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The fire within


TheFireWithin
ByPatriciaWentworth
Authorof“AMarriageundertheTerror,”etc.
_Quenchthouthefiresofyouroldgods,
Quenchnotthefirewithin.“_
—MatthewArnold.
G.P.Putnam’sSons
NewYorkandLondon
TheKnickerbockerPress
1913
COPYRIGHT,1913BYG.P.PUTNAM’SSONS
TheKnickerbockerPress,NewYork
CONTENTS
I.MR.MOTTISFONT’SOPINIONOFHISNEPHEW
II.DAVIDBLAKE
III.DEADMEN’SSHOES
IV.AMAN’SHONOUR
V.TOWNTALK
VI.THELETTER
VII.ELIZABETHCHANTREY



VIII.EDWARDSINGS
IX.MARYISSHOCKED
X.EDWARDISPUTOUT
XI.FORGOTTENWAYS
XII.THEGREYWOLF
XIII.MARCHGOESOUT
XIV.THEGOLDENWIND
XV.LOVEMUSTTOSCHOOL
XVI.FRIENDSHIP
XVII.THEDREAM
XVIII.THEFACEOFLOVE
XIX.THEFULLMOON
XX.THEWOMANOFTHEDREAM
XXI.ELIZABETHBLAKE
XXII.AFTERTHEDREAM
XXIII.ELIZABETHWAITS
XXIV.THELOSTNAME
TheFireWithin


CHAPTERI
MR.MOTTISFONT’SOPINIONOFHISNEPHEW
AsIwasgoingadownthedale
Singderrydowndale,andderrydowndale,
AsIwasgoingadownthedale,
AdownthedaleofaMonday,
WithneverathoughtoftheDevilhistricks,
WhywhoshouldImeetwithhisbundleofsticks,
ButtheveryoldmanoftheNurserytale,
Singderrydowndale,andderrydowndale,
ThewickedoldmanoftheNurserytale
WhogatheredhissticksofaSunday.
Singderrydown,derrydowndale.
OLDMr.EdwardMottisfontlookedovertheedgeofthesheetatDavidBlake.
“MynephewEdwardismostundoubtedlyandindisputablyaprig—adamned
prig,”headdedthoughtfullyafteramoment’spauseforreflection.Ashe
reflectedhisblackeyesdancedfromDavid’sfacetoacrayondrawingwhich
hungonthepaneledwallabovethemantelpiece.


“Hismother’sfault,”heobserved,“it’snotsobadinawoman,andshewas
pretty,whichEdwardain’t.PrettyandaprigmysisterSarah—”
Therewasafaintemphasisonthewordsister,andDavidrememberedhaving
heardhismothersaythatbothEdwardandWilliamMottisfonthadbeeninlove
withthegirlwhomWilliammarried.“AndaplainprigmynephewEdward,”


continuedtheoldgentleman.“Damnitall,David,whycan’tIleavemymoney
toyouinstead?”
“BecauseIshouldn’ttakeit,sir,”hesaid.
Hewassitting,mostunprofessionally,ontheedgeofhispatient’slargefour-post
bed.OldMr.EdwardMottisfontlookedathimquizzically.
“Howmuchwouldyoutake—eh,David?Comenow—say—howmuch?”
Davidlaughedagain.Hisgreyeyestwinkled.“Narypenny,sir,”hesaid,
swinginghisarmoverthegreatcarvedpostbesidehim.Therewerecherubs’
headsuponit,afactthathadalwaysamuseditsownerconsiderably.
“Nonsense,”saidoldMr.Mottisfont,andforthefirsttimehisthinvoicewas
tingedwithearnestness.“Nonsense,David.Why!I’veleftyoufivethousand
pounds.”
Davidstarted.Hiseyeschanged.Theywereverydeep-seteyes.Itwasonly
whenhelaughedthattheyappearedgrey.Whenhewasserioustheywereso
darkastolookblack.Apparentlyhewasmovedandconcerned.Hisvoicetooka
boyishtone.“Oh,Isay,sir—butyoumustn’t—Ican’ttakeit,youknow.”
“Andwhynot,pray?”ThiswasMr.Mottisfontathismostsarcastic.
Davidgotthebetterofhismomentaryembarrassment.
“Ishan’tforgetthatyou’vethoughtofit,sir,”hesaid.“ButIcan’tbenefitunder
apatient’swill.Ihaven’tgotmanyprinciples,butthat’soneofthem.Myfather
drummeditintomefromthetimeIwasaboutseven.”
OldMr.EdwardMottisfontliftedthethineyebrowsthathadcontrivedtoremain
coal-black,althoughhishairwaswhite.TheygavehimaMephistophelean
appearanceofwhichhewasratherproud.
“Veryfineandhighfalutin,”heobserved.“You‘reanexceedinglyuprightyoung
man,David.”
Davidroared.


Afteramomenttheoldgentleman’slipsgavewayatthecorners,andhelaughed
too.
“Oh,Lord,David,who’dha’thoughtitofyou!”hesaid.“Youwon’ttakea
thousand?”
Davidshookhishead.
“Notfivehundred?”
Davidgrinned.
“Notfivepence,”hesaid.
OldMr.Mottisfontglaredathimforamoment.“Prig,”heobservedwithgreat
conciseness.Thenhepurseduphislips,feltunderhispillow,andpulledouta
longfoldedpaper.
“AllthemoreforEdward,”hesaidmaliciously.“AllthemoreforEdward,and
allthemorereasonforEdwardtowishmedead.Iwonderhedon’tpoisonme.
Perhapshewill.Oh,Lord,I’dgivesomethingtoseeEdwardtriedformurder!
Thinkofit,David—onlythinkofit—TwelveBritishCitizensinonebox—
Edwardinanother—alltheBritishCitizenslookingatEdward,andEdward
lookingasifhewasinchurch,andwonderingifthemothwasgettingintohis
collections,andifanyonewouldcarefor‘emwhenhewasdeadandgone.Eh,
David?Eh,David?AndMary—likeNiobe,alltears—”
Davidhadbeenchucklingtohimself,butatthementionofEdward’swifehis
facechangedalittle.Hecontinuedtolaugh,buthiseyeshardened,andhe
interruptedhispatient:“Come,sir,youmustn’ttireyourself.”
“LikeNiobe,alltears,”repeatedMr.Mottisfont,obstinately.“Sweetlypretty
she’dlooktoo—eh,David?Edward’saluckydog,ain’the?”
David’seyesflashedonceandthenhardenedstillmore.Hischinwasvery
square.
“Come,sir,”herepeated,andlookedsteadilyattheoldman.
“Beast—ain’tI?”saidoldMr.Mottisfontwiththeutmostcheerfulness.He


