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gorgeous saloons, tittering behind their
fans, a quick ear might have overheard a
ripple of the best society gossip. " Well, I
never!" "Who'd have thought?" "What'll
the boss do with it? " " That's one for the
minx! "

As the curtain fell upon this first act of
the modern Athenian drama, the full round
form of Athena, her beauty strangely
altered, was lying in the Cabinet Chamber
prone across a despatch-box. The Prime
Minister stood above her, still faultlessly

Mr. Hall Caine 71

dressed and twirling the waxed ends of his
inscrutable moustaches.

't^ 'i^ T* 'K

The rays of the afternoon sun fell in rich
blotches of golden glory on the walls of
Athena's studio underneath the Hill of the
Demi-Nymphs. Palette in hand, her pre-
hensile fingers were rapidly blocking out in
the plastic clay the features of the great
Athenian Martyr. As the temperature of
her feelings towards her model had moved
up from the zero of hatred to the boiling
point (80 "^ Reaumur) of passionate worship,
so the bust had successively represented
Cleon (the brawling demagogue), Alcibia-
des, Herodotus, Themistocles, Aristides, and
finally Socrates himself. The work, when
accomplished, was to be a pleasant surprise
for the model, who had always been looking
the other way.

The door opened. " Honorable Dotti ! "
cried the butler, and withdrew without
comment. The Deputy entered carrying a
large mpaoulo (trunk) heavily padlocked.
He gave a quiet sniff of satisfaction as he
recognised the familiar perfume of patchouli.

72 Borrowed Plumes

Then silently, as if by the force of a habit
which he was powerless to arrest, he
stepped to the throne, wrought of Parian
marble and draped with Phoenician byssos
(a kind of linen, not so diaphanous as Coan
silk) and assumed a bust-like attitude with
his back to the artist. There was an expres-
sion on his face. It was the spirit of out-
raged Justice. The atmosphere of the studio
tingled with suppressed passion. As the
salient features of Socrates leaped into actu-
ality under her rapid touch, it seemed to
Athena that she could not resist the impulse
to infuse some of her own superfluous
warmth into the lifeless clay. Furtively she
kissed the Martyr's clammy nose. It was
the connubial instinct. For the moment she
was playing the part of Xantippe.

The silence was broken by Dotti's voice,
the relic of a noble organ ruined by the prac-
tice of addressing outdoor crowds in the
teeth of a brutal constabulary.

" Athena," he said, " my soul has learned
to trust in your discretion and the purity of
your motives ever since that hour in my
bachelor attic when you introduced yourself

Mr. Hall Caine 73

to me in an evening dress that displayed the
full round ripeness of your youth and
beauty. I will now proceed to read aloud to
you a little thing of my own composition. It
is the draft of a poster giving instructions to
the Great Over-taxed how to behave at our
mass-meeting to-morrow night under the
columns of Zeus Olympios. For days they
have been coming in from far and near ; not
only from Attica and the Peloponnese, but
from the uttermost isles of the Archipelago.
I ought, perhaps, to say that the splendid
paradox of the opening sentence is taken
verbatim from the pen of the Master. I
have printed the passage in small caps."

" Go on, Daniel Dotti," said Athena.
" My heart is with you. But don't look

The Deputy took a long breath and began.
Never had his face so closely resembled the
Bust as at this moment.

"Friends, Athenians, Countrymen! the

CLOUD. Yet it has the customary silver
lining. It is the dawn of the Milky Way,

74 Borrowed Plumes

though still no bigger than a man's hand.
Come, tJien, to the Olyjiipieion in your
myriads, leaving behind your poniards and
shot-guns. Let each man wear his own hair
-with a simple branch of olive tzuined about it.
It shall be at once a symbol of Peace, and a
protest against tJie olive-tax. Do not provoke
violence. The hired soldiers, themselves
your down-trodden brothers, zvonld be
reluctantly tempted to retaliate. Do nothing,
or you will surely be done by. Simply
assemble and talk. Better still, just listen to
me. Respect property. Pay honour to
vested interests. Remember Thermopylce!
Remember Salaniis! To-morrow after dark;
say about 8.30. Daniel Dotti/'

