what vulgar form," said he, " I might ask you, did you
go to Midway for your health ? "
"I don't know that I did," I replied.
" Similarly, Mr. Dodd, you may be sure I would never
have taken the present step without influential grounds,"
pursued the lawyer. " Intrusion is foreign to my char-
acter. But you and I, sir, are engaged on the same ends.
If we can continue to work the thing in company, I
place at your disposal my knowledge of the law and a
considerable practice in delicate negotiations similar to
this. Should you refuse to consent, you might find in
me a formidable and " he hesitated " and to my own
regret, perhaps a dangerous competitor."
" Did you get this by heart ? " I asked, genially.
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 379
" I advise you to ! " he said, with a sudden sparkle of
temper and menace, instantly gone, instantly succeeded
by fresh cringing. " I assure you, sir, I arrive in the
character of a friend ; and I believe you underestimate
my information. If I may instance an example, I am
acquainted to the last dime with what you made (or
rather lost), and I know you have since cashed a con-
siderable draft on London."
" What do you infer ? " I asked.
" I know where that draft came from," he cried, winc-
ing back like one who has greatly dared, and instantly
regrets the venture.
"So?" said I.
" You forget I was Mr. Dickson's confidential agent,"
he explained. "You had his address, Mr. Dodd. We
were the only two that he communicated with in San
Francisco. You see my deductions are quite obvious :
you see how open and frank I deal with you ; as I should
wish to do with any gentleman with whom I was con-
joined in business. You see how much I know ; and it
can scarcely escape your strong common-sense, how much
better it would be if I knew all. You cannot hope to get
rid of me at this time of day, I have my place in the affair,
I cannot be shaken off ; I am, if you will excuse a rather
technical pleasantry, an encumbrance on the estate. The
actual harm I can do, I leave you to valuate for yourself.
But without going so far, Mr. Dodd, and without in any
way inconveniencing myself, I could make things very
380 THE WKECKER.
uncomfortable. For instance, Mr. Pinkerton's liquida-
tion. You and I know, sir and you better than I
on what a large fund you draw. Is Mr. Pinkerton in the
thing at all ? It was you only who knew the address,
and you were concealing it. Suppose I should communi-
cate with Mr. Pinkerton "
" Look here ! " I interrupted, " communicate with him
(if you will permit me to clothe my idea in a vulgar
shape) till you are blue in the face. There is only one
person with whom I refuse to allow you to communicate
farther, and that is myself. Good morning."
He could not conceal his rage, disappointment, and
surprise; and in the passage (I have no doubt) was
shaken by St. Vitus.
I was disgusted by this interview ; it struck me hard
to be suspected on all hands, and to hear again from
this trafficker what I had heard already from Jim's
wife ; and yet my strongest impression was different
and might rather be described as an impersonal fear.
There was something against nature in the man's craven
impudence ; it was as though a lamb had butted me ;
such daring at the hands of such a dastard, implied
unchangeable resolve, a great pressure of necessity, and
powerful means. I thought of the unknown Carthew,
and it sickened me to see this ferret on his trail.
Upon inquiry I found the lawyer was but just dis-
barred for some malpractice; and the discovery added
excessively to my disquiet. Here was a rascal without
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 381
money or the means of making it, thrust out of the
doors of his own. trade, publicly shamed, and doubtless
in a deuce of a bad temper with the universe. Here, on
the other hand, was a man with a secret ; rich, terrified,
practically in hiding ; who had been willing to pay ten
thousand pounds for the bones of the Flying Scud. I
slipped insensibly into a mental alliance with the vic-
tim ; the business weighed on me ; all day long, I was
wondering how much the lawyer knew, how much he
guessed, and when he would open his attack.
Some of these problems are unsolved to this day;
others were soon made clear. Where he got Carthew's
name is still a mystery; perhaps some sailor on the
Tempest, perhaps my own sea-lawyer served him for a
tool ; but I was actually at his elbow when he learned
the address. It fell so. One evening, when I had an
engagement and was killing time until the hour, I
chanced to walk in the court of the hotel while the
band played. The place was bright as day with the
electric light ; and I recognised, at some distance among
the loiterers, the person of Bellairs in talk with a gen-
tleman, whose face appeared familiar. It was certainly
some one I had seen, and seen recently; but who or
where, I knew not. A porter standing hard by, gave
me the necessary hint. The stranger was an English
navy man, invalided home from Honolulu, where he had
left his ship ; indeed it was only from the change of
clothes and the effects of sickness, that I had not iinme-
382 THE WRECKER.
diately recognised my friend and correspondent, Lieu-
The conjunction of these planets seeming ominous, I
drew near; but it seemed Bellairs had done his busi-
ness ; he vanished in the crowd, and I found my officer
" Do you know whom you have been talking to, Mr.
