common adventure/' thinks I to myself. '' You have got
hold of a man of character, St. Ives ! A bite-hard, a bull-
dog, a weasel is on your trail ; and how are you to throw
him off ? " Who was he ? By some of his expressions I
judged he was a hanger-on of courts.
But in what charac-
ter had he followed the assizes ? As a simple spectator, as
a lawyer's clerk, as a criminal himself, or — last and worst
supposition — as a Bow-street " runner " ?
The cart would wait for me, perhaps, half a mile down
our onward road, which I was already folloAving. And I
told myself that in a few minutes' walking, Bow-street
" runner " or not, I should have him at my mercy. And
then reflection came to me in time. Of all things, one was
out of the question. Upon no account must this obtrusive
fellow see the cart. Until I had killed or shook him off, I
was quite divorced from my companions — alone, in the
midst of England, on a frosty by-way leading whitlier I
knew not, with a sleuth-hound at my heels, and never a
friend but the holly-stick !
AVe came at the same time to a crossing of lanes. The
branch to the left was overhung with trees, deeply sunken
and dark. Not a ray of moonlight penetrated its recesses ;
and I took it at a venture. The wretch followed my ex-
ample in silence ; and for some time we crunched together
over frozen pools v/ithout a word. Then he found his voice,
with a chuckle.
'' This is not the way to Mr. Merton's," said he.
'^ No ? " said I. " It is mine, however."
^' And therefore mine," said he.
Again we fell silent ; and we may thus have covered lialf
158 ST. IVES
a mile before the lane, taking a sndden tnrn, brought ns
forth again into the moonshine. With his hooded great-coat
on his back, his valise in his hand, his black wig adjusted,
and footing it on the ice with a sort of sober doggedness of
manner, my enemy was changed almost beyond recognition :
changed in everything but a certain dry, polemical, pedan-
tic air, that spoke of a sedentary occupation and high stools.
I observed, too, that his valise was heavy ; and, putting this
and that together, hit upon a plan.
^^ A seasonable night, sir," said I. " What do you say to
a bit of running ? The frost has me by the toes."
"^ With all the pleasure in life," says he.
His voice seemed well assured, which pleased me little.
However, there was nothing else to try, except violence, for
which it would always be too soon. I took to my heels,
accordingly, he after me ; and for some time the slapping
of our feet on the hard road might have been heard a mile
away. He had started a pace behind me, and he finished
in the same position. For all his extra years and the weight
of his valise, he had not lost a hair's breadth. The devil
might race him for me — I had enough of it !
And, besides, to run so fust was contrary to my interests.
We could not run long without arriving somewhere. At
any moment we might turn a corner and find ourselves at
the lodge-gate of some Squire Merton, in the midst of a
village whose constable was sober, or in the hands of a
patrol. There was no help for it — I must finish with him on
the spot, as long as it was possible. I looked about me, and
.the place seemed suitable : never a light, never a house —
nothing but stubble-fields, fallows, and a few stunted trees.
I stopped and eyed him in the moonlight with an angry stare.
'^'Enough of this foolery !" said I.
He had turned, and now faced me full, very pale, but
with no sign of shrinking.
ADVENTURE OF THE ATTORNEY'S CLERK 159
''I am quite of your opinion/' said he. ''You liavc
tried me at the running ; you can try me next at tlie high
jump. It will be all the same. It must end the one
I made my holly whistle about my head.
"I believe you know what way!" said I. "We are
alone, it is night, and I am wholly resolved. Are you not
frightened ? "
" No/' he said, " not in the smallest. I do not box, sir ;
but I am not a coward, as you may have supposed. Per-
haps it will simplify our relations if I tell you at the outset
that I walk armed."
Quick as lightning I made a feint at his head ; as quickly
he gave ground, and at the same time I saw a pistol glitter
in his hand.
"No more of that, Mr. French-Prisoner ! " he said. " It
will do me no good to have your death at my door."
" Faith, nor me either ! " said I ; and I lowered my stick
and considered the man, not without a twinkle of admira-
tion. " You see," I said, " there is one consideration that
you appear to overlook : there are a great many chances
that your pistol may miss fire."
" I have a pair," he returned. "Never travel without a
brace of barkers."
"I make you my compliment," said I. " You are able
to take care of yourself, and that is a good trait. But, my
good man ! let us look at this matter dispassionately. You
are not a coward, and no more am I ; we are both men of
excellent sense ; I have good reason, whatever it may be, to
keep my concerns to myself and to walk alone. Now, I
put it to you pointedly, am I likely to stand it ? Am I
likely to put up with jowr continued and — excuse me —
highly impudent ingerence into my private affairs ?"
