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forced them to give her another chance. And her
fatuous offer of pardon, if he would confess himself
in the wrong she could have humbled herself with
stripes.

He knew all that was passing in her mind, and was
as "innocent" as ever when her confidences were
offered once more. He saw that she was on the
brink of some desperate resolution perhaps a
journey to South Africa to find Tom, and to bring
him back, dead or alive. And when he forestalled
it by quietly announcing that business might take
him to that part of the world, and that, in fact, he
was starting next day, she could have knelt and
kissed his hand. Not a single pledge was asked or
offered as to his interest in the fate of the wounded
man, but the words seemed to give her troubled
spirit a foretaste of the great peace. She did not
even thank him, while he resolutely talked gold-
mines until he bade her and the squire good-by.
She returned his pressure of the hand, but she said
nothing.

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The Yellow Van

Augusta was to have accompanied him to town on
her own quest for the Herions, but she was still
detained by the disarray of all the family plans. She
chafed in her bondage of letters to write, orders to
countermand, all the endless detail of the life of
rank. The family was like a great ship, hard to
start in any new course, but just as hard to stop
when once under way. Custom and usage decreed
three weeks longer in the country ; and the mistress
of Allonby could only contrive to get a week to the
good by finally breaking her way out of a coil of red
tape. One morning, when her bonds had become in-
tolerable, she brushed all her letters aside unopened,
ordered her carriage for the next train, and by the
afternoon was in town, with the duke to follow as
soon as his own servants gave him leave.

Her first experience was disheartening. It was all
failure, and it humbled her into a sort of charity for
the lawyers and the detectives. The terrible ob-
scurity of the outcasts was the stumbling-block. One
can hardly conceive the anonymity of London pov-
erty. It is mere nothingness; the absolute of the
unconsidered trifle. Often it still labors toward the
patronymic from the mere nickname, and knows a
man only as "Squinteye," as one of his betters might
have been known centuries ago as ' ' Longshanks. "
Most of the persons whose addresses Mr. Gooding
had so carefully noted on his quest were now them-
selves on a lost trail atoms floating in the void.
One was in Hades.

But a single thing was unchanged the slum

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owned by the Duke of Allonby. Augusta had at
length heard of that grim incident of her brother's
earlier journey. She went to see the place now,
partly for her immediate purpose, partly to peep
into the Bluebeard's chamber of the ducal estate.
There it was even to the blood in its dismal im-
plications. Oh ! And this was the hotbed of human
remains wherefrom, in part, the vigor of a noble
house derived its sap. It was not exactly the duke's
fault; so much she had learned in answer to her
eager inquiries. The houses were leased; they had
been misused by the tenants; they were to be torn
down and rebuilt as soon as opportunity served.
Yet nothing could altogether remove the stain of
their associations from the greatness of Allonby.

So passed weeks in idle and, at times, almost aim-
less activities without result. Sometimes Augusta
turned from her search to her charities, in the en-
deavor to hearten herself up with the thought that
she was still of some use in the world. One day she
went down to the London Hospital, that vast lazar-
house of the East End, and wandered from her ward
there to the others, through what seemed to be miles
of pain, this time, thank Heaven, not unrelieved.
It lay quiet, for the most part, gazing upward in
mute resignation, perhaps in hope of what lay be-
yond to the farthest cry. Here, if anywhere, should
there be painted ceilings, not in the halls of hu-
manity on the perpendicular. Hardly a moan broke
the stillness, but lack-lustre eyes attested the weari-
ness of the prospect and the longing for change.

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The Yellow Van

One case was especially touching in its mute resig-
nation. An emaciated man, lying like a mummy in
his bandages, gazed steadily upward with the others.
The whole attitude had a sort of rigidity of death
about it, even to the fixity of the stare. The fear
that he might actually have passed away made her
pause to look at him. And, as she looked, there came
a great awe upon her, for she knew at once that what
she saw was what she had so long sought. That
certainty came in a way she could not define by a
something in the expression that we carry with us,
almost from the cradle to the grave perhaps from
the cradle itself, to one beholder.

Yet still she lingered dubiously to disentangle the
image from a sort of debris of youth and premature
age. The old fire was in the upturned eyes, ever
only less bright than those of the king of his order,
the peasant Burns. But the hair was now gray, and
it hung in wisps instead of the old swaths. The
cheek had the yellow unbleached whiteness of the
bedclothes, and the whole face was modeled mainly
in its lines of bone.

"George George Herion don't you know me?"

