. The production of such elaborate efforts as the coloured enlargements was, however, attended with disadvantages and disappointments at times. It was hard to give entire satisfaction to such exacting critics in these matters as the East-end folk, and there was always the risk that the picture might be thrown upon his hands if not liked.

Taking it all round, his time was much more profitably employed out of doors on high days and holidays, in taking sixpenny "tintypes" "while you wait."

We have seen him on a Bank Holiday beaming with good luck. He has started out early in the morning with the intention of proceeding to Hampstead, but instead of going direct thither, he pitches his camera near the walls of the Docks, and manages to catch a good many passers-by before they have had the opportunity of spending their money in the pleasures of a London Bank Holiday. Here he has succeeded in inducing 'Arry and 'Arriet to have their photos taken.

Such is a chapter in the life of an East-end photographer. To-day he may be doing a "roaring" business, but to-morrow he may be reduced to accepting the twopences and threepences of children who club together and wait upon him with a demand that he will take "Me, an' Mary Ann, an' little Mickey all for thruppence." He invariably assents, knowing that, though there can be little profit, the photo will create a feeling of envy in the minds of other children who will decide on having a "real tip topper" at sixpence.

The stock-in-trade of an East-end photographer is not a very elaborate one. He may pick up the whole apparatus second-hand for about £5, and the studio and fittings are not expensive. The thin metal plates cost not more than 10s. per gross, and the tinsel binding frames about 3s. per gross, while the chemicals amount to an infinitesimal sum on each plate. On a good day a turnover of £2 to £3 may be made, but there are many ups and downs, and trials of temper and patience, to say nothing of the unhealthy nature of the business, all going to make up many disadvantages associated with the life of an East-end photographer.

[Pg 466]


By E. W. Hornung.

It is prejudicial to the nicest girl in this unjust world to be asked in marriage too frequently. Things come out, and she gets the name of being a heartless flirt; her own sex add, that she cannot be a very nice girl. A flirt she is, of a surety, but why heartless, and why not a nice girl? So grave defects do not follow. The flirt who doesn't think she is one—the flirt with a set of sham principles and ideals, and a misleading veneer of soul—is heartless, if you like, and something worse. Now the girl who gets herself proposed to regularly once a week in the season is far less contemptible; she is not contemptible at all, for how could she know that you meant so much more than she did? She only knows a little too much to take your word for this.

A sweetly pretty and highly accomplished young girl, little Miss Anstruther came to know too much to dream of taking any man's word on this point. She was reputed to have refused more offers than a good girl ought to get; for what in the very beginning conferred a certain distinction upon her, made her notorious at a regrettably early stage of her career. The finger of feminine disapproval pointed at her, presently, in an unmistakable way; and this is said—by women—to be a very bad sign. Men may not think so. Intensely particular ladies, in the pride of their complete respectability, tried to impress upon very young men in whom they were interested that Miss Anstruther was not at all a nice girl. But this had a disappointing effect upon the boys. And Miss Anstruther by no means confined herself to rejecting mere boys.

The moths that singed themselves at this flame were of every variety. They would have made a rare collection under glass, with pins through them; Miss Anstruther herself would have inspected them thus with the liveliest interest. Her detractors also could have enjoyed themselves at such an exhibition. But the more generous spirits among them—those who had been young and attractive too long ago to pretend to be either still—might have found there some slight excuse for Miss Anstruther. Of course, it was no excuse at all, but it was notable that almost every moth had some salient good point—something to "account for it" on her side, to some extent—say a twentieth part of the extent to which she had gone. Nearly all the moths had something to be said for them—looks,[Pg 467] intellect, a nice voice, an operatic moustache, or an aptitude for the informal recitation of engaging verses; their strong points, sorted out and fitted together, would have made a dazzling being—whom Miss Anstruther would have rejected as firmly and as finally as she had rejected his integral parts.

For there was no pleasing the girl. Apparently she did not mean to be pleased—in that way. She had neither wishes nor intentions, it became evident, beyond immediate flirtation of the most wilful description. Her depravity was shocking.

Her accomplishment was singing. She sang divinely. Also she had plenty of money; but the money alone was not at the bottom of many declarations; her voice was the more infatuating element of the two; and her "way" did more damage than either. She was not, indeed, aware what a "way" she had with her. It was a way of seeming desperately smitten, and a little unhappy about it; which is quite sufficient to make a man of tender years or acute conscientiousness "speak" on the spot. Thus many a proposal was as unexpected on her part as it was unpremeditated on his. He made a sudden fool of himself—heard some surprisingly sensible things from her frivolous lips—decided, upon reflection and inquiry, that these were her formula—and got over the whole thing in the most masterly fashion. This is where Miss Anstruther was so much more wholesome than the flirt who doesn't think she flirts: Miss Anstruther never rankled.

She had no mother to check her notorious propensity in its infancy, and no brother to bully her out of it in the end. Her father, an Honourable, but a man of intrinsic distinction as well, was queer enough to see no fault in her; but he was a busy man. She had, however, a kinsman, Lord Nunthorp, who used to talk to her like a brother on the subject of her behaviour, only a little less heavily than brothers use. Nunthorp knew what he was talking about. He had once played at being in love with her himself. But that was in the days when his moustache looked as though he had forgotten to wash it off, and before Miss Anstruther came out. There had been no nonsense between them for years. They were the best and most intimate of friends.

"Another!" he would say, gazing gravely upon her as the most fascinating curiosity in the world, when she happened to be telling him about the very latest. "Let's see—how many's that?"

There came a day when she told Nunthorp she had lost count; and she really had. The day was at the fag-end of one season; he had been lunching at the Anstruthers' and Miss Anstruther had been singing to him.


"I'm afraid I can't assist you," said he, with amused concern. "I only remember the first eleven, so to speak. First man in was your rector's son in the country, young Miller, who was sent out to Australia on the spot. He was the first, wasn't he? Yes, I thought that was the order; and by Jove, Midge, how fond you were of that boy!"

[Pg 468]

"I was," said Miss Anstruther, glancing out of the window with a wistful look in her pretty eyes; but her kinsman said to himself that he remembered that wistful look—it went cheap.

"The next man in," said Nunthorp, who was an immense cricketer, "was me!"

"I like that!" said Miss Anstruther, taking her eyes from the window with rather a jerk, and smiling brightly. "You've left out Cousin Dick!"

"So I have; I beg Dick's pardon. It was very egotistical of me, but pardonable, for of course Dick never stood so high in the serene favour as I did. I came after Dick then, first wicket down, and since then—well, you say yourself that you've lost tally, but you must have bowled out a pretty numerous team by this time. My dear Midge," said Nunthorp, with a sudden access of paternal gravity, "don't you think it about time that somebody came in and carried his bat?"

"Don't talk nonsense!" said Miss Anstruther, briskly. She added, almost miserably: "I wish to goodness they wouldn't ask me! If only they wouldn't propose I should be all right. Why do they want to go and propose? It spoils everything."

Her tone and look were quite injured. She was more indignant than Nunthorp had ever seen her—except once—for the girl was of a most serene disposition. He looked at her kindly, and as admiringly as ever, though rather with the eye of a connoisseur; and he found she had still the most lovely, imperfect, uncommon, and fragrant little face he had ever seen in his life. He said candidly:

"I really don't blame them, and I don't see how you can. If you are to blame anybody, I'm afraid it must be yourself. You must give them some encouragement, Midge, or I don't think they'd all come to the point as they do. I never saw such sportsmen as they are! They walk in and walk out again one after the other, and they seem to like it——"

"I wish they did!" said Miss Anstruther, devoutly. "I only wish they'd show me that they liked it; I should have a better time then. They wouldn't keep making me miserable with their idiotic farewell letters. That's what they all do. Either they write and call me everything—rudely, politely, sarcastically, all ways—or they say their hearts are broken, and they haven't the faintest intention of getting over it—in fact, they wouldn't get over it if they could. That's enough to make any person feel low, even if you know from experience what to expect. At one time I daren't look in the paper for fear of seeing their suicides; but I've only seen their weddings. They all seem to get over it pretty easily; and that doesn't make you think much better of yourself, you know. Of course I'm inconsistent!"

"Of course you are," said Nunthorp, cordially. "I approve of you for it. I'd rather see you an old maid, Midge, than going through life in a groove. Consistency's a narrow groove for narrow minds! I can do better than this about consistency, Midge; I'm hot and strong on the subject. But you're not listening."

"Ah!" cried Miss Anstruther, who had not listened to a word, "they're driving me crazy, between them! There's Mr. Willimott, you know, who writes. Of course he had no business to speak to me. There were a hundred things against him at the time—even if I'd cared for him—though he's getting more successful now. Well, I do believe he's put me into every story he's written since it happened! I crop up in some magazine or other every month!"

"'Into work the poet kneads them,'" murmured Nunthorp, who was not a professional cricketer. "Well, you needn't bother yourself about him. You've made the fellow. He now draws a heroine better than most men. It's a pity you don't take to writing, Midge, you'd draw your heroes better than women do as a rule; for don't you see that you must know more about us than we know about ourselves?"

"They wouldn't be much of heroes!" laughed the girl. "But I heartily wish I did write. Wouldn't I show up some people, that's all! It would give me something to do, too; it would keep me out of mischief, and really I'm sick of men and their ridiculous nonsense. And they all say the same thing. If only they wouldn't say anything at all! Why do they? You might tell me!"

Nunthorp put on his thinking-cap. "You see, you are quite pretty," said he.


"Then you sing like an angel."

"Please don't! That's what they all say."

"Ah, the singing has a lot to do with it; you oughtn't to sing so well; you should cultivate less expression. And then—I'm afraid you like attention."

[Pg 469]

"Well, perhaps I do."

"And I'm sure it must be very hard not to be attentive to you," said Nunthorp, with a rather brutal impersonality; "for I should fancy you have a way—quite unconscious, mind—of giving your current admirer the idea that he's the only one who ever held the office!"

"Thanks," said she, with perfect good-humour; "that's a very pretty way of putting it."

"What, Midge?"

"That I'm a hopeless flirt—which is the root of the whole matter, I suppose!"

She burst out laughing, and he joined her. But there had been a pinch of pathos in her words, and he was weak enough to make a show of contradicting them. She would not listen to him, she laughed at his insincerity. The conversation had broken down, and, as soon as he decently could, he went.

That was at the very end of a season; and Lord Nunthorp did not see his notorious relative again for some months. In the following February, however, he heard her sing at some evening party; he had no chance of talking with her properly; but he was glad to find that he could meet her at a dance the next night.

"Well, Midge!" he was able to say at last, as they sat out together at this dance. "How many proposals since the summer?"

She gravely held up three fingers. Nunthorp laughed consumedly.


"Any more scalps?" he inquired.

This was an ancient pleasantry. It referred to the expensive presents with which some young men had paved their way to disappointment. It was a moot point between Miss Anstruther and her noble kinsman whether she had any right to retain these things. She considered she had every right, and declared that these presents were her only compensation for so many unpleasantnesses. He pretended to take higher ground in the matter. But it amused him a good deal to ask about her "scalps."

[Pg 470]

She told him what the new ones were.

"And I perceive mine—upon your wrist!" Nunthorp exclaimed, examining her bracelet; and he was genuinely tickled.

"Well!" said she, turning to him with the frankest eyes, "I'd quite forgotten whose it was—honestly I had!"

He was vastly amused. So his bracelet—she had absolutely forgotten that it was his—did not make her feel at all awkward. There was a healthy cynicism in the existing relations between these two.

She had nothing very new to tell him. Two out of the last three had proposed by letter. She confessed to being sick and tired of answering this kind of letter.

"I'll tell you what," said her kinsman, looking inspired, "you ought to have one printed! You could compose a very pretty one, with blanks for the name and date. It would save you a deal of time and trouble. You would have it printed in brown ink and rummy old type, don't you know, on rough paper with coarse edges. It would look charming. 'Dear Mr. Blank, of course I'm greatly flattered'—no, you'd say 'very'—'of course I'm very flattered by your letter, but I must confess it astonished me. I thought we were to be such friends.' Really, Midge, it would be well worth your while!"

Miss Anstruther did not dislike the joke, from him; but when he added, "The pity is you didn't start it in the very beginning, with young Ted Miller"—she checked him instantly.

"Now don't you speak about him," she said, in a firm, quiet little way; but he appreciated the look that swept into her soft eyes no better than he had appreciated it six months before.

"Why not?" asked Nunthorp, merely amused.

"Because he meant it!"

Nunthorp wondered, but not seriously, whether that young fellow, who had gone in first, was to be the one, after all, to carry out his bat. And this way of putting it, in his own head, which was half full of cricket, carried him back to their last chat, and reminded him of a thing he had wanted to say to her for the last twenty-four hours.

"Do you remember my telling you," said he, "when I last had the privilege of lecturing you, that you sang iniquitously well? Then I feel it a duty to tell you that your singing is now worse than ever—in this respect. No wonder you have had three fresh troubles; I consider it very little, with your style of singing. Your songs have much to answer for; I said so then, I can swear to it now. Your voice is heavenly, of course; but why pronounce your words so distinctly? I'm sure it isn't at all fashionable. And why strive to make sense of your sounds? I really don't think it's good form to do so. And it's distinctly dangerous. It didn't happen to matter last night, because the rooms were so crowded; but if you sing to one or two as you sing to one or two hundred, I don't wonder at them, I really don't. You sing as if you meant every word of the drivel—I believe you humbug yourself into half meaning it, while you're singing!"

"I believe I do," Miss Anstruther replied, with characteristic candour. "You've no idea how much better it makes you sing, to put a little heart into it. But I never thought of this: perhaps I had better give up singing!"

"I'll tell you, when my turn comes round again," said he, leading her back to the ballroom. "I'll think of nothing else meanwhile."

He did not dance; he was not a dancing man; but he did think of something else meanwhile. He thought of a young fellow with a pale face, darkly accoutred, with whom Miss Anstruther seemed to be dancing a great deal. Lord Nunthorp hated dancing, and he had only come here to sit out a couple of dances with his amusing relative. He had to wait a good time between them; he spent it in watching her; and she spent it in dancing with the pale, dark boy—all but one waltz, during which Nunthorp removed his attention from the bow to its latest string, who, for the time being, looked miserable.

"Who," he asked her, as they managed to get possession of their former corner in the conservatory, "is your dark-haired, pale-faced friend?"

"Well," whispered Miss Anstruther, with grave concern, "I'm very much afraid that he is what you would call the next man in!"

"Good heaven!" ejaculated Nunthorp, for once aghast. "Do you mean to say he is going to propose to you?"

"I feel it coming; I know the symptoms only too well," she replied, in cold blood.

"Then perhaps you're going to make a different answer at last?"

"My dear man!" said Lord Nunthorp's[Pg 471] sisterly little connection; and her tone was that of a person rather cruelly misjudged.

The noble kinsman held his tongue for several seconds. Man of the world as he was, he looked utterly scandalised. Here, in this fair, frail, beautiful form, lay a depth of cynicism which he could not equal personally—which he could not fathom in another, and that other a quite young girl.

"Midge," he said at last, with sincere solemnity, "you horrify me! You've often told me the kind of thing, but this is the first time I've seen you with a fly actually in the web: for I don't think I myself counted, after all. That boy is helplessly in love with you! And you were smiling upon him as though you liked him too!"

Nunthorp was touched tremulously upon the arm. "Was I?" the girl asked him, in a frightened voice. "Was I looking—like that?"

"I think you were," said Nunthorp, frankly. "And now you calmly scoff at the bare notion of accepting him! You make my blood run cold, Midge! I think you can have no heart!"

"Do you think that?" she asked, strenuously, as though he had struck her.

"No, no; you know I don't; only after seeing you look at him like that——"

"Honestly, I didn't know I was looking in any particular way." Miss Anstruther added in a lowered, softened voice: "If I was—well, it wasn't meant for him."

Lord Nunthorp dropped his eye-glass.

"And it wasn't meant for you, either!" she superadded, smartly enough.

Lord Nunthorp breathed again, and ventured to recommend an immediate snub, in the pale boy's case.


When he had led her back to her chaperone, he felt easier on her account than he had been for a long time. It was obvious to him that the biter was bit at last. The right man was evidently in view, though he was not there at the dance—which was hard on the white-faced youth. Perhaps she was not the right girl for the right man—perhaps he refused to be attracted by her. That would be odd, but not impossible; and a girl who had refused to fall in love with every man who had ever fallen in love with her, was the likeliest girl in the world to care for some man who cared nothing for her—primarily to make him care. That is a woman, through and through, reflected Lord Nunthorp, out of the recesses of a recherché experience. But Midge would most certainly make him care:[Pg 472] she was fascinating enough to capture any man—except himself—if she seriously tried: and he sincerely hoped she was going to try, to succeed, and to live happily ever after. For Nunthorp had now quite a paternal affection for the girl, and he wished her well, from the depths of his man-of-the-world's prematurely grey heart. But he did not like a little scene, with her in it, which he witnessed just before he quitted that party.

"My dance!" said a boy's confident, excited voice, just behind him; and the voice of Miss Anstruther replied, in the coldest of tones, that he "must have made a mistake, for it was not his dance at all."

"But I've got it down," the boy pleaded, as yet only amazed; his face was like marble as Nunthorp watched him; Miss Anstruther was also slightly pale.

"She's doing her duty, for once," thought Nunthorp, to whom the pathos of the incident lay in its utter conventionality. "But she plays a cruel game!"

"You've got it down?" said Miss Anstruther, very clearly, examining her card with ostentatious care. "Excuse me, but there is really some mistake; I haven't got your name down for anything else!"

For an instant, Nunthorp held himself in readiness for a scene: he half expected to see the boy, whose white face was now on fire, snatch the card from her, expose her infamy, tear up the card and throw the pieces in her face. His face looked like it for a single instant, and Nunthorp was prepared to protect him if he did it. But the boy went away without a word.

Nunthorp met the girl's eyes with his. He knew she was looking for his approval: he knew she had earned it, by preventing one poor fellow from going the whole humbling length, and he was glad to think that she had taken his advice: but the glance he gave her was very grim. He could not help it. He went away feeling quite unlike himself.

Just outside, in the street, someone brushed past him, sobbing an oath. And Lord Nunthorp became himself again; for the person was Miss Anstruther's last victim.

"That's all right," he muttered; "not a broken heart—only broken pride. That's all that's breakable, after all, and it will mend!" He walked home rather pleased with Midge, as he called her, for having done her duty, no matter how late, in at least one case. He was vexed with himself for having been stupid about it at the moment. But it delighted him to think that most likely this would be the last case—of the kind. For Lord Nunthorp took always the most good-natured interest in his conspicuous cousin (or whatever she was), with whom he had once played at love himself.


How plain it was to the world that Miss Anstruther was motherless! No mother would have allowed her to behave as she did. With a mother, she would have married one of the many, whether she loved him or not. Her father, whose time was much taken up, was so blind as to see no harm in her. The only people she had to remonstrate with her were her married sisters. One of these had been Miss Anstruther's chaperone at this dance, where she sat out twice with her kinsman, Lord Nunthorp, and broke a silly youth's pride. This sister ventured to remonstrate—but very[Pg 473] gently—when they got home, in the small hours of the February morning.

Miss Anstruther had been silent and subdued during the drive home. She was considerably ashamed of herself. She was more ashamed of having ill-treated the white-faced boy over that dance—now that it was done—than she would have been to reject him after encouragement; use had blunted her feelings to this sort of sin; but the wrong of breaking cold-bloodedly an engagement to dance was altogether out of harmony with her character and her practices. She was notorious for leading men on to certain humiliation; she was celebrated for the punctilio with which she kept her word in the smallest matter. She had injured the good reputation in snapping the backbone of the bad one; and she did not feel at all pleased with Lord Nunthorp, who had said or implied one thing, and then stated its opposite. She had cheered up, however, on her arrival at the house: she had found a letter for herself, with three bright blue stamps in the corner, stuck up on the mantelpiece. Her hand had closed eagerly over this letter before the lamp was turned up. She was twisting it between her fingers, under her shawl, while her sister reproved her, not too seriously, for her treatment of that boy.

"I know it," she answered, rather dolefully; "I know well enough what a flirt I am! I have never denied it in my life, not even to them. But I really never mean them to go so far. And—and I don't think I'm so heartless as I make myself out to be!"

Her sister gazed at her fondly. Her own family, at all events, loved and believed in Miss Anstruther, and held that her faults were on the surface. The sister now saw in the sweet, flushed face the look that Lord Nunthorp had seen (and underestimated) more than once.

"Is there someone you care for after all, Midge dear?" she asked softly.

"There may have been someone all the time," the young girl whispered, her eyelids fallen, her hand squeezing the letter under her shawl.

"Is it—is it Ted Miller?"


Midge looked up into her sister's eyes. Her lip was quivering. She was a girl who seldom cried—her detractors would have told you why. She controlled herself before speaking now.

"It was the most hopeless affair of them all," she said simply; "but—but he was the only one who really meant it!"

His letter was against her bosom.

The married sister's eyes had filled. "You write to each other still, don't you, Midge?"

"Yes—as friends. Good night, Helen!"

"Good night, darling Midge; forgive me for speaking!" Helen whispered, kissing her eyes.

"Forgive you? You've said nothing to what I deserve!"

The girl was running up to her room two steps at a time. Ted Miller's letter was pressed tight to her heart.

[Pg 474]

Ted Miller had been four years in Australia. He had written to her regularly, the whole time, as her friend; and she had written fairly regularly to him, as his. His was the one refusal in which she had not been a free agent; she had been but seventeen at the time. There was love between them when they parted; there was never a word of it in their letters. He wrote and told her all that he was doing: he was roughing it in the wilderness; he was not making his fortune: he never spoke of coming home. She wrote and told him—nearly all.

A pleasant fire was burning in her room. She lit the candles, and sat down just as she was, in her very extravagant ball-dress, to read his present letter. She felt, as always in opening a letter from Ted, that she was going to open a window and let in a cool current of fragrant, fresh air upon an unhealthy, heavy atmosphere; and she noticed, what she had not noticed before, through hiding the letter before the lamp was turned up, that its superscription was not in Ted's hand; the bright blue stamps of New South Wales were really all she had looked at before. She now tore open the envelope with strange misgivings; and the letter turned out to be from the squatter's wife on Ted Miller's station, telling how a buck-jumper had broken Ted Miller's back; and how, before his death, which ensued in a matter of hours, he had directed her to write to his family, and also—but separately—to "his greatest friend."

The fire dulled down, the candles shortened, and in their light Miss Anstruther sat in her dazzling ball-dress, her face as grey as its satin sheen. Her rounded arms were more florid than her face. She moaned a little to herself—she could not cry.

At last she stirred herself. Her limbs were stiff. As she crossed the room, she saw herself from head to foot in her pier-glass—with all her grace of form and motion dead and stiff within her dress. She saw herself thus, but at the time with senseless eyes; the sight first came back to her when she next used that mirror. She was going to a certain drawer; she unlocked it, and drew it out bodily; she carried it to the table where the candles were slowly burning down. The drawer was filled with Miller's letters.

"His greatest friend!" They had been merely friends from the day they parted. He had nothing. Out there he had found fortune but a little less inaccessible than at home; he had written her no words of love, for how could there be any hope for them? She had plenty of money, but that was all the more reason why he must have some. His letters were not vulgarised by a single passionate, or sentimental, or high-flown passage. They were the letters of an honest friend; they were the letters of a good soldier—on the losing side, but fighting, not talking about fighting—talking, indeed, of quite other matters. And because these letters had been just what they were, Ted Miller himself had been to a frivolous girl, through frivolous years, what no one else had ever been—not even himself as she had known him best. Their friendship had been pure and strong and strengthening; their love idealised by improbability, and further by not being discussed, and yet further by being written "friendship." His tone to her had been: "Enjoy yourself. I want to hear you're having a good time. I am—there's nothing like work." She had answered, very truthfully, that she was doing so; and now he knew how! That was the bitterest thought: that the new knowledge was now his, and she, in his eyes, just what she had been in the eyes of the throng!

