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FORM NO. 609; 6, 12.33: S75H.
Under the Hermes
Under the Hermes
and other Stories
m ww. \
B By n
" Richard Dehan
" The Dop Doctor," etc.
Dodd, Mead and Company
i Ki 4 °
Printed in Grc.U Br
THE DEAR MEMORY OF
UNDER THE HERMES .
THE COMPLEAT HOUSEWIFE .
THE QUEEN OF RUATAVA
THE MORTALITY OF THE DIVINE EMILIE
THE JEST ....
A SPEAKING LIKENESS .
A GAME OF FARO
THE VENGEANCE OF THE CHERRY
WHITE MAN'S MAGIC
HOW YAMKO MARRIED FOURTEEN
THE TOOTH OF TULOO .
THE GREAT BEAST OF KAFUE
THE JUDGMENT OF BIG MAN
THE VENGEANCE OF OUNAKA
UNDER THE HERMES
M Miss Gildersleeve ! "
Somebody was calling from a great way off. Distance
lends enchantment even to the vulgar accents of a common
street-hawker crying shrimps or watercresses. Besides,
that call from afar off was in strange harmony with Cynthia's
reverie. Again it sounded. The girl swayed upon her
seat, drooping her heavy eyelids, and bending her tawny-
hued, dishevelled, purposefully pre-Raphaelite head back-
wards in a kind of ecstasy. To work upon the summit or
apex of a wobbly pyramid of wooden boxes is acknowledged,
even by the most ardent Art students, to be a difficult thing.
To think upon the same basis is an exercise fraught with
ticklish possibilities ; while to sleep is simply a tempting
of Nemesis. Yet the young lady appeared to the anxious
eyes of a solitary observer to be sleeping.
' Speak again — again ! Sweet is thy voice, son of Zeus i
thou who wast born at daybreak in a moss-curtained cave of
the Kyllenian Hill ; who at noon didst wake the echoes of the
slumbering crags with thy melodious shell, and at eventide
didst steal away the cattle of Phoibos.'
" She'll tumble over backwards in a minute," said
Gregory Crump. " In common humanity I ought to
There was a very uncommon amount of humanity in the
look with which he regarded his vis-:) -vis, as he put down his
2 UNDER THE HERMES
bit of charcoal on the easel-tray. Then he got down very
carefully from the top of his own wooden pyramid. Then
he crossed the gallery and, standing on tip-toe — Gregory
was a little man — inspected the features of his fair fellow-
student anxiously through his glasses. Nearly all Art
students availed themselves of these artificial aids to vision,
even in the year 1889 — indeed, the effect produced upon
the nervous Academy lecturer mounting the rostrum in the
theatre to deliver his inaugural address — by the combined
glare of several hundred pairs of eager spectacles — must
have been little short of petrifying.
Cynthia Gildersleeve had taken her glasses off. They lay
in her lap, upon a soft deposit of black chalk-dust and little
bread-pills. High lights may be picked cut with little
bread-pills, and by their aid the technical process known as
" stippling " is carried to more or less perfection.
" I should like to make a study of her just as she is,"
thought Gregory Crump.
Indeed, as the broad light of a summer noonday poured
through the glass roof upon Cynthia's flame-tinted locks,
her creamy -pale Rossettian features, besprinkled here and
there with tiny tan-coloured freckles, making blue shadows
under the long eyelashes and about the charming lips, and
falling on the long slender hands — rather grimy with char-
coal — that were clasped about Cynthia's knee, and the
pretty crossed feet revealed by the rather scanty draperies
of sage green serge — the effect was decidedly picturesque.
Yet Gregory failed to carry out his threat. After gazing
for one rapt half-minute — it was such a comfort to let all
his adoration filter out of his eyes once in a way — he put
out one ringer, very gingerly, and touched the fair dreamer.
" Oh ! " cried Cynthia.
She started violently, oversetting her easel, which col-
lapsed upon the stone pavement with an ear-splitting
crash. The gallery echoed, the pyramid of boxes tottered —
UNDER THE HERMES 3
collapsed. Had not Gregory Crump interposed the strong
arm of the deliverer and plucked Miss Gildersleeve from her
perilous situation, she might have been painfully involved
n the general ruin.
" It was all your fault," she said half-pettishry, as soon
as the echoes had stopped shouting. " Why did you make
me jump so ? "
" You were asleep," returned Gregory, laboriously
rebuilding the pyramid of boxes.