Sebright ? " I began.
"No," said he. "I don't know him from Adam.
Anything wrong ? "
"He is a disreputable lawyer, recently disbarred,"
said I. " I wish I had seen you in time. I trust you
told him nothing about Carthew ? "
He flushed to his ears. " I'm awfully sorry," he said.
" He seemed civil, and I wanted to get rid of him. It
was only the address he asked."
" And you gave it ? " I cried.
"I'm really awfully sorry," said Sebright. "I'm
afraid I did."
" God forgive you ! " was my only comment, and I
turned my back upon the blunderer.
The fat was in the fire now : Bellairs had the address,
and I was the more deceived or Carthew would have
news of him. So strong was this impression, and so
painful, that the next morning I had the curiosity to pay
the lawyer's den a visit. An old woman was scrubbing
the stair, and the board was down.
"Lawyer Bellairs?" said the old woman. "Gone
TKAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 383
East this morning. There's Lawyer Dean next block
I did not trouble Lawyer Dean, but walked slowly
back to my hotel, ruminating as I went. The image of
the old woman washing that desecrated stair had struck
my fancy; it seemed that all the water-supply of the
city and all the soap in the State would scarce suffice to
cleanse it, it had been so long a clearing-house of dingy
secrets and a factory of sordid fraud. And now the
corner was untenanted; some judge, like a careful
housewife, had knocked down the web, and the bloated
spider was scuttling elsewhere after new victims. I had
of late (as I have said) insensibly taken sides with
Carthew ; now when his enemy was at his heels, my
interest grew more warm ; and I began to wonder if I
could not help. The drama of the Flying Scud was
entering on a new phase. It had been singular from the
first : it promised an extraordinary conclusion ; and I
who had paid so much to learn the beginning, might pay
a little more and see the end. I lingered in San Fran-
cisco, indemnifying myself after the hardships of the
cruise, spending money, regretting it, continually promis-
ing departure for the morrow. Why not go indeed, and
keep a watch upon Bellairs ? If I missed him, there
was no harm done, I was the nearer Paris. If I found
and kept his trail, it was hard if I could not put some
stick in his machinery, and at the worst I could promise
myself interesting scenes and revelations.
384 THE WRECKER.
In such a mixed humour, I made up what it pleases me
to call my mind, and once more involved myself in the
story of Carthew and the Flying Scud. The same night
I wrote a letter of farewell to Jim, and one of anxious
warning to De Urquart begging him to set Carthew on
his guard ; the morrow saw me in the ferry-boat ; and ten
days later, I was walking the hurricane deck on the City
of Denver. By that time my mind was pretty much made
down again, its natural condition : I told myself that I
was bound for Paris or Fontainebleau to resume the study
of the arts ; and I thought no more of Carthew or Bel-
lairs, or only to smile at my own fondness. The one I
could not serve, even if I wanted; the other I had no
means of finding, even if I could have at all influenced
him after he was found.
And for all that, I was close on the heels of an absurd
adventure. My neighbour at table that evening was a
'Frisco man whom I knew slightly. I found he had
crossed the plains two days in front of me, and this
was the first steamer that had left New York for
Europe since his arrival. Two days before me, meant
a day before Bellairs ; and dinner was scarce done
before I was closeted with the purser.
" Bellairs ? " he repeated. " Not in the saloon, I am
sure. He may be in the second class. The lists are not
made out, but Hullo! ' Harry D. Bellairs?' That
the name ? He's there right enough."
And the next morning I saw him on the forward
deck, sitting in a chair, a book in his hand, a shabby
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 385
puma skin rug about his knees : the picture of respect-
able decay. Off and on, I kept him in my eye. He
read a good deal, he stood and looked upon the sea, he
talked occasionally with his neighbours, and once when
a child fell he picked it up and soothed it. I damned
him in my heart; the book, which I was sure he did
not read the sea, to which I was ready to take oath
he was indifferent the child, whom I was certain he
would as lieve have tossed overboard all seemed to
me elements in a theatrical performance j and I made
no doubt he was already nosing after the secrets of his
fellow-passengers. I took no pains to conceal myself,
my scorn for the creature being as strong as my dis-
gust. But he never looked my way, and it was night
before I learned he had observed me.