occupiedhimselfwitharrangingthebedclothesinanaccuratelineacrosshis
chest.Ashedidso,hishandtouchedthelongfoldedpaper,andhegaveitan
impatientpush.
“You‘readamnnuisance,David,”hesaid.“I’vemademywillonce,andnow
I’vetomakeitalloveragainjusttopleaseyou.Allthewholeblessedthingover
again,from‘I,EdwardMorellMottisfont,’downto‘Ideliverthismyactand
deed.’Oh,Lord,whatabore.”
“Mr.Fenwick,”suggestedDavid,andoldMr.EdwardMottisfontflaredinto
suddenwrath.
“Don’ttalktomeoflawyers,”hesaidviolently.“Iknowenoughlawtomakea
willtheycan’tupset.Don’ttalkof‘em.Sharksandrobbers.Worsethanthe
doctors.BesidesyoungFenwicktalks—tellshiswifethings—andshetellsher
sister.AndwhatMaryBowdenknows,thetownknows.DidIevertellyouhow
Ifoundout?Isuspected,butIwantedtobesure.SoIsentforyoungFenwick,
andtoldhimIwantedtomakemywill.Sofar,sogood.Imadeit—orhedid.
AndIleftacoupleofthousandpoundstoBessieFenwickandacouplemoreto
hersisterMaryinmemoryofmyoldfriendshipwiththeirfather.Andassoonas
MasterFenwickhadgoneIputhismorning’sworkinthefire.NowhowdoI
knowhetalked?Thisway.AweeklaterImetMaryBowdenintheHighStreet,
andIhadthefrightofmylife.IdeclareIthoughtshe’dha’kissedme.Itwas‘I
hopeyouareprudenttobeoutinthiseastwind,dearMr.Mottisfont,’andImust
comeandseethemsoon—andoh,Lord,whatfoolswomenare!MaryBowden
nevercouldabidemetillshethoughtI’dlefthertwothousandpounds.”
“Fenwicksaren’ttheonlylawyersintheworld,”suggestedDavid.
“Muchobliged,I‘msure.Ididgotooneoncetomakeawill—theysayit’s
sweettoplaythefoolsometimes—eh,David?FoolIwassureenough.Ifounda
littlemottledman,thatsatblinkingatme,andrepeatingmywords,tillIcould
havemurderedhimwithhisownofficepen-knife.HecalledmeMoraltoo,in
steadofMorell.‘EdwardMoralMottisfont,’andItookoccasiontoinformhim
thatIwasn’tmoral,neverhadbeenmoral,andneverintendedtobemoral.Isaid
hemustbethinkingofmynephewEdward,whowasdamnmoral.Oh,Lord,
hereisEdward.Icouldha’donewithouthim.”
Thedooropenedashewasspeaking,andyoungEdwardMottisfontcamein.He


wasaslight,fairmanwithawell-shapedhead,astraightnose,andasmuchchin
asagreatmanyotherpeople.Heworepince-nezbecausehewasshort-sighted,
andhighcollarsbecausehehadalongneck.Boththepince-nezandthecollar
hadanintenselyirritatingeffectuponoldMr.EdwardMottisfont.
“Ifhehadn’tbeenforeverblinkingatsomebugthatwasjustoutofhissight,his
eyeswouldhavebeenasgoodasmine,andhemightjustaswellkeephishead
inabutterflynetoracollectingboxaswherehedoeskeepit.NotthatIshould
havesaidthatEdwarddidkeephishead.”
“Ithinkyouflurryhim,sir,”saidDavid,“and—”
“IknowIdo,”grinnedMr.Mottisfont.
YoungEdwardMottisfontcameintotheroomandshutthedoor.
OldMr.Mottisfontwatchedhimwithblack,maliciouseyes.
ForasmanyyearsasEdwardcouldrememberanything,hecouldrememberjust
thatlookuponhisuncle’sface.Itmadehimuneasynow,asithadmadehim
uneasywhenhewasonlyfiveyearsold.
OncewhenhewasfifteenhesaidtoDavidBlake:“Youcheekhim,David,and
helikesyouforit.Howonearthdoyoumanageit?Doesn’themakeyoufeel
beastly?”
AndDavidstaredandsaid:“Beastly?Rats!WhyshouldIfeelbeastly?He’s
jollyamusing.Hemakesmelaugh.”
Atthirty,Edwardnolongeremployedquitethesameingenuousslang,butthere
wasnodoubtthathestillexperiencedthesamesensations,whichfifteenyears
earlierhehadcharacterizedasbeastly.
OldMr.EdwardMottisfontlayinbedwithhishandsfoldedonhischest.He
watchedhisnephewwithconsiderableamusement,andwaitedforhimtospeak.
Edwardtookachairbesidethebed.Thenhesaidthatitwasafineday,andold
Mr.Mottisfontnoddedtwicewithmuchsolemnity.
“Yes,Edward,”hesaid.