"Beautiful, isn't it?" cried Athena.
" And now tell me something about your
past. I feel I must have met you in another
and a better world." There was a passionate
appeal in her mulberry eyes. " My child,"
enquired Dotti, " are you strong enough to
bear the truth?" "Try me," she said.
With that, having drawn down the blinds,
he extracted from the trunk a phono-cine-
mato-biograph with oxy-hydrogen lantern

Mr. Hall Caine y^

complete. Fixing them in position, he
cleared his throat and started : —

" Constantly harried by the police in my
capacity of Friend of Man, yet never, even
in my most rapid movements — even when
my very boots were an impediment — have I
consented to part with this ingeniously
complicated instrument, my sole memento of
the noblest Exile I ever clapped eyes on."

Athena's attention had now become seri-
ously diverted from the Bust.

" The victim of his virtues, he was placed
in what is invariably known as domicilio
coatto (confinement) on a sea-bound island.
There, loaded with chains, and guarded day
and night by heavy dragoons with drawn
sabres, he ultimately perished. That man
was your father! "

Athena's palette fell from her nerveless

" I now turn on the gas, and both the
dead and the dead-alive will appear. The
scene before you represents Trafalgar
Square. Victorious troops from Egypt are
marching by. They have just detrained at
Charing Cross. I suppose they must have

76 Borrowed Plumes

come overland as far as Calais or Boulogne.
You will notice the Exiled Philanthropist
with a bright little girl and a handsome
Greek boy, the latter holding a stuffed squir-
rel on wheels by a string."

A sudden tremor passed through Athena's
limbs. It shook her easel, displacing the
Bust, which fell nose-downwards with a
thud to the floor. Where it fell, there it

" The Philanthropist addresses the boy.
* Daniel Leonidas,' he says, ' listen to the
band!' The drums and fifes are passing;
they are playing TJie Girl I left behind me!
The little maid is speaking to the Philan-
thropist. ' Papa,' she asks, ' is dey playing
Kin gum tiimf

Athena's knees were going under her.
She sank down uneasily on the moist clay of
the prostrate chef d'wiivre.

" I never rightly understood," continued
Dotti, " wdiy she could manage the guttural
in the word Kingdom, and yet failed to pro-
nounce it in the word come. But let that
pass. Now the gentleman hails a four-
wheeler. 'Soho!' he cries. 'What ho!'

Mr. Hall Caine ']']

answers the cabman. ' 5"o-ho ! ' replies the
Exile with grave courtesy."

Athena could bear no more. " But sure-
ly," she cried, " my father never made a

" Not consciously," replied Dotti. " I
learned much from him in that respect. I
owe him a great debt."

" But who is the little Leonidas in the
picture? "

''Ego o idios (I myself)! Dotti is an

" Never mind, dear," cried Athena. *' To
me, whatever your real name, you will never
be anything but dotty! " She smiled shyly
at her own wit, and flung herself upon his
answering chest.

-i* 't* *!* ^

Dearest Husband, — For are we not man
and wife in all except actual fact? — Ever
since you left me at the church-door at 4
A.M. this morning in a red wig and top-
boots, so as to elude the cordon of detectives,
I have been wondering what you had for
breakfast. I say to myself, " Why does he
hold such perilous opinions? " And then I

yS Borrowed Plumes

remember that I have promised to be your
true Httle help-meet.

All the police are asking one another
"Have you seen Honorable Dotti?" The
crowds are restive and want to go home.
Throughout the night the troops were raking
them with shot and shell; but the list of
casualties is smaller than we anticipated.
One milch-goat from the Stadion killed by a
15-pounder, and a Member of the Bottle
(Parliament) bitten by a stray dog in the
Street of Victory.

Your loving Athena.

Ht 5k H= *

My Dear Daniel Dotti^ — Of course it
is splendid having love-letter after love-letter
from you, full of such beautiful language
about the Republic of Man, and telling me
how you have got the greater part of Europe
to agree with you. But I was a little jealous
of the Parisian ladies. I feel happier now
you are in Berlin. I have had all your
placards put up ; and, as you must have fore-
seen, am soon going to prison for it. I am
dying to have you back ; but still, don't you
think that Athens mav be a little warm for

Mr. Hall Caine 79

you? You see, it is only quite a short time
since you left, and some of the detectives
remember names and faces so curiously well.
Or, are you coming back in the red wig" and
a new nom de giicrre ? I feel so excited.
Your faithful little Wife.

