and the slavery of vice.
I will never deny that our prolonged conjunction was
the result of double cowardice. Each was afraid to leave
the other, each was afraid to speak, or knew not what to
say. Save for my ill-judged allusion at Gloucester,
the subject uppermost in both our minds was buried.
Carthew, Stallbridge-le-Carthew, Stallbridge-Minster
which we had long since (and severally) identified to be
the nearest station even the name of Dorsetshire was
studiously avoided. And yet we were making progress
all the time, tacking across broad England like an un-
weatherly vessel on a wind; approaching our destina-
tion, not openly, but by a sort of flying sap. And at
length, I can scarce tell how, we were set down by a
dilatory butt-end of local train on the untenanted plat-
form of Stallbridge-Minster.
396 THE WKECKER.
The town was ancient and compact : a domino of tiled
houses and walled gardens, dwarfed by the dispropor-
tionate bigness of the church. From the midst of the
thoroughfare which divided it in half, fields and trees
were visible at either end ; and through the sally-port of
every street, there flowed in from the country a silent
invasion of green grass. Bees and birds appeared to
make the majority of the inhabitants ; every garden had
its row of hives, the eaves of every house were plastered
with the nests of swallows, and the pinnacles of the
church were flickered about all day long by a multitude
ot wings. The town was of Roman foundation ; and as
I looked out that afternoon from the low windows of the
inn, I should scarce have been surprised to see a cen-
turion coming up the street with a fatigue draft of
legionaries. In short, Stallbridge-Minster was one of
those towns which appear to be maintained by England
for the instruction and delight of the American rambler;
to which he seems guided by an instinct not less surpris-
ing than the setter's ; and which he visits and quits with
I was not at all in the humour of the tourist. I had
wasted weeks of time and accomplished nothing ; we were
on the eve of the engagement, and I had neither plans
nor allies ; I had thrust myself into the trade of private
providence and amateur detective ; I was spending money
and I was reaping disgrace. All the time, I kept telling
myself that I must at least speak ; that this ignominious
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 397
silence should have been broken long ago, and must be
broken now. I should have broken it when he first pro-
posed to come to Stallbridge-Minster ; I should have
broken it in the train ; I should break it there and then,
on the inn doorstep, as the omnibus rolled off. I turned
toward him at the thought ; he seemed to wince, the
words died on my lips, and I proposed instead that we
should visit the Minster.
While we were engaged upon this duty, it came on to
rain in a manner worthy of the tropics. The vault re-
verberated; every gargoyle instantly poured its full
discharge; we waded back to the inn, ankle deep in
impromptu brooks; and the rest of the afternoon sat
weatherbound, hearkening to the sonorous deluge. For
two hours I talked of indifferent matters, laboriously
feeding the conversation; for two hours my mind was
quite made up to do my duty instantly and at each
particular instant I postponed it till the next. To screw
up my faltering courage, I called at dinner for some
sparkling wine. It proved when it came to be detestable ;
I could not put it to my lips ; and Bellairs, who had as
much palate as a weevil, was left to finish it himself.
Doubtless the wine flushed him ; doubtless he may have
observed my embarrassment of the afternoon ; doubtless
he was conscious that we were approaching a crisis, and
that that evening, if I did not join with him, I must
declare myself an open enemy. At least he fled. Dinner
was done ; this was the time when I had bound myself to
398 THE WKECKER.
break my silence; no more delays were to be allowed,
no more excuses received. I went upstairs after some
tobacco ; which I felt to be a mere necessity in the
circumstances ; and when I returned, the man was gone.
The waiter told me he had left the house.
The rain still plumped, like a vast shower-bath, over
the deserted town. The night was dark and windless : the
street lit glimmeringly from end to end, lamps, house
windows, and the reflections in the rain-pools all contrib-
uting. From a public-house on the other side of the way,
I heard a harp twang and a doleful voice upraised in the
"Larboard Watch," "The Anchor's Weighed," and other
naval ditties. Where had my Shyster wandered? In
all likelihood to that lyrical tavern ; there was no choice
of diversion ; in comparison with Stallbridge-Minster on
a rainy night, a sheepfold would seem gay.