I was smoking by the engine-room door, for the air
was a little sharp, when a voice rose close beside me
in the darkness.
" I beg your pardon, Mr. Dodd ? " it said.
" That you, Bellairs ? " I replied.
" A single word, sir. Your presence on this ship has
no connection with our interview ? " he asked. " You
have no idea, Mr. Dodd, of returning upon your deter-
mination ? "
" None," said I ; and then, seeing he still lingered, I
was polite enough to add " Good evening ; " at which
he sighed and went away.
The next day, he was there again with the chair and
the puma skin ; read his book and looked at the sea with
the same constancy ; and though there was no child to
be picked up, I observed him to attend repeatedly on a
sick woman. Nothing fosters suspicion like the act of
watching ; a man spied upon can hardly blow his nose
but we accuse him of designs ; and I took an early
opportunity to go forward and see the woman for my-
self. She was poor, elderly, and painfully plain ; I stood
abashed at the sight, felt I owed Bellairs amends for
the injustice of my thoughts, and seeing him standing
by the rail in his usual attitude of contemplation,
walked up and addressed him by name.
" You seem very fond of the sea," said I.
" I may really call it a passion, Mr. Dodd," he replied.
" And the tall cataract haunted me like a passion," he
quoted. "I never weary of the sea, sir. This is my
first ocean voyage. I find it a glorious experience."
And once more my disbarred lawyer dropped into
poetry : "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!"
Though I had learned the piece in my reading-book
at school, I came into the world a little too late on the
one hand and I daresay a little too early on the other
to think much of Byron; and the sonorous verse, pro-
digiously well delivered, struck me with surprise.
"You are fond of poetry, too ?" I asked.
" I am a great reader," he replied. " At one time I
had begun to amass quite a small but well selected
library ; and when that was scattered, I still managed to
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 387
preserve a few volumes chiefly of pieces designed for
recitation which have been my travelling companions."
" Is that one of them ? " I asked, pointing to the vol-
ume in his hand.
" No, sir," he replied, showing me a translation of the
Sorrows of Werther, " that is a novel I picked up some
time ago. It has afforded me great pleasure, though
" 0, immoral ! " cried I, indignant as usual at any
implication of art and ethics.
" Surely you cannot deny that, sir if you know the
book," he said. "The passion is illicit, although cer-
tainly drawn with a good deal of pathos. It is not a
work one could possibly put into the hands of a lady ;
which is to be regretted on all accounts, for I do not
know how it may strike you ; but it seems to me as
a depiction, if I make myself clear to rise high above
its compeers, even famous compeers. Even in Scott,
Dickens, Thackeray, or Hawthorne, the sentiment of
love appears to me to be frequently done less justice
" You are expressing a very general opinion," said I.
" Is that so, indeed, sir ? " he exclaimed, with unmis-
takable excitement. "Is the book well known? and
who was Go-eathf I am interested in that, because
upon the title-page the usual initials are omitted, and it
runs simply 'by Go-eath.' Was he an author of dis-
tinction? Has he written other works?"
388 THE WRECKER.
Such was our first interview, the first of many; and
in all he showed the same attractive qualities and
defects. His taste for literature was native and unaf-
fected; his sentimentality, although extreme and a
thought ridiculous, was plainly genuine. I wondered at
my own innocent wonder. I knew that Hoiner nodded,
that Caesar had compiled a jest-book, that Turner lived
by preference the life of Puggy Booth, that Shelley
made paper boats, and Wordsworth wore green specta-
cles ! and with all this mass of evidence before me, I
had expected Bellairs to be entirely of one piece, sub-
dued to what he worked in, a spy all through. As
I abominated the man's trade, so I had expected to
detest the man himself; and behold, I liked him. Poor
devil ! he was essentially a man on wires, all sensibility
and tremor, brimful of a cheap poetry, not without parts,
quite without courage. His boldness was despair; the
gulf behind him thrust him on; he was one of those
who might commit a murder rather than confess the
theft of a postage-stamp. I was sure that his coming
interview with Carthew rode his imagination like a
nightmare; when the thought crossed his mind, I used
to think I knew of it, and that the qualm appeared in
his face visibly. Yet he would never flinch : necessity
stalking at his back, famine (his old pursuer) talking in
his ear ; and I used to wonder whether I most admired,
or most despised, this quivering heroism for evil. The
jmage that occurred to me after his visit was just ; I had
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER 389
been butted by a lamb ; and the phase of life that I was
now studying might be called the Kevolt of a Sheep.
