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The Bird of Paradise

Chapter X. The Conspiracy at "Myamyn." Adam Quain in the Stern of Charon's Ferry-Boat

Chapter X. The Conspiracy at "Myamyn." Adam Quain in the Stern of Charon's Ferry-Boat.

On the departure of the ci-devant1 working housekeeper, the children's friend, Eugene provided her with a letter of introduction to his mother, urging her to employ Lillie Delaine as a general servant herself. She had been so long in charge of his house and his children that he felt unwilling to agree to her leaving. His nature rebelled against the idea of discharging her before she had got another situation, but when his wife returned to Myamyn the servant herself practically left of her own accord as far as he was concerned. The kindly and good-natured Miriam promised to employ her as long as she liked to stay in Lily Cottage, and the proposal found great favour, influence and support in the regenerate Brosie, as a return for the accommodation which she bad afforded him with sixes and fours at Summer Hill. His undying principle always asserted itself. A gentleman was not a gentleman unless he had servants to wait upon him, and at least one in the house where he resided. It further afforded more time to the hardworking Dolly to properly groom the mare, feed the mare, ride out and drive out the mare with a 'chap'—a fellow-servant on the steamboat. From the day the doctor's old servant entered the employ of Miriam the dandy-brush and the stable-broom were thrown out of the kitchen altogether and consigned to their appointed places in the stable.

During the time Eugene submitted to the querimony and acrimony and the premeditated insults and assaults of the volcanic Marvel at Myamyn, the office of Hallam, Brassy and Hoare was in constant communication with the agents whom they had appointed in Gal-page 363veston. The local firm of solicitors were kept as busy as nailers, prolonging as long as they possibly could the work of investigation of the resurrection mystery. The detectives who had formerly called upon Eugene reported to the superintendent of the secret service police that no farther clue could be obtained and that it would not be judicious to waste the government money upon a futile continuation of the work; that they felt fully convinced that young Whitworth had nothing to do with the offence, and in the event of the superintendent of the secret service police deciding upon the prosecution of the search, he would find it necessary to look elsewhere for the culprit. On receipt of this report, the chief commissioner registered a determination not to throw any more of the office money away, or waste the time of his men in a wild-goose chase, which, even if successful, would have resulted in no real benefit to anybody collectively or individually.

Now, nearly fifteen years afterwards, the attorney's firm of Perkins, Hawkes and Penny, acting as agents for Hallam, Brassy and Hoare, took up the running at the point where the government detectives had abandoned the inquiry, well-supplied as they were with the liberal funds of a private enterprise. The services of old Adam himself and the jail-bird whose wife old Adam had bought were eagerly enlisted in the cause. They were employed to dig up the grave under the supervision of the private pimps.

The hoary old carpenter and joiner, painter, paperhanger, blacksmith, wheelwright, glazier, undertaker, and general repairer took the job with the greatest of bonhomie. Adam worked so laboriously and sweated so freely in his anxiety to find the bones that the astute detectives could notice no signs of acting on the old rascal's part. The notion that he had anything to do with the mystery was reported to the local solicitors as altogether untenable and absurd. After he had sunk four feet below the level of an ordinary grave and clambered up from the bottom of the shaft without unfortunately meeting with any success whatever, they all adjourned to the little private parlour of old Mag, who bad for the occasion of their visit removed all the grog, lowering it again in a box into the well. Adjourning to the shanty, the matter was thoroughly ventilated by the detectives in the presence of the felonious Margaret, who had been introduced to the officers as a downright honest and hard-working widow. Her theory that the body of Jarves had been removed by relatives twenty years before was scouted by the detectives, who indicated to the benighted widow that the only blood relation of the missing dead man in the country was the lady who offered the reward. Sukey's two sisters and brother were in England.