Again I passed in review the points of my interview,
on which I was always constantly resolved so long as
my adversary was absent from the scene: and again
they struck me as inadequate. From this dispiriting
exercise I turned to the native amusements of the inn
coffee-room, and studied for some time the mezzotints
that frowned upon the wall. The railway guide, after
showing me how soo'n I could leave Stallbridge and how
quickly I could reach Paris, failed to hold my attention.
An illustrated advertisement book of hotels brought me
very low indeed ; and when it came to the local paper,
I could have wept. At this point, I found a passing
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 399
solace in a copy of Whittaker's Almanac, and obtained
in fifty minutes more information than I have yet been
able to use.
Then a fresh apprehension assailed me. Suppose
Bellairs had given me the slip? suppose he was now
rolling on the road to Stallbridge-le-Carthew ? or per-
haps there already and laying before a very white-faced
auditor his threats and propositions ? A hasty person
might have instantly pursued. Whatever I am, I am
not hasty, and I was aware of three grave objections.
In the first place, I could not be certain that Bellairs
was gone. In the second, I had no taste whatever for a
long drive at that hour of the night and in so merciless
a rain. In the third, I had no idea how I was to get
admitted if I went, and no idea what I should say if I
got admitted. " In short," I concluded, " the whole situ-
ation is the merest farce. You have thrust yourself in
where you had no business and have no power. You
would be quite as useful in San Francisco ; far happier
in Paris ; and being (by the wrath of God) at Stall-
bridge-Minster, the wisest thing is to go quietly to
bed." On the way to my room, I saw (in a flash) that
which I ought to have done long ago, and which it was
now too late to think of written to Carthew, I mean,
detailing the facts and describing Bellairs, letting him
defend himself if he were able, and giving him time to
flee if he were not. It was the last blow to my self-
respect ; and I flung myself into my bed with contumely.
400 THE WKECKEE.
I have no guess what hour it was, when I was
wakened by the entrance of Bellairs carrying a candle.
He had been drunk, for he was bedaubed with mire from
head to foot ; but he was now sober and under the em-
pire of some violent emotion which he controlled with
difficulty. He trembled visibly; and more than once,
during the interview which followed, tears suddenly
and silently overflowed his cheeks.
"I have to ask your pardon, sir, for this untimely
visit," he said. " I make no defence, I have no excuse,
I have disgraced myself, I am properly punished; I
appear before you to appeal to you in mercy for the
most trifling aid or, God help me ! I fear I may go
" What on earth is wrong ? " I asked.
"I have been robbed," he said. "I have no defence
to offer; it was of my own fault, I am properly pun-
" But, gracious goodness me ! " I cried, " who is there
to rob you in a place like this ? "
"I can form no opinion," he replied. "I have no
idea. I was lying in a ditch inanimate. This is a
degrading confession, sir ; I can only say in self-defence
that perhaps (in your good nature) you have made your-
self partly responsible for my shame. I am not used to
these rich wines."
"In what form was your money? Perhaps it may
be traced," I suggested.
TKAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 401
"It was in English sovereigns. I changed it in New
STork; I got very good exchange," he said, and then,
with a momentary outbreak, " God in heaven, how I
toiled for it ! " he cried.
"That doesn't sound encouraging," said I. "It may
be worth while to apply to the police, but it doesn't
sound a hopeful case."
"And I have no hope in that direction." said Bel-
lairs. "My hopes, Mr. Dodd, are all fixed upon your-
self. I could easily convince you that a small, a very
small advance, would be in the nature of an excellent
investment; but I prefer to rely on your humanity.
Our acquaintance began on an unusual footing ; but you
have now known me for some time, we have been some
time I was going to say we had been almost intimate.
Under the impulse of instinctive sympathy, I have
bared my heart to you, Mr. Dodd, as I have done to
few; and I believe I trust I may say that I feel
sure you heard me with a kindly sentiment. This is
what brings me to your side at this most inexcusable
hour. But put yourself in my place how could I
sleep how could I dream of sleeping, in this black-
ness of remorse and despair ? There was a friend at
hand so I ventured to think of you; it was instinc-
tive ; I fled to your side, as the drowning man clutches
at a straw. These expressions axe not exaggerated, they
scarcely serve to express the agitation of my mind.
And think, sir, how easily you can restore me to hope
402 THE WRECKER.
and, I may say, to reason. A small loan, which shall
be faithfully repaid. Five hundred dollars would be
ample." He watched me with burning eyes, "Four
hundred would do. I believe, Mr. Dodd, that I could
manage with economy on two."