It could be said of him that he had learned in sorrow
what he taught in song or wrong; and his life was
that of one of his victims. He was born in the back
parts of the State of New York; his father a farmer,
who became subsequently bankrupt and went West.
The lawyer and money-lender who had ruined this poor
family seems to have conceived in the end a feeling
of remorse ; he turned the father out indeed, but he
offered, in compensation, to charge himself with one of
the sons : and Harry, the fifth child and already sickly,
was chosen to be left behind. He made himself useful
in the office; picked up the scattered rudiments of an
education ; read right and left ; attended and debated at
the Young Men's Christian Association ; and in all his
early years, was the model for a good story-book. His
landlady's daughter was his bane. He showed me her
photograph ; she was a big, handsome, dashing, dressy,
vulgar hussy, without character, without tenderness,
without mind, and (as the result proved) without virtue.
The sickly and timid boy was in the house; he was
handy ; when she was otherwise unoccupied, she used
and played with him : Komeo and Cressida ; till in that
dreary life of a poor boy in a country town, she grew to
be the light of his days and the subject of his dreams.
He worked hard, like Jacob, for a wife ; he surpassed
his patron in sharp practice ; he was made head clerk ;
390 THE WRECKER.
and the same night, encouraged by a hundred freedoms,
depressed by the sense of his youth and his infirmities,
he offered marriage and was received with laughter.
Not a year had passed, before his master, conscious of
growing infirmities, took him for a partner ; he proposed
again; he was accepted; led two years of troubled
married life ; and awoke one morning to find his wife
had run away with a dashing drummer, and had left him
heavily in debt. The debt, and not the drummer, was
supposed to be the cause of the hegira; she had con-
cealed her liabilities, they were on the point of bursting
forth, she was weary of Bellairs ; and she took the
drummer as she might have taken a cab. The blow disa-
bled her husband, his partner was dead ; he was now alone
in the business, for which he was no longer fit; the
debts hampered him ; bankruptcy followed ; and he fled
from city to city, falling daily into lower practice. It is
to be considered that he had been taught, and had
learned as a delightful duty, a kind of business whose
highest merit is to escape the commentaries of the
bench: that of the usurious lawyer in a county town.
With this training, he was now shot, a penniless stranger,
into the deeper gulfs of cities ; and the result is scarce
a thing to be surprised at.
" Have you heard of your wife again ? " I asked.
He displayed a pitiful agitation. "I am afraid you
will think ill of me," he said.
" Have you taken her back ? " I asked.
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 391
"No, sir. I trust I have too much self-respect," he
answered, "and, at least, I was never tempted. She
won't come, she dislikes, she seems to have conceived a
positive distaste for me, and yet I was considered an
" You are still in relations, then ? " I asked.
" I place myself in your hands, Mr. Dodd," he replied.
" The world is very hard ; I have found it bitter hard
myself bitter hard to live. How much worse for a
woman, and one who has placed herself (by her own
misconduct, I am far from denying that) in so unfortu-
nate a position ! "
" In short, you support her ? " I suggested.
"I cannot deny it. I practically do," he admitted.
" It has been a mill-stone round my neck. But I think
she is grateful. You can see for yourself."
He handed me a letter in a sprawling, ignorant hand,
but written with violet ink on fine, pink paper with a
monogram. It was very foolishly expressed, and I
thought (except for a few obvious cajoleries) very heart-
less and greedy in meaning. The writer said she had
been sick, which I disbelieved ; declared the last remit-
tance was all gone in doctor's bills, for which I took the
liberty of substituting dress, drink, and monograms;
and prayed for an increase, which I could only hope had
been denied her.
" I think she is really grateful ? " he asked, with some
eagerness, as I returned it.
392 THE WKECKEB.
" I daresay," said I. " Has she any claim on you ? "
" 0, no, sir. I divorced her," he replied. " I have a
very strong sense of self-respect in such matters, and I
divorced her immediately."