" Dearest," said Athena, as she lay limply
in Dotti's arms, " I am so glad that I lived
long enough to see your hour of triumph,
and share your joy at the Abolition of Hier-
archies. How our poor human methods are
but as clay or plasticene in the hands of a
Higher Destiny ! You hoped to attain your
end by peaceful means. I dare not think
how long this might have taken. But now
you have succeeded in a moment by the
simple murder of a Prime Minister — no,
no, dearest. I know it was only manslaugh-
ter "

" Athena ! " cried Dotti, hoarsely, " do
not mention it. Have I not abjured the
guerdon of that — of that regrettable inci-
dent? Elected this day to the Presidency of
the New Republic, my motto is still Every-

8o Borrowed Plumes

thing for Everybody else. As usual, I efface


It was a summer evening. Kaspari's work
was done. Beside his cottage door, on the
hills above j\Iegara, the fine old shepherd
was sitting in the sun. He had just returned
from Athens, after a one-day excursion.

"Papous! (grandpapa)," cried little
Petrokinos, " what is that you have in your
pocket, so large and smooth and round? "

" My child," replied Kaspari, " 'tis a
present from Athens for a good boy. 'Tis a
bit of the Bust of the great Dotti ! "

With that he drew forth a cast of the
lately-discovered fragment of a portrait head
which that day had been set up, to the
accompaniment of the massed bands of all
available Brotherhoods, on the tomb of
Athena in the Potters' Quarter (Keramei-

" Who was Dotti, grandpapa ? "

"Dotti, mv boy? why that's ages ago,
back in the early part of the twentieth cen-
tury, before they did away with Kings and

Mr. Hall Caine 8i

Boundaries, and such-like relics of bar-

" Is it a pretty story, grandpapa ? " asked
the boy wistfully.

" That's a matter of taste, my child,"
replied the old man; "but I know it's a
d d long one."



[Choice Sayings.]

Surely there is Something, if we could
but find out what it is. O unfathomable
deeps !

;Jc ^ jjc :{c

Each of our actions, however seemingly
trivial, is a link in the chain of moral and
physical evolution. Try to rise from your
bed without having first lain down, and you
will discover, all too late, how indispensable
is the value of the missing link.

* * * *

Methinks that we whom the gods hold
dear are not the last to die. And what,
indeed, were their immortal existence if reft
of love? 'Twere as a Hamlet-play without
the essential pervading Spirit.

9JC 5(C 3^C 3fC


Miss Marie Corelli

ories ii
tent with Genius

Man glories in titles. A woman is con-

't^ 't^ -K -K

What is this tiny terrestrial ball as com-
pared with the vast invisible Universe? It
is a mote, a bubble, a gnat in the Great

5j? 5|< ^ T*

Oggi! Oggt! cry the ice-cream wayfarers
from far Campanian hills. To-day ! To-
day ! How true ! There is no time precisely
like the present. The past is over ; the future
yet to be.

* * * *

It is the curse of existence that we are
compelled to keep silence. The heart's blood
pulses, yet we must hide it from the crowd.
So great is the numbing, stifling influence of
convention. How seldom can we be our-
selves !

* * * *
What is the Good? And what is the

Beautiful ? Who can say ? All we know is
that both terms are synonymous, the one
quite as much as the other.

>f» 9fC >)C ^

84 Borrowed Plumes

Science is but the confession of man's
ignorance. Art, with a few exceptions, is
the effort of woman, everywhere clogged
and thwarted, to express herself.

* * * 5k

The mighty Ocean may run dry in the
far-off to-be ; but the welling tears of Beelze-
bub flow on for ever.

* * * *

If we could only understand all mysteries,
then the Ultimate Cause would become plain
to the intelligence of the meanest critic.
^ ^ ^ ^

We are as swimmers, cast upon the
dilemma-horns of two swift currents. Each
stroke for the True bears us upward and
onward ; each surmounted rung of the ladder
makes the next but easier, especially if we
bear others with us.