He gave a convulsive start, turned his head in a
fierce, resentful stare, then tried to swing head and
body away from her, with the help of one disen-
gaged arm.

The whole ward was now in movement with the
sense of something coming to pass.

A nurse ran up, as though to chide her patient,
but forbore when she saw the great lady holding his

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hand. Still, she shook her head, and placed a finger
to her lips.

Augusta mastered herself with an effort, but a
gleam of triumph blended with the pity of her eyes.
"When may I come to talk to him?" she said.

"To-morrow, I hope, your Grace. At any rate,
we '11 do the best we can. Accident, and a bad case ;
we 've had to move him like so much biscuit china
for weeks and weeks. ' '

Found at last! Yet still she dared not make
sure of it without reading his bed-card "George
Herion. ' ' So the long, long search was at an end.

There was another surprise for her when she
reached home a telegram from Southampton:

"Landed Tom Liddicot this morning. Take him
home to-morrow. Voyage done wonders ; almost out
of danger now. ARTHUR."

A fruitful day at last.



3 2 9




XXXVII

HEY took Tom down to Liddicot,
and Mr. Gooding never left him
till he had seen him safely over
the moat. The invalid could walk
with assistance, and he was evi-
dently on the mend. The flesh-
tones wanted freshening where the tan had yielded
to the pale underlying tint that seems to be nature 's
first start with us all.

Father and daughter were both waiting, as on the
day of Augusta's visit; but Mr. Gooding was for
hurrying away on further " business" when he had
delivered up his charge. The old man would not have
it so until he had made some attempt to express his
thanks. He was naturally able to say rather less
than usual, and, in consequence, began to meditate
an invitation to dinner as a sort of discharge in full
of all demands. A word from Mary put an end to
that.

As for her, feeling that she could say nothing, she
wisely said it, and, with a downcast look that derived
its sole significance from the wit of the interpreter,
suffered the young fellow to take his leave.

For the story of how the hero was found they had
to rely on his soldier-servant, who came home with

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him, and who had joined the service as a lad from
the estate. By the general consent of the servants'
hall he was a smart fellow, much improved in speech
and manners by travel, and particularly by garrison
duties in town. The girls listened to his tale for
the teller's sake; and Mary's maid brought it to the
dressing-room, in due course, whence her mistress
took it to the study fire.

The wounded man, though perfectly able to talk,
and rapidly recovering, had the same constitutional
incapacity for narrative as his sire. It was not pre-
cisely modesty; it was rather a horror of the se-
quence of ideas, as a form of "bookiness" unworthy
of a sportsman. Indeed, Tom himself referred Mary
to his dependent, as to a person who had no un-
easiness on this point. "Don't bother, Polly; there 's
a dear. Tell Parker to make Sam turn on the tap."

And Sam did full justice to his subject ; or, where
he failed, the maid in reporting him supplied the
finishing touches.

"What I can never get over," he said to his
cronies, "is that these Boer chaps are just the same
as you or me: farmin' fellows, most of 'em, livin'
on the land, an' by it, too, though they get the pull
on us with their blacks. Stock-raisin' most of the
time: the cattle darkenin' the land in the great
drives. And, you might n 't think it, but all sorts of
things in their houses photy graphs, Bibles, an'
what not, just as it might be 'ere.

"What a rummy sort o' thing war is ! Travel thou-
sands o' miles to find you 've got a quarrel with

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somebody that 's just such another as yourself.
Great stretches o' salt sea, an' dark night, an' winds
howlin' all around; an' there you are push, push,
pushin' on to get at the man you was fated to kill
from your cradle. Goodness! it seems like havin'
a row with the next world. But there you find the
quarrel waitin' for you, manner o' speakin', when
you land. The flags and the mottoes and the music
is all the news you get of it at first, and it takes many
a mile of footin', heel an' toe, before you see an
enemy's face. And not that all at once, mind you.
At first all you have to put up with, for a long time,
is little specks, nigh a mile off; but you know they
want to kill you, and you got to kill them. Pop!
pop! and p'r'aps no one much the worse for it, but
it 's rummy all the same. You feel you could go
over and ask 'em what 's the trouble, an' settle it
there an' then.

"Close quarters is the rummiest of all. Now you
see the eyes o ' your man, an ' the color in his cheeks ;
an' you got to do him, or he '11 do you. Of course,
if he 's comin' straight for you, you put off thinkin'
about it till you 've laid him out. But if you 're
dodging about, dismounted, p'r'aps, an' sparrin' for
an openin', for the life o' you, you can hardly help
singin' out, 'Hold on!'