Sub-agents were employed to ferret about the houses in the outlying districts and insinuate themselves into the favours of the occupants, present and past, over a range of twenty years. Their progress was duly reported by the detectives themselves to Perkins, Hawkes and Penny. Weekly reports were also presented at the back door of Lily Cottage by the knowing page 364old resurrectionist, who rested on the oars of his variegated and multifarious pursuits, and never lost an opportunity for the close pursuit of the informers, on the pretext of digging up another grave. Weekly reports of the progress of the inquiry were also forwarded to the wife of one of the private detectives. Every Saturday night the officer devoted to a lengthy epistle, which he posted to his wife regularly every Monday morning. Now it happened that she lived in one of the suburbs of the city of New Orleans, in a small cottage next door to that of the mother of the doctor's old servant. No sooner had Miriam ascertained the address of the private detective than she thought it prudent to take Lillie Delaine into her confidence and disclose to her the whole mystery, with the hopes that she might prove of some use in an indirect way through her mother.

Whatever link in the chain of progress reported by the detectives to Perkins, Hawkes and Penny, and retailed again at Miriam's back door by Adam, was wanting was within a week supplied by Lillie Delaine's mother, who had always shown a liking and a strong regard for the doctor, as he had been a good master to her daughter and a friend to herself and her children. With more brains than the detective possessed, she wheedled out of his wife every little detail and every fanciful suspicion which he entertained. Within half-an-hour of the receipt of the letter, she learned all about the doings of the spies after their week's collaboration with old Adam. Sworn into the cause of Whitworth, she communicated every item and atom of the news to the servant of Miriam at Lily Cottage.

The irritation of Marvel had subsided for a few days as her husband seated himself again in the place of vigil where he had been in the habit of sitting—on the Cingalese lounge on the front verandah of Myamyn. The moonbeams glowed from afar in silver tracery across the shimmering sea and showered their iridescent light adown the escalonia avenue of the front garden and across the road over the face of the sand-box forest.

Again the form of a woman motioned and beckoned to him in the moonlight and retreated into the shades of the trees, as he quickly rose and strode across the road to the signals, identical, as they seemed to be, with those of his affrighted mother before Easter. Instead of Miriam it was the old servant, whom she had sent with the news.

"Your mother she ain't well," said the girl: "she thinks Mrs. Whitworth would open the letters if she wrote any, so she sent me this time to tell you what that there old man said to her, and I can let you know somethin' myself. My mother knows that there detective; he has lived next to her for five year and my mother's got friends as'll find out anythink. My mother says he ain't no good, that there detective, and that he will swear anythink for a few dollars. He told my mother the last time he come home that you showed the missis the very place and took her where that there myst'ry was after you was married to her, but he don't believe what she says. She says the hoffis in New Orleans wrote to the hoffis in Galveston that you was suspected by Mrs. Bubtitt of digging up the grave yerself.

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I can find out more anyways when I get home to-night from my mother, and if there's any think like worth while I'll come back next week."

"I wish to goodness," said Eugene, "you had never left my place and my children. They insult me and revile and spurn me, all owing to the teachings and promptings of their mother."

"My word, so am I sorry," said Iillie: "I have to black up a row of fifteen pair of boots for Brosie—Dr. Brosie he is now—and wash those grimy hoveralls for your brother Dolly; but if Mrs. Whitworth like goes away ever again I hope you won't forget I am ready and willin' to come any time you let me know. Your mother told me not to——what noise is that? I thought I heard somethin' a-movin' just there—just behind that sand-box tree. I am going now, but look out for me or your mother, every night next week: good-bye."

He grasped the hand of the old servant, but had he looked behind that sand-box tree what would he have seen?—the keen black eyes of the cowering Marvel owl-like piercing the thickets as she crouched concealed in the underwood a few paces from where he stood, her high-strung, eaves-dropping auditory nerves straining to catch every word. Instead of going back to Myamyn, he wandered through further dangers of ambush and entered the cottage of the prodigalised Marmaduke Payne, to whom he unbended all his fears about the hidden undercurrent of persecution which his wife and her cousin were setting in circulation, and asked his opinion on the case as it stood.