" Another French word," says he composedly.
160 ST. IVES
"0 ! damn your French words !" cried I. ''You seem
to be a Frenchinan yourself V
'* I have had many oi^portunities, by which I have
profited/^ he explained. '' Few men are better acquainted
with the similarities and differences, whether of idiom or
accent, of the two languages. ^^
" You are a pompous fellow, too ! " said I.
''0, I can make distinctions, sir," says he. ''I can
talk with Bedfordshire peasants ; and I can express myself
becomingly, I hope, in the company of a gentleman of edu-
cation like yourself."
'' If you set up to be a gentleman " I began.
'' Pardon me," he interrupted : " I make no such claim.
I only see the nobility and gentry in the way of business.
I am quite a jdain person."
" For the Lord's sake," I exclaimed, ''set my mind at
rest upon one point. In the name of mystery, who and
what are you ? "
" I have no cause to be ashamed of my name, sir," said
he, " nor yet my trade. I am Thomas Dudgeon, at your
service, clerk to Mr. Daniel Romaine, solicitor of London;
High liolborn is our address, sir."
It was only by the ecstasy of the relief that I knew how
horribly I had been frightened. I flung my stick on the road.
"Romaine?" I cried. "Daniel Romaine ? An old
hunks with a red face and a big head, and got up like a
Quaker ? My dear friend, to my arms ! "
" Keep back, I say ! " said Dudgeon weakly.
I would not listen to him. AVith the end of my own
alarm, I felt as if I must infallibly be at the end of all
dangers likewise ; as if the pistol that he held in one hand
were no more to be feared than the valise that he carried
with the other, and now j)ut up like a barrier against my
ADVENTURE OF THE ATTORNEY'S CLERK 161
'' Keep back, or I declare I will fire," he was cryiji«^r.
'^^ Have a care, for God's sake ! My pistol "
He might scream as he pleased. Willy nilly, I folded
him to my breast, I pressed him there, I kissed his ugly
mug as it had never been kissed before and would never be
kissed again ; and in the doing so knocked his wig awry
and his hat off. He bleated in my embrace ; so bleats the
sheep in the arms of the butcher. The whole thing, on
looking back, appears incomparably reckless and absurd ;
I no better than a madman for offering to advance on
Dudgeon, and he no better than a fool for not shooting me
while I was about it. But all's well that ends well ; or,
as the people in these days kept singing and whistling on
the streets : —
"There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,
And looks out for the life of poor Jack."
*' There ! " said I, releasing him a little, but still keep-
ing my hands on his shoulders, " je vous ai bel et hien em-
brasse — and, as you would say, there is another French
word.''' With his wig over one eye, he looked incredibly
rueful and put out. '' Cheer up. Dudgeon.; the ordeal is
over, you shall be embraced no more. But do, first of all,
for God's sake, put away your pistol ; you handle it as if
it were a cockatrice ; some time or other, depend upon it,
it will certainly go off. Here is your hat. No, let me i)ut
it on square, and the wig before it. Never suffer any
stress of circumstances to come between you and the duty
you owe to yourself. If you have nobody else to dress for,
dress for God !
Put your wig straight
On your bald pate,
Keep your chin scraped,
And your figure draped.
162 ST. IVES
Can you match me that ? The whole duty of man in a
quatrain ! And remark, I do not set up to be a profes-
sional bard ; these are the outpourings of a dilettante."
*^But, my dear sir !" he exclaimed.
^^ But, my dear sir ! " I echoed, '• I will allow no man
to interrupt the flow of my ideas. Give me your opinion
on my quatrain, or I vow we shall have a quarrel of it."
^' Certainly you are quite ah original," he said.
^' Quite," said I ; ^'and I believe I have my counterpart
" Well, for a choice," says he, smiling, '^and whether
for sense or poetry, give me
u ' Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow :
The rest is all but leather and pnmollo.' "
^^ 0, but that's not fair — that's Pope ! It's not origi-
nal, Dudgeon. Understand me," said I, wringing his
breast-button, ''the first duty of all poetry is to be mine,
sir — mine. Inspiration now swells in my bosom, because
— to tell you the plain truth, and descend a little in style
— I am devilish relieved at the turn things have taken
So, I daresay, are you yourself. Dudgeon, if you would
only allow it. And a j^roj^os, let me ask you a home
question. Between friends, have you ever fired that j^is-
''Why, yes, sir," he replied. ''Twice — at hedgespar-
" And you would have fired at me, you bloody-minded
man ? " I cried.
