Page:Pierre.djvu/419

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405
PLINLIMMON

on. But Pierre was all confusion; he flushed, looked askance, stammered with his hand at his hat to return the courtesy of the other; he seemed thoroughly upset by the mere sight of this hat-lifting, gracefully bowing, gently smiling, and most miraculously self-possessed, non-benevolent man.

Now who was this man? This man was Plotinus Plinlimmon. Pierre had read a treatise of his in a stage-coach coming to the city, and had heard him often spoken of by Millthorpe and others as the Grand Master of a certain mystic Society among the Apostles. Whence he came, no one could tell. His surname was Welsh, but he was a Tennesseean by birth. He seemed to have no family or blood ties of any sort. He never was known to work with his hands; never to write with his hands (he would not even write a letter); he never was known to open a book. There were no books in his chamber. Nevertheless, some day or other he must have read books, but that time seemed gone now; as for the sleazy works that went under his name, they were nothing more than his verbal things, taken down at random, and bunglingly methodised by his young disciples.

Finding Plinlimmon thus unfurnished either with books or pen and paper, and imputing it to something like indigence, a foreign scholar, a rich nobleman, who chanced to meet him once, sent him a fine supply of stationery, with a very fine set of volumes,—Cardan, Epictetus, the Book of Mormon, Abraham Tucker, Condorcet and the Zenda-Vesta. But this noble foreign scholar calling next day—perhaps in expectation of some compliment for his great kindness—started aghast at his own package deposited just without the door of Plinlimmon, and with all fastenings untouched.

'Missent,' said Plotinus Plinlimmon placidly: 'if anything, I looked for some choice Curacoa from a nobleman