"You want my bloomin' 'pinion," said Marmaduke, lying very drunk on the floor; "well, my o—pinion that is shee, my 'pinion but I wish I had th' blashted tombstones' those books' mine at th' gold—gollenballs; my cand' opinion is this shee—that's my opinion. It'sh like this shee: you'ave no c'nection with thataffairatall, not at Bri'sh law shee? queshion is who took the blood' bones. I never shook the man's blood' bones, no, not me: no more'n you did shee? what we shook was a blood' red Injun and we took 'em for a blood' red Injun shee? 'At Bri'sh law same as 'mur'can law they can't schnapp ole Adam shee? you arss me why I 'spresh my opinion because 'twasn't a gov'm't shimmetry—any more'n fine him p'rapsh shee? I'sh a case for privat' action 'law that's my 'pinion Bri'sh law same as 'mur'can law shee? len's a quar'r-dollar and I'll shout a bosom-caresher an' damn th' blood' bones and S'hannah Bubbletit in' th' bargin." After several struggles he raised himself from the floor, clapped his dirty old cap on his head and shambled away with Eugene to the "Old House at Home" Hotel, where they drowned the bone trouble temporarily with a glass of whisky. Upon leaving the hotel the refreshed but unsteady Marmaduke followed Eugene after the manner of a drunken loafer who gets in tow with a friend, and persisted in tracking him home. Nor could the doctor shake him off at the gate. He was compelled to let him into the surgery, where Eugene brought in a bottle of Tennent's bitter beer. The one-time level-headed and wide-awake barrister had no sooner swallowed page 366a couple of glasses of the beer than he began to fall fast asleep on the chair.

"Don't sleep there, Marmaduke," said Eugene: "if you can't get home, lie down on the sofa. I don't think anybody knows you are here, and your wife is pretty well used to your staying out all night."

In five minutes the beer had a most extraordinary effect upon the prostituted lawyer. He lay on the sofa in a sort of narcotic muttering delirium. The doctor retired to his own bedroom, and was beginning to disrobe when he heard somebody leaving the drawingroom, walking down the passage and entering the surgery, where Marmaduke lay on the sofa. It was Marvel. With a poker out of the dining-room fender she belaboured the somnolent Marmaduke, and ran outside to the front gate, shouting—"Police! Murder! Police!" in the silent watches of the night.

By this time Eugene had entered the surgery and persuaded his friend to get up and go home. As they were passing out of the door, an enormous patrolman blocked the way. The paradisal Marvel kept clamouring into the watchman's ear—"He has brought a strange criminal-looking man here for some bad purpose; it may be murder—please take them both in charge."

The doctor explained the true state of affairs, and 'the foorce' made its exit, disgusted with the hysterical bird for rousing him out of the little bar parlour of the "Royal Mail," where, during his absence, the sergeant had gone nap and got through.

When Marmaduke met the doctor the next morning, he accused him of putting morphia in his beer; but he seemed to accept the assurance of Eugene that such base tricks were foreign to his nature. He told Marma-duke that for a month prior to the previous night he had been drinking himself nothing but Tennent's bitter beer and German Lager beer, and that he had noticed that it had a soporific effect upon himself. Nothing further transpired between them.

The experience of the night before brought back Eugene's recollection to an unusually affable dialogue between himself and Sukey Bubtitt shortly before he left Bendemeer. Sitting some time in the surgery there with him, she looked over all his instruments and paid particular attention to the uses of a small hypodermic syringe. Surprised at finding Sukey Bubtitt interested in any scientific subject, he explained at length to her the uses of the syringe. It was a light glass cylinder about two inches long, fitted with a fine canalicular2 needle. He further explained at her request the physiological properties of the acetate of morphine. Handing down from the mantelpiece a wide-mouthed blue phial containing a colourless liquid, in an off-handed way he told her that it was a solution of the acetate of morphia and the sulphate of atropine, in the proportion of one quarter of a grain of the acetate to one hundred and fiftieth of a grain of the atropine in every ten drops of the liquid. He showed her how the syringe was used to administer the injection by piercing the skin of the arm with the point of the needle and throwing the liquid into the absorbent veins.