Therewasapause.
“Ihopeyouarefeelingprettywell,”wastheunfortunateEdward’snextattempt
atconversation.
OldMr.EdwardMottisfontlookedacrossatDavidBlake.“AmIfeelingpretty
well—eh,David?”
Davidlaughed.HehadmovedwhenEdwardcameintotheroom,andwas
standingbythewindowlookingout.Alittlesquarepanewasopen.Throughit
camethedrowsymurmurofadrowsy,old-fashionedtown.Mr.Mottisfont’s
housestoodafewyardsbackfromtheroad,justattheheadoftheHighStreet.
MarketHarfordwasaveryoldtown,andthehousewasaveryoldhouse.There
wasastaircasewhichwasadmiredbyAmericanvisitors,andafrontdoorfor
whichtheyoccasionallymadebids.FromwhereMr.Mottisfontlayinbedhe
couldseeanarrowlanehedgedinbyhigholdhouseswithredtiles.Beyond,the
groundfellsharplyaway,andtherewasaprospectofmanyredroofs.Farther
still,beyondtheriver,hecouldseethegreatblackchimneysofhisfoundry,and
thesmokethatcamefromthem.Itwasthesightthathelovedbestintheworld.
DavidlookeddownintotheHighStreetandwatchedonelampafteranother
springintobrightness.Hecouldseealongribbonoflightgodowntotheriver
andthenriseagain.Heturnedbackintotheroomwhenhewasappealedto,and
said:
“Why,youknowbesthowyoufeel,sir.”
“Oh,no,”saidoldMr.Mottisfontinasmooth,resignedvoice.“Oh,no,David.
Inaprivateandunofficialsortofway,yes;butinapublicandofficialsense,oh,
dear,no.Edwardwantstoknowwhentoorderhismourning,andhowtoarrange
hisholidaysoasnottoclashwithmyfuneral,soitisformymedicaladviserto
reply,ain’tit,Edward?”
ThecolourrantotherootsofEdwardMottisfont’sfairhair.Hecastanappealing
glanceinDavid’sdirection,anddidnotspeak.
“Idon’tthinkanyofuswillorderourmourningtillyou‘redead,sir,”said
Davidwithachuckle.HecommiseratedEdward,but,afterall,Edwardwasa
luckydog—andtoseeone’ssuccessfulrivalatadisadvantageisnotan
altogetherunpleasantexperience.“You’lloutlivesomeofusyoungonesyet,”he
added,butoldMr.Mottisfontwasfrowning.


“SeenanymoreofyoungStevenson,Edward?”hesaid,withanabruptchange
ofmanner.
Edwardshookhisheadratherruefully.
“No,sir,Ihaven’t.”
“No,andyouain’tlikelyto,”saidoldMr.Mottisfont.“There,you’dbestbe
gone.I’vetalkedenough.”
“Thengood-night,sir,”saidEdwardMottisfont,gettingupwithsomeshowof
cheerfulness.
ThetoneofMr.Mottisfont’sgood-nightwasnotnearlysuchapleasantone,and
assoonasthedoorhadcloseduponEdwardheflungroundtowardsDavid
Blakewithanangry“What’sthegoodofhim?What’sthegoodofthefellow?
He’snotabusinessman.He’snotamanatall;he’sanentomologiac—a
lepidoptofool—adamnlepidoptofool.”
Theseremarkableepithetsfollowedoneanotherwithanextraordinaryrapidity.
WhentheoldgentlemanpausedforbreathDavidinquired,“What’sthetrouble,
sir?”
“Oh,he’smuddledthenewcontractwithStevenson.Thinkingofbutterflies,I
expect.Prettythings,butterflies—butthere—Idon’tseethatIneeddistress
myself.Itain’tme
it’sgoingtotouch.It’sEdward’sownlook-out.Myincomeain’tgoingto
concernmeforverymuchlonger.”
Hewassilentforamoment.Thenhemadearestlessmovementwithhishand.
“Itwon’t,willit—eh,David?Youdidn’tmeanwhatyousaidjustnow?Itwas
justaflam?Iain’tgoingtolive,amI?”
Davidhesitatedandtheoldmanbrokeinwithanextraordinaryenergy.
“Oh,fortheLord’ssake,David,I‘mnotagirl—outwithit!Howlongd’ye
giveme?”


Davidsatdownonthebedagain.Hismovementshadasurprisinggentlenessfor
solargeaman.Hisodd,humorousfacewasquiteserious.
“Really,sir,Idon’tknow,”hesaid,“Ireallydon’t.There’snomoretobedoneif
youwon’tletmeoperate.No,wewon’tgooverallthatagain.Iknowyou’ve
madeupyourmind.Andnoonecanpossiblysayhowlongitmaybe.Youmight
havediedthisweek,oryoumaydieinamonth,oritmaygoonforayear—or
two—orthree.You’vethesortofconstitutiontheydon’tmakenowadays.”
“Threeyears,”saidoldMr.EdwardMottisfont—“threeyears,David—andthis
damnpainallalong—allthetime—gettingworse—”
“Oh,Ithinkwecanrelievethepain,sir,”saidDavidcheerfully.
“Muchobliged,David.Somebeastlydrugthat’llturnmeintoanidiot.No,thank
ye,I’llkeepmywitsifit’sallthesametoyou.Well,well,it’sallintheday’s
work,andI‘mnotcomplaining,butEdward’llgetmortaltiredofwaitingformy
shoesifIlastthreeyears.Idoubthispatienceholdingout.He’llbeboundto
hastenmatterson.ThinkofthebadexampleIshallbeforthebaby—whenit
comes.Lord,David,whatd’yewanttolooklikethatfor?Isupposethey’llhave
babieslikeotherfolk,andI’llbeabadexamplefor‘em.Edward’llthinkofthat.
Whenhe’sthoughtofitenough,andI’vegotonhisnervesabitmorethanusual,
he’llputstrychnineorarsenicintomysoup.Oh,Edward’llpoisonmeyet.You’ll
see.’
“PooroldEdward,it’snotmuchinhisline,”saidDavidwithhalfalaugh.
“Eh?WhataboutPellico’sdogthen?”
“Pellico’sdog,sir?”
“Whataninnocentyoungmanyouare,David—neverheardofPellico’sdog
before,didyou?Pellico’sdogthatgotonEdward’snervessameasIgetonhis
nerves,andyouneverknewthatEdwarddosedthepoorbrutewithsomeofhis
bug-curingstuff,eh?Tobesureyoudidn’tthinkIknew,nordidEdward.Idon’t
telleverythingIknow,andhowIknowitismyaffairandnoneofyours,Master
DavidBlake,butyouseeEdward’snotsounhandywithalittlejobinthe
poisoningline.”
David’sfacedarkened.TheincidentofPellico’sdoghadoccurredwhenheand