She sat down and read all his letters. The pure breath of heaven rose from every leaf. They did not touch her yet: her heart was numb. But the tones that had once come to her ears from every written word came no longer—the voice was silenced. She returned the letters to the drawer. She would keep them till her death.

And yet—would he like that?

She sat very still, trying to answer this question. The candles went out, but a leaden light had crept into the room through the blinds. She thought that he saw her, that he had seen her for weeks, that she had been grieving him the whole time, that she might please him now. There had been nothing morbid in Miller. He was the one man she had known who would wish her not to keep his letters.

She rose resolutely from her chair, and with difficulty rekindled her fire; it ruined her elaborate dress, but she was glad never to wear this one again. It did not seem to her that she was about to do anything cruel or unnatural. She was going to do violence to her own feelings only. It would please the strong soul of Miller that she was not going to keep his letters, to read them in her better moods, and less[Pg 475] and less as the years went on. For her own part, she felt she would like to have them a little longer. It was a subtle sense of sacrifice for Miller's sake—her first—which nerved her to burn his letters. Over-strung as she was, she burnt them every one, and without a tear.

A half-leaf happened to escape. She picked it out of the fender when the rest were burnt black, and her heart was beginning to ache for what she had done. She took it to the window, and read on the crisp, scorched paper the ordinary end of an ordinary letter—the end of all was, as ever: "Yours always, E. M."

Without a moment's warning, her tears rattled upon the hot paper; she pressed it passionately to her lips; she flung herself upon the bed in a paroxysm of helpless agony.

[Pg 476]

The Guest of a Cannibal King.

By J. E. Muddock, F.R.G.S.

(A Personal Experience in the South Seas.)

When it was announced some years ago that the Germans had annexed the large group of islands lying to the north and west of the Solomon Group, and known as the New Britain Group, in the South Pacific, I was enabled to give, through the columns of The Daily News, a number of particulars of New Britain and New Ireland, derived from personal experience. At the time some controversy arose as to whether the natives were or were not cannibals. That they were cannibals there is not the shadow of a doubt; but what they are now, since they became subjects of the German Fatherland, I know not.

It did not fall to my lot, unhappily, to be able to make any exploratory examination of the islands, but I had an experience on the largest of the group—that is, New Britain—which was perhaps sufficiently interesting and exciting to warrant its being narrated in detail.

If the reader will take a glance at a map of the Pacific Ocean, he can hardly fail to be astonished at the immense number of islands, large and small, that stud that glorious home of the sun, while due north of Australia, and separated by Torres Strait, is New Guinea, which is practically unexplored. To the eastward of this immense island lies the group collectively known as the Solomon Islands, the southern section of which was first discovered by the Spanish navigator, Mendana, in 1567. To the north and west of these, and much nearer to the coast of New Guinea, are situated the two magnificent islands known as New Ireland and New Britain. These were discovered and named by Captain Cook, and ought now to have been in possession of Great Britain. They are situated within ten degrees south of the equator, and are amongst the most beautiful islands of that island-studded sea. The two islands form a roughly shaped horseshoe, the inside of the shoe facing the north-west. The northern end of New Britain is separated by a very narrow passage, known as St. George's Channel, from the southern end of New Ireland. Lying off the north-western extremity of New Ireland, and separated from it by only a few miles of sea, is a small upheaval covered with dense vegetation, and known as New Hanover. About two hundred miles from this, almost in a direct line, west and by north, is Admiralty Island, which is within two hundred miles of the equator. New Britain is the most extensive of the cluster, and is probably little short of three hundred miles in length, with a maximum breadth of about forty miles. Both it and its sister island are of volcanic origin, and there are still active craters in both of them. Like most tropical islands, and more particularly those of the Southern Pacific, they are marvellously fertile, and clothed with dense and luxuriant jungle. The coast lines are exceedingly bold and rocky, deeply indented with bays and inlets, and protected by the inevitable outer barrier of coral reefs. The climate is intensely hot, almost insupportably so at times by white people. Earthquakes are very common, and cyclones of terrific force frequently sweep over the country. The natives are probably allied to the Papuans. They have very dark brown skins, black woolly hair; but amongst them are to be found men and women with wavy and occasionally straight hair, and this is probably due to Polynesian blood. They are—or were—fierce and savage, and great head hunters. Being divided into tribes scattered over the islands, tribal wars were incessant. The flora and fauna were, at the time of my visit, hardly known to Europeans; but there are some most beautiful fruits and flowers; while ferocious animals abound, together with noxious insects and deadly snakes.

Many years ago I was cruising amongst these glorious islands in a trading vessel. It was in the very hottest season of the year, and for some weeks we had alternated between dead calms, when air and sea seemed to be aflame with heat, and terrific hurricanes that blew themselves out in an hour or two, but necessitated our stripping every rag of canvas from the ship (an ill-found, patched-up barque), in order that we might not lose our sails, of which we only had one suit, and that a very old one; while our stock of new canvas consisted of[Pg 477] about a dozen bolts, which had to be used for patching purposes. Of food, we had a fairly plentiful supply of "salt-horse," that was something more than high—it was putrid. But after towing it in the sea for a couple of days, and then boiling it for twelve hours, we managed to eat it and live. Our biscuits harboured live stock to such an extent that it was somewhat difficult to tell which was the live stock and which the biscuit. However, even weevils are fattening and sustaining, and it did not do to be too Epicurean in taste. Then, as to the water, I need only say that, in order to get it down, it was necessary to stifle the nostrils and shut one's eyes. We were a small crew, numbering, all told, seventeen hands, including two boys and a black cook. We were very ill provided with arms. We had half a dozen or so of rusty old cutlasses; three or four Enfield rifles, one of which, I remember, had a broken lock; and one or two smooth-bore guns. There were also a few revolvers amongst us, I myself being the fortunate possessor of two, both of them being Colt's regulation cavalry pistols, which I had picked up in Sydney. Besides these, we had a brass cannon, for which we had no proper ammunition; but we loaded it to the muzzle with old bolts, nuts, screws, nails, &c., and mounted it on the rail at the break of the poop on a swivel.


Our position was not a very pleasant one, jammed as we were amongst the islands, and unable to sail during the fierce squalls, and lying "as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean" during the calms. We were, therefore, subject to the powerful currents which flow there, and which drifted us amongst the coral reefs, until we expected every moment to rip our timbers out. What with this ever-present danger, and the manifest desire of the natives to have our blood, we had rather a lively time of it. We had endeavoured to get on shore at Choiseul (of the Solomon Group) for fresh water and fruit, but the natives opposed our landing, and we deemed it prudent to beat a retreat. Then, as we drifted north, nearly all day long we were surrounded by a fleet of canoes, their occupants armed with arrows, spears, and tomahawks. We tried to barter, but without avail, and it was clear that our black friends were smacking their lips at the prospect of dining off us. A ceaseless vigilance, however, on our part, together with a rather boastful display of our armoury kept them at a respectful distance. And at last, a light breeze springing up, it carried us clear until we found ourselves at the mouth of St. George's Channel, which cuts New Britain and New Ireland in two nearly in the centre of the horseshoe. Here we lost the breeze, and once more found ourselves in the midst of a fleet of canoes. Owing to the narrowness of the channel and the absence of wind we were in danger of drifting on to the reefs, so we offered the natives a large number of empty bottles, principally beer bottles, if they would tow us, and we succeeded in getting two big canoes, containing about twenty natives each, hitched on to our bows; and with a wild, fierce, and rhythmical chant they plied their paddles vigorously and kept it up for some hours, until on rounding a promontory we found ourselves in a deep bay, with a strong current setting dead inshore; and, as we could see the coral beneath us, we dropped anchor, after taking soundings,[Pg 478] in twelve fathoms of water. Fresh canoes now came off filled with natives, for the most part absolutely naked, and all fully armed with spears, poisoned arrows, and tomahawks. As they appeared to be more curious than hostile, however, we decided, after holding a council of war, to go on shore and procure a supply of fresh water and vegetables, or fruit, of which we stood in desperate need. We thereupon got out the lifeboat, loaded her up with empty casks and beakers, and seven of us, including myself, manned the boat. Of course we took with us our revolvers, guns, and cutlasses; but the guns and cutlasses we put into the boat before lowering her from the davits, and covered them up with canvas, as we did not want to provoke a conflict if we could possibly avoid it, though we were all quite prepared to fight hard for our lives.


We were followed to the shore by dozens of canoes, and on reaching the land the natives swarmed round us in hundreds. But presently there was a great shouting. The people parted, forming a lane down which marched as superb a specimen of a man it has ever been my lot to see. His physique was simply magnificent, and his broad chest and massive limbs gave evidence of immense strength. His teeth were stained red with betel-nut, and round his neck, arms, and ankles he wore ornaments made of shells, but with these exceptions his costume was that of our first parents before the fall. His movements were the perfection of grace, and his bearing wonderfully dignified.

It soon became apparent that this man was a petty king or chief, from the deference that was paid to him. Hoping to secure his good offices, I moved towards him and made a sort of salaam, which seemed to please him mightily. Round my neck I wore a lanyard, to which was attached a large, brand-new jack-knife, and, as this seemed to attract his attention, I took the lanyard and knife off my neck and put it round his. Whereupon he was seized with an ecstasy of delight, and executed a wild sort of dance, shouting, and halloing, and patting the knife as though it had been a sentient thing.

Having thus expressed his delight and thankfulness, he made certain signs which I interpreted as a desire on his part that I and my comrades should follow him. This they resolutely declined to do, but the spirit of adventure had too strong a hold on me for me to say no; and so, against the protests and persuasions of my companions, I signified to him that I would follow. I[Pg 479] had two revolvers at my belt, and I also carried a long, lithe Malacca cane, armed at one end with a formidable knob of lead worked over with string. I considered, therefore, that in a fair stand-up fight I should be able to give a good account of myself. However, there was no hostile appearance on the part of the natives and the chief placed me on his left-hand side, and thus, followed by a yelling rabble, we struck inland. For about four miles we marched through a forest, till we suddenly came to a clearing where there was a village screened by tall palms from the fierce rays of the sun.


My arrival was the signal for a general rush from the huts of crowds of natives—men, women, and children. They pressed forward with eager curiosity, examined me from head to foot, made remarks one to the other, and yelled in a perfectly diabolical manner. But presently the king seemed to get angry, and he uttered a sort of war-whoop, while his suite, with a sweep of the heavy sticks they carried, scattered the crowd and made a passage through them. I was then led to a large shed or hut, which I gathered was the Grand Council Chamber, where weighty social and political matters were discussed and the head-hunting expeditions planned. The roof of this building was composed of palm leaves and some species of grass dyed various colours. It was supported by stems of young palm-trees, also ornamented with coloured grasses, which had a most pleasing effect. The walls were composed of sticks and flag-leaves, thickly plastered with mud on the outside. The floor was covered with matting, dyed yellow, and worked into a striking pattern by means of different coloured feathers. At the main entrance was a tall bamboo pole crowned with a human head. The head had belonged to a powerful chief who had been killed in battle, and the victors preserved his skull as a trophy. A little later, during an investigation I made, I found, in a heap at the back of the Council House, a large number of skulls and human bones. Many of the skulls were marked with dints of the tomahawk, thus showing how the victims had been slain. That their bodies had also been eaten there can be little doubt. And in this connection I may mention that, in 1882, New Britain was visited officially by Captain C. Bridge, R.N., and he reports that the inhabitants of that island are the only cannibals he knows of who are not ashamed of their taste for human flesh.

When the king and I and his suite had crossed the portal of the Council Chamber, I was glad to see that a number of men were stationed outside armed with clubs to keep the crowd off. The air was thick with mosquitoes, gnats, sandflies, and other insects. Seeing that they annoyed me, my host ordered one of his attendants to wave over my head a fan made of a palm-leaf attached to a long handle. The chief then squatted on his haunches on a raised platform which ran half-way round the building,[Pg 480] and he invited me to do the same, placing me on his right, which I understood was the position of honour. Then he made a speech, though what it was all about I could form but little idea, but two or three times, from the way his followers eyed me, I thought he was telling them that I was in excellent condition for cooking.

He continued to hold forth for about half an hour, and then it was evident that he gave some orders, for men entered and made preparations for a feast. Having heard so much of their cannibalistic propensities, I confess that my feelings at that moment are not capable of being adequately described; for I thought I was about to have ocular demonstration of their love for human flesh. But suddenly it flashed across my mind that I myself was to provide them with the material for the feast; that is, that I was to be sacrificed in order that they might dine, for they were credited with preferring their meat freshly killed. Through the long slits that served for windows in the bamboo walls I could see the surging crowd of natives, and it seemed to me that all their faces depicted the eagerness with which they were looking forward to seeing the white man despatched. And when I turned towards the chief I fancied I read the same signs in his face, and I blamed myself then for so fatuously allowing myself to be lured into such a trap. The chief still squatted beside me, and I managed to get about a yard further from him; and, with my hand on the stock of one of my revolvers, I waited developments. Indeed I am not ashamed to say that I contemplated making a bolt for liberty and life, and I calculated what my chances would be, if, with a revolver in each hand, I suddenly sprang for the door, and, keeping the rabble at bay, rushed at my topmost speed towards the shore, which was at least four miles away, though all down hill. But a wiser course immediately suggested itself to me, and that was to remain still until I saw signs of attack, then blaze away, and in the confusion bolt.


But by the time I had revolved these things in my mind four or five natives entered bearing wooden trays on which were roasted yams, breadfruit, young cocoanuts, sugar cane, plantains, roasted wild hog, and some kind of fish baked in leaves. And bringing up the rear was a woman carrying on her head a huge calabash which, as she lowered it to the ground, I saw was filled with crystal water. These things were placed between me and the chief, and by signs he invited me to fall to. When I learned that I was not to be used as the material for a feast but to be feasted instead, my mind was considerably relieved, and I set to work on the good things provided with a very keen appetite. In a few minutes two other women entered bearing between them suspended from a bamboo, a large earthenware pot, in which was something smoking hot. This pot was set before us, and into it the chief plunged a wooden skewer; bringing up a piece of white round[Pg 481] flesh, dripping with hot oil, and which I took to be part of an eel for the moment, but only for a moment, as I suddenly divined that the steaming pot contained a mess of stewed snakes. The chief handed me the piece he had fished up, and I took it and tasted it, and, finding it palatable in itself, although the grease it had been cooked in was nauseating, I managed to get it down, but respectfully declined a repeat.[1]

The appetite of my host was, as Dominie Sampson would have said, prodigious! Having lived for weeks on bad salt junk and rotten biscuit, I was in a condition to do full and ample justice to the good things spread before me. And I am satisfied that I did so; but it was nothing, a mere picking, a mouthful, when compared with what the chief stowed away. He gorged to such an extent that I almost expected to see him roll over in a fit of apoplexy. But the capacity of his stomach was apparently unlimited. And at each fresh bout he came up smiling, until there was little left to eat, and that little was distributed to the crowd outside, who snarled and wrangled for the pieces like angry wolves.


When the important ceremony of dining was over, I rose with a tighter waistband than I had had for weeks; and I gave my entertainer to understand that I should like to see the village. Thereupon he gave some instructions, and led the way outside, and I wandered about the village for some little time. The huts I noted were built in clusters. They were formed by digging a pit that was plastered with wet mud like cement, and allowed to dry in the sun. Then above this pit was reared a roof of sticks and leaves, the top being rounded off [Pg 482]dome fashion. I peeped into some of these dwellings, and saw immense quantities of clubs, spears, and arrows, which might be taken as good evidence of the warlike character of the people. The interior of the huts was astonishingly cool, and it was quite refreshing to step into one out of the fearful heat of the sun.

My host next took me to his own residence, which was larger and superior to the others. There he had several wives and children. One of the women was not only handsome, but, as a model of a perfectly formed figure, she would have sent an artist into ecstasies. Her limbs were adorned with shells, and her raven tresses were relieved by the scarlet feathers of a parrot.

On approaching this island from the south, the first land one sees is a high mountain, probably between four and five thousand feet. It is known as Mount Beautemps Beaupré. I was exceedingly anxious to reach this mountain, and if possible ascend it, so as to get a bird's-eye view of the island. I therefore signified my wish to the chief, who, apparently comprehending my meaning, armed himself with a club and spear, and, calling his followers together, we started towards the interior. For some distance our way ran through a jungle of the most luxuriant tropical foliage. There were trees of an enormous girth and height, and they were covered with ferns and orchids; while from tree to tree tendrils stretched in graceful festoons, and hung down in a perfect and all but impenetrable network. Occasionally birds were seen with plumage of perfectly marvellous colours, and I had the good fortune to see two birds of paradise. As we pursued our journey we occasionally disturbed a large snake or two, and on the trunks of some of the trees I saw great green lizards with eyes like saucers. Peccaries, or wild pigs, abounded, and there was a bird that went in flocks, and was not unlike a partridge. Amongst the trees I distinguished breadfruit, cocoa palms, plantains, guavas, mangoes, custard apples. Amongst the undergrowth grew a peculiar fibrous grass of great length, and I learned afterwards that the natives twist this in a primitive fashion and manufacture ropes from it.

We continued our journey for several miles, gradually rising until the road became steep and difficult. After an exhausting climb under a fierce sun, we gained the summit of a hill, when there burst upon my astonished gaze a panorama of wonderful grandeur. Afar off, inland, was the mountain I had hoped to gain; but its summit was shrouded in light feathery mists that masked its height. Between our standpoint and the mountain dense forests rose up for thousands of feet until they suddenly broke off and gave place to bald volcanic cones and serrated crags, shattered into fantastic outline. I longed to plunge down into the intervening valleys and explore their hidden mysteries, but I had to recognise the impossibility of doing so under the circumstances.

Turning seaward, other islands were visible, floating in dreamy mist; and, looking to the north-west, we beheld the lofty volcanic peaks of New Ireland. After spending some time in studying the marvellous picture, I wished to proceed further inland, but my host and his followers resolutely declined to go another step, and gave me to understand that, if we went on, inland tribes would attack and kill us. In spite of that danger—if it really existed—I should have pushed forward if one or two of the natives had been willing to accompany me. But they would not budge, and reluctantly I was compelled to retrace my steps. We did not, however, return exactly the same way, although there was no difference in the features of the jungle scenery. On passing through one part of the jungle I was much struck by gorgeous flowers that grew in the undergrowth. Their colours were surprisingly rich and brilliant, but on plucking some of them I was amazed to find that they instantly shrivelled up in my hands, like a piece of dried skin, and their wonderful colours faded away as if by magic.

We stopped at another village on our return, and my presence caused intense excitement and curiosity. Men, women, and children gathered round me, yelling and gesticulating, and, as I thought, menacingly. My hand instinctively wandered to my revolver, but I did not draw it, for I recognised at once that they had no arms, and I concluded therefore that they meant no harm, in spite of their seeming fierce looks. Their pressing attentions, however, were far from pleasant, and I was glad when I had got clear of them.

On arriving back at our starting-point, night was closing in. I found that another feast had been prepared in the council chamber, and the chief invited me to partake of it. Amongst other things were vast quantities[Pg 483] of all sorts of fruit, and a huge bowl of kava, which I tasted. The place was lighted by means of torches made of some fibre soaked in oil. These were held by men who squatted on their haunches. The torches flared and sputtered, producing a most intolerable smell and dense fumes, which, however had the good effect of keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

When the feast was ended, the chief made a sign, and twenty young women filed in, taking up their position in the centre of the chamber. They were handsome, well-formed girls, and were ornamented with necklaces of many rows of shells and sharks' teeth. Their dress consisted of a small kind of pliable mat, held round the hips by a belt of grass. To a low monotonous chant of the assembled natives, the girls commenced to go round in file, beating time with their feet, and swaying their arms about with a graceful rhythmical motion. This lasted for about five minutes. Then the chant quickened, as did also the movements of the dancers, until at last they joined in with the singers, beating time with their hands. Their mats were flung on one side, and their sole costume was a thin fringe of coloured grass tied round the loins.

The chant now swelled into a wild song. The singers grew excited and clapped their hands, making a peculiar sharp sound like that produced by two cocoanut shells when struck smartly together. The girls became infected with the excitement, and whirled round like humming tops, shrieking in their loudest key. At the end of half an hour the dance ceased. The perspiration was literally pouring off the girls, but apparently they were not exhausted. Gathering up their mats, they made a profound bow to the chief and retired. I was next favoured with a war-song and dance. In obedience to the orders of the chief, two powerful fellows stepped into the centre armed with spears. They commenced by giving a war-whoop, and then made themselves horrible by facial contortions that would have made a pantomimic clown envious. Next, they threw themselves into every conceivable attitude, their limbs seeming to be as flexible as india-rubber. They brandished their spears in dangerous proximity to each other's heads; they howled, twisted, jumped, and grimaced in such a hideous manner that I was glad when the performance ended.


Soon after this the natives retired, saluting the chief as they went out. In a few minutes more women entered, and made a bed of palm-leaves, on which they spread the skin of a wild animal. The chief then intimated that it was my sleeping-place, if I chose to remain there, an invitation that I was not slow to accept, and very soon I found myself alone. It was pitch dark at first, but there were[Pg 484] flashes of pale points of light as the fire-flies flitted about, and from the jungles came a chorus of indescribable sounds. But there was one sound I shall never forget. It was made by a bird, and resembled a plaintive wail, occasionally varied by what resembled a shrill scream of pain. Anything more saddening or melancholy than that wail from out of the depths of the tropical forest in the darkness of the night could not well be imagined. It was suggestive of somebody suffering the keenest agony—the cry of a lost soul.


Presently the moon rose, and I went to the door to gaze out on the scene that was revealed. It seemed almost unearthly in its sublime, weird beauty. A lace-like vapour veil appeared to hang over the landscape, but it served to impart a dreamy, visionary appearance that was fascinating. Indeed, it was like a land of dreams, for in the crystalline light of that tropical moon everything seemed transfigured. Overhead the great stars palpitated with a splendour of brilliancy unknown in temperate latitudes, and the tops of the great trees were clearly and sharply silhouetted against the dark sapphire sky.

Returning to my humble couch, I threw myself down, feeling thoroughly fagged out after the hard day's work. The heat was intense, and the air thick with mosquitoes. Nevertheless I fell asleep, but later on was awakened by some disturbing sound, and where the bars of silver light flecked the floor as the moon rays poured through the slits in the bamboo, I saw crouching figures. An instinct of danger caused me to spring to my feet and draw my revolver. For some time I stood on the defensive, ready to fire, if need be; but the figures remained motionless and still. Preferring certainty to suspense, I cautiously approached them, and to my surprise saw they were women. There were six of them. But they gave no sign, uttered no sound, and, save for their eyes that were turned on me and glowed like jewels, they might have been statues.

Not knowing what the nocturnal visit of these dusky beauties meant, I went back to my corner, determined to keep on the alert, fearing treachery; but tired nature asserted herself, and I fell asleep. When I next awoke it was broad daylight, and the sky was aflame with amethyst and gold, with great fields of crimson lying between. My lady visitors had gone, and save for the awakening voices of the day that came from the jungles, all was silent.

