with the thousands of stamps on the Rand reef, were to
stop suddenly, and the smoke and the red flare were to
die, it would be frightening in more ways than one. But
I see what you mean. There might be a sense of peace,
but the minds and bodies which had been vibrating with
the stir of power would feel that the soul had gone out of
things, and they would dwindle too."
"If Rhodes should fall, if the stamps on the Rand
should cease ?"
He got to his feet. "Either is possible, maybe prob-
able; and I don't want to think of it. As you say, there'd
be a ghastly sense of emptiness and a deadly kind of
peace." He smiled bitterly.
She rose now also, and fingering some flowers in a vase,
arranging them afresh, said: "Well, this Jameson Raid,
if it is proved that Cecil Rhodes is mixed up in it, will it
injure you greatly I mean your practical interests?"
He stood musing for a moment. "It's difficult to say
at this distance. One must be on the spot to make a
proper estimate. Anything may happen."
She was evidently anxious to ask him a question, but
hesitated. At last she ventured, and her breath came a
little shorter as she spoke.
"I suppose you wish you were in South Africa now.
You could do so much to straighten things out, to prevent
the worst. The papers say you have a political mind
the statesman's intelligence, the Times said. ThStt letter
you wrote, that speech you made at the Chamber of
Commerce dinner "
She watched him, dreading what his answer might be.
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
There was silence for a moment, then he answered:
"Fleming is going to South Africa, not myself. I stay
here to do Wallstein's work. I was going, but Wallstein
was taken ill suddenly. So I stay I stay."
She sank down in her chair, going a little pale from
excitement. The whiteness of her skin gave a delicate
beauty to the faint rose of her cheeks that rose-pink
which never was to fade entirely from her face while life
was left to her.
" If it had been necessary, when would you have gone?"
"At once. Fleming goes to-morrow," he added.
She looked slowly up at him. ' ' Wallstein is a new name
for a special Providence," she murmured, and the colour
came back to her face. "We need you here. We "
Suddenly a thought flashed into his mind and suffused
his face. He was conscious of that perfume which clung
to whatever she touched. It stole to his senses and in-
toxicated them. He looked at her with enamoured eyes.
He had the heart of a boy, the impulsiveness of a nature
which had been unschooled in women's ways. Weak-
nesses in other directions had taught him much, but ex-
periences with her sex had been few. The designs of
other women had been patent to him, and he had been
invincible to all attack; but here was a girl who, with
her friendly little fortune and her beauty, could marry
with no difficulty; who, he had heard, could pick and
choose, and had so far rejected all comers; and who,
if she had shown preference at all, had shown it for a
poor man like Ian Stafford. She had courage and sim-
plicity and a downright mind; that was clear. And she
was capable. She had a love for big things, for the
things that mattered. Every word she had ever said to
him had understanding, not of the world alone, and
of life, but of himself, Rudyard Byng. She grasped
exactly what he would say, and made him say things
he would never have thought of saying to any one
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
else. She drew him out, made tb3 most of him, made
him think. Other women only tned to make him feel.
If he had had a girl like this beside him during the last
ten years, how many wasted hours would have been
saved, how many bottles of champagne would not have
been opened, how many wild nights would have been
Too good, too fine for him yes, a hundred times, but
he would try to make it up to her, if such a girl as this
could endure him. He was not handsome, he was not
clever, so he said to himself, but he had a little power.
That he had to some degree rough power, of course, but
power; and she loved power, force. Had she not said
so, shown it, but a moment before? Was it possible that
she was really interested in him, perhaps because he
was different from the average Englishman and not of a
general pattern? She was a" woman of brains, of great
individuality, and his own individuality might influence
her. It was too good to be true; but there had ever been
something of the gambler in him, and he had always
plunged. If he ever had a conviction he acted on it
instantly, staked everything, when that conviction got
into his inner being. It was not, perhaps, a good way,
and it had failed often enough; but it was his way, and
he had done according to the light and the impulse that
were in him. He had no diplomacy, he had only purpose.
He came over to her. "If I had gone to South Africa
would you have remembered my name for a month?" he
asked with determination and meaning.
"My friends never suffer lunar eclipse," she an-
swered, gaily. "Dear sir, I am called Hold-Fast. My
friends are century-flowers and are always blooming."
"You count me among your friends?"
