The Castaway

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For works with similar titles, see The Castaway (Tagore).
The Castaway: Three Great Men Ruined in One Year; A King, a Cad and a Castaway  (1904) 
by Hallie Erminie Rives
1904


CHAPTER II. "MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW."[edit]

At Lady Jersey's town house, in Portman Square, the final course had been served and the gentlemen's glasses were being replenished. Lady Jersey gave the signal. The gentlemen rose and bowed, the three ladies withdrew to the drawing-room ; then the host, the earl, said, crack- ing a walnut :

"I heard the other day that George Gordon is on his way back to London. You were with him in the East some time, weren't you, Hobhouse ?"

There were but three besides the host : Sheridan, the playwright, looking the beau and wit combined, of a clarety, elderly, red complexion, brisk and bulbous William Lamb, heir of the Melbourne title, a personi- fied "career" whose voice was worn on the edges by pub- lic speaking and Hobhouse, whom the earl addressed.

The young man bowed. "I left him in Greece just a year ago."

"Is it true," asked Lamb, sipping his Moe't with finical deliberation, "that he drinks nothing but barley-water and dines on two soda biscuits ?"

"He eats very little," assented Hobhouse; "dry toast,

(9)


10 THE CASTAWAY

water-cress, a glass of claret that was usually his regi- men."

"What an infernal pose!" Lamb exclaimed, rousing. "A ghoul eating rice with a needle ! He does it to be eccentric. Why, at Cambridge they say he used to keep a tame bear ! His appetite is all apiece with his other fopperies abroad that the papers reprint here. One week he's mopish. Another, he's for being jocular with every- body. Then again he's a sort of limping Don Quixote, rowing with the police for a woman of the town like that Greek demirep of his he rescued from the sack, that Petersham tells about."

"Nobody believes Petersham's yarns !" growled Sheri- dan.

"I was on the ground when that incident occurred. I'm sorry the clubs got hold of it. It's a confounded shame."

Hobhouse spoke explosively. Lord Jersey's shrewd deep-set eyes gathered interest, and Sheridan paused with a pinch of snuff in transit.

"It happened one sunrise, when we were camped on the sea-beach just outside Missolonghi. That is a Greek town held by the Turks, who keep its Christian citizens in terror of their lives. The girl in the case was a Greek by birth, but her father was a renegado, so she came un- der Moslem law."

"I presume she was handsome," drawled Lamb caus- tically. "I credit Gordon with good taste in femininity, at least."

Hobhouse flushed, but kept his temper.

"It's nonsense/' he went on, "the story that it was any affair of his own. There was a young Arab-looking


THE CASTAWAY 11

ensign who had fallen in with us, named Trevanion he had deserted from an English sloop-of-the-line at Bombay. He had disappeared the night before, and we had concluded then it was for some petticoat deviltry he'd been into. I didn't like the fellow from the start, but Gordon wouldn't give an unlucky footpad the cold shoulder."

Sheridan chuckled. "That's Gordon ! I remember he had an old hag of a fire-lighter at his rooms here Mrs. Muhl. I asked him once why he ever brought her from Newstead. 'Well/ says he, 'no one else will have the poor old devil/ "

"Come, come," put in Lamb, waspishly. "Let's hear the new version ; we've had Petersham's."

"We had seen Trevanion talking to the girl," Hob- house continued, "in her father's shop in the bazaar. We didn't know, of course, when we saw the procession, whom the Turkish scoundrels were going to drown. I didn't even guess what it was all about till Gordon shouted to me. His pistol was out before you could wink, and in another minute he had the fat leader by the throat."

"With Mr. Hobhouse close behind him," suggested the earl.

"I hadn't a firearm, so I was of small assistance. We had some Suliote ragamuffins for body-guard, but they are so cowed they will run from a Turkish uniform. They promptly disappeared till it was all over. Well, there was a terrible hullabaloo for a while. I made sure they would butcher us out and out, but Gordon kept his pistol clapped on the purple coat and faced the whole lot down."


12 THE CASTAWAY

"Wish he had shot him/' rumbled Sheridan, "and appealed to the resident ! In the year of Grace 1810 it's time England took a hand and blew the Turk out of Greece, anyway !"

"I presume there was no doubt about the offense?" asked the earl.

"It seemed not. Trevanion was a good-looking, swarthy rogue, and had been too bold. Though he got away himself, he left the girl to her fate. It was the feast of Eamazan, and he must have known what that fate would be. The time made interference harder for Gordon, since both law and religion were against him. He had learned some of their palaver. He told them he was a pasha-of-three-tails himself in his own country, and at last made the head butcher cut open the sack. The girl was a pitiful thing to see, with great almond eyes sunk with fright fifteen years old, perhaps, though she looked no more than twelve and her chalk- white cheeks and the nasty way they had her hands and feet tied made my blood boil. There was more talk, and Gordon flourished the firman Ali Pasha had given him when we were in Albania. The officer couldn't read, but he pretended he could and at last agreed to go back and submit the matter to the Waywode. So back we all paraded to Missolonghi. It cost Gordon a plenty there, but he won his point."

"That's where Petersham's account ends, isn't it?" The earl's tone was dry.

"It's not all of it," Hobhouse answered with some heat. "Gordon was afraid the rascally primate might repent of his promise (the Mussulman religion is strenu- ous) so he took the girl that day to a convent and as soon


THE CASTAWAY 13

as possible sent her to Argos to her brother. She died, poor creature, two months afterward, of fever."

Lamb sniffed audibly.

"Very pretty ! He ought to turn it into a poem. I dare say he will. If you hadn't been there to applaud, Hobhouse, I wager the original program wouldn't have been altered. Pshaw! He always was a sentimental harlequin," he went on contemptuously, "strutting about in a neck-cloth and delicate health, and starving himself into a consumption so the women will say, 'Poor Gor- don how interesting he looks !' Everything he does is a hectic of vanity, and all he has written is glittering nonsense snow and sophistry."

Sheridan's magnificent iron-gray head, roughly hacked as if from granite, turned sharply. "He's no sheer seraph nor saint," he retorted; "none of us is, but curse catch me ! there's no sense in remonstering him ! He'll do great things one of these days. He was born with a rosebud in his mouth and a nightingale singing in his ear !"

The other shrugged his shoulders, but at that mo- ment the protestant face of the hostess appeared.

"How interesting men are to each other !" Lady Jer- sey exclaimed. "We women have actually been driven to the evening papers."

The four men followed into the drawing-room, fur- nished in ruby and dull gold a room perfect in its appointments, for its mistress added to her innate kind- ness of heart and tact a rare taste and selection. It showed in the Sevres-topped tables, the tawny fire- screens, the candelabra of jasper and filigree gold, and in the splendid Gainsborough opposite the door.


14 THE CASTAWAY

The whole effect was a perfect setting for Lady Jer- sey. In it Lady Caroline Lamb appeared too exotic, too highly colored, too flamboyant like a purple orchid in a dish of tea-roses ; on the other hand, it was too warmly drawn for the absent stateliness of Annabel Milbanke, Lady Melbourne's niece and guest for the season. The latter's very posture, coldly fair like a sword on salute, seemed to chide the sparkle and glitter and color that radiated, a latent impetuosity, from Lady Caroline.

"I see by the Courier," observed Lady Jersey, "that George Gordon is in London."

"Speak of the devil " sneered Lamb ; and Sheridan said:

"That's curious; we were just discussing him."

Miss Milbanke's even voice entered the conversation. "One hears everywhere of his famous Satire. You think well of it, don't you, Mr. Sheridan?"

"My dear madam, for the honor of having written it, I would have welcomed all the enemies it has made its author."

"What dreadful things the papers are always saying about him!" cried Lady Jersey, with a little shudder. "I hope his mother hasn't seen them. I hear she lives almost a recluse at Newstead Abbey."

"With due respect to the conventions," Lamb inter- posed ironically, "there's small love lost between them. His guardian used to say they quarrelled like cat and dog."

"He never liked the boy," disputed the hostess, warmly. "Why, he wouldn't stand with him when he took his seat in the Lords. I am right, am I not, Mr. Hobhouse?"


THE CASTAWAY 15

"Yes, your ladyship. Lord Carlisle refused to intro- duce him. The Chancellor, even, haggled absurdly over his certificate of birth. Gordon came to Parliament with only one friend an old tutor of his entered alone, took the peer's oath and left. He has never crossed the threshold since."

"What a shame," cried Lady Caroline, "that neither Annabel nor I have ever seen your paragon, Lady Jersey! Mr. Hobhouse, you or Mr. Sheridan must bring him to dinner to Melbourne House."

"If he'll come!" said Lamb, sotto voce, to the earl. "They say he hates to see women eat, because it destroys his illusions."

Lady Jersey shrugged. "It is vastly in his favor that he still has any," she retorted, rising. "Come, Caro, give us some music. We are growing too serious."

Lady Caroline went to the piano, and let her hands wander over the keys. Wild, impatient of restraint, she was a perpetual kaleidoscope of changes. Now an unaccountably serious mood had captured her. The melody that fell from her fingers was a minor strain, and she began singing in a voice low, soft and caressing with a feeling that Annabel Milbanke had never guessed lay within that agreeable, absurd, perplexing, mad-cap little being :

"Maid of Athens, ere we part, Give, oh, give me back my heart! Or since that has left my breast, Keep it now and take the rest! Hear my vow before I go, Zoe mou, sas agapo !


16 THE CASTAWAY

By thy tresses unoonfined, Wooed by each JEgea,n wind! By those lids whose jetty fringe, Kiss thy soft cheeks' blooming tinge! By those wild eyes like the roe, Zoe mou, sas agapo!

By those lips I may not taste! By that zone-encircled waist! By all token-flow'rs that tell (Word can never speak so well!) By love's changing joy and woe, Zoe mou, sas agapo!"

She sang the lines with a strange tenderness a haunting accent of refrain, that had insensibly moved every one in the room, and surprised for the moment even her own matter-of-fact husband. A womanly soft- ness had misted Lady Jersey's gaze, and Annabel Mil- banke looked quickly and curiously up at the singer us she paused, a spot of color in her cheeks and her hazel eyes large and bright.

There was a moment of silence a blank which Hob- house broke:

"He wrote that when we were travelling together in Albania. I'm glad I sent it to you, Lady Caroline. I didn't know how beautiful it was."

Miss Milbanke turned her hea'd.

"So that is George Gordon's," she said. She had felt a slight thrill, an emotion new to her, while the other sang. "Mr. Hobhouse, what does he look like?"

The young man, who was by nature and liking some- thing of an artist, took a folded paper from his wallet and spread it out beneath a lamp.


THE CASTAWAY 17

"I made this sketch the last night I saw him in Greece," he said, "at Missolonghi, just a year ago."

Lady Caroline Lamb and Miss Milbanke both bent to look at the portrait. When they withdrew their eyes, the calmer, colder features showed nothing, but Lady Caroline's wore a deep, vivid flush.

"Mad, bad and dangerous to know!" her brain was saying, "yet what a face !"


CHAPTEE III

THE BOOMERANG

"George Gordon!"

There was an unaffected pleasure in the exclamation, and its echo in the answer : "Sherry ! And young as ever, I'll be bound !"

"I heard last night at Lady Jersey's you were in London/' said Sheridan, after the first greetings. "So you've had enough of Greece, eh ? Three years ! What have you done in all that time ?"

"I have dined the mufti of Thebes, I have viewed the harem of Ali Pasha, I have kicked an Athenian post- master. I was blown ashore on the island of Salamis. I caught a fever going to Olympia. And I have found that I like to be back in England the oddest thing of all !"

Gordon ended half-earnestly. Threading the famil- iar thoroughfares, tasting the city's rush, its intermina- bleness, its counterplay and torsion of living, he had felt a sense of new appreciation. His months of freer breathing in the open spaces of the East had quickened his pulses.

(18)


THE CASTAWAY 19

The pair strolled on together chatting, the old wit linking his arm in the younger man's. He had always liked Gordon and the appearance of his famous t our de force had lifted this liking into genuine admiration.

"Hobhouse says you've brought back another book/ said he, presently.

"I've a portmanteau crammed with stanzas in Spen- ser's measure, but they're likely to be drivelling idiot- ism. I must leave that to the critics. I have heard their chorus of deep damnations once," Gordon added ruefully. "But no doubt they've long ago forgotten my infantile ferocities."

Sheridan shot a keen glance under his bushy brows. Could the other, he wondered, have so undervalued the vicious hatred his cutting Satire had raised in the ranks of the prigs and pamphleteers it pilloried? In his long foreign absence had he been ignorant of the flood of tales so assiduously circulated in the London news- papers and magazines?

His thought snapped. Gordon had halted before a book-shop which bore the sign of "The Juvenile Li- brary," his eye caught by printed words on a paste- board placard hung in its window.

"Sherry !" he cried, his color changing prismatically. "Look there !"

The sign read :

"Queen Mob."

For writing the which Mr. Percy Bysshe Shelley Stands lately expelled from University College, Oxford.

2s, 6d.


20 THE CASTAWAY

Also

"English Bards and Scotch Reviewers"

A Poetical Satire By a Noble Lord Travelling Abroad.

A few copies of this work

(Suppressed by the Author at great expense)

which can be bought nowhere else in London 1 guinea,

"Devil take the blackguard !" blurted SheridanT " He followed the other into the musty shop where a stooped, agate-eyed old man laid aside a black-letter volume of Livy's Eoman History and shuffled forward to greet them.

Gordon's face was pallid and his eyes were sparkling. He had written the book the pasteboard advertised in a fit of rage that had soon cooled to shame of its retaliative scorn. He had believed every copy procurable destroyed before he left England. He had thought of this fact often with self-congratulation/ dreaming this monu- ment of his youthful petulance rooted out. To-day it was almost the first thing he confronted. The sedu- lous greed that hawked his literary indiscretion to the world roused now an old murderous fury that had some- times half-scared him in his childhood. He was bat- tling with this as he pointed out the second item of the sign.

"How many of these have you?" he asked the pro- prietor shortly.

"Twelve."

"I will take them all." Gordon put a bank-note on the counter.


THE CASTAWAY 21

The bookseller regarded him sagely as he set the books before him. It was a good day's bargain.

A doorway led from the shop into a binding-room, where stood a stove with glue-pots heating upon it. With a word to Sheridan, Gordon seized his purchase and led the way into this room. The dealer stared and followed.

He saw the purchaser tear the books cover from cover, and thrust them one by one into the fiery maw of the stove. And now, at the stranger's halting step and the beauty of his face, sudden intelligence came to him. Five ten twenty guineas apiece he could have got, if he had only found the wit to guess ! The know- ledge turned his parchment visage saffron with sup- pressed cupidity, anger and regret.

The bell in the outer room announced a customer, and the bookseller went into the shop, leaving the door ajar. Through it came a voice a lady's inquiry. She was asking for a copy of the Satire whose pages were shrivelling under Sheridan's regretful eye.

Gordon's hand held the last volume. He had turned to look through the door a fine, tall, spirit-looking girl, he thought. His observant eye noted her face a cool, chaste classic, and her dress, rich, but with a kind of quiet and severity.

Yielding to some whimsical impulse, he went rapidly out to the pavement. She was seating herself in her carriage beside her companion as he approached.

"I had just secured the last copy," he stated gravely, almost apologetically. "I have another, however, and shall be glad if you will take this."


22 THE CASTAWAY

A glimmer of surprise had shadowed the immobile face, but it passed.

"You are very kind/' she said. "It seems difficult to procure. We saw the sign quite by accident !" She was demurring on prudential grounds. She hesitated only a moment just long enough for him to become aware of another personality beside her, an impression of something wild, Ariel-like, eccentric yet pleasing then she searched her purse and held out to him a golden guinea.

"That is the price, I think/' she added, and with the word "Melbourne House" to the coachman, the carriage merged in the stream of the highway.

Annabel Milbanke's complaisant brow was undis- turbed. She was very self-possessed, very unromantic, very correct. As the chestnut bays whirled on toward Hyde Park Corner, she did no more than allow her colorless imagination to ask itself: "Who is he, I wonder ?"

Her fragile, overdressed companion might have an- swered that mental question. As Gordon had come from the doorway, his step halting, yet so slightly as to be unnoticed by one who saw the delicate symmetry of his face, a quick tinge had come to Lady Caroline Lamb's cheeks. The brown curls piled on the pale oval of brow, the deep gray eyes, the full chiselled lips and strongly modelled chin all brought back to her a pen- cil sketch she had once seen under a table-lamp. The tinge grew swiftly to a flush, and she turned to look back as they sped on, but she said nothing.

Gordon had seen neither the flush nor the backward look. His eyes, as he surveyed the golden guinea in his


THE CASTAWAY 23

hand, held only the picture of the calm girl who had given it to him.

"Melbourne House," he repeated aloud. "What a stately beauty she has the perfection of a glacier ! I wonder now why I did that," he thought quizzically. "I never saw her before. A woman who wants to read my Satire ; and I always hated an esprit in petticoats ! It was impulse pure impulse, reasonless and irrespon- sible. God knows what contradictions one contains !"

He tossed the coin in the air abstractedly, caught it and slipped it into his waistcoat pocket as Sheridan re- joined him. The latter had not seen the carriage and its occupants.

"A fine ash-heap we've made," said the wit, "and a pity too ! Curse catch me, I wish I'd written it ! If it were mine, instead of suppressing, I'd print a new edi- tion and be damned to them. If they won't forget this, cram another down their throats and let them choke on it ! Come and drink a bottle of vin de Graves with me at the Cocoa-Tree," he continued persuasively. "Tom Moore is in town. We'll get him and go to the Italian Opera afterward. What do you say ?"

Gordon shook his head. "Not to-day. I have an ap- pointment at my rooms. Hobhouse pretends he wants to read my new manuscript."

"To-morrow, then. I want to get the rights of the latest apocryphal stories of you the clubs are relish- ing."

"Stories ? What stories ?"

Sheridan cleared his throat uneasily. "Surely, let- ters newspapers must have reached you in Greece ?"

"Newspapers!" exclaimed Gordon. "I haven't read


24 THE CASTAWAY

one in a year. As for letters well, it has been little better. So the newspapers have been talking of me, eh?"

"Not that any one in particular believes them," in- terposed his companion hastily, "or anything the Scourge prints, for that matter !"

"The Scourge ? That was the worst of the lot before I left. It's still mud-flinging, is it? I suppose I might have expected it. There's scarcely a witling-scribbler in London I didn't grill with that cursed Satire of mine, that they won't let stay in its grave. But the newspaper wiseacres what under the canopy can they know of my wanderings? I haven't set eyes on a jour-, nalist since I left."

"Of course, they're perfectly irresponsible!"

"What are they saying, Sherry?"

Sheridan hesitated.

"Come, come; out with it!"

"The Morning Post reported last week that the pasha of the Morea had made you a present of a Circassian girl-"

"It was a Circassian mare!"

"And that you had quarters in a Franciscan nun- nery."

"A monastery!" Gordon laughed an unmirthful laugh. "With one Capuchin friar, a bandy-legged Turkish cook, a couple of Albanian savages and a drag- oman ! What tales are they telling at the clubs ?"

"That's about all that's new except Petersham. He has some tale of a Turkish peri of yours that you saved from a sack in the ^Egean."

Gordon's lips set tight together. The pleasure he


THE CASTAWAY 25

had felt at his return had been shot through with a new pain that spoke plainly in his question:

"Sherry! Is there no story they tell of these two years that I need not blush at?"

The other caught at the straw. "They say you swam the Hellespont, and outdid Leander."

"I'm obliged to them ! I wonder they didn't invent a Hero to wait for my Leandering!" The voice held a bitter humor, the antithesis of the open pleasantry of their meeting. "I presume that version will not be long in arriving/' Gordon added, and held out his hand.

Sheridan grasped it warmly. "I shall see you to- morrow," he said, and they parted.

From the edge of his show-window, William Godwin, the bookseller, with a malignant look in his agate eyes, watched Gordon go.

In the inner room he raked the fragments of charred leather from the stove, thinking of the guineas he had let slip through his fingers. Then he sat down at hi& desk and drawing some dusty sheets of folio to him began to write, with many emendations. His quill pen scratched maliciously for a long time. At last he leaned back and regarded what he had written with huge sat- isfaction.

"The atheistical brat of a lord!" he muttered vin- dictively. "I'll make his ribs gridirons for his heart! I'll send this as a leader for the next issue of the Scourge!"


CHAPTER IV

THE LITTLE BOY IN ABERDEEN

"It is magnificent !" Hobhouse looked up as he spoke.

It was in Gordon's apartment in Reddish's Hotel. The table was strewn with loose manuscript the verses he had laughingly told Sheridan were "likely to be drivelling idiotism." Over these Hobhouse had bent for an hour, absorbed and delighted, breathing their strange spirit of exhilaration, of freedom from rhyth- mic shackles, of adventure into untried poetic depths. They stood out in sharp relief original, unique, of classic model yet of a genre all their own. It would be a facer for Jeffrey, the caustic editor of the Edin- burgh Review, and for all the crab-apple following Gor- don's boyish rancor had roused to abuse. Now he said :

"Nothing like it was ever written before. Have you shown it to a publisher yet?"

Gordon glanced at the third person in the room a gray-haired elderly man with kindly eyes as he re- plied :

"Dallas, here, took it to Miller. He declined it."

"The devil !" shot out Hobhouse, incredulously.

"John Murray will publish it," Gordon continued. (26)


THE CASTAWAY 27

"I had his letter with the copyhold an hour ago." He took a paper from his pocket and held it up to view.

"I congratulate you both," Hobhouse said heartily.

Gordon shrugged acridly, and rising, began to pace the room. The sore spot had been rankling since that walk with Sheridan.

"Wait till the critics see it. They will have other opinions, no doubt. Well, never mind," he added. "I was peppered so highly once that it must be aloes or cayenne to make me taste. They forced me to bitter- ness at first ; I may as well go through to the last. Vat victis! I'll fall fighting the host. That's something."

The gray-haired man had picked up his hat. It was not a hat of the primest curve, nor were his clothes of a fashionable cut. They were well-worn, but his neck- cloth was spotless, and though his face showed lines of toil and anxiety, it bore the inextinguishable marks of gentility. Gordon had not told him that he had spent a part of the day inquiring into the last detail of in- valid wife and literary failure ; now his glance veiled a singular look whose source lay very deep in the man.

"Don't hasten," he said. "I have a reputation for gloom, but my friends must not be among the reput- ants! Least of all you, Dallas."

The other sat down again and threw his hat on the table, smiling. "Gloom?" he asked. "And have you still that name ? You were so as a little laddie in Aber- deen, but I thought you would have left off the Scotch blues long ago with your tartan."

"I wish I could," cried Gordon, "as I left off the burr from my tongue. How I hated the place all ex- cept Dee-side and old Lachin-y-gair ! That pleased me


28 THE CASTAWAY

for its wildness. If God had a hand in its valleys, the devil must have had a hoof in some of its ravines, for the clouds foamed up from their crevices like the spray of the ocean of hell. Dallas," he said, veering, "what a violent, unlovely little wretch it was we used to know so many years ago, you never saw him, Hobhouse! that little boy in Aberdeen !"

Hobhouse looked up. There was a curious note in the voice, a sort of brooding inquiry, of regret, of wist- fulness all in one. It was a tone he had never heard so plainly but once before a night when they two had sat together before a camp-fire on the Greek sea-coast, when Gordon had talked of old Cambridge days, and of Matthews, his classmate, destined to be drowned. It was this tone Hobhouse heard.

The older man's eyes had a retrospective haze, which he winked away, as he smoothed down the frayed edges of his waistcoat with a hesitating hand, as though half- embarrassed under the other's gaze.

"A little misshapen unit of a million," continued Gordon, "a miserable nothing of something, who dreamed barbarous fantasies and found no one who un- derstood him no one but one. Do you remember him, Dallas?"

The other nodded, his head turned away. "He was not so hard to understand."

"Not for you, Dallas, and it's for that reason most of all I am going to paint his picture. Will it bore you, Hobhouse?" he asked whimsically. "To discuss child- hood is such a snivelling, popping small-shot, water- hen waste of powder to most people."

Hobhouse shook his head, and the speaker went on:


THE CASTAWAY 29

"First of all, I wish you would witness a signature for me," and handed him the paper he had taken from his pocket.

As the young man glanced at it, he looked up with quick surprise, but checked himself and, signing it, leaned back in his chair.

Gordon returned to his slow pace up and down the room, and as he went he talked:

"The fiercest animals have the smallest litters, and he was an only child, though he had been told he had a half-sister somewhere in the world. He was unmanage- able in temper, sullenly passionate, a queer little bundle of silent rages and wants and hates the sort people call 'inhuman/ There was never but one nurse, if I remember, who could manage him at all. He had a twisted foot the gift of his mother, and added to by a Nottingham quack. He lived in lodgings, cursed fusty they were, too, the fustiest in Aberdeen, with his mother. He had never set eyes on his father; how he knew he had one, I can't imagine. When he was old enough, he was sent to 'squeel', as they called it in Aberdeen dialect day-school, where he learned to say:

'God made man. Let us love Him,'

and to make as poor a scrawl as ever scratched over a frank. He was a blockhead, a hopeless blockhead ! The master, how deyout and razor-faced and dapper he was! he was minister to the kirk also, used to topsy- turvy the class now and then, and bring the lowest highest. These were the only times the boy was at the


30 THE CASTAWAY

head. Then the master would say, 'Now, George, man, let's see how soon you can limp to the foot again !' This was a jest, but when the others shouted, the boy used to turn cold with shame. Small wonder he didn't learn, for he didn't want to. A pity, too, Dallas, for in those days three words and a half-smile would have changed him. I venture it would take more than that to-day !"

He paused, his brows frowning, his lips drawn softly. When he went on, it was in a more constrained tone:

"One year, suddenly, everything changed. His guard- ian took him from the school and he had a tutor a very serious, saturnine young man, with spectacles," Dallas had taken off his own and was polishing them earnestly with his handkerchief, "who didn't make the boy hate him a curious thing! He was a great man already in the boy's eyes, because he had been in America when the Colonies were fighting King George. The boy would have liked to be a colonist too he had never been introduced to the gaudy charlatanry of kings and the powwowishness of rank. He hadn't become a lord then, himself.

"This marvel of a tutor wasn't pestilently prolix. He taught him no skimble-skamble out of the cate- chism, though he was a good churchman; but the first time the boy looked in those big horn spectacles, he knew there was one man in the world who could under- stand him. The tutor made him want to learn, too, and strangest of all, he never seemed to notice that his pupil was lame. How did he perform that miracle, Dallas?"

The older man set his glasses carefully on the ridge of his nose, as he shook his head with a little graceful,


THE CASTAWAY 31

deprecating gesture that was very winning. Hobhouse's eyes were tracing the design of the carpet.

"I remember once/' Gordon continued, "a strange thing happened. The boy's father came to Aberdeen. One day the boy was walking up the High Street with his tutor some one pointed him out. To think that splendid-looking man in uniform was his father ! He felt very pitiful-hearted, but he plucked up courage and went up to him and told him his name."

Dallas, who had shifted uneasily in his chair, cleared his throat with some energy, rose and stood looking out of the window.

"The splendid gentleman forgot to take the boy in his arms. He looked him over and lisped: 'A pretty boy but what a pity he has such a leg !' A queer thing to say, wasn't it, Hobhouse!

"One of those fits of rage that made all right-minded people hate him came over the boy when he heard that, T)inna speak of it! Dinna speak of it!' he screamed, and struck at the man with his fist. Then he ran away off to the fields, I think as fast as he could, and that was the first and the last time he ever saw his father.

"He had forgotten all about his tutor, but the tutor ran after him, and found him, and took him for a wonderful afternoon miles away, clear to the seaside, where they lay on the purple heather and he read to him out of the history what was it he read to the boy, Dallas?"

The man by the window jumped. "Bless my soul," he said, wiping his eyes vigorously; "I do believe it was the battle of Lake Eegillus !"


32 THE CASTAWAY

"Yes, it was, Dallas ! And they went in swimming and had supper at a farmhouse "

"So they did ! So I believe they did !"

"And they didn't get home till the moon was up. Ah Dallas !"

Gordon went over and laid his hand on the other's arm. "Do you think I shall ever forget?" he said.

"I imagine that was the end of the tutorship," ob- served Hobhouse.

"Yes, the idiots!" Gordon laughed a little, as did the elder man, though there was a suspicious moisture in the latter's eyes. "They said he was spoiling me. You came to London, Dallas, and wrote books moral essays and theology too good to give you money or fame. Yes, yes," as Dallas made a gesture of dissent, "much too good for this thaw-swamped age of rickety tragedy and canting satire! But when you left Aber- deen, you left something behind. It was a pony four sound straight legs, Dallas, to help out a crooked one a fat, frowsy, hard -going little beast, I've no doubt, but it seemed the greatest thing in all Scotland to me."

"Pshaw!" protested Dallas. "It laid me only four pounds, I'll swear."

"Well," pursued Gordon, "the boy finally dropped back into the old stubborn rut. He went to Harrow and came out a solitary, and to Cambridge and they called him an* atheist. Life hasn't been all mirth and innocence, milk and water. I've seen nearly as many lives as Plutarch's, but I'm not bilious enough to for- get, Dallas. You were the first of all to write and con- gratulate me when the critics only sneered. When I came to London to claim. my seat in the Lords (a


THE CASTAWAY 33

scurvy honor, but one has to do as other people do, con- found them!) without a single associate in that body to introduce me I think a peer never came to his place so ' unfriended you rode with me to the door r Dallas, you and I alone, and so we rode back again/'

He paused, took up the paper Hobhouse had signed and handed it to the man who still stood by the win- dow.

"Dallas/' he said, "you gave me my first ride in the saddle. I've been astride another bigger nag lately one they call Pegasus ; this is its first real gallop, and I want you to ride with me."

With a puzzled face Dallas looked from the speaker to the paper. It was Gordon's copyhold of the verses that lay there in manuscript, legally transferred to him- self.

As he took in its significance, a deep flush stole into his scholarly-pale cheeks, and tears, unconcealed this time, clouded his sight. He put out one uncertain hand, while Hobhouse made a noisy pretense of gathering to- gether the loose leaves under his hands.

"It's for six hundred pounds !" he said huskily ; "six hundred pounds !"


CHAPTER V

AN ANYTHINGARIAN

Two hours later Gordon sat alone in the room, look- ing out on the softening sun-glare of St. James Street. In the chastened light the brilliant dark-auburn curls that clustered over his colorless face showed a richer brown and under their long black lashes his eyes had deepened their tint. Near-by, where Park Place opened, a fountain played, on whose bronze rim dusty sparrows preened and twittered. The clubs that faced the street were showing signs of life, and on the pave a news- boy, for the benefit of late-rising west-end dandies, was crying the papers.

Gordon was waiting for Hobhouse. They were to sup together this last night. To-morrow he was to leave for Newstead Abbey and the uncomfortable ministra- tions of his eccentric and capricious mother, whom he had not yet seen. He had come back to his land and place to find that enmity had been busy envenoming his absence, and the taste of home had turned unsweet to his palate.

As he sat now, however, Gordon had thrust bitterness from his mood. He was thinking with satisfaction of the copyhold he had transferred. He had always de-

(34)


THE CASTAWAY 35

clared that for what he wrote he would take no money. If these verses the first in which he felt he had ex- pressed something of his real self if these brought recompense, it was a fitting disposition he had made. He had paid an old debt to the man with the worn waistcoat and kindly, studious face almost the only debt of its kind he owed in the world.

The words with which Dallas had left him recurred to him "God bless you!"

"Poor old plodding Dallas!" he mused reflectively. "It's curious how a man's sense of gratitude drags up his religion if he has any to drag up. He thinks now the Creator put into my heart to do that doesn't give himself a bit of credit for it !"

He laughed reminiscently.

"I don't suppose he has seen six hundred pounds to spend since he bought that pony ! He has had a hard row to hoe all his life, and never did an ounce of harm to any living thing, yet at the first turn of good luck, he fairly oozes thankfulness to the Almighty. He is a churchman clear through. He believes in revealed religion though no religion ever is revealed and yet he doesn't mistake theology for Christianity. He posi- tively doesn't know the meaning of the word cant. Ah there goes another type !"

Gordon was looking at a square, mottle-faced man passing slowly on the opposite side of the street, carry- ing a bundle of leaflets from which now and then he drew to give to a passer-by. He was high-browed, with eyes that projected like an insect's and were flattish in their orbits. He wore a ministerial cloak over his street costume.


36 THE CASTAWAY

"There's Cassidy," he said to himself. "Dr. James Cassidy, on shore leave, distributing his little doc- trinal tracts. I remember him well. He is in the navy medical service, but it's the grief of his life he can't be a parson. He talked enough pedantry over the ship's table of the Pylades, while I was coming home from Greece, to last me till the resurrection. He is as ardent a predestinarian as any Calvinistic dean in gaiters, and knows all the hackneyed catch-phrases of eternal pun- ishment. He has an itch for propaganda, and distributes his tracts, printed at his own expense, on the street-cor- ner for the glory of theology. He is the sort of Chris- tian who always writes damned with a dash. And yet, I wonder how much real true Christianity he has Chris- tianity like Dallas', I mean. I remember that scar on his cheek ; it stands for a thrashing he got once at Bom- bay from a deserting ensign named Trevanion a youth I met in Greece afterward, and had cause to remember, by the way !"

His eyes had darkened suddenly. His brows frowned, his firm white hand ran over his curls as though to brush away a disagreeable recollection.