"That sort o' thing came to me one day. I was
scoutin', advance line, over rough country; great
big stones (copies, they call 'em there), when from
behind one of 'em up jumps a feller not ten yards
off. It was such a surprise for both of us that we

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clean forgot to shoot. We just stared each other
straight in the face almost rude, as they used to

call it when I was a kid. By sir ! we knew what

was in each other's mind, without a word. We 'd
got to kill at short notice, an' we couldn't begin
for shame.

"I dropped mine; his never stirred from the stone
where it was restin'. 'It 's a fine day,' says he, in
English, 'fur the time o' year.'

' ' After that, believe me, I could n 't have let fly
at him if he 'd asked me to. All I could manage was :
'Same to you, rebel; same to you. How are you
gettin' on?'

" 'Pretty fair,' he said, 'but I could do with a bit
o' fresh meat. An' you don't happen to have such
a thing as a pipe-light?'

" 'Happy to oblige'; an' I tossed him a box o'
blazers. 'Take half, an' kindly return balance, if
you please.'

" 'How d' you pick up a livin, ' said the rebel,
'when you ain't at this work?'

" 'Hosses.'

" 'Just my line. 'Scuse me, but you 're a trifle
too far ahead of your lot ; we 're workin ' round your
flank.'

"Just then the bugle sounded for us to fall back.

" 'Don't hurry,' he said, 'only keep on your
hands an' knees. Creep round this way, an' I '11
stand a drink. '

"Awful stuff it was; yet, takin' one thing with
another, toothsome, too.

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The Yellow Van

" 'I 'm a Burghersdorp man,' says my mate for
that 's what it had come to by this time. 'If you
happen to be round that way when this is over, look
me up, an' it '11 be your turn to stand treat. If I
ain't in, don't bother. See you p'r'aps in the next
world. Anyway, pass a drop o' water to one of our
wounded, an' I '11 cry quits wherever I may be.'

' ' ' Give us your fist. ' An ' we gripped behind the
stone. Take my oath, it was just like sayin' prayers,
kneelin' an' all.

"Then the bugle sung out again, an' we crept
back; an' that was the last of him.

"Rummy like, if you come to think of it! But
that 's life, if it ain't exactly war. An' it was war
again a moment after, for I passed one or two stiff
uns on the way to camp.

"Less than a week after that Mr. Tom was bowled
over. A good feller, but a babby at this sort o'
game. Cavalry to cover advance, and he trotted
them right into a trap you might have seen a mile
off. Trotted up to it, an' trotted into it, sir; and
when we got nicely in the middle, they let fly from
three sides an ' downed him an ' fifteen others. Lord !
how our fellers swore at him till we got 'em into
hospital them as was able to return thanks. Eng-
lish gentry are all right : you could n 't get killed
in better company. That 's the use of old families,
I fancy, in a country like ours figureheads. The
city people are sharp enough; an' see how they
work 'em in boards an ' such like : others to do the
schemin' work.

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The Yellow Van

" 'I 'm done, Sam,' he said to me. An', sure
enough, it looked a case. Mauser bullet right through
the stomach, front to back. Well, the moment he got
it he begins to be a sportsman again, artful as they
make 'em, workin' with his head-piece to save his
men. The way he got that troop under cover was a
caution, an' the hole in him all the time, mind.
Stuck to it till he fainted; and then the lot of us
did a bunk to the rear, wounded an' all. They
pulled him about a bit in the ambulance, an' he
fainted again an' again. But as soon as he came
to for good, he went on workin' with his head-piece,
an' saved 'imself, spite o' the doctors.

"How did he do it? Livin' on his fat. You
don't understand? How should you? Well, this
way:

" 'I 'm hit through the intestines,' thinks he
' a clean wound. If I don 't give my inside any work
to do for a week, the wound may heal of itself.'

' ' Lord, he can be downy when he takes the trouble.
So he lies there, still 's a mouse, six mortal days an'
nights without bite or sup. Hardly a word all the
time, even to me, but gives his orders with his eyes.
I wetted his lips now an' then with brandy an'
water; that was all. He reckoned he 'd got fat
enough to keep him without nourishment, an' he
was right. In a manner o' speakin', his fat was his
good works, an' he fell back on 'em. By the time
he could n 't hold out longer, the wound was healed.
Then the young American gent comes with all the
delicacies o' the season in a hand-bag, and he begins

335



The Yellow Van

to pick a bit. The sea-breezes do the rest, an' here
we are. Come to think of it, that 's a sort of idea
as might do for other things in life, if a chap could
work it out. Save all the fat you can, an' live on it
when the pinch comes." He was evidently wrestling
with the conception that even virtue is only another
kind of fat ; but the expression of it was beyond his
powers.

