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COLLECTION

OF

BRITISH AUTHORS

TAUCHNITZ EDITION.

VOL. 1280.
THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF A PHAETON

BT

WILLIAM BLACK.

IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. I.



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TAUCHNITZ EDITION".
By the same Anther,

A DAUGHTEB OP HETH 2 VOls.

IN BILK ATTIRE . 2 vols.

A PRINCESS OF THULE ..... 2 vols.

KILMEN7 1 vol.

THE MAID OP KILLEENA 1 vol.

THREE FEATHERS 2 vols.

LADY SILVERDALE*S SWEETHEART . 1 VOl.

MADCAP VIOLET 2 vols.



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THE

STRANGE ADVENTURES

OF

A PHAETON.

BY

WILLIAM BLACK,

AUTHOR OF **A DAUGHTER OF HETH," ETC.
COPYRIGHT EDITION.
■ IN TWO VOLUMES.— VOL. L



LEIPZIG
BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

1872.

T/te Right 0/ Trartslation is reserved.



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\<^Gl



IX



HARVARD COLLEGE LiQRARY

GIFT OF

MRS. MALCOLM DONALD

MAY 2;^ 1940



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To
E, W. S.

I look back on a journey which was made pleasant
by the fancy that you might have been with me; I look
forward to another and longer journey rendered beautiful
by the hope that you may be with me; and I find this
book between. What can I do with it but lay it at your
feet, and ask you, as you look over its pages, and smile
at the distorted vision of yourself you may find there,
to forgive the rude and graceless outlines that were
meant to portray one of the most innocent, tender, and
beautiful souls God has ever given to the world? The
blind man, who has never seen the stars, dreams of them,
and is happy. And if he should be cured of his blind-
ness , and get to know the stars and become familiar
with all the majesty and wonder of them, will he look
with much contempt on those imperfect pictures of them
he had formed in the time of his loneliness and igno-
rance? I think not; and that is the excuse I have for
offering to you this book, knowing that you will look
charitably on these gropings in the dark, for the sake
of the love and admiration that prompted them.

London^ October ^^ 1873.



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CONTENDS

OF VOLUME



Page

CHAPTER'!. Our Bell 9

— II. A Luncheon in Holbom 20

III. f PrinzEugen, deredle Ritter" 4a

— IV. Arthur vanishes 59

— V. Queen Titania afloat 81

— VI. A Gift of Tongues 104

— VIL AtraCura 135

— VIIL Near Woodstock Town 164

— IX. A Moonlight Night 182

— X. The Avenger 204

— XI. Some Worcester Sauce 220

— XII. The Rivals 238

— XIII. Saved 263

— XIV. A Shrewsbury Play 284

— XV. "La Patrie en Danger** 304



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THE STRANGE ADVENTURES
OF A PHAETON.



CHAPTER I.
OUR BELL. ^

**0h, the oak, and the ash, and the bonny ivy-tree.
They grow so green in the North Countrie ! "

It was all settled one evening in the deep winter
time. Outside, a sharp east wind was whistling round
the solitudes of Box Hill; the Mole, at the foot of our
garden, as it stole stealthily through the darkness,
crackled the flakes of ice that lay along its level banks;
and away on Mickleham Downs — and on the further
uplands towards the sea — the cold stars were shining
down on a thin coating of snow.

Indoors there was another story to tell; for the
mistress of the house — Queen Titania, as we call her
— a small person, with a calm, handsome, pale face,
an abundance of black hair, big eyes that are occasion-
ally somewhat cold and critical in look, and a certain
magnificence of manner which makes you fancy her
rather a tall and stately woman — has a trick of so
filling her drawing-room with dexterous traceries of

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10 THE STRANGE ADVENTtJRES

grass and fems, with plentiful flowers of her own
rearing, and with a crowded glare of light, that, amid
the general warmth, the glow and perfume, and variety
of brilliant colours, you would almost forget that the
winter is chill and desolate and dark.