Edwardwereschoolboysoffifteen.Heremembereditverywell,buthedidnot
verymuchcarebeingremindedofit.Everydayofhislifehepassedthenarrow
turning,downwhich,indefianceofparentalprohibitions,heandEdwardusedto
raceeachothertoschool.OldPellico’sdirty,evil-smellingshopstilljuttedoutof
thefartherend,andthegrimydoorstepuponwhichhisdogusedtolieinwaitfor
theirankleswasstillasgrimyasever.Sometimesitwasatrouser-legthat
suffered.Sometimesananklewasnipped,andifPellico’sdogoccasionallygota
kickinreturn,itwasnotmorethanhisdue.Davidrememberedhisownsurprise
whenitfirstdawneduponhimthatEdwardminded—yes,actuallymindedthese
encounters.HerecalledtheoccasionwhenEdward,hisfaceofasuspicious
pallor,haddeniedangrilythathewasafraidofanybeastlydog,andthenhis
suddenwincingconfessionthathedidmind—thathemindedhorribly—not
becausehewasafraidofbeingbitten—Edwardexplainedthispointvery
carefully—butbecausethedogmadesuchabeastlyrow,andbecauseEdward
dreamedofhimatnight,onlyinhisdreams,Pellico’sdogwasratherlargerthan
Pellicohimself,andthelanewasacul-de-sacwithawallattheendofit,against
whichhecrouchedinhisdreamwhilstthedogcamenearerandnearer.
“Whatrot,”wasDavid’scomment,“butifIfeltlikethat,IjollywellknowI’d
knockthebruteonthehead.”
“Wouldyou?”saidEdward,andthatwasallthathadpassed.Only,whenaweek
laterPellico’sdogwaspoisoned,Davidwasfilledwithrighteousindignation.He
stormedatEdward.
“Youdidit—youknowyoudidit.Youdiditwithsomeofthatbeastlybugkillingstuffthatyoukeepknockingabout.”
Edwardwaspale,buttherewasanoddgleamoftriumphintheeyesthatmet
David’s.
“Well,yousaidyou’ddoforhim—yousaidityourself.SothenIjustdidit.”
Davidstaredathimwithallaschoolboy’scrudecondemnationofsomethingthat
was“notthegame.”
“I’dhaveknockedhimontheheadunderoldPellico’snose—butpoison—
poison’sbeastly.”
Hedidnotreasonaboutit.Itwasjustinstinct.Youknockedontheheadabrute


thatannoyedyou,butyoudidn’tusepoison.AndEdwardhadusedpoison.That
wasthebeginningofDavid’sgreatintimacywithElizabethChantrey.Hedidnot
quarrelwithEdward,buttheydriftedoutofaninseparablefriendshipintoa
relationshipofthecool,go-as-you-pleaseorder.Thethingrankledalittleafter
alltheseyears.Davidsattherefrowningandremembering.OldMr.Mottisfont
laughed.
“Aha,youseeIknowmostthings,”hesaid,“Edward’llpoisonmeyet.Yousee,
he’sinafix.HehankersafterthishousesameasIalwayshankeredafterit.It’s
abouttheonlytastewehaveincommon.He’sgothisownhouseonaseven
years’lease,andhere’sNickAndersongoingtobemarried,andwillingtotakeit
offhishands.Andwhat’sEdwardtodo?It’saterribleanxietyforhimnot
knowingifI‘mgoingtodieornot.Ifhedoesn’tacceptNick’sofferandIdie,
he’llhavetwohousesonhishands.IfheacceptsitandIdon’tdie,he’llnothave
ahouseatall.It’sasaddilemmaforEdward.That’swhyhewouldenjoyseeing
aboutmyfuneralsomuch.He’ddoitallveryhandsomely.Edwardlikesthings
handsome.AndMary,whodoesn’tcareajotforme,willwearablackdressthat
don’tsuither,andfeellikeaChristianmartyr.AndElizabethwon’twearblack
atall,thoughshecaresagoodmanyjots,andthoughshe’dlookadealbetterin
itthanMary—eh,David?”
ButDavidBlakewasexclaimingatthelatenessofthehour,andsayinggoodnight,allinabreath.


CHAPTERII
DAVIDBLAKE
Grey,greymist
Overtheoldgreytown,
Amistofyears,amistoftears,
Whereghostsgoupanddown;
Andtheghoststheywhisperthus,andthus,
Ofthedayswhentheworldwentwithus.
AMINUTEortwolaterElizabethChantreycameintotheroom.Shewasavery
tallwoman,withabeautifulfigure.Allhermovementswerestrong,sure,and
graceful.Shecarriedalightedlampinherlefthand.Mr.Mottisfontabominated
electriclightandrefusedobstinatelytohaveitinthehouse.WhenElizabethhad
closedthedoorandsetdownthelamp,shecrossedovertothewindowand
fastenedaheavyoakshutteracrossit.Thenshesatdownbythebed.
“Well,”shesaidinherpleasantvoice.
“H’m,”saidoldMr.Mottisfont,“wellorill’sallamatterofopinion,sameas
religion,orthecutofadress.”Heshuthismouthwithasnap,andlaystaringat
theceiling.PresentlyhiseyeswanderedbacktoElizabeth.Shewassittingquite
still,withherhandsfolded.Veryfewbusywomeneversitstillatall,but
ElizabethChantrey,whowasaverybusywoman,wasalsoawomanofamost
reposefulpresence.Shecouldbeunoccupiedwithoutappearingidle,justasshe
couldbesilentwithoutappearingeitherstupidorconstrained.OldEdward
Mottisfontlookedatherforaboutfiveminutes.Thenhesaidsuddenly:
“What’llyoudowhenI‘mdead,Elizabeth?”
Elizabethmadenoprotest,ashersisterMarywouldhavedone.Shehadnotbeen
EdwardMottisfont’swardsinceshewasfourteenfornothing.Sheunderstood