Not for a full hour after this did the king and his followers put in an appearance, and when we had breakfasted, he accompanied me to the beach, and I was taken off by the ship's boat. My companions were agreeably surprised when I turned up sound in wind and limb, for they had come to the conclusion that I had been served, boiled or roasted, as a dainty dish for his sable majesty.

As the dead calms continued for several days, we remained at anchor. And I strengthened my friendship with the king by presenting him with a small hand saw, with which he was immensely delighted. I also gave him a belt that he took a fancy to, and an india-rubber tobacco pouch, together with a pocket-knife that contained a gimlet, a hook, and a tiny saw: this pleased him more than anything else.

One day I made an excursion with him[Pg 485] in his canoe, and we coasted inside of the coral barrier for a long distance. Everywhere the shore was thickly fringed with cocoanut trees and palms. So clear was the water that the branching coral could be seen many yards below. We landed in a little bay, and proceeded to a friendly village hidden in the jungle. Here I was as much an object of curiosity as I had been in the other places; but it also seemed to me that I was regarded with a certain shyness and reserve, and there was an evident desire that I should not go about and look into the houses. Before one of the largest of the houses I noticed several human heads stuck on bamboos, and as these heads were fresh, it suddenly occurred to me that the villagers had just returned from a head-hunting expedition, and had been dining off human flesh. I therefore determined to keep my eyes open, and very soon I came across unmistakable evidence that I was right, for behind one of the huts in the centre of the village I discovered a very old man and a middle-aged woman busily engaged enveloping portions of human flesh in leaves preparatory to cooking it, which is done in a sort of oven built of loose stones. In another part of the village I saw a heap of human bones, including thigh and leg bones, and an arm to which the flesh still adhered. It was not a very pleasant sight, and I was glad to get away.


I subsequently heard in China that the natives of these islands scrape the inside of the kernels of the young cocoa nuts into a gourd, and, adding pounded sago to it, they mix human brains with the mess, and diluting it with goat's milk, drink the compound. I attached little credence to this statement at the time, but within the last few years it has been amply confirmed, especially by Mr. H. H. Romilly, who paid several visits to the islands. He says that the disgusting decoction is known as dak-dak.

I parted from my friendly chief, or king, with regret, and I promised myself that I would return at no distant date, and endeavour to explore the island. Circumstances, however, arose which made the fulfilment of that promise impracticable at the time.

On leaving New Britain we nearly came to grief on a coral reef near the Duke of York Island, which lies off the western end of the larger island. But, having got clear, we coasted along New Ireland in order to get the land breeze. When at the extreme or eastern end of the island, I went with some of the crew into a small bay, where we effected a landing, our object being to replenish some empty water-casks, and obtain fruit and vegetables. With this object in view we made our way towards a village, but were speedily surrounded with natives, who showed such a hostile spirit, and would have attacked us but for our firearms, that we deemed it prudent to return to the shore. The New Irelanders bear the reputation of being much more fierce and savage than their neighbours. In this island there are still several active volcanoes, and hot sulphur springs are numerous. While sailing along the shores of New Ireland, a violent shock of earthquake occurred, and the sea was greatly agitated, causing the ship to roll heavily. Slight shocks are almost of daily occurrence.

The people of all this group of islands are[Pg 486] exceedingly interesting as ethnological studies. They are amongst the most intelligent of the South Sea islanders, and display great ingenuity in ornamenting their spears, clubs, and other weapons, as well as their canoes. These latter are fitted with outriggers, whereas in the Solomon Group, a little further to the south, the outrigger is unknown. The men are finely built, and seem capable of sustaining great fatigue. Many of them whiten their woolly hair by sprinkling powdered seashells on it, having first soaked the hair in grease. The effect of this whitened hair is very remarkable. The women of all the groups are handsome and well formed when young; but, like all natives of tropical countries, they age quickly. They marry very early, often before they are twelve years of age. Some of the tribes, both men and women, go entirely naked.

A very curious custom prevails in the New Britain Group, in compelling a man who has neglected his wife and children to run the gauntlet. Two rows of women extend for a distance of several hundred feet, each woman being armed with a lithe stick. Down the avenue thus formed, the culprit, in a state of absolute nudity, has to make his way; and, as he darts past, the women belabour him savagely, and by the time he reaches the end of the row he is exhausted and covered with blood.

This punishment is greatly dreaded, not so much on account of the physical suffering it entails, as the disgrace that follows, for the man is an outcast afterwards for several weeks. No one of his tribe dare speak to him; he must betake himself to the jungle, where he lives naked, and as best he may, until the expiration of his sentence.

The currency of the islands is small shells, exceedingly delicate and pretty; and as they are only found in small quantities at one particular spot, they have a high value. They are strung on strings made of fibre, and, when anything has to be paid for, a length is measured off. A piece that will stretch across a man's breast will purchase two or three cocoanuts. At present, the chief trade of the island, I am informed, is in copra, that is, the dried kernels of the cocoanut, which is collected by the traders and despatched to Europe, where it is made into cocoanut oil, while the refuse is used for cakes for fattening cattle. On all these islands sago grows wild, as does also the sugar cane; but so fertile is the soil that tropical productions of every description would flourish amazingly. On New Britain the yam and sweet potato are cultivated extensively, and grow to an immense size.

In building canoes the natives of this part of the Pacific have no equal. The body of the canoe is generally made out of the trunk of a tree, the sides being built up from this body. The planks forming the sides are sewn together with the tough grass I have spoken of, and they are afterwards caulked and made watertight by means of a peculiar cement, which I understand is the kernel of a nut which grows extensively in the forests. The nuts are pounded in a large mortar. The powder is then mixed with boiling water, and in that state is worked into the seams. On drying, it becomes perfectly hard and watertight. The war canoes will carry from forty to sixty men. These are invariably decorated with human heads and carved crocodiles. The crocodile, which abounds in the centre of the islands, is an object of veneration, as is also the shark, which grows to an enormous size in these warm seas, and is most ferocious. The natives navigate their canoes very expertly amongst the coral reefs. From a very early age children of both sexes are accustomed to the water, and they will swim about for hours without showing any signs of fatigue. They seem to have no fear of the sharks that infest the waters. Whether it is that the sharks do not attack them, I really cannot say. What is certain is that a white man would very soon be gobbled up. Perhaps these South Sea sharks do not like black men.


[1] On mentioning this circumstance of the dish of stewed snakes some months later to friends of mine in China, they insisted that I must have been mistaken, as none of the South Sea Islanders were snake-eaters. But that some of the tribes do eat snakes has been amply proved since by Mr. C. M. Woodford, who visited the Solomon Group of Islands several times, and lived for months on some of the smaller islands. It appears that it is only certain tribes who eat the snakes; and they are held in contempt by the other tribes who do not use snakes. After my friends so persistently averred that I was mistaken, I came to that conclusion myself; but now I have no longer a doubt that I partook of boiled snake on that memorable day, and, as far as I remember, I found it a toothsome dish, but I bar the oil it was cooked in. That oil, I believe, was made from the blubber of shark.—The Author.

[Pg 487]

Old Stone Signs of London.

Though the predictions of John Dryden were not always fortunate, one stanza in the "Annus Mirabilis," 1666, which refers to the future of London City, may here be appropriately quoted:—

"More great than human now and more August,
New deified she from her fires does rise:
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And, opening, into larger parts she flies."

It may be observed that Augusta was the Roman name for London.

Now of the old stone signs of London yet extant, one or two only bear date anterior to the Great Fire. Many of those which still remain, fixed either on the outside walls or within the houses they originally marked, are undated, but their age may be guessed with a tolerable degree of accuracy. It is also known that the custom of denoting houses by carved stone signs built into the outer walls did not come into general use until the rebuilding of the city subsequent to the year 1666.

The inconvenience of the old swinging signs, which blocked the daylight, and which, by their creaking noises, made day and night alike hideous, had long been felt—nay, more, their danger to passers-by, when wind and decay had caused a downfall, had been not a few times painfully apparent. Hence the Act of Charles II., which forbade swinging signboards, was both wise and salutary. The signboards, however, died hard, and prints as late as the middle of the eighteenth century show the streets full of them. But signs had their use in those days of unnumbered streets, and it was not until the numbering of the houses was enforced that the quaint, historic, and, in some cases, even highly artistic, landmarks vanished.

As years have rolled by, the stone signs themselves, built though they were into the walls of the houses, have in a great measure disappeared. Some are luckily preserved in the Guildhall Library Museum, others are in private hands, many have been carted away as rubbish during rebuilding, and only a few now remain in situ. It is with these few that this paper is now concerned, and of which illustrations are given.


The use of the curious sign known as the "Boy and Pannier," in Panyer-alley, is threefold. It was a street sign, a trade sign, and also, it would seem, a landmark. Stow, writing in 1598, mentions a street sign there, probably the upper portion only of the present sign. He writes, "... Is another passage out of Pater Noster row, and is called, of such a sign, Panyer-Alley, which cometh out into the north over against St. Martins Lane." Along this alley the bakers' boys were wont to sit, with their baskets or panniers of bread exposed for sale, the sale of loaves at the bakers' shops for some reasons being prohibited by law. On the lower slab there yet remains a barely legible inscription, which in modern English runs thus:—

When you have sought the city round,
Yet still this is the highest ground.

August 26, 1688.

Cheapside and its tributaries are, as times go, rather rich in stone signs. On the external wall of No. 37 may be seen a well carved swan with collar and chain. This is a sign of heraldic origin without doubt; it was, in fact, one of the badges of Henry IV., and was also heraldically one of the charges of Buckingham, Gloster, and others. Hitherto, however, efforts to trace the exact[Pg 488] history of this sign have been without avail. Far different is it with the White Bear, now to be seen within the house of business of Messrs. Gow, No. 47, Cheapside. This most interesting sign was discovered while making alterations as lately as 1882. The house itself stands at the corner of Soper's-lane (modern designation, Queen-street), and was once the shop of the far-famed merchant, Sir Baptist Hicks, Kt., subsequently Viscount Campden. Baptist Hicks was the successful son of a wealthy father, and succeeded to what was in those days a most thriving silk mercer's business. His career is remarkable in more ways than one, for though a favourite at Court, immensely wealthy and knighted, he was the first London merchant who after knighthood took the resolution to still continue in business.



It is also worthy of notice that the stone figure of the bear faces in the opposite direction to all other heraldic signs now standing in London. At No. 28, Budge-row, will be found one of the best preserved of all the London signs, "The Leopard" (otherwise Lizard or Lazarde). This is the crest of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, and as Budge-row took its name from the skin of newly-born lamb, which was termed Budge, the origin of this sign can be in no way a matter of doubt. The Skinners' Hall, too, was close by, and quite early in the fourteenth century it may be noted that enactments were in force against the wearing of "cloth furred with Budge or Wool" by persons (women) of inferior rank.

Lower Thames-street, known in the time of Stow as Stock Fishmonger-street, still possesses two very good examples of signs: one, the "Bear," with its collar and chain, carved in very high relief, and surmounted by initials and date (1670).


On the borders of Islington and Clerkenwell there are a group of signs which belong to houses celebrated in past days. The first is the "Old Red Lion." Here there are two carved shields, one of which only is antique—i.e., that on the north gable. This house has memories and traditions both literary and artistic. Within its walls Tom Paine wrote the "Rights of Man." This is, however, a questionable honour. Here Hogarth was wont to stay, and has even introduced its gables into one of his prints—"Evening." The house, too, was the haunt at times of Thomson, Goldsmith, and Johnson.

Another sign is the "Pelican," of which there is an example in Aldermanbury. The fabulous story of the pelican "vulning" (i.e., wounding) its breast to feed its young endured for ages, and even as late as the reign of George I., at Peckham Fair, there was advertised to be on view "A pelican that suckles her young with her heart's blood, from Egypt." In the same district as the "Pelican," at the corner of Addle-street, E.C., may be seen yet another "Bear"—how popular as signs[Pg 489] and how enduring these bears seem! This carving is dated 1670 (not 1610), and bears initials N.T.E. The N., which is the surname, is reversed; the T. and the E. standing in all probability, as was customary, for the Christian names of the builder and his wife. The "Elephant and Castle," irreverently called the "Pig and Pepper-box," in Belle Sauvage-yard, is the crest of the Cutlers' Company, to whom the house was left in 1568 by John Craythorne. The "Belle Sauvage Inn," over the origin of whose name and sign so much antiquarian ink has been spilt, vanished years ago. This hostelry was memorable among other things for being opposite the spot at which the rebel Wyat rested on the occasion of his unsuccessful attempt to penetrate Ludgate. It was also a celebrated stopping-place for the northern carriers. In Belle Sauvage-yard for a time dwelt Grinling Gibbons, and there he carved, according to Walpole, "a plot of flowers which shook surprisingly with the motion of the coaches that passed by."






Two or three outlying stone signs remain now to be mentioned. One is the[Pg 490] "Cock and Serpents," at No. 16, Churchlane, Chelsea. This sign, evidently religious in its origin, is very remarkable, both in its design and also from its date, 1652. It does not appear to have any history, though the road in which it is to be found teems with memories of not a few of England's worthies. Another, the sign of the "Dog and Duck," now built into the garden wall of Bethlem Hospital in Southwark, is important from the fact that it records the precise sport (duck hunting) which was the attraction of the house, and also because on the same stone, and dated 1716, we find the arms of the Borough and Southwark—a conjunction of which the history of signboards offers no other example.



One illustration is given of a sign which is not stone, i.e., the "Leather Bottle," at the corner of Leather-lane, Hatton Garden. There appear to be doubts whether the present sign is the original, but as one branch of sign lore deals with signs appropriate to places, it may be well to mention this one, which is certainly of respectable antiquity, as an example. Space is wanting for more than mere mention of the "Marygold" of Messrs. Child's, the "Golden Bottle" of Messrs. Hoare's, and the three quaint iron squirrels of Messrs. Gosling's. Nor can the traditions of the ancient "Cock" Tavern in Fleet-street, with its carved wooden sign (possibly the work of Gibbons), be here related. The writer, however, may perhaps be permitted in conclusion to acknowledge with gratitude his indebtedness to the only standard book on the subject, and also to kind assistance rendered to him by many with whom he has come in contact while tramping the now modern streets of our historic metropolis in search of its ancient signs.


[Pg 491]

Captain Jones of the "Rose."

By W. Clark Russell.

Seven men sat in a gloomy wooden cave. Under a massive beam that ran athwart the ceiling swung a sort of coffee-pot, from the spout of which sputtered a smoking and stinking flame, whose disgusting fumes were to be everywhere tasted in the atmosphere of the darksome wooden cave. The seven men were seated, not on morocco chairs or velvet sofas, but on rude boxes, whose lids were scored by the cutting up of cake tobacco. There were one or two pillars or stanchions in this gloomy wooden cave, from which dangled several oilskin coats and oilskin leggings, and under the ceiling hung a number of bags called hammocks, with here and there a ragged blanket peeping over the edge, or an old shoe showing through the nettles. In the midst of the ceiling was a square hole called a hatch, down which this day there floated very little daylight, owing partly to the hatch being small and partly to the sky being overcast with clouds.


Had those seven men seated in this interior been cleanly shaved, and had they been apparelled in well-washed coloured shirts, sleeved waistcoats, comfortable trousers, and caps with naval peaks, they would have passed as a harmless, respectable body of seafaring men—persons who would say "mum" to a lady when addressed by her, and answer intelligently and respectfully when asked about the weather. But as they now sat they looked as sulky and wild a set of fellows as one could imagine, strangely and fearfully attired,[Pg 492] grimy of face and hairy, booted with half-Wellingtons and belted in Wapping fashion, and timid people would have thought that they carried a murderous air because each man wore a sheath upon his hip, in which lay a very sharp blade.

The wooden cave in which these men sat, rose and fell as though it were the extreme end of a long board violently see-saw'd; and this motion, combined with the smell of the fumes of the slush-fed lamp and a vapour rising out of a small tub of boiled pork, not to mention other odours such as might be produced by well-worn, newly-greased sea-boots, bedding which had made several voyages round the world, sooty clay pipes, old ropes, stale salt water, and many mysteries of malodorous commodities stowed below in the hold and forepeak, must instantly have upset the stomach of any landsman who out of curiosity should have put his head into the little hatch to see what was inside of it.

This cave was indeed a ship's forecastle, but the seven men who sat in it were mariners who had for many years been tossed by the various oceans of the world, and could not possibly have been sea-sick, even though they should have been offered a handsome reward to try.

One of them was a large, strong man, with a shaggy head of hair and a beard like rope-yarns. He looked as though he had taken a header and come up again to blow crowned with black seaweed. This strong man suddenly, and with a sulky fury of gesture, whipped the knife out of the sheath that was strapped to his hip, and, plunging it into a lump of pork, lifted the horrid block into the air, and cried out—

"Here it is agin!"

As he pronounced these words, the little square of hatch was obscured by the interposition of a man's body.


"The smell of that there pork," said the voice belonging to the body in the hatch, "is something to sit upon, something strong enough to lean agin. Why, a man might turn to and chop them fumes into first-class bunk-boards. Talk o' strength!"

"Come below, cook!" bawled one of the seven men.

"No; I've got to see to the capt'n's dinner. But I'm of ye if there's to be trouble. When I signed it was for wittles and a dry bottom and a ship's company. Pump, pump, and nothen to eat! Nothen to eat and pump, pump! Here's logic as don't tally with this covey's reckoning for one." And the man, violently smiting himself upon the breast, disappeared.

The powerful sailor who had held the pork aloft whilst the cook discoursed, shook it off the blade into the tub again and spat.

"It's about time," said he, "that all hands was agreed."

"All hands is agreed," said one of the sailors, "'cepting that blooming Dutchman Peter. But if he don't come into it it'll be a bad job for one of us if, on some dark night, him and me happens to be aloft together."

"That there Peter," said a sailor, "was a-boasting to me that he'd ha' shipped for a pound a month; d'ye know he'd eat a shipmate's shirt if by so doing he thought he would airn a shilling by saving his allowance."

"This is sweet meat to Peter," said one of the seven, pointing to the pork, "and a pound a month is good money to Peter; and if Peter and the likes of him could get their way, then if ye wanted to see what sort of man an English sailor looked like ye'd have to ask the master of the fust workhus as hove in sight to show ye him."

[Pg 493]

"What a blazing fool a fellow makes of hisself when he goes to sea!" exclaimed a man with red hair and a broken nose. "I might ha' been a market-gard'ner had I stayed ashore. Think o' that! What did I run away from home for? For the likes of this for a parlour," said he, waving his hand round the forecastle, "and for the likes of yon," pointing to his hammock, "for a bed, and the likes of that muck," he added, pointing to the pork, "for a meal. But no growling's allowed. Ho no! Tell 'em that pickled dog ain't pork, and that wermin ain't ship's bread, and you're taken afore the magistrate and committed, and locked up, and left to rot whilst the blooming Dutchmen are getting all the jobs, because pickled dog to them is pork, and wermin a relish." He struck his fist heavily upon the chest on which he sat, and fastened his eyes upon his huge knuckles whilst he turned them about, as though he were inspecting a sample of coal.

"No use keeping all on growling," exclaimed a quiet-looking seaman, addressing the others over his folded arms. "What's to be the order of the day?"

"A bust-up," answered the strong man, who bore the nickname of Black Sam. "Here we are, sixteen days out, two hands overboard, and not enough men by six able seamen to work the ship, wessel making water, and requiring to be pumped every four hours, meat fit to make a wulture ill, ship's bread old and wormy, and the rest of us men's stores shop-sweepings. Now this being so, I'm agoing to knock off work for one."

"And me for another——" "And me for another," went, in a growl, from mouth to mouth.

"There's the mate and there's the carpenter," continued Black Sam. "If the capt'n can work the ship with them two, well and good. But Peter he shan't have. Rather than that cuss of a Dutchman should be agin us, and on the capt'n's side, I'd—" He projected his arm, and seemed with his powerful hairy hand to strangle something in the air.

At this point the square of hatchway was again darkened, and the salt, husky voice of the carpenter called down: "Be—low there. Hain't the starboard watch got their dinner yet? Tumble up! Tumble up! The wind's drawed ahead, and the yards want trimming."

"Tumble up!" exclaimed Black Sam. "Don't you be holding your nose too long over the hatch, or it'll be you as'll be tumbling down. Can't ye smell it? Oh, it's nothen but us men's dinner. There's plenty left if ye've a mind for a bite."

"Who's that a-jawing?" exclaimed Mr. Chips, who combined the duty of second-mate with that of ship's carpenter. "Tumble up, I tell you. The wind's drawed ahead."

"Catch it and smell it for yourself," shouted a seaman, plunging his hand into the mess-kid and hurling a lump of pork through the hatch. The sailors heard the hurried steps of Mr. Chips as he went aft.

"He'll be telling the old man," said Black Sam; "let's go on deck and have it out, lads. I'll do the talking part, with your good leave. We don't want no language. Civility's a trump card in these here traverses. We all knows what we mean to get, and I'll say it for ye."

He led the way, his shipmates followed; they gained the forecastle and stood in a group gazing at the after part of the ship.

The vessel was the Rose, from Liverpool to an East African port. She was an old-fashioned, composite ship, but her lines were those of a yacht's, and there were few vessels then afloat which could look at her on a bowline. Her yards were immensely square, and she carried swinging booms and main-skysail-mast, and her burthen was between six and seven hundred tons. Such a ship as this demanded eighteen of a crew at least, not to mention master, mates, and "idlers." Instead of eighteen the Rose had sailed with ten men in the forecastle, and a cook in the galley, and the others were a carpenter, who acted as second-mate, an Only Mate, and the captain. Of the slender crew, two had been swept overboard in a gale of wind. They were foreigners, and the English Jacks did not lament their shipmates' end, but on the contrary grinned fiendishly when it was discovered that the foreigners were gone, and they hideously wished that all Dutchmen who signed articles for the red ensign of England would go and fall overboard as those two foreigners had, and as promptly, too, so that nobody concerned might be kept waiting.

During the gale in which the two Dutchmen had perished, the ship had been so strained as to oblige the hands to serve the pumps every four hours. Undermanned, leaky, the provisions rotten! There must be a limit to patience and endurance, even though the sufferer be a sailor. The seven seamen lumped together on the forecastle of[Pg 494] the Rose stood staring aft. The cook, a pale man, lounged in his galley door, half in and half out, and his face wore an expression of sour expectation. The carpenter, as I may call him, was talking to the captain, and the Only Mate was slowly rising through the companion hatch as the body of seamen stood staring.


The captain, whose name was Jones, was a tall, lean, gaunt man, his face of the colour of sulphur, his appearance decidedly Yankee, though he happened to belong to Limehouse. He wore square-toed boots, a cloak that might have been taken from the shoulders of a stage bandit, and a sugar-loafed hat. The hair on his face consisted of a beard that fell from under his chin like a goat's, and his eyes were black, brilliant, and restless.

The Only Mate, whose name was Johnson, was about half the captain's height. The ocean had done its work with him, had withered up his face, dried the marrow out of his bones, put a turn in either leg, so that his walk was like a pantomime clown's. Instead of being an Only Mate, he should have formed the eighth part of a mate. You would have thought that eight at least of such men as Mr. Johnson should go to the making of an Only Mate for the Rose, had you sent your glance from his dried and kinked figure to the body of men forward, more particularly to the giant Black Sam, who, with the rest, continued to gaze aft. The carpenter, or second mate, was a brown-faced man of about fifty, but brine had taken the place of blood in his veins, and he looked sixty, with his white locks and rounded back and long, hanging arms, whose fingers were curled in the manner of fish-hooks. At the wheel stood the Scandinavian seaman, Peter, the like of whom you may see any day blowing in a German band in the streets of London: veal-coloured, freckled, yellow-haired, a figure loosely put together, and as meaningless an expression of countenance as a dab's.

