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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




GIFT



THE EARLY HISTORY OF
JACOB STAHL



THE EARLY HISTORY

OF

JACOB STAHL



BY

J. D. BERESFORD



"I would beget this larger faith in thee,
That nought we do or suffer is in vain."
AUTHOB SCOTT CRAVEN:

The La* of the Engliih, Act IV.



NEW YORK
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY



Copyright, 1911,
BY GEORGE H. DOBAN COMPANY

All right* ru*ned



PR

GOoo
B4453*



TO

BEATRICE



CONTENTS

BOOK ONE

HESTER
CHAPTER. PAGE

I TEMPERAMENT AND FORTUITIES 3

II EARLY INFLUENCES 11

III HESTER 29

IV THE PROCESS OF THE MIRACLE 43

V THE CHOICE OF A PROFESSION 55

BOOK TWO

MADELINE

VI THE BURGEONING 65

VII ELMOVER 83

VIII THE ELMOVER GARDEN-PARTY 94

IX THE PURLIEUS OF ELMOVER 104

X DEVELOPMENT 120

XI BENNETTS IN OPPOSITION 132

XII ELMOVER PRESERVES 141

XIII THE WHEATSHEAF CLARET 152

XIV ERIC IN OPPOSITION 162

XV A DETERMINATION 177

XVI THE HEART OF ELMOVER 185

XVII NEW HORIZONS 204

BOOK THREE
TONY FARRELL

XVIII THE OFFICE OF MR. RIDOUT MOHLEY 213

XIX VARIOUS DISCOVERIES 231

XX ADVENTURE 251

XXI THE END OF HESTER AND TONY . . 273



Vlll



CONTENTS



BOOK FOUR

OWEN BRADLEY

CHAPTER PAGE

XXII ILLUMINATION 309

XXIII BRADLEY'S TRANSLATION 335

BOOK FIVE
LOLA

XXIV AN INTRODUCTION AND AN ENGAGEMENT .... 359
XXV A PARENTHESIS 393

XXVI MARRIAGE 397

XXVII SINGLE AND UNMARRIED 422

XXVIII ANOTHER ANODYNE 444

XXIX THE INDISCRETION OF CAIRNS 461

XXX RECRUDESCENCE 477

XXXI CRISIS 499

XXXII SETTLEMENT 506

EPILOGUE

THE EARTH-NOTK 510



BOOK ONE
HESTER



JACOB STAHL

BOOK ONE
HESTER

CHAPTER I

TEMPERAMENT AND FORTUITIES
1.

THE first link in the chain was obviously forged by
temperament. Either Mrs. Stahl or Nancy Freeman,
who filled many offices in the Stahl household, none of
them satisfactorily, neglected to replace the lid of the
flour-tub. Similar and greater acts of neglect had
been committed in the past, and no penalty exacted,
but on this occasion a fortuitous mouse intruded into
the flour-tub and made history. Of this mouse noth-
ing more is known. Doubtless it was a well-meaning
creature enough. Indeed, we only know that it was a
mouse at all, from circumstantial evidence. It came
and went, left a musky trace of its passage, and
vanished.

Mrs. Stahl had an Irish temperament, chiefly evi-
denced in a habit of procrastination and a reposeful
trust in miracles. The procrastinating habit may
have been responsible for the absence of a lid from
the flour-tub, certainly it was responsible for the
presence of Nancy Freeman. Mrs. Stahl had
thought, and said, that she must " really look out for
another girl," and it is possible that she would have



4 JACOB STAHL

braced herself to the effort had it not been for that
other factor in her temperament her sweet faith in
the impossible. However inefficient Nancy proved
herself, Mrs. Stahl always hoped that she would do
better to-morrow or next week. Mrs. Stahl main-
tained her happiness by such illusions as these. She
had an imagination and directed it in her service;
she pictured a reformed Nancy, and the picture be-
came real to her. She told herself stories of a per-
fected Nancy, and believed them. " Why don't you
sack the girl? " Hermann Stahl would ask when he
came home for the week-end, and found disorder.
" Oh, she 's been so much better lately," would be the
reply, and Mrs. Stahl believed that Nancy really had
been better.

Not but what Nancy was a willing girl enough, but
she was empty-headed and more than a little vain.
For her vanity she had some justification. She was
admired by several ambitious young Camberwell
tradesmen, beginning life behind the counter or on
the seat of a delivery cart. Also, she was admired
and flattered by the penny postman, a widower of
some standing and a man possessed of much curious
information. On Sunday afternoons Nancy wore a
chignon and hoops; she was before her time as a
servant type, one of the pioneers of the " better-
dressed-than-mistress " order. With so many affairs
on hand it is easy to understand that Nancy had little
time for her duties in the Stahl household.