himverywell,andshewasperhapstheonecreaturewhomhereallyloved.She
leanedherchininherhandandsaid:
“Idon’tknow,Mr.Mottisfont.”
Mr.Mottisfontnevertookhiseyesoffherface.
“Edward’llwanttomoveinhereassoonaspossible.What’llyoudo?”
“Idon’tknow,”repeatedElizabeth,frowningalittle.
“Well,ifyoudon’tknow,perhapsyou’lllistentoreason,anddoasIaskyou.”
“IfIcan,”saidElizabethChantrey.
Henodded.
“Stayhereayear,”hesaid,“ayearisn’tmuchtoask—eh?”
“Here?”
“Yes—inthishouse.I’vespokenaboutittoEdward.Oddcreature,Edward,but,
Ibelieve,truthful.Saidhewasquiteagreeable.Evenwentsofarastosayhe
wasfondofyou,andthatMarywouldbepleased.Saidyou’dtoomuchtactto
obtrudeyourself,andthatofcourseyou’dkeepyourownrooms.No,Idon’t
supposeyou’llfinditparticularlypleasant,butIbelieveyou’llfinditworth
while.Giveitayear.”
Elizabethstartedeversoslightly.Onemayendureforyears,andmakenosign,
towinceatlastinoneunguardedmoment.Soheknew—hadalwaysknown.
AgainElizabethmadenoprotest.
“Ayear,”shesaidinalowvoice,“ayear—I’vegivenfifteenyears.Isn’tfifteen
yearsenough?”
SomethingfiercecameintooldEdwardMottisfont’seyes.Hiswholeface
hardened.“He’sadamnfool,”hesaid.
Elizabethlaughed.
“Ofcoursehemustbe,”andshelaughedagain.


Theoldmannodded.
“Grit,”hesaidtohimself,“grit.That’stheway—laugh,Elizabeth,laugh—and
lethimgohangforadamnfool.Heain’tworthit—nomanliving’sworthit.But
givehimayearallthesame.”
IfoldMr.MottisfonthadnotbeenirritatedwithDavidBlakeforbeingasheput
it,adamnfool,hewouldnothavemadethereferenceshehaddonetohis
nephewEdward’swife.TheytouchedDavidupontheraw,andoldMr.
Mottisfontwasverywellawareofit.AsDavidwentoutoftheroomandclosed
thedoor,astrangemoodcameuponhim.Allthemanymemoriesofthishouse,
familiartohimfromearlyboyhood,allthemanymemoriesofthistownofhis
birthandupbringing,roseabouthim.Itwasastrangemood,butyetnotasad
one,thoughjustbeyonditlaytheblackshadowwhichisthecurseoftheCelt.
DavidBlakecameofanoldIrishstock,althoughhehadneverseenIreland.He
hadtheveinofpoetry—theveinofsadness,whicharebornatabirthwithIrish
humourandIrishwit.
Ashewentdownthestaircase,thefamousstaircasewithitscarvednewels,the
lightofamovinglampcameupfrombelow,andattheturnofthestairhestood
asidetoletElizabethChantreypass.Sheworeagreydress,andthelamp-light
shoneuponherhairandmadeitlooklikeverypalegold.Itwasthickhair—very
fineandthick,andsheworeitinagreatplaitlikeacrown.Inthedaytimeitwas
notgoldenatall,butjustthecolourofthepalethickhoneywithwhichwaxis
mingled.LongagoaChantreyhadmarriedawifefromNorwaywithElizabeth’s
hairandElizabeth’sdarkgreyeyes.
“Good-night,David,”saidElizabethChantrey.Shewouldhavepassedon,butto
hersurpriseDavidmadenomovement.Hewaslookingather.
“ThisiswhereIfirstsawyou,Elizabeth,”hesaidinarememberingvoice.“You
hadonagreydress,likethatone,butMarywasinblue,becauseMr.Mottisfont
wouldn’tletherwearmourning.DoyourememberhowshockedpoorMiss
Agathawas?—‘andtheirmotheronlydeadamonth!’Icanhearhernow.”Mary
—yes,herememberedlittleMaryChantreyinherbluedress.Hecouldseeher
now—nineyearsold—inabluedress—withdarkcurlinghairandroundbrown
eyes,holdingtightlytoElizabeth’sskirts,andmuchtooshytospeaktothebig
strangeboywhowasEdward’sfriend.