" I wasn't," denied Miss Gildersleeve, with a little
frown; " I was only dreaming."
" You can't dream without sleeping," said Gregory
Crump, rather sententiously, setting her easel once more
upon its legs.
" Why not ? " queried Cynthia, ' when you can sleep
without dreaming ? "
She sat down upon a folding campstool she had brought
for sketching purposes and looked at Gregory.
Gregory had no answer ready. He picked up her draw-
ing-board and replaced it on the easel. It bore a carefully
stippled -in chalk drawing of the subject upon which he was
himself occupied — the cast of the celebrated " Hermes "
of Praxiteles, and in the glance which Gregory cast upon
the work in question, a pai&ful appreciation of its obvious
demerits might have been seen to struggle with an ardent
admiration for the worker.
" If," he said presently, " you weren't asleep, you were in
a swoon. Been lunching on a Bath bun and a cup of coffee
as usual, I suppose ? "
" Wrong," asserted Cynthia, with quiet triumph. " I
made a meal — a hearty one — with Clara Cowdery. We
had a sixpenny — no, fivepenny plate of cold boiled beef
(the extra penny was for pickled gherkins), a' double portion
of mashed potatoes, one household bread — when new it
serves for two, as Clara says ! — an open tart apiece, and a
4 UNDER THE HERMES
split milk-and-soda. It was the birthday of one of us — I
forget which — and so we judged the extravagance per-
missible. We shall return to the Bath bun and coffee
Gregory groaned a short groan as he rose, and dusted
the chalk and breadcrumbs from the knees of his trousers .
" If you only — ! You know that you might eat yo ir
way steadily from end to end of the refreshment-room
bill-of-fare every day in the week — Sundays, Christmas,
and Good Fridays excepted — if you would only marry
me ! "
" And give up my career? " exclaimed Cynthia, with a
little quiver of her sensitive upper lip. " You have asked
me to do this regularly every Wednesday afternoon for two
years past, and I have as regularly refused you. Why do
you compel me to say ' no ' again ? "
" I don't want you to say no," returned Gregory gruffly.
" I want you to say yes. When a fellow loves a girl as I
have loved you, ever since we first met "
" Where did we first meet ? " said Cynthia, with languid
" We met," replied Gregory promptly, " four years ago,
behind a large folio in the Reading Room."
" Potts on Palaeontology , wasn't it ? " suggested Miss
" No. Of course," said Gregory ruefully, " you can't
be expected to remember as faithfully as I do. It was
The Natural History of Nightmares, by Johannes Prae-
torius, and you were driven to appeal to me because the
crabbed fifteenth-century German and the Latin terms
worried you a good deal." His eyes glistened at the
reminiscence. " We had plenty to say once we got started.
And long after the nightmares were ridden to death we
kept the folio because it was — " he stammered, ' : so large
and — and so convenient." Cynthia blushed. "Then,
UNDER THE HERMES 5
because the attendant said another lady and gentleman
wanted the volume we moved to the Natural History
" Where I made studies of stuffed humming-birds in
oil-colour," said Cynthia.
' And I milled away at mammoth bones in monochrome,"
said Gregory, " to improve my knowledge of Anatomy. A
sheer waste of energy, because nobody wants to buy a
picture of a mammoth nowadays ; and supposing anybody
did, he would have to take the proportions of the animal
on trust — he couldn't produce a live one to confute me
with. Those were happy days ! "
" My days of blindness," said Cynthia, with a tinge of
tragedy in her tone.
' It was I," said Gregory proudly, " who first opened
your eyes. You had been brought up in a middle-class
suburban home, surrounded by cheap upholstery and
chromo-lithography. You had not learned to shudder at
aniline dyes, or cabbage-rose carpets and wall-paper. The
sense of beauty — Beauty in the concrete as in the abstract
— had not been awakened in you. I made it my task to
call that sense into existence. Did I not ? "
Cynthia bowed her head.
' It cost me eighteen months of labour," went on
Gregory. " Pleasant labour — delightf ul toil ! For we were
engaged. Together we roved through the fields of anti-
quity. Slowly, gradually, you learned not to call an
amphora a jug, not to look upon a kylix as a dessert-dish.
A mummy became fraught with meaning, a stone arrow-
head was barbed with wonderful associations — for you.
Finally, classic Art — as exemplified in the works of Pheidias
and Praxiteles — became a clear hierograph — -not an obscure
hieroglyph to you. Your soul enlarged, your mind
opened — suddenly — like a young lettuce after a shower of
rain," said Gregory pathetically. " And then — then, at
6 UNDER THE HERMES
what was the proudest moment of my life — a blow fell
which crushed me to the earth ! "
" I wish you would be plainer," said Cynthia impatiently.