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"Would all that phial poison anybody?" inquired Sukey Bubtitt.

"All that!" replied Eugene: "there is enough there to kill a score of men."

While she listened in deep interestedness with dark and fearful thoughts creeping into her head, he went on explaining that opium, from which the acetate of morphia was made, was largely grown in Smyrna, Constantinople, Persia and Egypt, and that the quantity of liquid used was a potent factor in differentiating the results in different individuals; that opium had been designated in old medical works on therapeutics as the 'gift of God' to man. In small doses and in the first degree of its operation it acted as a stimulant; the whole vascular system was somewhat excited and there was a marked sensation of fulness about the head. The mind was stimulated. The ideas flowed quickly. There was a capability of greater exertion than usual. "These early symptoms," he said, "are followed by a diminution in the muscular power and the susceptibility to the impression of external objects: a desire for repose is experienced, with a tendency to sleep. When the small doses are continued, the appetite is diminished and the thirst is increased. The symptoms of excitement soon pass away, and a state of torpor succeeds. The individual seems, to be indisposed to exertion and the ideas become confused. The stage of excitement is followed by a state of cerebral, moral and muscular depression, so that in course of time the opium-eater or the morpho-maniac becomes indifferent to his natural self-esteem. He sometimes wanders helplessly into scenes of confusion and moral turpitude, from which, until the habit is discontinued, he has no means of his own volition to escape."

"What about that other stuff you put with it?" said Sukey Bubtitt.

"That is put in to counteract some of its bad effects:" said the doctor. "The atropine sulphate is a neutralized alkaloid from the root of the Atropa Belladonna or deadly nightshade. The solution is made from the root with rectified spirit, sulphuric acid and distilled water. Some actresses use it to dilate the pupils of their eyes and make them sparkle on the stage. It causes when injected or swallowed, visual illusions, suffused eyes, confusion of the head, giddiness and delirium, which at times resemble alcoholic intoxication. This may be combined with or followed by stupor. The morphia will contract the pupils of the eyes to pinpoint sizes, while the atropia, which is an antidote for morphia poisoning, dilates them to the full. It produces phantasms, hallucinations and a lively delirium with a semi-unconciousness of surrounding objects. The plant is indigenous in England, growing in waste ground near hedges and shady places. It is about four feet high. The leaves are broad and ovate-shaped. The flowers are drooping and campanulate or bell-shaped. The petals are purple and the fruit of a shining violet-black colour. The whole plant when bruised is fœtid and of a dark and lurid aspect." "How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done!" Nevertheless it seemed that at the time of Marmaduke's visit and during the time he was drinking the Tennent's bitter beer at Myamyn Eugene had dreamt of no page 368connection between the exciting narcotic and intoxicating effects of the beer and the vivid interest which Sukey Bubtitt had displayed in the physiological effects of morphine and atropine. If he recalled the dialogue to his mind after the episode of the visit of the night-patrolman to Marmaduke at Myamyn, it was only a transitory and ephemeral idea.

Every night he sat during the following week smoking on the Cingalese lounge, but he had detected no sign of the messengers from Lily Cottage. He was beginning to congratulate himself on the conviction that the pursuit of the inquiry had been dropped by the detectives at the Colorado ranges. In order to satisfy himself on this point he visited the house of his old servant's mother in one of the suburbs, where he was reassured by the impecunious mother of Lillie that her daughter had not been away from Lily Cottage since she saw her the previous week. She herself had heard nothing from her neighbour. The detective had not written to his wife on the former Saturday night, and had not been home for a month. Satisfied thus that nothing new had been discovered by the detectives, he wended his way back to Myamyn, where he found his wife and children still living at home. Again he struggled hard within himself to repress the rebellious feelings of indignation at her slights and offences, and to regain, in spite of her evil machinations, the loves of his little pets.