The captain was puffing at a long cigar that drooped between his lips. Presently he pulled his cigar from his mouth, and shouted: "We don't want all hands. The starboard watch can trim sail. Trim sail, the starboard watch!" and replacing his cigar, he fell to swiftly striding the quarter-deck to and fro.

The seven sailors marched aft, and came to a stand a little abaft the mainmast. Black Sam advanced himself by a step, and exclaimed:—"Capt'n Jones, us men don't[Pg 495] mean to do no more work until our wrongs are righted."

The captain, speaking with his cigar in his mouth, halted opposite the men, and said: "What are your wrongs? Are ye too well fed? Are ye growing too fat for the want of work? Say the word, and I'll right them wrongs for you fast enough."

"Ye've got a sow under that there long-boat, Capt'n Jones," said Black Sam. "Would ye give her the wittles us men have to live on and work hard on? No. And vy? Because the life and health of a sow is of more consequence to the likes of such men as you and the owners of this wessel than the life and health of a sailor."

Captain Jones clenched his fist and glared. But what is the good of one man clenching his fist and glaring at seven savage, hairy, resolved British seamen, and the captain might well know that he was but one man to the whole ship's company, for the Only Mate stood at the rail looking over the side as though he were a passenger, willing to listen, but rather anxious not to be "involved," whilst the carpenter had stepped aft, and was dividing his attention between the compass-card and the main-royal. The captain looked around him. He then puffed for some moments in silence at his cigar, whilst an expression entered his face that would have persuaded shrewder observers than the sailors he confronted that he intended to keep his temper.

"What have you to complain of?"

Several sailors spoke at once. Black Sam elevated his immense, hairy fist.

"We complain of this," said he; "first, the ship ain't seaworthy."

"Lie number one," said the captain.

"She ain't seaworthy," continued Black Sam, with a menacing note of storm in his deepening voice. "You're as good a sailor as we are, I suppose, and ye must know that a ship that needs to be pumped out every four hours ain't seaworthy."

"Next?" said the captain.

"All the wittles is rotten to the heart. Is this food for a man?" and Black Sam, putting his hand in his breast, pulled out a biscuit and extended it to the captain. But the captain looked elsewhere, and Black Sam, with his face full of blood, dashed the biscuit on to the deck at the captain's feet, on which one of the sailors cried out, "See how they run!"

"Lie number two," said the captain. "Next?"

"Your ship's stores are rotten to the heart," said Black Sam. "The wessel's taking in water faster than she should, and you know it. The crew are about seven less than the complement of such a vessel ought to be, and that you know also. And here we are to tell you this; that we're willing to go on pumping the wessel out for the next three days for our lives' sake, but not for yourn; but that we don't do another stroke of work unless you shifts your hellum and heads for the nearest port, where ye can ship more hands and wittles fit for men to eat. But if at the end of three days nothen's done, then we shall give up pumping, take the boats, and leave you, and Mr. Chips, and the mate to keep the ship afloat by yourselves, if ye can. That's your mind, mates?"

"That's our mind!" was echoed in a hurricane chorus.

The captain looked up aloft at his canvas, then around at the sea, then at his Only Mate, and at Chips the carpenter, and at Peter at the wheel. His sulphur-coloured face was dark with temper. Nevertheless he spoke deliberately:

"This ship's going to make her passage. The leak's nothing, the stores are first-class, and there are more of you than are wanted to do the work of the vessel."

He called to Mr. Johnson, the Only Mate, who approached him with a glance at the men that was certainly not remarkable for spirit.

"Mr. Johnson," said the captain, "you've heard what's passed?"

"I have, sir," answered the Only Mate.

"These fellows will go forward," continued the captain; "they will swing in their hammocks, and they will smoke their pipes; but no more stores are to be served out to them—no, not so much as a fragment of that excellent bread which lies wasted on the deck here—until they consent to turn to. Then, I don't doubt, it will be all plain sailing again. Go forward now!" he cried, in a voice the sudden ring of which was like the report of a pistol. "Mr. Johnson, I'll take the wheel; whilst you, Mr. Chips and Peter, trim sail."

"Peter!" roared Black Sam, "we men have knocked off work till we're righted. If you lend the capt'n a hand, and side with him agin us——"

And again he advanced his enormous arm and caused his fist to writhe.

"Mr. Cheeps," said Peter, "take this[Pg 496] vheel; I am onvell;" and letting go the spokes, the Dutchman marched forward and joined his shipmates, who roared out a defiant huzza as the whole eight of them, with the cook in their wake, made their way to the forecastle and disappeared.

Sailors have no friends, and Captain Jones knew it. There are societies in Great Britain for the prevention of the ill-usage of most things living, from women to dogs, from children to dickybirds, but there is no society for the prevention of cruelty to sailors. Captain Jones knew that he had the power to starve his men into compliance. Nevertheless, he passed a very uneasy night. When the morning broke, he and the Only Mate and Mr. Chips were nearly dead of fatigue, for wind had risen in the hours of darkness, and the ship was a big one, and there were but two men, the third being at the wheel, to let go and clew up, and haul down and make snug as best two men might. When the morning broke, Captain Jones looked as if he had just come out of hospital; Mr. Chips, who stood at the wheel, might readily have passed for a man of seventy; and the Only Mate, who was lighting the galley-fire, showed as if he had been towed overboard during the greater part of the night.

"Those blackguards in the forecastle will be wanting their breakfast," said the captain, "and you'll have them laying aft presently and asking to turn to."

The men, however, did not show themselves. They perfectly understood that the ship could not be navigated as things went, and that the captain must come round to their views before the day had passed, and, indeed, long before the day passed should a change of weather happen presently, and they grinned man after man as they furtively peeped through the scuttle and saw old Chips at the wheel looking seventy years old, and Captain Jones as though he was just come out of hospital, and the Only Mate as though he had been towed overboard; and they preserved their grin, man after man, as they looked aloft and saw the unfurled royals and topgallant-sails fluttering, and the staysails hanging loose, and the yards very ill-braced indeed.


"We've got yesterday's muck of pork," said Black Sam, "and the bread barge ain't empty. If the old man were the devil himself, we'd weather him out. But the ship mustn't be allowed to sink this side of three days;" and forthwith the sailors grimly rose through the hatch, and in silence walked to the pumps, which they plied until they sucked, and then returned to the forecastle. But there was no novelty in this proceeding, for they had kept their faith with the captain, and at every four hours throughout the night a gang had turned out to pump the ship.

Whilst Captain Jones, sitting on the skylight, was drinking some coffee which the Only Mate had boiled, the carpenter (Mr. Chips) munching a biscuit at his side, and the Only Mate munching another biscuit at the wheel, a sail hove in view. The breeze was light and the sea smooth. Captain Jones hoisted the English ensign union down, and at about nine o'clock in the morning the two vessels were nearly abreast of each other, the Rose with her topsail to the mast, the yards having been swung by Captain Jones and Mr. Chips taking the braces to the quarter-deck capstan. The stranger was a large, light barque, painted black. She, too, had backed her topsail.

"There is no use in hailing," said Captain[Pg 497] Jones, addressing the Only Mate; "lower that quarter-boat, Mr. Johnson, and go aboard with Mr. Chips. Tell the captain of the barque that my men have refused duty; and ask him if he can oblige us with the loan of a couple of hands to carry the barque to ——," and he named a convenient port.

Forthwith a boat was lowered, and in a few minutes Mr. Chips and the Only Mate were pulling away as for their lives for the big, light barque. The captain, grasping the wheel, stood watching. Now and again a hairy head showed in the forecastle hatch, and the noise of a hoarse laugh floated aft to the ears of Captain Jones. The boat gained the side of the barque, a rope's end was thrown, and the Only Mate made the boat fast to it. Both men then clambered over the side of the vessel and disappeared.


The captain gazed eagerly, and whilst he stood looking a hoarse voice roared the following weather-worn lines through the forecastle scuttle:—

"You Parliament of England, you Lords and Commons too,
Consider well what you're about, and what you mean to do;
You're now at war with Yankees: I'm sure you'll rue the day
You roused the sons of Liberty in North Americay."

The time passed, Captain Jones stood at the wheel with his eyes fixed upon the barque. Suddenly he ran to the companion way, picked a telescope out of its brackets, and, kneeling at the rail, directed the glass at the barque. He remained motionless with his eye at the telescope for some minutes, then stood up and sent a glance aloft, and a look that swept the wide platform of his own decks, and his hollow, gaunt countenance wore an expression of perplexity, dismay, and wrath, all combining in a look that made him appear more than ever as though just out of hospital.

"By this and by that and by t'other," he roared, using words which, as they cannot be described, must be left to the imagination, "who'd ha' thought it of two such this and that and something else sniggering whelps?" and even as he thus used language which cannot be written, the barque swung her yards so as to fill upon the sails, and letting go Captain Jones's boat, which dropped quietly rocking astern, slided along her course, her flying jibboom end pointing at something west of north.

Captain Jones stood looking as though bereft of his reason, and many and awful were the sea-words which leapt from his lips. Again he looked along his deserted decks. There was nothing to be seen in the shape of human nature but a single head showing in the fore-scuttle, and this head appeared to be graphically describing what its eyes beheld to the hidden mob beneath, else how should Captain Jones account for the continuous roar of derisive laughter which saluted his ears? He stood alone upon his deck: either the Only Mate and the carpenter had been kidnapped or they had deserted him; and Captain Jones was[Pg 498] perfectly right in not doubting for a moment that they had deserted him.

He rushed forwards.

"Men," he bawled, "up with ye! You shall have your way. I'm a lonely man. Don't stop to consider. Ye shall have your way, but you must bear a hand."

Upon this, up through the hatch, with the agility of a seaman, sprang Black Sam. He was followed by the cook and Peter, and in a jiffy all hands were on deck.

"See that barque?" roared the captain. "The mate and Mr. Chips have deserted me for her. They've stolen my boat. No! I'm not going to stop to pick her up. She'll be fifteen pound against Mr. Johnson, and six months atop of it for robbery. I'm going to follow that barque; I'm going to get those two men out of her. If the barque don't surrender 'em I'm going to run her down. Turn to now, my lads, and you shall have your way."

"Well, we see you're in a hurry, capt'n," said Black Sam, "and as ye know what our wrongs is, and as ye mean to right 'em in the manner I took the liberty of pointing out yesterday, vy, we'll turn to. Give your orders, and you'll find us willing."


The captain forthwith gave his orders. His commands would not be understood by the landsman. Enough if I say that in a very short time the Rose, fully clothed in canvas, was standing with her head direct for the barque, an able seaman at her wheel, the captain pacing the quarter-deck, the cook preparing breakfast for the men in the galley, and the sailors, each of them with a glass of grog in him, looking at the distant figure of the barque over the bows.

The Rose, as I have said, was a clipper. The wind had somewhat freshened, and in this pursuit the vessel brought it about a point before the beam. Far ahead leaned the barque, tall and unsightly, heeling out to the sun a space of green copper, whilst at this moment a foretopmast studdingsail went slowly soaring to the yardarm. Captain Jones gave a loud laugh of contempt. He knew that his ship could sail three feet to the barque's one, even though the chase should heap the canvas of a Royal George upon herself. He went on to his forecastle and sent a man aft for a large black board, upon which he wrote in chalk:—

give 'em up or—
I'll run you down.

As the Rose overhauled the barque—and had she been a steamer she could not have overtaken her more swiftly—the black board was held on high by a couple of seamen[Pg 499] so that it could be read on board the stranger. Captain Jones on the forecastle head watched the chase through his glass. The words "Martha M. Stubbs, Windsor, N.S.," were written in large white letters upon her stern. Nothing was to be seen of Mr. Chips and the Only Mate. A man wearing a fur hat, resembling Robinson Crusoe's, paced the short poop of the barque. He carried a glass in his hand, and to judge by the frequent glances he directed at the Rose, it was to be guessed that he had interpreted the handwriting on the black board.

The breeze freshened. Sheets and tacks strained to the increased pressure. The Rose, with foam midway to the hawsepipe, went shearing alongside the barque within pistol shot.

"Hard up!" shrieked the man in the Robinson Crusoe cap, and the fellow at the helm made the spokes spin like the driving wheel of a locomotive.

"Hard up and into him!" roared Captain Jones, and round fizzed the wheel of the Rose in true firework fashion.

For the next two hours the Rose was occupied in endeavouring to run down the barque, the barque on her side cutting a hundred nimble nautical capers to evade the shearing stem of the enraged Jones. But at the end of two hours it had become plain to the man in the Robinson Crusoe hat that the Rose was in earnest. He then gave up, backed his maintopsail yard, and sent the Only Mate and Mr. Chips aboard the Rose in a boat pulled by two men. Captain Jones at once put Mr. Chips into irons and sent the Only Mate to his cabin. He then called to the two fellows who were sitting in the boat under the gangway: "Are ye undermanned?"

"Fearful—ly," was the answer.

"I thought so," said Captain Jones. "Step on board, my livelies, and have a glass of grog afore you return."

The two men cheerfully crawled over the side, but instead of giving them a glass of grog apiece, Captain Jones ordered them forward to turn to with the rest of his crew, and with his own hand let go the line which held the barque's boat to the Rose. Sail was then trimmed, and in less than three hours the barque was hull down, though still in pursuit of the Rose.

The Only Mate admitted, with a countenance of hate and loathing, that he was sick of the Rose, sick of Captain Jones, that he hadn't any intention of working a big vessel of 700 tons single-handed with old Chips, the carpenter, and that when he boarded the Nova Scotiaman and heard that she was very short-handed, he accepted the captain's handsome offer of a number of dollars for the rest of the run to Windsor, as did Mr. Chips. The Only Mate added that both he and Mr. Chips were in debt to the Rose as it was, and that Captain Jones would have been welcome to their clothes and nautical instruments had the Nova Scotiaman succeeded in getting clear off.

Captain Jones's troubles were not yet at an end. He wished to put into Lisbon, but the crew refused to work the ship unless he returned to England.


"We're not going to be converted into blooming distressed mariners," said the[Pg 500] crew of the Rose. "No Consuls for us. We know them gents. They'll find everything all right, stores sweet, crew plentiful, ship tight, and we know how it'll be: a blooming Portugee jail, then a trip home, and a blooming magisterial inquiry, and six weeks' o' quod;" and so blooming, they forced Captain Jones to sail his ship home.

He arrived at Swansea, and handed the Only Mate and Mr. Chips over into the hands of justice. He offered to ship two more hands if his old crew would sail with him, but they said no, not if he shipped two hundred more hands; and so they were taken before the magistrates, who found the captain in the right, and punished the men by a term of imprisonment far in excess of any penalty of jail and hard labour which they would have inflicted upon a man who had merely broken his wife's skull with his heel, or who had only been systematically starving and cruelly beating his child of ten ever since the neighbours could remember.

Captain Jones shipped a fresh crew and another Only Mate and a new carpenter, but though he stopped his leak he did not ship fresh stores. He sailed out of Swansea Bay October 11, 1869, and has not since been heard of.

[Pg 501]

Child Workers in London.

This article does not profess to be an exhaustive account of all the employments in which London children are engaged. The limits of a magazine article do not allow of a full and detailed account of this very comprehensive subject. No individual or body of individuals has any precise information about the hundreds of children engaged as ballet dancers, acrobats, models, and street venders, to give only a few names in the vast army of child workers.


Nothing can be harder and drearier than the lot of little servants, employed in many cases in lodging-houses. They are on their feet all day long, at everyone's beck and call, and never expected to be tired or to sit down properly for a meal; the food is of the poorest quality; they have heavy weights to drag up and down stairs in the shape of coal-scuttles, and the inevitable strapping baby; their sleeping apartment is as often as not a disgraceful hole, and such requisites to health as are generally considered necessary in the shape of exercise, fresh air, and baths are unknown quantities. There is a strong prejudice against the "factory girl" in many quarters, and "service" is indiscriminately extolled as far more suitable for a respectable girl of the lower classes. It would be, if there were any chance of the docker's child or the coster's child obtaining a decent situation; but, as a matter of fact, the life of the much-pitied match-worker is infinitely easier than that of these little drudges. At eight o'clock the factory girl is at any rate free to get out into the open air for a couple of hours, or to sit down and rest. The little "general" is never free. One child told me—she was the daughter of a docker who was the happy owner of eleven children, and was herself an under-fed, anæmic-looking creature—that she got up at six every morning to "make the gen'l'm's brakfast—it was a lodging-house; after that there's the steps, 'ouse work, peeling potatoes, and sich like, till dinner. I never sits down till we 'ave a cup o' tea after the lodgers 'ave 'ad their suppers. But the missis—oh, she is a nice, kind laidy, and she works with me, she do."

"I suppose," I said, "you are able to get out on Sundays?"

"Once a month I goes 'ome, but I nusses the baby on Sunday, as we ain't so busy. 'E's such a beauty; I'll ask missis if I can bring 'im down; e' can't walk by 'isself." And off darted the little maid to the top of the house as if she were not on her thin legs from morn to night, returning presently with a huge and well-fed baby, about three times as fat as herself. I am bound to say this girl seemed contented, and, as lodging-house landladies go, her mistress seemed a fairly good one; but what a life of exhaustive and unremitting labour, even under these conditions, for a child of thirteen; and what a life of horrors if her mistress had been a brutal or cruel woman! The usual payment is 2s. 6d. a week, but I[Pg 502] found in a number of cases the girls only received 1s., or even 9d., their mistresses deducting the rest of their salary for the payment of the clothes which they have been compelled to buy for them on arrival, the little servant being too often in possession of a hat with feathers, a fur boa, and a brass locket, which, with the garments she stands up in, form her entire outfit. A pathetic little story was told me about a bright-faced girl I happened to come across.

"I got to know of her," said my informant, a lady who does much quiet good, and whose name is unknown to newspaper readers, "last year. A friend of mine whose Sunday-school she attended in Deptford asked me to look her up. I happened quite by chance to call in at the coffee-tavern where she was to act as servant, a few moments after she had arrived, and I was told I might go up to the 'bedroom.' Well, I won't go into particulars about that 'bedroom.' It was nearly dark, and I found the poor little soul sitting on the only available piece of furniture in the room—her own little tin hat-box. I shall not easily forget that dazed, bewildered look with which she met me. It was all so strange; everyone had been too busy to attend to her, and, though she had come from a wretched home, where the playful father had been in the habit of making her a target for his boot-shying, still there had been familiar faces round her. She seemed to realise in the sort of way young people do not, as a rule, the intense loneliness of her lot; and, when I put my arm round her, she clung to me with such sobs that I could hardly help crying too."

Fortunately, sensitive child-servants are tolerably rare, and I am bound to say I failed to find any answering to this description. They were generally what one might describe as decidedly "independent!" One girl—she was barely fifteen—told me she had been in six places.

"Are you so fond of change?" I asked.

"'Tain't that so much," returned the young lady; "but I can't put up with 'cheek,' and some o' my missises do go on awful. I says: 'Ave yer jaw, and 'ave done with it.'"


This certainly was rather an awful specimen; but she could not have been very bad, as her present mistress—who, I presume, has not up to the present "cheeked" her—assured me that the girl handed over her 2s. 6d. a week regularly to her mother. This seems to be the usual practice with the girls. Their mothers buy their clothes, and give them a shilling on Bank Holidays and a few pence every week to spend on themselves. A large proportion of these little drudges marry dockers and labourers generally, and, as their training has not been exactly of the kind to render them neat, thrifty housewives, it is perhaps not surprising that their cuisine and domestic arrangements altogether leave much to be desired.

There is perhaps no form of entertainment more popular amongst a large class of playgoers than that afforded by the clever acrobat, of whose private life the public has only the vaguest knowledge. The general impression, derived from sensational stories in newspapers and romances, is that the profession of the gymnast is a disreputable one, involving a constant danger of life and limb; and that young acrobats can only be made proficient in the art by the exercise of severity and cruelty on the part of trainers.

The actual facts are that the owners, or, as they are called, "fathers," of "troupes" are, in a number of cases, respectable householders, who, when not travelling over Europe and America, occupy little villas in the neighbourhood of Brixton and Clapham; that the danger is immensely exaggerated, particularly in the case of boys, who are always caught when they fall; and that the training and discipline[Pg 503] need not be any severer than that employed by a schoolmaster to enforce authority.

"Of course," said a trainer of long experience to me, "I sometimes get an idle boy, just as a schoolmaster gets an idle pupil, and I have my own methods of making him work. But I would lay a heavy wager that even a lazy lad sheds less tears in his training with me than a dull schoolboy at a public school. I have never met with a single boy who didn't delight in his dexterity and muscle; and you will find acrobats as a whole enjoy a higher average of health than any other class."

There are no "Schools of Gymnastics" for training acrobats in London, the regular method being that the head of each troupe—which usually consists of five or six persons, including one or more members of the family, the acrobatic instinct being strongly hereditary—trains and exhibits his own little company. The earlier a boy begins, of course, the better; and, as a general rule, the training commences at seven or eight years old. Many of the children are taken from the very lowest dregs of humanity, and are bound over by their parents to the owner of a troupe for a certain number of years. The "father" undertakes to teach, feed, and clothe the boy, whilst the parents agree not to claim him for a stipulated number of years. A boy is rarely of any good for the first couple of years, and it takes from five to six years to turn out a finished gymnast.


"Is it true," I asked of the head of the celebrated "Yokohama Troupe," "that the bones of the boys are broken whilst young?"

Mr. Edwin Bale, who is himself a fine specimen of the healthy trapezist, smiled pityingly at my question, and asked me to come and watch his troupe practise. All gymnasts practise regularly for two hours or more every day. The "Yokohama Troupe" includes three boys, all well-fed looking and healthy, one of them being Edwin, the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. Bale, a strikingly handsome and finely-developed boy, who has been in the profession since he was two.



The first exercise that young boys learn is "shoulder and legs," which is practised assiduously till performed with ease and rapidity. After this comes "splits." This exercise looks as if it ought to be not only uncomfortable but painful; but a strong[Pg 504] proof that it is neither was afforded me involuntarily by one of the little boys. He did it repeatedly for his own benefit when off duty! After this the boy learns "flip-flap," "full-spread," and a number of intricate gymnastics with which the public is familiar. In all these performances boys are very much in request, partly because they are more popular with the public, and partly because in a variety of these gymnastic exhibitions men are disqualified from taking any part in them owing to their weight. In the figure technically known as "full spread" (shown in illustration), it is essential that the topmost boy shall be slightly made and light in weight; but even under these conditions the strain on the principal "supporter" is enormous. As regards danger, so far as I have been able to learn from a good deal of testimony on the point, there is very little of any kind. The only really dangerous gymnastic turn is the "somersault," which may have serious results, unless done with dexterity and delicacy. There is no doubt that exercise of this kind is beneficial to the boys' health. Several boys in excellent condition, with well-developed muscles and chests, assured me they were often in the "'orspital" before they became acrobats.


Their improved physique is possibly in a great measure due to the capital feeding they get, it being obviously to the advantage of the "father" to have a robust, rosy-faced company. Master Harris, of the "Yokohama Troupe," informed me that he generally has meat twice a day, a bath every evening (gymnasts are compelled by the nature of their work to keep their skins in good condition by frequent bathing), that Mrs. Bale was as kind to him as his own mother, and that he thought performing "jolly." He further informed me that he got three shillings a week for pocket-money, which was put into the bank for him.