I've been told it isn't possible," said Gregory sadly.
Do you know, I have sometimes thought since that day
when you came to me and said : 1 1 know what true Beauty
means now 1 Don't let us be engaged any more ! ' that in
teaching you to perceive and appreciate harmony of line
and proportion and colour, I'd been cutting my own
throat, like a pig when it tries to swim."
Cynthia's campstool scraped uneasily on the flagstones.
She moved a little further from Gregory, and let her lifted
eyes dwell upon a distant object, r aptly.
" Because you did care for me — once," went on Gregory
Crump, with a lump in his throat, and something in each
of his honest little ugly eyes that was very like a tear;
" now all is changed. The birds and beasts have migrated
to South Kensington, the refreshment-room has come down-
stairs, and your love has faded like — like a flower in a
" I was so young in those days," faltered Cynthia.
" What does a young girl know about love ? "
"Not much, perhaps," returned Gregory stubbornly;
" but there isn't a man living who wouldn't rather apply
to a young girl for information on the subject than to an
old one. Look here ! You've said just now I'd asked you
to marry me every Wednesday for two years past. That
makes a hundred and four times, isn't it, that I've proposed
since you threw me over? Well, I'm going to make
it a hundred and five."
"Oh, pray — " began Cynthia
" You've got to hear me out," said Gregory firmly.
" Look here ! I know I'm an ugly fellow, no girl would
ever care to look at twice, but I want you to look at me
all your life long, and at nobody else. I'm aware I'm not
UNDER THE HERMES 7
worth having; but I want you to have me, all the same.
I don't deserve you — no living man is worthy to possess
such a prize ! — but I want you to give yourself to me entirely
— for always. You have said you cannot love me and never
could be happy if you married me — and I'd die rather than
cause you a moment's misery, but I want you to marry
me all the same. You see that, don't you ? It's how I
feel ! "
Cynthia rose, and drew herself to her full height. The
art serge fell in Botticellian folds about her slight, nymph-
like figure, the amber beads about her neck paled in con-
trast with the ruddy flame-tints of her hair. She clasped
her hands before her, and spoke low and earnestly.
" Shall I tell you how I feel ? — As if I should like to
speak the truth at last. A hundred and four times during
the past two years you have asked me to marry you, and
— upon my reiterated refusal — have begged me to say
" Whether there was any other fellow you liked better ? '
put in Gregory. " And you said there wasn't, a hundred
and four times over."
"Ask me that question again!" said Cynthia. She
was very pale, and her full tones had a note of tragedy
" I will," said Gregory Crump. " Is there any other
fellow — since last Wednesday ? "
" There is — there has been since the day I broke off our
rash engagement — an obstacle in human form," said
Cynthia, " between us."
" Then you have deceived me ! " Gregory burst out,
" I have not deceived you."
8 UNDER THE HERMES
1 Perhaps a girl wouldn't call it deceit," returned the
disappointed lover bitterly. " Fibbing seems to come
natural to 'em, like crimping their hair."
Cynthia passed her ringers through her large natural
waves with a smile, and Gregory softened insensibly.
" Come," he said, in a more kindly tone, " perhaps you
wouldn't mind telling me who it is ? I think — I think I've
a right to know. It can't be Raffael Nooks — that fellow
with the brown velvet coat and knee-breeches, who wears
his red hair combed into his neck, and a tie like a threepenny
Cynthia smiled mournfully and shook her head.
" I don't know why it should matter," Gregory reflected,
" but I can't help being glad it isn't him. Perhaps it's the
Principal Librarian," he went on, with a flash of inspiration.
" I've often heard you say his head reminded you of the
bust of Plato. Or " — a light of conviction came into his
eyes — " it may be — I believe it is "
" Who ? " asked Cynthia eagerly.
" The President of the R.A. He's been round the
galleries twice this term, and always stopped at your easel.
Last time, when he was telling you that your angles were
all wrong, and your anatomy impossible, and that you'd
mistaken reflected lights for high ones, I saw you gazing
at him as though you absolutely worshipped him ; and
when he'd gone, you said he was your ideal of what Pheidias
must have been at fifty."
" You have guessed wrongly in all three instances," said
Cynthia, rising and lifting wide shining eyes to his. You
interrupted me just now when I was about to explain
— to tell you that you have no living rival in my — my
" He's dead, then," said Gregory, with a breath of relief.