" I hope so. You will let me make all England envious
of me, won't you? I never did you any harm, and I do
want to have a hero in my tiny circle."
" A hero you mean me ? Well, I begin to think I have
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
some courage when I ask you to let me inside your 'tiny-
circle. I suppose most people would think it audacity,
"You seem not to be aware what an important person
you are how almost sensationally important. Why,
I am only a pebble on a shore like yours, a little unknown
slip of a girl who babbles, and babbles in vain."
She got to her feet now. "Oh, but believe me, believe
me," she said, with sweet and sudden earnestness, "I am
prouder than I can say that you will let me be a friend
of yours! I like men who have done things, who do
things. My grandfather did big, world-wide things,
"Yes, I know; I met your grandfather once. He was
a big man, big as can be. He had the world by the ear
"He spoiled me for the commonplace," she replied.
"If I had lived in Pizarro's time, I'd have gone to Peru
with him, the splendid robber."
He answered with the eager frankness and humour of
a boy. "If you mean to be a friend of mine, there are
those who wul think that in one way you have fulfilled
your ambition, for they say I've spoiled the Peruvians,
"I like you when you say things like that," she mur-
mured. " If you said them often "
She looked at him archly, and her eyes brimmed with
amusement and excitement.
Suddenly he caught both her hands in his and his eyes
burned. "Will you "
He paused. His courage forsook him. Boldness had
its limit. He feared a repulse which could never be over-
come. "Will you, and all of you here, come down to
my place in Wales next week?" he blundered out.
She was glad he had faltered. It was too bewildering.
She dared not yet face the question she had seen he was
about to ask. Power yes, he could give her that; but
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
power was the craving of an ambitious soul. There were
other things. There was the desire of the heart, the
longing which came with music and the whispering trees
and the bright stars, the girlish dreams of ardent love and
the garlands of youth and joy and Ian Stafford.
Suddenly she drew herself together. She was conscious
that the servant was entering the room with a letter.
"The messenger is waiting," the servant said.
With an apology she opened the note slowly as Byng
turned to the fire. She read the page with a strange,
tense look, closing her eyes at last with a slight sense of
dizziness. Then she said to the servant:
"Tell the messenger to wait. I will write an answer."
" I am sure we shall be glad to go to you in Wales next
week," she added, turning to Byng again. "But won't
you be far away from the centre of things in Wales?"
"I've had the telegraph and a private telephone wire
to London put in. I shall be as near the centre as though
I lived in Grosvenor Square; and there are always special
"Special trains oh, but it's wonderful to have power
to do things like that! When do you go down?" she
She smiled radiantly. She saw that he was angry with
himself for his cowardice just now, and she tried to re-
store him. "Please, will you telephone me when you
arrive at your castle? I should like the experience of
telephoning by private wire to Wales."
He brightened. "Certainly, if you really wish it. I
shall arrive at ten to-morrow night, and I'll telephone
you at eleven."
"Splendid splendid! I'll be alone in my room then.
I've got a telephone instrument there, and so we could
"So we can say good-night," he repeated in a low voice,
>nd he held out his hand in good-bye.
WITHIN THE POWER-HOUSE
When he had gone, with a new, great hope in his heart,
she sat down and tremblingly re-opened the note she had
received a moment before.
"I am going abroad" it read "to Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and
St. Petersburg. I think I've got my chance at last. I want to see
you before I go this evening, Jasmine. May I?"
It was signed "Ian."
"Fate is stronger than we are," she murmured; "and
Fate is not kind to you, Ian," she added, wearily, a wan
look coming into her face.
"Mio destino," she said at last "mio destino!" But
who was her destiny which of the two who loved her?
THREE YEARS LATER
speshul extra speshul all about Kruger
an' his guns!"
The shrill, acrid cry rang down St. James's Street, and
a newsboy with a bunch of pink papers under his arm shot
hither and thither on the pavement, offering his sensa-
tional wares to all he met.
"Extra speshul extra speshul all about the war
wot's comin' all about Kruger's guns!"
From an open window on the second floor of a building
in the street a man's head was thrust out, listening.
"The war wot's comin' !" he repeated, with a bitter sort
of smile. "And all about Kruger's guns. So it is coming,
is it, Johnny Bull; and you do know all about his guns,
do you? If it is, and you do know, then a shattering big
thing is coming, and you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull."