" If you go to that, you seemed mighty reckless with
your stick," said Dudgeon.
"Did I indeed? Well, well, 'tis all past history;
ancient as King Pharamond — which is another French
word, if you cared to accumulate more evidence," says I.
ADVENTURE OF THE ATTORNEY'S CLERK IGrj
'^But happily we are now the best of friends, and have all
onr interests in common/'
'' You go a little too fast, if you'll excuse me, Mr. :
I do not know your name, that I am aware," said Dud-
'' ¥o, to be sure ! " said I. '' Never heard of it ! "
'^ A word of explanation " he began.
'' No, Dudgeon ! '' I interrupted. " Be practical ; I know
what you want, and the name of it is supper. Rien ne
creiise comme Vemotion. I am hungry myself, and yet I am
more accustomed to warlike palpitations than you, who
are but a hunter of hedgesparrows. Let me look at your
face critically : your bill of fare is three slices of cold rare
roast beef, a Welsh rarebit, a pot of stout, and a glass or
two of sound tawny port, old in bottle — the right milk of
Englishmen."' Methought there seemed a brightening in
his eye and a melting about his mouth at this enumera-
^'^ The night is young," I continued; '^not much past
eleven, for a wager. Where can we find a good inn ? And
remark that I say good, for the port must be up to the oc-
casion — not a headache in a pipe of it."
'' Really, sir," he said, smiling a little, '' you have a way
of carrying things "
'^ Will nothing make you stick to the subject ? " I cried ;
*'you have the most irrelevant mind ! How do you expect
to rise in your profession ? The inn ? "
" Well, I will say you are a facetious gentleman ! " said
he. ''You must have your way, I see. We are not three
miles from Bedford by this very road."
" Done ! " cried I. " Bedford be it ! "
I tucked his arm under mine, possessed myself of the
valise, and walked him off unresisting. Presently we came
to an open piece of country lying a thought down hill.
164 ST. IVES
The road was smooth and free of ice, the moonshine thin
and bright over the meadows and the leafless trees. I was
now honestly done with the purgatory of the covered cart ;
I was close to my great-nncle's ; I had no more fear of Mr.
Dudgeon ; which were all grounds enough for jollity. And
I was aware, besides, of us two as of a pair of tiny and
solitary dolls under the vast frosty cupola of the midnight ;
the rooms decked, the moon burnished, the least of the
stars lighted, the floor swept and waxed, and nothing want-
ing but for the band to strike up and the dancing to be-
gin. In the exhilaration of my heart I took the music on
" Merrily danced the Quaker's wife,
And merrily danced the Quaker."
I broke into that animated and appropriate air, clapped my
arm about Dudgeon's waist, and away down the hill at a
dancing step ! He hung back a little at the start, but the
impulse of the tune, the night, and my example, were not
to be resisted. A man made of putty must have danced,
and even Dudgeon showed himself to be a human being.
Higher and higher were the capers that we cut ; the moon
repeated in shadow our antic footsteps and gestures ; and
it came over my mind of a sudden — really like balm — Avliat
appearance of man I was dancing with, what a long bilious
countenance he had shown under his shaven pate, and what
.a world of trouble the rascal had given me in the imme-
Presently we began to see the lights of Bedford. My
Puritanic companion stopped and disengaged himself.
" This is a trifle infra dig., sir, is it not ? " said he. '^ A
party might suppose we had been drinking."
