among the artichokes," she said.
'' The Plagues of Egyp' ! Pll see to them i " cried the
gardener truculently, and with a hurried waddle disap-
peared among the evergreens.
That moment she turned, she came running towards me.
72 ST. IVES
her arms stretcned out, her face incarnaamed for the one
moment with heavenly blushes, the next pale as death.
" Monsieur de Saint-Yves ! "' she said.
'' My dear young lady," I said, '"this is the damnedest
liberty â€” I know it ! But what else was I to do ? "
'^ You have escaped ? '' said she.
*^If you call this escape," I replied.
*' But you cannot possibly stop there ! " she cried.
"I know it," said I. '' And where am I to go ?"
She struck her hands together. *' I have it ! " she ex-
claimed. ^'Come down by the beech trunk â€” you must
leave no footprint in the border â€” quickly, before Robie
can get back ! I am the hen-wife here : I keep the key ;
you must go into the hen-house â€” for the moment. "
I was by her side at once. Both cast a hasty glance at
the blank windows of the cottage and so much as was visible
of the garden alleys ; it seemed there was none to observe
us. She caught me by the sleeve and ran. It was no time
for^compliments ; hurry breathed upon our necks ; and I
ran along with her to the next corner of the garden, where
a wired court and a board hovel standing in a grove of
trees advertised my place of refuge. She thrust me in
without a word ; the bulk of the fowls were at the same
time emitted ; and I found myself the next moment locked
in alone with half a dozen sitting hens. In the twilight
of the place all fixed their eyes on me severely, and seemed
to upbraid me with some crying impropriety. Doubtless
the hen has always a puritanic appearance, although (in its
own behaviour) I could never observe it to be more partic-
ular than its neighbours. But conceive a British hen !
I WAS half an lionr at least in the society of these dis-
tressing bipeds, and alone with my own reflections and
necessities. I was in great pain of my flayed hands, and
had nothing to treat them with ; I was hungry and
thirsty, and had nothing to eat or to drink ; I was thor-
onghly tired, and there was no place for me to sit. To
be sure there was the floor, but nothing could be imag-
ined less inviting.
At the sound of approaching footsteps, my good-humour
was restored. The key rattled in the lock, and Master
Ronald entered, closed the door behind him, and leaned
his back to it.
''I say, you know ! " he said, and shook a sullen young
^'^I know it's a liberty," said I.
" It's infernally awkward ; my position is infernally em-
barrassing," said he.
''Well," said I, ''and what do you think of mine ?"
This seemed to pose him entirely, and he remained gaz-
ing upon me with a convincing air of youth and inno-
cence. I could have laughed, but I was not so inhumane.
"I am in your hands," said I, with a little gesture.
" You must do with me what you think right."
"Ah, yes ! " he cried : " if I knew ! "
" You see/' said I, "it would be different if you had re-
74 ST. IVES
ceived yonr commission. Properly speaking, yon are not
yet a combatant ; I have ceased to be one ; and I think it
arguable that we are just in the position of one ordinary
gentleman to another, where friendship usually comes be-
fore the law. Observe, I only say argualle. For God's
sake, don't think I wish to dictate an opinion. These are
the sort of nasty little businesses, inseparable from war,
which every gentleman must decide for himself. If I
were in your place "
'^ Ay, what would you do, then ? " says he.
^'Upon my word, I do not know,'' said I. '' Hesitate,
as you are doing, I believe."
'^I will tell you," he said. ^' I have a kinsman, and
it is what lie would think, that I am thinking. It is
General Graham of Lynedoch â€” Sir Thomas Graham. I
scarcely know him, but I believe I admire him more than
I do God."
''I admire him a good deal myself," said I, '' and have
good reason to. I have fought with him, been beaten,
and run away. Veni, victus sum, evasi."
'' AVhat ! " he cried. " You were at Barossa ? "
'' There and back, which many could not say," said I.
'' It was a pretty affair and a hot one, and the Spaniards
behaved abominably, as they nsually did in a pitched field ;
the Marshal Duke of Belluno made a fool of himself, and
not for the first time ; and your friend Sir Thomas had
the best of it, so far as there was any best. He is a brave
and ready officer."