"Cassidy would travel half around the globe to find the deserter that thrashed him and land him in quod. That man would deserve it richly enough, but would Cassidy's act be for the good of the king's service ? No for the satisfaction of James Cassidy. Is that Chris- tianity? Dallas never treasured an enmity in his life. Yet both of them believe the same doctrine, worship the same God, read the same Bible. Does man make his beliefs? Or do his beliefs make him? If his be- liefs make man, why are Dallas and Cassidy so differ-


THE CASTAWAY 37

ent ? If man makes his beliefs, why should I not make my own ? I will be an Anythingarian, and leave dreams to Emanuel Swedenborg!"

His gaze, that had followed the clerical figure till it passed out of sight, returned meditatively to the slaty white buildings opposite.

"Some people call me an atheist I never could un- derstand why, though I prefer Confucius to the Ten Commandments and Socrates to St. Paul, the two lat- ter happen to agree in their opinion of marriage, and I don't think eating bread or drinking wine from the hand of an earthly vicar will make me an inheritor of Heaven. Dallas would tell me not to reason, but to believe. You might as well tell a man not to wake but to sleep. Neither Cicero nor the Messiah could ever have altered the vote of a single lord of the bed-cham- ber ! And then to bully with torments and all that ! The menace of hell makes as many devils as the penal code makes villains. All cant Methodistical cant yet Dallas believes it. And both he and Cassidy belong to the same one of the seventy-two sects that are tear- ing each other to pieces for the love of the Lord and hatred of each other the sects that call men atheists be- cause the eternal why will creep into what they write. If it pleases the Church I except Dallas to damn me for asking questions, I shall be only one with some millions of scoundrels who, after all, seem as likely to be damned as ever. As for immortality, if people are to live, why die ? And our carcases, are they worth raising? I hope, if mine is, I shall have a better pair of legs than I have moved on these three-and-twenty


38 THE CASTAWAY

3 r ears, or I shall be sadly behind in the squeeze into Paradise !"

There was a knock at the door. He rose and opened it. It was Hobhouse. Gordon caught up his hat and they left the hotel together.

As they crossed Park Place a woman, draggled and gin-besotted, strayed from some Thames-side stews, sat on the worn stone base of the fountain, leaning un- certainly against its bronze rim. Her swollen lids hid her eyes and one hand, palm up, was thrown out across her lap. Gordon drew a shilling from his pocket, and passing his arm in Hobhouse's, laid it in the out- stretched hand. At the touch of the coin, the drab started up, looked at him stupidly an instant, then with a ribald yell of laughter she flung the shilling into the water and shambled across the square, mimicking, in a hideous sort of buffoonery, the lameness of his gait.

Gordon's face turned ashen. He walked on without a word, but his companion could feel his hand tremble against his sleeve. When he spoke, it was in a voice half-smothered, forbidding.

"The old jeer!" he said. "The very riffraff of the street fling it at me ! Yet I don't know why they should spare that taunt ; even my mother did not. 'Lame brat !' she called me once when I was a child." He laughed, jarringly, harshly. "Why, only a few days before 1 sailed from England, in one of her fits of passion, she flung it at me. 'May you be as ill-formed in mind as you are in body !' Could they wish me worse than she ?"

"Gordon!" expostulated the other. "Don't!"

He had no time to finish. A grizzled man in the dress of an upper servant was approaching them, his


THE CASTAWAY 39

rubicund face bearing an unmistakable look of haste and concern.

"Well, Fletcher?" inquired Gordon.

"I thought your lordship had gone out earlier. I have been inquiring for you at the clubs. This message has just come from Newstead."

His master, took the letter and read it. A strange, slow, remorseful look overspread the passion on his face.

"No ill news, I hope/' ventured Hobhouse.

Gordon made no reply. He crushed the letter into his pocket, turned abruptly and strode up St. James Street.

"His lordship's mother died yesterday, Mr. Hob- house," said the valet in a low voice.

"Good God!" exclaimed the other. "What a contre- temps"

A knot of loungers were seated under the chande- liers in the bow-window of White's Club as Gordon passed on his way to the coach. Beau Brummell, ele- gant, spendthrift, in white great-coat and blue satin cravat exhaling an odor of eau de jasmin, lifted a lan- guid glass to his eye.

"I'll go something handsome !" cried he ; "I thought he was in Greece !"

"He's the young whelp of a peer who made such a dust with that Satire he wrote," Lord Petersham in- formed his neighbor. "Hero of the sack story I told you. Took the title from his great-uncle, the madman who killed old Chaworth in that tavern duel. House of Lords tried him for murder, you know. Used to train crickets and club them over the head with straws;


40 THE CASTAWAY.

all of them left the house in a body the day he died. Devilish queer story! Who's the aged party with the portmanteaus ? Valet ?"

"Yes/' asserted some one. "The old man was here a while ago trying to find Gordon with bad news. His lordship's mother is dead."

"Saw her once at Newstead Abbey," yawned Brum- mell, wearily, dusting his cuffs. "Corpulent termagant and gave George no end of a row. He used to call her his 'maternal war-whoop.' My own parents poor good people! died long ago," he added reflectively; " cut their throats eating peas with a knife."


WHAT THE DEAD MAY KNOW

Gordon was alone in the vehicle, for Fletcher rode outside. He set his face to the fogged pane, catching the panorama of dark hedges, gouged gravelly runnels and stretches of murky black, with occasional instan- taneous sense of detail dripping bank, sodden rhodo- dendron and mildewed masonry vivid in a dull, yellow, soundless flare of July lightning. A gauze of unbroken grayness, a straggling light the lodge. A battle- mented wall plunging out of the darkness and Gordon saw the Abbey, its tiers of ivied cloisters uninhabited since Henry the Eighth battered the old pile to ruin, its gaunt and unsightly forts built for some occupant's whim, and the wavering, fog-wreathed lake reflecting lighted windows. This was Newstead in which the bearers of his title had lived and died, the gloomy seat of an ancient house stained by murder and insanity, of which he was the sole representative.

What was he thinking as he sat in the gloomy dining- room, with Eushton, the footman he had trained to his own service, standing behind his chair ? Of his mother first of all. He had never, even as a child, distinguished a sign of real tenderness in her moments of tempes-

(41)


42 THE CASTAWAY

tuous caresses. His maturer years had grown to regard her with a half-scornful, half good-humored tolerance. He had shrugged at her tempers, dubbing her "The Honorable Kitty" or his "Amiable Alecto." His letters to her had shown only a nice sense of filial duty : many of them began with "Dear Madam"; more had been signed simply with his name. Yet now he felt an aching hope that in her seclusion she had not seen the unkind- est of the stories of him. His half-sister now on her way from the north of England absorbed with her family cares, would have missed the brunt of the at- tacks ; his mother had been within their range. He re- called with a pang that she had treasured with a degree of pride a single review of his earliest book which had not joined in the sneering chorus.

He pushed back his chair, dismissed the footman, and alone passed to the hall and ascended the stair. At the turn of the balustrade a shaded lamp drowsed like a monster glow-worm. In his own room a low fire burned, winking redly from the coronetted bed-posts, and a lighted candle stood on the dressing-table. He looked around the familiar apartment a moment uncertainly, then crossed to a carved cabinet above a writing-desk and took therefrom a bottle of claret. The cabinet had belonged to his father, dead many years before. Gordon thought of him as he stood with the bottle in his hand, staring fixedly at the dull, carved ebony of the swinging door.

His father ! "Mad Jack Gordon" the world had called him when he ran away with the Marchioness of Car- mathen to break her heart! Handsome he had been Btill when he married for her money the heiress of


THE CASTAWAY 43

Gight, Gordon's mother. A stinging memory recalled the only glimpse he had ever had of that father a tall man in uniform on an Aberdeen street, looking critically at a child with a lame leg.

Gordon winced painfully. He felt with a sharper agony the sensitive pang of the cripple, the shame of misshapenness that all his life had clung like an old- man-of-the-sea. It had not only stung his childhood; it had stolen from him the romance of his youth the one gleam that six years ago had died.

Six years! For a moment time fell away like rot- ten shale from about a crystal. The room, the wine- cabinet, faded into a dim background, and on this, as if on a theater curtain, dissolving pictures painted them- selves flame-like.

He was back in his Harrow days now, at home for his last vacation.

"George," his mother had remarked one day, looking up from a letter she was reading, "I've some news for you. Take out your handkerchief, for you will need it."

"Nonsense! What is it?"

"Mary Chaworth is married."

"Is that all?" he had replied coldly; but an expres- sion, peculiar, impossible to describe, had passed over his face. He had never afterward seen her or spoken her name.

"Mary!" he murmured, and his hand set down the bottle on the table. Love such love as his verses told of he had come to consider purely subjective, a mirage, a simulacrum to which actual life possessed no counter- part. Yet at that moment he was feeling the wraith of


44 THE CASTAWAY

an old thrill, his nostrils smelling a perfume like a dead pansy's ghost.

He withdrew his hand from the bottle and his fingers clenched. How it hurt him the sudden stab ! For memory had played him a trick ; it had dragged a voice out of the past. It was her voice her words that she had uttered in a careless sentence meant for other ears, one that through those years had tumbled and reechoed in some under sea-cavern of his mind "Do you think I could ever care for that lame boy?"

He smiled grimly. She had been right. Nature had set him apart, made him a loup-garou, a solitary hob- goblin. He had been unclubbable, sauvage, even at Cambridge. And yet he had had real friendships there ; one especially.

Gordon's free hand fumbled for his fob and his fin- gers closed on a little cornelian heart. It had been a keepsake from his college classmate, Matthews, drowned in the muddy waters of the Cam.

He released the bottle hurriedly, strode to the window and flung it open. A gust of rain struck his face and spluttered in the candle, and the curtain flapped like the wing of some ungainly bird. Out in the dark, be- neath a clump of larches, glimmered whitely the monu- ment he had erected to "Boatswain," his Newfoundland. The animal had gone mad.

"Some curse hangs over me and mine !" he muttered. "I never could keep alive even a dog that I liked or that liked me!"

A combined rattle and crash behind him made him turn. The wind had blown shut the door of the cabi- net with a smart bang, and a yellow object, large and


THE CASTAWAY 45

round, had toppled from its shelf, fallen and rolled to his very feet.

He started back, his nerves for the instant shaken. It was a skull, mottled like polished tortoise-shell, mounted in dull silver as a drinking cup. He had unearthed the relic years before with a heap of stone coffins amid the rubbish of the Abbey's ruined priory grim reminder of some old friar and its mounting had been his own fancy. He had forgotten its very existence.

Now, as it lay supine, yet intrusive, the symbol at one time of lastingness and decay, it filled him with a painful fascination.

Picking it up, he set it upright on the desk, seized the bottle, knocked off its top against the marble man- tel and poured the fantastic goblet full.

"Death and life !" he mused. "One feeds the other, each in its turn. Life ! yet it should not be too long ; I have no conception of any existence which duration would not render tiresome. How else fell the angels? They were immortal, heavenly and happy. It is the lastingness of life that is terrible; I see no horror in a dreamless sleep."

He put out his hand to the goblet, but withdrew it.

"No wait!" he said, and seating himself at the desk, he seized a pen. The lines he wrote, rapidly and with scarcely an alteration, were to live for many a long year index fingers pointing back to that dark mood that consumed him then :

"Start not nor deem my spirit fled:

In me behold the only skull,

From which, unlike a living head,

"Whatever flows is never dull.


46 THE CASTAWAY

I lived, I loved, I quaffed, like thee: I died: let earth my bones resign.

Fill up thou canst not injure me; The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape,

Than nurse the earth-worm's slimy brood;

And circle in the goblet's shape

The drink of gods, than reptile's food.

Quaff while thou canst: another race, When thou and thine, like me, are sped,

May rescue thee from earth's embrace, And rhyme and revel with the dead."

He repeated the last stanza aloud and raised the gob- let in both hands.

"Rhyming and revelling what else counts? To drink the wine of youth to the dregs and then good night! Is there anything beyond? Who knows? He who can not tell ! Who tells us there is ? He who does not know !"

Did the dead know ?

He set the wine down, pushing it from him, sprang up, seized the candle and entered the room on the other side of the corridor. The bed-curtains were drawn close and a Bible lay open on the night-stand. He wondered with a kind of impersonal pity if the book had held comfort for her at the last.

He held the candle higher so its rays lighted the page: But the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. . . . In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!

It stared at him plainly in black letters, an age-old


THE CASTAWAY 47

agony of wretchedness. Had this been the keynote of her lonely, fitful, vehement life? Had years of misery robbed her as it had robbed him, too? A distressed doubt, like a dire finger of apprehension, touched him; he put out his hand and drew aside the curtains.

Looking, he shuddered. Death had lent her its mys- tery, its ineffaceable dignity. He recognized it with a new and inexplicable feeling, like rising from the grave. Back of the placid look, in abeyance, in the stir- lessness of the unringed hands she had lost her wed- ding-ring years ago some quality, strange, unintimate, lay confronting him. He remembered his words to Hob- house in the street words that had not been cold on his lips when he read Fletcher's message. Ever since, they had lain rankling like a raw burn in some crevice of his brain. "Lame brat!" And yet, beneath her frantic rages, under the surface he had habitually disregarded, what if in her own way she had really loved him !

A clutching pain took possession of him, a sense of physical sickness and anguish. He dropped the cur- tain, and stumbled from the room, down the long stair, calling for the footman.

"Kushton," he shouted, "get the muffles ! Let us have a bout like the old times." He threw off his coat, 'pushed the chairs aside and bared his arms. "The gloves, Kushton, and be quick about it !"

The footman hesitated, a half-scared expression in his look.

"Never fear," said Gordon, and laughed a tighten- ing laugh that strained the cords of his throat. "Put them on! That's right! AVhat are you staring at? Do you think she will hear you? Not she! Put up your


48 THE CASTAWAY

hands so ! Touched, by the Lord ! Not up to your old style, Eushton ! You never used to spar so villainously. You will disgrace the fancy. Ah-h !" And he knocked him sprawling.

Eushton scrambled to his feet as the housekeeper en- tered, dismay upon her mask-like relic of a face. Gordon was very white and both noticed that his eyes were full of tears.

Long after midnight, when the place was quiet, the housekeeper heard an unaccustomed sound issuing from the chamber where the dead woman lay. She took a light and entered. The candle had burned out, and she saw Gordon sitting in the dark beside the bed.

He spoke in a broken voice :

"Oh, Mrs. Muhl," he said, "she was my mother! After all, one can have but one in this world, and I have only just found it out 1"


CHAPTER VII. THE YOUTH IN FLEET PRISON[edit]

Behind the closed shutters of the book-shop which bore the sign of "The Juvenile Library/ 7 in the musty room where George Gordon had burned the errant copies of his ubiquitous Satire, old William Godwin sat reading by a guttering candle, Livy's Roman History in the original. It was his favorite book, and in the early even- ings, when not writing his crabbed column for the Courier, or caustic diatribes for the reviews, he was apt to be reading it. A sound in the living-room above drew his eyes from the black-letter page.

"Jane !" he called morosely "Jane Clermont !"

A lagging step came down the stair, and a girl en- tered, black-eyed, Creole in effect. Her cheeks held the flame of the wild-cherry leaf.

"Where is your sister ?"

"I have no sister/'

The old man struck the table with his open hand. "Where is Mary, I say?"

"At the door."

"Go and see what she is doing." (49)


50 THE CASTAWAY

The girl stood still, regarding her stepfather with a look that under its beauty had a sullen half-contempt.

"Why don't you do as I tell you ?"

"I'm not going to be a spy for you, even if you did marry my mother. I'm tired of it."

The anger on the old man's face harshened. "If you were my own flesh and blood," he said sternly, "I would flog that French impudence of yours to death. As long as you eat my bread, you will obey me."

She looked at him with covert mockery on her full lips.

"I'm not a child any longer," she said as she turned flauntingly away; "I could earn my bread easier than by dusting tumble-down book-shelves. Do you think I don't know that?"

To William Godwin this defiant untutored girl had been a thorn in the side a perpetual slur and affront to the irksome discipline he laid upon his own pliant Mary, the child of that first wife whose loss had warped his manhood. Now he saw her as a live danger, a flagrant menace whose wildness would infect his own daughter. It was this red-lipped vixen who was teaching her the spirit of disobedience !

He raised his voice and called sharply : "Mary !"

There was no answer, and he shuffled down the shabby hall to the street door. The old man glowered at the slender, beardless figure of the youth who stood with her the brown, long coat with curling lamb's-wool collar and cuffs, its pockets bulging with mysterious books. In a senile rage, he ordered his daughter indoors.

Passers-by stopped to stare at the object of his rancor, standing uncertainly in the semi-dusk, a brighter ap-


THE CASTAWAY 51

parition, with luminous eyes and extravagant locks. Words came thickly to the old man; he launched into invective, splenetic and intemperate, at which the listen- ers tittered.

As it chanced, a pedestrian heard the name he mouthed a man sharp-featured and ill dressed. With a low whistle he drew a soiled slip of paper from his pocket and consulted it by a street lamp, his grimy forefinger running down the list of names it contained.

"I thought so. I've a knack for names," he muttered, and shouldered through the bystanders.

"Not so fast, young master/' he said, laying his hand on the youth's arm ; "t'other's the way to the Fleet."

The other drew back with a gesture of disgust. "The Fleet!" he echoed.

"Aye," said the bailiff, winking to the crowd; "the pretty jug for folk as spend more than they find in pocket ; with a nice grating to see your friends so gen- teel like."

Breaking from her father's hand, the girl in the door- way ran out with fear in her blue eyes.

"Oh, where are you taking him ?" she cried.

The fellow smirked. "I'm just going to show his honor to a hotel I know, till he has time to see his pal Dellevelly of Golden Square to borrow a tidy eighteen pound ten, which a bookseller not so far off will be precious glad to get."

"Eighteen pounds!" gasped the youth, with a hys- teric laugh. "Debtors' prison for only eighteen pounds ! But I have the books still he can have them back."

"After you've done with 'em, eh?" said the bailiff.


52 THE CASTAWAY

"Oh, I know your young gentlemen's ways. Come along."

"Father!" cried the girl, indignantly, as the bailiff dropped a heavy grasp on the lamb's-wool collar. "You'll not let them take Shelley. You'll wait for the money, father."

"Go into the house !" thundered the old man. "He's a good-for-nothing vagabond, I tell you!" He thrust her back, and the slammed door shut between her and the youth standing in the "bailiff's clutch, half-wonder- ingly and disdainfully, like a bright-eyed, restless fox amid sour grapes.

"Go to your room !" commanded her father, and the girl slowly obeyed, dashing away her tears, while the old bookseller went back to the cluttered shop and his read- ing of I/ivy's Roman History.

In the chamber the girl entered, Jane Clermont looked up half-scornfully.

"I heard it all," she burst; "you are a little fool to take it scolding you like a child, and before all those people !"

Mary opened a bureau drawer and took out a small rosewood box containing her one dearest possession. As she stood with her treasure in her hand, Jane jumped to her feet.

"I've borne it as long as I can myself," she cried under her breath. "I'm going to run away before I am a fort- night older."

"Run away? Where?"

Jane had begun to dance noiselessly on tiptoe with swift bacchante movements. "I'm going to be an ac-


THE CASTAWAY 53

tress/' she confided, as she stood at a pirouette. "I've been to see Mr. Sheridan the great Mr. Sheridan and he's promised to get me a trial in a real part at Drury Lane !". She paused, struck with the determina- tion in the other's face. "What are you going to do ?"

"I'm going to Shelley."

"Good ! I'll go with you. But you have no money. How can you help him ?"

Mary held out the little box.

< but I cannot give myself the pleasure this afternoon. Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Moore will doubtless be charmed. I am promised within the hour to dinner at Lady Melbourne's."


CHAPTER X

THE PRICE OF THE BAUBLE

Beau Brummell, from his seat in the bow-window, bowed with empressement as Gordon alighted from his carriage and ascended the steps of White's Club from an early dinner at Holland House.

"'Fore gad," admired the dandy, "what a coat! It becomes him as if he'd been hatched in it."

Lord Petersham at his elbow gazed with seconding approval. The somber elegance of the black velvet dress-coat, which Gordon wore close-buttoned, and the white rolling collar left open so as to expose the throat, served to heighten the pallor of his skin and set in high relief the handsome, patrician face above it.

"Still on his pedestal," observed Petersham. "Be- fore long his vertex sublimis will displace enough stars to overthrow the Newtonian system! I hear Caro Lamb is not tired doing homage. His affair with Lady Ox- ford seems to be tapering."

"Women!" ejaculated Brummell. "He's a martyr to them. Stap my vitals, the beauties run after him because he won't make up to them. Treat women like fools, and they'll all worship you !"

To the pinnacle this implied, Gordon had risen at (75)


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a leap. He was the idol of fashionable London, the chief topic of frivolous boudoir gossip and intellectual table-talk. His person, his travels spangled with ro- mantic tales, his gloom, his pride, his beauty, and the dazzle of his prodigious success, combined to bring him an unheard-of homage. His newest book was on every drawing-room table in the kingdom. He was made much of by Lady Jersey. Hostesses quarrelled over entertain- ing him, and ladies of every title below the blood- royal asked to be placed next him at dinner. The regent himself had asked him to Carlton House.

Each of his publications since that February day when he woke to fame and when the chariot of the in- comparable Captain Brummell had set him down at Mel- bourne House, had had a like history. Each had won the same rapt praise, the same wondering homage to talent. If they missed the burning fervor of those earlier impassioned lines on Grecian liberty, if they held, each more clearly, an under-note of agnosticism, it was overlooked in delight at their freedom, their metrical sweep and seethe of feeling, the melancholy sea-surge and fret of their moods. His ancient de- tractors, whom his success had left breathless, con- strained to innuendo, had added to his personality the tang of the audacious, of bizarre license, of fantastic eccentricity, that beckoned even while it repelled.

One would have thought Gordon himself indifferent to praise as to censure. The still dissatisfaction that came to him in the night hours in his tumbled study, when he remembered the strength and purpose that had budded in his soul in those early weeks at New- stead, he alone knew. The convention that had carped


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at him before his fame he trod under foot. He fre- quented Manton's shooting-gallery, practised the broad sword at Angelo's, sparred with "Gentleman Jackson," the champion pugilist, in his rooms in Bond Street, and clareted and champagned at the Cocoa-Tree with Sheridan and Moore till five in the matin. Other men j might conceal their harshest peccadilloes; Gordon con- cealed nothing. What he did he did frankly, with dis- dain for appearances. Hypocrisy was to him the soul's gangrene. He preferred to have the world think him worse than to think him better than he was.

His enemies in time had plucked up courage, re- vamped old stories and invented new; these seemed to give him little concern. He not only kept silence but declined to allow his friends, such as Sheridan and Hobhouse, to champion him. When the Chronicle barbed a sting with a reference to the enormous sums he was pocketing from his copyholds, he shrugged his shoulders. John Murray, his publisher, knew that the earnings of "The Giaour" had been given to a needy au- thor; that "Zuleika" had relieved a family from the slavery of debt and sent them, hopeful colonists, to Aus- tralia.

Gordon passed into the club, bowing to the group in the bow-window with conventional courtesy, and entered the reading-room. It was September, but the night had turned cool, and he dropped into a chair be- fore the hearth.

"Why does Lady Holland always have that damned screen between the whole room and the fire ?" he grum- bled half-humorously. "I who bear cold no better than an antelope, and never yet found a sun quite done to


78 THE CASTAWAY

my taste, was absolutely petrified, and couldn't even shiver. All the rest, too, looked as if they were just unpacked, like salmon from an ice-basket !"

A lackey in the club's regalia brought a tray of let- ters and set it beside him. Gordon lit a cigar before he examined them. They were the usual collection: a sprinkling of effusions from romantic incognitas; a graver tribute from Walter Scott; a pressing request for that evening from Lady Jersey.

"To meet Madame de Stael!" he mused. "I once travelled three thousand miles to get among silent peo- ple; and this lady writes octavos and talks folios. I have read her essay against suicide ; if I heard her recite it, I might swallow poison."

The final note he lifted was written on blue-bordered paper, its corners embossed with tiny cockle-shells, and he opened it with a nettled frown.

"Poor Caro !" he muttered. "Why will you persist in imprudent things? Some day your epistle will fall into the lion's jaws, and then I must hold out my iron. I am out of practice, but I won't go to Manton's now. Besides," he added with a shrug, "I wouldn't return his shot. I used to be a famous wafer-splitter, but since I began to feel I had a bad cause to support, I have left off the exercise."

His face took on a deeper perplexity as he read the eccentric, curling hand:

"... Gordon, do you remember that first dinner at Melbourne House the day after your speech in the Lords? You gave me a carnation from your buttonhole. You said, 'I am told your ladyship likes all that is new and rare for the moment!' Ah, that meeting was not only


THE CASTAWAY 79

for the moment with me, you know that! It has lasted ever since. I have never heard your name announced that it did not thrill every pulse of my body. I have never heard a venomous word against you that did not sting me, too."

Gordon held the letter in a candle-flame, and dropped it on the salver. As it crackled to a mass of glowing tinder, a step fell behind him. He looked up to see Moore.

"Tom," he said, his brow clearing, "I am in one of my most vaporish moments."

Moore seated himself on a chair-arm and poked the blackening twist of paper with his walking-stick. He smiled an indulgent smile of prime and experience.

"From which I conclude " he answered sagely, "that you are bound to Drury Lane greenroom instead of to Lady Jersey's this evening."

Gordon's lips caught the edge of the other's smile.

"You are right. I'm going to let Jane Clermont brighten my mood. She is always interesting more so off the stage than on. They are only hothouse roses that will bloom at Lady Jersey's. Jane is a wild tiger- lily. She has all the natural wit of the de Stael a pity it must be wasted on the pit loungers ! Heaven only knows why I ever go to their ladyships' infernal functions at all, for I hate bustle as I hate a bishop. Here I am, eternally stalking to parties where I shan't talk, I can't flatter, and I won't listen except to a pretty woman. If one wants to break a commandment and covet his neighbor's wife, it's all very well. But to go out amongst the mere herd, without a motive, a


80 THE CASTAWAY

pleasure or a pursuit, of no more use than a sick butter- fly it begins to pall upon my soul !" \ Moore's stick was still meditatively poking the charred paper. The ashes fell apart, and a tiny un- burnt blue corner showed it bore the familiar device of a cockle-shell. His lips puckered in a thoughtful whistle. Aloud he said :

"Why not adopt the conventional remedy?"

"I'm too lazy to shoot myself !"

"There's a more comfortable medicine than that."

Gordon's smile broke into a laugh. "Wedlock, eh? Beading the country newspapers and kissing one's wife's maid! To experience the superlative felicity of those foxes who have cut their tails and would persuade the rest to part with their brushes to keep them in countenance ! All my coupled contemporaries save you, Tom are bald and discontented. Words- worth and Southey have both lost their hair and good humor. But after all," he said, rising, "anything is better than these hypochondriac whimsies. In the name of St. Hubert, patron of antlers and hunters, let me be married out of hand. I don't care to whom, so it amuses anybody else and doesn't interfere with me in the daytime ! By the way, can't you come down to Newstead for the shooting-season ? Sheridan and Hob- house are to be there, and my cellar is full though my head is empty. What do you say ? You can plague us with songs, Sherry can write a new comedy, and I mean to let my beard grow, and hate you all."

His companion accepted with alacrity. "When shall we start?" he inquired, walking with the other to his carriage.


THE CASTAWAY 81

"At noon, to-morrow/' Gordon replied. "Till then, good night. I commend you to the care of the gods Hindoo, Scandinavian and Hellenic."

As the wheels clattered on, Gordon's mind was run- ning in channels of discontent.

"I am ennuye," he thought, "beyond my usual tense of that yawning verb I am always conjugating. At six- and-twenty one should be something and what am I? Nothing but six-and-twenty, and the odd months. Six- and-twenty years, as they call them why, I might have been a pasha by this time !"

The coach turned a corner, and he saw, a little way off, the lighted front of Drury Lane Theater. In the shadow of its stage-door stood a couple his sight did not distinguish, but the keen black eyes of one of them a vivid, creole-looking girl had noted with a quick in- stinctive movement the approach of the well-known carriage, now tangled in the moving stream.

The gaze of the man beside her defiant, furtive, theatric and mustachioed, with hair falling thickly and shortly like a Moor's followed her look.

"He was in the greenroom last night, too !" he said, with angry jealousy. "I saw him coming away."

"Suppose you did?" flung the girl with irritation. "Who are you, that I must answer for whom I see or know yes, and for anything else? He was here, and so was Mr. Sheridan and Captain Brummell. I should like to know what you have to say about it !"

The other's cheek had flushed darkly.

"You used to have more time for me, Jane," he an- swered sullenly, "before you took up with the theater


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when you lived over the old book-shop and hadn't a swarm of idling dandies about you."

"I suppose his lordship there is an 'idling dandy' !" she retorted with fine sarcasm. "A dandy, and the most famous man in England! An idler, who gets a guinea a line for all he writes. What do you spend, pray, that your father in Wales didn't leave you ? Tell me," she said curiously, her tone changing ; "you were in the East when you were in the navy. Are all the stories they tell of George Gordon in Greece true? They say he himself is Conrad, the hero of his 'Corsair/ Was he so dreadfully wicked?"

He turned away his head, gnawing his lip. "I don't know," he returned doggedly, "and I care less. I know he's only amusing himself with you, Jane, and you know it, too "

"And it's no amusement to you ?" she prompted, with innate coquetry, dropping back into her careless tone. "If it isn't, don't come then. I shall try to get along, never fear. Why shouldn't I know fine people?" she went on, a degree less hardly. "I'm tired of this foggy, bread-and-butter life. It was bad enough at God- win's stuffy house with poverty and a stepfather. I don't wonder Mary has run away to marry her Shelley ! He'll be a baronet some day, and she can see life. I don't intend to be tied to London always, either even with the playing ! I want to know things and see some- thing of the world. Why do you stay here? Why don't you go to sea again ? I'm sure I'd like to."

e introduced in Parliament to suspend him from his priv- ileges as a peer.

Lady Jersey, stately in black velvet and creamy lace, met John Hobhouse on the stair.

"Have you seen him?" she asked anxiously.

"No, but I have called every day. It was courageous of you to send him the invitation for to-night. No other patroness would have dared."

"I only wish he would come!" she flashed imperi- ously. "One would think we were a lot of New Eng- land witch-hunters! There is nothing more ridiculous than society in one of its seven-year fits of morality. Scandals are around us every day, but we pay no heed till the spasm of outraged virtue takes us. Then we pick out some one by mere caprice, hiss him, cut him make him a whipping-boy to be lashed from our doors. When we are satisfied, we give our drastic virtue chloro- form and put it to sleep for another seven years !"

Hobhouse smiled grimly at the gleam in her hazel eyes as she passed on to the lower room where the quad- rille was to have its final rehearsal. Lady Jersey's was a despotic rule. She was as famous for her diplomacy as for her Sunday parties. More than one debate had been postponed in Parliament to avoid a conflict with one of her dinners. Gordon, he reflected, could have no more powerful ally.

He ascended to the ball-room, where the tableaux were oozing patiently on with transient gushes of ap-


THE CASTAWAY 145

probation: "Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," with Lady Heathcote as the queen; "Tamerlane the Great," posed by a giant officer of the foot-guards in a suit of chain-mail, and subjects drawn from heathen mythol- ogy-

The last number, a monologue, was unnamed, but word had gone forth that the performer was to be Lady Caroline Lamb.

Slowly the curtain was drawn aside and a breath of applause stirred as Lady Caroline was revealed, in com- plete Greek costume, with short blue skirt and round jacket, its bodice cut square and low and its sleeves white from elbow to wrist. In that congress of beauties, decked in the stilted conventions of Mayfair modistes, the attire had a touch of the barbaric which suited its wearer's type a touch accentuated by the jade beads about her throat and the dagger thrust through her girdle.

The fiddles of the orchestra had begun to play, as prelude, the music of the Greek love-song Gordon had written, long ago made popular in London drawing- rooms, and "Maid-of - Athens !" was echoed here and there from the floor.

The figure on the stage swept a slow glance about her, her cheeks dark and red from some under-excitement. She waved her hand, and from the wings came a pro- cession of tiny pages dressed as imps, all in red.

A murmur of wonder broke from the crowd. Lady Caroline's vagaries were well-known and her wayward devisings were never without sensation.

"What foolery of Caro's can this be ?" queried Bruin-


146 THE CASTAWAY

mell to Petersham as the first page set up a tripod and the second placed upon it a huge metal salver.

The whole room was rustling, for it was clear, from the open surprise of the committee, that this was a feature not on the program. Those in the rear even stood on chairs while the scarlet-hued imps grouped about the tripod in a half-circle open toward the audi- ence.

Lady Caroline clapped her hands and a last page en- tered dressed in red and black as Mephistopheles, car- rying aloft on a wand what looked like a gigantic doll. The wand he fitted into a socket in the salver, and the dangling figure that swung from it, turning slowly, re- vealed a grotesque image of George Gordon.

The audience gazed at the effigy with its clever bur- lesque of each well-known detail, the open rolling col- lar, the short brown curls pasted on the mask, the car- nation in its buttonhole startled at the effrontery of the idea. It was Brummell who gave the signal by an enthusiastic Brava!

Then the assemblage broke into applause and laugh- ter that ran like a mounting wave across the flash and glitter of the ball-room, thundering down the refrain of the orchestra.

The applause stilled as Lady Caroline raised her hand, and recited, in a voice that penetrated to the furthermost corner:


"Is it Guy Pawkes we bring with his stuffing of straw? No, no! For Guy Fawkes paid his debt to the law! But the cause we uphold is to decency owed, By a social tribunal, unmarked by the code!