Then Bell, our guest and companion for many a
year, lends herself to the deception; for the wilful
young person, though there were a dozen inches of
snow on the meadows, would come down to dinner in
a dress of blue, with touches of white gossamer and
fur about the tight wrists and neck — with a white rose
and a bunch of forget-me-nots, as blue as her eyes,
twisted into the soft masses of her light-brown hair,
and with a certain gay and careless demeanour, meant
to let us know that she, having been bom and bred
in the North Country, has a fine contempt for the mild
rigours of our southern winter.

But on this particular evening, Bell — our Bell, our
Bonny Bell, our Lady Bell, as she is variously called
when she provokes people into giving her pet names —
had been sitting for a long time with an open book
on her knee; and as this volume was all about the
English lakes, and gave pictures of them, and placed
here, and there little tail-pieces of ferns and blossoms,
she may have been driven to contrast the visions thus
conjured up with the realities suggested by the fierce
gusts of wind that were blowing coldly through the
box-trees outside. All at once she placed the volume

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OF A PHAETON. 1 1

gently on the; white hearth-rug, and said, with a strange
wistfulness shining in the deeps of her blue eyes, —

"Tita, cannot yott make us talk about the summer,
and drown the noise of that dreadful wind? Why
don't we conspire to cheat the winter and make be-
lieve it is summer again? Doesn't it seem to be years
and years ago since we had the long light evenings;
the walks between the hedge-rows, the waiting for the
moon, up on the crest of the hill, and then the quiet
stroll downward into the valley and home again, with
the wild roses, and the meadow-sweet, and the even-
ing campions filling the warm night air? Come, let
us sit close together, and make it summer I See, Tita!^
— it is a bright forenoon — you can nearly catch a
glimpse of the Downs above Brighton — and we are
going to shut up the house, and go away anywhere
for a whole month. Round comes that dear old mail-
phaeton, and my pair of bonny bays are whinnying
for a bit of sugar. Papa is sulky '*

"As usual," remarks my Lady, without lifting her
eyes from the carpet.

" for though the imperial has been slung on,

there is scarcely enough, room for the heaps of our
luggage, and, like every man, he has a deadly hatred
of bonnet-boxes. Then you take your seat, my dear,
looking like a small empress in a grey travelling dress;
and Papa — after pretending to have inspected all the
harness — takes the reins; I pop in behind, for the

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12 THE STRANGE ADVENTURES

hood, when it is turned down, makes such a pleasant
cushion for your arms, and you can stick your sketch-
book into it, and a row of apples and anything else;
and Sandy touches his forelock, and Kate bobs a
curtsy, and away and away we go! How sweet and
fresh the air is, Tita! and don't you smell the honey-
suckle in the hedged Why, here we are at Dorking!
Papa pulls up to grumble about the last beer that was
sent; and then Castor and Pollux toss up their heads
again, and on we drive to Guildford, and to Reading,
and to Oxford. And all through England we go,
using sometimes the old coaching-roads, and some-
times the by-roads, stopping at the curious little inns,
and chatting to the old country folks and singing bal-
lads of an evening as we sit upon the hill-sides, and
watch the partridges dusting themselves below us in
the road; and then on and on again. Is not that the
sea, Tita? — look at the long stretch of Morecambe Bay
and the yellow sands, and the steamers on the horizon!
But all at once we dive into the hills again, and we
come to the old familiar places by Applethwaite and
Ambleside, and then some evening — some evening,
Tita — we come in sight of Grasmere, and then — and

then "

"Why, Bell! — what is the matter with you?" cries
the other, and the next minute her arms are round
the light-brown head, crushing its white rose and its
blue forget-me-nots.

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OF A PHAETON. . 1 3

"If you two young creatures," it is remarked, "would
seriously settle where we are to go next summer, you
would be better employed than in rubbing your heads
together like a couple of baby calves."

