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[All Eights of Translation and Reproduction resei-ved.1









VIII. "noblesse oblige"

X. "my LIFE IS weary"
XII. "you have REJECTED ME "

XVII. "play, OR TAKE MISS?" ...

XXI. Archie's confession
























XXII. A VAMPIRE "at HOME " ... ... ... 245


XXIV. FOUND DROWNED ... ... ... 260

XXV. DEAD rose-leaves! ... ... ... 267

XXVI. BY THE RIVER-SIDE ... ... ... 273

XXVII. "g. s. d." ... ... ... ... 282

XXVIII. WORKING UP A CASE ... ... ... 289

XXIX. durant's court ... ... ... 302

XXX. ARCHIE PAYS HER DEBT ... ... ... 316




XXXIV. "fais ce que dois!" ... ... ... 368


XXXVL "WHERE IS SHE?" ... ... ... 386

XXXVII. "here!" ... ... ... ... 409

XXXVIII. Archie's ovation ... ... ... 414

XXXIX. IN THE DARK HOUR ... ... ... 422

XL. "advienne que pourra ! " ... ... 430

XLI. A GLIMPSE OF THE BLUE ... ... ... 438




It was a bright moonlight night, in the last week of July,
186 — , and half the population of Morteville-sur-Mer had turned
out, as the fashion of Morteville-sur-Mer is, to walk upon the pier.

Among the crowds of men and women thus occupied, and even
at a time of year when Morteville is most thronged with sea-
bathers from all parts of France, the preponderance of Enghsh
people was unmistakable. Can you mistake for a moment the
dress, the walk, the laugh, the voice of our compatriots? — espe-
cially of that class of our compatriots who find it convenient to
reside out of England and in such places as Morteville-sur-Mer?
A few Britons of a different type there may have been there, —
quiet, plainly-dressed people, — passing through Morteville on their
way to Paris, and walking on the pier after dinner simply because
better air was to be got there than in the stifling over-crowded
hotels within the town. But these you would have passed without
notice in the crowd. The mass of Britons, the mass Avho arrested
your eye and your ear as they passed, were the English residents
in the place — the actual Anglo population of Morteville-sur-Mer :
some of them flashy and over-dressed ; others poor-looking, subdued,
out-at-elbows ; but none wholly devoid of interest to the careful
observer of his kind. For every one who lives in Morteville has a
reason for doing so. And in the history of every one who has a


recoson for living out of his country, there must, I think, be some-
thing — some misfortune, some debt, some imbecility, oftentimes
some crime — that may Aveli make us, who sit by our own firesides
still, pause and meditate.

" I don't believe their name is Wilson, at all," remarked Mrs
Dionysius O'Eourke ; " and if you recollect right, my dear Mrs
^Malone}', I said so to you from the first. I believe he's a Trant —
one of Lord Mortemaine's sons — away in hiding from liis creditors ;
indeed O'Eourke says he can swear to having seen the man's face
in Homburg three years ago, and then his name was Smithett.
He, he, he ! " and Mrs O'Eourke, being the possessor of six hundred
a-year, and so a magnate in Morteville, her laugh was instantly
echoed among the little knot of familiar and congenial spirits by
whom she was at this moment surrounded.

" I've nothing to say against the poor unfortunate man himself,"
chimed in the shrill voice of old Mrs Maloney, the INIrs Candour
of the community. " Indeed, I think every one must pity him,
poor creature, with the life he leads at home between those dread-
ful women. But as to his daughter ! — as to Miss Archie Wilson ! "

And Candour threw up her eyes, and clasped her aged hands,
as one might do who possessed all the details — but would not—
no, no, no ! for worlds would not reveal them — of an erring fellow-
creature's sins.