5^ jK He ^

Is there not in us women an infinite
capacity for the Transcendent ? Touch that
slumbering molecule with the right spark,
and a heavenly flame shoots up, beaconing
the mariner to port.

^: :^ :fc ;)c

Miss Marie Corelli 85

What is it, that ethereal essence which
permeates our mortal frame to the finger-
tips, and colours our daily existence as with
rainbow-hues? Is it a conundrum? Goto!
Know thyself!

^ 5(C 5fC ^

It is not the frank, glaring vulgarity of
the masses which sets a furrowed frown
upon the stern forehead of the Thinker.
Rather it is the enervating Hedonism of the
epicurean aristocrat, that insidious poison
which slowly undermines society. A de-
generate world, my masters !

T^ 5jC 3jC 5jC

When woman rises to her true stature,
and shakes off the strangulation-gripe of the
harem, she is said to be " unsexed."

^ ^ 5l< -fC

What avails it to throw the jewels of
Genius to a swinish public, when the afore-
said herd loves best to wallow in an oUa-
podrida of filthy rags?

* * * *

The age is ennuye. It has grown tired of
the wise, pure, poetic ideals of Greece and
Rome. The day-dreams of a Sapho or a

86 Borrowed Plumes

Juvenal are accounted less piquant than the
ugly facts of an Old Kent Road. \\'ho was
it that said, O Tempora ? and, again, O

y^ y^ yf. yf-

Nous avons soif! It is the cry of human-
ity peering into the unsearchable wells of
Truth. " Who, who," it asks, like the
Danaids of yore, " has put a rift within the
bucket ? We would drink ! Nous avons

soif! "

■jf. -^ ^ '^

What is criticism ? It is the earth-serpent
Jealousy, that goes upon its belly, leaving a
slimy trail upon the springing Tree of
Knowledge to which it may never hope to

* * * *

What a terrible gift is this of unerring
insight ! To read Sham at a glance : to dive
beneath the white-wash of Superficiality : to
recognise, as the outside critic never can,
the limits of one's own creations; all this is
to feel the exquisite torture of an archangel
temporarily confined in an earthly pig-sty.

Miss Marie Corelli 87

Noel! What thoughts, what emotions the
little word awakes! It is the French for
Christmas !

* * * *

Listen, I say, to the pure, sweet, passionate
idylls of the birds ! Is there not a tacit
reproach in the lyric of the lark? Does not
the psean of the bull-finch make you blush?
They do not throttle one another in a sordid
struggle on the Stock Exchange ; or mar the
beauty of creation with petty theories of
Science, so-called.

>1; jj; ^ >fc

You ask me why I am so modest. No
great Artist regards her work as her own.
She is but the inspired medium. And when
her labour attains fruition it passes from her
possession and becomes the heritage of all
time. She may admire it with whole heart ;
but only as one of the crowd, the unnum-
bered atoms of humanity.

* * * *

A dog has more honesty and good faith
than a man. That is why we pay an annual
penalty for keeping dogs. Yet you may
shelter a man-tyrant under your roof, and

88 Borrowed Plumes

pay nothing for the privilege, except in hot,
indignant tears, wrung from you by vile
oppression and the viler counterfeit of love.
* * * *

The year, not less than the month, the
week, the day, must eventually pass and be
no more. The Temporal can never outlive
the Eternal.



[Period: August, 1900.]

" I HEAR-R they'se a gr-reat chanst iv a
Gin'ral Diss'lution if th' weath'r on'y kapes
on," says th' Sicrety iv th' Lib'ral Cork's, in
conf rence with th' Cla-ark iv th' Meech'-
rollogy Departmint. " They was a platf'm
onst again th' war-r, but' tis broke," says he,
" an' th' Lib'ral Parthy's f'r paintin' itsilf
thrne kha-arky. Ivery candydate's got t' be
a sojer or a sailor or a war-r cor-r'spondhunt
or ilse a horsp't'l ordherly," says he. Cap.
Lambd'h'n's r-runnin' f'r Newcastle on th'
Dimmycratic tick't; an' th' champeen Bad-
hen Pole '11 swape th' boord at Hyde Park
Cor-rner, th' hotbed iv th' ray-acshun'ry
il'ment," says he; " onless he furrst ascinds
to th' House iv Payrs," says he. " Th' ole
counthry '11 be recrooted fr'm th' Mull'gan