The squire 's heart melted toward the man who had
helped to save his son. He had hitherto had his sus-
picions of Arthur Gooding, and naturally, for the
latter was still something "un-English," all said
and done.

He was quite frank about it. "We 've only been
acquaintance up to this time, sir," he said; "my
fault. I wish we may be friends. You 're a man. ' '

"We have to begin that as early as we can," said
Mr. Gooding, "else we get left."

"I should like to know more of you, sir," added
the squire, in a penitential tone.

"It 's soon told. We 're older acquaintances, Sir
Henry, if not older friends, than you think. My
grandfather hoed turnips on one of your father's
farms."

"Gooding? Gooding ?" said the old man. "Can't
say I remember What, Jack Gooding, big Jack,
that used to oh, Lord!"

"No doubt. It was news to all of us till the other
day, when my uncle over yonder turned up a bundle
of old letters."

' ' Big Jack Gooding, ' ' repeated the squire. ' ' Well,

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The Yellow Van

well! I don't remember his going away, I was at
Cambridge, then, but I perfectly well remember
missing him. ' '

"Yes, sir, it 's all down in the letters. There was
no chance for him here, so he left to the tune of ' To
the West,' the hymn, I should like to call it, that
peopled America. He sought his chance of a larger
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and found
all three. Here they keep the openings so much in
the family, and he couldn't wait. If he 'd stayed
he might have been Skett at the best ; at the worst-
perhaps George Herion."

The squire looked argumentative, but he kept his
thoughts to himself.

"He made a fresh start in a village on our side.
But there are villages and villages ; and that one was
panting to make itself a township, and found no-
body to say nay. Then it took a fancy to be a city,
and still there was no denial ; and a city it is to this
day. My grandfather owned half of it; I don't say
that 's exactly the highest ideal of humanity, but
while it 's a mere scramble, why not he as well as the
next man? There was none to bar him because of
his birth or his breeding, or to set up the claim of
a scutcheon against the claim of native wit. Besides,
it all righted itself pretty soon. My father lost
it in the virtuous attempt to corral the other half;
and so we all had to begin again. It 's capital
exercise; and I 'm going home by to-morrow's
boat for my share. That 's what I came to
say."

22 337



The Yellow Van

' ' Give me your hand, ' ' said the squire. ' ' We seem
to have got it all wrong here somehow."

"Make it a leave-taking, sir, for the present, and
give my respectful compliments to Miss Mary. I
could not trust myself to thank either of you in set
terms for all the hospitality and all the kindness I
have found at Liddicot."



338



XXXVIII




UGUSTA went early to the hos-
pital, on the day after she had
found George.

She had at first to sue for his
story as for a favor. His sullen
wrath against Allonby Castle and
all its works and workers knew no distinction of per-
sons. He had been hit from its towers: what mat-
tered the hand or the loophole. Allonby had driven
him out, if London had laid him low. 1 he agent was
but another name for the duke; the duke, for the
duchess ; and he hated them all. It was a last touch
of pride and defiance that bound him to life.

For Augusta this was all so entirely natural that
she had no thought of anger or rebuke. It was his
cry for vengeance; he wanted her to feel that she
had come too late to save the broken thing at her
feet. And vengeance was sensation, and sensation
was life.

"I 'm done, lady," he said sullenly. "We '11 get
it over soon 's may be, if you doan' mind."
"How did it happen, Herion?"
"Gentlefolks ask them."

"Poor fellow! Give me a better answer if you
can for the sake of others."



339



The Yellow Van

"Sake of others! If she was 'ere, she wouldn't
want to see the color of your eyes. What 's done 's
done; why make more 'eartbreaks for 'er 'n' me."

"But if only you had written!"

It seemed to rouse him to fury. ' ' What was there
to write? That a man turned out of a village at
short notice comes to town to starve? Who give all
of us to all of you? I only wanted to stand on my
own feet, and be a man. Slocum's mine much as
yours. We been there long as anybody, I dare say, if
we ain't got writin's to show for it longer than
some. ' '

"How did it happen, Herion?"

"The nuss knows," he muttered. "I got no
stomach for the tale."