** Miss Wilson is really growing very pretty," said another voice ;
a man's this time. " Who would have thought a year ago she
would turn out such a line-looking girl 1 "

"Oh, I think her lovely, lovely!" exclaimed an enthusiastic
impulsive yoimg being of about four-and-thirty. '' Such beautiful
eyes, and such a sweet mouth and teeth, Captain Waters ! Poor,
poor little Archie ! "

" The speaker \vas ISIiss Augusta ]\Iarks, — Gussy Marks, as she
■was commonly called among her friends ; at once the professional
toad-eater general, and the literary or intellectual element of
Morteville. On what ground this young creature founded her
relationship with the literature of her country was never clearly
made out. She referred vaguely herself, it was understood, to the
Saturday Rcvieiv ; but her more intimate friends professed them-
selves to be in possession of data regarding a romance once contri-


buted by her to the Brompton Herald, or Penny Houseliold Guide,
under the title of " Lucile, or the Duke's Victim : a Eevelation
from Life." Whether this was true or false ; whether the revelation
was printed or allowed to remain in manuscript, Gassy Marks an-
nounced ^herself, and all Morteville spoke of her, as a literary
character. If she had written Vanity Fair, could she have done
more ? If you can attain a reputation without work, who is the
gainer? Only in one respect the somewhat impalpable nature of
her profession made itself disagreeably felt. Gussy remained poor ;
and had to work hard for her daily dinner by fetching and carry-
ing news about from house to house, and generally flattering all
sach persons — there were not very many in Morteville — as W'ould
not only receive poor Gussy's attentions, but let her take their
value out afterwards in solid eating and drinking.

Amusing Miss Gussy Marks undoubtedly was. She was bitterly
spiteful ; and to strangers, when they first settle in a dull place like
Morteville, bitter inveterate spite, even when it is unseasoned by
a grain of wit, is better than no entertainment at all. But she
was not capable, as in their different fashions were Mesdames
O'Rourke and Maloney, of boldly killing any man's reputation
outright. Some of Mrs O'Eourke's falsehoods were sudden, almost
justifiable homicides. Gussy's carefully-worded equivocations were
deliberate, cold-blooded murders,; murders with malice afore-
thought. She belonged to the class who whisper about versions,
more or less blackened, of other people's vilifications ; who supply
all missing links in other people's evidence ; who are " sure they
heard so somewhere — not from you, dearest Mrs Blank 1 Then
from some one else, for I know 1 never thought so." The vilest,
the most cowardly class of all, in short. The assassin runs some
risk ; the wretch who hovers round till the deed is done, and then
warily begins to mangle the helpless corpse of the slain, none.

" Such an agreeable companion ! sach unfailing spirits ! " all
new-comers to Morteville pronounced as Miss Marks prostrated
herself in tarn at their feet. Then, as the months passed, the new-
comer's door would gradually open less freely to Gussy; and the
women of the family would speak of her as " a very amusing
person for a time ; but — ; " and the men make short cuts down
the nearest street whenever they met her ; and poor Gussy have to

B 2


fall back for intimacy on her old patronesses — the O'Eourke-and-
!Maloney coalition— and any such stray birds as she might chance
occasionally to pick up at their houses.

On this especial evening, and at this moment, when Archie
"Wilson's ill-doings are being brought forward for the purpose of
moral animadversion, a whole group of the notabilities or typical
people of Morteville are assembled beneath the lighthouse at the
extreme end of the pier : inter alia, Mrs Dionysius O'Eourke, Mr
Montacute and his daughters, the literary element, Captain Waters,
and old Mrs Maloney — a majority of ladies, as is generally the
case, the Englishmen iu Morteville not affecting much appearance
in public. They play cards of a morning, play them of an after-
noon, play them of an evening (very well they play too : don't sit
down here at loo or ecarte unless you are tolerably sure of your
game) ; and the two or three men, who happen at the present
moment to be absent from the club, puff away helplessly at their
cigars, and listen, without offering any observations of their own,
while the women talk.

Let me take a rapid sketch of one or two of these people before
Miss Archie "Wilson's character is submitted to the scalpel. A
Dieu ne plaise that they should hold any place save in this first or
introductory scene of my story ! a Dieu ne plaise that I should
essay to paint a finished picture of one of them ! But a few brief
outlines my pen must with repugnance trace : first, to make you
understand what manner of people these are who speak ; secondly,
to show you in what kind of social atmosphere Archie Wilson
herself — the unconscious subject of their moral vivisection — had
spent the last two years of her child's life.