One evening as the great see-saw of the universe, the sun and moon, remained for an hour seemingly stationary in the heavens, he sat in the surgery waiting for patients, when Guinevere came to the house with little Cyril and was shown by one of the new domestiques into the room where the doctor was sitting. She commenced to relate to him the circumstances of the arrest of her husband for drunkenness and disorderliness by the local sergeant of police; petitioning him to go with her to release Marmaduke on bail. So pitiful were her tones and so superfluously imploring her manner, that it excited the curiosity of Marvel to find out who the woman was, and on receiving a description of the visitor from the new employé, she jumped to the conclusion that it was Guinevere.

Rushing to the surgery door she opened it without knocking and addressing the timorous Guinevere, her teeth grinding in the intervals with rage, she stood in the attitude of a hissing gander and said—"You're not sick, and that brat there is not sick, I know well enough. I told you you were not wanted here any longer; so get out, and don't come back again."

Placid, dignified and superior, the violet eyes of Guinevere turned towards her rude aggressor. Without a murmur she walked out of the door, while Eugene arose in a leonine rage. "You she-devil," confronting Marvel he shouted, "You demon, disturbing the peace and quiet of my home; you unregenerate traitress that has flouted and cast to the dogs the fair name of my little children and has stolen in here like a thief in the dark to steal them away from their father: you teach them wickedness, treachery and open rebellion; you insulting upstart, that can't refrain from wounding that lady's feelings, you are not fit to associate with her: go back to your gaudy deceivers. Her noble and pure thoughts and deeds will page 369shine like the stars of the firmament when your contemptible spirit is buried in glamour and gloom."

Out she swept from the surgery beside herself with rage, and flew down the passage to drag up the parasites behind her.

"Just look at him, Gloriana!" she hissed between her clenched, snapping teeth: "you can see, can't you, Gloriana? that he has been drinking: take a note of that, Gloriana: Gloriana, mind you take a note of that: you heard what he said before: hurry up, Esmeralda: come and look and take a note of him too, Esmeralda."

Eugene strode past them, banged the door behind him, affording Gloriana Bloobumper and Esmeralda Knight another opportunity of taking a set of notes, as he walked down the street to the rescue of Marmaduke Payne.

When he had been released on the doctor's bond, the latter bent his steps in the direction of the sand-box trees, to make sure the old servant had not been waiting for him during his absence at the police camp. After waiting for an hour about the place where he expected to meet her or Miriam, he gave up all hopes of them coming that night and returned to meet Marmaduke again at his little cottage. Every night in the week he waited for an hour or so on the border of the forest. Fearing lest she should come and fail to find him, he wrote a note to Miriam asking her to provide the girl, if she could not come herself, with a small bull's-eye lantern which now and then she could flash in the darkness among the trees.

The following week he went through his duties in a dilatory and lackadaisical sort of style, and sat smoking cigars on the Cingalese lounge of the verandah, watching for the flash of the bull's-eye. Still no signal met his gaze, though he waited for an hour in the early night, peering into the bush from Myamyn. During the period of his suspense, his life during the day and during the night was exasperated by the opprobrious monologues of Marvel, petty fault-finding, bickering and carping, fleering and sneering, insinuating and insulting, interspersed with the unkindest cut of all—the inspired ejaculation of anathemas by the children. Their demeanour he knew was not the outcome of any spontaneity of nature, but the result of their mother's malicious influence over their flexile and unformed minds.

He never reproved the children, because he never blamed them. He knew only too well that the mortifying epithets were put into his little pets' mouths out of the puddle of his wife's wormwood and gall, and that the innocent and innocuous little children could not help being made the emissaries of their mother's viperous tongue.