It was on a windy morning early in October that
Mrs. Stahl crossed the trail of the historical mouse.
She made the discovery at a time when she should have
made her pastry, but she, nevertheless, wasted a few
more precious minutes in waiting for a miracle. She
sniffed the flour-tub wistfully, and added ocular to
olfactory evidence, but though the evidence was pre-



TEMPERAMENT AND FORTUITIES 5

sented time after time in a precisely similar manner,
she returned to her examination on each occasion with
a reinspired hope that she might have been mistaken.
At last, in despair, she summoned Nancy.

Nancy was " doing " the front bedroom, her chief
instrument a duster which required frequent flourish-
ings out of the front window. After each flourish
Nancy rested and watched the passers-by. It was an
interesting occupation, and she was resentful, almost
indignant, when she heard the summons of her mis-
tress. " Drat yer, what 's it now? " was her com-
ment, spoken to an imaginary audience, and she lin-
gered regretfully at the window until slje heard the
sound of footsteps coming upstairs.

" I want ye just to come downstairs a minut," said
Mrs. Stahl, coaxingly.

" Yesm," replied Nancy. " I was just shaking out
the duster. Did you call befor'm? " Nancy's con-
ception of a respectful form of address was the ad-
dition of an occasional " m " to her words.

"Now just smell that!" said Mrs. Stahl, when
the pair arrived in the kitchen, and she pushed the
flour-tub towards Nancy and waited eagerly for the
verdict. After all, she might have been mistaken.
Nancy sniffed.

" Well I never ! " she said, and her glance at the
cupboard under the dresser, and the instinctive twitch
she gave to her petticoats, raised the alarm of
" Mouse ! " as clearly as any spoken words.

"What d'ye think 's been at it?" asked Mrs.
Stahl, searching for a last gleam of hope.

" Why, micem ! "

Mrs. Stahl sighed. " I was afraid so," she said.
" Now ye '11 just have to run round to Beeton's like
a good girl, and fetch me some more flour."

" Yesm ! " responded Nancy with alacrity. There



6 JACOB STAHL

was a passable, embryo grocer at Beeton's, and the
trip presented itself as preferable even to the flour-
ishing of a duster from the front bedroom window.

" And it 's a fine morning," added Mrs. Stahl
glancing out of the window, and discounting the force
of the equinoctial gale that was ravishing the plane-
trees. " Ye 'd better take baby."

The baby was Jacob Stahl, aged seven months and
two days.



Nancy put a shawl over her head, and pinned up
the bib of her apron. On week-days her potentiali-
ties as a pioneer were not in evidence. The perambu-
lator was wheeled out, and little Master Jacob was
laid therein. Little brother Eric, aged three, should
have joined the pilgrimage on foot, but he was very
much occupied with a large picture-book; he was
studying the letters of the alphabet, and objected to
being disturbed. As usual, it was Mrs. Stahl who
gave way. Eric already exhibited signs of precocity,
a desire for book-learning, and a persistent habit of
getting his own way were his most noticeable traits,
seen at the age of three.

The perambulator deserves recognition. It was
three-wheeled and heavy. Its tyres were of iron
and its construction primitive, but in one respect it
corresponded exactly to the finest product of twen-
tieth-century mechanism. It conformed to the law
of modern four-wheeled perambulators, that law
which still obtains among present examples. It
never ran in a straight line. Nancy was flurried
by the wind, it faced her on the outward jour-
ney, and the necessity for the constant elevation
and redirection of the front wheel, irritated her.
Nowadays, perambulators are such butterfly, such



TEMPERAMENT AND FORTUITIES 7

delicately balanced contrivances, that little weight
on the handles is required in order to tilt those self-
willed front wheels off the ground, in fact, it is not
unusual to see a logical nurse neglect the front
wheels altogether, slant the whole contrivance to an
angle at which equilibrium can be maintained with-
out difficulty, and sail gaily along regardless of any
risk from baby's unusual inclination, so perilously
suggestive of a " rush of blood to the head." But
it would have needed the exercise of considerable
strength so to have tilted Jacob's perambulator;
moreover, Nancy required a free hand to prevent
the forcible abduction of her shawl. The wind was
in one of its most rakish moods that morning. Little
wonder that Nancy lost her temper at the necessity
of loosing her grip on the shawl, and thus risking its
elopement with yEolus, in order to reset that ob-
stinately divagating front wheel, on the straight
path.