"And then you will repay me out of Carthew's
pocket ? " I said. " I am much obliged. But I will tell
you what I will do: I will see you on board a steamer,
pay your fare through to San Francisco, and place fifty
dollars in the purser's hands, to be given you in New
He drank in my words ; his face represented an ec-
stasy of cunning thought. I could read there, plain as
print, that he but thought to overreach me.
" And what am I to do in 'Frisco ? " he asked. " I am
disbarred, I have no trade, I cannot dig, to beg " he
paused in the citation. " And you know that I am not
alone," he added, " others depend upon me."
" I will write to Pinkerton," I returned. " I feel sure
he can help you to some employment, and in the mean-
time, and for three months after your arrival, he shall
pay to yourself personally, on the first and the fifteenth,
" Mr. Dodd, I scarce believe you can be serious in this
offer," he replied. "Have you forgotten the circum-
stances of the case ? Do you know these people are the
magnates of the section ? They were spoken of to-night
in the saloon; their wealth must amount to many mil-
TRAVELS WITH A SHYSTER. 403
lions of dollars in real estate alone ; their house is one
of the sights of the locality, and you offer me a bribe of
a few hundred ! "
" I offer you no bribe, Mr. Bellairs, I give you alms,"
I returned. " I will do nothing to forward you in your
hateful business; yet I would not willingly have you
" Give me a hundred dollars then, and be done with
it," he cried.
"I will do what I have said, and neither more nor
less," said I.
"Take care," he cried. "You are playing a fool's
game ; you are making an enemy for nothing ; you will
gain nothing by this, I warn you of it ! " And then with
one of his changes, "Seventy dollars only seventy
in mercy, Mr. Dodd, in common charity. Don't dash the
bowl from my lips ! You have a kindly heart. Think
of my position, remember my unhappy wife."
"You should have thought of her before," said I. "I
have made my offer, and I wish to sleep."
" Is that your last word, sir ? Pray consider ; pray
weigh both sides : my misery, your own danger. I
warn you I beseech you ; measure it well before you
answer," so he half pleaded, half threatened me, with
" My first word, and my last," said I.
The change upon the man was shocking. In the storm
oi anger that now shook him, the lees of his intoxication
404 THE WRECKER.
rose again to the surface ; his face was deformed, his
words insane with fury; his pantomime excessive in
itself, was distorted by an access of St. Vitus.
" You will perhaps allow me to inform you of my cold
opinion," he began, apparently self-possessed, truly
bursting with rage: "when I am a glorified saint, I shall
see you howling for a drop of water and exult to see
you. That your last word ! Take it in your face, you spy,
you false friend, you fat hypocrite ! I defy, I defy and de-
spise and spit upon you ! I'm on the trail, his trail or
yours, I smell blood, I'll follow it on my hands and
knees, I'll starve to follow it ! I'll hunt you down, hunt
you, hunt you down ! If I were strong, I'd tear your
vitals out, here in this room tear them out I'd tear
them out ! Damn, damn, damn ! You think me weak ?
I can bite, bite to the blood, bite you, hurt you, disgrace
He was thus incoherently raging, when the scene was
interrupted by the arrival of the landlord and inn ser-
rants in various degrees of deshabille, and to them I
gave my temporary lunatic in charge.
" Take him to his room," I said, " he's only drunk."
These were my words ; but I knew better. After all my
study of Mr. Bellairs, one discovery had been reserved
for the last moment: that of his latent and essential
Long before I was awake, the shyster had disappeared,
leaving his bill unpaid. I did not need to inquire where
he was gone, I knew too well, I knew there was nothing
left me but to follow ; and about ten in the morning, set
forth in a gig for Stallbridge-le-Carthew.
The road, for the first quarter of the way, deserts the
valley of the river, and crosses the summit of a chalk-
down, grazed over by flocks of sheep and haunted by
innumerable larks. It was a pleasant but a vacant scene,
arousing but not holding the attention ; and my mind
returned to the violent passage of the night before. My
thought of the man I was pursuing had been greatly
changed. I conceived of him, somewhere in front of
me, upon his dangerous errand, not to be turned aside,
not to be stopped, by either fear or reason. I had called
him a ferret ; I conceived him now as a mad dog. Me-
thought he would run, not walk ; methought, as he ran,
that he would bark and froth at the lips ; methought, if
the great wall of China were to rise across his path, he
would attack it with his nails.