The high prices paid by Marvel for the services of the two new satellites whom she had engaged were part and parcel of the scheme drawn up for her benefit by Hallam, Brassy and Hoare. Oblivious of their duties, especially if these ever verged on anything connected with him, they seemed to meet with all sorts of approval by Marvel, who had made designedly out of Gloriana Bloobumper and Esmeralda Knight unfailing way-laying man-traps and automatic registering machines, specially designed page 370to catch and phonograph every word uttered by Eugene after he had been properly provoked and aggravated by his wife. Both of them, in particular Gloriana Bloobumper, seemed to be there for the sole purpose of taking notes. For all he knew at the time they might have been equipped each with a little detective camera hanging by one of the red ribbons and concealed in the folds of the mousselaine for taking snap-shots at him in an opportune contingency.

"Take a note of this, Gloriana: Gloriana, take a note of that," was drummed into the ears of the impudent, brazen-faced, supposititious servant, as if Eugene were on his preliminary trial for some crime. Marvel also supplied the two jackals with diaries. Whenever her husband went out at night the satellites sat with her in the surgery, tallying and checking off their notes and comparing them with those in the big Lett's diary which Marvel kept under her pillow, for her memory was quite as impervious as the cylindrical pure-silk cullenders3 among the rollers and the shoots of a flour-mill. Sitting every evening with Pearly and Valentine in the constituted boudoir, Marvel read out the notes as tales of fairy lore to the children, who were forgetting the ineffable prayer they had learned from their father, but were becoming highly proficient in mockery, persiflage and slang.

His own old faithful servant had been roughly hunted out of the house which she had tended so long by the woman who should have been there on sufferance herself, if justice to himself had ruled over her decision to leave when he acquiesced in his wife's intention to return. He had tried hard to keep her in spite of the despotic demands of his wife that she should leave. She would have been a good checkmate to the falsifications of Gloriana Bloobumper and Esmeralda Knight; but Marvel discerned the danger she would be to the infamous scheme of Hallam, Brassy and Hoare.

Marvel's attitude at Myamyn vibrated between deep secretiveness and cyclones of passion, each alternately gaining the upper hand. Coming home one night late after the annual review and encampment of the troops, he walked into the drawingroom, where the children lay asleep in the new bed, with the intention of giving them some confectionery called Ferguson's Rock4, as he had often done before the return of their mother. He had bought it in the city on his way home. They were asleep and alone, their mother being engaged in a conspiracy with the domestic cankerworms. He pulled down the coverlet of the bed to put the sweets under their pillows, when the turbulent Marvel stormed into the room savagely shouting—"Leave my children alone; they don't want to have anything to do with you and your soldiering tomfoolery: no more do I, so get out of our room:" whereupon he walked to the door of the surgery.

Jeering with her head thrown back she stood at the drawingroom door opposite. In a vortex of passion he called out—"You despicable deserter, that abandoned their infant lives to the care of others and left them for scenes of gaiety and pleasure for years—you besmirched their innocent page 371lives with shame. The cheetah cares for its young, she never deserts them in the lonely wilds to romp in the flowery meadows herself; you treacherous poisonous adder: you the gorgeous bird of Paradise!—you!"—he went on, as he unbuckled his sabre-tache and stood the sword in the corner of the surgery. It fell, and the sword slipped out of the scabbard.

"Gloriana! Esmeralda!" she bellowed out, and on came the jackals in full cry: "Take a note of this Gloriana, and you too, Esmeralda; be quick: don't you see that weapon lying bare on the floor? I came into the bedroom just in time to catch the wretch pulling the children out of their beds. He will murder us all yet."

"Get out of this, you black slimy snakes," he retorted, and walked into his own bedroom, as his wife prepared to pack off straightaway Madamoiselle Esmeralda Knight for the police.

As be was undressing, the patrolman came in with Marvel at his heels, calling out declarations on her oath that he had drawn his sword to run her through, and imploring the policeman to "for God's sake" send a special guard of picked men to watch the house every night. The patrolman sat with Eugene for a while on the side of the bed after she disappeared, saying that rather than be bothered with a wife like that he would have her committed to a lunatic asylum, and that ever since she had returned there had been scarcely a night without some disturbance or other at Myamyn.