Nevertheless the journey to Beeton's was accom-
plished successfully, a brief flirtation was conducted,
and the flour obtained and placed in the foot of the
perambulator beyond the reach of Jacob's tiny legs.

" A fine child," remarked the passable young
grocer, as he arranged the parcel.

" M yes ! " replied Nancy casually, and then
to show her interest she added : " Nice eyes, he 's
got."

" Not the only one," said the young grocer with
marked intention, and Nancy bridled and answered
that she did n't want any of his impertinence, and
so sailed off in the direction of home with a following
wind.

She appeared to be set for a fine passage. The
shawl now clung tightly to her, and if the outline of
her form was very clearly exposed to any who might



8 JACOB STAHL

follow her, Nancy was not apparently handicapped
by the circumstance.

The penny postman was a fortuity. He turned
into the wake of Nancy's passage from a side street,
and Nancy glimpsed him out of the tail of her eye.
Forgetful of the wind, she turned half round to
make sure.

It is at this point that all the trivialities, outcomes
of other trivialities, suddenly coincide. As Nancy
turned, there came one of those insidious gusts of
wind that are to the last degree exasperating. One
of those bursts that take you by the shoulders and
shake you, that wriggle and push and struggle, that
seem desperately anxious to escape from nowhere
and find you opposing them, that are rough and ill-
tempered, and desperately vicious, self-assertive, ar-
rogant, and overbearing; that throw dirt and leaves
in your face, push you out of their way with an
unbelievable rudeness, and then career down the street
with a triumphant shout, taking with them any ar-
ticle that can be violently wrenched from your person.

Nancy threw up both hands to clutch her shawl.

The pavement was on a slight incline, the peram-
bulator had a little way on it, and the whole force
of the wind behind. It was a heavy perambulator,
and it gathered momentum.

Nancy, affronted by the ill-mannered jostling of
the wind, did not realize the situation, and no one
can blame her; nor can any blame be attached to
the penny postman, for he saw the danger and started
to run, shouting, in pursuit of the perambulator.
He might have caught it if the infernal affair had
run straight or turned in towards the wall, but as
though rejoicing in its unwonted freedom, it set a
diagonal course for the roadway, sailed along gaily
for some ten yards, reached the curb, lost its hold



TEMPERAMENT AND FORTUITIES 9

of earth with the off rear wheel, staggered, lurched,
and upset.

The still shouting postman was first on the scene.
Nancy, so soon as she caught sight of the runaway,
covered her face in the shawl, the retention of which
was to be so dearly paid for, and was subsequently
led home, weeping. It was the postman who rescued
a floury and ominously quiet baby from the gutter,
and who placed him in the perambulator re-erected
by the first contingent of the rapidly collecting
crowd.

"Is 'e 'urt?" "'Oo was with 'im? " "Is it a
boy or a gel? " were the questions suggested by the
various characters and sexes of the crowd. The penny
postman's face was very grave as he looked down
at the uncannily silent child.

" I know where 'e lives. I '11 take 'im 'ome," was
all the answer vouchsafed to inquirers.

It was a startling and terrifying picture which
met Mrs. Stahl on the doorstep. A solemn postman,
a very white baby, and a miscellaneous assortment
of wide-eyed onlookers withal no Nancy.

" Been a little haccident," said the postman. " I '11
fetch the doctor."

3.

Dr. Pennyfather was a reassuring person but weak
in diagnosis. After he had made a somewhat cur-
sory examination of the tender little frame of baby
Jacob, he beamed encouragingly on the anxious Mrs.
Stahl. " No, nothing serious, I think" was his ver-
dict, " but we must be careful of this bruise at the
back of the head. Very careful. The sutures are
hardly closed yet." That bruise was the scare which
drew Pennyfather off the track. He tended that bruise



10 JACOB STAHL

with solicitude. It was a marked thing, other bruises,
notably one at the base of the spine, were overlooked.

Even after this reassurance, Mrs. Stahl's fury of
resentment against Nancy did not subside. Nancy
was packed off within an hour, despite all protesta-
tions of sorrow and of innocence.

In passing out of the Stahls' household, she passed,
also, out of the history of Jacob. In after years she
was a name to him, a name round which a legend of
carelessness and neglect had been woven. To Jacob
the name of Nancy Freeman stood later for all that
was flippant, idle, and self-seeking in woman. Yet
Nancy made an excellent wife and mother, and reared
five healthy children. It was the young grocer she
married, not the penny postman.



CHAPTER H

ZARLY INFLUENCES
1.