THE CASTAWAY 147

Behold here a poet an eloquent thing

Which the Drury Lane greenroom applauded its king,

Who made all the envious dandies despair

By the cut of his cuffs and the curl of his hair."

She had spoken this doggerel with elaborate gestures toward the absurd manikin, her eyes gleaming at the applause that greeted each stanza. Unsheathing the dagger at her girdle, she waved it with a look of lan- guishing that made new laughter.

"Who, 'tis said, when a fair Maid-of-Athens he pressed, Swore his love on a dagger-scratch made on his breast! And when they'd have drowned the poor creature, alack, Brought gain to his glory by slitting the sack!"

John Hobhouse was staring indignantly, unable to control his anger. A note of triumph, more trenchant and remorseless than her raillery, grew into Lady Caro- line's tone:

"His deportment, so evilly mal-ci-propos, At last sunk him far every circle below, Till, besmirched by the mire of his flagrant disgrace, The front door of London flew shut in his face.

So burn, yellow flame, for an idol dethroned! Burn, burn for a Gordon, by Muses disowned! Burn, burn! while about thee thy imps circle fast, And give them their comrade, recovered at last! "

At the word ( burn," the speaker seized a candle from a sconce and touched it to the figure, which blazed brightly up. The imp-pages grasped hands and began to run round and round the group. At the weird sight a tumult of applause went up from the whole multi-


148 THE CASTAWAY

tude, which clapped and stamped and brava'd itself hoarse.

Suddenly a strange thing happened unexpected, anomalous, uncanny. The applause hushed as though a wet blanket had been thrown over it. Faces forsook the stage. The pages ceased their circling. Women drew sharp tremulous breaths and men turned eagerly in their places to see a man advancing into the assembly with halting step and with a face pale yet brilliant, like an alabaster vase lighted from within.

Some subtle magnetism had always hung about George Gordon, that had made him the center of any crowd. Now, in the tension, this was enormously in- creased. His sharply chiselled, patrician features seemed to thrill and dilate, and his eyes sparkled till they could scarce be looked at. A hundred in that room he had called by name ; scores he had dined and gamed with. His look, ruthless, yet even, seemed to single out and hold each one of these speechless and staring, deaf to BrummelPs sneer through the quiet.

Speech came from Gordon's lips, controlled, yet vital with subterraneous passion words that none of that shaken audience could afterward recall save in part hot like lava, writhing, pitiless, falling among them like a flaying lash of whip-cords:

"Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! I have heard hyenas and jackals in the ruins of Asia, Albanian wolves and angry Mussulmans ! Theirs is sweet music beside the purr of England's scandal-mongers. I have hated your cant, despised your mediocrity and scoffed at your convention, and now, lacking the dagger and the bowl, when deliberate desolation is piled upon me,


THE CASTAWAY 149

when I stand alone on my hearth with my household gods shivered around me, you gather your pomp and rabblement of society to bait me !"

There was a stir at the door. Lady Jersey had en- tered, and John Hobhouse sprang to her side. She saw the blazing puppet and divined instantly the cruel farce that had been enacted. Her indignation leaped, but he caught her arm.

"No, no," he said, "it is too late."

The stinging sentences went on:

"So have you dealt with others, those whose names will be rung in England when your forgotten clay has mixed with its earth! Let them be gently born and gently minded as they may as gentle as Sheridan, whom a year ago you toasted. He grew old and you covered him with the ignominy of a profligate, aban- doned him to friendless poverty and left him to die like a wretched beggar, while bailiffs squabbled over his corpse! What mattered to him the crocodile tears when you laid him yesterday in Westminster Abbey? What cared he for your four noble pall-bearers a duke, a pair of earls and a Lord Bishop of London? Did it lighten his last misery that you followed him there two royal highnesses, marquises, viscounts, a lord mayor and a regiment of right-honorables ? Scribes and Phari- sees, hypocrites !

"So you dealt with Shelley the youth whose songs you would not hear ! You hounded him, expelled him from his university, robbed him of his father and his peace, and drove him like a moral leper from among you ! You write no pamphlets in verse nor read them if a canon frowns! You sit in your pews on Sunday


150 THE CASTAWAY

and thank Fate that you are not as Percy Bysshe Shel- ley, the outcast! God! He sits so near that Heaven your priests prate of that he hears the seraphs sing !

"And do you think now to break me on your paltry wheel ? You made me, without my search, a species of pagod. In the caprice of your pleasure, you throw down the idol from its pedestal. But it is not shattered; I have neither loved nor feared you! Henceforth I will not eat with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. Attribute to me every phase of your vileness! Charge me with profligacy and madness ! Make of my career only a washed fragment in the hartshorn of your dislike ! Drive your red-hot plowshares, but they shall not be for me ! May my bones never rest in an English grave, nor my body feed its worms !"

The livid sentences fell quivering, heavy with virile emphasis, like the defiance of some scorned augur, in- voking the Furies in the midnight of Eome.

Hardly a breath or movement had come from those who heard. They seemed struck with stupor at the spectacle of this fiery drama of feeling. Lady Caroline was still standing, the center of the group of imp-pages, and above her hovered a slate-colored cloud, the smoke from the effigy crumbling into shapeless ashes. Her gaze was on the speaker ; her teeth clenched ; the mock- ery of her face merged into something apprehensive and terror-smitten.

In the same strained silence, looking neither to right nor left, Gordon passed to the entrance. Hobhouse met him half-way and turned with him to Lady Jersey. Gordon bent and kissed her hand, and as he went slowly down the stair, Lady Jersey's eyes filled with tears.


THE CASTAWAY 151

The spell was broken by a cry from the stage and Lady Heathcote's scream. Lady Caroline had swayed and fallen. The blade of the dagger which she still held had slipped against her breast as she fell, and blood followed the slight cut. The crowd surged forward in excitement and relaxation, while waves of lively orches- tral music rolled over the confusion, through which the crumpled figure was carried to a dressing-room.

Only those near by saw the dagger cut, but almost before Gordon had emerged, into the night a strange rumor was running through the assembly. It grew in volume through the after-quadrille and reached the street.

"Caroline Lamb has tried to stab herself," the whisper said.


CHAPTER XX

THE EXILE

Fletcher was watching anxiously for his master's return that night. When he entered, there were new lines in his face the stigmata of some abrupt and fear- ful mental recoil.

"Order the coach to be got ready at once/' Gordon directed, "and pack my portmanteau."

He went heavily into the library, gazing at the book- shelves with eyes listless and dull. Presently, with the same nerveless movements, he unlocked a drawer and took therefrom several small articles: a lock of Ada's hair a little copy of "Romeo and Juliet" given him years before by his sister and the black bottle. He thrust these into his great-coat pocket.

Amid the litter of papers on his desk a document met his eye : it was the draft of separation submitted by Sir Samuel Romilly. Through his mind flitted vaguely his struggle as he had sat with that paper before him. The struggle was ended; justice was impossible. It remained only to sign this, the death-warrant of his fatherhood. He wrote his name without a tremor, franked it for the post and laid it in plain view, as Fletcher entered to announce the carriage. (152)


THE CASTAWAY 153

The deep lines were deeper on Gordon's face as he went to the pavement; he moved like a sleep-walker, his body obeying mechanically the mandate of some hidden, alert purpose working independently of eye and brain. An inner voice rather than his own seemed to give the direction a direction that made the coach- man stare, made Fletcher with a look of dismay seize coat and hat and climb hurriedly to the box beside him.

Gordon did not see this he saw nothing, knew noth- ing, save the rush of the coach through the gloom.

When the worn night was breaking into purple fringes of dawn, Gordon stood on the deck of a packet out- bound for Ostend, looking back over the wine-dark water where the dissolving fog, hung like a fume of silver-gray against the white Dover cliffs, built a glit- tering city of towers and banners. Under the first beams the capricious vapors seemed the ghosts of dead ideals shrouding a harbor of hate. His youth, his dreams, his triumphs, his bitterness, his rebellion, his grief, all blended, lay there smarting, irreparable. Be- fore him stretched wanderings and regrets and broken tongings.

"Your coffee, my lord!" a familiar voice spoke. Fletcher stood behind him, tray in hand, trepidation and resolve struggling in his countenance.

Gordon took the coffee mechanically. "How did you come here?"

"With the coach, my lord."

"Where are you going?"

The valet's hand shook, and he swallowed hard. "Your lordship knows best," he said huskily.


154 THE CASTAWAY

Gordon gazed a moment out across the misty channel. When he set down the cup his face had a look that brought to the other's eyes a sudden gladness and utter devotion.

"Thank you, Fletcher," he said gently, and turned his gaze away.

Presently, as the light quickened, he drew paper from his pocket, put the copy of "Romeo and Juliet" beneath it for support, and with the book resting on the rail, began to write. What he wrote strange that chance should have furnished for his tablet now a story of such deathless love! was a letter to Annabel:


"A few final words not many. Answer I do not expect, nor does it import. But you will at least hear me. I leave in England but one being whom you have left me to part with my sister. Wherever I may go and I may go far you and I can never meet in this world. Let this fact content or atone, and if accident occurs to me, be kind to her; or if she is then also nothing, to her children. For never has she acted or spoken toward you but as your friend. You once promised me this much. Do not deem the promise cancelled for it was not a vow.

"Whatever I may have felt, I assure you that at this moment I bear you no resentment. If you have injured me, this forgiveness is something; if I have injured you, it is something more still. Remember that our feelings will have one rallying point so long as our child lives. Teach Ada not to hate me. I do not ask for justification to her this is probably beyond the power of either of us to give but let her not grow up believing I am a deserv- ing outcast from my kind, or lying dead in some forgotten grave. For the one would sadden her young mind no less than the other. Let her one day read what I have writ- ten, and so judge me. And recollect that though now it


THE CASTAWAY 155

may be an advantage to you, yet it may sometime come to be a sorrow to her to have the waters or the earth be- tween her and her father.

"Whether the offense that has parted us has been solely on my side or reciprocal, or on yours chiefly, I have ceased now to reflect upon any but two things that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never meet again."


CHAPTER XXI

GORDON SWIMS FOR A LIFE

From London to Ostend, and through Flanders, a swart shadow trailed George Gordon slowly but un- erringly. It was the man whose dark, reckless face had once turned with jealous passion to Jane Clermont as they had watched a carriage approaching Drury Lane; he who, on a later night, had pursued the same vehicle, then a mark for jeers, to Piccadilly Terrace. The ques- tion he had uttered as he saw Gordon alight alone, had rung in his brain through his after-search: "Where has he left her ?" The London newspapers had not been long in chronicling Gordon's arrival in Ostend, and thither he followed, making certain that in finding one he should find the other.

The chase at first was not difficult. Evil report, car- ried with malicious assiduity by spying tourists and globe-trotting gossip-mongers, had soon overtaken his quarry, and Gordon's progress became marked by calum- nious tales which hovered like obscene sea-birds over the wake of a vessel. Gordon had gone from Brussels in a huge coach, copied from one of Napoleon's taken at Genappe, and purchased from a travelling Wallachian nobleman. The vehicle was a noteworthy object, and (156)


THE CASTAWAY 157

early formed the basis of lying reports. A paragraph in the Journal de Belgique met the pursuer's eye on his first arrival in Ostend.

It stated with detail that a Flemish coachmaker had delivered to the milor Anglais a coach of the value of two thousand eight hundred francs; that on going for payment, he found his lordship had absconded with the carriage; that the defrauded sellier had petitioned the Tribunal de Premiere Instance for proper representa- tion to other districts, that the fugitive might be ap- prehended and the stolen property seized. With this clipping in his pocket the man who tracked Gordon fol- lowed up the Ehine to the confines of Switzerland. Here he lost a month, for the emblazoned wagon de luxe had turned at Basle, and, skirting Neufchatel, had taken its course to Lake Geneva.

Gordon had travelled wholly at random and paused there only because the shimmering blue waters, the black mountain ridges with their epaulets of cloud and, in the distance, the cold, secular phantom of Mont Blanc, brought to his jaded senses the first hint of relief. In the Villa Diodati, high above the lake, the English milord with the lame foot, the white face and sparkling eyes, stayed his course, to the wonder of the country folk who speculated endlessly upon the strange choice which preferred the gloomy villa to the spires and slate roofs of the gay city so near. And here, to his surprise, Gordon found ensconced, in a cottage on the high bank, Shelley and his young wife, with the black-eyed, Creole- tinted girl whom the Drury Lane audience had hissed.

So had chance conspired to color circumstance for the rage of tireless hatred that was following.


158 THE CASTAWAY

The blows that had succeeded the flight of Annabel with his child had left Gordon stunned. The flaming recoil of his feeling, in that fierce denunciation at Al- mack's, had burned up in him the very capacity for further suffering, and for a time the quiet of Diodati, set in its grove above the water like a bird's nest among leaves, was a healing anodyne.

From his balcony Mont Blanc and its snowy aiguilles were screened, but the sun sank roseate behind the Jura, and it lifted again over vineyarded hills which echoed the songs of vine-dressers and the mellow bells of saun- tering herds. Below, boats swept idly in the sun, or the long lances of the rain marched and marshalled across the level lake to the meeting and sundering of the clouds.

There came a time too soon, when the dulled nerves awoke, when the whole man cried out. In the sharpest of these moods Gordon found respite at the adjacent cottage, where Shelley, whose bright eyes seemed to drink light from the pages of Plato or Calderon, read aloud, or Jane Clermont, piquant and daring as of old, sang for them some song of Tom Moore's. Or in the long days the two men walked and sailed, under a sky of garter-blue, feeling the lapping of the waves, living between the two wondrous worlds of water and ether, till for a time Gordon laid the troubled specters of his thoughts in semi-forgetfulness.

One day they drove along the margin of the lake to Chillon and spent a night beneath the frowning chateau walls that had entombed Bonnivard. On the afternoon of their return, sitting alone on the balcony with the gloom of those dungeons still upon him, gazing


THE CASTAWAY 159

far across the lake, across the mountains, toward that home from which he had been driven, Gordon, for the first time since he had left England, found relief in composition. He wrote of Chillon's prisoner, but the agony in the lines was a personal one :

"I made a footing in the wall, It was not therefrom to escape,

For I had buried one and all Who loved me in a human shape;

No child no sire no kin had I,

No partner in my misery;

But I was curious to ascend

To my barred windows, and to bend

Once more, upon the mountains high,

The quiet of a loving eye."

He wrote in the dimming luster of a perfect day. Below him rippled the long lake churning an inarticu- late melody, and a tiny island with trees upon it rested the eye. As he gazed, beyond the dazzling beryl foliage, set in the sunset, a spot rivetted his look. A moment before the white sail of a boat had glanced there ; now a confused flat blur lay on the water.

Gordon thrust his commonplace-book into his pocket and leaned forward, shading his eyes from the glow. The blot resolved itself into a capsized hull and two black figures struggling in the water, one with difficulty supporting the other.

The next moment he was dashing down the bank, hallooing for Fletcher, peeling off coat and waistcoat as he went.

"There's a boat swamped," he shouted, as the valet came through the garden. Where is the skiff ?"


160 THE CASTAWAY

"Miss Clermont has it, my lord."

Gordon plunged in, while Fletcher xan to summon the Shelleys. They came hurrying along the vineyard lane with frightened faces, Mary to watch from the high bank, and Shelley, who could no more swim than Fletcher, to stride up and down, his long hair streaming in the wind. The excitement brought a picturesque dozen of goitred vine-dressers from the hillside, who looked on with exclamations.

All were gazing fixedly on the lake, or they might have seen two men enter the grounds from the upper road. Of these, one was a Swiss with a severe, thin face and ascetic brow, the syndic of Cologny, the nearest town a bigot functionary heartily disliked by the coun- try people. The other was a Genevan attorney. From the road they had not seen the catastrophe, and the overturned boat, the struggling figures, and the swim- mer forging to the rescue came to their view all at once.

Gordon was swimming as he had never done save once when he had swum the Hellespont years before, and in mid-channel a strange, great piebald fish had glided near him. The lawyer saw him reach and grasp the helpless man, and, supporting him, bring him to shore. He sniffed with satisfaction.

"Only one man in the canton can swim like that," he said, "and that's the one you came to see. No wonder the peasants call him 'the English fish' !"

The young man whom Gordon had aided wore a blonde curling beard, contrasting strongly with his older companion's darker shaven cheeks and bushy black Greek eyebrows. The unseen spectators on the terrace saw him drink from his rescuer's pocket-flask saw him


THE CASTAWAY 161

rise and grasp the other's hand and knew that he was thanking him. As they watched, a servant ran to the coach-house, and the syndic observed :

"He's sending them into town by carriage. They're going indoors now. We'll go down presently."

"Take my advice," urged the attorney above the ter- race, "and let the Englishman alone. Haven't we court business enough in Switzerland, that we must work for Flanders ? What have we to do with the complaints of Brussels coachmakers ? And how do you know it's true, anyway ?"

The syndic's lips snapped together.

"I know my business," he bridled. "He is a wor- shiper of Satan and a scoffer at religion."

"And you'd burn him with green wood if you could, as Calvin did Servetus in the town yonder, eh ?"

"He has committed every crime in his own country," went on the other angrily. "He has formed a conspir- acy to overthrow by rhyme all morals and government. My brother wrote me from Copet that one of Madame de Stael's guests fainted at seeing him ride past, as if she had seen the devil. They say in Geneva that he has corrupted every grisette on the rue Basse! Do you think he is too good to be a thief? Murderer or ab- sconder or heretic, it is all one to me. Cologny wants none such on her skirts. Let us go down," he added, rising ; "it will be dark soon."

The counsellor shrugged his shoulders and followed the other over the sloping terrace.


CHAPTER XXII

THE FACE ON THE IVORY

When Gordon descended the stair he came upon a striking group at the villa entrance. Shelley, with his wife beside him, confronted the severe-faced syndic, who stood stolidly with the comfortably plump avocat. A look of indignation was on his brow, and Mary's face was perturbed.

"Here he is," said the functionary in his neighbor- hood patois, and with satisfaction.

"You have business with me ?" asked Gordon.

"I have. I require you to accompany me at once to Cologny on a matter touching the peace of this canton."

"And this matter is what ?"

"You speak French," returned the syndic tartly; "doubtless you read it as well," and handed him a clip- ping from the Journal de Belgique.

Gordon scanned the fragment of paper, first with sur- prise, then with a slow and bitter smile. He had not seen the story, but it differed little from scores of cal- umnies that had filled the columns of less credulous newspapers in London before his departure. It was a breath fresh from the old sulphur bed of hatred, brought sharply to him here in his solitude. (162)


THE CASTAWAY 163

"I see," he said; "this states that a certain English milord had turned highwayman and deprived an honest Fleming of a wagon ? How does it affect me ?"

"Do you deny that you have the wagon?" demanded the syndic curtly.

"The wagon ? I have a wagon, yes. One bought for me by my servant."

"In Brussels?"

"As it happens, in Brussels." The paleness of Gor- don's face was accentuated now, and his eyes held cores of dangerous flame. "And because I am an English milord, and bring a wagon from Brussels, you assume that I am a robber?"

"You were driven from your own country," menaced the other. "Do you think we hear nothing, we Swiss? This canton knows you well enough! Stop those horses!" he snarled, for the great coach, ready for its trip to the town, was rolling down the driveway. The syndic sprang to the horses' heads.

At the same instant the two strangers who had been in the overturned boat, now with clothing partially dried, came from the house.

"There!" The syndic pointed to the ornate vehicle. "Do you deny this is the wagon described in that news- paper, and that you absconded with it from Brussels ?"

The older of the two strangers turned quick eyes on Gordon, then on the wagon. Before Gordon could re- ply, he spoke in nervous French :

"I beg pardon. I was the owner of that conveyance,, and the one who sold it."

"Maybe," said the functionary, "but you did not sell it to this person, I have reason to believe."


164 THE CASTAWAY

"No, yonder is the purchaser." He pointed to a pro- saic figure at the steps.

"His valet !" Shelley thrust in explosively.

"I told you so," grunted the man of law, and stared with the surprise of recognition, as the syndic, ruffling with anger, turned on the strangers with sarcasm: '"Friends of the English milord, no doubt!"

The counsellor laid a hasty hand on his sleeve :

"Stop!" he said. "I think I have had the honor of meeting these gentlemen in Geneva. Allow me to pre- sent you, monsieur, to Prince Mavrocordato, minister of foreign affairs of Wallachia, and" he turned to the latter's younger companion "his secretary, Count Pie- tro Gamba, of Eavenna."

The sour-faced official drew back. These were names whose owners had been public guests of the canton. This Englishman, evil and outcast as he might be, he had no legal hold upon. He could scarcely frame a grudging apology, for the resentment of self-righteous- ness that was on his tongue, and stalked off up the ter- race in sullen chagrin not consoled by the chuckles of the attorney beside him.

Gordon saw them go, his hands trembling. He re- plied mechanically to the grateful farewells of the two strangers as they entered the coach, and watched it roll swiftly down the darkening shore road, a quivering blur before his eyes. A fierce struggle was within him, the peace which the tranquil poise of Shelley's creed had lent him, warring against a clamant rage.

Not only in England was he maligned. Here, on the edge of this mountain barrier, defamation had followed him. The pair riding in his own carriage knew who


THE CASTAWAY 165

he was ; the older had spoken his name and title. And they had not elected to stay beyond necessity. Yet for their momentary presence, indeed, he should be grate- ful. But for this trick of coincidence he should now be haled before a bungling Genevan tribunal, his name and person a mark for the sparring of pettifogging Swiss officials !

These thoughts were clashing through his mind as he turned and walked slowly down to the bank where Shelley's Swiss servant had moored the stranger's res- cued boat, bailed out and with sail stretched to dry. The sunset, as he stood, flamed redly across the lake, its ray glinting from the rim of a bright object whose broken chain had caught beneath the boat's gunwale. He leaned and drew it out.

It was an oval miniature backed with silver the por- trait of a young girl, a face frail and delicately hued, with fine line of chin and slender neck, with wistful eyes the deep color of the Adriatic, hair a gush of tawny gold, skin like warm Arum lilies, and a string of pearls about her neck. Evidently it had belonged to one of the two men with whom the craft had capsized. It was too late now to overtake the coach; he would send it after them that evening.

He turned the miniature over. On the back was en- graved a name: "Teresa Gamba." Gamba? It had been one of the names spoken by the attorney, that of the young count for whose rescue he had swum so hard.

He looked again at the ivory. His wife? No, no; innocence of life, ignorance of its passions and parades were there. His sister ? Yes. The fair hair and blue eyes were alike. And now he caught a subtle resem-


166 THE CASTAWAY

blance of feature. She was dear to this brother, no doubt dear as was his own half-sister to him, well-nigh the only being left in England who believed in him and loved him.

He looked up at a hail from the lake. A boat was ap- proaching, bearing a single feminine rower. As he gazed, she looked over her shoulder to wave something white at the porch.

"It is Jane. She has been to the post/' cried Shelley from the terrace, and hastened down the bank.

Gordon thrust the ivory into his pocket as the skifE darted in to the landing.


CHAPTER XXIII

THE DEVIL'S DEAL

As he took the two missives the girl handed him Gordon caught his breath, for one he saw was directed in Annabel's hand. For a moment a hope that over- leaped all his suffering rose in his brain. Had those months wrought a change in her ? Had she, too, thought of their child? Had the cry he voiced on the packet that bore him from England struck an answering chord in her? He opened its cover. An inclosure dropped out.

He picked it up blankly. It was the note he had pencilled on the channel, returned unopened.

The sudden revulsion chilled him. He broke the seal of the second letter and read read while a look of utter sick whiteness crept across his face, a look of rage and suffering that marked every feature.

It was from his sister, a letter written with fingers that soiled and creased it in their agony, blotted and stained with tears. For the thing it told of was a dreadful thing, a whispered charge against him so damning, so satanic in its cruelty, that though lip might murmur it to a gloating ear, yet pen refused to word it. The whole world turned black before him, and (167)


168 THE CASTAWAY

the dusk seemed shot through with barbed and flaming javelins of agony.

He crushed the letter in his hand, and, with a gesture like a madman's, thrust it into Shelley's, turning to him a countenance distorted with passion, gauche, malig- nant, repulsive.

"Bead it, Shelley," he said in a strangled voice. <0 fool ! I shall go mad !' "

CHAPTEE XXIV. THE MARK OP THE BEAST[edit]

"Your coffee, my lord?"

It was Fletcher's usual inquiry, repeated night and morning the same words that on the Ostend packet had told his master that his wanderings were shared. After these many months in Venice, where George Gor- don had shut upon his retreat the floodgates of the world, the old servant's tone had the same wistful cadence of solicitude.

Time for Gordon had passed like wreckage running with the tide. The few fevered weeks of wandering through Switzerland with Jane Clermont he scarcely knew where or how they had ended had left in his mind only a series of phantom impressions: woods of withered pine, Alpine glaciers shining like truth, Wen- gen torrents like tails of white horses and distant thun- der of avalanches, as if God were pelting the devil down from Heaven with snowballs. And neither the piping of the shepherd, nor the rumble of the storm ; not the tor- rent, the mountain, the glacier, the forest or the cloud, had lightened the darkness of his heart or enabled him to lose his wretched identity in the Power and the Glory above and beneath him.

(173)


174 THE CASTAWAY

In that night at Geneva the tidal wave of execration which had rolled over his emerging manhood had left as it ebbed only a bare reef across which blew cool, in- furiate winds of avid recklessness; and through these insensate blasts he moved in a kind of waking somnam- bulism, in which his acts seemed to him those of another individual, and he, the real actor, poised aloft, watching with a sardonic speculation.

At Rome his numbed senses awakened, and he found himself alone, and around him his human kind which he hated, spying tourists and scribblers, who sharpened their scavenger pencils to record his vagaries. He fled from them to Venice, where, thanks to report, Fletcher had found his master.

But it was a changed Gordon who had ensconced him- self here, a Gordon to whom social convention had be- come a sneer, and the praise or blame of his fellows idle chaff cast in the wind. He ate and drank and slept not as other men, but as a gormand and debauche. Such letters as he wrote to his sister, to Tom Moore, to Hobhouse were flippant mockeries. Rarely was he seen at opera, at ridoiio, at conversazione. When he went abroad it was most often by night, as though he shunned the daylight. More than one cabaret in the shadow of the Palace of the Doges knew the white satiric face that stared out from its terrace over the waterways, where covered gondolas crept like black spiders, till the clock of St. Mark's struck the third hour of the morning. And more than one black and red-sashed boatman whispered tales of the Palazzo Mocenigo on the Grand Canal and the "Giovannotto Inglese who spent great sums."


THE CASTAWAY 175

The gondolieri turned their heads to gaze as they sculled past the carved gateway. Did not the priests call him "the wicked milord" ? And did not all Venice know of Marianna, the linen-draper's wife of the street Spezieria, and of Margarita Cogni, the black-eyed Fornarina, who came and went as she pleased in the milord's household? They themselves had gained many a coin by telling these tales to the tourists from the milord's own country, who came to watch from across the canal with opera-glasses, as if he were a rav- enous beast or a raree-show; who lay in wait at night- fall to see his gondola pass to the wide outlying lagoon, haunted the sand-spit of the Lida where he rode horse- back, and offered bribes to his servants to see the bed wherein he slept. They took the tourists' soldi shame- facedly, however, for they knew other tales, too: how he had furnished money to send Beppo, the son of the fruit peddler, to the art school at Naples; how he had given fifty louis d'or to rebuild the burned shop of the printer of San Samuele.

"Your coffee, my lord?" Fletcher repeated the in- quiry, for his master had not heard.

"No ; bring some cognac, Fletcher."

The valet obeyed, though with covert concern. He had seen the inroads that year had made ; they showed in the lines on the pallid face, in the brown hair now just flecked with gray, in the increasing fire in the deep eyes. The brandy sat habitually at his master's elbow in these days.

It was two hours past midnight, for to Gordon day and night were one, and sleep only a neutral inertness, worse with its dreams than the garish day he dreaded.


176 THE CASTAWAY

On the hearth a fire blazed, whose flame bred crimson marionettes that danced over the noble carved ceiling panels, the tall Venetian mirrors supported by gilt lions, the faded furnishings and the mildew-marked canvases whose portraits looked stonily from the walls.

A gust of voices and the sound of virginals, flung up from the canal, came faintly through the closed case- ment. He moved his shoulders wearily. Yesterday had been Christmas Day. To-night was the eve of St. Stephen, the opening of the carnival season, with every corner osteria a symphony of fiddles, when Venice went mad in all her seventy islands. What were holidays, what was Christmas to him ?

Even in the warm blaze Gordon shivered. Ghosts had troubled him this day. Ghosts that stalked through the confused mist and rose before him in the throngs that passed and repassed before his mind's eye. Ghosts whose diverse countenances resolved themselves, like phantasmagoria, into a single one the pained eager face of Shelley. The recurring sensation had brought a sick sense of awakening, as of something buried that stirred in its submerged chrysalis, protesting against the silt settling upon it.

But brandy had lost its power to lay those ghosts. He went to the desk which held the black phial, the tiny glass comforter to which he resorted more and more often. Once with its surcease it had brought a splendor and plenitude of power ; of late its relief had been lent at the price of distorted visions. As he drew out the thin- walled drawer, its worm-eaten bottom collapsed and its jumble of contents poured down on the mahogany.

He paused, his hand outstretched. Atop of the


THE CASTAWAY 177

melange lay a silver-set miniature. He picked it up, holding it nearer the light. A girl's face, hued like a hy- acinth, looked out of his palm, painted on ivory. A string of pearls was about her neck.

For an instant he regarded the miniature fixedly, his recollection travelling far. The pearls aided. It was the one he had found in the capsized boat at Villa Diodati ! He had purposed sending it after the two strangers. The events of that wild night had effaced the incident from his mind, as a wet sponge wipes off a slate. Fletcher, finding the oval long ago in a pocket lining, had put it in the desk drawer for safe-keeping, where until this moment it had not met his master's eye.

"Teresa." Gordon suddenly remembered the name perfectly. With the memory mixed a sardonic reflection : the man who had lost the miniature that day in Switzer- land had hastened away with clothing scarce dried. Well, if that brother had deemed himself too good to linger with the outcast, the balance had been squared. The sister, perforce, had made a longer stay !

He put down the miniature, found the phial of lauda- num and uncorked it, but the face drew him back. It was not the external similitude now, but something beneath, unobserved the day he had found it the pure sensibility, shining unsullied through the transparent media. A delicate convent slip, she seemed, not yet transplanted to the unsifted soil of the world! A strange portrait for him to gaze upon here in this palace of ribaldry him, the moral Caliban, the dweller in Golgotha on whose forehead was written the hie jacet of a dead soul !

The antithesis of the picture, bold, Medea-like, tall


178 THE CASTAWAY

as a Pythoness, with hair of night, black flashing eyes and passion blent with ferocity, projected itself, like a materialization in a seance, from the air. He turned his head with a sensation of bodily presence, though he knew the one of whom he thought was then in Naples. If she should enter and find him with that ivory in his hand, what a rare sirocco would be let loose !

He tried to smile, but the old arrant raillery would not come. The miniature blotted out the figure of the Fornarina. Against his will, it suggested all the pure things that he had ever known his youthful romance, his dreams, Ada, his child !

Holding it, he walked to a folded mirror in a corner of the wall and opened its panels. There had been a time when he had said no appetite should ever rule him ; the face he saw reflected now wore the lines of incorrigi- ble self-indulgence, animalism, the sinister badge of the bacchanal.

"Is that you, George Gordon ?" he asked.

The ghosts drew nearer. They peered over his shoul- ders. He felt their fingers grasping at him. He cursed them. By what right did they follow him? By what damnable chance, ruled by what infernal jugglery, came this painted semblance to open old tombs? Something had awakened in him it was the side that recollected, remorseless and impenitent but no longer benumbed, writhing with smarting vitality. Awake, it recoiled abashed from the voiceless vade retro of that symbol. What part had he in that purity whose visible emblem mocked and derided him? What comradeship did life hold for him save the hideous Gorgon of memory, the



IS THAT YOU, GEORGE GORDON?" HE ASKED. /. Z?8.


THE CASTAWAY 179

Cerberus of ill fame, spirits of the dark, garish fellows of the half-world "they whose steps go down to hell !"

A fury, demoniac, terrible, fell on him. He seized the miniature, dashed it on the floor, stamped it with his heel and crushed and ground it into indistinguisha- ble fragments.

Then he sprang up, and with an oath whose note was echoed by the tame raven croaking on the landing, rushed down the stairway and threw himself into his gondola.

The moon rose red as a house afire. Before it paled, he had passed the lagoon. In the dim light that pre- saged the sodden dawn he leaped ashore on the main- land, pierced the damp laurel thickets that skirted the river Brenta and plunged into the forest.


CHAPTEE XXV

TERESA MEETS A STRANGER

Through the twittering dawn, with its multitudinous damp scents, its stubble-fields of maize glimpsed through the stripped ilex trees, whose twigs scrawled black hiero- glyphics on the hueless sky, Gordon strode sharply, heed- less of direction.

The convulsion of rage with which he had destroyed the miniature had finished the work the latter's advent had begun. The nerve, stirring from its opiate sleep to a consciousness of dull pain, had jarred itself to agony. His mind was awake, but the wind had swept saltly through the coverts of his passion, and their denizens crouched shivering.