'^ And so you shall be. Dudgeon," said I. " You shall
not only be drinking, you old hypocrite, but you shall be
ADVENTURE OF THE ATTORNEY'S CLERK 1G5
drunk — dead drunk, sir — and the boots shall put you to
bed I We'll warn him when we go in. Never neglect a pre-
caution ; never put off till to-morrow what you can do
to-day ! "
But he had no more frivolity to complain of. We
finished our stage and came to the inn-door with decorum,
to find the house still alight and in a bustle Avitli many late
arrivals ; to give our orders with a prompt severity whicli
ensured obedience, and to be served soon after at a side
table, close to the fire and in a blaze of candle-light, with
such a meal as I had been dreaming of for days past. For
days, you are to remember, I had been skulking in the
covered cart, a prey to cold, hunger, and an accumulation
of discomforts that might have daunted the most brave ;
and the white table napery, the bright crystal, the rever-
beration of the fire, the red curtains, the Turkey carpet,
the portraits on the coffee-room wall, the placid faces of
the two or three late guests who were silently prolonging
the pleasures of digestion, and (last, but not by any means
least) a glass of an excellent light dry port, put me in a
humour only to be described as heavenly. The thought of
the Colonel, of how he would have enjoyed this snug room
and roaring fire, and of his cold grave in the wood l^y
Market Bosworth, lingered on my palate, a inari alviiia,
like an after-taste, but was not able — I say it with shame —
entirely to dispel my self-complacency. After all, in this
world every dog hangs by its own tail. I was a free ad-
venturer, who had just brought to a successful end — or, at
least, within view of it — an adventure very difficult and
alarming ; and I looked across at Mr. Dudgeon, as tlie port
rose to his cheeks, and a smile, that was semi-confidential
and a trifle foolish, began to play upon his leathery feat-
ures, not only with composure, but with a suspicion of
^indness. The rascal had been brave, a quality for whicli
166 ST. IVES
I would value the devil ; and if he had been pertinacious
in the beginnuig, he had more than made up for it before
" And now. Dudgeon, to explain/' I began. " I know
your master, he knows me, and he knows and approves of
my errand. So much I may tell you, that I am on my way
to Amersham Place."
'' Oho ! " quoth Dudgeon, " I begin to see."
^' I am heartily glad of it," said I, passing the bottle,
'^ because that is about all I can tell you. You must take
my word for the remainder. Either believe me, or don't.
If you don't, let's take a chaise ; you can carry me to-mor-
row to High Holborn, and confront me with Mr. Komaine ;
the result of which will be to set your mind at rest — and to
make the holiest disorder in your master's plans. If I judge
you aright (for I find you a shrewd fellow), this will not be
at all to your mind. You know what a subordinate gets by
ofiiciousness ; if I can trust my memory, old Romaine has
not at all the face that I should care to see in anger ; and I
venture to predict surprising results upon your weekly
salary — if you are paid by the week, that is. In short, let
me go free, and 'tis an end of the matter ; take me to Lon-
don, and 'tis only a beginning — and, by my opinion, a
beginning of troubles. You can take your choice."
'*^ And that is soon taken," said he. " Go to Amersham
to-morrow, or go to the devil if you prefer — I wash my
hands of you and the whole transaction. Ko, you don't
find me putting my head in between Romaine and a client !
K good man of business, sir, but hard as millstone grit.
I might get the sack, and I shouldn't wonder I But, it's a
pity, too," he added, and sighed, shook his head, and took
his glass off sadly.
" That reminds me," said I. " I have a great curiosity,
and you can satisfy it. Why were you so forward to meddle
ADVENTURE OF THE ATTORNEY'S CLEKK \C)7
with poor Mr. Dubois ? Why did yon transfer your atten-
tions to me ? And generally, what induced you to make
yourself such a nuisance ? "
He blushed deeply.
'' Why, sir," says he, '' there is such a thing as patriot-
ism, I hope/'
THE HOME-COMING OF MR. ROWLEY'S VISC0UN"T
By eight the next morning Dudgeon and I had made
onr parting. By that time we had grown to be extremely
familiar ; and I would very willingly have kept him by
me, and even carried him to Amersham Place. But it
appeared he was due at the public-house where we had
met, on some affairs of my great-uncle the Count, who
had an outlying estate in that part of the shire. If Dud-
geon had had his way the night before, I should have been
arrested on my uncle's land and by my uncle's agent, a
culmination of ill-luck.
A little after noon I started, in a hired chaise, by way
of Dunstable. The mere mention of the name Amersham
Place made every one supple and smiling. It Avas plainly
a great house, and my uncle lived there in style. The
fame of it rose as we approached, like a chain of moun-
tains ; at Bedford they touched their caps, but in Dunstable
they crawled upon their bellies. I thought the landlady
would have kissed me ; such a flutter of cordiality, such
smiles, such affectionate attentions were called forth, and
the good lady bustled on my service in such a pother of
ringlets and with such a jingling of keys. " You're prob-
ably expected, sir, at the Place ? I do trust you may
'ave better accounts of his lordship's 'elth, sir. AVe under-
stood that his lordship, Mosha de Carwell, was main bad.
Ha, sir, we shall all feel his loss, poor, dear, noble gen-
MR. ROWLEY'S VISCOUNT 109
tleman ; and I'm sure nobody more polite ! They do say,
sir, his wealth is enormous, and before the Kevolution
quite a prince in his own country ! But I beg your par-
don, sir ; 'ow I do run on, to be sure ; and doubtless all
beknown to you already ! For you do resemble the fam-
ily, sir. I should have known you anywheres by the liko
ness to the dear viscount. Ha, poor gentleman, he must
'ave a 'eavy 'eart these days."