Mrs Dionysius O'Eourke — on account of her great size as well
as her high position in society, I feel that I must give her pre-
cedence over her friends — was a lady of about, say, fifty-five, and
of considerable social experience; had been thrice married — ("Let
us say married ! Ah, yes — married ! " Mrs ]\Ialoney would remark
Avith bitter irony during the half-yearly period when these two
potentates invariably passed each other without bowing in tlie
street) — and had resided in every place of easy resort on the Con-
tinent. In all that Mrs O'Eourke ever told respecting the past,
the first husband was dropped altogether ; the second, Colonel


Morier, or as she, in her vain attempts to lisp down the native
Tipperary, called it, ^'Mawyer," brought into extraordinary
preemiiience, save on one occasion, well remembered by the
Maloney, when a family called Morier really came to Morteville,
and when Mrs O'Eourke never mentioned their name nor came
outside her door during the six weeks of their stay. The third
and present one, Mr Dionysius O'Eourke, seemed to be viewed
both by his wife and by her friends in the light of a butler — an
hypothesis that O'Eourke himself supported by the assumption of
all those broad and generous views in regard to the consumption
of liquor which butlers generally hold.

To judge by the number of dukes and duchesses she talked of,
Mrs O'Eourke had mixed in excellent society all her life ; and
barrinsr the adventitious circumstances of seventeen stone of solid
flesh, the ineradicable Tipperary, and an undue tendency to gor-
geous yellow satin and birds of strange plumage in the matter of
dress, she was really an entertaining, and, on the theory of Joe
Gargery, a fine figure of a woman. She took away everybody's
character, certainly ; but who should know better than Mrs
O'Eourke how easy it is for people to live and be happy without
that ? And she gave and enj oyed good dinners, and not worse
wine than was commonly current in Morteville. How could any
one say that Mrs Maloney's infamous stories of bygone days were
correct? Would not an open house, a real butler (as well as
O'Eourke), and six-hundred a-year, insure popularity in other
places as well as Morteville-sur-Mer 1

Mrs Maloney, Mrs O'Eourke's closest ally and most implacable
enemy, was of a totally difi'erent build ; for whereas Mrs O'Eourke
had been wicked and prosperous, and gone into a comfortable mass
of human flesh and blood, Mrs Maloney had been wicked and
grown lean upon it ; and in that one fact of being in a Banting or
anti-Banting state lies much philosophy. Indeed it is not certain
that, for moral classification, the whole of humanity might not
broadly be divided into these two sections, — the fat, the lean ; the
jovial, the ascetic. There were softening moments, weaknesses of
the flesh, in Mrs O'Eoui-ke, as in all fat, food-loving creatures. At
a certain tempered stage of fulness, one point short of surfeit or
inebriety — in the interval, for instance, between dinner and the


last glass of hot brandy-and-water before bed-time — she would as
soon have called you a good fellow as a bad one ; but no eating or
drinking ever mollified Mrs Maloney's flinty soul or softened a line
upon her bird-like hatchet-face. She could never overcome her
sickening spite against the human race for persisting still in being
young and handsome and happy, as she had once been. She de-
tested people for being wicked, because she had no longer the
temptation to be wicked herself; she detested them for being good,
because she had never known the meaning of good while she lived.

When Mrs Dionysius O'Eourke went to the Morteville balls, all
the little Frenchmen would run about her, in sheer amazement at
her undraped bulk.

" Hold, Alphonse ! hast thou seen the English mamma ! But
'tis rather an exhibition for a museum than a ball-room. Une Jdp-
popotame qui se decolUte comme ga ! "

From old Mrs Maloney's corpse-like face and anatomical neck
and arms, bared as only utter fleshlessness can ever bare itself,
men of all nations turned away with horror. She was not even
curious. Occasionally, indeed, she would drag into her meshes
some unfledged boy who thought it savoured of manliness to ape
precocious cjTiicism, or some hoary-headed roue who would fain
hear the vices imputed to others which he no longer had it in his
power .to commit. And then was INfrs Maloney in her glory.
Then she almost felt that in the possession of a tongue like hers
resides compensation for being old and loveless and unbeautiful.
Then was youth vilified and age dishonoured ; then were beauty
and love and faith, and all the fairness and the nobleness of our
common humanity, disfigured by the vitriol flung from tliat black
heart, until her listener — however foolish, however world -hardened
— would turn away with a shudder from the blasphemies of those
lips that had once been fresh and young, and that children's kisses
had blest.