Another boy in the same troupe told me he had over £9 in the bank. Of course, all companies are not so well looked after as the boys in Mr. Bale's troupe; but I have failed to discover a single case where the boys seemed ill-used. Where the troupe travelled about Europe, the lads were exceptionally intelligent, and several of them could talk fair French and German. A really well-equipped acrobat is nearly always sure of work, and can often[Pg 505] obtain as much as £30 a week, the usual payment being from £20 to £25 a week. As a rule, the boys remain with the master who has given them their training, and who finds it worth while, when they are grown up, to pay them a good salary. A troupe gets as much as £70 or £80 a day when hired out for fêtes or public entertainments. There is one point which will possibly interest the temperance folk, and which I must not forget. The boys have constantly before them moderation in the persons of their elders.

"Directly an acrobat takes to drinking," said Mr. Bale, impressively, "he is done for. I rarely take a glass of wine. I can't afford to have my nerves shaky." Altogether there are worse methods of earning a livelihood than those of the acrobat; and, à propos of this point, an instructive little story was told me which sentimental, fussy people would do well to note. There was a certain little lad belonging to a troupe the owner of which had rescued him from the gutter principally out of charity. The boy was slight and delicate-looking, but good feeding and exercise improved him wonderfully, and he was becoming quite a decent specimen of humanity when some silly people cried out about the cruelty of the late hours, and so on, and insisted that he should be at school all day. The lad, who was well fed, washed, and clothed, was handed back to the care of his parents. He now certainly attends school during the day, but he is running about the gutter every evening, barefooted, selling matches till midnight! On the subject of ballet children there is also a great deal of wasted sentiment. All sorts and descriptions of children are employed in theatres, from the respectable tradesman's child to the coster's child in Drury-lane; but the larger proportion are certainly of the very poorest class, and it must be remembered that these children would not be tucked up safely in their little beds, if they were not earning a few badly-wanted shillings; they would be running about the London streets.


Mr. D'Auban—who has turned out a number of our best dancers, such as Sylvia Grey, Letty Lind, and others—was kind enough to call a rehearsal of his children, who are now performing at the Lyric, Prince of Wales, Drury-Lane, and other theatres, so that I was enabled to see a very representative gathering of these useful little bread-winners. Whatever else may be urged against the employment of children in theatres, there is not the least doubt that dancing is a pure pleasure to them. Out of all the little girls I questioned, not a single one would admit that she ever felt "tired." A good many of the children belong to theatrical families, and have been on the stage since they were babies; they were distinguished by a calmness and self-possession which the other little ones lacked; but in the matter of dancing there was very little difference, and it was difficult to believe that a large proportion of the children now playing in "La Cigale," knew nothing about dancing six months ago. Mr. D'Auban has no apprentices, no agreements, and no charges, and he says he can make any child of fair intelligence a good dancer in six months. The classes[Pg 506] begin in May, and, as soon as it is known that Mr. D'Auban wants children, he is besieged by parents with little maids of all sizes. The School Board only allows them to attend two days a week; but Mr. D'Auban says: "Everything I teach them once is practised at home and brought back perfect to me." The children wear their ordinary dress, and practising shoes of any kind are allowed. First the positions are mastered, then chassés, pirouettes, and all the rest of the rhythmic and delicate movements of which ballets consist.


Many of these graceful little dancers are the real bread-winners of the family. Little Minnie Burley, whose charming dancing in the "Rose and the Ring" will be remembered, though only eleven years old, has for more than a year practically supported herself and her mother by her earnings. The mother suffers from an incurable spinal complaint, and, beyond a little help which she gets from another daughter who is in service, has nothing to live upon but the little one's earnings. During the double performance of the "Rose and the Ring," Minnie earned £1 5s. a week; now she is earning as a Maypole dancer in "Maid Marian" 12s. a week; but her engagement will soon end, and the poor little maiden, who has the sense and foresight of a woman of thirty, is getting rather anxious.

She is a serious-faced, dark-eyed child, very sensible, very self-possessed, and passionately fond of dancing. Her mother is devoted to her, and keeps her exquisitely neat. I asked her whether she did not feel a little nervous about the child coming home alone every night from the Strand.

"No," said Mrs. Burley, "you see, she comes by 'bus, and she knows how to take care of herself—she knows she is not to let anyone talk to her."


Minnie is a type of dozens of other hard-working, modest little girls who are supporting themselves, and very often their families, by dancing. As a rule, the mothers fetch the children, or make arrangements for several to come home together. Many of them, whose husbands have been out of work, or who are widows, or deserted, have assured me they could not possibly have got through the winter without the children's earnings, whilst the children themselves are immensely proud of "helping" mother. The pride they take in their parts is also very amusing. One small girl ran after me the whole length of a street. She reached me breathless, saying, "Don't forget I'm principal butterfly." Another small[Pg 507] mite gave me a most crushing reply. She made some allusion to her mother, and I said innocently, "I suppose your mother is a dresser?" She looked daggers at me, and said indignantly, "My mother's a lady wots in the ballet."


The wages of the children range from 6s. to 16s. a week, and, as their engagements often last for four months at a time, it will be seen that their money is a valuable, and in many instances an essential, addition to the mother's purse.


Child models, being required almost exclusively in the daytime, are, thanks to the vigilance of the School Board authorities, becoming more and more scarce. The larger number of them comes from "model families," the mother having sat herself, and having from an early age accustomed her children to "sitting." The children of these families have no difficulty in obtaining regular work; they get a reputation in the painting world, and one artist recommends them to another. In the neighbourhood of Fitzroy-square, Holland-park, and St. John's Wood these families abound, and are mostly in very respectable circumstances. A pretty little girl, whose mother is a well-known model, and who has herself figured in several of Millais' pictures, told me with condescension that she had so many engagements she didn't know which artist to go to first.


Mary M——, whose face is familiar to admirers of Miss Kate Greenaway's pictures, is, except for a couple of months in the summer, never out of work. She is a beautiful child of fourteen, the daughter of a cab-driver, who is not always in regular employment; and, as Mary has a tribe of little brothers, her earnings are of the utmost usefulness. For several months she has been sitting to three artists, and making the[Pg 508] very respectable sum of £1 10s. a week. In her spare moments Mary takes music lessons, and her great ambition is to become an illustrator in black and white. All her earnings are cheerfully handed over to her mother, who is as careful of her little daughter's welfare as she can be.

"I don't sit as a nude model," Mary said, "but only for my head, and mother doesn't let me go into any studio."

As a matter of fact, children are not used as nude models to any great extent; they do not sit still enough, and their limbs are too thin and unformed to be of much use. Besides the regular professional models, who get 5s. a day, and are pretty sure of engagements, except in the summer, there is a fairly large class of street children who call at the different artists' studios, and are taken on occasionally.

"I get any number," said a well-known artist. "They come down to me, and are kind enough to suggest ideas. One small girl said to me the other day, 'Could you do me in a blue dress, sir; mother says it would go well with my golden 'air.'"

Many artists prefer these children to the regular model, who get a stereotyped expression and artificial poses from long habit. Mr. T. B. Kennington, whose pictures of poor London children are familiar to the public, told me that he always actually paints from the class of children that he depicts on his canvas. The boy who figured in that painful and powerful picture of his, "Widowed and Fatherless," is a real little London waif. His mother is said to have been pitched out of the window by her husband, and the boy, whose sad face arrests the attention of the most careless observer, lives with his grandmother, who does washing.

"Do you make the children 'put on' this sad expression?" I asked Mr. Kennington.

"No, indeed; my great difficulty is to make them smile, except momentarily. Haven't you ever noticed how very melancholy children look in repose?"

This may be true about children who are constantly half-starved and ill-treated, but surely it is not true of children in general, or even of the majority of children of the lower classes, who contrive to wear an air of marvellous brightness, in spite of cold, hunger, and even blows. "Sitting" does not seem to be an occupation that commends itself to children, who naturally dislike keeping perfectly still in one position. Nearly all the little models prefer ladies, who keep them quiet by telling them stories, and bestowing sweets and cakes on them; whereas male painters have less persuasive methods of making them do what they want. These latter, however, make many attempts to reform the manners and morals of their small models, many of whom, they say, evince an appalling amount of depravity. Mr. F. W. Lawson, who painted some veritable little slum waifs, in his series of pictures called "Children of the Great Cities," told a good little story of one of his attempts in this direction. His model was a small, bright-faced, black-eyed street boy.

"Well, Fred, what have you been doing to-day?" asks Mr. Lawson. "Playing on Battersea Bridge, sir, and chucking stones at mad old Jimmy," was the reply of the urchin, who then proceeded with much gusto to describe the details of this sport. Mr. Lawson, on learning that mad old Jimmy added blindness to his other infirmities, spoke strongly about the cruelty and cowardice of such an entertainment; and ended up by telling the story of a heroic deed performed by a blind man. "When I looked up," said Mr. Lawson, "I saw the boy's eyes were full of tears, and I thought to improve the occasion by asking, 'And now, Freddy, what will you do if you meet mad old Jimmy again?' The little scamp looked up with a wink, and said, chuckling, 'Chuck stones at 'im, sir.'"

Professional models, especially those who have sat to eminent artists, have an exaggerated idea of their comeliness, and they will draw your attention to their good points with much frankness.

"I've got beautiful 'air," said one little girl, modestly pointing to her curly chestnut locks; whilst a small boy, usually called the "Saint," from having figured in several religious pictures, requested me to observe his "fine froat," as if he had been a prize beast.

In London, owing to the numerous restrictions imposed upon employers, there are only a comparatively small number of children working in factories. Girls of thirteen and upward are employed in confectionery, collar, jam, and match and other factories where skilled labour is not required, whilst small boys are principally found at rope works, foundries, and paper-mills, where their chief business is to attend to the machinery. It is almost impossible to mistake the factory-girl, and even at a glance one notes certain characteristics which distinguish her from her sister[Pg 509] workers. Contrast her, for instance, with the theatre child out of Drury-lane. The little actress may be as poor as the Mile-end factory-girl, but in nine cases out of ten she will be very neatly clad, with spotless petticoats and well-made boots and stockings. If you watch her, you will notice she walks gracefully, and instinctively assumes, whenever she can, a picturesque and taking attitude. The little factory-girl is decently enough attired so far as her frock is concerned, but she, or her mother, cares nothing about her boots, which are invariably cheap and untidy, whilst any superfluous coin is devoted to the adornment of her hat, an article of great importance amongst factory-girls—young as well as old. But a still more characteristic feature, which, so far as I know, is peculiar to factory-girls, is their curious method of walking, which is carefully cultivated and imitated by the young ones. It is a sort of side "swing" of the skirts, and has one of the ugliest effects that can be produced, especially when executed by half a dozen young ladies walking abreast on the pavement.



At Messrs. Allen's chocolate and sweet factories, in Mile-end, some two hundred women and girls are employed. Referring to the strike, I asked a highly respectable, intelligent-looking girl why she joined it:

"Well, I don't hardly know," was the candid reply. "It was all done in a rush, and the other girls asked me to come out."

This girl was earning, by the bye, 17s. a week.


The quite young girls are principally employed in packing chocolate into boxes, covering it with silver paper, which operation they perform with great dexterity, labelling, and other easy work of this nature. The rooms are large and well ventilated, and each department is under the care of a forewoman, who not only keeps a sharp look-out on the work, but exercises what control she can over behaviour and conversation. The discipline did not strike me as particularly severe, considering that the girls left their work en masse, as soon as one of their number had announced, referring to the artist, "She's takin' Em'ly's likeness." The hours, from 8 to 7, are certainly too long for girls in delicate health; but the work itself is light, and a capital dining-room is provided on the premises, where the girls can cook their dinners and make themselves tea. Nor are the prospects at all bad. Here is Alice C——, a girl of fourteen, the daughter of a flower carman,[Pg 510] not always in work. She is a packer, and gets 6s. a week, which she hands over to her mother. She says she likes doing things with her hands, and would not like to be in service, as then she wouldn't have her Sundays to herself. If she stays on at Messrs. Allen's, her wages will be steadily raised to 18s. a week; and, if she ultimately becomes a piece-worker, she may make as much as 24s. or 25s. a week. Considering that a good many educated women are teaching in High Schools for salaries of £65 per annum, this is surely not bad.

Of course all factories are not as well managed as these chocolate works, and where the hardship comes in is where hands are turned off at certain periods of the year, or when the work itself, like match-making, is injurious to health.

Still more unfortunate is the lot of some of the little girl workers who assist their mothers at home in tailoring, button-holing, and dolls'-clothes making. The united work of mother and child yields only a wretched pittance, and, carried on as it is in a room where sleeping, eating, and living go on, is, of all forms of labour, the saddest and most unhealthy. Meals consist of bread and tea, and work is prolonged till midnight by the light of one candle, with the consequence that the children are prematurely aged and diseased. This is the most painful kind of child-labour that I have come across, and would be unbearable, if it were not ennobled by the touching affection that almost invariably exists between the worn-out mother and her old-woman-wise little daughter.

The lot of the child-vender in the streets would be almost as hard, if it were not, at any rate, healthier. Terrible as are the extremes of weather to which the little flower-girl or newspaper boy is exposed, the life is in the open air, and a hundred times preferable, even if it results in death from exposure, to existence in a foul-smelling garret where consumption works its deadly way slowly. Children find an endless variety of ways of earning a living in the streets. There are the boot-black boys, who form a useful portion of the community; newspaper boys, of whom the better sort are careful little capitalists, with an immense fund of intelligence and commercial instinct; "job chaps," who hang about railway stations on the chance of earning a few pence in carrying bags; flower-girls, match-girls, crossing-sweepers, who can make a fair living, if they are industrious; and lastly, although this enumeration by no means exhausts the list—street prodigies, such as pavement painters and musicians. All Londoners must be familiar with the figure of little Master Sorine, who sits perched up on a high stool diligently painting away at a marine-scape in highly coloured chalks.

This clever little artist of eleven is the principal support of his parents, who do a little in the waste-paper line when there is anything to be done. As a rule, Master Sorine is finishing his marine picture or landscape when I pass by, so that I have not had an opportunity of judging of his real ability; but his mother, who keeps guard over him, assures me that he can draw "anything he has seen"—an assertion which I shall one day test. The little fellow is kept warm by a pan of hot charcoal under his seat, which would seem to suggest rather an unequal distribution of heat. However, he seems to think it is "all right." His artistic efforts are so much appreciated by the multitude that on a "good day" he earns no less than 9s. or 10s., which mounts up to a respectable income, as he "draws in public" three days a week. Master Sorine, however, is exceptionally fortunate, and indeed there is something particularly taking about his little stool, and his little cap, and the business-like air with which he pursues his art studies. Nothing can be said in praise of such "loafing" forms of earning a livelihood as flower-selling, when the unhappy little vender has nothing but a few dead flowers to cover her begging; or of "sweeping," when the "crossing" of the young gentleman of the broom is often dirtier than the surrounding country. Now and again one comes across industrious, prosperous sweepers, who evince a remarkable amount of acuteness and intelligence. It may have been chance, but each of the three crossing-sweepers I questioned were "unattached," disdained anything in the way of families, and declined to name their residences on the ground that they were "jes' thinkin' o' movin'." This is a very precarious method of earning a livelihood, and is generally supplemented by running errands and hopping in summer. In a wealthy neighbourhood, frequented by several members of Parliament, who were regular customers, a very diligent young sweeper told me he made on an average in winter 2s. 6d. a week; but he added contemptuously: "Business ain't what it[Pg 511] used to be. Neighbour'ood's goin' down, depend on it. I'm thinkin' of turnin' it up." This young gentleman supplemented his income by successful racing speculations, obtaining his information about "tips" from his good-natured clients. It seems sad to think how much good material is lost in these smart street boys, whose ability and intelligence could surely be turned to better account. The most satisfactory point—and one which no unprejudiced person can fail to recognise—in connection with the subject of child-labour is that healthy children do not feel it a hardship to work; and that, therefore, considering, in addition, how materially their earnings add to their own comfort, all legislation in the direction of restriction and prohibition ought to be very carefully considered.

I must express my best thanks to Mr. Redgrave, of the Home Office, for his help in obtaining entrance to factories, and to Mr. Hugh Didcott, the well-known theatrical agent, for his kind services in the matter of acrobats.


[Pg 512]

Portraits of Celebrities at different times of their Lives.


Born 1846.

Mr. Wilson Barrett, who is the son of a gentleman who farmed his own estate in Essex, received his education at a private school. During his school-days, at the age of thirteen, he one night spent his only sixpence in visiting the gallery of the Princess's Theatre, where Charles Kean was playing Hamlet; and he has himself described how he was therewith fired with two ambitions—to play Hamlet, and to marry Miss Heath, a charming actress who was appearing in the piece—and how he afterwards achieved both objects. His first appearance as the Prince of Denmark took place in 1884, on the very stage on which he had first seen the character performed. At twenty-two, the age of our first portrait, Mr. Wilson Barrett was studying his art in that great school for actors—the provincial stage. At the present day, as represented in our second portrait, his fine features are well known to every playgoer, as equally adapted to the picturesque melancholy of the Silver King, the classical countenance of Claudian, or the boyish and pathetic beauty of the Chatterton of seventeen.

From a Photo. by| AGE 22. |Window & Grove.

From a Photo.| PRESENT DAY. |by J. Thomson.

For these portraits we are indebted to the kindness of Mr. Wilson Barrett.

[Pg 513]


Born 1791.

From a| AGE 22. |Painting.

Sir Provo William Parry Wallis, R.N., G.C.B., Senior Admiral of the Fleet, was a hundred years of age on the 12th of last month. Sir Provo, now the oldest naval officer alive, was born at Halifax, in Nova Scotia. At thirteen he fought his first engagement, at seventeen was made lieutenant, and went through several fierce encounters with the French. At twenty-two, the age at which our first portrait shows him, he was second lieutenant of the Shannon on the famous day when that gallant vessel was challenged by the American frigate Chesapeake. The ships met; a desperate fight ensued; the captain of the Shannon was disabled, and Lieutenant Wallis was called upon to take command, both of his own ship and of the captured enemy. For his gallantry on this occasion he was made commander. Subsequently he rose to be vice-admiral, admiral, and admiral of the fleet. It is the rule for admirals to retire from active service at the age of seventy; but Sir Provo enjoys the unique honour, which he owes entirely to his reputation as a gallant warrior, of having been retained, by a special Order in Council, on the active list for life. Sir Provo now resides at the village of Funtington, near Chichester, where his striking face and figure, as represented in our second portrait, are familiar to every inhabitant of the place.

For the first of the above portraits we are indebted to the courtesy of Messrs. Brock, of Sydenham.

From a| AGE 100. |Photograph.

[Pg 514]


Born 1847.

Our first two portraits represent Mr. George R. Sims before he had become famous, though at sixteen he was already a keen observer of life and character. At twenty-four he was writing for several magazines and papers, and six years later he became a member of the staff of The Referee, under the now celebrated nom de plume of "Dagonet." His first play, "Crutch and Toothpick," was produced in 1879 with great success. Then came, in 1881, "The Lights o' London"—a play which has now been running for ten years.

From a| AGE 7. |Photograph.

From a| AGE 16. |Photograph.

From a Photo. by| AGE 24. |G. & R. Lavis.

From a Photo. by| AGE 42. |Bassano.

[Pg 515]

From a| AGE 17. |Daguerreotype.

From a Photo. by| AGE 38. |Lock & Whitfield


At the age of 17, as he is represented in our first portrait, Mr. Farjeon was already an author, but unknown to fame, his productions, including a full-blown tragedy, "Hakem, the Slave," written when he was 14, being buried in a nest of three drawers by his bedside, which he kept always securely locked. When he was 30, at which age he is represented in our second portrait, he made, with remarkable success, his first essay, a Christmas story, "Shadows on the Snow," which was published in New Zealand, but afterwards, re-written and enlarged, in England. He followed this up with "Grif," and the success of this story and a letter he received from Charles Dickens determined his future career. His third portrait represents him shortly before his marriage with the daughter of Joseph Jefferson. It was after this union that he opened up a new vein by writing his finest novel, "Great Porter Square." Perhaps no living author has a stronger hold upon the public.

From a Photo. by| AGE 30. |C. Ferranti, Liverpool.

From a Photo. by| PRESENT DAY. |The Stereoscopic Co.

[Pg 516]


Born 1831.

Joseph Joachim was born of Jewish parents at Kitsee, a small town near Presburg, Hungary, and while very young entered the Conservatory of Music at Vienna, where he studied under the celebrated teacher, Joseph Böhm. He was only twelve years old when his master declared that, as a violinist, he had nothing more to learn, and he appeared before a public audience at Leipzig with a success which placed his future great career beyond a doubt. He, however, studied with the utmost assiduity under the direction of Ferdinand David. At thirty-two, the age in which he is depicted in the first of our two portraits, he was Director of the Royal Concert-hall at Hanover, and was about to marry Amelia Weiss, one of the leading singers of her time, and then chief contralto at the Royal Opera in Hanover. He had already visited most of the European capitals, and was well known in London, then as now, for the extraordinary technical ability and mastery of his instrument which, combined with the feeling and the insight of a born musician, render him probably the greatest violinist who has ever lived, not even excepting Paganini.

From a Photo. by| AGE 32. |Mrs. Cameron.

[Pg 517]


Born 1855.

The first portrait of Mr. Pinero shows him at the age of seven. The second portrait, taken at nineteen, marks an era in his life, for it was in that year he became an actor. At twenty-three he began, as he describes it, "to write little plays." His fourth portrait was taken in 1890, long before which he had firmly established his position as one of the few leading dramatists of the age.

From a Photo. by| AGE 7. |L. Schultz, Greenwich.

From a Photo. by R. F. Barnes, New Cross. AGE 23.

From a Photo. by| AGE 19. |C. Watkins, London.

From a Photo. by| AGE 35. |Window & Grove.

[Pg 518]


Born 1851.

Mr. Henry Arthur Jones is the son of a Buckinghamshire farmer, and was born at Granbrough. At fourteen he had just left school, and entered commercial life at Ramsgate. Strangely enough, Mr. Jones was never in a theatre till he was eighteen. At the age of nineteen he wrote his first play, which has never been acted. Indeed, Mr. Jones was twenty-eight when he made his first bow as a playwright, with "A Clerical Error," at the Court. Then he rose rapidly, and within three years he had earned both fame and fortune by "The Silver King," the production of which marks the date of our third photograph. The subsequent work of Mr. Jones is too well known to need mention here.

From a Photo.| AGE 13. |by Marioni.

From a Photo. by| AGE 19. |The London Portrait Co.

From a Photo. by| AGE 32. |W. & D. Downey.

From a Photo. by| AGE 40. |Elliott & Fry.

[Pg 519]

From a Photo. by| AGE 6. |J.S. Lonsdale.

From a Photo. by| AGE 18. |Elliott & Fry.


At the age of six, the age at which she is represented in our first portrait, Miss Mary Rorke had not yet made her appearance on the stage, but at eight she played Sybil in "A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing" with an amateur company—which was the rôle, as the readers of our last number will remember, in which little Miss Marion Terry first appeared before the public, and in which Miss Mary Rorke was equally successful. At eighteen, at which age our second portrait represents her, Miss Rorke was appearing on the London stage as Galatea—the character which has been associated with the names of so many fascinating actresses on their first appearance, and in which, of all others, grace, beauty, and intelligence such as Miss Mary Rorke's tell most effectively. Mrs. Frank St. Aubyn, which is Miss Rorke's married name, has since become well known and popular at many theatres and in many parts.

From a Photo. by

PRESENT DAY. [Elliott & Fry.]