' ' I want you to tell me. ' '

"Fell down the 'old of a ship so Allonby's got
the laugh, after all."

"Allonby won't get much of a laugh out of it,
Herion. But never mind that; all your stubborn-
ness and all your pride won't prevent me from do-
ing something to help you."

"I won't 'ave your 'elp, duchess. As for 'er, I
tell you, she wouldn't ah, God forgive me! an'
she 's wearin' her fingers to the bone to keep her
babby alive. ' ' The hot tears coursed down his cheeks.
"Now you 're the winner; my sperrit 's broke."

A sickening and, at the same time, an awful
change. The thought of Rose had brought on him
a full sense of the terror of the forces arrayed against
the "likes of him" Allonby, and beyond that,

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The Yellow Van

Heaven's throne and Heaven's judgments the
Heaven of Mr. Raif ! It was a reversion to the fears
of infancy. He was the peasant child again, the
peasant Sunday scholar, with submission at the very
heart of him, and the sense of fate.

"Tell me all. And will you try to believe you are
telling it to a friend?" She took the lean and
clammy hand.

He was quite humble now. "Anything you like;
only get it over soon 's you can, if you 're a merciful
woman. ' '

"I 'd ha' put by something," he added apologet-
ically, "an' made a start, if the dock work had
lasted. When it stopped all of a sudden, I was
broke."

"And then?"

"Then the babby. Come to think of it, a laborin'
man 's no bezness with anything o' that sort, if he
ain't in full work. I 've beared Mester Raif say so
many a time; an' it 's reet."

"Never mind Mr. Raif."

"It 's the sties some of 'em 'ave to get born in,
up in the big towns; an' 'unted from sty to sty to
that. It breaks the 'eart of a man, aye, an' the 'eart
of a woman, what 's stronger still.

"But I wasn't done yet, mind. You mustn't
think, duchess, I was done so easy 's that. I tramped
the county for seven weeks, an' I got a bit o' 'ar-
vestin', an' kept things goin', and brought back
three pound knotted in my 'ankercher to live on
while I waited for another chance at the docks.

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The Yellow Van

"Then the devil got the pull on me again. Three
thick uns, all in gold, '11 go a long way, but they
won't last forever. When they got low, I used to go
an' 'ear the talkin' Sundays at Mile End Waste."

"The outdoor preaching?"

"Not much o' that," he said, with a bitter laugh.
"Anarshists that 's what they call theirselves. It
make me feel I 'd rather die than go back to Allonby.
Put yourself in my place: touch your 'at to the
gentry, touch it to the parson. Always under some-
body 's eye: church, Sundays, under one overseer,
'oliday sports under another. Coals and blankits
if you behave yourself. Dyin' even under the eye o'
your betters. I ain 't got 's fur as that yet, and doan '
mean to, if the pieces '11 stick together. Still,
duchess, if I 'ad come to it, 'ere you are." He
laughed at his own conceit.

" 'Ow a man sometimes do feel 'shamed of it aye,
an' a woman more! All the glory alleluia o' life
for the gentry, an ' the leavin 's for us ! We got our
thoughts. You see, duchess, I got rebellious-like all
foolishness ; I see it now. ' '

"Oh, for God's sake, Herion, be rebellious still!"
she flashed.

His resignation was much harder for her to bear
than his defiance. In her soul she was ready to honor
him for his refusal to yield. She, too, was reverting
to her earlier self, the American girl, whose part
as duchess had shrunk to the insignificance of a
scene of comedy. Her innermost sympathy was
for the rebel against the castle, and against all the

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The Yellow Van

assumptions of her own fantastic ideal at Allonby.
The relation between village and castle was radically
false. Nothing could be done in actual life either
for or with these figures of Arcady, as unreal as
their prototypes of an Elizabethan masque. But
her anger was less against him than against herself.
She had tried to accept a convention that she knew
to be a fable before experience had shown it to
be a lie. Here was the miserable proof in this
poor, maimed thing maimed even more seriously
in spirit than in body for the battle of life.
The system of feudal dependence did not rear
men, and was not meant to rear them. It was
perhaps no part of her duty to change it, since
she was without the power; but she might have let
it alone.

"Try it on our chances," was all he said.

"When the dock work began again, lady, I was
too greedy at it. Went at it like a famishin' man
at 'is victuals, for victuals it was. The very fust
day I was trippin' over a plank stretched across a
'old, trippin' for joy, like, an' we both put too much
spring in it, me an' the plank together, an' it
chucked me clean up in the air. I could n 't ha ' been


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