90 Borrowed Plumes

Gyards, an' th" iliction expinses paid be a
sprinklin' iv pathrites fr'm th' Ph'lippeens.
'Tis pity th't th' wan Lib'ral Mimber at th'
Front 's pr'vinted fr'm attindin' be th' call iv
jooty," says he. " I dinnaw what '11 be th'
price iv a loan iv a Lion's Skin or a Rid
Insign, but they'se a tur-rble sthrain on th'
ma-ark't alriddy, an' th' German houses
enable t' ex'cute fur-rther ordhers f'r th'
prisint," says he.

^ :-j ^ ^

" An' what '11 be th' name iv ye'er new
wather-choobe boilers ? " says th' Pos'-

"Bellvill," says th' Fur-rst Lord iv th'

" An' a fine proshpect f'r th' public," says
Lond'ndherry, " if they'se annything in a
name," says he.

" An' what might be th' addhriss iv ye'er
new sorthin' ofif'ce," says Mr. Goosh'n.

" Mount Plisant," says Lond'ndherry.

" 'Tis another fine proshpect f'r th' pub-
lic," says Mr. Goosh'n.

* * * *

" ril not have conscr-ription," says th'

Mr. Dooley 91

Undher Sicrety iv War-r. " 'Tis a free
counthry," says he, " an' not wan iv thim
slave-dhrivin' European monno-polies," says
he. " It 's mesilf th't 's all f'r kindness an'
th' Volunth'ry systh'm," he says. " They'se
a power iv good Threes' ry goold been
squandhered on th' Orxill'ry For-rces, an'
they done splendid," says he. " But it's
mighty onconvanient f'r th' Sthrateejans not
t' know what la-ads they have t' dipind upon
t' fight f'r th' flag again th' naygers," says
he, " whin th' squaze comes all iv a suddint,''
says he. " I'd have voluntheerin' made
com-puls'ry, same 's th' Rig'lars; so's ye
may know whar y' ar-re," says he. " It'd be
conthrairy t' th' undherlyin' princ'ples iv
th' sarv'ce," says Mr. Arn'l' Forsth'r. " An'
a sop t' Cerbeerius," says Sorr Hinnery, " t'
give thim th' chanst t' clane the'er dirthy
lin'n in privat," says he. " If I'd on'y
known," says th' Undher Sicrety iv War-r,
" th't me proposh'l 'd cause oflince, I'd 've
dhropped it b'fore I took it up," says he.
An' he dhropped it.

* * * *

" I'll not intertain th' disthressfull dilly-

92 Borrowed Plumes

gates on mass,"' saA'S th' Chairm'n iv th'
Gr-reat Easth'n Comp'ny. " Lave thini come
be twos an' threes," says he, " an' I'll dish-
coorse with thim sip'rate," says he. " 'Tis a
livin' wage they'se shtrikin' for, is it? An'
how^ manny times will I till ye th't th' livin'
wage 's not th' consarn iv th' Comp'ny, nor
th' gin'ral con-vanience iv the public nay-
ther," says he; "it's th' inthrests iv th'
div'dhends," says he, " same's a Sugar
Thrust. They'se some 'd have us ray-form
th' thrack," says he, " an' clane out th'
ca-ars, an' mop up th' dirt iv Fenchurch St.
Depot , an' sim'lar couns'ls iv per-fiction.
What nixt ? " says he.

^ ^ ^ 5k

" Were ye iver in a sha-am fight 't Alder-
shot? " says I,t' a Corp'ral iv th' Inn'skillin's
fr'm th' front.

" I was," says he.

" An' does 't bear anny ray-sim-blance to
th' field iv ca-arnage?" says I.

" Savin' thransp't an' th' sunsthroke, it
does not," says he.

" Do they dhress y' up f'r it? " says I.

" In invis'ble rid," says he.

Mr. Dooley 93

" An' do they not larn ye to take cover? "
says I.

" 'Twud be playin' hide-'n-sake on a goluf
green," says he.

"An' is they niver an ambushcade?"
says I.