** Now, then, you will understand ! " said the boy. " I
wish to please Sir Thomas : what would he do ? "
" Well, I can tell you a story," said I, '' a true one too,
and about this very combat of Chiclana, or Barossa as you
call it. I was in the Eighth of the Line ; we lost the
eagle of the First Battalion, more betoken, but it cost you
THE HEN-HOUSE 75
dear. Well, we had repulsed more charges than I care to
count, when your 87th Regiment came on at a foot's pace,
very slow but very steady ; in front of them a mounted
officer, his hat in his hand, white-haired, and talking very
quietly to the battalions. Our Major, Vigo-Pioussillon, set
spurs to his horse and galloped out to sabre him, but see-
ing him an old man, very handsome, and as composed as
if he were in a coffee-house, lost heart and galloped Ijack
again. Only, you see, they had been very close together
for the moment, and looked each other in the eyes. Soon
after the Major was wounded, taken prisoner, and carried
into Cadiz. One fine day they announced to him the visit
of the General, Sir Thomas Graham. ' Well, sir,' said the
General, taking him by the hand, ' I think we were face
to face upon the field.' It was the white-haired officer ! ''
" Ah \" cried the boy, â€” his eyes were burning.
" Well, and here is the point,'' I continued. '' Sir
Thomas fed the Major from his own table from that day,
and served him with six covers."
" Yes, it is a beautiful â€” a beautiful story," said Eonald.
" And yet somehow it is not the same â€” is it ? "
" I admit it freely," said I.
The boy stood awhile brooding. " Well, I take my risk
of it," he cried. ^' I believe it's treason to my sovereign â€”
I believe there is an infamous punishment for such a crime
â€” and yet I'm hanged if I can give you up."
I was as much moved as he. " I could almost beg you
to do otherwise," I said. " I was a brute to come to you,
a brute and a coward. You are a noble enemy ; you will
make a noble soldier." And with rather a happy idea of
a compliment for this warlike youth, I stood up straight
and gave him the salute.
He was for a moment confused ; his face flushed.
'* Well, well, I must be getting you something to eat, but
76 ST. IVES
it will not be for six/' he added, with a smile : " only
what we can get smuggled out. There is my aunt in
the road, you see/' and he locked me in again with the
I always smile when I recall that young fellow ; and
yet, if the reader were to smile also, I should feel ashamed.
if my son shall be only like him when he comes to that
age, it will be a brave day for me and not a bad one for
At the same time I cannot pretend that I was sorry
when his sister succeeded in his place. She brought me
a few crusts of bread and a jug of milk, which she had
handsomely laced with whisky after the Scottish man-
^^I am so sorry," she said : ''I dared not bring you
anything more. We are so small a family, and my aunt
keeps such an eye upon the servants. I have put some
whisky in the milk â€” it is more wholesome so â€” and with
eggs you will be able to make something of a meal. How
many eggs will you be wanting to that milk ? fÂ©r I must
be taking the others to my aunt â€” that is my excuse for
being here. I should think three or four. Do you know
how to beat them in ? or shall I do it ? "
Willing to detain her a while longer in the hen-house, I
displayed my bleeding palms ; at which she cried out
" My dear Miss Flora, you cannot make an omelette
without breaking eggs," said I ; '' and it is no bagatelle to
escape from Edinburgh Castle. One of us, I think, was
"And you are as white as a rag, too," she exclaimed,
" and can hardly stand I Here is my shawl, sit down upon
it here in the corner, and I will beat your eggs. See, I
have brought a fork too ; I should have been a good per-
THE HEN-HOUSE 77
son to take care of Jacobites or Covenanters in old days !
Yon shall have more to eat this evening ; Ronald is to
bring it yon from town. We have money enough, although
no food that we can call onr own. Ah, if Ronald and I
kept house, you should not be lying in this shed ! lie
admires you so much.^^
^^ My dear friend," said I, ^'^for God's sake do not em-
barrass me with more alms. I loved to receive them from
that hand, so long as they were needed ; but they are so
no more, and whatever else I may lack â€” and I lack every-
thing â€” it is not money."' I pulled out my sheaf of notes
and detached the top one : it was written for ten pounds,
and signed by that very famous individual, Abraham New-
lands. " Oblige me, as you would like me to oblige your
brother if the parts were reversed, and take this note for
the expenses. I shall need not only food, but clothes."
^' Lay it on the ground," said she. '' I must not stop
''^ You are not offended ?" I exclaimed.
She answered me by a look that was a reward in itself,
and seemed to imply the most heavenly offers for the fut-
ure. There was in it a shadow of reproach, and such
warmth of communicative cordiality as left me speechless.
I watched her instead till her hens' milk was ready.
^^Now," said she, ^^ taste that."