The sight of a dove-tinted villa guarded by cypress spears a gray gathering of cupolas told him he had walked about two miles. This was La Mira, one of the estates of the Contessa Albrizzi, a great name in Venice. He turned aside into the deserted olive grove above the river. A slim walk meandered here, thick with dead leaves, with a cleared slope stretching down to where the deep-dyed Brenta twisted like a drenched ribbon on its way to the salt marshes. Fronting this breach, Gordon came abruptly upon a wooden shrine, with a weather-fretted prayer bench. (180)


THE CASTAWAY 181

He stopped, regarding it half -absently, his surcharged thought rearranging disused images out of some dusty speculative storehouse. A more magnificent shrine rose on every campo of Venice. They stood for a priestly hierarchy, an elaborate clericalism the mullioned wor- ship that to his life seemed only the variform expression of the futile earth-want, the satiric hallucination of finite and mortal brain that grasped at immortality and the infinite. This, set in the isolation of the place, seemed a symbol of more primitive faith and prayer, of religion rough-hewn, shorn of its formal accessories.

He went a step nearer, seeing a small book lying be- side the prayer bench. He picked it up. It was a re- print in English of his own "Prisoner of Chillon," from a local press in Padua.

A sense of incongruity smote him. It was the poem he had composed in Geneva. He readily surmised that it was through Shelley the verses had reached his pub- lisher in England, to meet his eye a year afterward, in a foreign dress, in an Italian forest.

He turned the pages curiously, conning the scarce re- membered stanzas. Could he himself have created them? The instant wonder passed, blotted out by lines he saw penned in Italian on the fly-leaf lines that he read with a tightening at his heart and an electric- like rush of strange sensations such as he had never felt. For what was written there, in the delicate tracery of a feminine hand, and in phrases simple and pure as only the secret heart of a girl could have framed them, was a prayer :

"Oh, my God! Graciously hear me. I take encourage-


182 THE CASTAWAY

ment from the assurance of Thy word to pray to Thee in behalf of the author of this book which has so pleased me. Thou desirest not the death of a sinner save, therefore, him whom Venice calls 'the wicked milord' Thou who by sin art offended and by penance satisfied, give to him the desire to return to the good and to glo- rify the talents Thou hast so richly bestowed upon him. And grant that the punishment his evil behavior has already brought him be more than sufficient to cover his guilt from Thine eyes.

"Oh blessed Virgin, Queen of the most holy Rosary! Intercede and obtain for me of thy Son our Lord this grace! Amen."

A step fell behind him. He turned half-dazed, his mind full of conflict. A girl stood near him, delicate and alert and wand-like as a golden willow, her curling amber hair loosely caught, her sea-blue eyes wide and a little startled. She wore a Venetian hood, out of whose green sheath her face looked, like lilies under leaves.

Gordon's mind came back to the present of time and space across an illimitable distance.

He stared, half believing himself in some automatic hallucination. There had been no time to speculate upon what manner of hand had written those words, what manner of woman's soul had so weirdly touched his own out of the void. Knowledge came staggeringly. Hers was the face of the miniature that his heel had crushed to powder.

He rioted that her eyes had fallen to the book in his hand, as mechanically he asked, in Italian :

"This book is yours, Signorina ?"


THE CASTAWAY 183

"Yes." There was a faint flush of color in her cheek, for she saw the volume was open at the written page.

Gordon was looking at her palely, seeing her face set in a silver oval. Eyes, hair and lips; there in lifeless pigments, here in flesh and blood ! The same yet more, for here were unnunned youth, slumbrous, glorious womanhood unawaked, stirring rosily in every vein, giv- ing a passionate human tint to the spiritual impression. And underneath all, the same unsullied something he had raged at that black night, even while her prayer for him lay here dumb at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows !

His voice sounded unreal to his own ears as he spoke,, his mind feeling its way through tumbled predisposi- tions to an unfamiliar goal. "If apology be owed," he said, "for reading what was intended for purer eyes than this world's, I most humbly offer it, SignorinaT I did so quite inadvertently."

He held out the book as he spoke, and her fingers closed over it, the gesture betraying confusion. Who was this stranger, with face of such wan luster and gray- blue eyes so sadly brilliant? Some sense in her dis- cerned a deeper, unguessed suffering that made her heart throb painfully.

"If there be an ear which is open to human appeal," he added gently, "that prayer was registered, I know !"

He spoke calmly enough, but a hundred thoughts were ricochetting through his mind. Pulpits had ful- minated against him, priest and laic had thundered him down, but when in London, in Geneva, in Venice had a single disinterested voice been lifted in a prayer for him before ? And this girl had never seen him.

"If there be!" Her thought stirred protestingly.


184 THE CASTAWAY

"Ah, Signore, surely there is Someone who hears ! How could one live and pray otherwise ?"

How indeed? To such a one as she, to pray and to live were one and the same thing. Prayer to her was not a mental process it was as instinctive and uncon- scious as breathing. For such as she, shrines like this were erected; not for him! So, across the riot in his breast, Gordon's waked habit paused to smile a satire- smile, at itself, at the new sweet flower that was lifting head there amidst desert ruins.

The girl caught the mixed feeling in his face. He was not Italian his accent had told her that. He was an Englishman, too, perhaps. "Do you know him, Sig- nore?"

His head turned quickly toward her. In truth, had he ever really known himself? "Yes," he answered after a pause. "I know him, Signorina far better than most of the world."

She was gazing with varied feelings, her heart beating strangely, curiosity and wonder merging. In her few short weeks at La Mira, fresh from the convent, the Englishman of whom all Venice told tales had been but a dim and unsubstantial figure. She had thought of the grim Palazzo Mocenigo with a kind of awe, as a child regards a mysterious cavern bat-haunted and shunned. Into her poetic world of dreams had fallen the little book, and thereafter the shadowy figure that roamed nightly Venice had taken on the brilliant and piteous outline of a fallen angel. Here, wonderfully, was a man who knew him, whose speech could visualize the figure that had grown to possess such fascination. {Questions were on h er tongue, but she could not frame


THE CASTAWAY 185

them. She hesitated, opening and closing the book in her hands.

"Is he all they say of him?"

"Who knows, Signorina?"

It was an involuntary exclamation that sounded like acquiescence. The girl's face fell. In her thought, the man of her dreaming, lacking an open advocate, had gained the secret one of sympathy. Was it all true then? Her voice faltered a little.

"I have not believed, Signore, that with a heart all evil one could write so !"

Into the raw blend of tangent emotions which were enwrapping Gordon, had entered, as she spoke, another well-defined. Never in his life, for his own sake, had he cared whether one or many believed truth or lie of him. But now there thrilled in him, new-born, a desire that this slight girl should not judge him as did the world. The feeling lent his words a curious energy :

"Many tales are told, Signorina, that are true some that are false. If he were here and I speak from cer- tain knowledge of him he would not wish me to ex- tenuate ; least of all to you who have written what is on that leaf. Perhaps that has been one of his faults, that he has never justified himself. By common report he has committed all crimes, Signorina. He has thought it useless to deny, since slander is not guilt, nor is de- nial innocence, and since neither good nor bad report could lighten or add to his wretchedness/'

The tint of her clear eyes deepened. "I knew he was wretched, Signore! It was for that reason I left the prayer here overnight before Our Lady of Sorrows be- cause I have heard he is an outcast from his own coun-


186 THE CASTAWAY

try and his own people. And then, because of this." She touched the volume. "Ah, I have read little of all he has written this is the only poem for I read his English tongue so poorly; but in this his heart speaks, Signore. It speaks of pain and suffering and bondage. It was not only the long-ago prisoner he sang of ; it was himself ! himself ! I felt it here, like a hurt."

She had spoken rapidly, stumblingly, and ended with a hand pressed on her heart. Her own feeling, as she suddenly became aware of her vehemence, startled her, and she half turned away, her lips trembling.

A sentiment at variance with his whole character was fighting in Gordon. The Babel he had builded of curses was being smitten into confusion. Something granite- like, mural and sealed by time, was breaking and melt- ing unaccountably away. His face was turned from hers toward the slope below, where the river bubbled and sparkled. When he spoke it was in words choked and impeded :

"I think if he were here this wicked milord he would bless you for that, Signorina. He has suffered, no doubt. Perhaps if there had been more who felt what he wrote as you have felt, if there had been more to impute good of him rather than evil I am quite sure if this could have been, Signorina, he would not now be in Venice the man for whom you have writ- ten that prayer. I know him well enough to say this. It is through his wretchedness that I have come to know him because, like him, I am a wanderer/'

A softer light suffused her cheek. The words smote her strangely. His pain-engraved face brought a mist to her eyes. She was a child of the sun, with blood


THE CASTAWAY 187

leaping to quick response, and a heart a well of undis- covered impulses. The wicked milord's form lost dis- tinction and faded. Here was a being mysterious, wretched, too, and alone not intangible as was he of the Palazzo Mocenigo, but beside her, speaking with a voice which thrilled every nerve of her sensitive nature. Unconsciously she drew closer to him.

At that moment a call came under the bare boughs : "Teresa! Teresa!"

She drew back. "It is la Contessa" she said; "I must hasten," and started quickly through the trees.

His voice overtook her. "Signorina!" The word vibrated. "Will you give me the prayer?" He had come toward her as she stopped. "There is a charm in such things, perhaps."

The voice called again, and more impatiently: "Te- resa !"

She opened the book and tore out the leaf with un- certain fingers. As he took it his hand met hers. He bent his head and touched it with his lips. She flushed deeply, then turned and ran through the naked trees toward the villa shielded in its cypress rows.

The girl ran breathlessly to the terrace, where a lady leaned from a window with a gently chiding tongue :

"Do they teach you to do wholly without sleep in con- vents?" she cried. "Do you not know your father and Count Guiccioli, your lord and master to be, are to ar- rive to-day from Ravenna? You will be wilted before the evening."

The girl entered the house.

Under the olive wood a man, strangely moved, a rus- tling paper still in his hand, walked back with quick


188 THE CASTAWAY

strides to his gondola, striving to exorcise a chuckling fiend within him, who, with mocking and malignant emphasis, kept repeating:

"Oh blessed Virgin, Queen of the most holy Rosary ! Intercede and obtain for me, of Thy Son our Lord, this grace 1"


CHAPTER XXVI

A WOMAN OF FIRE AND DREAMS

From the moment those lips touched her hand in that meeting at the wood shrine Teresa Gamba felt her life unfold to rose-veined visions.

Her unmothered childhood and the placid convent school years at Bagnacavallo, near Ravenna, had known no mystery other than her day-dreams had fashioned. She had dreamed much: of the time when she should marry and redeem the fortunes of her house, which, despite untainted blood and ancient provincial name, was impoverished; of the freedom of Italy, the sole topic, aside from his endless chemical experiments, of, which her father, now growing feeble, never tired; of her elder brother, away in Wallachia, secretary to the Greek Prince Mavrocordato ; of the few books she read, and the fewer people she met. But these dreams had not possessed the charm of novelty. Even when, at eighteen, through family friendship, she became a member of the Albrizzi household and exchanged the dull convent walls for the garlanded La Mira even with those rare days when she saw the gay splendor of Venice from a curtained gondola even then her mental life suffered small change.

(189)


190 THE CASTAWAY

The marriage arranged for her with Count Guiccioli, the oldest and richest nobleman of Kavenna, a miser and twice a widower, had aroused an interest in her mind scarce greater than had the tales of the English- man of the Palazzo Mocenigo. Such marriages were of common occurrence in the life she knew: the "wicked milord" was a stranger thing one to speculate more endlessly upon.

It was Tita, the gigantic black-bearded gondolier and door-porter, a servant in the Gamba family since she was born, whom she had brought with her as her own attendant one who worshiped her devoutly, and in whose care her father intrusted her more confidently than to any duenna who had first pointed out to her the gloomy building which shielded that mysterious oe~ cupant, and had piqued her interest with weird tales: how in his loneliness for human kind the outcast sur- rounded himself with tamed ravens and paroquets, and used for a wine cup a human skull, that of a woman he had once loved. With her rapt eyes on the palazzo front, Teresa had wondered and shuddered in never ending surmise.

The little volume from the Paduan press had deep- ened her curiosity and given it virgin fields in which to wander. The English books in her father's library were prose and for the most part concerned his pet hobby, chemistry. This volume, given her on a saint's day by the Contessa Albrizzi, who took pride in her protegee's scholarship, was her first glimpse of English poetry, and her pulses had leaped at the new charm. Thereafter the personality of the contradictory being who had written it had lived in her daily thought. She retained the


THE CASTAWAY 191

faiths of her childhood unshattered, and the prayer she had left at the shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows sprang from an impulse as natural as it was significant.

But that meeting in the wood had turned the course of her imaginings. "A wanderer like him"; the words had bridged the chasm between the dreaming and the real. The secret thought given to the "wicked mi- lord" found itself absorbed by a nearer object. The palazzo on the Grand Canal grew more remote, and the stranger she had seen stepped at a single stride into a place her mind had already prepared.

The blush with which she had taken the book from Gordon's hand was one of mere self -consciousness ; the vivid, burning color which overspread her face as she ran back through the trees was something very differ- ent. It was a part of her throbbing heart, of the trem- ulous confusion that overran her whole body, called into life by the touch of those palely carved lips upon her fingers. His colorless face a face with the outline of the Apollo Belvedere the gray magnetic eyes, the words he had said and their accent of sadness, all were full of suggestive mystery. Why was he a wanderer like that other ? Not for a kindred reason, surely ! He could not be evil also! Bather it must have been be- cause of some loss, some hurt of love which time might remedy.

Her agile fancy constructed more than one hypothe- sis, spun more than one romance, all of like ending. A new love would heal his heart. Some time he would look into a woman's eyes not as he had looked into hers ; some one would feel his lips not as he had kissed her hand. She in the meantime would be no longer a


192 THE CASTAWAY

girl ; she would be the Contessa Guiccioli, with a palazzo of her own in Ravenna, and a husband.

But, somehow, this reflection brought no satisfaction. The old count she had seen more than once driving by in state when she played as a child in the convent woods; and that he with his riches should desire her, had given her father great pride, which was reflected in her. Her suitor had brought his age and ailments to La Mira on the very day she had met the stranger at the shrine the day her heart had beat so oddly and with his arrival, her marriage had projected itself out of the hazy future and become a dire thing of the pres- ent. She felt a fresh distaste of his sharp yellow eyes, his cracked laugh. His eighty wiry years seemed as many centuries. She became moody, put her father off and took refuge in whims. The contessa advised the city, and the week's end saw the Albrizzi palazzo thrown open.

In Venice, Teresa's spirits rose. She loved to watch the bright little shops opening like morning-glories, the sky-faring pigeons a silver quiver of wings; to lie in the gondola waiting while her father drank his brandy at the piazzetta caffe; to buy figs from little lame Pas- quale, who watched for her at a shop-door in a narrow calle near at hand ; to see the gaudy flotillas of the car- nival, and the wedding processions, fresh from the church, crossing the lagoon to leave their gifts at the various island-convents; or, propelled by Tita's swing- ing oar, to glide slowly in the purpling sunset shadows, by the Piazza San Marco, around red-towered San Giorgio, and so home again on color-soaked canals in the gleaming ruby of the afterglow, through a city bub-


THE CASTAWAY 193

bling with ivory domes and glistening like an opal's heart under its tiara of towers.

She scarcely told the secret to her own heart that it was one face she looked to see, one mysterious stranger whose image haunted every campo, every balcony and ev- ery bridge. She flushed whenever she thought of that kiss on 'her fingers ; in the daytime she felt it there like a sentient thing; at night when she woke, her hand burned her cheek.

Who was he ? Why had he asked her for the prayer ? What had he done with it? Was he still in Venice? Should she see him again? She wondered, as, parting the gondola tenda, she watched her father cross the pave for his cognac.

"Are there many English in Venice, Tita?"

The gondolier, lounging like a brilliant-hued lizard, shrugged his shoulders. "Bellissima, there are hun- dreds in the season. They come and go. They are all lasagnoni, these Englishmen !"

Teresa's sigh checked itself. Tita suddenly turned his head. Across the piazzetta a crowd was gathering. It centered before the shop at whose front the five-year- old fig-seller was used to watch for her.

"He fell from the scaffolding !" said a voice.

"If it should be little Pasquale!" cried Teresa, and springing out, ran quickly forward. Tita waited to secure the gondola before he followed her.

A sad accident had happened. Before the calle a platform had been erected from which spectators might watch the flotillas of the carnival. Little Pasquale's de- light was a tame sparrow, whose home was a wicker cage, and climbing to sun his pet when he had been left


194 THE CASTAWAY

to tend the empty shop, the child had slipped and fallen to the pavement.

Teresa broke through the circle of bystanders and knelt by the tumbled little body, looking at the tiny face now so waxen. The neighbors thronged about, stupefied and hindering. A woman ran to fetch the mother, gossiping with a neighbor. Another called loud- ly for a priest.

The girl, looking up, was bewildered by the tumult. "He must be got in," she murmured, half helplessly, for the people ringed them round.

A voice answered close beside her : "I will carry him, Signorina" and a form she kneV bent beside her, and very gently lifted the small bundle in his arms.

Teresa's heart bounded. Through these days she had longed to hear that voice again how vainly! Now, in this moment, she was brought suddenly close to him. She ceased to hear the sounds about her saw only him. She sprang up and led the way through the press, down the close damp calle and to the shop where the child lived.

"Dog of the Virgin! He need touch no finger to child of mine!" swore a carpenter from the adjoining campo.

"Nor mine !"

"Why didn't you carry him in yourself, then?" growled Giuseppe, the fruit-vender. "Standing there like a bronze pig ! What have you against the English- man ? Didn't he buy your brother-in-law a new gondola when the piling smashed it ?"

"Scellerato!" sneered the carpenter. "Why is his


THE CASTAWAY , 195

face so white? Like a potato sprout in a cellar! He is so evil he fears the sun !"

The fruit-vender turned away disdainfully. His foot kicked a shapeless wicker object it was little Pasquale's cage smashed flat. The sparrow inside was gasping. He picked up the cage and carried it to the shop.

In the inner, ill-lighted room, Gordon laid the child on a couch. He had spoken no further word to Teresa. At the first sight of her, kneeling in the street, he had started visibly as he had done in the forest of La Mira when he recognized her face as that of the miniature. Now he was feeling her presence beside him with a curious thrill not unlike her own a pleasure deeply mixed with pain that was almost a physical pang.

Since that dawn walk above the plane-treed Brenta he had been treading strange ways. In the hours that fol- lowed, remorse had been born in him. And as the first indrawn breath racks the half-drowned body with agony greater than that of the death it has already tasted, so the man had suffered. During a fortnight, words writ- ten on a sheet of paper that he carried in his pocket had rung through his brain. Day after day, as he sat in his gloomy palazzo, he had heard them; night after night they had floated with him as his gondola bore him through the waterways ringing with the estro of the car- nival. To escape them he had fled again and again to the black phial, but when he awoke the pain was still with him, instinct and unrenounceable. It was more acute at this moment than it had ever been.

Teresa scarcely noted the fruit-vender as he put the battered cage into her hand just before its feathered occupant breathed its last. Her look, fixed on Gordon,


196 THE CASTAWAY

was still eloquent with the surprise. She saw the same pale face, the same deep eyes, the same chiselled curve of lips. His voice, too, as he despatched the kind- hearted Giuseppe for a surgeon on the Riva, had the same cadence of sadness. She had noticed that his step halted as he walked, as though from weakness. And surely there was illness in his face, too! Had there been any tender hands near him as tender as those with which he now examined the unconscious child ?

As Gordon bent above him, little Pasquale opened his eyes. His gaze fell first not on the man or on Teresa, but on the broken cage beside him, where the bird lay still, one claw standing stiffly upright. He tried to lift his head, and called the sparrow's name.

There was no answering chirp. The claw was very still.

Then little Pasquale saw the faces about him and knew what had happened.

"He's dead !" he shrilled, and burst into tears.


CHAPTEK XXVII

THE EVIL EYE

Tears, too, had rushed to Teresa's eyes, with a sweet, glad sense of something not akin to grief. Her hand on the couch in the semi-darkness touched another and she drew it away, trembling.

Suddenly a wail came from the calle, a hurried step crossed the shop floor, and the slattern mother burst into the room. Close behind followed Tita, who, seeing his mistress, blocked the inner door with his huge frame against the curious, with whom the place now over- flowed.

The weeping woman had thrown herself beside the couch where the child lay, his eyes closed again. All at once she saw the man who stood above her, and to Te- resa's astonishment sprang up and spat out coarse im- precations.

"The evil eye!" she screamed. "Take the Inglese away and fetch some holy water ! He has the evil eye !"

Teresa saw the spasm of pain that crossed the color- less face. "No, no !" she cried.

"What did I say !" sneered the carpenter.

Tita's great hand took him by the throat. "Silence, (197)


198 THE CASTAWAY

devout jellyfish !" he said, "or I crack your skull. Didn't you hear the signorina ?"

"The evil eye !" wailed the woman, flinging back inky hair from her brows. "He looked at the heart-of-my- lif e or he would not have fallen 1"

"For shame!" protested Teresa indignantly. "He who carried him in his own arms ! Ah, do not listen !" She turned to Gordon appealingly. "She is mad to say such things ! Let us go," she added hastily, as mur- murs swelled from the shop. "We can do no more !"

"Go, son of the Black One!" screamed the woman. "Go before my child dies !"

Gordon had distinguished in the girl's voice a note of pity and of fear for his safety, and a flash of smile softened the bitterness of his lips.

"You are right, Signorina," he answered, and pre- ceded her. The people parted as they passed, some peer- ing maliciously, some shame-faced. Tita, bringing up the rear, glared about him, his fist clenched like a ham- mer. He knew well enough who the stranger was, but his signorina walked with him and that was sufficient. Tita knew what was expected of him.

It was growing dusky as they emerged. The group before the shop had run to watch the great surgeon alighting at the water-stairs. The dozen steps that brought them to the open piazzetta they walked in si- lence.

There Teresa paused, wishing to say she knew not what, burning with sympathy, yet timid with confusion. The street seemed to wear an unwonted, un-everyday luster, yet she knew that around the corner lay little Pasquale woefully hurt, in full view Tita was unlash-


THE CASTAWAY 199

ing the gondola, and across the piazzetta she could see the entrance of the caffe where her father was sipping his cognac. A fear lest the latter should appear and find her absent from the gondola mixed with the wave of feeling with which she held out her hand to the man beside her.

"Poor little fig-merchant!" she said the scene with the mother was too painfully recent to touch upon at once. "He watched for my gondola every day. I hope he is not badly hurt. What do you think, Signore?"

"No bones were broken," he rejoined. "But as to internal injury, I could not tell. I shall hope doubly for him," he added, "since you love him."

Her eyes sought the ground, suddenly shy. "I have loved him from the first. You know, he cannot play like other children. He is lame; I think that is why I love him."

Gordon's lips compressed, his cheeks flushed with an odd sensitiveness that had long been calloused. But he saw instantly that the remark had been innocent of al- lusion. A weird forgotten memory shot jaggedly through his brain. Years ago how many years ago ! he had overheard a girl's voice repeat a mocking an- tithesis : "Do you think I could ever care for that lame boy ?" This girl facing him had the same fair hair and blue eyes of that boyish love of his. The resemblance caught him. Was it this that had haunted him in the miniature? Was this subconscious influence what had inspired at La Mira his aching desire that she should not think worse of him than might be ?

Her voice recalled him. She had not understood that veiled look, but it brought to her lips what had been


200 THE CASTAWAY

nearest to her thought the resentment and regret that the virago's shrilling voice had roused.

"What must you think of our Venice, S'ignore !" she said. "But they knew no better those poor people. They cannot tell evil from good."

"It is no matter, Signorina," Gordon answered. "Do not give it a thought. It was not unnatural, perhaps."

"Not unnatural I" she echoed. "Natural to think you evil? Ah, Signore when your every touch was kind- ness ! Could she not see in your face ?"

She paused abruptly, coloring under his gaze.

The words and the flush had cut him like a knife. The lines of ravage he had challenged in the mirror her innocence had misread. In the olive wood she had seen only wretchedness, here only mercy.

"The face is a sorry index, sometimes, Signorina. In mine the world may not see what you see."

He had schooled his tone to lightness, but her mood, still tense-drawn, felt its strain. She spoke impulsive- ly, bravely, her heart beating hard.

"What I see there it is pain, not evil, Signore; sor- row, but not all your own; loneliness and regret and feelings that people like those" she threw out her hand in a passionate gesture toward the shop "can never understand !"

"It is not only such as they!" he interposed. "The world, your world, would not understand, either. It is only here and there one finds one like you, Signorina with sympathy as pure as yours."

Her face had turned the tint that autumn paints wild strawberry leaves, a rich translucent flush that deepened the light in her eyes. It was a lyric world to-


THE CASTAWAY 201

day ! Just then Tita's voice spoke warningly from the water-side. She looked around, and through the gath- ering shadows, saw her father's form standing in the door of the caffe across the piazzetta.

"Oh!" she said confusedly, and turning, hastily crossed the pavement to the gondola.

Tita's oar swung vigorously on the return, for Count Gamba was in haste. He was voluble, but Teresa, as she looked out through the curtains, was inattentive.

Swiftly as they went, a gondola outstripped them on the canal. It held the low-browed carpenter whom Tita had throttled in the shop. In addition to a super- stitious mind, the carpenter possessed a malicious tongue and loved a sensation. He knew that the father of little Pasquale was at work that day on the Giudecca. As the doctor had driven all save the mother from the shop, there was little profit to be got by remaining. He therefore hastened to bear the news to the quay where the stone masons labored overtime. He had drawn his own conclusions. The child was mortally hurt dying, doubtless and as he revolved in his mind the words with which he should make the announcement to the father, the wicked milord and his evil eye entered with all their dramatic values.

Teresa noted the speed of the gondola as it passed to tie to the rising wall, saw the gesticulations of the blue- clad workmen as the man it bore told his story. Even in the failing light she saw the gesture of grief and despair with which one, the center of all eyes, threw up his arms and sank down on to the stones, his head in his hands. As her father's gondola swept by, the


202 THE CASTAWAY

figure sprang up suddenly and his brown hand flew to liis belt.

"My Pasquale dead !" he shouted; "I'll kill the Inglese!"

Teresa stifled a cry. Her father had seen and heard also, though he did not know the explanation. Nor could he have guessed what an icy fear had gripped the heart of the girl beside him.

"An ugly look!" he muttered, as the frantic form scrambled into the carpenter's craft.

Teresa could not speak. Her horrified gaze was on the sinister face, the red cap like a sans-culotte, the eye glancing under it tigerishly. Little Pasquale was dead then! The father blamed the Englishman. His look was one of murder ! He would kill him of whom she had thought and dreamed, the man in whose heart had been only tenderness! Kill him? A panging dread seized her. She felt as if she must cry out ; and all the time Tita's oar swept her on through the dusk, further away from him whom danger threatened him whom, in some way, no matter how, she must warn !

A strange helplessness descended upon her. She did not even know his name, or his habitation. To her he was but one of the hundreds Tita had said were in Venice. That the gondolier himself could have en- lightened her did not cross her mind. She felt the im- possibility of appealing to her father she had not even dared tell him she had left the gondola. What could she do ? Trust to Tita to find him ? Could he know every line of that face as did she? Even in the dark in crowds she told herself that she would know him, would somehow feel his presence. But how to do it?


THE CASTAWAY 203

How to elude the surveillance at home? And if she could do so, where to look for him ?

Her reverie was broken by the gondola's bumping against the landing. Her father's talk had been run- ning on like a flowing spout.

"A palazzo in Eavenna finer than this," he was say- ing, "and you the Contessa Guiccioli ! Shall we not be proud eh, my Teresa?"

She realized suddenly of what he had been babbling. As she disembarked at the water-stairs, she looked up at the balcony. There, beside the stately Contessa Al- brizzi, an old man was leaning, hawk-eyed, white-haired and thin. He blew her a kiss from his sallow fingers.

Her nervous tension relaxed in a sudden quiver of aversion.

"No, no !" she said in a choked voice, with clenched fingers. "I will not marry till I choose! Why must every one be in such haste ?"

And with these broken sentences, that left her father standing in blank astonishment, she hurried before him into the house.


CHAPTER XXVIII

THE HAUNTED MAN

The majestic gateway of the Palazzo Mocenigo was dark as Gordon entered save for the single lamp always lit at nightfall. Fletcher served his master's supper in the great upper room, but to-night, as too often hap- pened, it was scarcely tasted. Long after the valet had retired, his watchful ear heard the uneven step pacing up and down, up and down, on the echoing floor.

A restless mood was upon Gordon, the restlessness of infinite yearning and discontent. He was tasting anew the gall and wormwood of self-reproach.

He had felt the touch of Teresa's hand as it lay against the couch in that squalid room had known it trembled and the low words she had spoken in the street, standing, as it seemed to him, with that forest shrine ever for background, were still in his ears.

He had seen her but twice, for but a few brief mo- ments. Once she had come to him on the wings of a prayer; and again to-day over the hurt body of a child. Each meeting had touched the raw nerve in him which had first throbbed to anguish at sight of her miniature. Each time he had heard a voice call to him as if it were the ghost of some buried thing he had one day known and lost, speaking a tongue sweet though untranslatable. (204)


THE CASTAWAY 205

Hours went by. Gordon's step flagged. He ap- proached the desk on which were scattered distraught leaves of manuscript, blotted and interlined. He swept these into his hand and read for a moment. Beneath the outer crust of flippancy and satire a strange new development had begun. But the mental habit had persisted strong during the moral bouleversement, as the polar glaze spreads its algid mockery above the warm currents of an Arctic spring. How his muse had bemocked him, he thought. A drama of madness, whose dramatis personae were magicians and spirits of the nether world stanzas hovering between insane laughter and heart-broken sobs, between supplications and blasphemies cantos whose soul was license, though their surpassing music thrilled like the laughter of a falling Lucifer !

He flung the sheets down, went to the window and threw it open, leaning out across the balcony that hung over the canal. It was a night of Italian sorcery, the sky an infinite wistaria canopy nailed with white-blown stars; of musical water shimmering into broken bits of moon; of misty silver air. Around and beneath him spread the enchanted city, a marvel of purple and moth- er-of-pearl, a jewel in verd and porphyry. Gondolas, dim in the muffled shadow, or ablaze with strung lan- terns and echoing with tinkling virginals and softer laughter, glided below, on their way to the masked ball of the Cavalchina. The fleeting thrill, the bubble pag- eant ; what did they all what did anything mean now for him ?

Looking out, Gordon's gaze went far. He had a vi-


206 THE CASTAWAY

sion of England as he had last seen it across the jasper channel green fields and white cliffs in a smother of vapors; of London with its pomp, its power, its calum- nies, its wicked magical vitality. And he spoke to it, murmuring sentences not sneering now, but broken with a stranger soft emotion :

"What you have done you island of home! If I could tell you! I had the immortal flame the touch of the divine! It was mine all mine, for the world! You took me my boyhood and embittered it, my youth and debauched it, my manhood and robbed it! You jeered my first songs and it stung me, and when I cried out in pain, you laughed and flattered. When you tired of me, you branded me with this mark and cast me out!" He turned again to the desk where lay the manuscript. "What I write now has the mark of the beast ! It is the seraph's song with the satyr laugh cutting up through it, and the cloven hoof of the devil of hatred that will not down in me ! And yet I wrote the poem that she loves ! I wrote that I ! My God ! It was only two years ago ! And now shall I never hear that voice singing in my soul again? Shall I never write so again ? Never never never ?"

A pungent, heavy smell of flowers filled his nostrils. He turned from the window, quivering. Fletcher had entered behind him and was arranging a mass of blooms in a bowl.

The Fornarina! She had returned from Naples, then. It was her barbaric way of announcing her com- ing, for she could not write. She had been absent a month how much had happened in that month !

The man, with the excoriate surface of recollection


THE CASTAWAY 207

exposed, with the quick of remorse laid open, suddenly could not bear it. He threw a cloak about him and went rapidly down to the water-stairs.

The gondolier came running to the steps, catching up the long oar as he sprang to position.

"Whither, Excellence?" he asked.

A burst of music, borne on the air across roofs and up echoing canals, came faintly to Gordon from the far- away Square of St. Mark'.

"To the Piazza," he said.


CHAPTER XXIX TERESA'S AWAKENING

Teresa, meanwhile, had been facing her problem how to warn the Englishman of his danger. During the slow hours while Gordon sat gazing into the dis- torted mirror of his own thought, she had traversed every causeway of risk, sounded every well of possibil- ity. To a young girl of the higher class in Venice, a night trip, uncavaliered, held elements of grave peril. Discovery spelled lasting disgrace perhaps, certainly the anger of her father. All this she was ready to hazard. But beyond was the looming probability that she could not find the object of her search after all. However, it was a chance, and fear, with another sentiment that she did not analyze, impelled her to take it.

It was an easy task to win Tita, for he would have de- nied her nothing. To him, however, she told only a part of the truth that she wished once to see the Pi- azza by night. Only an hour in the music and lights iu his care, and then quick and safe return to the Palazzo Albrizzi. The house servants she could answer for. Who would be the wiser ?

So, a little while after Gordon had been set down that night at the Molo, another gondola, lampless and with drawn tenda, stole swiftly to a side landing, and (208)


THE CASTAWAY 209

Teresa, closely veiled, with Tita by her side, stepped into the square, beneath the flare of its flambeaux, into its currents of eddying maskers where the white fazzioli of the lower orders mingled with the rich costumes of patricians, all alike stung by the tarantula of gaiety: a flashing sea of motion and color surging endlessly be- neath a sky alive with winged spots of gray and black the countless pigeons that circled there undisturbed.