" Divvle a wan," says he, " with both
parthies knowin' ivery inch iv th' ground be
hear-rt, an' th' nixt move rig'lated be th'
Gover'mint rools," says he.

" Have y' no wurrud iv difinse f r th'
systh'm? " says I.

" 'Tis a gr-rand thrainin' f r bein' kih,"
says he. " Thrue f r ye, they'se not anny
better matarial th'n th' British inf'nthry be
rayson iv the-er cour'ge an' dog-headness ;
but 'tis th' insthruction th't makes thim th'
finest ta-arg't in th' wurruld," says he.

jjc ;Jc ^ i]C

" Have ye anny notion iv th' Far-r
Easth'n question," says O'Leary.

" I have," says I ; " but 'tis inthr'cate.
Fur-rst, ye see, they'se th' Boxers. Thim 's
pathrites," says I, " same's th' Moon-
lighthers ; an' be that token th' Chiny Gov-
er'mint 's again thim, and thrates thim 's

94 Borrowed Plumes

in'mies. But they'se both again th' furrin
divvies, an' 'tis why th' Chiny Gover'mint
thrates thim 's frinds. An' th' 'hed Powers
're frinds with th' Chiny Gover'mint whin it
's again th' pathrites; an' in'mies whin it 's
not again thim; an' 'twud shoot th' Powers
fine t' be frinds again th' common in'my,"
says I, " if on'y they wasn't nath'ral-bor-rn
in'mies iv wan another fr'm th' commince-
mint," says I. " Ye follow me argyments? "
says I.

"I do," says he; "an' the poor down-
throdden crayther has me thrue symp'thy."

"Who's that?" says I.

" Th' Sult'n, iv coorse," says he.

[The Cardinal's Snuif-box.]

For the garden of a chalet, picked up on
the word of a baihff's advertisement, with
never an asterisk in Baedeker to guarantee
the Aussicht, it was not so bad a spot to
drink beer in under a July sun, very aperitive
to the pores.

At Peter's feet swept the Rhine in a
swirling rush of molten lead, gathering
speed, compressing its flanks, for the rapids
below Lauffenburg. Across the river, be-
yond the feathery slopes of the castle-
grounds, the forest uplands of Baden
stretched, ridge above ridge of pine, oak,
larch, northwards to the bastioned heights of
Menzenschwand, vague, symbolic, impal-
pable on the horizon's verge.

A schoolboy memory of the Muse beat

96 Borrowed Plumes

importunate on his brain. " Positively," he
thought, " what with the river, the lawns,
the pines, and a fair substitute for topmost
Gargarus, the scene might be sitting for a
photogravure ilhistration of CEnone. Not, of
course, a perfect analogy. Thus, the Rhine
at this stage is somewhat bulky for the exer-
cise of ' falling through the clov'n ravine in
cataract after cataract - ' "

But he had only got as far as the second
cataract, when — " You find the view a touch
too chromographic?" The voice was female,
but of a fine distinction, of a full, rich,
contralto resonance, to rival the roar of the
intervening flood.

Involuntarily Peter rose and bowed to the
opposite bank. A lovely phantom met his
glance, clear-cut, crisp-edged, dazzling white
against the peacock-green of her environ-
ment. For a brief minute, crowded with
dim recognition, incredulity, triumphant
assurance, Peter was beside himself, and
neither of him could find an answer to the
lady's preamble. Oh, but with good excuse,
for was not this her first word with Peter?
Thus far, he had only seen her in public at

Mr. Henry Harland 97

varying distances, had had no speech of her,
had just surmised her enough to make her
the heroine of his novel.

" You find it somewhat arranged, crude,
obvious? " she asked in EngHsh; oh, yes, in
quite good EngHsh.

" On the contrary, I had pronounced it a
Tennysonian harmony." Peter spoke with
an outward aplomb; but his heart was
beating just anywhere between his boots and
his Homburg hat.

"Ah, yes," she said, "you alhide to
(Enone. An admirable classic." Her man-
ner, as if inured to dialectic, might have
confessed her a Girtonian, but for a some-
thing, an I-know-not-what of banter in her
left eyelid, scarce perceptible across the

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Online LibraryOwen SeamanBorrowed plumes → online text (page 4 of 9)