Elizabethwatchedhim.Sheknewverywellthathewasnotthinkingofher,
althoughhehadrememberedthegreydress.Andyet—forfiveyears—itwasshe
andnotMarytowhomDavidcamewitheverymood.Duringthosefiveyears,
theyearsbetweenfourteenandnineteen,itwasalwaysElizabethandDavid,
DavidandElizabeth.ThenwhenDavidwastwenty,andinhisfirstyearat
hospital,Dr.Blakediedsuddenly,andforfouryearsDavidcamenomoreto
MarketHarford.Mrs.Blakewenttolivewithasisterinthenorth,andDavid’s
vacationswerespentwithhismother.Foratimehewroteoften—thenlessoften
—finallyonlyatChristmas.Andtheyearspassed,Elizabeth’sgirlhoodpassed,
Marygrewup.AndwhenDavidBlakehadbeennearlythreeyearsqualified,
andyoungDr.Ellertonwasdrownedoutboating,DavidboughtfromMrs.
Ellertonashareinthepracticethathadbeenhisfather’s,andbroughthismother
backtoMarketHarford.Mrs.Blakelivedonlyforayear,butbeforeshediedshe
hadseenDavidfallheadlonginlove,notwithherdearElizabeth,butwithMary
—prettylittleMary—whowasturningtheheadsofalltheyoungmen,sending
JimmyLarkinwithatemporarilybrokenhearttoIndia,JackWebsterwitha
muchmoreseriouslyinjuredonetotheWestCoastofAfrica,andenjoying
herselfmightilythewhile.ElizabethhadmemoriesaswellasDavid.Theycame
atleastasnearsadnessashis.Shethoughtshehadrememberedquiteenoughfor
oneevening,andshesetherfootonthestairabovethelanding.
“PoorMissAgatha!”shesaid.“Whataworryweweretoher,andhowshe
dislikedourcominghere.IcanrememberhergrumblingtoMr.Mottisfont,and
saying,‘Childrenmakesuchaworkinthehouse,’andMr.Mottisfont—”
Elizabethlaughed.
“Mr.Mottisfontsaid,‘Don’tbesuchadamnoldmaid,Agatha.FortheLord’s
sake,what’sthegoodofawomanthatcan’tmindchildren?’”
Davidlaughedtoo.HerememberedMissAgatha’sfussyindignation.
“Good-night,David,”saidElizabeth,andshepassedonupthewide,shallow
stair.
Thelightwentwithher.Frombelowtherecameonlyaglimmer,forthelampin
thehallwasstillturnedlow.Davidwentslowlyon.Ashewasabouttoopenthe
frontdoor,EdwardMottisfontcameoutofthedining-roomontheleft.
“Oneminute,David,”hesaid,andtookhimbythearm.“Lookhere—IthinkI


oughttoknow.Ismyunclelikelytoliveonindefinitely?Didyoumeanwhat
yousaidupstairs?”
ItwasthesecondtimethatDavidBlakehadbeenaskedifhemeantthosewords.
Heansweredatrifleirritably.
“WhyshouldIsaywhatIdon’tmean?Hemaylivethreeyearsorhemaydietomorrow.WhyonearthshouldIsayitifIdidn’tthinkit?”
“Oh,Idon’tknow,”saidEdward.“Youmighthavebeensayingitjusttocheer
theoldmanup.”
TherewasacertainserioussimplicityaboutEdwardMottisfont.Itwasthis
qualityinhimwhichhisunclestigmatizedaspriggishness.Yourtrueprigis
alwaysself-conscious,butEdwardwasnotatallself-conscious.Fromhisown
pointofviewhesawthingsquiteclearly.Itwasotherpeople’spointsofview
whichhadaconfusingeffectuponhim.Davidlaughed.
“Itdidn’texactlycheerhimup,”hesaid.“Heisn’tassetonlivingasallthat
comesto.”
Edwardappearedtoberatherstruckbythisstatement.
“Isn’the?”hesaid.
Heopenedthedoorashespoke,butsuddenlycloseditagain.Histonealtered.It
becameeagerandboyish.
“David,Isay—youknowJimmyLarkinwastransferredtoAssamsomemonths
ago?Well,Iwroteandaskedhimtoremembermeifhecameacrossanything
likespecimens.Ofcoursehisforestworkgiveshimsimplypriceless
opportunities.Hewrotebackandsaidhewouldseewhathecoulddo,andlast
mailhesentme—”
“What—apackageoflivescorpions?”
“No—notspecimens—oh,ifhecouldonlyhavesentthespecimen—butitwas
thenextbestthing—adrawing—yourememberhowawfullywellJimmydrew
—acoloureddrawingofaperfectlynewslug.”


Edward’stonebecameabsolutelyecstatic.Hebegantorumpleuphisfairhair,as
healwaysdidwhenhewasexcited.“Ican’tfinditinanyofthebooks,”hesaid,
“andthey’dneverevenheardofitattheNaturalHistoryMuseum.Fiveyellow
bandsonablackground—whatdoyouthinkofthat?
“IshouldsayitwasJimmy,larking,”murmuredDavid,gettingthedooropen
anddepartinghastily,butEdwardwasagreatdealtoobusywonderingwhether
theslugoughtinjusticetobecalledafterJimmy,orwhetherhemightnameit
afterhimself,tonoticethisribaldry.
DavidBlakecameoutintoaclearSeptembernight.Theskywascloudlessand
theairwasstill.Presentlytherewouldbeamoon.Davidwalkeddownthe
brightly-lightedHighStreet,withitsfamiliarshops.Hereandtherewereafew
newnames,butforthemostparthehadknownthemallfromchildhood.Halfwaydownthehillhepassedthetallgreyhousewhichhadoncehadhisfather’s
plateuponthedoor—thehousewhereDavidwasborn.OldMr.Bulllivedthere
now,hisfather’spartneronce,retiredtheseeighteenmonthsinfavourofhis
nephew,TomSkeffington.AllMarketHarfordwonderedwhatDr.Bullcould
possiblywantwithahousesomuchtoolargeforhim.Heusedonlyhalfthe
rooms,andthehousehadasadlyneglectedair,butthereweredays,andthiswas
oneofthem,whenDavid,passing,couldhaveswornthatthehousehadnot
changedhandsatallandthattheblindofhismother’sroomwasliftedalittleas
hewentby.Sheusedtowavetohimfromthatwindowashecamefromschool.
SheworethediamondringwhichDavidkeptlockedupinhisdispatch-box.
Sometimesitcaughtthelightandflashed.Davidcouldhaveswornthathesawit
flashto-night.Butthehousewasalldarkandsilent.Theolddaysweregone.
Davidwalkedon.
AtthebottomoftheHighStreet,justbeforeyoucometothebridge,heturned
uptotheright,whereapavedpathwithfourstonepostsacrosstheentrance
cameintotheHighStreetatrightangles.Thepathranalongabovetheriver,
withalowstonewalltotheleft,andarowofgreystonehousestotheright.
Betweenthewallandtheriverthereweretrees,whichmadeapleasantshadein
thesummer.Nowtheywerelosingtheirleaves.Davidopenedthedoorofthe
seventhhousewithhislatch-key,andwentin.Thatnighthedreamedhisdream.
Itwasalongtimenowsincehehaddreamedit,butitwasanolddream—one
thatrecurredfromtimetotime—onethathadcometohimatintervalsforas
longashecouldremember.Anditwasalwaysthesame—throughalltheyearsit
nevervaried—itwasalwaysjustthesame.