" Poor begg — fellow, I mean ! Did it happen recently ? '
" Many years ago."
UNDER THE HERMES 9
"Oh, come ! You've owned you fell in love with him
about the time you broke off with me. He was alive then
— he must have been alive."
Cynthia shook her head sadly.
" He was not."
" When did he die then ? " said Gregory, in desperation.
" I do not know."
Cynthia's voice trembled as she made this staggering
announcement — her eyes filled with tears.
Gregory looked at her with undisguised alarm and
" I'm afraid," he said, " you've been working too long
under this beastly glass roof, with the sun pouring down on
your head. I've known fellows quite knocked over that
way — in hot weather. Skylight -stroke, they called it.
Hadn't you better let me get you a cup of tea, and then go
and lie down in the Female Students' Room for half an
" I don't want any tea, thank you," said Cynthia, " and
the Female Students' Room smells mouldy." The tears
welled slowly up and brimmed over. " I feared you would
never understand me if I did try to confide in you," she
went on, with a choke in her voice; " but if you cannot
comprehend, you may at least pity me, for I am very —
" Tell me a little more," said Gregory, " and put it as
clearly as you can. Where did he come from, in the
beginning ? "
" He was dug up at Olympia in 1877," said the girl
slowly. " Not the place at Earl's Court — the place in
Greece. And then they sent him to the Louvre. He is
" Her brain is certainly unhinged," thought Mr. Gregory.
Then he said aloud, as gently as he could, " I suppose he
was a very good-looking fellow ? "
10 UNDER THE HERMES
" The pure Hellenic type," said Cynthia musingly.
" Umph ! " Gregory grunted. " Straight nose, curly
hair, broad shoulders, I suppose ?
Cynthia bowed her head in silent assent.
" Broad shoulders ? "
" Long legs ? "
" They must have been, judging by the rest of his pro-
portions; but I can't say for certain. I have never seen
" Complete ! Good heavens ! " Gregory cried. " You
don't mean to say that he was a cripple ? "
Cynthia drew up her tall figure proudly, blushing to the
roots of her hair.
" Call him what you like," she cried. " He is a million
times nobler and more beautiful in his cruelly mutilated
condition than he would be were he restored."
" Restored ? " Gregory cried. " You talk of him as
though he'd been a statue like " — he pointed to the cast
of the magnificent Hermes of Praxiteles — which, mounted
upon a lofty marble pedestal and backed by a white canvas
screen, occupied the post of honour at the end of the Elgin
Room — " like the Hermes there."
" I mean the Hermes," uttered Cynthia.
A great wave of surprise went over Gregory, taking his
breath away and washing his ideas about like so many
bubbles and bits of seaweed. It must have taken him
completely off his feet, for when the rush and roar subsided,
he found himself sitting on the warm stone pavement,
looking giddily up at Miss Gildersleeve.
" Good mercy ! " he gasped ! " You don't mean to tell
me you're in love with a statue. Not even an original —
a mere plaster — " That a girl — Cynthia Gildersleeve, to
wit — should conceive a passion for the counterfeit present-
ment of a Greek god, seemed too wildlv incredible. He
UNDER THE HERMES 11
doubted the evidence of his own ears. But he looked up
and doubted no longer.
Forgetful of the presence of Gregory, of the espionage
of official eyes, even of the casually impertinent observation
of the accustomed visitor or the passing tourist armed with
guide-book and opera-glass, Cynthia had remounted to the
summit of her pyramid of boxes. With a bread -pill poised
between her taper fingers, her head thrown back at an acute
angle, and her eyes fervently upraised towards the uncon-
scious object of her wild adoration, she sat enthralled,
enrapt, unconscious of all, drifting on the Lethean waves of
passion — to what ending ?
The statue towards which the yearning gaze of the love-
sick maiden was directed is too well-known to need pains-
taking description. It represents Hermes as one in the
prime of early manhood, divinely beautiful and divinely
strong. His right arm, which probably bore the caduceus,
is missing : his left upholds a trailing mass of drapery and
the figure of an infant Dionysos, which reaches upwards
as though grasping with playful fingers at the magic staff.
The lower limbs are from the knees downwards missing;
but mutilation cannot lessen the potent beauty of the
masterpiece, although it sharpens the pleasure of the gazer
with a pang of regret.