She had chosen the Piazza after much deliberation. It was the last night of the carnival, when all the world of Venice was on the streets. At the new Fenice Thea- ter the latest opera of Rossini's was playing, and there was the ball of the Cavalchina, the final throb before the dropping of the pall of Lent. The sadness in Gor- don's face and speech, she felt, had no part in these things. She felt instinctively that he would be spec- tator rather than actor, would choose the open air of the square rather than the indoors. The danger she feared for him would not seek him in a crowd ; it would lurk in some silent byway and strike unseen. The thought made her tremble as she peered about her.

The center of the Piazza was a pool, fed and emptied by three streams of people : one flowing under the clock- tower with its blue and gold dial and bronze figures, one through the west entrance under the Bocca di Piazza, and still another rounding the Doges' Palace and meeting the thronged Eiva. It was on the fringe of this second stream that she saw him, when the hour was almost ended. He was standing in the shadow of the pillars, watching, she thought, yet abstracted. With a whispered word to Tita she ran and touched the move- less figure on the arm.


219 THE CASTAWAY

Gordon turned instantly, and turning, spoke her name half -aloud. "Teresa I" The utterance was almost auto- matic, the lips, startled, voicing the word that was in his mind at the moment.

She thought he recognized her through the veil, and answered with a cry expressing at one time her relief at finding him, and a quick delight that thrilled her at the sound of her name on his lips. Many things had wrought together to produce this new miracle of glad- ness. The strangeness and romance of their first meet- ing, the tragedy of loneliness she had guessed in the scene at the shop, her dread and the physical risk en- tailed in her adventure of this night, all had combined with cunning alchemy. When he spoke she forgot to be surprised that he had called her by name, forgot that she did not know his, forgot everything save his presence and her errand.

He leaned forward, breathing deeply. It was she! She put her veil aside quickly her eyes were like sapphire stones ! and told him hurriedly of the threat she had heard, of her dread, all in a rush of sentences incoherent and unstudied.

"And so you came to warn me ?"

"He would do it, Signore ! Ah, I saw his face when he said it. You must be guarded! You must not go abroad alone !"

His mind was busy. How much she had jeopardized to reach him in that fancied danger! She, in Venice, a young girl of noble rank, with no escort save a gondo- lier ! Eisk enough for her in any case ; what an endur- ing calamity if she should be seen and recognized there, with him!


THE CASTAWAY 211

He led her back between the pillars, put out his hand and drew the veil again across her face, speaking grave- ly and gently :

"What you have done is a brave and noble thing ; one I shall be glad of always. It was no less courageous, nor am I less grateful, though what you heard was a mistake. Little Pasquale is not dead. I spoke with the surgeon here less than a hall-hour ago. He had just come from the piazzetta. The child will recover."

"Oh, thank God!" she breathed. She clasped her hands in very abandonment. "The blessed Virgin has heard me !"

His heart seemed suddenly to cease beating. The ex- clamation was a revelation far deeper than she divined. It was not joy at the life of the child that was deepest in it it was something else: a great relief for Mm! He felt the blood tingle to his finger-tips. Only one emotion could speak in such an accent only one !

With an uncontrollable impulse he leaned to her and clasped both her hands.

"You cared, Teresa/' he said. "You risked so much for me?"

He had spoken her name again. Again she felt the stab of that quivering spear of gladness. Her fingers fluttered in his.

"Yes yes!" she whispered. The shouts, the music, the surge and laughter around, faded. She felt herself, unafraid, drifting on a sea of unplummetted depths.

A shock of fright brought her to herself. A man bent and dressed richly, with an affectation of youth, was passing, attended by a servant. As they approached, the keen-eyed servitor had pointed out Gordon. "That


212 THE CASTAWAY

is the evil Englishman, Excellence, of whom you have heard," he had said, and the old noble he led had set his keen eyes on the other with a chuckling relish.

Teresa, in the momentary pause they made, hardly repressed a cry, for that moment discovery seemed to her imminent. The old man was the Count Guiccioli he who had leaned that afternoon from the palazzo balcony. Her pulses leaped to panic. She felt as if that sharp gaze must go through the veil, and pressed closer to Gordon.

But master and servant passed on, and her fear faint- ed out.

The man beside her had felt that quick pressure, and instinctively the touch of his arm reassured her, though he had not surmised her alarm. In that instant Gordon had been thinking like lightning. A temptation had sprung full-statured before him. In a flash he had read the dawning secret behind those eyes, the sweet un- spoken things beneath those trembling lips crimson- soft as poppy leaves. To possess this heart for his own ! Not to tell her who he was not yet, when her purity would shrink to nurture this budding regard with meetings like this, stolen from fate to cherish it till it burst into flower for him, all engrossing, supreme! To make this love, fluttering to him unsought in the purlieus of his soul's despair, his solace and his sanctu- ary!

Coincidence grappled with him a stealthy persua- sion. In the crisis of his madness, when at Geneva he had cursed every good thing, her pictured face had sought him out to go with him. Into the nadir of his degradation there in Venice it had dropped like a fall-


THE CASTAWAY 213

ing star to call him to himself. Fate had led him to her in the woods of La Mira had brought them both face to face at the shop in the piazzetta and now had led her to him again here in the midst of the maskers. It was Kismet !

"I did not think there was more than one in all the world who would have done what you have to-night!" he said; "that would have cared if I lived or died! Why do you care ?"

"Ah!" she answered hurriedly. "Is there one who would not? I do not know why. One does not reason of such things. One feels. I know I have cared ever since that morning in the wood, when you found the book, when I gave you the prayer !"

He started, releasing her hands. "Intercede and ob- tain for me of thy Son, our Lord, this grace!" It seemed to come to him from the air, a demoniac echo to his desire. His breath choked him. She had prayed for him, purely, unselfishly. How should he requite? To-night, for his sake she had risked reputation. How did he purpose to repay? Would not the doing of this thing sink him a thousand black leagues below the sky she breathed? No matter how much she might come to love, could it recompense for what he would take away? Between those two lay a gulf as deep as that which stretched between cool water and a tor- tured Dives. What had he, George Gordon, dragging the chain and ball of a life sentence of despair, to do with her in her purity ? He yearned for her because she was an immaculate thing; because she reincarnated for him all the white, unspotted ideals that he had thrown


214 THE CASTAWAY

away, that he longed to touch again. It was the devil tempting in the plea of an angel!

The mist fell from his eyes.

"Child !" he said. "What you have done to-night I can never repay. I shall remember it until I die. But I am not worthy of your thought not worthy of a single throb of that heart of yours !"

She shook her head protesting.

"That cannot be true," she contended. 4 -But if it were, Signore, one cannot say 'I will,' or 'I will not care' when one chooses." Her tone was naive, and arch with a smiling, shy rebellion.

"Listen," he went on. "Do not think me jesting. What I say now I say because I must. I want you to promise me you will do something something only for your good, I swear that !"

The smile faded from her lips, chilled by his earnest- ness.

"When you go from here you must forget that day at La Mira, forget that you came to-night that we have ever met ! Will you promise this ?"

Her whole mind was a puzzled question now. Did he mean she should see him no more? Was he quitting Venice ? The thought came like a pang. But to forget ! Could she if she would ? Why did he say it was for her good? A fear, formless and vague, ran through her.

"Why do you ask that, Signore ?"

He turned his face away. It was so much harder than he thought. Must he tell her who he was? Could he not carry with him this one memory? Must he drink this cup of abnegation to its last dregs ? The very kind- ness of silence would be cruelty for her ! The seed fate


THE CASTAWAY 215

had sown, watered by mystery, would germinate in thorns ! He must tell her tell her now !

The press of maskers flooding the square, circled nearer, and she drew close. Her hand from under her cloak, found his own, suddenly fearful, feeling bold looks upon them.

"Bravo la Fornarina!" rose a jeering cry. An ex- clamation broke from Gordon's lips. A woman had burst from the throng like a beautiful embodied storm. Teresa shrank with a sob of dismay at the vision of flashing black eyes and dark hair streaming across jealous brows.

The crowd laughed.

"It is I'Inglese maligno!" said a voice.

Evading Gordon's arm, with a spring like a tiger's,, the infuriate figure reached the girl, snatching at the veil.

"So he prefers you for his donna!" she sneered sav- agely. "Let us see, white face !"

The rent gauze dropped to the ground.

Sudden stillness fell. The jests and jeers hushed. Teresa stood motionless, her features frozen to sculp- ture; a passing cloud had slipped from the moon, and the silvery light above and behind her caught and tangled to a glistening aureole in her amber hair that fell in a mist about her shoulders. The illusion of a halo was instant and awe-inspiring. More than one, gazing, made the sign of the cross.

There was a cry the Fornarina had flung herself on her knees on the flagging. A stir came from the crowd.

L'Inglese maligno! For the girl who stood so


216 . THE CASTAWAY

moveless, the exclamation had blotted joy from the uni- verse. It was as though all terrors gripped her bodily in a molten midnight. Dreams, faiths, prayer, and tender things unguessed, seemed to be shrivelling in her. She shivered, put out her hands and wavered on her feet.

"Dio!" she said in a low voice. "You, the wicked milord 1"

Gordon, in aching misery, stretched out his arms toward her, though he saw her eyes were closed, with a broken word that was lost in a tumult, as a gigantic form plowed through the circle, a form from whose rush maskers fell away like tenpins.

It was Tita, enraged, bull-like. He gathered the crumpling, veilless figure in his arms, thrust his burly shoulder against the crowd and bore her quickly to the water-stairs where lay the dark gondola.

He set her on the cushions and plied the oar till it smoked in its socket.

The bright canals fled by she had not moved. By darker passages he went now and very slowly, threading stagnant unlighted alleys. The way opened out, a swish of trailing tendrils swept across the oar they were un- der a vine-trellised bridge. The lampless gondola crept along the wall, stole with sudden swiftness across a patch of moonbeams and darted into the shadowy water- gate.

Tita had thought the canal quite deserted. But be- yond the moonlight another craft had been drowsing by. The old man under its tenda had been musing on the loveliness of a girl within those walls whom he should soon possess, and with her a dowry, set aside at



THE ILLUSION OF A HALO WAS INSTANT AND AWE-INSPIRING, p. 21$.


THE CASTAWAY 217

her birth, which the waning fortunes of her family had preserved intact. He saw the dark bulk shoot into the gilded water-gate and peered out.

"What was that?" he demanded.

"A gondola, surely, Excellence."

Garden water-gates seldom swung in Venice at night. For a moment he watched. "Some servant's errand," he reflected, and leaned back on the cushions.

In the orchid-scented garden, Tita's brawny arms lifted Teresa out and set her upon the marble steps. He was thinking of the Englishman.

"Illustrissima!" he whispered. "Shall I kill him?"

Then something broke in Teresa's breast. She clasped the broad neck, sobbing :

"No, no, Tita! DearTita! Not that! I would rather die myself!"


CHAPTER XXX

THE PEACE OF PADRE SOMALIAN

All night Gordon's gondola floated over the dark lagoon. All night the star-silvered dip of the oar broke into ripples the glassy surface. All night Gordon sat silent, gazing out across the low islands that barred the sea.

Something had touched his life which, sooner met, might have made existence a boon. A woman's soul had roused him but only to a rayless memory of what burned and rankled, as the touch of a hand wakes a prisoner from nightly lethargy to a sense of bolt and chain.

Lines from his poem which she loved which had called forth her prayer recurred to him:

"A light broke in upon my brain,

It was the carol of a bird; It ceased, and then it came again,

The sweetest song ear ever heard; And mine was thankful till my eyes Ran over with the glad surprise, And they that moment could not see I was the mate of misery; But then by dull degrees came back My senses to their wonted track, I saw the dungeon walls and floor Close slowly round me as before." (218)


THE CASTAWAY 219

So she had come and gone, and his hand* touched only walls of adamant, his ears heard only an echo roll- ing across blank infinities !

The moon sank. The great, linked lamps of the heav- ens burned brighter, faded at length, and a breath of sea-breeze, harbinger of the dawn, struck coldly on his cheek. Night became soft twilight, twilight grew to warm amethyst. Little milky clouds dappled the zenith, slowly suffused by a flush of rose that grew to vivid splendor gray-streaked, as the sun's climbing edge touched the humid horizon.

The occupant of the gondola stirred and looked about him. The air was full of mewing swallows, and a sandy island lay before him from which rose clumps of foli- age and the dim outlines of brown stone walls, gilded by the growing light. The gondolier's voice broke the long silence:

"It is the Armenian monastery of Saint Lazarus, Ex- cellence."

The island lay lapped in quiet. Not a sound or movement intrenched upon its peace. Only the swal- lows circled shrilly about slim bell-towers, lifting like fingers pointing silently. A narrow causeway through an encircling dike led to the wharf, and beyond, by a gate, to an orchard where gnarled fruit-trees sniffed the salt air. From a chimney at one side a strand of smoke sheered slenderly.

Gordon drew a long breath. "Put me ashore," he said.

The gondola shot alongside the tiny wharf, and he stepped on to its stone flags. He stood silent a moment, feeling the calm upon him like a tangible hand. Far to


220 THE CASTAWAY

the north, half a league's distance, glowing through the bluish winter haze, shone the towers and domes of Venice, a city of white and violet, vague and unsub- stantial as a dream, a field of iris painted upon a cloud.

"Go back to the city."

The servant was startled. "And leave you, Excel- lence?"

'TTes, I shall send when I need you."

The boatman leaned anxiously on his oar. "When they question, Excellence?"

"Tell no one but Fletcher where I am. Say to him it is my wish that he shall not leave the palazzo."

He watched the gondola glide away over the lighten- ing waters, till it was only a spot on the dimpling la- goon. He took a black phial from his pocket and threw it far out into the water. Then he turned his gaze and walked up the wharf toward the monastery, still sound- less and asleep.

At the corner of the sea-wall, the stone had been hol- lowed with the chisel into a niche, in which, its face iturned seaward, stood a small leaden image of the Vir- gin. He noted it curiously, with the same sensation of the unartificial he had felt at sight of the wooden shrine at La Mira. And yet with all its primitive simplicity, what a chasm between such a concrete embodiment of a personal guardianship and that agnostic altar his youth had erected "to the unknown God" !

He looked up and saw a figure near him.

A man of venerable look stood there, bareheaded, with a wide gray beard which swept upon his coarse dark robe. His eyes were deep and pleasant, and his


THE CASTAWAY 221

countenance spiritual, gracious and reserved. An open gate in the wall showed the way he had come.

For a moment neither spoke. The lucent gaze con- fronting him seemed to Gordon to possess a strange fa- miliarity : it was the same expression of unworldly sin- cerity that had shone in those London days from Dal- las 5 face.

"What do you seek, my son?"

Perhaps the friar had already had time to study the visitor. Perchance the clear scrutiny had read some- thing beneath that cryptic look bent upon the shrine. What did he not seek, indeed !

When Gordon answered it was simply, in Italian as direct as the other's question.

"The peace of your walls and fields drew me, Padre. By your leave, I would rest a while here/'

The friar's look had not wavered. Contemplation teaches one much. It was easy to read the lines of dissi- pation, of evil indulgence, that marked the white face before him ; but the padre saw further to the soul-sick- ness beneath.

"We are Armenians, Signore," he proffered, "a com- munity of students, who have poor entertainment; but to such as we have, the stranger is welcome. He who comes to us stays without question and fares forth again at his own will."

As he spoke, a bell's clear, chilly chime rose from somewhere within the walls. At the note the padre turned, bowed his knee before the leaden Virgin, and rising, with arm raised toward the lagoon, blessed the waters and the land. Then he held out his hand to Gordon.


222 THE CASTAWAY

"I am Padre Sukias Somalian," he said. "I will go and inform the prior. I will call you presently."

He disappeared through the wall-gate.

Gordon's eyes, following him, saw the worn motto deeply cut in the stone above it.

"0 Solitudo, sola Beatitudo."

Was it solitude that had brought that look of utter peace to the friar's face? Or was it rather the belief that made him bow before the niche yonder ?

His gaze wandered back to the shrine. Prayer to him was a fetish a plastic rigmarole of symbols and for- mulae the modern evolution of the pre-Adamite, an- thropomorphic superstition. It was far more than that to the friar. He knelt each day to that little leaden image. And before such an image she, Teresa, whose pure soul had been wounded last night, had laid that written petition.

A singular look stole to his face, half -quizzical, half- wistful. He took a leaf of paper from his pocket. He hesitated a moment, folding and unfolding it. He glanced toward the gate.

Then he went to the niche, stooped and lifted one of the loose flat stones that formed the base on which the image rested. He brushed away the sand with his hand, put the paper in the space and replaced the stone over it.

As he stood upright, a voice called to him from the gate. It was the padre, and he turned and followed him in.


CHAPTEE XXXI

AT THE FEET OP OUR LADY OF SORROWS

George Gordon, at the monastery of San Lazzarro, looked out of washed eyes upon an altered condition. He was conscious of new strength and new weaknesses. The man, emerging from the slough of those months of lawless impulses and ungoverned recklessnesses, had found no gradual rejuvenation. After weeks of remorse, temptation had flung itself upon him full armed. The memory of a prayer had vanquished it. In that instant of moral resistance, conscience had been reborn. It was the sharp sword dividing forever past from present. The past of debauchery was henceforth impossible to him. What future was there ? He had not only to bear unnumbed the despair he had tried to drown, but an anguish born of the newer yesterday.

The wholesome daily life of the friars, their homely occupations and studies, varied by little more than ma- tutinal visits of fish-boats of the lagoon, aided him in- sensibly. His thought needed something craggy to break upon and he found it in the Armenian language which he studied under the tutelage of Padre Somalian, aiding the friar in turning into its rugged structure the sonorous periods of "Paradise Lost." (223)


224 THE CASTAWAY

But from time to time, in this routine, a searing memory would recur and he would see in shifting chi- aroscuro, the scene on the Piazza San Marco: the faces of the maskers, the slight, shrinking form of Teresa, the angry dark eyes of the Fornarina, a hand snatch- ing at a veil then the streaming moonlight tangling to a halo about a girl's shocked face so innocently touched with horror, a face that would always be dis- tinct to him !

If he could have spared her the indignity of that one coarse scene! If he could only have told her himself, and gently! But even that, Fate had denied him the dogging Nemesis that stalked him always ! But for its decree, they had not met that night. He would have remained in her mind as she had seen him by the side of little Pasquale a kindly shadow, a mystery beckoning her sympathy, then haply forgot. Now she would remember him always. Not as the wretched and misunderstood being for whom she had prayed at La Mira, but with shrinking and self-reproach, as a veri- table agency of evil the true milord maligno, who liad bought her interest with the spurious coin of hy- pocrisy. So his tormented thought raced out along the barren grooves of surmise.

As he walked under the orchard's rosy roof, the prior called to him:

"A wedding party is coming to the south landing," he said. "Our monastery is fortunate this month. This is the third."

Gordon looked. There, rounding the sea-wall, was a procession of gondolas, decked superbly, the foremost draped wholly in white and trailing bright streamers


THE CASTAWAY 225-

in the water, like some great queen bird leading a covey of soberer plumage. By the richness of the banners and embroidered tenda, it was the cortege of some noble bridal. As he gazed, the faint music of stringed instru- ments drifted across the walls.

Gathering closer the coarse brown monastery robe he had thrown about him, Gordon followed the padre through the garden to the further entrance, where the brethren, girdled and cowled, were drawn up, a benign row. The bride would wait among the ladies on the beach, since beyond that portal no woman's foot must go; the bridegroom would enter, to leave his gifts and to drink a glass of home-pressed violet-scented wine in the great hall.

Gordon paused a little way from the water-stairs and looked down over the low wall at the white gondola. One day, he mused, Teresa would marry some noble like this no doubt, for she had rank and station one whom she would love as she might have loved him. Perhaps she would celebrate her marriage in the Vene- tian way, come in a gondola procession maybe to this very monastery, never guessing that he once had been within it! In what corner of the world would he be then?

Under the edge of the tenda he could see the shim- mering wedding-gown of the bride, cloth of gold heavy with seed pearls. The gentlemen had already entered the close. As he gazed, the gondola swung round and he caught a fleeting glimpse of her face.

"Teresa !" he gasped, and his hand clutched the walL

She so soon! A sudden pain, not vague but defi- nite, seized him. She had not cared, then. Her heart


226 THE CASTAWAY

had not suffered, after all ! On that night, when she had swayed forward into the gondolier's arms, it had been only horror at her discovery, not a nearer grief ! What for that quivering instant he had thought he read in her exclamation had not been there. Fool ! To think his face could have drawn her for an hour! Doubly fool to sorrow for her hurt ! Better so. She must not see him; no reminder of shame and affront should mar this day for her.

He turned, crossed the garden, opened the wall-gate and came out by the niched shrine upon the shore path which semi-circled the monastery.

A gust of self-raillery shook him. Inside, the friars were gravely drinking a health to the bride, in cups kept burnished for the purpose, made of pure gold. He, though only a guest, should be among them in robe and girdle to cheer these nuptials ! He had drunk many a bumper in such costume in the old Newstead days, with Sheridan and Tom Moore !

The bitter laugh died on his lips. Why should he remember so well? In such a gabardine he had drunk the toast Annabel had heard, the night he had asked her to marry him. And he had drunk it from a death's- head! The emblem, truly enough, had typified the tragedy marriage was to be to him!

He leaned forward, resting his forehead against the mossed stone, as if its coolness might allay the fever that held him. Would marriage have meant such for him if the words that had bound him to Annabel had linked him to a heart like Teresa's, of fire and snow, of simple faith, of tenderness and charity? If he could have loved one like her !


THE CASTAWAY 227

He had no knowledge of how long he stood there. He was recalled by a voice from the path behind him be- tween him and the gate, his only way of escape a voice that held him spellbound.

"Father, give me your blessing !"

With an overmastering sense of the fatality that had beckoned her to the lagoon path at just this moment to mistake him for one of the padres, he turned slowly. She was kneeling, the exquisite fabric of her dress sweeping the moist shingle, her eyes on the ground, awaiting the sign.

He reached out his hand with a hoarse cry:

"Not that ! Teresa ! It is I I who should kneel to you !"

The words broke from him at sight of her bent face, not as a bride's should be, but weary and listless. Un- derneath the cry was a quick thrill of triumph. Though she was that day another man's wife, yet she had suf- fered! But the thrill died in a pang of reproach. If she did care, better the harshest thought of him now !

She had sprung to her feet in passionate amaze.

"You !" she exclaimed ; "ah, you !"

In the exclamation there was a great revulsion and greater joy. Her gaze swept his pallid features, his costume her sick imagination had pictured him in scenes of ribaldry, with evil companions! She began to murmur broken sentences:

"I have wronged you ! That night on the square it was not the you that I had known ! You had tried to leave that life behind the past that had given you that name! You are not what they say, not now! Not now!"


228 THE CASTAWAY

He stopped her with a gesture.

"It is I who have wronged you," he said in a voice hard from repression. "Do not judge me by this robe ; it means less than nothing. I am here by the veriest ac- cident. Not for penance or shriving."

For an instant she recoiled, instinct groping in the maze of doubt. What was he, erring angel or masque- rading devil ? It was the question she had cried to her- ,self all this time, blindly, passionately, her judgment all astray the query that silence had at last answered with the conviction in which her long-planned marriage had seemed as acceptable a fate as any. Now her soul, wavering anew, spoke its agony in a direct appeal :

"Tell me ! tell me the truth !" she pleaded piteously. "I have suffered so since that night. I have not known how could I know ? what to think. I believed what you said at La Mira, every word! And it is not your past I think of now ; it is only what you were that very hour and since, and what you are to-day. Was it only a play to make me sorry ? Did you pretend it all ?"

"Teresa!" he entreated.

"You said that night that I must forget we had ever met. Did that mean you merely pitied and spared me ? That you are still to be all that Venice says ?"

"It was what I had been that counted !"

"No, no !" she protested. "Can't you see that does not matter to me now ? It is only what you were then that counts to me! Your voice, your eyes, what you said you made me care ! Was it all a lie ?"

He felt his heart contract at this visible suffering whose root was so unselfish a desire. His resolve crum- Jbled.


THE CASTAWAY 229

"Teresa," he said in a tone as strained as her own,, "whatever of evil I have done, has not been since I have known you. You have waked something in me that would not sleep again. It was this you saw and heard and felt. I could not hide it. It has stayed with me ever since ! It will always be with me now, whether I will or no. I did come here by accident. But I have stayed because the past Venice and my life there is- hateful to me! It has been so since that morning at La Mira I"

"Oh!" she breathed, "then when you asked me for the prayer you did not you meant "

"It was because it was almost the only unselfish and unworldly thing I had ever known. Because it was a thought for the scorned and unshriven; because of the very hurt it gave ; because it was a prayer of yours for me!"

While he spoke, a great gladness illumined her face. "Have you kept it?"

He turned from her instinctively to the shrine, his hand outstretched to raise the flat stone. But as sud- denly he paused. He had placed it there in a half-sar- donic mockery ; not with the pure faith she would infer from the action. He could not stand in a false light before her.

He let the stone fall back into its place.

As he turned again to answer, he confronted two figures coming through the gateway a few paces off. One was an old man, his bent form dressed gaily. The other was Padre Somalian. The latter, in advance, had alone seen the lifted stone.

Both, however, saw the emotion in the two faces be-


230 THE CASTAWAY

fore them. The padre stood still ; the other sprang for- ward, his posture instinct with an unhealthy passion, his piercing eyes on the pair with evil inquiry.

The attitude of ownership was unmistakable. Gordon felt his veins clog with ice. This senile magnifico Teresa's hushand! This a coerced Venetian mating of name, of rank, of lands alone for her? The sight smote him painfully, yet with a strange, bitter comfort.

There was even more in the old noble's look than Gordon guessed: more than anger at her presence here, this young bride of his, apart from the gondolas. He had recognized the man in the monk's robe. His voice rose in a snarl:

"Unbaptized son of a dog ! What is he doing on holy ground ?" He pointed his stick at Gordon. "The aban- doned of Venice ! Has not his past fame penetrated here, Padre, that you lend him asylum? Call my gon- doliers and I will have him flung into the lagoon !"

The friar stood transfixed, shocked and pained. Never since he had met Gordon on that very spot at sunrise, had he asked even his name. Suppose the stranger were all the other said. What difference should it make? The fixed habit of the monk answered:

"What he has been is of no question here."

The grandee sneered at the padre's answer.

"You left the gondola, to be sure, to pray," he said to Teresa, then turned to Gordon who waited in con- strained quiet: "Wolf in sheep's clothing! Did you come for the same purpose?"

Teresa felt in Gordon's silence a control that stilled her own violence of feeling. Her husband saw her


THE CASTAWAY 231

glance and a maniacal suspicion darted like lava through his brain. If this meeting were planned, they had met before she and this maligno whom he had seen on the Piazza San Marco. Two hectic spots sprang into his sallow cheeks. A woman's veiled form had stood by this man then! He remembered the derisive story with which the caffes had rung the next day. That same night the unlighted gondola had crept through the water-gate into the garden of the Palazzo 'Albrizzi!

He leaped forward and gripped Teresa's wrist with shaking fingers, as the padre opened his mouth to speak. He leaned and whispered words into her ear words that, beside himself as he was, he did not choose that the friar should hear.

The hazard told. Her color faded. A startled look sped to her eyes. He knew that she had met Gordon at night on the square ! She read monstrous conclusions in the gaze that held her. Innocent as that errand had been, he would never believe it! A terror struck her cold. This old man who possessed her, that instant ceased to be an object of tolerance and became an active horror, baleful, secretive and cruel. She stood still, trembling.

The padre had been nonplussed at the quick move- ment and its result. Gordon could not surmise what the whispered words had been, but at Teresa's paleness he felt his muscles grow rigid.

To her accuser her agitation meant but one thing. He released her wrist with a cracked laugh, distempered jealousy convulsing his features. He hissed one word at her "Wanton !"


233 THE CASTAWAY

The syllables were live coals flung upon her breast. She cried out and put her hands to her ears as if to shut out the sound.

At that epithet and her cry, Gordon's countenance turned livid. His fingers hardened to steel. The air swam red. But the girl divined; she sprang before him and laid her fingers on his arm. His hands dropped to his sides; he remembered suddenly that his antago- nist was aged, decrepit. What had he been about to do ?

For one heart-beat Teresa held Gordon's glance. When she faced her distraught husband, her eyes were like blue-tempered metal. Those weeks of baffled quest had been slipping the leash of girlhood. That one word had left her all a woman. Her lips were set, and resent- ment had drenched her cheeks with vivid color.

"Signore," she said, "I would to God it were still yesterday !"

She turned, and went proudly down the path by which she had come.

The old man had not moved. Now he raised his stick and struck Gordon with it across the brow. A white mark sprang where it fell, but the other did not lift his hand. Then Teresa's husband, with an imprecation, spat on the ground at the friar's feet and followed her toward the gondolas.

The whole scene had been breathless and fate-like. To the padre, it was a flurry of hellish passions loosed from the pit. The storm past, still shocked from the violence of its impact, his mind wrestled with a doubt. His first glance at the faces of the. man and the woman, as he emerged from the gate, had been full of sugges- tion. They had not seemed to spell guilt, yet could he


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tell? What had been the husband's whispered charge? Was the bearing of the woman, which seemed to mirror innocence, really one of guile? The man here before him, accused of what specious crimes he could only guess ! Why had he come to the monastery ? Had there been, indeed, more than chance in this encounter at the shrine ?

He looked at Gordon, but the latter, staring out with a gaze viewless and set across the lagoon, seemed uncon- scious of the scrutiny. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers !" That had been the monastery's creed. Aye, but if it should be entertaining an angel of evil un- awares? He thought of the lifted stone the man's hand had just now dropped it back into place at his ap- proach. He remembered that when he called Gordon from the gate on the morning of his coming, he had seen him bending over the shrine. The fact seemed to dis- close significance. Had this stranger used that holy emblem to further a clandestine and sinful tryst? Had he hidden an endearing message there for the wife to find to-day if he should be observed ?

Lines of sternness sharpened the friar's features. He strode forward, caught up the stone and lifted the folded paper.

The sternness smoothed out as he read the simple penned sentences, and a singular look crept to his face. It was more than contrition; it was the self -accusatory sorrow of a mind to whom uncharity is a heinous sin be- fore high Heaven.

He turned, flushing painfully. Gordon's back was still toward him.

Then the padre laid the paper gently back in its place,


234 THE CASTAWAY

reset the stone over it, and silently, with bowed head en- tered the gate.

That night there were two who did not close eye in the monastery of San Lazzarro. One was Padre Soma- lian, who prayed in penance. The other was a stranger who walked the stone floor of his chamber, the prey to an overmastering emotion.

That scene on the path, like a lightning flash in a dark night, had shown Gordon his own heart. He knew now that a force stronger even than his despair had been at work in him without his knowledge. A woman's face cried to him beyond all gainsaying. Teresa's voice sounded in every lurch of wind against the sea-wall in every wave that beat like a passing bell upon the mar- gin-stones.

Far, far deeper than the burn of the white welt on his forehead throbbed and thrilled a bitter-sweet mis- ery. In spite of his desire, he had brought shame and agony upon her and whether for good or ill, he loved her!


CHAPTER XXXII

THE KESTRAINTNG HAND

An east wind blew from the Adriatic. It churned the shadow lagoon to an ashen yeast of fury, hurled churlish waves against the sand-reef of the Lido and drove fleering rain-gusts over the lonely canals and de- serted squares of Venice to drench the baffled and be- draggled pigeons huddled under the columns of the Doges' Palace. It beat down the early blossoms in the garden of the Palazzo Albrizzi till they lay broken and sodden about the arbor and the wet stone benches. It charged against the closed shutters of the Palazzo Mo- cenigo, where Fletcher, obedient though foreboding, awaited the return of his master. The sky was piled with dreary portents, clouds titanic, unmixed, like ava- lanches of gray falling cliffs, and beneath it Venice lay as ghostly and as gray, all its miracle hues gone lack- luster, its glories palled, its whole face pallid and corpse-like.

In the old monastery of S'an Lazzarro, in the bare white-washed room used as a library, with wide windows fronting the sea, Gordon sat bending over a table. He had been trying to write, but could not for the thoughts that flocked between him and the paper. (235)


236 THE CASTAWAY

They were thoughts of Teresa, of what he had inno- cently brought upon her. To save her pain he would himself have gone through immeasurable miseries, but no pang of his could lighten hers, or ward the jealous fury that might sting and embitter her life. Where was she? Behind some cold palazzo walls of Venice, suffer- ing through him? He knew not even her name now. Should they never meet again ?

She loved him. When and how she had crossed that indistinguishable frontier mattered nothing. The fact remained. When had he ever been loved before, he thought. Not Lady Caroline Lamb; hers was an aber- rant fancy, an orchid bred of a hothouse life in London. Not Annabel, his wife ; she had loved the commiseration of her world more than she loved him. Not Jane Cler- mont he shuddered as he thought of her. For he knew that not for one ephemeral moment of that reck- less companionship had a real love furnished extenua- tion.

"Now/ 7 he told himself, "I, who could not love when I might, may not when I can. Yet in spite of the black past that bars my life from such as Teresa's I love her ! In spite of all though for both of us it is an impossible condition, impossible then since I was chained to a marriage in England, doubly impossible now since she is bound by a marriage here. I love her and she loves me! And our love can be only what the waves of hell were to Tantalus !"

He struck the littered sheets of paper with his hand, as a heavier gust of wet wind rattled the casement. "Darkness and despair !" he said aloud. "That is all my pen can paint now !"


THE CASTAWAY 237

A door opened and Padre Somalian entered.

The friar surveyed the scene of tempest from the window a moment in silence ; then approached the table and sat down.

"You are at work, my son ?" he inquired in English.

The tone was mild as a child's. Since his penance after that scene by the shrine, the eye of the padre had seen truer. But he had asked the man before him noth- ing.