Presently the road left the down, returned by a pre-
cipitous descent into the valley of the Stall, and ran
thenceforward among enclosed fields and under the con-
406 THE WRECKER.
tinuous shade of trees. I was told we had aow entered
on the Carthew property. By and by, a battlemented
wall appeared on the left hand, and a little after I
had my first glimpse of the mansion. It stood in a hol-
low of a bosky park, crowded to a degree that surprised
and even displeased me, with huge timber and dense
shrubberies of laurel and rhododendron. Even from
this low station and the thronging neighbourhood of the
trees, the pile rose conspicuous like a cathedral. Be-
hind, as we continued to skirt the park wall, I began to
make out a straggling town of offices which became con-
joined to the rear with those of the home farm. On the
left was an ornamental water sailed in by many swans.
On the right extended a flower garden, laid in the old
manner, and at this season of the year, as brilliant as
stained glass. The front of the house presented a facade
of more than sixty windows, surmounted by a formal
pediment and raised upon a terrace. A wide avenue,
part in gravel, part in turf, and bordered by triple alleys,
ran to the great double gateways. It was impossible to
look without surprise on a place that had been prepared
through so many generations, had cost so many tons of
minted gold, and was maintained in order by so great a
company of emulous servants. And yet of these there
was no sign but the perfection of their work. The
whole domain was drawn to the line and weeded like
the front plot of some suburban amateur ; and I looked
in vain for any belated gardener, and listened in vain for
any sounds of labour. Some lowing of cattle and much
calling of birds alone disturbed the stillness, and even
the little hamlet, which clustered at the gates, appeared
to hold its breath in awe of its great neighbour, like a
troop of children who should have strayed into a king's
The Carthew Arms, the small but very comfortable
inn, was a mere appendage and outpost of the family
whose name it bore. Engraved portraits of by-gone
Carthews adorned the walls ; Fielding Carthew, Recorder
of the city of London ; Major-General John Carthew in
uniform, commanding some military operations; the
Eight Honourable Bailley Carthew, Member of Parlia-
ment for Stallbridge, standing by a table and brandish-
ing a document; Singleton Carthew, Esquire, repre-
sented in the foreground of a herd of cattle doubtless
at the desire of his tenantry who had made him a com-
pliment of this work of art ; and the Venerable Archdea-
con Carthew, D.D., LL.D., A.M., laying his hand on the
head of a little child in a manner highly frigid and
ridiculous. So far as my memory serves me, there were
no other pictures in this exclusive hostelry ; and I was
not surprised to learn that the landlord was an ex-butler,
the landlady an ex-lady's-maid, from the great house;
and that the bar-parlour was a sort of perquisite of
To an American, the sense of the domination of
this family over so considerable tract of earth was even
oppressive; and as I considered their simple annals,
gathered from the legends of the engravings, surprise
began to mingle with my disgust. "Mr. Recorder "
doubtless occupies an honourable post; but I thought
that, in the course of so many generations, one Carthew
might have clambered higher. The soldier had stuck at
Major-General; the churchmen bloomed unremarked in
an archidiaconate ; and though the Right Honourable
Bailley seemed to have sneaked into the privy council,
I have still to learn what he did when he had got there.
Such vast means, so long a start, and such a modest
standard of achievement, struck in me a strong sense of
the dulness of that race.
I found that to come to the hamlet and not visit the
Hall, would be regarded as a slight. To feed the swans,
to see the peacocks and the Raphaels for these com-
monplace people actually possessed two Raphaels to
risk life and limb among a famous breed of cattle called
the Carthew Chillinghams, and to do homage to the sire
'still living) of Donibristle, a renowned winner of the
oaks : these, it seemed, were the inevitable stations of
the pilgrimage. I was not so foolish as to resist, for I
might have need before I was done of general good-will ;
and two pieces of news fell in which changed my resigna-
tion to alacrity. It appeared in the first place, that Mr.
Norris was from home " travelling " ; in the second, that
a visitor had been before me and already made the
tour of the Carthew curiosities. I thought I knev
who this must be ; I was anxious to learn what he had
done and seen ; and fortune so far favoured me that the
under-gardener singled out to be my guide had already
performed the same function for my predecessor.