Hedreamedthathewasstandingupontheseashore.Itwasawide,lowshore,
withalong,longstretchofsandthatshonelikesilverunderasilvermoon.It
shonebecauseitwaswet,stillquitewetfromthetouchofthetide.Thetidewas
verylow.Davidstoodontheshore,andsawthemoongodownintothesea.As
itwentdownitchangedslowly.Itbecamegolden,andthesandturnedgolden
too.Awindbegantoblowinfromthesea.Awindfromthewest—awindthat
wasstrong,andyetverygentle.Attheedgeoftheseatherestoodawoman,with
long,floatinghairandalongfloatingdress.ShestoodbetweenDavidandthe
goldenmoon,andthewindblewoutherdressandherlongfloatinghair.But
Davidneversawherface.Alwayshelongedtoseeherface,butheneversawit.
Hestoodupontheshoreandcouldnotmovetogotoher.Whenhewasaboyhe
usedtowalkinhissleepinthenightswhenhehadthisdream.Oncehewas
awakenedbythetouchofcoldstonesunderhisbarefeet.Andtherehestood,
justashehadcomefrombed,onthewetdoorstep,withthefrontdooropen
behindhim.Afterthathelockedhisdoor.Nowhewalkedinhissleepnolonger,
anditwasmorethanayearsincehehaddreamedthedreamatall,butto-nightit
cametohimagain.


CHAPTERIII
DEADMEN’SSHOES
There’smanyawearygametobeplayed
Withneverapennytochoose,
Buttheweariestgameinalltheworld
Iswaitingfordeadmen’sshoes.
ITwasaboutaweeklaterthatEdwardMottisfontrangDavidBlakeuponthe
telephoneandbeggedhiminagitatedaccents,tocometoMr.Mottisfontwithout
delay.
“It’sanotherattack—averybadone,”saidEdwardinthehall.Hisvoiceshooka
little,andheseemedverynervous.Davidthoughtitwascertainlyabadattack.
Healsothoughtitastrangeone.Theoldmanwasingreatpain,andveryill.
ElizabethChantreywasintheroom,butafteraglanceathispatient,Davidsent
heraway.Asshewentshemadeamovementtotakeupanemptycupwhich
stoodonthesmalltablebesidethebed,andoldMr.EdwardMottisfontfairly
snappedather.
“Leaveit,willyou—I’vestoppedEdwardtakingittwice.Leaveit,Isay!”
Elizabethwentoutwithoutaword,andMr.MottisfontcaughtDavid’swristina
shakygrip.
“D’youknowwhyIwouldn’tlethertakethatcup?D’youknowwhy?”
“No,sir—”
OldMr.Mottisfont’svoicedroppedtoathread.Hewaspantingalittle.
“IwasallrighttillIdrankthatdamnedtea,David,”hesaid,“andEdward
broughtittome—Edward—”
“Come,sir—come—”saidDavidgently.Hewasreallyfondofthisqueerold


man,andhewasdistressedforhim.
“David,youwon’tlethimgivemethings—you’lllooktoit.Lookinthecup.I
wouldn’tlet‘emtakethecup—there’sdregs.Lookat‘em,David.”
Davidtookupthecupandwalkedtothewindow.Aboutatablespoonfulofcold
tearemained.Davidtiltedthecup,thenbecamesuddenlyattentive.Thatsmall
remainderofcoldteawiththelittleskimofcreamuponithadsuddenlybecome
ofabsorbinginterest.Davidtiltedthecupstillmore.Theteamadealittlepool
ononesideofit,andallacrossthebottomofthecupathickwhitesediment
drainedslowlydownintothepool.Itwassuchasedimentasisleftbyvery
chalkywater.ButallthewaterofMarketHarfordisassoftasrain-water.Itis
notonlychalkthatmakesasedimentlikethat.Arsenicmakesone,too.David
putdownthecupquickly.Heopenedthedoorandwentoutintothepassage.
FromthefarendElizabethChantreycametomeethim,andhegaveherahastily
scribblednoteforthechemist,andaskedherforoneortwothingsthatwerein
thehouse.WhenhecamebackintoMr.Mottisfont’sroomhewentstraighttothe
wash-stand,tookupasmallglassbottlelabeledipecacuanhawineandspenttwo
orthreeminutesinwashingitthoroughly.Thenhepouredintoitverycarefully
thecontentsofthecup.Hedidallthisintotalsilence,andinaveryquietand
business-likemanner.
OldMr.EdwardMottisfontlayonhisrightsideandwatchedhim.Hisfacewas
twistedwithpain,andtherewasadampnessuponhisbrow,buthiseyes
followedeverymotionthatDavidmadeandnotedeverylookuponhisface.
Theywereintent—alive—observant.WhilstDavidstoodbythewash-stand,
withhisbacktowardsthebed,oldMr.EdwardMottisfont’slipstwisted
themselvesintoanoddsmile.Agleamofsardonichumourdancedforamoment
inthewatchingeyes.WhenDavidputdownthebottleandcameovertothebed,
thegleamwasgone,andtherewasonlypain—greatpain—intheold,restless
face.Therewasaknockatthedoor,andElizabethChantreycamein.
ThreehourslaterDavidBlakecameoutoftheroomthatfacedoldMr.
Mottisfont’satthefartherendofthecorridor.Itwasalong,lowroom,fittedup
asalaboratory—verywellandfullyfittedup—fortheoldmanhadforyears
foundhisgreatestpleasureandrelaxationinexperimentingwithchemicals.
SomeofhisexperimentsheconfidedtoDavid,butthemajorityhekeptcarefully
tohimself.Theywereofasomewhatcuriousnature.DavidBlakecameoutof
thelaboratorywithaverysternlookuponhisface.Ashewentdownthestairhe