During the first two months the education of the children was entirely neglected; any remonstrance by Eugene on this score being answered by Marvel declaring that she was teaching them herself. No doubt whatever she was, and cleverly too. What she did teach them was very manifest to their father in the natural precocity of children to learn anything bad with greater facility than their prayers.

Actually into the enemy's camp came the man who was at the helm of the affairs in which he took such an absorbing sinister interest—the ringleader of the conspiracy and the chief coryphee5 of the legal syndicate who had directed and prompted Marvel's actions in relation to her husband since her desertion—the brazen-faced Brassy himself. He sat far quite three hours whispering and giggling with Marvel in the dining-room. From the surgery, where the doctor was reclining on the operating table, as was his custom, he could divine that a conversation in an undertone was going on between them. He presumed that Brassy was comparing and engrossing the notes and adding a few in the abstract himself, but he left the house before the intrigue had ended to watch for the flashing bull's-eye.

No symbol of a message from Miriam that week. The torment of Eugene's life was wearing him down day after day. It was about three weeks since Lillie had appeared. He had been on the qui vive at the place of venue every night since. He had seen her mother, and she would have known if there was anything new. The advice which he had received from his old friend, the déréglé barrister, hummed in his ears, and he felt that there was no cause whatever for alarm. Dark wracks hurtled along the sky, while here and there a star peeped through the rift of the clouds.

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He slowly raised his head after leaning over the front gate pondering. Flash went the bull's-eye in the thicket among the sand-box trees. Flash again, and he walked over to the dark side-walk. The gleaming light flared and flickered among the trees, though the form that bore it was almost invisible in the shadows and the glare, while upon the branches appeared wavering silhouettes like mimicries of great gaunt birds aperch. Flash again, and it showed him the spot where she stood—it was Lillie.

Questioning her what had kept her so long, she replied that his mother had no news about the bones from old Adam, and that the old warrior was very ill.

"I don't azackley know the rights of it; anyways on Wensdy he was took bad and he fell down in your mother's yard," she said, "as if he was struck dead by a sheet of lightnin': he sets to and breathes that 'ard; it was like a reg'lar snore: he's been a-snorin' ever since, and he don't know nobody. Then your brother Dolly he carries him into the little room at the back, you know, and he starts bitin' his thumb and pullin' his fingers the wrong way. So he just lies on a mattrass on a stretcher with his eyes 'arf-open-like, a-snorin' all night and a-snorin' all day. He won't take nothink to eat and nothink to drink, he's that stubborn-like. When Doctor Brosie come 'ome and shouted out in his ear and harkened through his coat with a telescope, trying to find out and arst him what was his name, he's that pig-'eaded like he won't tell Brosie. P'raps 'e dunno his name or where 'e are. Old Ripsom says he thinks the poor old feller will die. Your father said they orter send him to the horspitle, but your mother and Brosie wouldn't have him go to the horspitle. Doctor Brosie says he knows more'n Dolly; he says he knowed all about fits, and he learned more than the 'ead in Chicago. He says that he was goin' to shove two packets o' salts into him: he says if he don't take the two packets he'll die sure: so he's just lyin' there a-snorin' away for ever. My word, if my mother saw him she'd give him somethink'd do 'im good: she'd hot him up some gruel and put a mustard plarster on his 'ead or somethink. Some man come with that there detective feller and they said they was goin' to take old Adam's dyin' requests, but he's that stubborn-like he won't tell his dyin' requests; so I come to say your father he wants you to go down termorrer and write out a perscription or send a telegraff to the post-orfice what to do, but he sez he'd be more satisfieder if you was to come down yourself."

"It's as likely as not that he is dead now," said Eugene: "at anyrate he will answer none of their questions. I will start away to-night: you had better go home to your mother and come back to Galveston before I leave again."