He hummed to himself an impromptu refrain to an
"Then you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull, Johnny Bull,
Then you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull!"
Stepping out of the French window upon a balcony now,
he looked down the street. The newsboy was almost
below. He whistled, and the lad looked up. In response
to a beckoning finger the gutter-snipe took the doorway
and the staircase at a bound. Like all his kind, he was
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
a good judge of character, and one glance had assured
him that he was speeding upon a visit of profit. Half a
postman's knock a sharp, insistent stroke and he en-
tered, his thin weasel-like face thrust forward, his eyes
glittering. The fire in such eyes is always cold, for hun-
ger is poor fuel to the native flame of life.
"Extra speshul, m'lord all about Kruger's guns."
He held out the paper to the figure that darkened the win-
dow, and he pronounced the g in Kruger soft, as in Scrooge.
The hand that took the paper deftly slipped a shilling
into the cold, skinny palm. At its first touch the face of
the paper-vender fell, for it was the same size as a half-
penny; but even before the swift ringers had had a chance
to feel the coin, or the glance went down, the face regained
its confidence, for the eyes looking at him were generous.
He had looked at so many faces in his brief day that he
was an expert observer.
"Thank y' kindly," he said; then, as the fingers made
assurance of the fortune which had come to him, "Ow,
thank ye werry much, y'r gryce," he added.
Something alert and determined in the face of the boy
struck the giver of the coin as he opened the paper to
glance at its contents, and he paused to scan him more
closely. He saw the hunger in the lad's eyes as they
swept over the breakfast-table, still heavy with uneaten
breakfast bacon, nearly the whole of an omelette, and
rolls, toast, marmalade and honey.
"Wait a second," he said, as the boy turned toward the
"Yes, y'r gryce."
"Had your breakfast?"
"I has me brekfist w'en I sells me pypers." The lad
hugged the remaining papers closer under his arms, and
kept his face turned resolutely away from the inviting
table. His host correctly interpreted the action.
"Poor little devil grit, pure grit!" he said under his
breath. " How many papers have you got left ?" L he asked,
THREE YEARS LATER
The lad counted like lightning. "Ten," he answered.
" I'll soon get 'em off now. Luck 's wiv me dis mornin'."
The ghost of a smile lighted his face.
"I'll take them all," the other said, handing over a
The lad fumbled for change and the fumbling was due
to honest agitation. He was not used to this kind of
"No, that's all right," the other interposed.
"But they're only a h'ypenny," urged the lad, for his
natural cupidity had given way to a certain fine faculty
not too common in any grade of human society.
"Well, I'm buying them at a penny this morning.
I've got some friends who'll be glad to give a penny to
know all about Kruger's guns." He too softened the g
in Kruger in consideration of his visitor's idiosyn-
"You won't be mykin' anythink on them, y'r gryce,"
said the lad with a humour which opened the doors of Ian
Stafford's heart wide; for to him heaven itself would be
insupportable if it had no humorists.
"I'll get at them in other ways," Stafford rejoined.
"I'll get my profit, never fear. Now what about break-
fast? You've sold all your papers, you know."
"I'm fair ready for it, y'r gryce," was the reply, and now
the lad's glance went eagerly towards the door, for the
tension of labour was relaxed, and hunger was scraping
hard at his vitals.
"Well, sit down this breakfast isn't cold yet. . . .
But, no, you'd better have a wash-up first, if you can
wait," Stafford added, and rang a bell.
"Wot, 'ere brekfist wiv y'r gryce 'ere?"
"Well, I've had mine" Stafford made a slight grimace
"and there's plenty left for you, if you don't mind eating
P "I dusted me clothes dis mornin'," said the boy, with
an attempt to justify his decision to eat this noble break-
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
fast. "An' I washed me 'ands but pypers is muck,"
A moment later he was in the fingers of Gleg the valet
in the bath-room, and Stafford set to work to make the
breakfast piping hot again. It was an easy task, as
heaters were inseparable from his bachelor meals, and,
though this was only the second breakfast he had eaten
since his return to England after three years' absence,
everything was in order.
For Gleg was still more the child of habit and decorous
habit than himself. It was not the first time that Gleg
had had to deal with his master's philanthropic activities.