"Only idle verses, Padre."

"Why idle?"

"Because they cannot express what I would have them."

The friar pondered, his fingers laced in his beard. To-day, in the dreariness of the elemental turmoil with- out, he longed intensely to touch some chord in this lonely man that would vibrate to confidence.

"What would you have them express?" he asked at length.

"A dream of mine last night, Padre."

A dream ! Dreams were but the reflex of the waking mind. The friar felt suddenly nearer his goal.

"Will you tell it to me, my son ?"

Gordon rose, went to the window and looked out as the other had done. His face was still turned seaward as he began :

"It was a dream of darkness. The sun was extin- guished, and moon and stars went wandering into space. It was not the darkness of storm and night, Padre, for in them is movement. In my dream there was none. Without the sun, rivers and lakes lay stagnant. The waves were dead, the tides were in their graves. Ships


238 THE CASTAWAY

rotted on the sea till their inasts fell. The very winds were withered. Darkness was everything it was the universe ! That was my dream/'

"There is no darkness in God's universe/' said Padre Somalian, after a pause. "It is only in the human heart. 'Men love darkness rather than light/ says the Book. Did men welcome it in your dream ?"

"Morning came/' went on Gordon; "came, and went, and came, but it was not day. Men forgot their hates and passions. They prayed only for light but it did not come. They lived by watch-fires, and when their fuel was gone, they put the torch to their own homes to see one another's faces. Huts and palaces and thrones blazed for beacons. Whole cities burned at once. The forests were set on fire and their crackling trunks dropped and faded hour by hour. As the ember-flashes fell by fits on the men who watched them, their faces looked unearthly. Some lay down in the ashes and howled and hid their eyes. Some rested their chins on their clenched hands and smiled. Others hurried to and fro feeding the flames, looking up only to curse the sky the pall of a past world. Wild birds fluttered on the baked ground, and brutes crawled tame and tremulous. Vipers hissed under foot and did not sting. They were killed for food. War was everywhere, for every meal was bought with blood, and each man sat apart sullenly, and gorged himself in the darkness. One thought ruled death, quick and ignominious. Famine came. Men died and lay unburied. The starving devoured the starved. There was no human love left. There was only one unselfish, faithful thing. It was a dog, and he was faithful to a corpse. He had no food himself, but he


THE CASTAWAY 239

kept beasts and famished men at bay till he too died, licking his master's dead hand."

The words had fallen measuredly, deliberately, as if each aspect of the fearful picture, on the background of the tempest that gloomed out of doors, stood distinct.

There was a moment's silence. Then the friar asked : "Was that the dream's end?"

Gordon had turned from the window and picked up one of the written fragments. He read the last few lines aloud :

"The crowd was famished by degrees; but two Of an enormous city did survive, And they were enemies: they met beside The dying embers of an altar-place Where had been heaped a mass of holy things For an unholy usage; they raked up, And shivering, scraped with their cold skeleton hands The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath Blew for a little life, and made a flame Which was a mockery; then they lifted up Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld Each other's aspects saw, and shrieked, and died Even of their mutual hideousness they died, Unknowing who he was upon whose brow Despair had written 'Fiend.' "

There was no sound for a while when he finished. The padre sat motionless, his head bent. To him the picture drawn in those terse lines expressed a black in- ferno of human hopelessness into which he had never looked the very apotheosis of the damned. He rose, came to where Gordon stood, and laid a hand on his shoulder.

"My son," he said gently, "there was one darkest


240 THE CASTAWAY

hour for the world. But it was in that hour that light and hope for men were born. Every man bears a cross of despair to his Calvary. But He who bore the heavi- est saw beyond. What did He say? Not my will, but Thine!"

Gordon seemed to hear Annabel's voice repeating an old question : "What do you believe in that is good, I should like to know?" The friar had not asked ques- tions; he had spoken as if voicing a faith common to them both and to all men.

Padre Somalian said no more. He left the room slowly.

The man standing by the window had made no re- ply. In the old days he would have smiled. Now his brow frowned haggardly. The age-old answer of the churchman! To what multitudinous human miseries it had proffered comfort! The sinless suffering and its promise. What an unostentatiously beautiful belief if it were only true. // it were only true !

"What an advantage/' he thought, "its possession gives the padre here! If it is true, he will have his reward hereafter ; if there is no hereafter, he at the worst can be but with the infidel in his eternal sleep, having had the assistance of an exalted hope through life without sub- sequent disappointment. I have no horror of the awak- ening. In the midst of myriads of living and dead crea- tions, why should I be anxious about an atom ? It will not please the great T that sowed the star-clusters to damn me for an unbelief I cannot help, to a worse per- dition than that I walk through now and shall walk through as long as I live !"

He spoke the last phrase half-aloud. "As long as I


THE CASTAWAY 241

live." Why should it be for long? Here despair; there no worse, if not a dreamless sleep !

"Why not?" he said to himself with grim humor. "I should many a good day have blown my brains out but for the recollection that it would pleasure Lady Noel, and even then, if I could have been certain to haunt her !"

He turned and threw the window open and a scurry of rainy wind whirled the sheets of paper about the floor. He looked out and down. On that side of the island the beach had been only a narrow weedy ribbon soaked by every storm. Now the wind that had driven the sea into the pent lagoon, had piled it deep in the turbid shallows, and the wall fell sheer into the gray- green heave.

"Of what use is my life to any one in the world?" he argued calmly. "Who is there of all that have come nearest to me to whom I have not been a curse? I am bound to a wife who hates me. Years will make my memory a reproach to my child. Through me my enemies stabbed my sister. Shelley, my only comrade in that first year of ostracism, I hurt and disappointed. Teresa, whom I love, and have no right to love what have I made her life! It is a fitting turn to such a page/'

The inner shutter of the window fastened with a mas- sive iroa bolt. He drew the latter from its place, put it into nis pocket, and buttoned his coat tightly. A sentence oddly recurred to him at the moment a verse from a quaint old epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, unknown to the Vulgate, which, written in Armenian, he had found in the monastery library and translated to


242


THE CASTAWAY


torture his mind to attention : "Henceforth, no one can trouble me further ; for I bear on my body this fetter/' A seemly text for him it would be soon !

He approached the window.

There was a step behind him and Padre Somalian's voice startled him. "My son, a message for you."

Gordon turned heavily, the chill of that intercepted purpose cold upon him. He took the slender roll of parchment the friar handed him and opened it. It was officially ruled and engrossed a baptismal certificate:


AT ST. GILES'-IN-THE-FIELDS, LONDON.


Christian Name.


Parents' Christian Names.


Surname.


Father's Residence.


Father's Rank.


By Whom.


Allegra.


Et. Hon. George Gordon, (Reputed) by Jane.


Clermont.


Travelling on the Continent.


Peer.


Percy Bysshe Shelley.


The man who read snatched at the top of the paper. The date was March ninth, 1818. He felt a mist before his eyes. Almost two years ago, and he had not known ! For two years he had had a daughter from whom he was not necessarily debarred, whom hatred in England could not touch. A thrill ran through him. He felt a recrudescence of all those tender impulses that had stirred in him when Ada was born. The motner's dis- like or indifference had doubtless concealed the fact from him. And indeed, when in that time had he de- served otherwise? Why was he told now? Who had brought this record?


THE CASTAWAY 243

The padre, watching him curiously, saw the pang that shot across his face the pang of the new remorse- ful conscience.

"The gentleman in the gondola," he said, "asked to see you."

"I will go down," Gordon answered. He closed the window, drew the iron bar from his coat and slipped it back between its staples.

"A wild day to have crossed the lagoon," the friar observed. "Stay take this." He threw off the outer robe he wore and held it out. "It will shed the rain."

Gordon went rapidly through the wall-gate to the wharf where he had first set foot on the island. His own gondola, battered and tossing, lay there.

He stopped abruptly, for he recognized a figure standing by it, blue-coated, bareheaded, his long hair streaming in the wind. It was Shelley. His hand was outstretched, and with a quick movement Gordon strode forward and took it. A swift glance passed between the troubled, hollow eyes under the graying hair, and the clear, wild blue ones. Shelley's held no reproach, only comprehension.

"Fletcher told me where to find you," he said; "you must forgive him."

"Where is the child?"

"In the convent of Bagnacavallo, near Eavenna."

"And Jane?"

"She is with us now in Pisa."

A question he could not ask hung on Gordon's lips as the other added :

"She is going to America with a troupe of players."

She no longer wished the child, then! Allegra


244 THE CASTAWAY

might be his. His, to care for, to teach to love him, to come in time to fill a part, maybe, of that void in his heart which had ached so constantly for Ada, further from him now than any distance measurable by leagues !

He looked again at the scrap of paper still in his hand, heedless of the wind that tore at his robe and lashed him with spume plucked from the tunnelled waves like spilt milk from a pan. Why had it come at just that moment to stay his leap into the hereafter? Was there, after all, deeper than its apparent fatalism, an obscure purpose in what man calls chance ? Was this daughter, born out of the pale as he himself was beyond the pale, to give him the comfort all else conspired to deny ? A slender hope grew tendril-like in him.

While Shelley waited, Gordon untied the girdle about his waist, stripped off the brown robe and, folding it, placed it out of the rain, in the niche where stood the leaden Virgin. From his pocket he took some bank- notes all he had with him laid them on top of the robe and weighted them carefully with fragments of rock.

Last he lifted the flat stone under which was Teresa's prayer. The paper was wet and blistered from the spray. He put it carefully in his pocket. Then with one backward glance at the monastery, he leaped into the gondola beside Shelley and signed to the gondolier to cast off.

For an hour the padre sat alone in the library, mus- ing, wondering what manner of message had called that conflict of emotion to the other's face. As he rose at


THE CASTAWAY 245

length, the wind rattled the casement and called his attention.

He paused before it. "Why did he have the iron bolt ?" he said to himself. "The window was open, too."

Standing, a thought came that made him start. He crossed himself and hastened out of the room.

A few moments later he was at the wharf. The gondola was gone, but by the shrine he found what Gordon had left.

He lifted the silver crucifix that hung at his girdle and his lips moved audibly:

"0 Thou who quieted the tempest !" he prayed in his native tongue. "Thou didst send this racked heart to me in Thy good purpose. Have I failed in aught to- ward him ? Did I, in my blindness, offer him less than Thy comfort? Grant in Thy will that I may once more minister to him and tfo.t when his storm shall calm, I may hold before his eyes this symbol of Thy passion and forgiveness!"


CHAPTEK XXXIII

THE PASSING OF JANE CLERMONT

The storm-clouds were gone. An Italian spring was painting the hills with April artistry. Myrtle hedges had waked to childish green, lusty creepers swung callow tendrils, meadows were afire with the delicate, trembling anemone, and the rustling olive copses were a silver firmament of leaves. The immemorial pine woods that stretched about Eavenna, with the groves and rivers which Boccaccio's pen had made forever haunted, were bathed in sun and noisy with winged creatures.

Under the boughs of the balsamic forest, through the afternoon, from the convent of Bagnacavallo into Ea- venna, a wagonette had been driven. It had carried a woman, young, dark-haired and of Spanish type she who once had ruled the greenroom of Drury Lane. Time had made slight change in Jane Clermont's pi- quant beauty. A little deeper of tone and fuller of lip she was, perhaps a little colder of look; but her black eyes snapped and sparkled with all their old daring.

The convent road met the highway on the skirt of the town. At the juncture sat a prosperous osteria half surrounded by trellised arbors, blowsy with yellow snap- dragons and gilly-flowers, and bustling all day long with the transient travel of tourists, to whom Eavenna (246)


THE CASTAWAY 247

with its massive clusters of wide-eaved houses and dun- colored churches, its few streets of leisurely business, its foliaged squares and its colonnaded opera-house, were of less interest than the tomb of Dante. The inn held a commanding position. The post-road that passed its door curved southward toward Pisa; northward, it stretched to Venice. From both directions through Ea- venna, lumbered diligence and chaise.

At the osteria the wagonette halted, made a detour and was finally drawn up in the shadow of the arbors where it was unobserved from the inn and yet had a screened view of both roads. For hours the vehicle sat there while the driver dozed, the occupant nesting her chin in her gloved hand and from time to time rest- lessly shifting her position.

Her patience was at last rewarded. Two men on horseback had paused at the cross-road. One was Shel- ley, astride the lank beast that had borne him from Pisa to Venice. The other was George Gordon.

"So he did come !" she muttered, peering through the screen of silver twigs. "I thought he would. I wonder what he will say when he finds I have changed my mind and settled Allegra's affairs another way."

She watched the pair as they parted. The dropping sun danced in tiny flashes from the brass buttons on Shelley's blue coat. "Poor philosopher!" she solilo- quized with pitying tolerance. cr 5Tou are going back to your humdrum Pisa, your books and your Mary. The world attracts you no more now with your money than it did when we found you in the debtors' prison. Well, every one to his taste! I wonder why you always- troubled yourself about George Gordon."


248 THE CASTAWAY

Her eyes narrowed as they lingered on the other fig- ure, turning alone into the forest road from which her wagonette had come.

"I would like to see your lordship's face when you get there I" she said half aloud. "My authority is the con- vent's now. You may take your daughter if you can !"

Not till both riders were out of sight did the wagon- ette draw into the highway.

Jane Clermont rode on, humming an air, looking ^curiously at the various vehicles that passed her on the smooth, well-travelled road, thinking with triumph of the man she had seen riding to Bagnacavallo. She had guessed the object of Shelley's trip to Venice, but the knowledge had not at first stirred her natural and self- absorbed indifference. It was a malicious afterthought, a gratuitous spice of venom springing more from an instinctive maleficence than from any deeper umbrage, that had inspired that parting visit to the convent. The impulse that had led her to assure herself of Gordon's fruitless journey was distinctly feline.

A mile from the town her reflections were abruptly broken. She spoke to the driver and he stopped.

A sweating horse was approaching. Its trappings were of an ostentatious gaudiness. The face of the man it carried was swarthy and mustachioed and his bearing had the effect of flamboyant and disordered braggadocio.

"Trevanion!" she exclaimed, with an accent of sur- prise. She had not seen him for two years. As she watched, her face showed a certain amusement.

He would possibly have passed her by, for his gaze was set straight ahead, but when he came opposite, she leaned from the carriage and spoke his name.


THE CASTAWAY 249-

His horse halted instantly; a hot red leaped into hi& oriental cheeks, a look fierce and painful into his eyes. He sat still, looking at her without a word.

"I thought you were in England/' he said at length.

"So I was till last fall. Since, I've been at Pisa with the Shelleys. But I find the continent precious dull, I see you haven't been caught yet for deserting from the navy. Is that why you don't stay in London? Tell me," she asked suddenly; "where is George Gordon now?"

"In Venice."

"Eeally!" Her voice had a kind of measured mock- ery that did not cloak its satire. "And yet I hear of his doings in many other places Lucca, Bologna, all the post-towns. From the descriptions, I judge he has changed, not only in looks but in habits."

He winced and made no reply.

"Pshaw !" she said, scorn suddenly showing. "Don't you think I guessed? Gulling a few travellers in the post-houses with a brawling impersonation! Suppose a million should think George Gordon the tasteless- roustabout ruffian you make him out? What do you gain? One of these days, some tourist friend of his Mr. Hobhouse, for instance ; he used to be a great trav- eller will put a sharp end to your play."

"I'll risk that !" he threw her. "And I'd risk more r

"How you hate him !"

He laughed a hard, dare-devil sound. "Haven't I cause enough ?"

"Not so far as I know. But I wish you luck, if the game pleases you. It's nothing to me."

"It was something to you, once," he said, "wasn't it ?""


250 THE CASTAWAY

She smiled amusedly. "How tragic you always were ! He was never more to me than that" she snapped her fingers. "Constancy is too heavy a r61e. I always pre- ferred lighter parts. I am going to play in America. Why don't you turn stroller and act to some purpose? Why not try New York?"

While she spoke her tone had changed. It had be- come softer, more musical. Her lashes drooped with well-gauged coquetry.

"Look," she said, in a lower key ; "am I as handsome as I used to be at Drury Lane when you said you'd like to see the world with me ?"

A smoldering fire kindled in his eyes as he gazed at her. He half leaned from the saddle half put out his hand.

But at his movement she dropped the mask. She laughed in open scorn. "A fig for your hate !" she ex- claimed contemptuously. "I have no liking for George Gordon, but he was never a sneak at any rate !"

The man to whom she spoke struck savage spurs to his horse. As he wheeled, she swept him a curtsy from the carriage seat. "Joy to your task!" she cried, and drove on with her lips curled.

"He doesn't know Gordon is near Ravenna," she thought presently. "If he gives one of his free enter- tainments at the inn to-night, there may be an inter- esting meeting. What a pity I shall miss it!" and she laughed.

A little further on, the carriage turned to the west- ward toward the Swiss frontier.

As Trevanion reined the animal he bestrode to its haunches at the porch of the osteria, where Jane Cler-


THE CASTAWAY 251

mont's wagonette had waited, he looked back along the road with a muttered curse. Then he kicked a sleep- ing hound from the step and went in with an assumed limp and a swagger.

Two hours later, when the early dusk had fallen, and the ghostly disk that had hung all day in the sky was yellowing above the olive trees, George Gordon flung his bridle wearily to a groom at the inn. His face was set and thwarted. He had been to the convent, to find that a wall had suddenly reared between him and the possession of his child. To surmount this would mean publicity, an appeal to British authority, red tape, a million Italian delays, perhaps failure then.

As he stood, listening to the stir of the inn he was about to enter, a low voice suddenly spoke from the shadow of a hedge : "Excellence !"

Turning he recognized the huge frame of the gondo- lier who had borne Teresa from the Piazza San Marco on the night she had come to warn him. His heart leaped into his throat. Had the man followed him from Venice? Did he bring a message from her?

"Excellence ! I heard in the town that you were at the inn. I would like speech with you, but I must not be seen. Will you follow me ?"

Even in his surprise, Gordon felt an instant's wonder. He himself had not yet entered the osteria. How had the other heard of his presence ? The wonder, however, was lost in the thought of Teresa.

He turned from the inn and followed the figure si- lently through the falling shadows.


CHAPTER XXXIV

TITA INTERVENES

Under the trees, as Gordon listened to the gondolier, the night grew deeper. The moonlight that mellowed over the pine forests spectrally outspread, the burnished river and the town before them, misted each hedge and tree with silver. A troubadour nightingale bubbled in the middle distance from some palazzo garden and from the nearer osteria came sounds of bustle. Through all breathed the intimate soft wind of the south bearing the smell of lime-blossoms and of sleeping bean-fields.

Wonder at Tita's appearance had melted into a great wave of gladness that swept him at the sudden know- ledge that she, Teresa, was there in Ravenna near him, mistress of Casa Guiccioli, whose very portal he had passed that afternoon. But the joy had died speedily; thereafter every word had seemed to burn itself into his heart.

"If he hated her, why did he wish to make her his contessa? Tell me that, Excellence! It has been so all these weeks, ever since her wedding. Sometimes I have heard him sneer at her always about you, Excel- lence how he knew she ever saw you I cannot tell! His servants go spying spying, always when she is out of the casa."

(252)


THE CASTAWAY 253

The man who listened turned his head with a move- ment of physical pain, as Tita went on, resentfully:

"And she is a Gamba., born to be a great lady! If she left him, he would bring her back, unless she went from Italy. And who is to help her do that? Her brother is in another land. Her father is sick and she will not tell him anything. There is none but me in Casa Guiccioli who does not serve the signore too well ! I thought " he finished, twisting his red cap in his great fingers, "I thought if I told you you would take her away from him, to your own country, maybe."

Gordon almost smiled in his anguish. To the simple soul of this loyal servant, on whom conventional morals sat with Italian lightness, here was an uncomplex solu- tion! Turn household highwayman and fly from the states of the Church to enjoy the plunder ! And of all places to England ! Open a new domestic chapter in some provincial British country-side as "Mr. Smith," perhaps, "a worthy retired merchant of Lima!" The bitter humor couched in the fancy made sharper his pang of utter impotence. Italy was not England, he thought grimly. In that very difference had lain ship- wreck for them both. Teresa could not leave her hus- band openly, as Annabel had left him ! The Church of Rome knew no divorce, and inside its bond only a papal decree could give her the right to live apart from her husband under her own father's roof.

Tita's voice spoke again, eagerly: "You will come, Excellence? The signore is from Ravenna now, at one of his estates in Romagna you can see her ! None shall know, if you come with me. You will, Excellence ?"

To see her again ! Gordon had not realized how much


254 THE CASTAWAY

it meant till to-night, when the possibility found him quivering from his disappointment at the convent. A stolen hour with her ! Why not ? Yet discovery. Her husband's servants, spies upon her every moment! To steal secretly to her thus unbidden and perhaps crowd upon her a worse catastrophe than that at San Lazzarro !

He shook his head. "No. Not unless she knows I am here and bids me come."

"I will go and tell her, Excellence !"

"Tell her I did not know she was in Ravenna, but that that I would die to serve her. Say that !"

"You will wait here, Excellence ?"

"Yes."

Tita swung round and disappeared.

It seemed an immeasurable time that Gordon waited, striding fiercely up and down, listening to every sound. At the inn a late diligence had unloaded its contingent of chattering tourists for the night. He could hear phrases spoken in English. The words bore a myriad- voiced suggestion, yet how little their appeal meant to him at that moment ! All England, save for Ada, was less to him then than a single house there in Ravenna and a convent buried in the forest under that moon. On such another perfect day and amber night, he thought, he had found Teresa's miniature and had fled with Jane Clermont. Now substance and shadow had replaced one another. To-day Jane had touched his life vaguely and painfully in passing from it ! Teresa was the sole real- ity. What would she say? What word would Tita bring ?

Long as it seemed, it was in fact less than an hour be- fore the gondolier stood again before him.


THE CASTAWAY 255

Ten minutes later they were in the streets of the town, avoiding its lighted thoroughfares, walking swift- ly, Tita in the lead. At length, threading a lane be- tween walled gardens flanking great houses whose fronts frowned on wider avenues, they stood before a columned gate. This Gordon's guide unlocked.

"I will watch here," he said. "You will not tell her I came to you first of my own thought, Excellence ?" he added anxiously.

"I will not tell her/' answered Gordon.

He entered with a loudly beating heart.


CHAPTER XXXV

IN THE CASA GARDEN

The close was still only ;he flutter of moths and the plash of a fountain tinkling wetly. Here and there in the deeper shade of cloistral walks, the moonlight, falling through patches of young leaves, flecked blood- less bacchantes and bronze Tritons nestling palely in shrub tangles of mimosa. This was all Gordon distin- guished at first as he moved, his hands before him, his feet feeling their way on the cool sward.

Suddenly a low breath seemed to pierce the stillness. A sense of nearness rushed upon him. His arm, out- stretched, touched something yielding.

"Teresa!" he cried, and his hands found hers and drew her close to him. In that first moment of silence he was keenly conscious of her breath against his cheek, hurried and warm.

"I know I know," he said in a choked voice. "Tita told me all. I would give my body inch by inch, my blood drop by drop to give back to your life what I have taken from it !"

She shook her head. "You have taken nothing from it. Before that night on the square it held nothing I have learned that since."

She was feeling a sense of exaltation. Since the day (256)


THE CASTAWAY 257

at San Lazzarro she had never expected to see him again. To her he had been a glorious spirit, struggling for lost foothold on the causeways of redemption. In her mental picture he had stood always as she had seen him on the monastery path, pale, clad in a monk's coarse robe, the vesture of earthly penance. This picture had blotted out his past, whatever it had been, whatever of rumor was true or false, whatever she may for a time have believed. Every word he had spoken remained a living iterate memory. And the thought that her hand had drawn him to his better self had filled her with a painful ecstasy.

"Teresa," he said unsteadily, "I long ago forfeited every right to hope and happiness. And if this were not true, by a tie that holds me, and by a bond you be- lieve in, I have still no right to stand here now. But fate drew me here to-day as it drew me to you that morning at La Mira. It is stronger than I stronger than us both. Yet I have brought you nothing but misery !"

"You have brought me much more than that," she in- terrupted. "I knew nothing of life when I met you. I have learned it now as you must have known it to write as you have. I know that it is vaster than I ever dreamed more sorrowful, but sweeter, too."

A stone bench showed near, wound with moonbeams, and she sat down, making room beside her. In the white light she seemed unreal a fantasy in wild-rose brocade. A chain of dull gold girdled her russet hair, dropping a single emerald to quiver and sparkle on her forehead. Her face was pale, but with a shadowy some- thing born of those weeks.


258 THE CASTAWAY

What he saw there was awakened self-reliance and mettle, the birthright of clean inheritance. The wedding .gondola that had borne a girl to San Lazzarro had car- ried back a woman, rebellious, agonized, flushed to every nerve. She had opposed a woman's pride to the hatred that otherwise would have made the ensuing time a slow unrolling nightmare; had taken her place passively as mistress of the gloomy casa with its atmosphere of cold grandeur and miserliness, thankful that its host was niggardly of entertainment, enduring as best she might the petty persecution with which the old count sur- rounded her. His anger, soured by the acid sponge of jealousy, had fed itself daily with this baiting. He believed she had come smirched from the very altar to his name and place. Yet he had no proof, and to make the scandal public to put her away would have seared his pride, laid him open to the wrath of her kin, brought her brother back to Italy to avenge the slight upon their house, and most of all to be dreaded, would have necessitated the repayment of her dowry. A slow and secret satisfaction was all he had, and under it her spirit had galled and chafed him. In this strait she had had no confidant, for her father, aging rapidly and failing, she would not sadden, and whenever he drove to Casa Guiccioli from his villa, some miles from the town, sole relic of his wasted properties, had striven to con- ceal all evidence of unhappiness. Even when she had determined on a momentous step a secret appeal to the papal court for such a measure of freedom as was possi- ble she had determined not to tell him yet. Grief and repression had called to the surface the latent capabili- ties which in the girl had been but promises, and these



COUNTESS TERESA.


THE CASTAWAY 259

spoke now to Gordon in a beauty strong, eager and far- divining.

"What I have known of life is not its sweets/' he an- swered in bitterness. "I have gathered its poison- flowers, and their perfume clings to the life I live now."

"But it will not be so/' she said earnestly. "I believe more than you told me at La Mira when you said it had been one of your faults that you had never justified yourself. You were never all they said. Something tells me that. If you did evil, it was not because you chose it or took pleasure in it. For a while I doubted everything, but that day at San Lazzarro, when I saw you the moment you spoke it came back to me. No matter what I might think or hear again, in my heart I should always believe that now !"

He put out his hand, a gesture of hopelessness and protest. His mind was crying out against the twin implacables, Time and Space. If man could but push back the Now to Then, enweave the There and Here! If in such a re-formed universe, He and She might this hour be standing no irrevocable past, only the new Now! What might not life yield up for him, of its burgeoning, not of its corruption, its hope, not of its despair !

"That day !" he repeated. "I saw you in the gondola. I would have spared you that meeting."

"Yet that was what told me. If I had not seen you there " She paused.

The chains of his repression clung about him like the load of broken wings. The knowledge that had come as he walked the floor of his monastery room with the burn of a blow on his forehead, had spelled abnegation.


260 THE CASTAWAY

She must never know the secret he carried must in time forget her own. Once out, he could never shackle it again. He completed her sentence :

"You would have forgotten the sooner."

"I should never have forgotten," she said softly.

He was silent. He dared not look at her face, but he saw her hands, outstretched, clasping her knee.

Presently he could not guess the dear longing for denial that made her tone shake now ! she said :

"Tita told me that when you came to Eavenna you had not known "

He rose to his feet, feeling the chains weakening, the barriers of all that had lain unspoken, yet not unfelt, burning away.

"It was true," he answered, confronting her. "I did not know it. But if I had known all I know to-night, I would have crossed seas and mountains to come to you! Now that I have seen you what can I do? Teresa ! Teresa !"

The exclamation held trenchant pain something else, too, that for the life of him he could not repress. It pierced her with a darting rapture.

Since that hour at the monastery, with its pang and its reassurance, as she felt budding those new, mysteri- ous flowers of faith and heart experience, she had felt a deeper unguessed want. Over and over she had re- peated to herself the last words he had said before that painful interruption : "Because it was a prayer of yours for me." Her soul had been full of a vague, unphrased yearning for all the meanings that might lie unex- pressed in the coupling of those two words. So now,


THE CASTAWAY 261

as she heard him speak her name in that shaken accent, her heart thrilled.

"Ah/' she breathed, "then you care so much?"

His fingers clenched. He was torn with two emo- tions: self-abasement, and a hungry desire, lashed by propinquity, to take her in his arms, to defy vow and present, be the consequence what it might. There came upon him again the feeling that had gripped him when she stood with him among the circling maskers, violet- eyed, lilac-veined, bright with new impulses, passionate and lovely. He leaned toward her. If she but knew how he cared !

A sound startled them both. Her hand grasped his with apprehensive fingers as she listened. "Look! There beyond the hedge. A shadow moved."

He looked. Only an acacia stirred in the light air.

"It is nothing," he reassured her. "Tita is at the gate."

"Oh," she said fearfully, "I should not have said come. There is risk for you here."

"What would I not have risked ?"

"Listen!"

Another sound came to both now, the pounding of horses' hoofs, borne over the roof from the street the rumble of heavy coach wheels. It ceased all at once, and lights sprang into windows across the shrubbery.

She came to her feet as Tita hurried toward them. "It is the signore," warned the gondolier.

"Dio mio I" she whispered. "Go go quickly !"

He caught her hands. "If only I could help you, serve you !"

"You can," she said hurriedly. "I have a letter on


262 THE CASTAWAY

which much depends for the Contessa Albrizzi at Venice. I cannot trust a messenger."

"It shall start to-night."

"It is in my room. I will send it after you by Tita. Ah hasten !"

He bent and touched his lips to a curl that had blown like litten gold against her shoulder. Her eyes met his an instant in fluttering, happy confusion. Then, as he followed Tita quickly to the gate, she turned and ran toward the house.

She had not seen a man, crouched in the shadow of a hedge, who had hurried within doors to greet the master of the casa so unexpectedly returned. She did not see the rage that colored her husband's shrunken cheeks in his chamber as Paolo, his Corsican secretary, imparted to him two pieces of information: the presence of the stranger in the garden and the arrival that afternoon at the osteria of him Venice called "the wicked milord."

The old count pondered, with shaking fingers. He hated the Englishman of Venice ; hated him for robbing him of the youth and beauty he had gloated over, for the arrow to his pride with a hatred that had settled deeper each day, fanatical and demented. The story of the garden trespasser inspired now an unholy craving for reprisal, unformed and but half conceived. He summoned his secretary.

In a few moments more a half-hour after Teresa's letter had started on its way to the inn his coach, with its six white horses, bearing Paolo, and followed by four of the casa servants afoot, was being driven thither by a roundabout course.


CHAPTER XXXVI

THE FACE AT THE WINDOW

The osteria, as Gordon approached, seemed gurgling with hilarity. At its side the huge unhitched diligence yawned, a dark bulk waiting for the morrow's journey. Some of the passengers it had carried were gathered on the porch before the open windows, listening, with pos- tures that indicated a more than ordinary curiosity and interest, to sounds from the tap-room. There were women's forms among them.

Tourists were little to Gordon's liking. They had bombarded his balcony at Diodati with spy-glasses, had ambushed him at Venice when he went to opera or ridotto. To him they stood for the insatiable taboo of public disesteem the chuckling fetishism that mocked him still from beyond blue water. He skirted the inn in the shade of the cypresses and passed to an arbor which the angle of the building screened from the group.

On its edge he paused and gazed out over the fields and further forest asleep. With what bitterness he had ridden scarce three hours before from those woods! (263)


264 THE CASTAWAY

Now it was shot through with an arrow of cardinal joy whose very rankle was a painful delight. In the jar of conflicting sensations he had not reasoned or presaged ; he could only feel.

What was the import of Teresa's letter, he wondered. Much depended on it, she had said in that agitated mo- ment. A thought flitted to him. The Contessa Al- brizzi had lived much in Kome was, he remembered, cousin to a cardinal. Could this message be an appeal for deliverance from an impossible position? Might Teresa yet be free ; not from her marriage bond, but at least from this hourly torture in Casa Guiccioli? With the quick feeling of relief for her, wound a sharp sense of personal vantage. For him that would mean the right to see her often and unopposed. Yet, he argued instantly with self-reproach, was not this the sole right he could not possess, then or ever? What would it be but tempting her love on and on, only to leave it naked and ashamed at last?

A gust of noise rose behind him. It issued from a window opening out of the tap-room into the arbor. On the heels of the sound he caught shattered comments from the peering group on the front porch feminine voices speaking English:

"I've always wanted to see him. We watched three whole days in Venice. How young he looks !"

"What a monster! And to think he is a peer and once wrote poetry. There! See he's looking this way!"

Gordon started and half turned, but he had not been observed; the angle of the wall hid him effectually.

Just then a single vociferate voice rose to dominant


THE CASTAWAY 265

speech in the room a reckless, ribald utterance like one thickened with liquor. It conveyed an invitation to everybody within hearing to share its owner's punch. Laughter followed, and from outside a flutter of with- drawing skirts and a masculine exclamation of affront. With a puzzled wonder the man in the arbor listened, while the voice within lifted in an uncertain song:

"Fare thee well! and if forever,

Still forever fare thee well; Even though unforgiving, never 'Gainst thee shall my heart rebel."

"Shameless brute !" came from the porch. "I wouldn't have believed it!"