JACOB STAHL'S grandfather, Otto Stahl, genetically a
German, specifically a Bavarian, a Municher, had set-
tled in London somewhere in the thirties, and had
eventually been made a partner in the business of
Myers and Co., a firm of wool-brokers in Coleman
Street, known under the style of Myers and Stahl.
Otto Stahl married Hester Myers, the daughter of
his partner, a pure-blooded Jewess, after waging a
five years' war of aggression upon the orthodox prin-
ciples of Hester's father, and took her to live in
Bloomsbury, the early Victorian Kensington. There
were three children of this marriage, one of whom, the
second girl, died young. The eldest daughter was
christened Hester after her mother, and like her
brother Hermann was brought up on her father's
Lutheran principles, placidly acquiesced in, though
never actually adopted, by Mrs. Stahl.

Hester favoured her father's family in appearance
as well as in faith, and became a wide, flat, plain-
featured woman, endowed with splendid qualities of
steadfastness and good-nature a woman who would
have made an ideal wife and mother. Unfortunately
her lack of physical charm, combined with a natural
modesty that prevented her from ever taking the ini-
tiative, proved a barrier to the attainment of those
ends for which she was pre-eminently fitted a fact
that she openly lamented with honest common sense



IS JACOB STAHL

when she had arrived at an age when any hope of
marriage might reasonably be supposed to have
disappeared.

When Hester was fifteen her mother died, the im-
mediate cause of her death failure of the heart's
action a failure determined by the necessity for an
increase of work within continually decreasing limits,
due to the superabundantly flesh-forming qualities of
Mrs. Myers' person. From this time until her father
died, twenty years later, Hester managed the Blooms-
bury establishment with a precision and economy that
marked her out as a model housekeeper indeed,
she had what amounted to a genius for domestic
management.

Her brother, Hermann, was more versatile. With
him the Jewish graft bore more fruit than the German
stock, but it was fruit of poor quality, giving evidence
of arrested development. Doubtless the flow of sap
was too sluggish.

Hermann was educated at the City of London
School, was taken into his father's firm at the age of
seventeen, and remained there until he was twenty-
four. The immediate cause of the rupture between
father and son was Hermann's determination to
marry Hilda O'Connell, an Irish girl of little educa-
tion, whom he had met during a summer holiday.
This in itself was a matter of sufficient seriousness to
cause a breach between the two men, but the relations
between them were already strained, and a smaller
point of dispute would have been sufficient to bring
about a permanent estrangement.

Hermann's temperament was unsuited to office
work, yet a certain determination of purpose, com-
bined with a love of money for its own sake inherited
from his mother's family, had held him in check, kept
him within the bounds of his father's endurance. The



EARLY INFLUENCES 13

boy's occasional outbursts and indiscretions had
often been made the subject of severe reprimand, and
many a telling punishment had been inflicted by a
reduction or temporary cessation of his salary; but
his offences had, hitherto, been ultimately condoned
upon a promise of better behaviour, although these
promises were never kept for long, and Otto Stahl had
confessed to being " about sick of it," only a few
weeks before his son's crowning indiscretion created
the final breach between them.

There is not much to be said in favour of Hermann.
He was a hybrid whose undeveloped virtues and un-
steady desires conflicted only to certain ends. In
business his penurious methods and characteristic
meanness in all money matters brought him financial
security, but militated against his obtaining any great
success. He made no big coups because he dared no
risks, his financial genius was obscured by the caution
and stolidity inherited from his father's family.
When he left, or, to be more precise, was ejected,
from his father's firm, he obtained a position as trav-
eller for a wholesale house, in Wood Street, which
dealt in machine-made lace, chiefly in the form of trim-
mings and insertions.

The work suited him, in that it gave him a certain
amount of leisure and the interest of perpetual travel,
as his work lay principally among the drapers in the
smaller provincial towns of England and Wales. He
never neglected his business, chiefly because he worked
largely on commission, and among the pleasures he
found in life, he found none so attractive as the ag-
gregation of money.

His married life, if not a triumphant success, was
not entirely a failure. The zest inspired by the nat-
ural purity and remoteness of his Irish girl, was never
quite lost; largely maintained, no doubt, in later



14 JACOB STAHL

years by the long periods of separation between hus-
band and wife, for Hermann was hardly ever at home
except at the week-end, and not then, if he could make
an additional sixpence by charging his firm for trav-
elling expenses he had not incurred.