What was to be done ? thought poor Gregory, who,
suddenly brought face to face with a dramatic situation,
felt himself as powerless to cope with it as the most nervous
of amateur performers. A terrible state of things ! And
— to Gregory's anguish was added a torture more exquisite
still — the supreme conviction that he held helped to bring it
Yes, it was his fault. He had opened Cynthia's eyes to
the Beautiful — had inspired her to seek, and to find her
ideal of absolute perfectness in the masterpieces of classic
Art. He had taught her to contemn things homely, and
12 UNDER THE HERMES
things commonplace — himself amongst them, and now,
when for the hundred and fifth time he offered her an honest
heart of ordinary flesh and blood, she spurned it for a
lump of plaster.
What was to be done ?
He ran his fingers through his short stubby hair, and
groaned aloud. C}aithia did not seem to hear. Nor did
she appear to notice his departure, when, with drooping
head and lagging steps, he moved disconsolately away.
A voice, a rather fat and pursy voice, singularly illustra-
tive of its owner, addressing Gregory by name, caused
him to arrest his dismal progress down the gallery, and
pause by the chair of Mr. Bamford, principal guardian of
the Elgin Room, who sat all day long, week by week, month
by month, and year by year, doing nothing with sedulous
industry at a flap-desk, which could be folded up when
not in use, and concealed in the pedestal of the model
of the Parthenon.
Mr. Bamford had once been butler to a bishop, and was
very much like a bishop himself ; even without the episcopal
shovel-hat, apron and gaiters. He was conscious of this
distinctive peculiarity, and fostered it. There was even
something stately and reverend about his manner of taking
snuff, which is a luxury much in vogue amongst attendants
and curators employed in the keeping of public buildings —
men who are divorced from daybreak to nightfall, from the
coy kisses of the nut-brown briar-root.
" Ah, dear ! " said Mr. Bamford, wheezing a little — the
bishop on whom he had formed his manner had been a
sufferer from asthma. "Ah, dear ! I see you looking at
her. A sad change, Mr. Crump."
Gregory glared at him speechlessly.
UNDER THE HERMES 13
" All flesh is grass," went on Mr. Bamford. " To-day
you're blooming in your beauty like the cauliflower of the
field; to-morrow you're cut down and cast into the biling
fiery furnace along with corned beef and carrots. For more
years than I should care to reckon up, Mr. Crump, I have
took a' interest in Miss Cynthia Gildersleeve, and I must
say, it goes to my 'art to see her so changed for the worst."
" She is changed," assented Gregory miserably.
1 1 close my heyes," said Mr. Bamford, shutting them up
comfortably as he spoke ; " and I see her as she were when
first she came here, and there she is ! — all a-blowing and
a-growing with a red in her cheeks, and a spring in her
walk, and a plumpness about her," said Mr. Bamford
juicily, " as was, to a responsible man like myself, as had
seen a many young female candidates prepared for Confirm-
ation — generally suggestful of agreeable ideas." He took a
pinch of snuff out of his box, and heaved a sigh. " Where's
her colour now ? Gone ! " — he flicked a few grains of snuff
from one of the protuberant ledges of his capacious waist-
coat. " And her flesh ? Gone, too, and you can't deny
it. She drags one foot behind another when she walks;
when she sits, she sags to one side like one of them new
student's clay models of the Little 'Ercules, that 'asn't
got enough cold iron in its inside to keep it perpendick'lar.
In a word, she's changed. And. if you owned the powers of
observation, for which my lud the bishop always considered
me remarkable, you wouldn't be astonished at it."
' No ? ' the monosyllable was all Gregory could trust
himself to utter.
' No," repeated Mr. Bamford firmly. " Because the
cause would be known to you."
" And that cause ? " stuttered Gregory.
' Bath buns ! " said Mr. Bamford, settling his triple chin
into his episcopal collar.
" Ugh ! " Gregory shuddered.
14 UNDER THE HERMES
" I will not deny," said Mr. Bamford, getting out of his
armchair, after a slight struggle, and laying a patronising
hand on the young man's shoulder; " I will not deny but
what the Bath bun is a satisfying article, and therefore cheap
at a penny. (I tried one myself one day, and, to judge by
my sensations subsequently, I might have made a meal off
marbles.) Nor that coffee — hot, and served o' lay "
" I beg your pardon ? " interrogated Gregory.
" 0' lay," repeated Mr. Bamford, " is not a nourishing
form of thirst-quencher. But coffee in perpetuity I do not
'old with, nor yet toast-and-water carried in a tin flask. As