Look at the pictured impersonations in which the old painters'
fancies used to embody all that men conceive of when they use the
word fiend — the malignant, the impious, the hopeless — and you
will see Maloney ; she who thirty years before had been, if fame
spoke true, the beauty and the toast of one of the most brilliant,
the most genial-hearted cities in the kingdom.


If priest or parson would have let lier mount into his pulpit,
show her withered face, and vent her impotent rage against the
life she had made vile use of, there had been a sermon to keep
women pure and men honourable. The Spartans turned their
drunken slaves to some account. Can we, with all our science,
find no use for the scum, the dregs of our society 1 Is our chil-
dren's love of honour, of virtue, of truth, of courage — of the crown
of all these, charity — to be taaght by written books alone?

Seated between these two women — I pass over Mr O'liourke, a
poor little man weighing about as much as any one of his wife's
limbs, and at this particular moment, as usual, not by any means
moie pleasant company for all the brandy he had taken since his
dinner — seated between Mesclames O'Eourke and Maloney was
Captain Waters, one of the head dandies or clothes-wearing men
of Morteville.

Captain Waters was perhaps eight-and-twenty, perhaps eight-
and-forty. Certain effete and obliterated human faces seem of
texture too putty-like for time's finger to mark them with any last-
ing indentation. Captain Waters had one of these faces. He had
pale hair, pale eyes, pale cheeks, pale girlish hands, a pale coat, a
pate hat, and an eye-glass ; the last the most distinctive feature
about him. Who was Captain Waters ? l^o one knew. What
service had he been in 1 What were his means of living % N^o one
knew. It was faintly believed that he was a married man ; one of
those stray atoms of matrimony that do float about on the surface
of Anglo-Continental life. It was believed also that some one
thought they had once seen him in Italy robbing a church with
the Garibaldians. It was generally admitted that he played the
best game of ecarte in Morteville. As far as voice and manner
went. Captain Waters Fas a gentleman; only an occasional rest-
lessness of manner, a proneness to change any conversation as soon
as ib trenched too nearly on his own personal history, betraying the
class of professional adventurers to which he belonged. He said he
was related — very possibly it was true — to more than one great
English family, and that nothing but a change in the Cabinet was
needed for him to obtain one of the foreign diplomatic appoint-
ments for which his perfect command of Continental languages
fitted him. In the mean time, he was economizing abroad, that is


to say, wearing good clothes, living at one of the best hotels in
the place ; flirting desperately with young ladies ; getting dinners
out of old ones ; and generally winning the money of any men
who were well-born enough to become Captain Waters's com-
panions — he detested vulgar people — and to walk arm-in-arm with
him on the Morteville Pier.

Captain Waters was spiteful; as spiteful to the full as Mes-
dames O'Eourke and Maloney. But while theirs was heartfelt,
malignant spite — the work of artists who put their hearts into
what they fabricated — Captain Waters's was dilettanteism. Every-
thing, even the trouble of pulKng characters to pieces, bored or
seemed to bore him. Nothing, including every possible moral de-
pravity or deformity, surprised him. Eaising his eye-glass up a
quarter of an inch, taking his cigarette languidly in his little blue-
veined hand, and smiling barely enough to show his even teeth, he
would just throw in a word, a delicate finishing touch, when the
other common assassins had done their work. You may imagine
Avhat the word would be to appreciative hearers. A plat, dressed by
the hand of a cordon bleu, crowning some repast of high-seasoned
coarser dishes — savoury and tasteful perhaps in their way, but
lacking that quintessence of flavour which only education and re-
finement knows how to prepare for the palate of civilized man.

The last noticeable person in the group was Miss Gu&sy Marks,
a few of whose moral characteristics we have already considered.
The personnel of this young person, had she flourished thirty years
ago, might have justified her claims in the matter of literature ; for
thirty years ago, women who wrote were, we learn, considered in
this country somewhat in the light of monsters — women only in
their invincible inferiority of brain ; but otherwise unsexed by the
mere attempt to raise themselves above their samplers. Miss IMarks
had a high bare forehead, a flat head, beetling eyebrows, great bird-
like eyes and nose, a splendid development of animalism about the
lower part of the face, and a moustache ! Yes, a moustache ! Why
should I euphemize? A moustache such as many a fledgling
ensign would incur his year's debts in advance to possess.