One other unpleasant trait of Hermann's character
must be touched upon, however briefly he was not
a faithful husband, a fact never suspected by his wife.
A simple, sweet-minded woman, this wife of Hermann
Stahl's, devoid of evil thoughts, who attributed noth-
ing but good to all with whom she associated; a de-
voted wife and mother, but quite inefficient as a house-
keeper, her vagaries in this latter direction the one
source of friction between her and her husband. With
him domestic economy was a science, whilst she was
innocent even of arithmetic.

Nevertheless it was not an unhappy household, this
little Camberwell menage of the Stahls'. Nancy Free-
man's successor proved a jewel, and devoted herself
heart and soul to the care of the little Jacob, con-
demned for the first fifteen years of his life never to
put his feet to the ground. The elder boy, Eric,
neither then, nor at any later period of his life, gave
trouble to anyone. A solid serious person, Jacob's
brother, with a genius for application. In him all the
hereditary tendencies seemed to have blended and con-
solidated. In Hermann Stahl they were all awash,
bumping and tumbling; some two or three of the
bigger always in evidence, the others, sometimes on
top, at others forced below the surface; an untidy,
heterogeneous collection of qualities with nothing to
bind them together.

A strange convention of races and conflicting ten-
dencies this that lies behind Jacob Stahl and his
brother Eric, but the laws of heredity are hard to
understand. That primary inclination to deviate



EARLY INFLUENCES 15

from the original type upsets all calculation from the
outset, since it is impossible to foretell what direction
the variations will take, and all these variations are
checked from spreading too rapidly by the human
instinct that makes the small man marry a woman six
feet high. If like were attracted to like in the making
of marriages, how much more quickly man's evolution
would progress, and what queer types we should have
in a few generations, even in such a small matter as
that of noses, for instance.

2.

The early years of Jacob's life were all spent in Cam-
berwell, a suburb that offered among other advan-
tages that of being within easy distance of Alleyn Col-
lege. Not that this convenience affected Jacob, whose
education was conducted spasmodically as occasion
offered, but Eric was permitted to make full use of
his opportunity, and solidified in body as a result of
his compulsory six-mile walk each day, nearly as much
as he solidified in mind as a result of his educational
training.

It is hard to avoid using some variation of the
word " solidity " in connection with Eric, but it is
the quality of compactness that is implied rather than
that of heaviness. He was not brilliant, yet he won
a certain measure of success, because he never tired,
because he never failed to achieve what he set out to
achieve, and because work came more easily to him
than play. Games were not distasteful to him; he
played cricket, football, or hockey according to the
season, with a certain amount of success that was due
to his concentration on the matter in hand. In fact
as a cricketer he might have achieved high honours,
for he was a " head bowler " of considerable capacity,



16 JACOB STAHL

and was endowed with great powers of physical en-
durance. But when at the age of fifteen he was in
danger of being tried for the first eleven, he suddenly
exhibited an extraordinary tendency to bowl wides and
half-volleys. Eric had no ambition to win honours
on the cricket field, no intention of wasting too much
time on a sport that made no real appeal to him.

As a result of this lack of enthusiasm for such an
essential part of the curriculum, Eric was not popu-
lar with the boys ; neither was he, for another reason,
a favourite with the masters, despite the credit he
brought to them and to the college. The latter fail-
ure if it can be called a failure was due to his
character as a whole ; he was too self-contained, too
self-sufficient, to win friendship either from his con-
temporaries or his seniors. He made no appeal of
weakness, accepted the learning of superior scholar-
ship with a quiet assurance that gave no gratifica-
tion to him who imparted it, and was wont, in his
confident, impassive way, to correct any of those slips
that are certain to be made sooner or later, even by
the most efficient teacher whose course of instruction
is not confined to a single subject. This tendency
of Eric's towards a sturdy dogmatism was the more
irritating to a man of high attainments, in that the
boy never made an assertion, much less attempted a
contradiction, if he was not absolutely sure of his
ground; and when Eric was sure of a thing it was
quite certain that that thing was susceptible of
proof.

As Eric plays an important, if not a very large,
part in this history, it is as well to have a clear un-
derstanding of his character and attainments at the
outset, and no better summary could be given of
them than that of Percy Morpeth, the man who spent
his genius in teaching mathematics, officially, and the



EARLY INFLUENCES 17

principles of life, unofficially, to boys of all ages in
and out of college.

Morpeth was talking shop to two of his fellow
masters, and the chief topic was Eric's success.

" Yes," remarked Morpeth, after a pause in the
conversation, " I have a great pity for Stahl," and
then in answer to the expostulation and surprise of
his listeners, he continued : " He may win all manner
of success, I grant you, in scholarship, but he is