I did so, and swore it was nectar. She collected her
eggs and crouched in front of me to watch me eat. There
was about this tall young lady at the moment an air of
motherliness delicious to behold. I am like the English
general, and to this day I still wonder at my moderation.
''What sort of clothes will you be wanting ? " said she.
" The clothes of a gentleman," said I. '' Right or
wrong, I think it is the part I am best qualified to play.
Mr. St. Ives (for that's to be my name upon the journey)
78 ST. IVES
I conceive as rather a theatrical figure, and his make-np
shoukl be to match."
"And yet tliere is a difficulty," said she. "If you got
coarse clothes the fit would hardly matter. But the clothes
of a fine gentleman â€” 0, it is absolutely necessary that
these should fit ! And above all, with your "â€”she paused
a moment â€” " to our ideas somewhat noticeable man-
" Ahis for my poor manners ! " said I. " But, my dear
friend Flora, these little noticeabilities are just what man-
kind has to suffer under. Yourself, you see, you're very
noticeable even when you come in a crowd to visit poor
prisoners in the Castle."
I was afraid I should frighten my good angel visitant
away, and without the smallest breath of pause went on to
add a few directions as to stuffs and colours.
She opened big eyes upon me. " 0, Mr. St. Ives ! "
she cried â€” " if that is to be your name â€” I do not say they
would not be becoming ; but for a journey, do you think
they Avould be wise ? I am afraid " â€” she gave a pretty
break of laughter â€” "1 am afraid they would be daft-
like ! "
"Well, and am I not daft ? " I asked her.
"I do begin to tliink you are," said she.
" Tliere it is, then ! " said I. " I have been long enough
a figure of fun. Can you not feel with me that perhaps
the bitterest thing in this captivity has been the clothes ?
Make me a captive â€” bind me with chains if you like â€” but
let me be still myself. You do not know what it is to be
a walking travesty â€” among foes," I added, bitterly.
" 0, but you are too unjust ! " she cried. " You speak as
tliougli any one ever dreamed of laughing at you. But no
one did. We were all pained to the heart. Even my aunt
â€” though sometimes I do think she was not quite in good
THE IIEN-HOUSE 79
tasteâ€” you shoald have seen her and heard her at home !
She took so much interest. Every patch in your clothes
made us sorry ; it should have been a sister's work/'
'' That is what I never had â€” a sister/' said I. ^' But
since you say that I did not make you laugh "
" 0, Mr. St. Ives ! never ! " she exclaimed. ^' Not for one
moment. It was all too sad. To see a gentleman "
^' In the clothes of a harlequin, and begging ? " I suo -
" To see a gentleman in distress, and nobly supporting
it/" she said.
*' And do you not understand, my fair foe," said I, " that
even if all were as you say â€” even if you had thought my
travesty were becoming â€” I should be only the more anx-
ious, for my sake, for my country's sake, and for the sake
of your kindness, that you should see him whom you have
helped as God meant him to be seen ? that you should
have something to remember him by at least more charac-
teristic than a misfitting sulphur-yellow suit, and half a
week's beard ? "
" You think a great deal too much of clothes," she said.
''I am not that kind of girl."
" And I'm afraid I am that kind of a man," said I.
" But do not think of me too harshly for that. I talked
just now of something to remember by. I have many of
them myself, of these beautiful reminders, of these keep-
sakes, that I cannot be parted from until I lose memory
and life. Many of them are great things, many of them
are high virtuesâ€” charity, mercy, faith. But some of them
are trivial enough. Miss Flora, do you remember the day
that I first saw you, the day of the strong east wind ?
Miss Flora, shall I tell you what you wore ?"
We had both risen to our feet, and she had her hand
already on the door to go. Perhaps this attitude embol-
80 ST. IVES
dened me to profit by the last seconds of onr interview ; and
it certainly rendered her escape the more easy.
'' 0, you are too romantic ! '' she said, laughing ; and
with that my sun was blown out, my enchantress had fled
away, and I was again left alone in the twilight with the
THKEE 13 COMPANY, AND FOUR NONE
The rest of the day I slept in the corner of the hen-
house upon Flora's shawl. Nor did I awake until a light
shone suddenly in my eyes, and starting up with a gasp
(for, indeed, at the moment I dreamed I was still swinging
from the Castle battlements) I found Ronald bending
over me with a lantern. It appeared it was past midnight,
that I had slept about sixteen hours, and that Flora had
returned her poultry to the shed and I had heard her not.