We are indebted to the kindness of Miss Mary Rorke for permission to reproduce the above interesting series of portraits.

[Pg 520]

Humours of the Post Office.

With Facsimiles.

Many a pictorial curiosity passes through the post; and the industrious letter-sorter is often bewildered as to where to despatch missives, the envelopes of which bear hieroglyphics which would positively out-Egypt Egypt. Through the courtesy of Sir Arthur Blackwood, we are in a position to reproduce in these pages—for the first time in any publication—a number of these postal puzzles and pictures—the pictures, in many instances, being as clever as they are humorous.

Immediately such curiosities reach St. Martin's-le-Grand, they are passed on to a number of young men talented in the use of pencil and brush, who make rapid copies of them, the fac-similes being pasted in one of the three great "Scrap Books" used entirely for this purpose. We are assured by the authorities that there is no delay occasioned by this, and in every instance the letters temporarily under the care of the Post Office artists catch the post for which they are intended. Some slight delay may possibly be occasioned by the "puzzles"; but, when our readers have glanced over one or two specimens, they will unhesitatingly say that it is a big plume in the cap of the Post Office that they ever reached their destination at all.

All sorts and conditions of men are represented in the leaves of these scrap books. Her Majesty's Private Secretary finds himself addressed as—

"Sur Genarell
Pansebe our Queens
Privet Pus Keeper
Bucom Palacs."

A seafaring man evidently expected at the Sailors' Home is addressed, "Walstrets, Selorshom Tebiekald for"; which, being interpreted, means, "Sailors' Home, Wells-street: To be called for." The School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness is set out on an envelope as "Scool of Goonery, Rile Hort Tilbrery, Shoevebry." "Bryracky" stands for Billericay, a small market town in Essex; Jarrow-on-Tyne is spelt "Jeripintine"; the Hanley Potteries are "Harley Potlerings"; whilst "Pambore near Beas and Stoke, Ence," is intended for Pamber, near Basingstoke, Hants. Fortunately for somebody at the Opera Comique Theatre, the "Hoppera cummick theatrer" found him; an envelope[Pg 521] addressed, "For the War Office London to the Master of it," also got into the right channel. But we are rather in doubt as to whether a communication from the United States addressed to "John Smith, Esq., or any intelligent Smith, London, England," or possibly a proposal from some unknown admirer for "Miss Annie W—, London, address not known," ever reached their rightful owners.

FIG. 1.

Her Majesty has been the recipient of some remarkably addressed envelopes. There is one which says that the writer of the communication is too poor to pay for a stamp (Fig. 1), whilst a loyal and poetically inclined subject enthusiastically bursts into verse, which constitutes the address:—

"To Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen:
Long may she live to wield a sway
The mightiest earth has seen;
Long may her loyal people pray,
God bless our Empress Queen."

Whatever it lacks in poetic merit is atoned for by the poet's loyalty.

FIG. 2.

A black-edged envelope reveals a curious address on a letter intended for a Frenchman. All it has is the man's name, with "Sailing on Sunday night, half-past three o'clock, Angleterre" (Fig. 2). This was a decidedly smart move on the part of the Frenchman's correspondent. The letter was faithfully delivered, the postal authorities going down to the boat which left this country at that hour, on board of which they found Monsieur. A well-known firm of music publishers were put down as living in "Cocks and Hens," otherwise the Poultry; whilst an enterprising grocer of Naples gave the Post Office a slight test of far-sightedness in discovering addresses, when, for a wager, he drew on the envelope a couple of pears, [Pg 522]adding the word London (Fig. 3). It is needless to say for whom this was intended.

FIG. 3.

The sending of a solitary postage stamp through the post with the name, address, and message written on the gummed side, is of frequent occurrence. It is, however, a foolish practice, for not only is the stamp likely to be lost amongst the shoals of letters, but no small amount of inconvenience is caused to the sorters and other officials. If this should meet the eye of the gentleman who wrote on a postage stamp (Fig. 4) to a generously disposed friend, "Meet me to-night without fail. Fail not—I am hard up," will he remember that, though he probably parted with his last penny, considering the state of his exchequer, he ran a great risk of remaining still hard up, owing to non-delivery of his communication?

FIG. 4.

The missive for a fishmonger at St. Albans who lives "Opposite the town pump," found him (Fig. 5).

FIG. 5.

We now turn to the artistic creations. One of the scrap books is devoted to fac-similes of letters intended for distant parts of the world. Many most humorously addressed envelopes were received by our soldiers during the Egyptian War. There is one with a redcoat in a very awkward predicament. He is trying to shelter his trembling form amongst the foliage of a tropical plant, and is suggestively labelled "Up a tree," for a small army of aggravating alligators are waiting for him below, and one more hungry than his companions has already commenced to sample Tommy Atkins' helmet. Another is addressed to a lance-corporal at Christmas-time. He is standing with his tongue out for inspection by an officer, and the sender has unkindly suggested that this is "the results of too much Christmas duff." These little postal humours are decidedly personal.

One to a naval man at South Africa has "Peace" typified by a blue-jacket hobbling along on a couple of crutches, minus his legs. Another from Cheltenham to Port Elizabeth has a highly coloured drawing of a big policeman chasing a small and bony dog, "Ye Cheltenham Bobby sees a cheeky dog in the park." The animal's impudence lies in the fact that he had dared to wear [Pg 523]the prescribed muzzle on his tail instead of on his head.

A visitor to Broadstairs finds the name of this seaside resort represented by a pair of immense optics remarkably wide open (Fig. 6).

FIG. 6.

FIG. 7.

FIG. 8.

An Irishman has adopted a good means of making the donkey he is riding go (Fig. 7). He is holding a bunch of carrots in front of the animal, which the energetic creature is frantically endeavouring to reach. Hence the pace. There rests a traveller, far from home, on his hotel bed. Visions in the distance appear of a wife washing the children and putting them to bed. The traveller may be happy in his domestic dreams, but he does not know that the mice are seeking refuge for the night within his boots, which are thrown down at the foot of the bedstead (Fig. 8). A Mrs. Cook was the recipient of a wrapper on which a sportsman is seen "missing" a hare with his gun—the animal making a [Pg 524]rapid retreat. Is this meant for "miss his cook?" (Fig. 9). Indeed, animals are well represented amongst the humours of the Post Office. An elephant is amusing itself on a euphonium, with its trunk to the mouthpiece, a crocodile is after a very diminutive boy wishing him "A Merry Christmas"; and a vocalist receives a view of house-tops and chimney-pots, round which cats are raising their voices, and a note in the corner to the effect that "the opera season has commenced." Perhaps the cleverest of these animal studies is that of the method employed by a number of mice to secure the meat of a pet puppy. Whilst the dog was innocently sleeping against a small perch a mouse has heroically climbed to the summit of it, and being the fortunate possessor of a tail both strong and long, has wound it round the poor puppy's neck whilst its relations are feeding in perfect safety and contentment (Fig. 10).

FIG. 9.

FIG. 10.

Matrimonial squabbles are not missing. One is an Irish scene. Pat, to escape the wrath of his loving wife, has shut himself up in his hut, and appears at the window with a radiant smile, alas! only of a temporary kind, we fear. For at the door is standing a lady armed with a mighty shillelagh, over whose head is written the refrain of a popular ballad, "Waiting here to meet her little darling!" Songs, it seems, are frequently quoted. Mephistopheles, in his traditional red, is eyeing a young lady, and declaring "I shall have her by and by." A banjoist is fingering his instrument whilst giving expression to his feelings with

"But whilst I listen to thy voice,
Thy face I never see."

The artist has correctly suggested the reason by writing over the musician's[Pg 525] countenance the words "No wonder!" "My love, she's but a lassie yet," says an ardent swain to his sweetheart, in full view of the postman, but one song seems to have been singled out for the purpose of adding to the artistic beauty of many an envelope. The picture is usually that of a not altogether fascinating damsel sitting at a piano, or occupied on some other musical instrument. The head is entirely destitute of what is generally to be seen growing in abundance there, and surrounded by a small and select party, she is obliging them with "My mother bids me bind my hair!"

The positions occupied by the postage stamps are many. Often a gentleman is sitting on it, other times carrying it on his back, but the favourite place seems to be as the sign of an inn—"The Queen's Head." One of such hostelries shows a person leaving the house in anything but a fit and proper state, over whose head may be seen the concluding portion of the familiar sign of many a country public-house—"licensed to be drunk on the premises." An exceedingly original drawing is that of a corkscrew with a merry expression about it, in the shape of a young man proceeding to draw the cork of a bottle in the form of a young lady, and drinking up the contents. This was addressed to a young lady, and suggests the affectionate disposition of the gentleman who sent it. Tokens of love, indeed, abound. One gouty being on crutches, and liberally bandaged, says, "I am going to be nursed[Pg 526] by Miss ——," and here follows the address.

Amongst the miscellaneous items is a lady puffing from her mouth the name and address of the recipient (Fig. 11).

FIG. 11.

FIG. 12.

A lady's name is cleverly worked in amongst the wings of a butterfly (Fig. 12); whilst the owner of a certain envelope, presumably a bachelor, has all his articles of clothing, down to his stockings, scattered over the wrapper, with the postage-stamp on a red flannel shirt, and the address displayed on a white dress ditto (Fig. 13).

FIG. 13.

FIG. 14.

Not the least interesting sketches are those typical of the country wherever the person addressed is at that moment residing. The artist has in Fig. 14 cleverly utilised Pat's cart and the shafts thereof as a means of drawing the postman's polite attention to the whereabouts of a representative of wars alarms. The sign-post, too, suggestively points to the town, and the milestone has a space for the stamp. We are inclined to admire the designer's ideas of a pig on paper, but his birds on the sign-post are somewhat wanting in figure and plumage.

Niggers are numerous. A diminutive, but courageous inhabitant of darkest Africa has converted an ostrich into a species of feathered postman (Fig. 15). The youthful darkey appears to be bidding his steed to "go on"—or words to that effect. The obedient ostrich, with straining neck, is hurrying along to "Hy. Jones, Esquire."

FIG. 15.

(To be continued.)

[Pg 527]


From the French of Victor Hugo.



It was night. The cabin, poor, but warm and cosy, was full of a half twilight, through which the objects of the interior were but dimly visible by the glimmer of the embers which flickered on the hearth and reddened the dark rafters overhead. The fisherman's nets were hanging on the wall. Some homely pots and pans twinkled on a rough shelf in the corner. Beside a great bed with long, falling curtains, a mattress was extended on a couple of old benches, on which five little children were asleep like cherubs in a nest. By the bedside, with her forehead pressed against the counterpane, knelt the children's mother. She was alone. Outside the cabin the black ocean, dashed with stormy foam-flakes, moaned and murmured, and her husband was at sea.

From his boyhood he had been a fisherman. His life, as one may say, had been a daily fight with the great waters; for every day the children must be fed, and every day, rain, wind, or tempest, out went his boat to fish. And while, in his four-sailed boat, he plied his solitary task at sea, his wife at home patched the old sails, mended the nets, looked to the hooks, or watched the little fire where the fish-soup was boiling. As soon as the five children were asleep, she fell upon her knees and prayed to Heaven for her husband in his struggle with the waves and darkness. And truly such a life as his was hard. The likeliest place for fish was a mere speck among the breakers, not more than twice as large as his own cabin—a spot obscure, capricious, changing on the moving desert, and yet which had to be discovered in the fog and tempest of a winter night, by sheer skill and knowledge of the tides and winds.[Pg 528] And there—while the gliding waves ran past like emerald serpents, and the gulf of darkness rolled and tossed, and the straining rigging groaned as if in terror—there, amidst the icy seas, he thought of his own Jenny; and Jenny, in her cottage, thought of him with tears.

She was thinking of him then and praying. The sea-gull's harsh and mocking cry distressed her, and the roaring of the billows on the reef alarmed her soul. But she was wrapped in thoughts—thoughts of their poverty. Their little children went barefooted winter and summer. Wheat-bread they never ate; only bread of barley. Heavens! the wind roared like the bellows of a forge, and the sea-coast echoed like an anvil. She wept and trembled. Poor wives whose husbands are at sea! How terrible to say, "My dear ones—father, lover, brothers, sons—are in the tempest." But Jenny was still more unhappy. Her husband was alone—alone without assistance on this bitter night. Her children were too little to assist him. Poor mother! Now she says, "I wish they were grown up to help their father." Foolish dream! In years to come, when they are with their father in the tempest, she will say with tears, "I wish they were but children still."


Jenny took her lantern and her cloak. "It is time," she said to herself, "to see whether he is coming back, whether the sea is calmer, and whether the light is burning on the signal-mast." She went out. There was nothing to be seen—barely a streak of white on the horizon. It was raining, the dark, cold rain of early morning. No cabin window showed a gleam of light.


All at once, while peering round her, her eyes perceived a tumble-down old cabin which showed no sign of light or fire. The door was swinging in the wind; the wormeaten walls seemed scarcely able to support the crazy roof, on which the wind shook the yellow, filthy tufts of rotten thatch.

"Stay," she cried, "I am forgetting the poor widow whom my husband found the other day alone and ill. I must see how she is getting on."

She knocked at the door and listened. No one answered. Jenny shivered in the cold sea-wind.

"She is ill. And her poor children! She has only two of them; but she is very poor, and has no husband."

She knocked again, and called out, "Hey, neighbour!" But the cabin was still silent.

"Heaven!" she said, "how sound she sleeps, that it requires so much to wake her."

At that instant the door opened of itself. She entered. Her lantern illumined the interior of the dark and silent cabin, and showed her the water falling from the ceiling as through the openings of a sieve. At the end of the room an awful form was lying: a woman stretched out motionless, with bare feet and sightless eyes. Her cold white arm hung down among the straw of the pallet. She was dead. Once a strong and happy mother, she was now only the spectre which remains of poor humanity, after a[Pg 529] long struggle with the world.

Near the bed on which the mother lay, two little children—a boy and a girl—slept together in their cradle, and were smiling in their dreams. Their mother, when she felt that she was dying, had laid her cloak across their feet and wrapt them in her dress, to keep them warm when she herself was cold.


How sound they slept in their old, tottering cradle, with their calm breath and quiet little faces! It seemed as if nothing could awake these sleeping orphans. Outside, the rain beat down in floods, and the sea gave forth a sound like an alarm bell. From the old creviced roof, through which blew the gale, a drop of water fell on the dead face, and ran down it like a tear.


What had Jenny been about in the dead woman's house? What was she carrying off beneath her cloak? Why was her heart beating? Why did she hasten with such trembling steps to her own cabin, without daring to look back? What did she hide in her own bed, behind the curtain? What had she been stealing?

When she entered the cabin, the cliffs were growing white. She sank upon the chair beside the bed. She was very pale; it seemed as if she felt repentance. Her forehead fell upon the pillow, and at intervals, with broken words, she murmured to herself, while outside the cabin moaned the savage sea.

"My poor man! O Heavens, what will he say? He has already so much trouble. What have I done now? Five children on our hands already! Their father toils and toils, and yet, as if he had not care enough already, I must give him this care more. Is that he? No, nothing. I have done wrong—he would do quite right to beat me. Is that he? No! So much the better. The door moves as if someone were coming in; but no. To think that I should feel afraid to see him enter!"

Then she remained absorbed in thought, and shivering with the cold, unconscious of all outward sounds, of the black cormorants, which passed shrieking, and of the rage of wind and sea.

All at once the door flew open, a streak of the white light of morning entered, and the fisherman, dragging his dripping net, appeared upon the threshold, and cried, with a gay laugh, "Here comes the Navy."

"You!" cried Jenny; and she clasped her husband like a lover, and pressed her mouth against his rough jacket.

"Here I am, wife," he said, showing in the firelight the good-natured and contented face which Jenny loved so well.

"I have been unlucky," he continued.

"What kind of weather have you had?"


[Pg 530]

"And the fishing?"

"Bad. But never mind. I have you in my arms again, and I am satisfied. I have caught nothing at all, I have only torn my net. The deuce was in the wind to-night. At one moment of the tempest I thought the boat was foundering, and the cable broke. But what have you been doing all this time?"

Jenny felt a shiver in the darkness.

"I?" she said, in trouble, "Oh, nothing; just as usual. I have been sewing. I have been listening to the thunder of the sea, and I was frightened."

"Yes; the winter is a hard time. But never mind it now."

Then, trembling as if she were going to commit a crime:

"Husband!" she said, "our neighbour is dead. She must have died last night, soon after you went out. She has left two little children, one called William and the other Madeline. The boy can hardly toddle, and the girl can only lisp. The poor, good woman was in dreadful want."

The man looked grave. Throwing into a corner his fur cap, sodden by the tempest: "The deuce," he said, scratching his head. "We already have five children; this makes seven. And already in bad weather we have to go without our supper. What shall we do now? Bah, it is not my fault, it's God's doing. These are things too deep for me. Why has He taken away their mother from these mites? These matters are too difficult to understand. One has to be a scholar to see through them. Such tiny scraps of children! Wife, go and fetch them. If they are awake, they must be frightened to be alone with their dead mother. We will bring them up with ours. They will be brother and sister to our five. When God sees that we have to feed this little girl and boy besides our own, He will let us take more fish. As for me, I will drink water. I will work twice as hard. Enough. Be off and bring them! But what is the matter? Does it vex you? You are generally quicker than this."

His wife drew back the curtain.

"Look!" she said.

[Pg 531]

The State of the Law Courts.



The County Court in every respect presents a marked contrast to the High Court, which formed the subject of our article last month. So widely, in fact, do these tribunals differ, that it is difficult to imagine that they both form a part of the same judicial system—if, indeed, such a word, which certainly implies cohesion and method, can properly be applied to our judicature at all. While the work of the High Court is continuously and (unless some reforms be introduced) permanently congested, that of the County Court is for the most part performed with celerity: while the High Court is mainly supported by the State, the expenses of the County Court are mostly covered by the fees extorted from suitors: while there is common complaint (which we by no means endorse) that there are not enough High Court judges, it is impossible to deny that, having regard to the amount of work they perform, there are too many for the County Court. Whatever the defects of the County Court may be, it is essentially a popular tribunal. It is interesting from many points of view, and not more so to the legal student than to the student of human nature. Probably nowhere are more curious and varied types of humanity to be observed than those gathered together at a busy County Court. The humorous and the pathetic are strangely mingled; there are rapacious creditors and broken-down debtors; there are victims of confidence in their fellow men, and wolves that prey upon the unwary. Witnesses and suitors of every class wait about the corridors for their cases to be called: some of them talking together and discussing their[Pg 532] prospects with their solicitors in high spirits at the certainty of success; while others in blank despair await hopelessly a foregone conclusion, which probably means the seizure of their goods and perhaps their imprisonment.

Sometimes the proceedings are relieved by an amusing scene, such as that shown in our illustration, where a voluble young lady is sued for the price of a pair of boots, which she declares to be a misfit. "They are too large," she persists. "She said she would not have them if they were tight," the plaintiff protests. Such an opportunity to bring off smart witticisms is not neglected by the counsel on either side. Eventually the learned judge decides to see the boots tried on, and, sinking the lawyer, figures for the nonce as a judge of feminine fashionable attire. Cases of this sort are by no means rare. Only the other day a County Court Judge had to give a decision as to the fit of three elegant gowns supplied to an actress and her two sisters. It is a curious fact that the most amusing cases in the County Court are usually those in which members of the fair sex are engaged. Ladies, as a rule, seem unable to appreciate the laws of evidence, and when in the witness-box often take the opportunity to indulge in family reminiscences, and to pile satirical obloquy on their opponents. The judges (who, when the parties to a suit are without professional assistance, examine the witnesses themselves) have great difficulty in keeping them to the point, and nothing but the fear of being committed for contempt will induce some excited females to give their evidence in a lucid manner. Incidents of this sort frequently relieve the tedium of the proceedings, but they are a source of considerable delay, and this is a serious matter to those suitors and witnesses who have had to give up a day's work in order to attend the Court. It is indeed a hardship for suitors who, perhaps, have brought their witnesses from long distances at serious expense, to have their cases postponed from one sitting to another in consequence of unexpected delays. But this only happens occasionally in the busy Courts, the working of the County Court being, as a rule, expeditious enough.


A glance at the history of the County Court is enough to show that from very early times it has always been the most[Pg 533] popular of all legal tribunals. It is, in fact, the oldest of our Courts, having been instituted, according to Blackstone, by Alfred the Great. Mr. Pitt Lewis, in his most valuable work on County Court practice, remarks that the origin of the County Court is to be traced in the Folkmote, the gathering of the people, of Anglo-Saxon times. Hallam, in his "Middle Ages," describes it as the "great constitutional judicature in all questions of civil rights," and states that to it an English freeman chiefly looked for the maintenance of those rights.

The Court was, at the time referred to, an assembly of the freemen of a county, presided over by the Bishop and the ealderman of a shire; "the one to teach the laws of God, and the other the law of the land." The actual judges, however, were the freemen themselves. The ancient functions of the County Court comprised the election of knights of the shire, the election of coroners, proclamations of outlawry, and "consultation and direction concerning the ordering of the county for the safety and peace thereof." It exercised jurisdiction in ecclesiastical suits, and appellate jurisdiction in certain criminal cases; it was empowered to try all civil cases where the amount in dispute did not exceed forty shillings (a large sum in those days), and by special authority, all personal actions to any amount. It will thus be seen that in old times the County Court possessed all the elements of a popular institution. It flourished for many centuries in full vigour, and to such a degree had it gained the confidence of the public that it practically exercised civil jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other courts.


Of course it was hardly to be expected that our ancestral law-makers would allow such a satisfactory state of things to continue, and in the reign of Henry I. it was virtually "improved" away by the establishment of itinerant justices, the predecessors of our present judges of assize. It appears, however, that the new arrangement did not work very well. There were numerous complaints of delay and expense that prevented suitors from obtaining justice. So, to meet this difficulty, James I. established the "Courts of Requests" throughout the country, with a limited jurisdiction, and it was not until the year 1846 that these Courts were abolished, and that the County Court was established in its present form.

The modern County Court is, as may be imagined, a very different affair from its predecessors. While retaining part of its ancient jurisdiction in common law, its powers have been altered and extended to such a degree, that they now cover a vast field of contentious matter.

It has jurisdiction in all actions of contract for less than £50, and in all actions for wrongs where the amount claimed does not exceed £50. To this general rule, however, there are many exceptions, with which it is unnecessary to trouble the reader.

The County Court also has a limited equity jurisdiction, and powers have been conferred upon it in many other matters. These include actions of contract remitted from the High Court up to £100, and actions for damages to any amount in respect of wrongs may likewise be remitted, when the defendant, if unsuccessful, is unlikely to be able to pay the plaintiff's costs. Cases to the amount of £1,000 are remitted to it from the Court of Admiralty, besides[Pg 534] which it exercises jurisdiction in numerous special cases under various Acts, including the Married Women's Property Act, the Coal Mines Regulation Act, the Building Societies Act, the Friendly Societies Act, the Employers and Workmen Act, the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, and, most important of all, the Employers' Liability Act. But the Court is principally useful to the public as a tribunal for the recovery of small debts, and this is proved by the fact that in 1889, out of 1,034,689 plaints entered, no less than 1,022,295 were for sums not exceeding £20.


Upwards of 500 Courts are held in the various districts of England and Wales, and these districts are divided into circuits, which are distributed among the County Court judges, and are fifty-nine in number. The majority of circuits have one judge, but some have two.

Undoubtedly many of the judges in London, and in large provincial towns, have a great deal, though not by any means an excessive amount of work devolving upon them.