"Yes, sir," he said, "an American gentleman right
enough. At least, I don't think he was quite a gentle-
man, but a very civil person."
The person, it seems, had been civil enough to be
delighted with the Carthew Chillinghams, to perform
the whole pilgrimage with rising admiration, and to
have almost prostrated himself before the shrine of
"He told me, sir," continued the gratified under-
gardener, " that he had often read of e the stately 'omes
of England,' but ours was the first he had the chance
to see. When he came to the 'ead of the long alley, he
fetched his breath. ' This is indeed a lordly domain ! '
he cries. And it was natural he should be interested in
the place, for it seems Mr. Carthew had been kind to
him in the States. In fact, he seemed a grateful kind
of person, and wonderful taken up with flowers."
I heard this story with amazement. The phrases
quoted told their own tale ; they were plainly from the
shyster's mint. A few hours back I had seen him a
mere bedlamite and fit for a strait-waistcoat ; he was
penniless in a strange country ; it was highly probable
he had gone without breakfast; the absence of Norrls
must have been a crushing blow ; the man (by all reason)
410 THE WRECKER.
should have been despairing. And now I heard of him,
clothed and in his right mind, deliberate, insinuating,
admiring vistas, smelling flowers, and talking like a
book. The strength of character implied amazed and
"This is curious," I said to the under-gardener. "I
have had the pleasure of some acquaintance with Mr.
Carthew myself; and I believe none of our western
friends ever were in England. Who can this person be ?
He couldn't no, that's impossible, he could never have
had the impudence. His name was not Bellairs ? "
" I didn't 'ear the name, sir. Do you know anything
against him ? " cried my guide.
"Well," said I, "he is certainly not the person Car-
thew would like to have here in his absence."
" Good gracious me ! " exclaimed the gardener. " He
was so pleasant spoken, too; I thought he was some
form of a schoolmaster. Perhaps, sir, you wouldn't
mind going right up to Mr. Denman ? I recommended
him to Mr. Denman, when he had done the grounds.
Mr. Denman is our butler, sir," he added.
The proposal was welcome, particularly as affording
me a graceful retreat from the neighbourhood of the
Carthew Chillinghams ; and, giving up our projected
circuit, we took a short cut through the shrubbery and
across the bowling green to the back quarters of the
The bowling green was surrounded by a great hedge of
yew, and entered by an archway in the quick. As we
were issuing from this passage, my conductor arrested
" The Honourable Lady Ann Carthew," he said, in an
august whisper. And looking over his shoulder, I was
aware of an old lady with a stick, hobbling somewhat
briskly along the garden path. She must have been
extremely handsome in her youth; and even the limp
with which she walked could not deprive her of an unu-
sual and almost menacing dignity of bearing. Melan-
choly was impressed besides on every feature, and her
eyes, as she looked straight before her, seemed to con-
" She seems sad," said I, when she had hobbled past
and we had resumed our walk.
"She enjoy rather poor spirits, sir, " responded the
under-gardener. "Mr. Carthew the old gentleman, I
mean died less than a year ago ; Lord Tillibody, her
ladyship's brother, two months after ; and then there
was the sad business about the young gentleman. Killed
in the 'unting-field, sir; and her ladyship's favourite.
The present Mr. Norris has never been so equally."
" So I have understood," said I, persistently, and (I
think) gracefully pursuing my inquiries and fortifying
my position as a family friend. " Dear, dear, how sad !
And has this change poor Carthew's return, and all
- has this not mended matters ? "
"Well, no, sir, not a sign of it," was the reply.
" Worse, we think, than ever."
412 THE WRECKER.
" Dear, dear ! " said I, again.
" When Mr. Norris arrived, she did seem glad to see
him," he pursued ; " and we were all pleased, I'm sure ;
for no one knows the young gentleman but what likes
him. Ah, sir, it didn't last long ! That very night they
had a talk, and fell out or something ; her ladyship took
on most painful ; it was like old days, but worse. And
the next morning Mr. Norris was off again upon his
travels. 'Denman,' he said to Mr. Denman, 'Denman,
I'll never come back,' he said, and shook him by the
'and. I wouldn't be saying all this to a stranger, sir,"
added my informant, overcome with a sudden fear lest
he had gone too far.
He had indeed told me much, and much tha* was
unsuspected by himself. On that stormy night of his