I could not but wonder if she had stooped to look at me as
I slept. The puritan hens now slept irremediably ; and
being cheered with the promise of supper I wished them
an ironical good-night, and was lighted across the garden
and noiselessly admitted to a bedroom on the ground floor
of the cottage. There I found soap, water, razorsâ€”^-
offered me diffidently by my beardless host â€” and an out-
fit of new clothes. To be shaved again without depend-
ing on the barber of the gaol was a source of a delicious, if
a childish joy. My hair was sadly too long, but I was none
so unwise as to make an attempt on it myself. And, in-
deed, I thought it did not wholly misbecome me as it was,
being by nature curly. The clothes were about as good as
I expected. The waistcoat was of toilenet, a pretty piece,
the trousers of fine kerseymere, and the coat sat extraor-
dinarily well. Altogether, when I beheld this changeling
in the glass, I kissed my hand to him.
82 ST. IVES
^' My dear fellow/^ said I, " have yon no scent 7"
" Good God^ no ! '' cried Eonald. '' What do yon want
with scent ? "
^' Capital thing on a campaign," said I. '^ Bnt I can do
I was now led, with the same precantions against noise,
into the little bow-windowed dining-room of the cottage.
The shutters were up, the lamp guiltily turned low ; the
beautiful Flora greeted me in a whisper ; and when I was
set down to table, the pair proceeded to help me with pre-
cautions that might have seemed excessive in the Ear of
'' She sleeps up there, "" observed the boy, pointing to
the ceiling ; and the knowledge that I was so imminently
near to the resting-place of that gold eyeglass touched even
myself with some uneasiness.
Our excellent youth had imported from the city a meat
pie, and I was glad to find it flanked with a decanter of
really admirable wine of Oporto. While I ate, Ronald en-
tertained me with the news of the city, which had naturally
rung all day with our escape : troops and mounted mes-
sengers had followed each other forth at all hours and in all
directions ; but according to the last intelligence no recapt-
ure had been made. Opinion in town was very favourable
to us, our courage was applauded, and many professed regret
that our ultimate chance of escape should be so small. The
man who had fallen was one Sombref , a peasant ; he was one
who slept in a different part of the Castle ; and I was thus
assured that the whole of my former companions had at-
tained their liberty, and Shed A was untenanted.
From this we wandered insensibly into other topics. It
is 'impossible to exaggerate the pleasure I took to be thus
sitting at the same table with Flora, in the clothes of a
gentleman, at liberty and in the full possession of my
THREE IS COMPANY, AND FOUR NONE 83
spirits and resources ; of all of which I had need, because
it was necessary that I should support at the same time
two opposite characters, and at once play the cavalier and
lively soldier for the eyes of Ronald, and to the ears of
Flora maintain the same profound and sentimental note
that I had already sounded. Certainly there are days
when all goes well with a man ; when his wit, his diges-
tion, his mistress are in a conspiracy to spoil him, and even
the weather smiles upon his wishes. I will only say of my-
self upon that evening that I surpassed my expectations,
and was privileged to delight my hosts. Little by little
they forgot their terrors and I my caution ; until at hist
we were brought back to earth by a catastrophe that might
very easily have been foreseen, but was not the less aston-
ishing to us when it occurred.
I had filled all the glasses. ''I have a toast to propose, ''
I whispered, ^' or rather three, but all so inextricably in-
terwoven that they will not bear dividing. I wish first to
drink to the health of a brave and therefore a generous en-
emy. He found me disarmed, a fugitive and helpless.
Like the lion, he disdained so poor a triumph ; and when
he might have vindicated an easy valour, he preferred to
make a friend. I wish that we should next drink to a
fairer and a more tender foe. She found me in ^^rison ;
she cheered me tvith a priceless sympathy ; what she has
done since, I know she has done in mercy, and I only pray
â€” I dare scarce hope â€” her mercy may prove to have been
merciful. And I wish to conjoin with these, for the first
and perhaps the last time, the health â€” and I fear I may
already say the memory â€” of one who has fought, not
always without success, against the soldiers of your nation ;
but who came here, vanquished already, only to be van-
quished again by the loyal hand of the one, by the unfor-
gettable eyes of the other.'"