Much as he disapproved of them, he could discriminate;
and there was that about the newsboy which somehow
disarmed him. He went so far as to heap the plate of
the lad, and would have poured the coffee too, but that
his master took the pot from his hand and with a nod and
a smile dismissed him; and his master's smile was worth
a good deal to Gleg. It was an exacting if well-paid
service, for Ian Stafford was the most particular man in
Europe, and he had grown excessively so during the past
three years, which, as Gleg observed, had brought great,
if quiet, changes in him. He had grown more studious,
more watchful, more exclusive in his daily life, and ladies
of all kinds he had banished from direct personal share
in his life. There were no more little tea-parties and
dejeuners chez lui, duly chaperoned by some gracious
cousin or aunt for there was no embassy in Europe where
he had not relatives.
'"Ipped a bit 'ipped. 'E 'as found 'em out, the
'uzzies," Gleg had observed; for he had decided that the
general cause of the change in his master was Woman,
though he did not know the particular woman who had
As the lad ate his wonderful breakfast, in which nearly
half a pot of marmalade and enough butter for three
ordinary people figured, Stafford read the papers atten-
THREE YEARS LATER
tively, to give his guest a fair chance at the food and to
overcome his self -consciousness. He got an occasional
glance at the trencherman, however, as he changed the
sheets, stepped across the room to get a cigarette, or
poked the small fire for, late September as it was, a sud-
den cold week of rain had come and gone, leaving the
air raw; and a fire was welcome.
At last, when he realized that the activities of the table
were decreasing, he put down his paper. " Is it all right?"
he asked. "Is the coffee hot?"
" I ain't never 'ad a meal like that, y'r gryce, not never
any time," the boy answered, with a new sort of fire in
"Was there enough?"
"I've left some," answered his guest, looking at the jar
of marmalade and half a slice of toast. "I likes the coffee
hot tykes y'r longer to drink it," he added.
Ian Stafford chuckled. He was getting more than the
worth of his money. He had nibbled at his own breakfast,
with the perturbations of a crossing from Flushing still
in his system, and its equilibrium not fully restored; and
yet, with the waste of his own meal and the neglect of his
own appetite, he had given a great and happy half -hour
to a waif of humanity.
As he looked at the boy he wondered how many thou-
sands there were like him within rifle-shot from] where
he sat, and he thought each of them would thank what-
ever gods they knew for such a neglected meal. The words
from the scare-column of the paper he held smote his
"War Inevitable Transvaal Bristling with Guns and
Loaded to the Nozzle with War Stores Milner and Kruger
No Nearer a Settlement Sullen and Contemptuous Treat-
ment of British Outlander." . . . And so on.
And if war came, if England must do this ugly thing,
fulfil her bitter and terrible task, then what about suoh
as this young outlander here, this outcast from home and
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
goodly toil and civilized conditions, this sickly froth of
the muddy and dolorous stream of lower England? So
much withdrawn from the sources of their possible relief,
so much less with which to deal with their miseries
perhaps hundreds of millions, mopped up by the parched
and unproductive soil of battle and disease and loss.
He glanced at the paper again. "Britons Hold Your
Own," was the heading of the chief article. "Yes, we
must hold our own," he said, aloud, with a sigh. "If it
comes, we must see it through; but the breakfasts will be
fewer. It works down one way or another it all works
down to this poor little devil and his kind."
"Now, what's your name?" he asked.
"Jigger," was the reply.
"Nothin', y'r gryce."
' ' Jigg er what ? ' '
"It's the only nyme I got," was the reply.
"What's your father's or your mother's name?"
"I ain't got none. I only got a sister."
"What's her name?"
"Lou," he answered. "That's her real name. But
she got a fancy name yistiddy. She was took on at the
opera yistiddy, to sing with a hunderd uwer girls on the
styge. She's Lulu Luekingham now."
"Oh Luekingham!" said Stafford, with a smile, for
this was a name of his own family, and of much account
in circles he frequented. "And who gave her that name?
Who were her godfathers and godmothers?"
"I dunno, y'r gryce. There wasn't no religion in it.
They said she'd have to be called somefink, and so they
called her that. Lou was always plenty for 'er till she
went there yistiddy."
"What did she do before yesterday?"
"Sold flowers w'en she could get 'em to sell. 'Twas
when she couldn't sell her flowers that she piped up sort
of dead wild for she 'adn't 'ad nothin 1 to eat, an' she
THREE YEARS LATER
was fair crusty. It was then a gentleman, 'e 'eard 'er
singin' hot, an' he says, 'That's good enough for a start,'
'e says, 'an' you come wiv me,' he says. 'Not much,'
Lou says, 'not if I knows it. I seed your kind frequent.'