metwithEdwardMottisfontcomingup.Thesternnessintensified.Edward
lookedanunspokenquestion,andthenwithoutawordturnedandwentdown
beforeDavidintothehall.Thenhewaited.
“Gone?”hesaidinasortofwhisper,andDavidbenthishead.
HewasrememberingthatitwasonlyaweeksincehehadtoldEdwardinthis
veryspotthathisunclemightliveforthreeyears.Well,hewasdeadnow.The
oldmanwasdeadnow—outoftheway—someonehadseentothat.Who?
DavidcouldstillhearEdwardMottisfont’svoiceasking,“Howlongishelikely
tolive?”andhisownanswer,“Perhapsthreeyears.”
“Comeinhere,”saidEdwardMottisfont.Heopenedthedining-roomdoorashe
spoke,andDavidfollowedhimintoadark,old-fashionedroom,separatedfrom
theonebehinditbyfolding-doors.Oneofthedoorsstoodopenaboutaninch,
buttherewasonlyonelampintheroom,andneitherofthetwomenpaidany
attentiontosuchatriflingcircumstance.
Edwardsatdownbythetable,whichwaslaidfordinner.Evenabovethewhite
tableclothhisfacewasnoticeablywhite.Allhislifethisoldmanhadbeenhis
bugbear.Hehadhatedhim,notwiththehothatredwhichspringsfromonegreat
suddenwrong,butwiththecoldslowabhorrencebredofathousandtrifling
oppressions.Hehadlookedforwardtohisdeath.Foryearshehadthoughtto
himself,“Well,hecan’tliveforever.”Butnowthattheoldmanwasdead,and
theyokeliftedfromhisneck,hefeltnorelief—nosenseoffreedom.Hefelt
oddlyshocked.
DavidBlakedidnotsitdown.Hestoodattheoppositesideofthetableand
lookedatEdward.Fromwherehestoodhecouldseefirstthewhitetablecloth,
thenEdward’sface,andonthewallbehindEdward,afull-lengthportraitofold
EdwardMottisfontattheageofthirty.Itwastheworkofayoungmanwhom
MarketHarfordhadlookeduponasaverydisreputableyoungman.Hehad
sincebecomesofamousthattheyhadaffixedatablettothefrontofthehousein
whichhehad
oncelived.Theportraitwasoneofthebesthehad
everpainted,andtheeyes,EdwardMottisfont’sblack,maliciouseyes,looked
downfromthewallathisnephew,andatDavidBlake.Neitherofthemenhad
spokensincetheyenteredtheroom,buttheywerebothsobusywiththeir


thoughtsthatneithernoticedhowsilenttheotherwas.
AtlastDavidspoke.Hesaidinahardlevelvoice:
“Edward,Ican’tsignthecertificate.Therewillhavetobeaninquest.”
EdwardMottisfontlookedupwithagreatstart.
“Aninquest?”hesaid,“aninquest?”
OneofDavid’shandsrestedonthetable.“Ican’tsignthecertificate,”he
repeated.
Edwardstaredathim.
“Whynot?”hesaid.“Idon’tunderstand—”
“Don’tyou?”saidDavidBlake.
Edwardrumpleduphishairinadistractedfashion.
“Idon’tunderstand,”herepeated.“Aninquest?Why,you’vebeenattendinghim
allthesemonths,andyousaidhemightdieatanytime.Yousaiditonlythe
otherday.Idon’tunderstand—”
“NordoI,”saidDavidcurtly.
Edwardstaredagain.
“Whatdoyoumean?”
“Mr.Mottisfontmighthavelivedforsometime,”saidDavidBlake,speaking
slowly.“Iwasattendinghimforachronicillness,whichwouldhavekilledhim
soonerorlater.Butitdidn’tkillhim.Itdidn’thaveachance.Hediedof
poisoning—arsenicpoisoning.”
OneofEdward’shandswaslyingonthetable.Hiswholearmtwitched,andthe
handfellover,palmupwards.Thefingersopenedandclosedslowly.David
foundhimselfstaringatthatslowlymovinghand.
“Impossible,”saidEdward,andhisbreathcaughtinhisthroatashesaidit.


“I‘mafraidnot.”
Edwardleanedforwardalittle.
“But,David,”hesaid,“it’snotpossible.Who—whodoyouthink—whowould
dosuchathing.Or—suicide—doyouthinkhecommittedsuicide?”
Daviddrewhimselfsuddenlyawayfromthetable.Allatoncethefeelinghad
cometohimthathecouldnolongertouchwhatEdwardtouched.
“No,Idon’tthinkitwassuicide,”hesaid.“Butofcourseit’snotmybusinessto
thinkatall.Ishallgivemyevidence,andthere,asfarasIamconcerned,the
matterends.”
EdwardlookedhelplesslyatDavid.
“Evidence?”herepeated.
“Attheinquest,”saidDavidBlake.
“Idon’tunderstand,”saidEdwardagain.Heputhisheadinhishands,and
seemedtobethinking.
“Areyousure?”hesaidatlast.“Idon’tseehow—itwasanattack—justlikehis
otherattacks—andthenhedied—youalwayssaidhemightdieinoneofthose
attacks.”
TherewasasortoftremblingeagernessinEdward’stone.Afeelingofnausea
sweptoverDavid.Thescenehadbecomeintolerable.
“Mr.Mottisfontdiedbecausehedrankacupofteawhichcontainedenough
arsenictokillamaninrobusthealth,”hesaidsharply.
HelookedonceatEdward,sawhimstart,andadded,“andIthinkthatyou
broughthimthattea.”
“Yes,”saidEdward.“Heaskedmeforit,howcouldtherebearsenicinit?”
“Therewas,”saidDavidBlake.
“Arsenic?ButIbroughthimthetea—”


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