84 ST. IVES
It is to be feared I may have lent at times a certain
resonancy to my voice ; it is to be feared that Konald,
who was none the better for his own hospitality, may have
set down his glass with something of a clang. Whatever
may have been the cause, at least, I had scarce finished
my compliment before we were aware of a thump upon the
ceiling overhead. It was to be thought some very solid
body had descended to the floor from the level (possibly) of
a bed. I have never seen consternation painted in more
lively colours than on the faces of my hosts. It was pro-
posed to smuggle me forth into the garden, or to conceal
my form under a horsehair sofa which stood against the
wall. For the first expedient, as was now plain by the ap-
proaching footsteps, there was no longer time ; from the
second I recoiled with indignation.
'' My dear creatures," said I, " let us die, but do not
let us be ridiculous."'
The words were still upon my lips when the door opened
and my friend of the gold eyeglass appeared, a memorable
figure, on the threshold. In one hand she bore a bedroom
candlestick ; in the other, with the steadiness of a dra-
goon, a horse-pistol. She w^as wound about in shajvls
which did not wholly conceal the candid fabric of her
nightdress, and surmounted by a nightcap of portentous
architecture. Thus accoutred, she made her entrance ;
laid down the candle and pistol, as no longer called for ;
looked about the room with a silence more eloquent than
oaths ; and then, in a thrilling voiceâ€” ^' To whom have I
the pleasure? " she said, addressing me with a ghost of a bow.
" Madam, I am charmed, I am sure,'' said I. '' The
story is a little long ; and our meeting, however welcome,
was for the moment entirely unexpected by myself. I am
sure " but here I found I was quite sure of nothing, and
tried again. '' I have the honour," I began, and found I had
THREE IS COMPANY, AND FOUR NONE 85
the honour to be only exceedingly confused. With that, I
threw myself outright upon her mercy. " Madam, I must
be more frank with you/' I resumed. '^ You have already
proved your charity and compassion for the French pris-
oners. I am one of these ; and if my appearance be not
too much changed, you may even yet recognise in me that
Oddity who had the good fortune more than once to make
Still gazing upon me through her glass, she uttered an
uncompromising grunt ; and then, turning to her niece â€”
^' Flora," said she, *^ how comes he here ?"
The culprits poured out for a while an antiphony of ex-
planations, which died out at last in a miserable silence.
'^ I think at least you might have told your aunt," she
" Madam," I interposed, " they were about to do so. It
is my fault if it be not done already. But I made it my
prayer that your slumbers might be respected, and this nec-
essary formula of my presentation should be delayed until
to-morrow in the morning."
The old lady regarded me with undissembled incredulity,
to which I was able to find no better repartee than a pro-
found and I trust graceful reverence.
'' French prisoners are very well in their place," she
said, '' but I cannot see that their place is in my private
'' Madam," said I, '^^ I hope it may be said without of-
fence, but (except the Castle of Edinburgh) I cannot think
upon the spot from which I would so readily be absent."
At this, to my relief, I thought I could perceive a ves-
tige of a smile to steal upon that iron countenance and to
be bitten immediately in.
''And if it is a fair question, what do they call ye ?" she
86 ST. IVES
''At your service, the Vicomte Anne tie vSt.-Yves/'
" Mosha the Viscount/' said she, " I am afraid you do
us phiin people a great deal too much honour/'
" My dear lady/' said I, " let us be serious for a moment.
What was I to do ? Where was I to go ? And how can
you be angry with these benevolent children, who took
pity on one so unfortunate as myself ? Your humble ser-
vant is no such terrific adventurer that you should come
out against him with horse-pistols and "â€”smiling â€” "bed-
room candlesticks. It is but a young gentleman in ex-
treme distress, hunted upon every side, and asking no
more than to escape from his pursuers. I know your char-
acter, I read it in your face " â€” the heart trembled in my
body as I said these daring words. " There are unhappy
English prisoners in France at this day, perhaps at this
hour. Perhaps at this hour they kneel as I do ; they take
the hand of her Avho might conceal or assist them ; they
press it to their lips as I do "
Here, here ! " cried the old lady, breaking from my
solicitations. " Behave yourself before folk ! Saw ever
any one the match of that ? And on earth, my dears, what
are we to do with him ? "
" Pack him off, my dear lady," said I : " pack off the
impudent fellow double-quick ! And if it may be, and your
good heart allows it, help him a little on the way he has
to go." j
"What's this pie? "she cried stridently. "AVhere isl
this pie from. Flora ? "
No answer was vouchsafed by my unfortunate and (I
may say) extinct accomplices.
"Is that my port?" she pursued. "Hough! Will
somebody give me a glass of my port wine ? "
I made haste to serve her.