In some of the busy Courts, such as those of Brompton and Whitechapel, they are fully occupied, but, on the other hand, there are Courts in some provincial districts where the judges have so little to do that their office is almost a sinecure. In either case, however, the salary is the same, the County Court Judge receiving £1,500 a year, whether there is any work for him to do or not.

The judges were formerly paid by fees, but now they draw fixed salaries from the Consolidated Fund.

In addition to their salaries, they are allowed travelling expenses, to enable them to visit the various Courts of their circuits, in each of which they are bound to hold a sitting once a month, except in September, which month is a holiday. In many of the little villages that they have to needlessly visit, the opening of the Court is a mere matter of form, and it is not, perhaps, without justice that many of them complain of the irksome travelling that is thereby occasioned.

In 1889 the judges on no less than thirty-three out of the fifty-nine circuits held only 150 sittings in the year, and in some cases the sittings were less than a hundred. A large proportion of these sittings, too, were merely nominal, an hour or less being quite enough to enable the judges to get through the business of the Court.

It follows, therefore, by the present system[Pg 535] that, while a taxpayer may have to wait several weeks for a pressing case to be decided in his own district, he is actually contributing towards the means by which judges in other parts of the country enjoy idleness with dignity, and £1,500 a year. It would seem fairer that the local authorities should pay their own County Court judges, as they do their stipendiary magistrates.

It is to be regretted that in the appointment of County Court judges sufficient care is not always taken to secure the selection of competent lawyers. Unlike the appointment of judges of the High Court, with which, as a rule, little fault can be found, many County Court judges have obtained their posts in consequence of no better qualification than the command of backstairs influence in high places.

Any barrister of seven years' standing is eligible to become a County Court judge, and appointments have often been obtained by men quite devoid of any practical legal knowledge. Many of the judges never practised at the bar at all, and never had any prospect of doing so with success. The County Court judges, therefore, it will be observed, need no further qualification than is required by a young student for a call to the bar, and these are the men who have to weigh the arguments of able counsel in complicated Admiralty and Employers' Liability cases. The Lord Chancellor, it is true, has power to remove any judge on account of inability or misbehaviour. This, however, is an extreme measure hardly ever enforced, and it is notorious that many of the County Court judges are totally unfit for even the decent performance of their work. Some of them are worn-out, old men who are quite incapacitated by deafness and other infirmities, to say nothing of ignorance, stupidity, and querulousness, and their retention on the Bench constitutes a great evil to suitors as well as a public scandal.

They may, with the consent of the Lord Chancellor, retire on a pension of £1,000 a year if suffering from permanent infirmity. As a matter of fact, however, no man likes to have £500 a year deducted from his income, and the consequence is that the judges retain their positions until they are long past their work. It is much more convenient to appoint a deputy than to retire, and out of the multitude of briefless barristers a deputy can be obtained for a very small sum. Indeed, there have often been scandalous instances of a judge retaining his salary while paying a deputy £200 a year or so to do his work. This was at one time so common, and the men appointed were often so grossly incompetent, that it was found desirable that the names of all deputy judges should be submitted to the Lord Chancellor for his approval. But, notwithstanding this restriction, abuses are still very numerous, for though the Lord Chancellor may take care that the deputy is a more or less capable man, he cannot dictate the amount of his payment. Thus the judicial "sweating system" continues to flourish as before.

The judges of the County Court are greatly assisted in their duties by the Registrars. These officials, who are appointed by the judges, exercise judicial functions, and receive a salary which is regulated by the number of plaints entered in their Courts, but may in no case exceed £1,400 a year. The duties of the Registrar, who must be a solicitor of five years' standing, are multifarious, and include the hearing of Bankruptcy cases and undefended suits. The office of Registrar will in future include that of High Bailiff, for the last-named functionary is by the Act of 1888 to be allowed to die out, that is to say, vacancies are not to be refilled, and the Registrar will undertake the duties of High Bailiff in addition to his own at an increased salary. The High Bailiff is responsible for executing the process of the Courts, and is assisted by sub-bailiffs, of whom there are a varying number for each Court.

From what we have already said, it will have been gathered that in populous commercial districts a County Court judge may be kept largely occupied with cases of as much importance, and involving as difficult legal questions, as the bulk of those tried in the High Court. In other words, legislation has imposed upon the County Court the same class of work as that which was, until a comparatively recent period, confined to the High Court. In 1889 no less than 1,902 cases were remitted from the superior Courts.

Bankruptcy cases involving property of unlimited value and most delicate and difficult points of law, Employers' Liability cases, Admiralty cases, and a variety of other legal work requiring the highest judicial capacity can now be tried in the County Court. And yet, by some absurd superstition, an ordinary common law action for contract for £50 or above can only be tried by a judge of the High Court.

[Pg 536]

Side by side with the enforced idleness of many of the highly paid County Court judges, there is in the High Court, both on the Equity and the Common Law side, a growing accumulation of arrears. Many of these cases involve comparatively small sums, and they might very well be tried before a competent County Court judge. A litigant at the present time entering an action for £51 in the High Court will be subjected to a delay of at least twelve months; whereas if he sues for £49 in the County Court, even in a busy district, he may reasonably expect to have his case settled within a month. By a reorganisation of the County Court system, properly distributing the work among the judges, cases up to £100 might always be tried before them, and the congested state of the High Courts would be thereby relieved, without the necessity of appointing new judges with salaries of £5,000 a year—a remedy frequently advocated. But that only thoroughly reliable men should be appointed as County Court judges is a sine quâ non.

Besides these matters the Legislature might reasonably address itself to the evils resulting from imprisonment for debt; or, as it is now, out of respect for the humanitarian tendency of the age, euphoniously termed, contempt of Court. Six thousand five hundred and fifty-four debtors were actually imprisoned in 1889. There were no less than 213,831 judgment summonses, and 63,836 warrants of commitment issued. It is a somewhat melancholy fact that the number of judgment summonses in 1889 was nearly 80,000 in excess of what it had been ten years previously. It is, however, satisfactory to observe that in the number of imprisonments in the same period there was a decrease of 1,358.


Many Courts are occupied with sixty or more judgment summonses a month. The practical result of the working of the present system of imprisonment for debt is that persons of good position are very rarely committed. Nearly all the imprisoned debtors are very poor persons, and the amounts that they owe are very small, the average not exceeding £10. It is melancholy to see delicate, half-starved women, some of them with babies, come into Court after trudging miles in order to save their husbands, who perhaps have got a bit of work, from imprisonment.

Many judges are most careful and painstaking in their efforts to find out whether the debtors are, or are not, able to pay, while others perform these duties in a very perfunctory manner. In illustration of this it may be mentioned that in the year 1889, while one judge heard 2,256 judgment summonses and granted 855 warrants of commitment, another heard 1,220 judgment summonses and committed 1,043 persons to prison.


The statute gives the judge power to commit if satisfied that the debtor has means at the time when the order for imprisonment is sought, or has had means since the liability to pay was incurred. The latter provision permits the monstrous injustice that because six months ago a man had money that he was obliged to expend on the necessaries of life, he may[Pg 537] be imprisoned for a debt previously contracted, and his family thereby deprived of the means of support.

It is a moot point whether imprisonment for debt might not with advantage be abolished altogether. The State has to keep the imprisoned debtor, whose wife perhaps has to go to the workhouse, a double burden thus being thrown on the public.

If there were no imprisonment for debt, people would certainly be more careful in giving credit, and a corresponding decrease in litigation would no doubt be the result.

The annual cost of the County Courts is about £566,000 and of this no less than £443,000 is provided by the suitors in fees and stamps. It is not consistent with the spirit in which justice should be administered that it should be paid for by the litigants. This was the view expressed by the County Court Commissioners, but no effect has been given to their opinion. There is no reason in justice or expediency why the County Court, the poor man's court, should be supported by the suitors themselves while the High Court, the rich man's court, is mainly paid for by the State.


We have endeavoured to point out, in a temperate spirit, the chief defects of the present County Court system. Its greatest merit lies in the rapidity with which its business is transacted; but this is only accomplished with a serious waste of judicial strength.

No doubt a thorough reorganisation is required. A re-grouping of the districts over which the judges exercise their functions is needful, so that time may be economised on busy circuits, and more work given to those judges who have little or nothing to do. In these days of facile railway communication many of the Courts in little villages might be dispensed with, and central Courts established in convenient places, where they could easily serve the surrounding country.

In some cases, at present, judges have to hold Courts at a number of little villages within a few miles of each other, and all of them on a good line of railway. Obviously much time would be saved if one central Court were made to serve for all, and the inconvenience to suitors would be so slight as to be quite insignificant.

Several circuits where there is but little business might, on this principle, be consolidated. Many judges being thus made available for extra work, their jurisdiction should be extended so as to relieve the High Court, and the salaries should be increased to such a standard as would secure the services of competent men. The Court fees for plaints should at once be reduced from one shilling to sixpence in the pound, and for hearing from two shillings to one shilling. It is scandalous that the cost of[Pg 538] process is greater in the County Court than in the High Court, and the State undoubtedly ought to contribute towards the maintenance of the County Court in the same proportion as it provides for the High Court. But most of all is it desirable to be rid of that not inconsiderable number of County Court Judges whose flagrant incapacity renders them a scandal to the bench, and to inaugurate a new system of appointment, so that the administration of justice may be placed in the hands of only such men as are able to command the full confidence of the public.


[Pg 539]

The Pastor's Daughter of Seiburg.

An Episode of the Turkish War: from the German of Julius Theis.

Michael Apafi, whom, on September 14, 1661, Ali Pasha had created Prince of Siebenburgen, had died. The Siebenburg Chambers, mindful of their former friendly relations with the House of Austria, took advantage of this opportunity to conclude a fresh treaty with the Emperor Leopold, which allowed him to send into their country an army of some 7,000 men, under the command of General Heuzler. To this force Michael Teleki, with about 5,000 Siebenburgers, hastened to join himself.

These independent proceedings, however, mightily displeased the Sultan, who intended to confer the title of Prince of Siebenburgen upon Toköli, one of his favourites. In order to compel the inhabitants to submit, the Sultan immediately sent an army of 20,000 men into the already overburdened principality. One of the Turkish generals, Ibrahim Pasha, was encamped on the other side of Tokan. The troops under his command were a mixed lot of Turks, Tartars, Armenians, and Circassians. To the ravages of such inhuman marauders entire districts were ruthlessly exposed, and every night the lurid glow on the horizon bore witness to the wild and lawless doings of these fierce robber bands.

It was a mild autumn evening. The Pasha, a middle-aged man, whose black, bushy beard gave a still more sinister aspect to his already forbidding countenance, was sitting in front of his tent. He was seated in Turkish fashion with his legs crossed under him, and was now and then puffing a cloud of bluish smoke from his chibouque, when suddenly a band of Tartars burst into the general's presence. They were dragging along a couple of Wallachian prisoners, whose hands were securely tied behind their backs, and whose wailings and loud lamentations at once attracted the Pasha's attention.


The band halted before the general's tent, and the Tartar leader stood before the Pasha, bowing obsequiously and with his[Pg 540] hands folded on his breast in token of humility, but not uttering a single word.

"Well, Hussein," asked the Pasha, "what do you bring me these Wallachian dogs for?"

The Tartar then told his commanding officer that the prisoners had been caught in the act of trying to steal two of the finest horses grazing outside the camp; and that he had brought the malefactors to the Pasha in order that he might know how to act with the offenders.

"What is all this fuss about?" said the Pasha, with the utmost coolness. "Chop off their heads."

The Tartar chief made a sign to some of his people to lead away the two rogues to instant execution, when an incident occurred which, though in itself absolutely insignificant, yet served to give an entirely different turn to affairs. As the Tartars advanced upon him to seize him, the younger of the two prisoners, stepping back instinctively, happened to catch his foot in a tent-peg and stumbled. The tall sheepskin hat which he wore tumbled to the ground, and one of the troop stooped to pick it up, in order to replace it on the prisoner's head. Suddenly, however, the man was seen to stop and to fumble about the rim of the head-dress. The Pasha noticed the momentary pause and the man's half-puzzled look, and asked what was the meaning of it. It turned out that behind the lining of the sheepskin cap some hard substance was concealed. The terrified look which this discovery called up on the possessor's countenance aroused Ibrahim's curiosity and suspicion, and he ordered the lining to be ripped away. To the astonishment of all present, the Tartar chief Hussein produced out of the dirty head-dress an exquisitely painted miniature, the portrait of a most lovely girl.

"By the beard of the Prophet, a houri! Never did I see a lovelier face!" exclaimed the Pasha, as with sparkling eyes he gazed at the fair girlish features. "Speak, dog of a Wallachian, whose portrait is this?"


The elder of the two prisoners looked at his son, and shrugged his shoulders. The younger alternately glanced at Hussein and at the Pasha, undecided what course to take.

"Speak, Wallachian dog!" again shouted the Pasha. "Who is this woman?"

"As you value your father's life and your own," said the elder prisoner, "speak, Petru; it may, perhaps, be of some use to us."

At the suggestion the eyes of Petru sparkled with hope, and forthwith he told the Pasha that he had stolen the precious object from the Pastor's daughter of Seiburg. The portrait was hers, and so exact and lifelike was it that a mirror could scarcely have more faithfully reflected her features. He had had many transactions with the servants in the minister's house, and had thus been able easily to obtain possession of what appeared to him a paltry jewel.

"Is Seiburg far from here?" asked Ibrahim Pasha.

"Only about a day's journey," exclaimed both father and son, almost in a breath.

The Pasha was silent for a few moments, and appeared to reflect.

"Now, listen to me, you scoundrels,"[Pg 541] said he at length. "I am willing to give you your lives, and I will richly reward you, if you will bring me that girl, and deliver her up to me."

"High and mighty lord," said the Wallachian peasant eagerly, "give me twenty good and trusty men, and, as certainly as my name is Joan Komanitza, I promise that the splendour of your eyes shall fall upon the girl! If I fail, you may take my life!"

"Very well," said Ibrahim Pasha, and calling Hussein to his side, he ordered him carefully to select twenty of the strongest and most trustworthy men of his people and to start with them and the two Wallachians at once for Seiburg.

It was on the evening of the day which followed this occurrence that Katarina, the daughter of Lucas Sydonius, pastor of Seiburg, was sitting in the summer house adjoining the manse.

By her side sat her aunt, an old lady whose pale features and feeble voice showed plainly enough that she had but just recovered from severe sickness. Indeed, the state of her aunt's health was the reason why Katarina had not long since sought a refuge within the fortified walls of Hermannstadt or of Kronstadt. Half Seiburg had fled at the approach of the dreaded Turks; only very few had remained, and among these was Katarina, who felt that her duty was to protect and comfort her ailing friend, who with her stood in the place of a mother.

Now, however, her aunt was in a fair way of recovery, and the next morning they were to set out for Hermannstadt to rejoin her father, whom, eight days before, the authorities had called thither to consult with him as to the best means of protecting their country against the Turks.

A tall, handsome man was standing at the table close by the girl and her aunt. It was Matthias, the son of a councillor of Hermannstadt, called Johannes Brenkner: Katarina was his affianced bride, and Pastor Sydonius had sent him to fetch his daughter and his sister-in-law to escort them to Hermannstadt.

"Dear aunt," said the young girl, "do not distress yourself because we are forced to leave our peaceful home; we surely shall soon return to it again."

These words of Katarina spoken to comfort her aunt, had, however, but little effect. Her own eyes were full of tears, and the trembling voice in which she uttered them proved that she also was moved by anxiety and fearful forebodings.

But Matthias said cheerfully, "My dear aunt and Katarina, do not look upon matters from their darkest side. It is true that Teleki has fallen, and that the Imperial General Henzler has been taken prisoner by the Turks; but for all that we must still have hope. All is not lost, we are daily expecting Louis of Baden, and he will bring us reinforcements."


[Pg 542]

Katarina was just about to answer, when a piercing shriek from the courtyard of the manse rent the air. This shriek was almost immediately followed by a confused noise, which soon increased to a deafening roar. The servants of the manse all huddled together, screaming with terror; Wallachian cries and Tartar curses were mingled with threats and screams for mercy.

Before the occupants of the summer-house had time to recover somewhat from their surprise there appeared at the open door the figure of a young man, who kept his glistening eyes fastened upon Katarina. It was Petru.

"Holloa! Here, boys!" he cried to his comrades in the garden; "here is the little beauty! Upon my soul, she looks so like the Holy Paraskiva in our church, may leprosy strike but I have not the courage to touch her."

"Booby!" shouted a voice behind him, "I will show you the way to set about it." With these words a big bearded Tartar pushed Petru aside, and, with one bound, sprang on the young girl, who sat motionless with surprise and terror. He was met, however, by a tremendous blow full in the face, which staggered him, and sent him reeling to the ground. It was Matthias who struck the blow in defence of his affianced bride; but, in revenge, Petru dealt Katarina's champion so heavy a stroke from behind with his knotted cudgel that he brought him stunned and senseless to the earth. While this was taking place, Ibrahim Pasha's men rushed into the summer-house, and Hussein at once seized upon Katarina, whom a merciful swoon had for the time deprived of feeling.

"To horse and away!" shouted the Tartar chief. He had ordered the men of his band to set fire to some outhouses and barns in order to prevent the peasants still remaining in Seiburg from coming to the aid of the Pastor's family. It was, therefore, an easy matter in the midst of the confusion that reigned all around to make off with the fainting girl.

For a time all went well; but soon profound darkness set in, and the ravishers were forced to dismount and lead their horses by the bridle. Hussein only, who held Katarina trembling and half dead with terror before him on the saddle, did not leave his horse's back. Old Joan Kumanitza served as his guide. Meanwhile, the march through the thick darkness became more and more difficult with every step, and Hussein was glad enough to reach the hut of a Wallachian charcoal-burner.


"Are you here alone?" cried Hussein to the charcoal-burner, as he rode up to the door of his cottage at the head of his troop.

"No," replied Nikou Bratza, "my wife Ravecca has for many years lived here with me in these solitudes."

"We have lost our way," continued[Pg 543] Hussein, "and can get no further. We want to stay here under your shed until this storm has passed. The room in your hut, I see, is scanty enough, but it is large enough to shelter one woman. The rain has wetted her to the skin. I wish her to dry her clothes and warm herself by the fire of your hearth."

"As you please, sir," said Nikou, and he called his wife to take charge of the girl, who was trembling in every limb.

Though Hussein seemed so careful for the comfort of Katarina, it was not in the least because he felt pity for the poor girl, it was the fear of Ibrahim Pasha which moved him. Katarina's violent fit of trembling, consequent on her excessive agitation, and the cold downpour of rain, had not been unnoticed by him. It made him feel exceedingly uneasy, for he was afraid that the girl might be attacked by some serious illness, and he dared not, for his life, present her to Ibrahim in her present condition.

The two horse-stealers also, old Joan Kumanitza and his son Petru, were full of anxiety. The brook which flowed behind Nikou's hut, and which the day before they had passed with perfect ease on horseback, was now swollen into an angry torrent which forbade all attempt at crossing.

"How long may it be," asked Hussein impatiently of the charcoal-burner, "before we may expect that confounded water to fall?"

"Who can tell?" replied Nikou. "It may abate towards midday to-morrow, or towards evening. It is impossible to say."

The Tartar chief muttered an oath. "We must at all events start as soon as the weather begins to clear up—cost what it will. Now bring us something to eat."

Nikou went into the hut; but scarcely had he shut the door behind him, than his wife rushed up to him, and, seizing his hand, dragged him to Katarina's couch.


"Nikou, husband, look! There lies the daughter of the Pastor of Seiburg."

"As I hope to be saved!" exclaimed Nikou, "it is the daughter of the Saxon pastor, who twice helped us in the direst need."

But Ravecca had not waited for this confirmation from her husband's lips. She fell down on her knees beside the girl, who still lay motionless before her, and seized her hand, which she covered with tears and kisses as she cried, in a low tone: "My little flower—the apple of my eye! Is it you? Have you fallen into the hands of those murderous thieves? Speak, speak, my violet! Do you know me? I am Ravecca—old Ravecca. Tell me that you recognise me!"

Katarina now, for the first time, became really conscious of her fearful position, and the pathetic attachment of the grateful old woman seemed to awaken the girl to a sense of her danger. Flinging her arms around the neck of the kind-hearted Wallachian, she sobbed out in a voice choked with tears, "Oh, Ravecca, save me! Save me, dear Ravecca, from this hideous danger!"

[Pg 544]

Nikou Bratza was sitting on a footstool close by the hearth; he had buried his face in his hands, but did not utter a word.

"Are there, then, no means of saving the child, Nikou?" cried the old woman.

"No, wife; I can see none."

"For Heaven's sake, Nikou, think again! You are a shrewd man, and you have never closed your eyes without praying for the protection of holy Ilie."

Nikou seemed lost in thought.

"Wife!" he suddenly exclaimed, "St. Ilie has spoken. There is one way of saving the child, but it is a fearful venture, and if the Almighty does not specially watch over us and protect us we are lost."

"What is it, Nikou? Speak, speak;" cried Katarina, in the most anxious suspense.

Nikou approached the two women.

"Ravecca, be patient," said he, "and you, young lady, listen to me; but lie down and feign to be fast asleep."

"Many years ago our Wallachian brethren here on this side of the forest were sorely oppressed by the Mongols. To escape from the tyranny of their oppressors they determined to seek for themselves a new home in the midst of a morass, which lies about an hour's distance from this place. With infinite trouble, by means of long trunks of trees they constructed a firm path across the treacherous bog, thus connecting their new home with the mainland; but this path no human being who is not perfectly acquainted with the locality can possibly find. About the middle of this main road there branches off another pathway which is some forty yards long and leads to an island of firm soil in the midst of the quaking bog. These footpaths, however, are very narrow, and woe betide the unhappy creature who chances to step but half a foot on either side—he is lost—irrevocably lost. This island, in the middle of the morass, our brethren chose for their home, and thus they dwelled in peace. My father, and my grandfather before him, knew these dangerous roads well, and from them I learned the secret. They are now both dead and gone, and I think that, beside myself, but very few could find their way across the bog. If I can but succeed in persuading the Turkish dogs to venture on the bog, and if I can but get near you, dearest child, just at the spot where the second path branches off to the island, why then it may not be impossible to save you. Saint Ilie will protect us; have you courage for the attempt?"

"Oh, yes," replied Katarina, with the utmost resolution, "a thousand times sooner would I die than remain in the hands of those dreadful men!"

Nikou rose and went to the door of his hut. "Men," cried he, with a loud voice, "I have just thought of a road which will bring you in good time to your journey's end."

"Where is it?" several of them eagerly exclaimed. "Show us the way at once."


[Pg 545]

Nikou continued: "You cannot possibly cross the rising torrent—it were madness to attempt it, and in order to reach the bridge at Hoviz you will have to go a great distance out of your way. There is, moreover, the danger that you may be set upon by the infuriated Saxons. If you like, I will show you a short cut well known to myself, and to but very few besides me. I must warn you that it is a dangerous road; but I suppose you men do not carry women's hearts in your breasts. It is a narrow path which leads through the well-known morass."

"Get ready at once to be our guide," said Hussein.

"In a moment," replied Nikou. "Mount your horses, and by the time you want to start I shall be ready too."

A quarter of an hour later the troop began to move away. In front of the band walked Nikou, with a flaming torch in his hand. Then followed some Tartars, next came old Kumanitza and his son, who also carried a lighted torch. Hussein followed them with Katarina, and a few more Tartars brought up the rear. Silently the men rode through the darkness of the night; it was still raining, though the violence of the storm had spent itself. Ravecca was kneeling down in her poor little cottage, and raising her hands in supplication to Heaven, she prayed: "Oh, may it succeed, holy Ilie. Oh, make it to succeed, then will I pour a rich offering of the best oil into the lamp before thy picture."