"Settle!" says Lady Tita, with a smile of gentle
impertinence on her face; "we know who is allowed
to settle things in this house. If we were to settle
Bnythingf some wonderful discovery would be made
about the horses' feet, or the wheels of that valuable
phaeton which was made, I should fancy, about the
time the owner of it was bom "

"The wife who mocks at her husband's grey hairs,"
I remark calmly, "knowing the share she has had in
producing them "

Here our Bonny Bell interifered, and a truce was
concluded. The armistice was devoted to consideration
of Bell's project, which at length it was resolved to
adopt Why, after going year after year round the
southern counties in that big, old-fashioned phaeton
which had become as a house to us, should we not
strike fairly northward 1 These circles round the south
would resemble the swinging of a stone in the sling
before it is projected; and, once we were started on
this straight path, who could tell how far we might
not go?

"Then," said I, — for our thoughts at this time were
often directed to the great masses of men who were
marching through the wet valleys of France, or keep-

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14 , THE STRANGE ADVENTURES

ing guard amid cold and fog in the trenches around
Paris, — "suppose that by July next the war may be
over, — Count von Rosen says he means to pay us a
visit, and have a look at England. Why should not
he join our party, and become a companion for Belli"

I had inadvertently probed a hornets' nest. The
women of our household were at that time bitter
against the -Germans; and but half an hour before Bell
herself had been eloquently denouncing the doings of
the Prussians. Had they not in secrecy been prepar-
ing to steal back Alsace and Lorraine; had they not
taken advantage of the time when the good and gentle
France was averse from war to provoke a quarrel; had
not the King openly insulted the French Ambassador
in the promenade at Ems; and had not their hordes
of men swarmed into the quiet villages, slaying and
destroying, robbing the poor and aged, and winning
battles by mere force of numbers? Besides, the sug-
gestion that this young lieutenant of cavalry might be
a companion for Bell appeared to be an intentional
injury done to a certain amiable young gentleman, of
no particular prospects, living in the Temple; and so
Bell forthwith declared her dislike not only of the Ger-
man officers, but of all officers whatsoever.

"And as for Count von Rosen," she said, "I can
remember him at Bonn only as a very rude and greedy
boy, who showed a great row of white teeth when he
laughed, and made bad jokes about my mistakes ia

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r OF A PHAETON. 15

Germah. And now I dare say he is a tall fellow, with
^ stiff neck, a brown face, perhaps a beard, a clank-
ing sword, and the air of a Bobadil, as he stalks into
an inn and calls out, ^Kellnarel eene Pulle Sect I und
sagen Sie mal, was haben Sie fiir Zeitungen — die All-
jemeene?***

I ventured to point out to Bell that she might alter
her opinion when von Rosen actually came over with
all the glamour of a hero about him; and that, indeed,
she could not do better than marry him.

Bell opened her eyes.

"Marry him, because he is a hero! No! I would not
marry a hero, after he had become a hero. It would
be something to marry a man who was afterwards to
become great, and be with him all the time of his
poverty and his struggles. That would be worth some-
thing — to comfort him when he was in despair, to be
kind to him when he was suffering; and then, when
it was all over, and he had got his head above these
troubles, he would say to you, *0h, Kate, or Nell,' as
your name might be, *how good you were during the
old time when we were poor and friendless!' But when
he has become a hero, he thinks he will overawe you
with the shadow of his great reputation. He thinks
he has only to come, and hold out the tips of his
fingers, and say, *I am a great person. Everybody
worships me. I will allow you to share my brilliant

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l6 THE STRANGE ADVENTURES

fortune, and you will dutifully kiss me/ Merci, mon"
sieurl but if any man were to come to me like that,
I would answer him as Canning's knife-grinder Was
answered — *I give you kisses? I will see you '"

"Bell!" cried my Lady peremptorily.

Bell stopped, and then blushed, and dropped her
eyes.

"What is one to do," she asked, meekly, "when a
quotation comes in?"