But 'e stuck to it, an' says, 'It's stryght, an' a lydy will
come for you to-morrer, if you'll be 'ere on this spot, or
tell me w'ere you can be found.' An' Lou says, says she,
'You buy my flowers, so's I kin git me bread-baskit full,
an' then I'll think it over.' An' he bought 'er flowers, an'
give 'er five bob. An' Lou paid rent for both of us wiv
that, an' 'ad brekfist; an' sure enough the lydy come next
dy an' took her off. She's in the opery now, an' she'll 'ave
'er brekfist reg'lar. I seed the lydy meself . Her picture 's
on the ' oar dings :
Suddenly he stopped. " W'y, that's 'er that's 'er!" he
said, pointing to the mantel-piece.
Stafford followed the finger and the glance. It was
Al'mah's portrait in the costume she had worn over three
years ago, the night when Rudyard Byng had rescued
her from the flames. He had bought it then. It had
been unpacked again by Gleg, and put in the place it had
occupied for a day or two before he had gone out of Eng-
land to do his country's work and to face the bitterest
disillusion of his life; to meet the heaviest blow his pride
and his heart had ever known.
"So that's the lady, is it?" he said, musingly, to the
boy, who nodded assent.
"Go and have a good look at it," urged Stafford.
The boy did so. "It's 'er done up for the opery," he
"Well, Lulu Luckingham is all right, then. That lady
will be good to her."
"Right. As soon as I seed her, I whispers to Lou,
'You keep close to that there wall,' I sez. 'There's a
chimbley in it, an' you'll never be cold,' I says to Lou."
Stafford laughed softly at the illustration. Many a
time the lad snuggled up to a wall which had a warm
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE
chimney, and he had got his figure of speech from real
"Well, what's to become of you?" Stafford asked.
"Me I'll be level wiv me rent to-day," he answered,
turning over the two shillings and some coppers in his
pocket; "an' Lou and me's got a fair start."
Stafford got up, came over, and laid a hand on the boy's
shoulder. "I'm going to give you a sovereign," he said
"twenty shillings, for your fair start; and I want you
to come to me here next Sunday-week to breakfast, and
tell me what you've done with it."
"Me y'r gryce!" A look of fright almost came into
the lad's face. ' ' Twenty bob me !' '
The sovereign was already in his hand, and now his face
suffused. He seemed anxious to get away, and looked
round for his cap. He couldn't do here what he wanted
to do. He felt that he must burst.
"Now, off you go. And you be here at nine o'clock on
Sunday-week with the papers, and tell me what you've
"Gawd my Gawd!" said the lad, huskily. The next
minute he was out in the hall, and the door was shut be-
hind him. A moment later, hearing a whoop, Stafford
went to the window and, looking down, he saw his late
visitor turning a cart-wheel under the nose of a policeman,
and then, with another whoop, shooting down into the
Mall, making Lambeth way.
With a smile he turned from the window. "Well, we
shall see," he said. "Perhaps it will be my one lucky
speculation. Who knows who knows!"
His eye caught the portrait of Al'mah on the mantel-
piece. He went over and stood looking at it musingly.
"You were a good girl," he said, aloud. "At any rate,
you wouldn't pretend. You'd gamble with your immor-
tal soul, but you wouldn't sell it not for three millions,
not for a hundred times three millions. Or is it that you
are all alike, you women? Isn't there one of you that
THREE YEARS LATER
can be absolutely true ? Isn't there one that won't smirch
her soul and kill the faith of those that love her for some
moment's excitement, for gold to gratify a vanity, or to
have a wider sweep to her skirts? Vain, vain, vain and
dishonourable, essentially dishonourable. There might be
tragedies, but there wouldn't be many intrigues if women
weren't so dishonourable the secret orchard rather than
the open highway and robbery under arms. . . . Whew,
what a world I"
He walked up and down the room for a moment, his
eyes looking straight before him; then he stopped short.
"I suppose it's natural that, coming back to England, I
should begin to unpack a lot of old memories, empty out
the box-room, and come across some useless and dis-
carded things. I'll settle down presently; but it's a thor-
oughly useless business turning over old stock. The wise