Smothering a fierce ejaculation, Gordon strode to the window and gazed into the room. The singer broke off with a laugh:

"That's the song I always warble, gentlemen, when I'm in my cups. I wrote it to my wife when I was a Bond Street lounger, a London cicisbeo and fan-carrier to a woman."

The man who stared across the sill with a painful fascination was witnessing a glaring, vulgar travesty of himself. Not the George Gordon he was, or, indeed, had ever been, but the George Gordon the world be- lieved him; the abandoned profligate of wassail and blackguardism, whom tourists boasted of having seen, and of whom an eleventh commandment had been pro- mulgated for all British womankind not to read his books. And this counterpart was being played by a man whose Moorish, theatric face he knew a man he had flung from his path at Geneva, when he stood with


266 THE CASTAWAY

Jane Clermont by the margin of the lake on the night he and she had fled together. A man who hated him!

The clever effrontery of the deception showed how deep was that hatred. Gordon understood now how Tita had heard of his presence at the osteria before he had entered it. The farceur inside did not know the man he impersonated was in Eavenna to-night. This, then, was not the only caravansary at which the bur- lesque had been played. Nor were these tourists smirk- ing in the tap-room, or listening open-mouthed outside to the clumsy farrago, the only ones to return to Eng- land with clacking tongues. This was how the London papers had bristled with garbled inventions! This scene was only a step in a consistent plan to blacken his name anew throughout the highways of continental travel !

A guttural whisper escaped his lips. It would be an- other bar between him and possession of Allegra. And Teresa ? If these post-house tales reached her ears ! A crimson mist grew before his eyes.

A more reckless and profane emphasis had come now to the carouser within. He had risen and approached the porch window, simulating as he walked an awkward limp.

"Take a greeting to England, you globe-trotters! Greeting from Venice, the sea-Sodom, to London ! Hell is not paved with its good intentions. Slabs of lava, with its parsons' damned souls for cement, make a bet- ter causeway for Satan's cor so I"

Again he turned to his fellows in the tap-room: When I shuffle off it will be like the rascals to dump


THE CASTAWAY 267

me into Westminster Abbey. If they do, I'll save them the trouble of the epitaph. I've written it myself:

"George Gordon lies here, peer of Nottinghamshire, Wed, parted and banished inside of a year. The marriage he made, being too much for one, He could not carry off so he's now carri-on!"

"Westminster Abbey !" said a man's bass in disgust.

Gordon's left hand reached and grasped the sill. His face was convulsed. His right hand went to his breast pocket.

At that instant, from behind him, a touch fell on his arm and stayed it. "A letter, Excellence."

He turned with a long, shuddering breath, and took what Tita handed him.

"I understand, Tita," he answered, with -an effort. The other nodded and disappeared.

For a moment Gordon stood motionless. Then he passed from the arbor, through the hedges, to the spot whither the gondolier had led him two hours before. He sat down on the turf and buried his face in his hands.

He had scarcely known what shapeless lurid thing had leaped up in his soul as he gazed through the win- dow, but the touch on his arm had told him. For the moment the pressure had seemed Teresa's hand, as he had felt it on the path at San Lazzarro, when the same red mist had swum before his eyes. Then it had roused a swift sense of shame ; now the memory did more. The man yonder he had injured. There had been a deed of shame and dastard cowardice years before in Greece yet what had he to do with the boy's act? By what


268 THE CASTAWAY

right had he, that night in Geneva, judged the other's motive toward Jane Clermont? Had his own been so pure a one then? Because of a fancied wrong, Tre- vanion had dogged him to Switzerland. Because of a real one he dogged him now.

After a time Gordon raised his head and stared out into the moonlight. "It is past/' he said aloud and with composure. "It shall never tempt me again! What comes to me thus I myself have beckoned. I will not try to avert it by vengeance. The Great Mechanism that mixed the elements in me to make me what I am, shall have its way !"

He rose slowly and walked back toward the osteria. A groom was washing out the empty diligence. He sent him for his horse, and in a few moments was in the sad- dle, riding toward Venice through the silent, glimmer- ing streets of Eavenna.

A new, nascent tenderness was in him. He was riding from her, the one woman he loved to see her when and where ? Should he ever see her again ? She might have hope of relief in the letter he carried, but who could tell if it would succeed? And in the meantime she was alone, as she had been alone before.

He rode on, his chin sunk on his breast, scarcely ob- serving a coach with six white horses, that passed him, driven in the opposite direction.


CHAPTEK XXXVII

TBEVANI01T FINDS AN ALLY

Trevanion, the drunkenness slipped from his face and the irksome limp discarded, came from the osteria door. His audience dwindled, he was minded for fresh air and a stroll. Behind the red glow of his segar his dark face wore a smile.

Just at the fringe of the foliage two stolid figures in servant's livery stepped before him. Startled, he drew back. Two others stood behind him. He looked from side to side, pale with sudden anticipation, his lips drawn back like a lynx at bay. He was weaponless.

A fifth figure joined the circle that hemmed him Paolo, suave, smiling, Corsican.

"Magnificence !" he said, in respectful Italian, "I bear the salutations of a gentleman of Ravenna who begs your presence at his house to-night." Without waiting answer, he called softly, and a coach with six white horses drew slowly from the shadow.

For an instant Trevanion smiled in grim humor, half deceived. A simultaneous movement of the four in livery, however, recalled his distrust.

"Are these his bravos ? " he inquired in surly defiance-

"His servants, Magnificence !" (269)


270 THE CASTAWAY

"Carry my excuses then and bid him mend the man- ner of his invitations."

"I should regret to have to convey such a message from the milord." Paolo opened the coach door as he spoke. The inference was obvious.

Trevanion glanced swiftly over his shoulder toward the still hostelry. His first sound of alarm might easily be throttled. At any rate, he reflected, these were not the middle ages. To the owner of this equipage he was an English lord, and lords were not kidnapped and stilettoed, even in Italy. Some wealthy Kavennese, per- haps, not openly to flout public disapproval, chose thus to gratify his curiosity. Anticipating refusal, he had taken this method of urbane constraint. Well, perforce, he would see the adventure through ! He shrugged his shoulders and entered the coach.

Paolo seated himself, and the horses started at a swinging trot. Through the windows Trevanion could discern the forms of the men-servants running along- side. He sat silent, his companion vouchsafing no re- mark, till the carriage stopped and they alighted at the open portal of a massive structure fronting the paved street. It was Casa Guiccioli.

The Corsican led the way in and the servants dis- appeared. With a word, Paolo also vanished, and the man so strangely introduced gazed about him.

The hall was walled with an arras tapestry of faded antique richness, hung with uncouth weapons. Opposite ascended a broad, dimly lighted stairway holding niches of tarnished armor. Wealth with penuriousness showed everywhere. Could this whimsical duress be the audac- ity of some self-willed dama, weary of her cavaliere


THE CASTAWAY 271

servente and scheming thus to gain a romantic tete-a- tete with the famed and defamed personage he had cari- catured that day? Trevanion stole softly to the arras, wrenched a Malay kriss from a clump of arms, and slipped it under his coat.

A moment later his guide reappeared. Up the stair, along a tiled and gilded hall, he followed him to a wide stanza. A door led from this at which Paolo knocked.

As it opened, the compelled guest caught a glimpse of the interior, set with mirrors and carven furniture, panelled and ornate with the delicate traceries of brush and chisel. In the room stood two figures : a man bent from age, his face blazing with the watch-fires of an unbalanced purpose, and a woman, young, lovely, dis- traught. She wore a dressing-gown, and her gold hair fell uncaught about her shoulders, as though she had been summoned in haste to a painful audience. Her eyes, on the man, were fixed in an expression of fearful wonder. One hand was pressed hard against her heart. Trevanion had never seen either before; what did they want with him ?


and the calmer strength she had felt growing in him from the day their lips met on the convent hill. Her" instinct told her this determination of his was only a further step in that soul-growth whose first strivings she had herself awakened. This gave her a melancholy comfort that was sometimes almost joy. In his face of late she had distinguished something subtle and significant, that carried her back to the night she had left his book at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was the veiled look she had then imagined the object of her petition, the fallen angel sorrowing for his lost estate, would wear the patience and martyrdom of renunciation.

These struggles of hers had been the ultimate re- vealment, as the hour she had held Gordon's bleeding body in her arms had been life's primal comprehension. That had shown her love's heights and depths; this


388 THE CASTAWAY

taught her all its breadth, its capacity for self-abnega- tion, its wild, unselfish yearning for the best good of the thing beloved.

As she and Fletcher prepared the bare necessities he was to take with him, his buried London life had risen before her. The woman who should have loved him most his wife had sent him into a cruel ostra- cism, hating and despising him. She whom the law's decree forbade that he should love, was sending him away, too, but to a noble cause and with a breaking heart. She had made his present better than his past. Should not his future be even more to her than the present ?

AH had at last been put in readiness. Waiting the conversion of his English properties, Gordon had util- ized all his Italian funds. Ammunition, horses from his own stable, field-guns and medicines for a year's campaign had been loaded under his tireless super- vision. Lastly, he had taken abc/ard with his own hands ten thousand crowns in specie and forty thousand in bills of exchange. Pour days before, with himself and Fletcher aboard, the brig had sailed from Genoa, whence swift couriers had daily brought Teresa news, for he had small time for pen work. To-day the ves- sel had cast anchor at Leghorn, her final stop, only a few hours away. To-night, since she put to sea with the dawn-tide, Gordon was to come for a last farewell.

As Teresa sat waiting in the garden, she tried not to think of the to-morrow, the empty, innumerable to-morrows. It was already quite dark, for there was no moon ; she was thankful for this, for he could not so readily see her pallor. He should carry away a re-


THE CASTAWAY 389

collection of hope and cheerfulness, not of agony or tears. With a memory of what she had been singing the night of Blaquiere's coming, she lifted her harp and be- gan softly and bravely, her fingers finding their way on the strings by touch:

"Then if thou wilt no more my lonely Pillow, In one embrace let these arms again enfold him, And then expire of the joy but to behold him! Oh! my lone bosom! oh! my lonely Pillow!"

The effort was too great. The harp rebounded against the ground. She bowed her head on the arm of the bench and burst into sobbing.

The twang of the fallen harp called loudly to one whose hand was on the postern gate while he listened. H came swiftly through the dark.

She felt his arms close about her, her face, torn with crying, pressed against his breast. So he held her till the vehemence of her weeping stilled, and her emotion appeared only in long convulsive breaths, like a child's after a paroxysm of grief.

When Gordon spoke, it was to tell of sanguine news from the English Committee, of the application of French and German officers to serve under him, cheer- ful detail that calmed her.

A long pause ensued. "What are you thinking?" he asked at length.

She answered, her eyes closed, a mere murmur in his ear: "Of the evening you came to the garden at Ra- venna."

"It was moonlight/' he replied.


390


THE CASTAWAY


"You kissed a curl of my hair," she whispered. "I slept with it across ray lips that night."

He bent and kissed her eyelids, her mouth, her fragile fingers. "My love !" he exclaimed.

"I wanted to be strong to-night/' she said piteously.

"You are strong and brave, too ! Do I not know how you brought me to the casa how you drank the man- dragora ?"

She shivered. "Oh, if it were nothing but a potion to-night to drink, and to wake in your arms! Now I shall wake alone, and you "

"I shall be always with you," he answered. "By day, on the sea or in the camp. At night I shall wander with you among the stars."

"I shall ask the Virgin to watch over you. Every hour I shall pray to God to have you in His keeping, and to guard you from danger."

His arms tightened. He seemed to hear a chanted litany climbing a marble staircase:

"From lightning and tempest; from plague, pesti- lence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death;

"Good Lord, deliver us"

Had he ever prayed? Not to the God of the ortho- dox Cassidy, of the stern ecclesiastics who had in- veighed against him. Not to the beneficent Father that Dallas and Padre Somalian believed in. Never in his life had he voiced a petition to a higher power. All he had known was that agnostic casuistry of his youth, "The Unknown God" that fatalistic impersonality of



SHE BOWED HER HEAD ON THE ARM OF THE BENCH, p, 380


THE CASTAWAY 391

his later career, "The Great Mechanism." He thought of lines Teresa's hand had penned, that since a gray dawn when he read and re-read them to the chuckling of a fiend within him had never left his breast. They had opened a spiritual chasm that was ever widening between the old and the new.

"Dearest/* he said, "I would not exchange a prayer of yours for all else life could give. You prayed for me before you ever saw me, when others gave me bitter- ness and revilings."

"You never deserved that !"

"You forgave because you loved," he answered gently. "Your love has been around me ever since. I was un- worthy of it then I am unworthy now."

"England never knew you," she protested, "as I know you. Your soul is good ! Whatever your acts, I know it has always been so !"

He sighed. "My soul was full of glorious dreams, once this dream of Greece's freedom was its dearest. But they were tainted with regnant passion and foolish pride and ingrain recklessness. When the world flat- tered me, I threw away all that could have helped me rise. I sold my birthright for its mess of pottage. When it turned, I scoffed and hated it and plunged further away from all that was worthy. Men do more harm to themselves than ever the devil could do them. I sunk my soul deeper and deeper in the mire because I did not care, because I had nothing and no one to care for till you found me, Teresa, that day in the wood at La Mira ! You pointed me to myself, to all I might and should have been. You taught me first remorse, then the idle indolence of regret ; now, at last, the wish to do,


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to be! Neither success nor failure, praise nor scorn, could do this. If there is anything good in me now, it is because of that, Teresa ! If the future ever forgets to know me as wicked and wastrel, and remembers better things I have done or tried to do "

You are the noblest man in the world !"

A quick spasm crossed his face in the darkness. Noble! Yet how little popular esteem seemed to him at that moment! He went on hurriedly, for what he had to say must be in few words:

"Always whatever happens you will remember what I have said, Teresa ?"

Whatever happens! She threw her arms about his neck, mute with the anguish that was fighting with her resolution.

" that you are all to me. That I love you you only ; that I shall love you to the end."

"If I forgot that, I could not live!" she said chokingly.

The great clock struck ponderously from the palace hall a clamorous reminder that he must hasten, for the night was almost without a star, and a wreathing nebulous mist forbade rapid riding. Through all his preparations this hour had reared as the last harbor- light of home. It had come and gone like a breath on glass. In the still night the chime sounded like a far spired bell. Some banal freak of memory brought to Gordon's mind the old church dial jutting over Fleet Street in London, and the wooden wild men which had struck the hour with their clubs as he issued from John Murray's shop the night of his maiden speech in Par- liament.


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The strokes counted twelve midnight. She shud- dered as he rose to his feet.

"My love my life !" he said, and clasped her close.

"God keep you !" she breathed.

He left her and went a few steps into the darkness. She thought him gone. But he came back swiftly, his hands groping.

He heard a shuddering sob tear its way from her heart, but she stood motionless in his arms, her cheek grown suddenly cold against his own.

In that moment a strange feeling had come to her that they clasped each other now for the last time. It was as though an iey hand were pressed upon her heart, stilling its pulsations.

She felt his arms again release her and knew she was alone.

It- lacked an hour of day when Gordon rode into Leg- horn, and the first streak of dawn strove vainly to shred the curdled mist as he stepped from a lighter aboard the Hercules. The tide was at full and a rising breeze flapped the canvas.

Standing apart on her deck, his mind abstracted, though his ears were humming with the p*rofane noises of creaking cordage, windlass and capstan, he felt as if the fall of the headsman's ax had divided his soul in two. He saw his past rolled up like a useless palimpsest in the giant hand of destiny his future an unvexed scroll laid waiting for mystic characters yet unformed and un- imagined. Beneath the bitterness of parting, he felt, strangely enough, a kind of peace wider than he had


394 THE CASTAWAY

ever known. The hatred that tracked, the Nemesis that had harassed, he left behind him.

Absorbed in his reflections, he did not hear the bawled orders of the ship's mate, nor the spitting crackle of musketry from some ship's hulk near by in the foggy smother. The brig was lifting and pushing as she gained headway. The captain spoke at his elbow.

"Begging your lordship's pardon, a man has just come aboard by the ship's bow-chains. He had a tough swim for it and a bullet through the forearm. Says he was shanghaied by the Pylades. If we put about, we'll lose the tide. What are your lordship's orders ?"

"Is he Italian?"

"No, sir. He says he's an Englishman, but he looks Lascar."

"His name ?" the demand fell sharply.

"Trevanion, your lordship."

As Gordon stood there, breathing deeply, Teresa, at home in her room, stretched at the foot of the crucifix, was crying in a voice of anguish, that icy hand still pressed upon her heart : "0 God ! help me to remember that it is for Greece ! and for himself most of all ! Help me not to forget not to forget !"

For only an instant Gordon hesitated. "Let him stay/' he said then to the captain, and turned away to his cabin.


CHAPTER LVII

THE MAN" IN THE BED UNIFORM -

From a vessel lying beyond the shallows that stretched three miles from the Greek shore, a puff of smoke broke balloon-like, to be followed, a moment after, by a muf- fled report.

The crowds of people clustered along the town's front cheered wildly. Every day for weeks they had been watching: blue-eyed, dusky Albanians, with horse-hair capotes and pistoled girdles ; supple lighter complexioned Greeks in the national kirtle; Suliotes, whose moun- tain wildnesses were reflected in their dress ; and a mis- cellaneous mixture of citizens of every rank and age.

For this vessel bore the coming savior of the Grecian nation, the great English peer whose songs for years had been sung in their own Eomaic tongue, whose com- ing had been prated of so long by their primates -he who should make them victorious against the Turk. Was it not he who, in Cephalonia, on his way hither, had fed from his own purse the flying refugees from Scio and Patras, and sent them back with arms in their hands? Was he not the friend of their own Prince Mavrocordato, who in this same stronghold of Misso- longhi had fought off Omer Pasha with his twenty thousand troops, and now controlled the provisional government of Western Greece ? Was it not he who had sent two hundred thousand piastres to outfit the fleet (395)


396 THE CASTAWAY

before whose approach Yussuff Pasha's squadron had withdrawn sullenly to Lepanto ?

They had known of Gordon's departure from Cepha- lonia from the forty Mariotes he sent ahead to be his own body-guard, and who strutted it about the fortifications, boasting of the distinction. His consort vessel had ar- rived, after narrowly escaping capture. His own brig, chased by the Turks, had been driven on the rocky coast. This they had learned from a surly Arab-like English- man, his arm in a sling from an unhealed bullet-wound, who had been in the vessel and had found a footsore way overland.

The metropolitan had called a special service in the church for his lordship's deliverance. Now his ship, escaping rocks and the enemy, had anchored safely in the night, and the roar of salutes from the Speziot brigs-of-war that lay in the harbor had waked the sleep- ing port. Since daylight the shore had been a moving mass, sprinkled with brilliant figures: soldiery of for- tune, wearing the uniform of well-nigh every European nation.

There was one who watched that pushing, staring multitude, who did not rejaice. As he listened to the tumult of gladness, Trevanion's heart was a fiery fur- nace. His hatred, fostered so Ictag, was the "be-all and end-all" of his moody existence, and the benefit Gordon had conferred when he delivered him from Cassid/s marines, had become at length insupportable. With a perversion of reasoning characteristically Asiatic, he had chosen to wipe it from the slate and make the favor naught. He went to Leghorn and to the amaze of Cas- sidy, surrendered himself to the Pylades.


THE CASTAWAY 39?

This voluntary act, perhaps, made vigilance lighter. He watched his chance, leaped overboard in the foggy morning, and would have got safe to shore but for one well-aimed musket. Chance put the departing brig in his way. He had been delirious in the forecastle for days from his wound, and knowledge of Gordon's pres- ence and mission had not come to him till the Grecian shore was in sight.

In his durance on the Pylades his hair and beard had grown ; he fancied himself unrecognized. Hour by hour, watching Gordon covertly, seeing him living and sleep- ing on deck in all weathers, eating the coarse fare and enduring every privation of his sailors, Trevanion's blood inflamed itself still more. He owed the other nothing now ! He raged within himself at the celebrity the expedition and its leader acquired at Cephalonia. In the pursuit of Gordon's vessel by the Turks he had hoped for its capture. When she ran upon the rock& he deemed this certain, and forsook her jubilantly. He had no fear of making his way afoot to Missolonghi ; strangely enough, years before, during the Feast of Eamazan, he had fled over this same path to escape a Mohammedan vengeance, and pursued by the memory of a Greek girl abandoned to the last dreadful penalty because of him a memory that haunted him still.

To-day, as Trevanion saw the vessel that held his enemy, his eyes gleamed with a sinister regard.

"Bah!" sneered a voice behind him in the Eomaic tongue. "An English noble ! Who says so ? Mavrocor- dato. There are those who say he is a Turk in disguise who will sell the country to the sultan."


398 THE CASTAWAY

The man who had spoken wore the dress of a chieftain of lower rank. His comrade answered with an oath :

"Or to the English. Kalon malubdi! Give me a chief like Ulysses ! In six months he would have gained the whole Peloponnesus, but for the coming of this for- eigner may a good ball find him !"

To Trevanion the malediction was as grateful as a draft of cool beer to the scorched palate of a waking sot. He spoke in the vernacular: "There are English, too, who would drink that toast ! Who is Ulysses ?"

His faded sailor's rig had been misleading. Both clapped hands to their belts as, "One who will sweep this puppet of Mavrocordato's into the gulf!" the first re- plied fiercely.

"May I be there to help !" exclaimed Trevanion, sav- agely. "Take me to this leader of yours !"

The two Suliotes looked at him narrowly, then con- ferred. At length the chief came closer.

"If you would serve Ulysses," he said, "meet me be- yond the north fortifications at sunset."

Trevanion nodded, and they turned away, as a shout went up from the assembled people. A boat had swung out from the brig's davits. It carried a flag a white cross on a blue ground the standard of New Greece.

The man with the disabled arm flushed suddenly, for his dark, sullen gaze had fallen on the sea-wall, where stood His Highness, Prince Mavrocordato, with Pietro Gamba. The latter had followed Gordon to Cephalonia and from there had come on the Hercules' consort. A slinking shame bit Trevanion as he recalled the day when his poisoned whisper would have fired that young


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heart to murder; he wheeled and plunged into the hu- man surge.

The couple on the sea-wall watched eagerly. The low- ered boat had been rapidly manned. A figure wearing a scarlet uniform took its place in the stern-sheets. The crowd buzzed and dilated.

The prince lowered his field-glass. "Thank God, he is safe!" he exclaimed in earnest Italian. "We have been in desperate straits, Pietro. With the General As- sembly preparing to meet, when all the western country is in such disorder, with these untamed mountain chiefs flocking here with their clans, with Botzaris killed in battle, and only my paltry five thousand to keep dis- sensions in check, I have been prepared for the worst. Now there is hope. Look !"

He stretched his hand toward the teeming quay. "They have waited for him as for the Messiah. All the chiefs, except Ulysses, who has always plotted for con- trol and his spies are in the town at this moment ! will defer to him. With a united front what could Greece not do! The Turk could never enslave her again. With no supreme head, her provinces are like the untied bundle of sticks easily broken one at a time !"

They watched in silence while the rowers drew nearer across the shallows.

"I did not hope to see you here, Pietro," Mavrocor- dato said affectionately, as they started toward head- quarters.

Gamba answered simply: "She sent me to guard him if I could."

Ten minutes more and the boat was at the landing.


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The instant its bow touched the masonry before line*, of picked troops, a single bell rang out from the Greek church. Other iron tongues took it up. The walls shook with rolling salvos of artillery, the firing of mus- kets and wild music, as the man in the scarlet uniform, colorless and strangely composed amid the tossing agi- tation, stepped on shore to grasp the hand of Prince Mavrocordato, standing with a long suite of European and Greek officers.

As his gaze swept over the massed soldiery, the frantic people, the women on roofs and balconies, the houses hung with waving carpets, a rainbow motley of color, a great shout rolled along the embankments, a tu- mult mingled with hand-clapping like a silver rain, that drowned all words. Women in the multitude sobbed, and on the balconies little children were held up in stronger arms to see their deliverer. Every eye was on that central figure, with face like the Apollo Belvedere and a step that halted as if with fatigue, but with a look clear and luminous and the shadow of a smile moulding his lips.

"Panayeia keep him !" sobbed a weeping woman, and threw herself between the lines of soldiers to kiss the tassel of his sword.

The metropolitan, his robes trailing the ground, lifted before him a silver eikon glittering in the sun.

The soldiers presented arms.

The bells broke forth again, and amid their jubilant ringing the wearer of the red uniform passed slowly, with Prince Mavrocordato by his side, into the stone building which rose above the quay the military head- quarters of the revolutionary forces of Western Greece.


CHAPTEK LVIII

THE AECHISTEATEGOS

Missolonghi had become the center of European at- tention. The announcement of the English Committee which followed Blaquiere's return to England was on every tongue.

The Courier had printed a single sneering paragraph in which had been compressed the rancor of William Godwin, the bookseller. This stated that George Gor- don was not even in Greece, that he was in reality living in a sumptuous villa on one of the Ionian Islands, with the Contessa (kiiccioli-, writing a companion poem to "Don Juan." But before the stringent disapproval with which this bald fabrication was received, the Courier slunk to shamefaced silence.

Thereafter, in' the columns of newspaper, pamphlet and magazine, there was to be distinguished a curious tension of reserve. It was the journalistic obeisance to a growing subterranean yet potent revulsion of feeling. Dallas had soon found himself the recipient of invita- tions from influential hosts desirous to hear of his visit to Italy. In the clubs the committee's bulletins were eagerly discussed. The loan it solicited found subscriptions and the struggle of the Cross with the Crescent the cause whose beating heart was now Mis- (401)


40 THE CASTAWAY

solonghi began to draw the eyes not of London but of England ; not of England but of Europe ; not of Europe but of the world.

To the company gathered in the citadel of this little marshy port on the Greek sea-shallows, where freedom stirred in the womb of war, outer comment came only after multiplied reverberations. They toiled ceaselessly a nucleus of hard-working general officers culled from everywhere planning, drilling, gathering stores, pre- paring for the inevitable attack of the Turkish armies massing at'Lepanto, trying to knit into organization the tawdry elements of brigandage to which centuries of Turkish subjection had reduced a great nation. They labored under a single far-sighted leadership : that of the archistrategos of the Greek forces, whose eye seemed sleepless and his brain indefatigable.

Gordon foresaw that Greece's greatest enemy was not the Turks, but her own dissensions. Unification of spirit and authority was necessary before all. When Ulysses, the recalcitrant, sent him an obsequious embassy it bore back a terse answer: "I come to aid a nation, not a faction." Ulysses cursed in his beard and sent Trevan- ion, for whom he had found more than one cunning use, to seduce the Suliote forces camped within the in- surgent lines.

Meanwhile, the money Gordon had brought melt- ed rapidly. He had contributed four hundred pounds a week for rations alone, besides supporting batteries, laboratories and an entire brigade, settling arrears and paying for fortification. However large his private re- sources, they must soon be exhausted. Could the Eng- lish loan fail? And if not, would it come in time? If


THE CASTAWAY 403

it was too long delayed, disaster must follow. Discipline would lapse. The diverse elements on the point of co- alescing, would fly asunder. The issue would be lost. This thought was a live coal to him night and day.

The rainy season set in with all its rigors. Missolonghi became a pestilential mud-basket beside which the dikes of Holland were a desert of Arabia for dryness. An un- known plague fastened on the bazaar and terrified the townspeople. But in all conditions, Gordon seemed inspirited with a calm cheerfulness.

He thought of Teresa continually. Oddly enough, she stood before him always as he had once seen her on a square in Venice, with moonlight tangling an aureole in her gold hair, her face now not frozen with mute horror that picture had vanished forever! but serene with love and abnegation. This face lighted the page as he la- bored with his correspondence. It went with him on the drenching beach when he directed the landing of cannon sent by the German committee more dimly seen this day, for a peculiar dizziness and lethargy which he had battled for a fortnight, was upon him.

As he rode back through the rain and the bottomless quagmire, Prince Mavrocordato and Pietro Gamba sat waiting in his room at headquarters. They had been talking earnestly. The outlook was leaden. There had been as yet no news of the expected loan. The lustful eyes of foreign ministers were watching. Ulysses had seized the acropolis of Athens, and his agents were every- where, seeking to undermine the provisional govern- ment. The Suliotes, whose chiefs swarmed in Misso- longhi, had begun to demand money and preferment.

But these things, serious as they were, weighed less


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heavily upon Prince Mavrocordato's mind than the health of the man he now awaited in that cheerless chamber.

"Another post would do as well," the Greek said gloomily. "Higher ground, out of the marshes. He stays here only at risk to himself. Yet he will listen to no proposal of removal."

"What does he say?" asked Gamba.

"That Missolonghi is the center of Western Greece, the focus-point of European observation. And he ends all discussion by the question: 'If I abandoned this castle to the Turks, what would the partizans of Ulysses say?'"

Gamba was silent. Mavrocordato knit his bushy brows. He knew the answer only too well. And yet the safety of this single individual had come to mean everything. Without him Greece's organization would be chaos, its armies, rabbles.

While he pondered, Gordon entered. He had thrown off his wet clothing below. The shepherd-dog crouched by the door, sprang up with a joyful whine as the new- comer dropped a hand on his head.

Pietro had a sudden vision of his sister as she placed upon him her last injunction to guard this man's life. He had done all he could. Yet to what avail ? Watch- fulness might ward steel and lead, but what could com- bat the unflagging toil, the hourly exposure, the stern denial of creature comfort ? His eyes wandered around the damp walls hung with swords, carbines and pistols, to the rough mattress at one side, the spare meal laid waiting the occupant's hasty leisure. In his mind ran the words with which Gordon had replied to one of his


THE CASTAWAY 405

protests : "Here is a stake worth millions such as I am. While I can stand at all, I must stand here." Gamba's thought returned to what the prince was saying :

"Allow me at least to furnish this chamber for your lordship. A bed "

"Our Suliotes spread their mats on the ground," was the reply, "or on the dirt floor of their miserable huts. I am better couched than they."

"They are used to it," protested the Greek. "They have never known better. They are proof against marsh fever, too." He paused an instant, then added : "I have just learned that the wines I have ordered sent you, have on each occasion been returned to the com- missariat."

Gordon's gaze had followed the other's. The food spread there was of the meanest: goat's meat, coarse peasant's bread, a pitcher of sour cider. He was fight- ing back a vertigo that had been misting his eyes.

"My table costs me exactly forty-five paras. That is the allowance of each Greek soldier. I shall live as they live, Prince, no worse, no better."

His voice broke off. He reeled. Mavrocordato sprang and threw an arm about him. Pietro hastened to send Fletcher to the improvised hospital for the physicians.

They came hastily, to find Gordon in a convulsion of fearful strength, though it lasted but a moment. Leeches were put to his temples and consciousness re- turned. He opened his eyes upon an anxious group of surgeons and staff-officers.

A commotion arose at the instant from the court- yard. Mavrocordato stepped to the window. He made an exclamation. The place was filling with Suliotes


406 THE CASTAWAY

they were dragging its two cannon from their stations and turning their muzzles against the doors.

An orderly burst into the room. "They are seizing the arsenal I" he cried.

With an oath a Swedish officer leaped down the stair, drawing his sword as he ran. He fell stunned by the blow of a musket-butt.

Wild figures, their faces and splendid attire splashed with mud, gushed in, choked the stairway, and poured into the narrow apartment to waver and halt ab- ruptly, abashed.

This was not what Trevanion had craftily told them of not the abode of soft luxury and gem-hung mag- nificence affected by the foreign archistrategos whose wealth was limitless and who sipped wines of liquid pearls, while they, their payments in arrears, drank sharp raisin-juice. What they saw was at strange vari- ance with this picture. A chill stone chamber, a meager repast, uncarpeted floors. A handful of men, each with a drawn sword. These and a form stretched on a rough mattress, an ensanguined bandage about his forehead, a single gray-haired servant kneeling by his side.

The man on the couch rose totteringly, his hand on his servant's shoulder. He was ghastly white, but his eye flashed and burned as it turned on those semi-bar- baric invaders.

Gordon began to speak not in the broader Eomaic, but in their own mountain patois, a tongue he had not recalled since long years. The uncouth vocabulary, learned in his youthful adventurous journey for very lack of mental pabulum, had lain in some brain-corner


THE CASTAWAY 407

to spring up now with the spontaneity of inspiration. At the first words they started, looked from one to an- other, their hands dropped from their weapons. His voice proceeded, gathering steel, holding them like bayo- nets.

"Am I then to abandon your land to its enemies, because of you, heads of clans, warriors born with arms in your hands, because you yourselves bring all effort to naught? For what do you look? Is it gold? The money I brought has purchased cannon and ammuni- tion. It has furnished a fleet. It has cared for your sick and set rations before your men. Do you demand preferment? You are already chiefs, by birth and by election. Have I taken that away? Rank shall be yours but do you hope to earn it idly in camp, or fight- ing as your fathers fought, like your own Botzaris, who fell for his country ? Is it for yourselves you ask these things now, or is it for Greece ?"

Of the staff officers there gathered none knew the tongue in which he spoke. But they could guess what he was saying. They saw the rude chieftains cower be- fore his challenge. Then, as he went on, under that magnetic gaze they saw the savage brows lighten, the fierce eyes soften and fall.

Gordon's tone had lost its lash. His words dropped gently. He was speaking of those old days when he had slept beneath a Suliote tent and written songs of the freedom for which they now strove. The handful be- side him had put up their swords. For a moment not only individual lives, but the fate of Greece itself had hung in the balance. They watched with curious in- tentness.


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As the speaker paused, a burly chieftain, built like a tower, thrust up his hand and turned to the rest, speaking rapidly and with many gesticulations. He pointed to the rough couch, to the coarse fare on the table. The others answered with guttural ejaculations.