The last new-comers to Morteville — consequently the last new
chance of dinner that Miss Marks was seeking to propitiate — were
Mr and the two Miss Montacutes, by whose side she now stood.


Eegarding them there is little to say. The Miss Montacutes were
pretty girls, who talked a good deal of grand married sisters, and
their regret at having to come to such a slow place as Morteville
for poor mamma's health. And Mr Montacute was a man who had
formerly been rich and now was poor, and who had spent a great
deal of his time in Continental jails, and already was meditating
as to how much was likely to be garnered out of the Morteville shop-
keepers before he should run away. Yet once Mr Montacute had
kept open house and given money with a free hand to those who
asked for it, and had brought up his lads to call dishonour by its
right name. Look at his face now, — the set hard mouth, the eyes
that won't meet yours ; listen to the bullying tone in which he
talks to his wife and daughters, and say if professional insolvency
can be pleasant work to a man who was bred a gentleman ? Say
if he too might not add some comments to that unwritten sermon
of which I spoke just now 1

"Poor little Archie Wilson!" repeated Miss Marks, with
unction ; "if some one would only take the chUd up, something
might be made of her yet."

"I should think somebody would be quite sure to take her up,''
suggested Captain Waters, in the intervals of making a fresh
cigarette. " You need not be uneasy on that score, Miss Marks."

" Captain Waters, you are too bad," cried Mrs Maloney, while
Mrs O'Rourke chuckled, and the Miss Montacutes remarked
demurely how plainly you could see the light-house on the opposite
coast. " Of course it's all very amusing for you gentlemen, but
for the ladies in the place — and young ladies especially — I say it's
most embarrassing. Why, really now. Miss Montacute, you
mustn't be shocked, but I do think it right to put you on your
guard" — only Mrs Maloney called it 'gu'iard.' "What do you
suppose I saw last night from my window '? "

E"o one's imagination was equal to the emergency. Captain
Waters looked up at the sky and smiled.

" Well, then, you must know, Mr Montacute, my lodgings is
just opposite to the Wilsons', Eoo d'Artois — and 'twas a moonlight
night, as this may be, and everything as distinct as possible — and
about eleven, or half-past, I sat down by my window to think a
httle" — «he sighed piously, — "before retiring to rest, when what


should come out from the "Wilsons' parlour-window but a man's
figure ! "

The whole company repeated, as one man, the word " window ! "

"Yes, -window!" exulted Mrs Maloney, warming to her work.
" If it had been by the door no one would have been more willing
than myself to give her the benefit of the doubt, for of course the
Dormers live on the first, and the old Countess d'Eu on the second ;
and it is possible, though extremely unlikely, that this person
might have been unconnected with the Wilsons. But no, it was
from their window it appeared. They live on the rez-de-chausse,
Mr Montacute. Not that I blame them for that, poor creatures ;
but with Mrs Wilson wearing a silk-velvet cloak, and Archie, to
my own knowledge, seven pairs of boots since Christmas, economy
it is not. A man's figure, dressed in a short paletot, a wideawake
hat, and smoking a cigar! l:^ow comes the point of the story.
That figure was Miss Archie Wilson herself ! "

Horror on all sides ; even Captain Waters languidly interested.

''And dressed — like a man?" ejaculated Gussy Marks plain-
tively ; dressed quite like a man, my dear Mrs Maloney ? "

" Well, no," explained IMaloney, " the miserable girl wore some
kind of dark skirt, which indeed betrayed her to me — that and
her hair, which, although it was tucked up, I could see the bright
red in the moonlight ; but for the rest of her figure dressed as I
tell you — a man's paletot, a wideawake hat, and smoking a cigar.
She paraded up and down the pavement for some time, her hands
in her pockets, her hat stuck on one side, and no more ashamed of
herself, my dear, than any of us are now ! Indeed, the way she
stared up at me was so offensive that T rose at last and shut down
my window, and saw no more of the disgusting spectacle. We
may form our own conclusions," sniffed Mrs Maloney, virtuously,
— " we may form our own conclusions as to what should make a
young girl assume such a disguise, and steal away from her father's
house at midnight. Whatever Christian charity has bid me do

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