Away he walked with the old servant to the buggy, which had been kept in waiting for her, and they drove away from the little hamlet together to the nearest railway-station.

Following every step he took since that light flashed in the thickets among the trees until they drove away in the buggy, mouched and squirmed page 373three of his deadliest enemies. They watched him leave the gate and meet the old servant. With a disguise on her face, escorted by the lawyer and a cordon of corybantic6 mouchards, Marvel had secreted herself again in the thicket and had stalked stealthily after them as they walked in deep conversation to the buggy, when the noble little army returned to Myamyn to compare notes again with Esmeralda Knight and Gloriana Bloobumper, who had been shadowing the man with the buggy.

A jealous woman is temporarily mad; a woman that convinces herself she has been outraged by her husband is hopelessly worse. She is a terror to him ever after and a tormenting ogre to herself.

Depositing the girl at her mother's house, he left the cab in which they had driven from the station and embarked on one of the colliers for Galveston. Arrived there, he entered the room where as a school-boy he bad watched the life of his dying brother gliding away like a barque from the horizon over a quiet sea into the blessed realms of eternal peace. He met the rehabilitated Brosie, who conducted him to the truckle-bed in the outer room where the old man lay and where Dolly was busily employed pouring water on his head out of a caraffe. With creditable judgment Brosie had ordered that the old man should not be shifted from the improvised couch to the hospital.

His consciousness, explained Dr. Brosie, had just begun to return. He muttered oaths and imprecations on some unseen foe. He babbled of bones, detectives, and beer at the old shanty: ropes, tacklings, picks, spades, the dray and the old black prod; the moon, the cry of the wawa and the form by the fence of old Mag's grog-shop. Avowing that he would hunt out the soul of that scoundrel Laban Jarves in hell, follow its ways and torment it till the crack of doom and the end of eternity, he subsided into a profound torpor, while a priest kept holding a crucifix before the steadily-gazing, but unconscious eyes, and the froth and slaver on the old man's mouth. Leaving the valley of tears, he passed through the vale of the shadow of death clad in the cerements7 of the tomb and, sitting in the stern of old Charon's8 ferry-boat, away he was rowed across the fatal Styx9 into the unutterable gloom beyond all mortal ken, solving the mystic enigma of the grave. Quien sabe?10

One hundred and seven years had Adam Quain moved about the crust of the earth, dreaming and recanting the dream that he was to be the last man left on its surface. The inscrutable ways of the Conqueror had worn an opening into the wasted wall of a blood-vessel in the ancient jack-of-all-trades' brain. From that tiny aperture the blood stream of his life had suffused itself among the cerebral convolutions: it had clotted and pressed upon the medullary centres, where pressure was incompatible with life. His boy—as he was so fond of calling Eugene and describing as so handy with the pen—wrote upon the death-certificate the fetal word—apoplexy.

Two days afterwards the body of the old warrior lay as deep in the soil page 374of the Colorado Ranges as had the bones of his hated enemy, while his soul departed on its awful voyage adown the fires of Phlegethon11 to seek out the seducer of his daughter.

1 Formerly. Jones 1963:213.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

2 Minutely tubular; having a very small canal. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

3 Also 'colander'. A fine metal sieve. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

4 Unknown

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

5 The leader of a chorus.. OED Online. See 'coryphæus'.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

6 Frenzied, loud, dancing; relating to dances performed for the Corybantian worship of Cybele. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

7 Waxed wrappings for the dead; grave-clothes. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

8 A ferryman who conveyed the dead to the Underworld. Dictionary of Classical Mythology 1995.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

9 The principal river of the classical Underworld, which flows around it seven times. Dictionary of Classical Mythology 1995.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

10 Who knows? Jones 1963:509. See 'Quien no sabe...'

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]

11 A river of fire; one of the five rivers of the Underworld. OED Online.

[Note added by Sara Berger as annotator]