Slowly for the best part of an hour did the cavalcade toil its way through the wood, when Nikou turned and cried to those who followed him: "Now, men, take care of yourselves. We are on the bog now! Follow me in single file, and do not deviate one inch from my track."

Thus speaking he moved forward, raising his torch on high, and the others followed him in slow and anxious procession. The hoofs of the terrified horses sank deep into the mire, and it required all the dexterity of the riders to induce the animals to move forwards. The red flame of the torch cast a faint and flickering light on the dark and dismal scene.

As Nikou pressed onwards, the soil seemed to become more slippery and treacherous with every step. From time to time the old charcoal-burner looked round anxiously for Hussein and the pastor's daughter. And now at length they had without mischance reached the spot where, according to Nikou's description, the second path branched off to the island. Just at that moment, accidentally as it seemed, old Nikou slipped, and the torch which he bore was immediately extinguished, and thus the vanguard was plunged into utter darkness.

"Stand quite still, my men," said the old man, as he rose after his fall. "Don't stir for your lives! And you behind there! You, lad, with the torch; I am coming to light mine again at yours."


Petru, who was the one addressed, and who was immediately in front of Hussein, raised his torch to give old Nikou the light he wanted. The old man came along to the rear cautiously, clinging to the manes of the horses and the stirrup straps of the[Pg 546] men. When he reached Petru, he cast one significant glance at Katarina, who was seated before Hussein on his horse, and then he snatched the torch out of Petru's hand.

"Ah," cried he suddenly, in tones which expressed the greatest terror, "look there, there!" And he pointed to the left with the light he had just obtained.

All eyes were immediately turned in the direction indicated, and at that moment Nikou dashed Petru's torch to the ground. The light was extinguished in a moment, and Nikou, plucking his knife from his girdle, plunged the blade into the flank of Hussein's horse. The animal reared with the pain, and Hussein, in the moment of terror and confusion, forgetting all about his prisoner, was forced to maintain his seat by clinging to the saddle.

Quick as lightning Nikou tore the girl from the Tartar's horse, and bearing her away in his arms, he disappeared into the surrounding darkness. The shrieks and curses of the Tartars, and the dismay and confusion which now followed, baffle description; but in the midst of the universal uproar the voice of Petru was heard crying out, "There, there they go. I have seen them. After them, after them. Oh, father, help! I am sinking! I feel as though my legs are being pulled down into the deep. Help! help!"

But no help came; each one had enough to do to look out for himself. The foremost horsemen tried to force their way back, and this caused still more terrible confusion. The horses, now beyond all control, plunged away from the narrow pathway, and rider and steed were sucked down into the quaking bog. But Katarina heard nothing of the yells of agony and despair of the death-doomed men; she was lying senseless in the strong arms of Nikou, who, with steady tread, and knowing every inch of the way, carried her safely along the treacherous road. At last he reached the firm ground and laid down his precious burden on the grass, covering and sheltering her as best he could under his sheepskin coat.

It seemed a long time—an intolerably weary time before the first streaks of dawn appeared in the east. Old Nikou was still sitting by the side of the fainting girl, anxiously listening for every sob which seemed to struggle from her breast. Suddenly in the far distance he heard the sound of a shepherd's horn. Nearer and nearer came the notes, to which the old man listened with something like feelings of rapture. Then he arose and hastened forwards in the direction of the sound. Presently he appeared again, followed by a band of armed Saxon peasants, at whose head Matthias made his way across the sinking path.

The young man sprang lightly on to the firm ground, while Katarina, who had meanwhile recovered consciousness, fell sobbing on his neck.

"Kätchen, dearest Kätchen," cried the councillor's son; "do I see you alive again?"

"And you, Matthias, are you still alive?" cried the girl convulsively clinging to her lover's breast.

"Yes, Kätchen, I am alive and well. The blow from that spiteful wretch merely stunned me. It was some time before I regained my senses; and then Ravecca came up just as I was setting out to search for you. She sent us here to the morass. Only four of the wretched Tartars have fallen into our hands, and they are now in safe custody. All the others must have been swallowed up by the bog. But now let us leave this pestilent place."

The return journey did not take long, and under Nikou's guidance the party reached their village home in safety.

All danger from the Turkish hordes soon disappeared, and in a few days Louis of Baden came up with aid from the emperor, and thus the Turks were forced to evacuate Siebenburg altogether.

Six months after these events the pastor of Siebenburg stretched his hands in blessing over the heads of his daughter and of Matthias as he joined them for ever in the holy band of wedlock. It need hardly be said that neither Nikou nor his good wife Ravecca were wanting at the wedding feast. Nikou was no longer now a poor neglected charcoal-burner in the lonely woods. The wealthy father of Matthias bought him a comfortable hut in Fogasas, and added to this gift a pair of good oxen. And from thenceforth Saint Ilie was the protector of his home, and Ravecca could pour rich offerings of oil into the little lamp before his picture.

[Pg 547]

Stories of the Victoria Cross: Told by Those who have Won it

Private W. Jones.

No action in recent warfare is better known than that of the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift. We are here able to give the narratives of two soldiers who gained their Cross for bravery in that day's gallant struggle. Here, first, is Private Jones's account of the affair:—

About half-past three o'clock on the afternoon of the 22nd of January, 1879, a mounted man came galloping into our little encampment and told us that the Zulus had taken the camp at Isandlwana, and were making their way towards us at Rorke's Drift. We at once set to work, and with such material as we had at hand formed a slight barricade around us; this was formed of sacks of mealies (Indian corn), boxes of sea biscuits, &c., of which we had a good supply. We also loopholed the walls of the two buildings. We had scarcely completed our work when the Zulus were down upon us.


The hospital being the first building in their line of attack, they surrounded it. Having twenty-three sick men in the rooms, our officer, Lieutenant Bromhead, ordered six men into the hospital, myself being one of the number, to defend and rescue the sick from it. We had scarcely taken our post in the hospital when two out of our number were killed in the front or verandah, leaving four of us to hold the place and get[Pg 548] out the sick. This was done by two (viz., Privates Hook and Williams) carrying the sick and passing them into the barricade through a small window, while myself (William Jones) and my comrade (Robert Jones) contended each door at the point of the bayonet, our ammunition being expended. The Zulus, finding they could not force us from the doors, now set fire to the thatched roof. This was the most horrifying time. What with the blood-thirsty yells of the Zulus, the cries of the sick that remained, and the burning thatch falling about our heads, it was sickening. Still we kept them at bay until twenty out of the twenty-three sick men were passed into the barricade under the fire of our own men; the other three sick I have every reason to believe must have wandered back into one of the rooms we had cleared, as they were men suffering from fever at the time. By this time the whole of the hospital was in flames, and as we could not stay in it any longer, we had to make our own escape into the barricade, by the window through which the sick had been passed. This we did, thank God, with our lives.

Private Henry Hook.

On January 22nd, 1879, Private Henry Hook, with his company, under Lieutenant Bromhead, was stationed at Rorke's Drift, to guard the ford and hospital and stores. He thus tells his gallant story:—

Between three and four in the afternoon, when I was engaged preparing the tea for the sick at the out-of-door cooking place, just at the back of the hospital—for I was hospital cook—two mounted men, looking much exhausted, and their horses worn out, rode up to me. One was in his shirt sleeves, and without a hat, with a revolver strapped round his breast; the other had his coat and hat on. They stopped for a moment and told me that the whole force on the other side of the river had been cut up, and that the Zulus were coming on in great force. They then rode off. I immediately ran to the camp close by and related what I had heard. We were at once fallen in and set to work to strengthen the post by loopholing the windows of the buildings, and to make breastworks of biscuit boxes and mealie bags. About half an hour later the Zulus were seen coming round a hill, and about 1,200 yards off. We were then told off to our posts. I was placed in one of the corner rooms of the hospital.

About this time Captain Stevens and all his men, except one native and two Europeans, non-commissioned officers, deserted us, and went off to Helpmakair. We were so enraged that we fired several shots at them, one of which dropped a European non-commissioned officer. From my loophole I saw the Zulus approaching in their thousands. They begun to fire, yelling as they did so, when they were 500 or 600 yards off. They came on boldly, taking advantage of anthills and other cover, and we were soon surrounded. More than half of them had muskets or rifles. I began to fire when they were 600 yards distant. I managed to clip several of them, for I had an excellent rifle, and was a "marksman." I recollect particularly one Zulu. He was about 400 yards off, and was running from one anthill to another. As he was running from cover to cover, I fired at him; my bullet caught him in the body, and he made a complete somersault. Another man was lying below an anthill, about 300 yards off, popping his head out now and again to fire. I took careful aim, but my bullet went just over his head. I then lowered my sight, and fired again the next time he showed himself. I saw the bullet strike the ground in a direct line, but about ten yards short. I then took a little fuller sight, aimed at the spot where I knew his head would come out, and, when he showed himself, I fired. I did not then see whether he was struck, but he never showed again. The next morning, when the fighting was over, I felt curious to know whether I had hit this man, so I went to the spot where I had last seen him. I found him lying dead, with his skull pierced by my bullet.

The Zulus kept drawing closer and closer, and I went on firing, killing several of them. At last they got close up, and set fire to the hospital. There was only one patient in my room with a broken leg, and he was burnt, and I was driven out by the flames, and was unable to save him. At first I had a comrade, but he left after a time, and was killed on his way to the inner entrenchment. When driven out of this room, I retired by a partition door into the next room, where there were several patients. For a few minutes I was the only fighting man there. A wounded man of the 24th came to me from another room with a bullet wound in the arm. I tied it up. Then John Williams came in from another room, and made a hole in the partition, through which he helped the sick and wounded men. Whilst he was doing this,[Pg 549] the Zulus beat in the door, and tried to enter. I stood at the side, and shot and bayoneted several—I could not tell how many, but there were four or five lying dead at my feet. They threw assegais continually, but only one touched me, and that inflicted a scalp wound which I did not think worth reporting; in fact, I did not feel the wound at the time. One Zulu seized my rifle, and tried to drag it away. Whilst we were tussling I slipped in a cartridge and pulled the trigger—the muzzle was against his breast, and he fell dead. Every now and again a Zulu would make a rush to enter—the door would only let in one man at a time—but I bayoneted or shot every one. When all the patients were out except one, who owing to a broken leg could not move, I also went through the hole, dragging the man after me, in doing which I broke his leg again. I then stopped at the hole to guard it, whilst Williams was making a hole through the partition into the next room.



When the patients had been got into the next room I followed, dragging the man with the broken leg after me. I stopped at the hole to guard it whilst Williams was helping the patients through a window into the other defences. I stuck to my particular charge, and dragged him out and helped him into the inner line of defences. I then took my post behind the parapet where three men had been hit just before. One of these was shot in the thick part of the neck, and was calling on me all night to shift from one side to the other. On this side the blaze of the hospital lighted up the ground in front, enabling us to take aim. The Zulus would every quarter of an hour or so get together and make a rush accompanied by yells. We let them get close, and then fired a volley—sometimes two. This would check them and send them back. Then after a time they would rally and come on again. About 3 a.m. day began to break, and the Zulus retreated. A party, of which I was one, then volunteered to go across to the hospital, where there[Pg 550] was a water cart, and bring it in to the inner enclosure, where there was no water, and the wounded were crying for it. When the sun rose we found the Zulus had disappeared. We then went out to search for our missing comrades. I saw one man kneeling behind the outer defences with his rifle to his shoulder, and resting on the parapet as if he were taking aim; I touched him on the shoulder, asking him why he didn't come inside, but he fell over, and I saw he was dead. I saw several others of our dead ripped open and otherwise mutilated. Going beyond the outer defences I went, as I have said before, whither I had killed the man at whom I had fired three shots from the hospital. Going on a little further I came across a very tall Zulu, bleeding from a wound in the leg; I was passing him by when he made a yell and clutched the butt of my rifle, dragging himself on to his knees. We had a severe struggle which lasted for several seconds, when finding he could not get the rifle from me, he let go with one hand and caught me round the leg, trying to throw me. Whilst he was doing this I got the rifle from him, and drawing back a yard or two, loaded and blew his brains out. I then was fetched back to the fort, and no one was allowed to go out save with other men. Then several of us went out together, and we brought in several wounded Zulus. By this time it was about eight or nine o'clock, and we saw a body coming towards us; at the same time Lord Chelmsford's column came in sight, and the enemy retired.


Lord Chelmsford, soon after he arrived, called me up to enquire about the defence of the hospital. I was busy preparing tea for the sick and wounded, and was in my shirt-sleeves, with my braces down. I wanted to put on my coat before appearing in front of the General, but I was told to come along at once, and I felt rather nervous at leaving in such a state, and thought I had committed some offence. When Lord Chelmsford heard my story he praised me and shook me by the hand. The Cross was presented to me on August 3, at Rorke's Drift, by Sir Garnet Wolseley.

[Pg 551]

Private Thomas Edwards.

Private Edwards thus recounts the valiant action which gained him, the sole survivor of three equally brave men, the honour of the Cross:—

At the battle of Tamanib, on the morning of March 13, I was on the Transport, having under my charge two mules loaded with ammunition for the Gatling guns belonging to the left half-battery, on the left of the battery. I was standing at No. 4 Gatling gun, and Lieutenant W. B. Almack was standing on the right of the gun, with a sailor, when the enemy rushed on us. I saw then that we were surrounded. The first of us three that was wounded was the sailor, who received a spear wound in the abdomen, and fell under the gun. I then saw two Soudanees making for me, and I put my bayonet through them both. Lieutenant Almack was then standing on my right, with his sword in hand, and his revolver in his left. He then rushed on one of the Soudanees, and ran his sword through him. Before he had time to recover, his right arm was nearly cut off. I took my rifle and loaded it, and shot the Soudanee dead on the spot. There then ran on him three of the Soudanees when he was helpless, his revolver being empty, and ran their spears through his body. I myself received at that time a slight wound on the back of my right hand as I was making a stab at one of them. After that I took my two mules and retired, firing on the enemy as I did so.

And this is what I have to say: that Lieutenant Almack was one of the bravest officers on the field that morning, and I am heartily sorry for his losing his life; but he lost it bravely. I tried all in my power to save him and the sailor, but the rush of the enemy was too strong for me to contend with.

[Pg 552]

The Enchanted Whistle.

by Alexandre Dumas

A Story For Children.

There was once a rich and powerful king, who had a daughter remarkable for her beauty. When this Princess arrived at an age to be married, he caused a proclamation to be made by sound of trumpet and by placards on all the walls of his kingdom, to the effect that all those who had any pretension to her hand were to assemble in a widespread meadow.

Her would-be suitors being in this way gathered together, the Princess would throw into the air a golden apple, and whoever succeeded in catching it would then have to resolve three problems, after doing which he might marry the Princess, and, the King having no son, inherit the kingdom.

On the day appointed the meeting took place. The Princess threw the golden apple into the air, but not one of the first three who caught it was able to complete the easiest task set him, and neither of them attempted those which were to follow.

At last, the golden apple, thrown by the Princess into the air for the fourth time, fell into the hands of a young shepherd, who was the handsomest, but, at the same time, the poorest of all the competitors.

The first problem given him to solve—certainly as difficult as a problem in mathematics—was this:—

The King had caused one hundred hares to be shut up in a stable; he who should succeed in leading them out to feed upon the meadow where the meeting was being held, the next morning, and conduct them all back to the stable the next evening, would have resolved the first problem.

When this proposition was made to the young shepherd, he asked to be allowed a day to reflect upon it; the next day he would say "yes" or "no" to it.

The request appeared so just to the King that it was granted to him.

He immediately took his way to the forest, to meditate there on the means of accomplishing the task set him.

With down-bent head he slowly traversed a narrow path running beside a brook, when he came upon a little old woman with snow-white hair, but sparkling eyes, who inquired the cause of his sadness.

The young shepherd replied, shaking his head:

"Alas! nobody can be of any assistance to me, and yet I greatly desire to wed the King's daughter."

"Don't give way to despair so quickly," replied the little old woman; "tell me all about your trouble, and perhaps I may be able to get you out of your difficulty."

The young shepherd's heart was so heavy that he needed no entreaty to tell her his story.

"Is that all?" said the little old woman; "in that case you have not much to despair about."

And she took from her pocket an ivory whistle and gave it to him.

This whistle was just like other whistles in appearance; so the shepherd, thinking[Pg 553] that it needed to be blown in a particular way, turned to ask the little old woman how this was, but she had disappeared.


Full of confidence, however, in what he regarded as a good genie, he went next day to the palace, and said to the King:

"I accept, sir, and have come in search of the hares to lead them to the meadow."

On hearing this, the King rose, and said to his Minister of the Interior:

"Have all the hares turned out of the stable."

The young shepherd placed himself on the threshold of the door to count them; but the first was already far away when the last was set at liberty; so much so, that when he reached the meadow he had not a single hare with him.

He sat himself down pensively, not daring to believe in the virtue of his whistle. However, he had no other resource, and placing the whistle to his lips he blew into it with all his might.


The whistle gave forth a sharp and prolonged sound.

Immediately, to his great astonishment, from right and left, from before him and behind him—from all sides, in fact—leapt the hundred hares, and set to quietly browsing on the meadow around him.

News was brought to the King, how the young shepherd had probably resolved the problem of the hares.

The King conferred on the matter with his daughter.

Both were greatly vexed; for if the young shepherd succeeded with the two other problems as well as he had with the first, the Princess would become the wife of a simple peasant, than which nothing could be more humiliating to royal pride.

"You think over the matter," said the Princess to her father, "and I will do the same."

The Princess retired to her chamber, and disguised herself in such a way as to render herself unrecognisable; then she[Pg 554] had a horse brought for her, mounted it, and went to the young shepherd.

The hundred hares were frisking joyously about him.

"Will you sell me one of your hares?" asked the young Princess.

"I would not sell you one of my hares for all the gold in the world," replied the shepherd; "but you may gain one."

"At what price?" asked the Princess.

"By dismounting from your horse and sitting by me on the grass for a quarter of an hour."

The Princess made some objections, but as there was no other means of obtaining the hare, she descended to the ground, and seated herself by the young shepherd.


The hundred hares leaped and bounded around him.

At the end of a quarter of an hour, during which the young shepherd said a hundred tender things to her, she rose and claimed her hare, which the shepherd, faithful to his promise, gave her.

The Princess joyfully shut it in a basket which she carried at the bow of her saddle, and rode back towards the palace.

But hardly had she ridden a quarter of a league, when the young shepherd placed his whistle to his lips and blew into it; and, at this imperative call, the hare forced up the lid of the basket, sprang to the ground, and made off as fast as his legs would carry him.

A moment afterwards, the shepherd saw a peasant coming towards him, mounted on a donkey. It was the old King, also disguised, who had quitted the palace with the same intention as his daughter.

A large bag hung from the donkey's saddle.

"Will you sell me one of your hares?" he asked of the young shepherd.

"My hares are not for sale," replied the shepherd; "but they may be gained."

"What must one do to gain one?"

The shepherd considered for a moment.

"You must kiss three times the tail of your donkey," he said.

This strange condition was greatly repugnant to the old King, who tried his hardest to escape it, going so far as to offer fifty thousand francs for a single hare, but the young shepherd would not budge from the terms he had named. At last the King, who held absolutely to getting possession of one of the hares, submitted to the conditions, humiliating as they were for a king. Three times he kissed the tail of his donkey, who was greatly surprised at a king doing him so much honour; and the shepherd, faithful to his promise,[Pg 555] gave him the hare demanded with so much insistence.


The King tucked his hare into his bag, and rode away at the utmost speed of his donkey.

But he had hardly gone a quarter of a league when a shrill whistle sounded in the air, on hearing which the hare nibbled at the bag so vigorously as speedily to make a hole, out of which it leapt to the ground and fled.

"Well?" inquired the Princess, on seeing the King return to the palace.

"I hardly know what to tell you, my daughter," replied the King. "This young shepherd is an obstinate fellow, who refused to sell me one of his hares at any price. But don't distress yourself; he'll not get so easily through the two other tasks as he has done with this one."

It need hardly be said that the King made no allusion to the conditions under which he had for a moment had possession of one of his hares, nor that the Princess said nothing about the terms of her similar unsuccess.

"That is exactly my case," she remarked; "I could not induce him to part with one of his hares, neither for gold nor silver."

When evening came, the shepherd returned with his hares; he counted them before the King; there was not one more or one less. They were given back to the Minister of the Interior, who had them driven into the stable.

Then the King said:

"The first problem has been solved; the second now remains to be accomplished. Pay great attention, young man."

The shepherd listened with all his ears.

"Up yonder, in my granary," the King went on, "there are one hundred measures of grey peas and one hundred measures of lentils; lentils and peas are mixed together; if you succeed to-night, and without light, in separating them, you will have solved the second problem."

"I'll do my best," replied the young shepherd.

And the King called his Minister of the Interior, who conducted the young man up to the granary, locked him in, and handed the key to the King.

As it was already night, and as, for such a labour, there was no time to be lost, the shepherd put his whistle to his lips and blew a long, shrill note.

Instantly five thousand ants appeared, and set to work separating the lentils from the peas, and never stopped until the whole were divided into two heaps.

The next morning the King, to his great astonishment, beheld the work accomplished. He tried to raise objections, but was unable to find any ground whatever.

All he could now do was to trust to the third trial, which, after the shepherd's success in the other two trials, he found to be not very hopeful. However, as the third[Pg 556] was the most difficult of all, he did not give way to despair.

"What now remains for you to do," he said, "is to go into the bread-room, and, in a single night, eat the whole week's bread, which is stored there. If to-morrow morning not a single crumb is to be found there, I will consent to your marrying my daughter."

That same evening the young shepherd was conducted to the bread-room of the palace, which was so full of bread that only a very small space near the door remained unoccupied.

But, at midnight, when all was quiet in the palace, the shepherd sounded his whistle. In a moment ten thousand mice fell to gnawing at the bread in such a fashion, that the next morning not a single crumb remained in the place.

The young man then hammered at the door with all his might, and called out:

"Make haste and open the door, please, for I'm hungry!"

The third task was thus victoriously accomplished, as the others had been.

Nevertheless, the King tried hard to get out of his engagement.

He had a sack, big enough to hold six measures of wheat, brought; and, having called a good number of his courtiers about him, said: "Tell us as many falsehoods as will fill this sack, and when it is full you shall have my daughter."

Then the shepherd repeated all the falsehoods he could think of; but the day was half spent and he was at the end of his fibs, and still the sack was far from being full.

"Well," he went on, "while I was guarding my hares, the Princess came to me disguised as a peasant, and, to get one of my hares, permitted me to kiss her."

The Princess, who, not in the least suspecting what he was going to say, had not been able to close his mouth, became as red as a cherry; so much so that the King began to think that the young shepherd's tarradiddle might possibly be true.

"The sack is not yet full, though you have just dropped a very big falsehood into it," cried the King. "Go on."

The shepherd bowed and continued: "A moment after the Princess was gone, I saw his Majesty, disguised as a peasant and mounted on a donkey. His Majesty also came to buy one of my hares; seeing, then, what an eager desire he had to obtain a hare from me, what do you imagine I compelled him to do—"

"Enough! enough!" cried the King; "the sack is full." A week later, the young shepherd married the Princess.


Transcriber's Notes:

Added title page (from start of the series) and table of contents.

Simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation normalized.

Anachronistic and non-standard spellings retained as printed.