"You used to be a good girl," said Queen Tita,
in her severest manner, "but you ^e becoming worse
and worse every day. I hear you sing the refrains of
horrid street songs. Your love of sitting up at night
is dreadful. The very maid-servants are shocked by
your wilful provincialisms. And you treat me, for
whom you ought to show some respect, with a levity
and familiarity without example. I will send a report
of your behaviour to "

And here the look of misphief in Bell's eyes —
which had been deepening just as you may see the
pupil of a cat widening before she makes a spring —
suddenly gave way to a glance of urgent and meek
entreaty, which was recognized in the proper quarter.
Tita named no names; and the storm blew over.

For the present, therefore, the project of adding
this young Uhlan .to our party was dropped; but the
idea of our northward trip remained, and gradually

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or A PHAETON. 1 7

assumed definite consistency. Indeed, as it developed
itself during those long winter evenings, it came to be
a thing to dream about But all the same I could see
that Tita sometimes returned to the notion of provid-
ing a companion ibr Bell; and, whatever may have
been her dislike of the Germans in general, Lieutenant
von Rosen was not forgotten. At odd times, when

"In her hazel eyes her thoughts lay dear
As pehhles in a brook,"

it seemed to me that she was busy with those fore-
casts which are dear to the hearts of women. One
night we three were sitting as quietly as usual, talking
about something else, when she suddenly remarked—^

"I suppose that Count von Rosen is as poor as
Prussian lieutenants generally are?"

"On the contrary," said I, "he enjoys a very hand-
some Familien'Sii/tung, or family bequest, which gives
him a certain sup of money every six months, on
condition that during that time he has either travelled
so much or gone through such and such a course of
study. I wish the legacies left in our country had
sometimes those provisions attached."

"He has some money, then," said my Lady, thought-
fully.

"My dear," said I, "you seem to be very anxious
about the future, like the man whose letter I read to

Adventures of a Phaeton. I. 2

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I 8 THE STRANGE ADVENTURES

yt)u yesterday. * Have you any further questions to
aski"

"I suppose he cares for nothing but eating and
drinking and smoking, like other officers? He has not
been troubled by any very great sentimental crisis 1"

"On the contrary" I repeated, "he wrote me a des-
pairing letter, some fortnight before the war broke out,
about that same Fra,ulein Fallersleben whom we saw
acting in the fheatre at Hanover. She had treated him
very badly — she had "

"Oh, that is all nothing," said Tita hastily — and
here she glanced rather nervously at Bell.

Bell, for her part, was unconcernedly fitting a pink
collar on a white cat, and talking to that pretty but
unresponsive animal.

"He left her," I remarked again, "in paroxysms
of anger and mutual reproach. He accused her of
having "

"Well, well, that will do," says Queen Titania, in
her coldest manner; and then, of course, everybody
obeys the small woman.

• This is the letter:—

"To the Editor of the Hampshire Ass,
"Sir, — If the Republicans who are endeavouring to introduce
a Republic into this great country should accomplish their dis-
gusting purpose, do you think they will repudiate the National
Debt, and pay no more interest on the Consols?
*•! am, Sir,

"Your obedient Servant,
"BoGMERE, yj«. i8^ 1871." "A Lover OF Mankind.



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OF A PHAETON. 1 9

That was the last that was heard of von Rosen
for many a day; and it was not until some time after
the war was over that he favoured us with a com-
mimication. He was still in France. He hoped to get
over to England at the end of July; and as that was
the time we had fixed for our journey from London
to Edinburgh, along the old coach-roads, he became
insensibly mixed up with the project, uijtil it was
finally resolved to ask him to join the party.

"I know you mean to marry these two," I said to
the person who rules over us all.

"How absurd you are," she replied, with a vast
assumption of dignity. "Bell is as good as engaged
— even if there was any fear of a handsome young
Englishwoman falling in love with a Prussian lieu-
tenant who is in despair about an actress."

"You had better take a wedding-ring with you."