" What sort of life is she leading now ? " I asked.
"I will not deceive you, Mr. Dodd. I do not know,
I make a point of not knowing ; it appears more digni-
fied. I have been very harshly criticised," he added,
It will be seen that I had fallen into an ignominious
intimacy with the man I had gone out to thwart. My
pity for the creature, his admiration for myself, his
pleasure in my society, which was clearly unassumed,
were the bonds with which I was fettered ; perhaps I
should add, in honesty, my own ill-regulated interest in
the phases of life and human character. The fact is (at
least) that we spent hours together daily, and that I was
nearly as much on the forward deck as in the saloon.
Yet all the while I could never forget he was a shabby
trickster, embarked that very moment in a dirty enter-
prise. I used to tell myself at first that our acquaintance
was a stroke of art, and that I was somehow fortifying
Carthew. I told myself, I say ; but I was no such fool
as to believe it, even then. In these circumstances I
displayed the two chief qualities of my character on the
largest scale my helplessness and my instinctive love
of procrastination and fell upon a course of action so
ridiculous that I blush when I recall it.
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 393
We reached Liverpool one forenoon, the rain falling
thickly and insidiously on the filthy town. I had no
plans, beyond a sensible unwillingness to let my rascal
escape ; and I ended by going to the same inn with him,
dining with him, walking with him in the wet streets,
and hearing with him in a penny gaff that venerable
piece, TJie Ticket-of- Leave Man. It was one of his first
visits to a theatre, against which places of entertainment
he had a strong prejudice ; and his innocent, pompous
talk, innocent old quotations, and innocent reverence for
the character of Hawkshaw delighted me beyond relief.
In charity to myself, I dwell upon and perhaps exagger-
ate my pleasures. I have need of all conceivable excuses,
when I confess that I went to bed without one word
upon the matter of Carthew, but not without having cov-
enanted with my rascal for a visit to Chester the next
day. At Chester we did the cathedral, walked on the
Walls, discussed Shakespeare and the musical glasses
and made a fresh engagement for the morrow. I do not
know, and I am glad to have forgotten, how long these
travels were continued. We visited at least, by singular
zigzags, Stratford, Warwick, Coventry, Gloucester, Bris-
tol, Bath, and Wells. At each stage we spoke dutifully
of the scene and its associations ; I sketched, the Shyster
spouted poetry and copied epitaphs. Who could doubt
We were the usual Americans, travelling with a design of
self-improvement? Who was to guess that one was a
blackmailer, trembling to approach the scene of action
the other a helpless, amateur detective, waiting on
It is unnecessary to remark that none occurred, or none
the least suitable with my design of protecting Carthew.
Two trifles, indeed, completed though they scarcely changed
my conception of the Shyster. The first was observed in
Gloucester, where we spent Sunday, and I proposed we
should hear service in the cathedral. To my surprise,
the creature had an ism of his own, to which he was
loyal ; and he left me to go alone to the cathedral or
perhaps not to go at all and stole off down a deserted
alley to some Bethel or Ebenezer of the proper shade.
When we met again at lunch, I rallied him, and he grew
"You need employ no circumlocutions with me, Mr.
Dodd," he said, suddenly. "You regard my behaviour
from an unfavourable point of view: you regard me, I
much fear, as hypocritical."
I was somewhat confused by the attack. " You know
what I think of your trade," I replied, lamely and coarsely.
"Excuse me, if I seem to press the subject," he con-
tinued, " but if you think my life erroneous, would you
have me neglect the means of grace ? Because you con-
sider me in the wrong on one point, would you have me
place myself on the wrong in all ? Surely, sir, the church
is for the sinner."
" IHd you ask a blessing on your present enterprise ? "
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 395
He had a bad attack of St. Vitus, his face was changed,
and his eyes flashed. " I will tell you what I did ! " he
cried. " I prayed for an unfortunate man and a wretched
woman whom he tries to support."
I cannot pretend that I found any repartee.
The second incident was at Bristol, where I lost sight
of my gentleman some hours. From this eclipse, he
returned to me with thick speech, wandering footsteps,
and a back all whitened with plaster. I had half ex-
pected, yet I could have wept to see it. All disabilities
were piled on that weak back domestic misfortune,
nervous disease, a displeasing exterior, empty pockets,