In the same place I saw out of the inn windows a man-
servant passing in the livery of my house, which you are
to think I had never before seen worn, or not that I could
remember. I had often enough, indeed, pictured myself
advanced to be a Marshal, a Duke of the Empire, a Grand
Cross of the Legion of Honour, and some other kick-
shaws of the kind, with a perfect rout of flunkeys correctly
dressed in my own colours. But it is one thing to im-
agine, and another to see ; it would be one thing to have
these liveries in a house of my own in Paris — it Avas quite
another to find them flaunting in the heart of hostile Eng-
land ; and I fear I should have made a fool of myself, if
the man had not been on the other side of the street, and
I at a one-pane window. There was something illusory in
this transplantation of the wealth and honours of a family,
a thing by its nature so deej)ly rooted in the soil ; some-
thing ghostly in this sense of home-coming so far from
From Dunstable I rode away into a crescendo of similar
impressions. There are certainly few things to be com-
pared with these castles, or rather country seats, of the
English nobility and gentry ; nor anything at all to equal
the servility of the population that dwells in their neigh-
bourhood. Though I was but driving in a hired chaise,
word of my destination seemed to have gone abroad, and
the women curtseved and the men louted to me by tlie
170 ST. IVES
wayside. As I came near, I began to ajDpreciate the roots
of this widespread respect. The look of my uncle's park
wall, even from the outside, had something of a princely
character ; and when I came in view of the house itself, a
sort of madness of vicarious vain-glory struck me dumb
and kept me staring. It was about the size of the Tuile-
ries. It faced due north ; and the last rays of the sun, that
was setting like a red-hot shot amidst a tumultuous gath-
ering of snow clouds, were reflected on the endless rows of
windows. A portico of Doric columns adorned the front,
and would have done honour to a temple. The servant
who received me at the door was civil to a fault — I had al-
most said, to offence ; and the hall to which he admitted
me through a pair of glass doors was warmed and already
partly lighted by a liberal chimney heaped with the roots
^' Vicomte Anne de St. Yves,'' said I, in answer to the
man's question ; whereupon he bowed before me lower still,
and stepping upon one side introduced me to the truly aw-
ful presence of the major domo. I have seen many digni-
taries in my time, but none who quite equalled this emi-
nent being ; who was good enough to answer to the
unassuming name of " Mr." Dawson. From him I learned
that my uncle Avas extremely low, a doctor in close attend-
ance, Mr. Romaine expected at any moment, and that my
cousin, the Vicomte de St. Yves, had been sent for the same
^' It was a sudden seizure, then ? " I asked.
Well, he would scarcely go as far as that. It was a de-
cline, a fading away, sir ; but he was certainly took bad the
day before, had sent for Mr. Romaine, and the major domo
had taken it on himself a little later to send word to the
Viscount. ^'^ It seemed to me, my lord," said he, ^^ as if this
was a time when all the fambly should be called together."
MR. ROWLEY'S VISCOUNT 171
I approved him with my lips, but not in my heart.
Dawson was plainly in the interests of my cousin.
''And when can I expect to see my great-uncle, the
Count ? " said I.
In tlie evening, I was told ; in the meantime he would
show me to my room, which had been long prepared for
me, and I should be expected to dine in about an hour with
the doctor, if my lordship had no objections.
My lordship had not the faintest.
''At the same time," I said, "I have had an accident :
I have unhappily lost my baggage, and am here in what 1
stand in. I don't know if the doctor be a formalist, but it
is quite impossible I should appear at table as I ouglit.''
He begged me to be under no anxiety. " We have been
long expecting you," said he. "All is ready."
Such I found to be the truth. A great room had been
prepared for me ; through the mullioned windows the last
flicker of the winter sunset interchanged with the reverber-
ation of a royal fire ; the bed was oj^en, a suit of evening
clothes was airing before the blaze, and from the far corner
a boy came forward with deprecatory smiles. The dream
in which I had been moving seemed to have reached its
pitch. I might have quitted this house and room only the
night before ; it was my own place that I liad come to ;
and for the first time in my life I understood the force of
the words home and welcome.
"This will be all as you would want, sir?" said Mr.
Dawson. " This 'ere boy, Rowley, we place entirely at
your disposition. 'E's not exactly a trained vallet, but
Mossho Powl, the Viscount's gentleman, 'ave give liim tlie