"A wedding-ring!" said Tita, with a little curl of
her lips. "You fancy that a girl thinks of nothing but
that Every wedding-ring that is worn represents a
man's impertinence and a woman's folly."

"Ask Bell," said L



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20 THE STRANGE ADVENTURES



CHAPTER 11.
A LUNCHEON IN HOLBORN.

" From the bleak coast that hears
The German Ocean roar, deep-blooming, strong,
And yellow-haired, the blue^yed Saxon came."

No more fitting point of departure could have
been chosen than the Old Bell Inn in Holborn, an
ancient hostelry which used in bygone times to send
its relays of stage-coaches to Oxford, Cheltenham, En-
field, Abingdon, and a score of other places. Now,
from the quaint little yard, which is surrounded by
frail and dilapidated galleries of wood, that tell of the
grandeur of other days, there starts but a solitary om-
nibus, which daily whisks a few country people and
fheir parcels down to Uxbridge, and Chalfont, and
Amersham, and Wendover, The vehicle which Mr.
Thoroughgood has driven for many a year is no
magnificent blue and scarlet drag, with teams costing
six hundred guineas apiece, with silver harness, a post-
boy blowing a silver horn, and a lord handling the
reins; but a rough and serviceable little coach which
is worked for profit, and which is of vast convenience
to the folks living in quiet Buckinghamshire villages
apart from railways. From this old-fashioned inn,
now that the summer had come round, and our long-
looked-for journey to the North had come near, we



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OF A PHAETON. 21

had resolved to start; and Bell having gravely pointed
out the danger of letting our young Uhlan leave Lon-
don hungry — lest habit should lead him to seize some-
thing hy the way, and so get us into trouble — it was
further proposed that we should celebrate our setting-
out with a luncheon of good roast beef and ale, in
the snug little parlour which abuts on the yard.

"And I hope," said Queen Titania, as we escaped
from the roar of Holbom into the archway of the inn,
"that the stupid fellow has got himself decently dressed.
Otherwise, we shall be mobbed."

The fact was that Count von Rosen, not being
aware that English officers rarely appear when off duty
in uniform, had come straight from St. Denis to Calais,
and from Calais to London, and from London to
Leatherhead,. without ever dreaming that he ought not
to go about in Kis regimentals. He drew no distinc-
tion between Herr Graf von Rosen and Seiner Majestat
Lieutenant im — ten Uhlanen-Regimente; although he
told us that when he issued from his hotel at Charing
Cross to get into a cab, he was surprised to see a small
crowd collect around the hansom, and no less sur-
prised to observe the absence of military costume in
the streets. Of course, the appearance of an Uhlan in
the quiet village of Leatherhead caused a profound
commotion; and had not Castor and Pollux been
able to distance the crowd of little boys who flocked
around him at the station, it is probable he would have

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12 THE STRANGE ADVENTURES

arrived at our house attended by that concourse of
admirers.

You should have seen the courteous and yet half-
defiant way in which the women received him, as if
they were resolved not to be overawed by the tall,
browned , big-bearded man; and how, in about twenty
minutes, they had insensibly got quite familiar with
him, apparently won over by his careless laughter, by
the honest stare of his light-blue eyes, and by a very
boyish blush that sometimes overspread his handsome
face when he stammered over an idiom, or was asked
some question about his own exploits. Bell remained
the most distant; but I could see that our future com-
panion had produced a good impression on my Lady,
for she began to take the management of him, and to
give him counsel in a minute and practical manner,
which is a sure mark of her favour. She told him he
must put aside his uniform while in England. She
described to him the ordinary costume worn by English
gentlemen in travelling. And then she hoped he would
take a preparation of quinine with him, considering
that we should have to stay in a succession of strange
inns, and might be e^^osed to damp.

He went up to London that night, armed with a
list of articles which he was to buy for himself before
starting with us.

There was a long pause when we three found our-

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OF A PHAETON. 2^


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Online LibraryJohn MorleyThe struggle for national education → online text (page 1 of 18)