All at once he bared his breast, slashed it with his dagger, and touched knee to ground before Gordon's feet. The rest followed his example. Each as he rose, saluted and passed out. Before a dozen had knelt, the rumble of wheels in the courtyard announced that the cannon were being dragged back to their places.

The last Suliote chief retired and Gordon's hand fell from Fletcher's shoulder. The headquarters' sur- geon broke the tension:

"His lordship must have quiet !" he warned.

The whiteness had been growing upon Gordon's face. As the officers retired, he sank back upon the couch. Mavroeordato held brandy to his lips, but he shook his head.

He lay very still for a while, his eyes closed, hearing the murmuring voices of the prince and Gamba as they stood with the physicians, feeling on the mattress a shaking hand that he knew was Fletcher's.

A harrowing fear was upon him. The mutiny that had been imminent this hour he had vanquished; he might not succeed again. With resources all might be possible, but his own funds were stretched to the last para. And the English loan still hung fire. If he but had the proceeds of a single property of Kochdale, which he had turned over to the committee in London he could await the aid which must eventually come. Lacking both, he faced inaction, failure; and now to


THE CASTAWAY 409

cap all, illness threatened him. He almost groaned aloud. Greece must not fail !

There was but one way to fight and fight soon. In- stead of waiting till famine made ally with the enemy, to attack first. To throw his forces, though undisci- plined, upon the Turks. Victory would inspirit the friends of the revolution. It would knit closer every segment. It would hasten the loan in England. Might the assault be repelled? No worse, even so, than a de- feat without a blow the shame of a cowardly disinte- gration !

"Prince " Gordon summoned all his strength and sat up. "May I ask you to notify my staff-officers to meet me here in an hour? We shall discuss a plan of immediate attack upon Lepanto."


CHAPTER LIX

IN WHICH TERESA MAKES A JOUBNET

"Help me to remember that it is for Greece and for himself most of all!" That was Teresa's cry through those dreary weeks alone. The chill instinct that had seized her as Gordon held her in that last clasp had never left her. She struggled always with a grim sense of the inevitable. At times she fought the desire to follow, even to Greece, to fold him in her arms, to en- treat: "Give up the cause! Come back to me to love!" Her sending of Pietro had given her comfort. She subsisted upon his frequent letters, upon the rarer, dearer ones of Gordon, and upon the remembrance of the great issue to which she had resigned him.

One day a message came from a great Venetian bank- ing-house. It told of a sum of money held for her whose size startled her. She, who had possessed but a slender marriage-portion, was more than rich in her own right. An accompanying letter from Dallas told her the gift was Gordon's. A wild rush of tears blurred the page as she read.

That night she dreamed a strange dream; yet it was not a dream wholly, for she lay with open eyes star- ing at the crucifix that hung starkly, a murky outline, (410)


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against the wall. Suddenly she started up in the bed. Where the ivory image had glimmered against the ebony was another face, colorless, sharp-etched-, a wavering light playing upon it. It was Gordon's, deep-lined, haggard, as though in mute extremity. His eyes looked at her steadily, appealingly.

She held out her arms with a moan. Then the light faded, the phantom merged again into the shadow, and in the darkness she hid her eyes and swayed and wept. She slept no more. A blind terror held her till dawn.

At noon Tita brought her a Pisan paper, with a col- umn of Greek news. It stated that the English loan, on which depended the hopes of the revolutionists, was still unsubscribed in London. The measure would doubtless be too late to stay the descent of Yussuff Pasha's armies. Dissensions were rife at Missolonghi. At Constantinople the sultan, in full divan, had pro- claimed George Gordon an enemy to the Porte and offered a pashawlik and the three-horse-tailed lance for his head.

The English loan too late ! Its speedy coming had been a certainty in Gordon's mind before his departure. Was it the agony of failure she had seen on the face that looked at her from the darkness ? Was he even now crucified on the cross of a despairing crisis ?

A quick thought came to her. The sum he had made hers a fortune, almost a hundred thousand pounds of English money! Might not that serve, at least until the loan came ? If she could help him thus !

There was no time for correspondence, banking rou- tine no time for delays of any sort. It must go now! A daring plan was born in her mind. She could take


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it herself, direct to his necessity. Why not? Such a brig as Gordon had chartered was no doubt to be found at Leghorn. Yet she could not make the voyage with but a single servant for escort. To whom could she ap- peal ? To whom else could that far-away cause be near ?

A figure flashed before her with the directness of a vision a man she had seen but once, when with her husband, he had confronted her on a monastery path one dreadful buried day. The friar of San Lazzarro! She recalled the clear deep eyes, the venerable head, the uncompromising honesty of the padre's countenance. He had known the man she loved had seen his life in that retreat. Was he still there ? Would he aid her ?

An hour more and she was riding with Tita toward Leghorn harbor. By the next sunrise she was on her way to Venice. Three days later Tita's oar swung her gondola to the wharf of the island of Saint Lazarus.

She stepped ashore and rang a bell at the wall-door beside which, in its stone shrine, stood the leaden im- age of the Virgin, looking out across the gray lagoon.

The place was very still. Peach-blooms hung their glistening spray above the orchard close, and swallows circled about a peaceful spire from which a slow mellow note was striking. It seemed to Teresa that only yes- terday she had stood there face to face with Gordon. With a sudden impulse she sank to her knees before the shrine.

When she rose she was not alone; he who she had prayed might still be within those walls stood near the same reverend aspect, the benignant brow, the coarse brown robe.


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"What do you seek, my daughter?"

As Teresa told her errand, looking into the soluble eyes bent on her, the breeze stirred the young leaves, and the tiny waves lapped the margin-stones in a golden undercurrent of sound. Her words, unstudied and tense with feeling, acquired an unconscious eloquence. A great issue in perilous straits; she, with empty afflu- ence that might save it but alone, without companion for such a journey.

The friar listened with a growing wonder. In the seclusion of that solitude he had long since heard of the Greek rebellion had yearned for its success. But it had been a thing remote from his lagoon island. He ? To leave the peace of his studies to accompany a woman, to a land in the throes of war? A strange request! Why had she come to him?

"Have I ever seen you before, my daughter ?"

Her heart beat heavily. "Yes, Father."

She was leaning against the rock, her face lifted to his. The posture, the pathetic purity of her features, brought recollection.

Padre Somalian's eyes lighted. Since that unfor- gotten scene on the path, he had often wondered what would be this woman's wedded life, so tragically begun. By her face, she had suffered. Her husband had been old then doubtless was dead. It was a mark of grace that she came now to him a holy man before others. If, alone in the world, she chose to consecrate her wealth thus nobly, well and good. If there had been fault back of that rich marriage, such an act would be in the line of fitting penance.

If there had been fault! The friar's eyes turned


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away. He was thinking of the stranger whose brow her husband's blow had marked of the paper he himself had lifted from beneath the stone. Since the gusty day when he found the abandoned robe, he had prayed unceasingly for that unknown man's soul.

"You will go ?"

The question recalled his thought, gone afar.

"My daughter/' he demurred, "who am I, bred to quiet and contemplation, to guide you in such an enter- prise ?"

Tears had come to Teresa's eyes. "Then the hope of Greece will perish ! And he its leader, who has given his all will fail!"

The padre's look clouded. It was the undying war of Christendom against the idolater, the fight the church militant must wage daily till the reign of the thousand golden years began. Yet noble as was the Gre- cian struggle, to his mind it had been smirched by a name famed for its evil.

"I would so fair a cause had a better champion !" he said slowly.

Her tears dried away. "And you say that?" she cried, her tone vibrating. "You who saw him, and with whom he lived here? you?"

He thought her distrait. "He here? What do you mean?"

"Do you not know ? Father, he who leads the Greeks is the man with whom I stood that day beside this shrine !"

The friar started. Rapid emotions crossed his face. For many a month a sore question had turned itself over and over in his mind. Had he stumbled in his


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duty to that man who had come in hopelessness and departed with despair unlightened ? Day after day he had seen the misery reflected in the countenance. He knew now that he had been witnessing the efforts of a fallen soul to regain its lost estate a soul that was now fighting in the ranks of the Cross ! In his own self-re- proach he had prayed that it might be given him again to hold before his eyes the symbol of the eternal suffer- ing. Was this not the answer to that prayer?

His eyes suffused.

"Wait for me here, my daughter," he said. "I shall not be long. We go together. Who knows if the sum- mons you bring be not the voice of God !"


CHAPTER LX

TBIED AS BY FIRE

The night was still, the air sopped with recent rain, the sky piled with sluggish cloud-strata through whose rifts the half-moon glimpsed obliquely, making the sea- beach that curved above Missolonghi an eerie checker of shine and shade.

Between hill and shore a lean path, from whose edges the cochineal cactus swung its quivers of prickly arrows, shambled across a great flat ledge that jutted from the hill's heel to break abruptly above a deep pool gouged by hungry tempests. On the reed-clustered sand be- yond the rock-shelf were disposed a body of men splen- didly uniformed, in kirtle and capote, standing by their hobbled horses. On the rocky ledge, in the flickering light of a torch thrust into a cleft, were seated their two leaders conversing.

They had ridden far. The object of their coming was the safe delivery of a letter to the one man to whom all Greece looked now. The message was mo- mentous and secret, the errand swift and silent. In Missolonghi, whose lights glowed a mile away, clang- ing night and day with hurried preparation, none knew of the presence of that company on the deserted shore, (416)


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save one of its own number who had ridden, under cover of the dark, into the town's defenses.

"This is a journey that pleases me well, Lambro," averred one of the primates on the rock. "I wish we were well on our way back to the Congress at Salona, and the English lordos leading us. What an entry that will be! But what if he doubts your messenger sus- pects some trickery of Ulysses? Suppose he will not <3ome out to us?"

"Then the letter must go to him in Missolonghi," said the other, "Mavrocordato or no Mavrocordato. He will come properly guarded," he added, "but he will come."

"Why are you so certain?"

"Because the man I sent to him an hour since is one he must trust. It was his sister the Excellency saved in his youth from the sack. Their father was then a merchant of the bazaar in this same town. Do you not know the tale?" And thereupon he recited the story as he had heard it years before, little dreaming they sat upon the very spot where, on that long ago dawn, the Turkish wands had halted that grim procession. "I would the brother," he closed, "might sometime find the cowardly dog who abandoned her !"

They rose to their feet, for dim forms were coming along the path from the town a single horseman and a body-guard afoot. "It is the archistrategos" both exclaimed.

The younger hastily withdrew; the other advanced a step to meet the man who dismounted and came for- ward.

Gordon's face in the torchlight was worn and hag-


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gard, for the inward fever had never left him since that fierce convulsion nature's protest against unbearable conditions. Day by day, with the same unyielding will he had fought his weakness, pushing forward the plans ior the assault on Lepanto, slaving with the gunners, drilling musket-men, much of the day in the saddle, and filching from the hours of his rest, time for his committee correspondence, bearing always that burn- ing coal of anxiety the English loan which did not come.

The primate saw this look, touched with surprise as Gordon caught the stir of horses and men from the further gloom. He bowed profoundly as he drew forth a letter.

"I regret to have brought Your Illustrious Excel- lency from your quarters," he said in Komaic, "but my orders were specific."

Gordon stepped close to the torch and opened the letter. The primate drew back and left him on the rock, a solitary figure in the yellow glare, watched from one side by two score of horsemen, richly accoutred, standing silent on the other by a rough body-guard of fifty, in ragged garments, worn foot-wear, but fully armed.

Once twice three times Gordon read, slowly, strangely deliberate.

A shiver ran over him, and he felt the torchlight on his face like a sudden hot wave. The letter was a sum- mons to S'alona, where assembled in Congress the chiefs and primates of the whole Morea but it was far more than this ; in its significant circumlocution, its meaning


THE CASTAWAY 419

diplomatic phrases, lay couched a clear invitation that seemed to transform his blood to a volatile ichor.

Gordon's eyes turned to the shadow whence came the shifting and stamping of horses then to the lights of the fortifications he had left. He could send back these silent horsemen, refuse to go with them, return to Mis- solonghi, to his desperate waiting for the English loan, to the hazardous attack on Lepanto, keeping faith with the cause, falling with it, if needs be ; or he could wear the crown of Greece!

The outlines of the situation had flashed upon him as clearly as a landscape seen by lightning. The letter in his hand was signed by a name powerful in three chanceleries. The courts of Europe, aroused by the ex- periment of the American colonies, wished no good of republicanism. Names had been buzzing in State closets: Jerome Bonaparte, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. But Greece had gone too far for that ; if a foreign ruler be given her, he must be one acceptable to the popular mind. Governmental eyes turned now to him! He, the despised of England, a king! The founder of a fresh dynasty, the first emperor of New Greece !

Standing there, feeling his heart beat to his temples, a weird sensation came to him. There had been a time in his youth when he had camped upon that shore, when on that very rock he had struck an individual blow against Turkish barbarity. Now the hum of the voices beyond turned into a wild Suliote stave roared about a fire and he felt again the same chill, prescient instinct that had possessed him when he said: "It is as though this spot that town yonder were tan- gled in my destiny!" Was this not the fulfilment,


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that on the spot where he had permed his first im- mortal lines for Greece, should be offered him her throne ?

A mental barb stung him. It was for Greek free- dom he had sung then the ancient freedom tyranny had defiled. And would this mean true liberty? The Moslem would be cast out, but for what? A coup d'etat! A military dictatorship, bolstered by suzerain arms! The legislative government, with the hopes of Mavrocordato, of all the western country, fallen into the dust! Greece a puppet kingdom, paying compen- sation in self-respect to self-aggrandizing cabinets.

But a Greece with himself upon the throne !

Far-off siren voices seemed to call to him from the darkness. What would be his? World-fame not the bays he despised, but the laurel. A seat above even social convention, unprecedented, secure. A power na- tionally supreme, in State certainly, in Church per- haps power to override old conditions, to re-create his own future. To sever old bonds with the sword of royal prerogative. Eventually, to choose his queen!

A fit of trembling seized him. He felt Teresa's arms about him warm, human, loving arms her lips on his, sweet as honeysuckle after rain. For a moment temptation flung itself out of the night upon him. Not such as he had grappled with when she had come to him on the square in Venice. Not such as he had felt when Dallas told him of the portrait hidden from Ada's eyes. It was a temptation a thousandfold stronger and more insidious. It shook to its depths the mystic peace that had come to him on the deck of the Hercules after that


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last parting. It was as though all the old craving, the bitterness, the cruciate longing of his love rose at once to a combat under which the whole mind of the man bent and writhed in anguish.

Gordon's face, as it stared out from the torch-flare across the gloomy gulf, showed to the man who waited near-by no sign of the struggle that wrung his soul, and that, passing at length, left him blanched and exhausted like one from whose veins a burning fever has ebbed suddenly.

The primate came eagerly from the shadow as Gor- don turned and spoke:

"Say to those who sent you that what they propose is impossible "

"Illustrious Excellency I"

" that I came hither for Greek independence, and if this cause shall fall, I choose to bury myself in its ruins."

The other was dumb from sheer astonishment. He knew the proposal the letter contained. Had not he, Lambro, primate of Argos, nurtured the plan among the chiefs ? Had not the representative of a great power confided in his discretion when he sent him with that letter? And now when the whole Morea was ready when prime ministers agreed the one man to whom it might be offered, refused the crown! He swallowed hard, looking at the letter which had been handed back to him.

Before he recovered his wits, Gordon had walked un- certainly to his horse, mounted, and was riding toward the town, his body-guard streaming out behind him, running afoot.


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As his fellow officer approached him, Lambro swore an oath:

"By the Virgin ! You shall return to Salona without me. I stay here and fight with the English lordos!"

He rode into Missolonghi that night, and with him were twenty of his men.


CHAPTER LXI. THE RENUNCIATION[edit]

Gordon entered his bleak room with mind strangely numbed. Gamba, now acting as his adjutant, was wait- ing, and him he dismissed without dictating his usual correspondence. The struggle he had fought had bitten deeply into his fund of physical resistance. A tremor was in his hands a cold sweat on his forehead.

Riding, with the ashes of denial on his lips, it had come to him that in this temptation he had met his last and strongest enemy. It had found him in his weak- ness, and that weakness it would not be given him to surmount. The sword was wearing out the scabbard. His own hand should never lead the Greece he loved to its freedom should never marshal it at its great in- stallation. None but himself knew how fearfully ill- ness had grown upon him or with what difficult pain he had striven to conceal its havoc. Only he himself had had no illusions. He knew to-night that the final decision had lain between the cause and his life itself. The one thing which might have knit up his ravelled health the abandonment of this miasma-breeding town for the wholesome unvitiated hill air of Salona, of the active campaign for passive trust to foreign dictation he had thrust from him. And in so doing, he had made the last great choice.

"Lyon !" he said "Lyon !" The shepherd-dog by the hearth raised his head. His eyes glistened. His tail beat the stone. He whined uneasily as his master be- gan to pace the floor, up and down, his step uneven, forcing his limbs to defy their dragging inertia.

As the long night-watch knelled wearily away, drop by drop Gordon drank this last and bitter cup of re- nunciation. Love and life he put behind him, facing unshrinkingly the grisly specter that looked at him from the void.

He thought of Teresa singing to her lonely harp in a far-off fragrant Italian garden. His gaze turned to a closet built into the corner of the room. In it was a manuscript five additional cantos of "Don Juan" writ- ten in that last year at Pisa, the completion of the poem, on which he had lavished infinite labor. He remem- bered an hour when her voice had said : "One day you will finish it more worthily." Had he done so ? Had he redeemed those earlier portions which, though his ancient enemy had declared them "touched with im- mortality," yet rang with cadences long since grown painful to him ? The world might judge !

He thought of his Memoirs, completed, which he had sent from Italy by Dallas for the hand of Tom Moore in London. These pages were a brief for the defense, submitted to the Supreme Bench of Posterity.

"For Ada !" he muttered. "The smiles of her youth have been her mother's, but the tears of her maturity shall be mine!"

His life for Greece ! And giving it, it should be his


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to strike at least one fiery blow, to lead one fierce clash of arms ! He looked where a glittering helmet hung on the wall, elaborately wrought and emblazoned, bearing his own crest and armorial motto: "Crede Gordon" a garish, ostentatious gewgaw whose every fragile line and over-decoration was a sneer. It had been brought him in a satin casket by the hand of the suave Paolo, the last polished sting of his master, the Count Guic- cioli. He would bring to naught that gilded mockery of hatred that scoffed at his purpose! A few more hours and preparations would be completed for the at- tack on Lepanto. To storm that stronghold, rout the Turkish forces, sound this one clear bugle-call that would ring on far frontiers and so, the fall of the cur- tain.

At length he sat down at the table and in the candle- light began to write. What he wrote in that hour has been preserved among the few records George Gordon left behind him at Missolonghi.

"My days are in the yellow leaf;

The flowers and fruits of love are done; The worm, the canker and the grief Are mine alone!

The hope, the fear, the jealous care,

The exalted portion of the pain And power of love, I cannot share. I wear the chain.

Yet see the sword, the flag, the field!

Glory and Greece around me see! The Spartan, borne upon his shield, Was not more free.


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Awake! (not Greece she is awake!)

Awake my spirit! Think through whom Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake, And then strike home!

Up to the battle! There is found

A soldier's grave for thee the best; Then look around and choose thy ground, And take thy rest!"

The pen fell from his fingers. A sudden icy breath seemed to congeal from the air. He rose tried to walk, but felt his limbs failing him. He fixed his eyes upon a bright spot on the wall, fighting desperately against the appalling faintness that was enshrouding him. It gyrated and swam before his vision a burnished hel- met. Should the battle after all evade him? Was it denied him even to fall upon the field ? A roaring rose in his ears.

He steadied himself against the table and shut his teeth. The quiver of convulsion was upon him again and the movement against Lepanto began to-morrow! It must not come not yet, not yet! The very life of the cause was wound in his. He would not yield!

The shepherd-dog had risen whining from the hearth; Gordon felt the rough tongue licking his hand felt but could not see. He staggered toward the couch. Darkness had engulfed him, a black giddiness from whose depths he heard faintly a frantic barking and hurried footsteps on the stair.


CHAPTER LXII


GORDON GOES UPON A PILGRIMAGE

Easter afternoon and all Missolonghi was on the streets. But there were no festivities, no firing of guns nor decorations. A pall had settled on the town, a pall reflected in a sky dun-colored and brooding storm.

To-day had been fixed upon for the march against Lepanto, but now war was forgotten. The wheels of movement had stopped like those of some huge machine whose spring of action has lost its function. Silent soldiers patrolled the empty bazaar and the deserted docks. The crowds that thronged the pavements Su- liotes, their wild faces softened by grief unconcealed, gloomy officers of infantry and artillery, weeping women, and grave priests of the Greek church con- versed in low tones. Even the arrival of a new vessel in the harbor had gone unnoticed. Observation cen- tered on the stone building fronting the shallows, from whose guarded precincts from time to time an aide is- sued with news which spread speedily through the de- sponding populace the military headquarters where the foreign archistrategos lay sick unto death.

Through the crowds, from the wharf, three figures passed in haste. One was a gigantic Venetian servant, staggering beneath the burden of an iron-bound chest. (427)


428 THE CASTAWAY

Small wonder its weight taxed even his herculean strength, for besides bills of exchange for the sum nine times over, it contained ten thousand pounds in English sovereigns. His huge form made a way for the two who followed him: a venerable Armenian friar, bare- headed and sandalled, and a woman heavily veiled, whose every nerve was strung with voiceless suffering.

Mercifully a portion of the truth had come to Teresa .at Zante, and in the few intervening hours, an eternity of suspense, she had gained an unnatural self-control. Up to the last moment of possibility she had fought the dread sense of the inevitable that was rising to shut out her whole horizon of future; but before the ominous hush of the multitudes, hope had died within her. She seemed to hear Mary Shelley crying through the voice of that Pisan storm : "0, I am afraid afraid afraid !"

Yet, even in her despair, as she threaded the press with the friar, she felt an anguished pride and thank- fulness. The man on whose life these awe-struck thou- sands trembled the all that he had been to her ! And she had not come too late.

In the cheerless stone room, Mavrocordato, Pietro Gamba and the men of medicine watched beside the couch on which Gordon lay. After a long period of un- .consciousness he had opened his eyes.

A moment he looked about the familiar apartment, slowly realizing. He saw the tears on Gamba's cheeks, the grave sorrow that moulded the prince's face. In that moment he did not deceive himself.

His look drew Mavrocordato a look in which was a question, but no fear.


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The other bent over him. "An hour, they think," he said gently.

Gordon closed his eyes. Such a narrow span between this life and the unbridged gulf, between the old ques- tioning and the great solution. An hour, and he should test the worth of Dallas' creed, should know if the friar of San Lazzarro had been right. An hour, and life would be behind him, with its errors ended, its longings quenched.

Its largest endeavor had been defeated: that was the closest sting. In his weakness all else sank away beside the thought that he had tried and failed. Even the one blow he might not strike. The nation was in straits, the loan delayed, the campaign unopened. He caught the murmurs of the crowds in the courtyard. His lips framed words : "My poor Greece ! Who shall lead you now?"

Yet he had done his best, given his all, even his love. She, Teresa, would know and hold his effort dear be- cause she loved him. But there was another woman in England who had hated and despised him. He had piled upon her the mountain of his curse, and that curse had been forgiveness. Must her memory of him be always bitterness ? In the fraying fringe of life past resentments were worn pitifully small. Should he go without one tenderer word to Annabel ?

He tried to lift himself. "Fletcher !" he said aloud.

The old valet, shaken with emotion, came forward as the others turned away.

"Listen, Fletcher. You will go back to England. Go to my wife you will 'see Ada tell my sister say "


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His voice had become indistinct and the phrases ran together. Only fragmentary words could be distin- guished: "Ada" "my child" "my sister" "Hob- house." His speech flashed into coherence at last as he ended : "Now I have told you all."

"My dear lord," sobbed the valet, "I have not under- stood a word !"

Pitiful distress overspread Gordon's features. "Not understood?" he said with an effort. "Then it is too late !" He sank back. Fletcher, blind with grief, left the room.

A subdued commotion rose unwontedly beneath the windows. Mavrocordato spoke hurriedly to an orderly who had just come to the door. "Have they not been told?" he whispered. "What is the matter?"

Through the closing darkness, Gordon's ear caught a part of the low reply. "What did he say ?" he asked.

Mavrocordato approached the couch. "Some one has come in a vessel bringing a vast fortune for Greece."

The dimming eyes flared up with joyful exultation. The cause was not lost then. The armament could go on the fleet be strengthened, the forces held together, till the loan came till another might take his place.

A sound of footsteps fell on the stair there was a soft knock. The orderly's voice demanded the pass- word.

If there was reply, none of the watchers heard it. Gordon had lifted himself on his elbow, his head turned with a sudden, strange expectancy. "The password?" he said distinctly, "it is here!" He laid his hand upon his heart.


THE CASTAWAY 431

A sobbing cry answered, and a woman crossed swiftly to the couch and knelt beside it.

A great light came to Gordon's countenance. "Te- resa I" he gasped. "Teresa my love !"

The effort had brought exhaustion. He sank back, feeling his head pillowed upon her breast. He smiled and closed his eyes.

A friar had followed her into the room. Mavrocor- dato beckoned the wondering surgeons to the door. They passed out, and young Gamba, after one glance at his sister, followed. The friar drew near the couch, crucifix in hand, his lips moving silently. The door closed.

After the one cry which had voiced that beloved name, Teresa had made no sound. She cradled Gor- don's head in her arms, watching his face with a fear- ful tenderness. From the court came the hushed hum of many people, from the stair low murmur of voices; behind her she heard Padre Somalian's breathed prayer. Her heart was bleeding with a bitter pain. Now and again she touched the damp brow, like blue- veined marble, and warmed the cold hands between her own as she had done in that direful ride when her arms had held that body, bleeding from a kriss.

The day was declining and the air filled with shad- ows. The storm that had hung in the sky had begun to mutter in rolling far-off thunder, and the sun, near to setting, made a lurid flame at the horizon-bars. Gordon stirred and muttered, and at length opened his eyes upon the red glare. He heard the echoes of the clouds, like distant artillery.

With the energy of delirium he sat up. He began to


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talk wildly, in a singular jumble of languages: "For- ward! Forward! Courage strike for Greece! It is victory !"

The hallucination of weakness had given him his su- preme desire. He was leading the assault on Lepanto.

"My son/' the friar's voice spoke "there are other victories than of war. There is that of the agony and the cross."

The words seemed to strike through the delirium of the fevered fantasies and calm them. The dying man's eyes fastened on the speaker with a vague inquiry. There was silence for a moment, while outside the chamber a grizzled servant knelt by a group of officers, his seamed face wet with tears, and from the courtyard rose the plaintive howl of a dog.

Through the deepening abyss of Gordon's senses the crumbling memory was groping for an old recollection that stirred at the question. Out of the maze grew sen- tences which a voice like that had once said: "Every man bears a cross of despair to his Calvary. He who bore the heaviest saw beyond. What did He say ? "

The failing brain struggled to recall. What did He say ? He saw dimly the emblem which the friar's hand held an emblem that had hung always somewhere, somewhere in a fading Paradise of his. It expanded, a sad dark Calvary against olive foliage gray as the ashes of the Gethsemane agony the picture of the eternal suffering of the Prince of Peace.

"Not my will, but Thine !"

The words fell faintly from the wan lips, scarce a murmur in the stirless room. Gordon's form, in Te- resa's clasp, seemed suddenly to grow chill. She did


THE CASTAWAY 433

not see the illumination that transformed the friar's face, nor hear the door open to her brother and Mavro- cordato. She was deaf to all save the moan of her stricken love, blind to all save that face that was slip- ping from life and her.

Gordon's hand fumbled in his breast, and drew some- thing forth that fell from his nerveless fingers on to the bed a curling lock of baby's hair and a worn frag- ment of paper on which was a written prayer. She un- derstood, and, lifting them, laid them against his lips.

His eyes smiled once into hers and his face turned wholly to her, against her breast.

"Now," he whispered, "I shall go to sleep."

A piteous cry burst from Teresa's heart as the friar leaned forward. But there was no answer. George Gordon's eternal pilgrimage had begun.


THE GREAT SILENCE

Blaquiere stood beside Teresa in the windowed cham- ber which had been set apart for her, overlooking the courtyard.

All in that Grecian port knew of her love and the pur- pose that had upheld her in her journey. To the forlorn town her wordless grief seemed a tender intimate token of a loss still but half comprehended. It had surrounded her with an unvarying thoughtfulness that had fallen gently across her anguish. She had listened to the muf- fled rumble of cannon that the wind brought across the marshes from the stronghold of Patras, where the Turks rejoiced. She had seen the palled bier, in the midst of Gordon's own brigade, borne on the shoulders of the offi- cers of his corps to the Greek church, to lie in state be- side the remains of Botzaris had seen it borne back to its place amid the wild mourning of half-civilized tribes- men and the sorrow of an army.

The man she had loved had carried into the Great Si- lence a people's worship and a nation's tears. Now as she looked out across the massed troops with arms at rest across the crowded docks and rippling shallows to the sea, where two ships rode the swells side by side, she (434)


THE CASTAWAY 435

hugged this thought closer and closer to her heart. One of these vessels had borne her hither and was to take her back to Italy. The other, a ship-of-the-line, had brought the man who stood beside her, with the first in- stallment of the English loan. It was to bear to an Eng- lish sepulture the body of the exile to whom his country had denied a living home. Both vessels were to weigh with the evening tide.

Blaquiere, looking at the white face that gazed sea- ward, remembered another day when he had heard her singing to her harp from a dusky garden. He knew that her song would never again fall with such a cadence.

At length he spoke, looking down on the soldiery and the people that waited the passing to the water-side of the last cortege.

"I wonder if he sees if he knows, as I know, Con- tessa, what the part he acted here shall have done for Greece ? In his death faction has died, and the enmities of its chiefs will be buried with him forever !"

Her eyes turned to the sky, reddening now to sun- set. "I think he knows," she answered softly.

Padre Somalian's voice behind them intervened : "We must go aboard presently, my daughter."

She turned, and as the friar came and stood looking down beside Blaquiere, passed out and crossed the hall to the room wherein lay her dead.

She approached the bier a rude chest of wood upon rough trestles, a black mantle serving for pall. At its head, laid on the folds of a Greek flag, were a sword and a simple wreath of laurel. A dull roar shook the air outside the minute-gun from the grand bat- tery, firing a last salute and a beam of fading sun-


436 THE CASTAWAY

light glanced through the window and turned to a fiery globe a glittering helmet on the wall.

Gently, as though a sleeping child lay beneath it, she withdrew the pall and white shroud from the stainless face. She looked at it with an infinite yearning, while outside the minute-gun boomed and the great bell of the Greek church tolled slowly. Blaquiere's words were in her mind.

"Do you know, my darling?" she whispered. "Do you know that Greece lives because my heart is dead ?"

She took from her bosom the curl of flaxen hair and the fragment of paper that had fallen from his chilling fingers and put them in his breast. Then stooping, she touched in one last kiss the unanswering marble of his lips.

At the threshold she looked back. The golden glimmer from the helmet fell across the face beneath it with an unearthly radiance. A touch of woman's pride came to her the pride that sits upon a broken heart.

"How beautiful he was!" she said in a low yoice. "Oh, God ! How beautiful he was !"


CHAPTER LXIV

"OP HIM WHOM SHE DENIED A HOME, THE GRAVE"

Greece was nevermore a vassal of the Turk. In. the death of the archistmtegos who had so loved her cause, the chieftains put aside quarrels and buried private am- bitions all save one. In the stone chamber at Misso- longhi wherein that shrouded form had lain, the Suliote chiefs swore fealty to Mavrocordato and the constitu- tional government as they had done to George Gordon.

Another had visited that chamber before them. This was a dark-bearded man in Suliote dress, who entered it unobserved while the body of the man he had so hated lay in state in the Greek church. Trevanion forced the sealed door of the closet and examined the papers it con- tained. When he took horse for Athens, he bore with him whatever of correspondence and memoranda might be fuel for the conspiracy of Ulysses and a roll of manuscript, the completion of "Don Juan/' which he tore to shreds and scattered to the four winds on a flat rock above a deep pool a mile from the town. He found Ulysses a fugitive, deserted by his faction, and followed him to his last stronghold, a cavern in Mount Parnas- sus.

But fast as Trevanion went, one went as fast. This (437)


438 THE CASTAWAY

was a young Greek who had ridden from Salona to Mis- solonghi with one Lambro, primate of Argos. Beneath the beard and Suliote attire he recognized Trevanion, and his brain leaped to fire with the memory of a twin sister and the fearful fate of the sack to which she had once been abandoned. From an ambush below the en- trance of Ulysses' cave, he shot his enemy through the heart.

On the day Trevanion's sullen career was ended, along the same highway which Gordon had traversed when he rode to Newstead on that first black home-coming, a single carriage followed a leaden casket from London to Nottinghamshire.

In its course it passed a noble country-seat, the her- mitage of a woman who had once burned an effigy be- fore a gay crowd in Almack's Assembly Booms. Lady Caroline Lamb, diseased in mind as in body, discerned the procession from the terrace. As the hearse came op- posite she saw the crest upon the pall. She fainted and never again left her bed.

The cortege halted at Hucknall church, near New- stead Abbey, and there the earthly part of George Gor- don was laid, just a year from the hour he had bidden farewell to Teresa in the Pisan garden, where now a lonely woman garnered her deathless memories.

At the close of the service the two friends who had shared that last journey Dallas, now grown feeble, and Hobhouse, recently knighted and risen to political prominence stood together in the lantern-lighted porch.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1956, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.