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A fool and his money


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Title:AFoolandHisMoney
Author:GeorgeBarrMcCutcheon
ReleaseDate:August,2004[EBook#6325]
FirstPosted:November26,2002
Language:English

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AFOOLANDHISMONEY



ByGeorgeBarrMcCutcheon

CONTENTS
CHAPTERI—IMAKENOEFFORTTODEFENDMYSELF
CHAPTERII—IDEFENDMYPROPERTY
CHAPTERIII—ICONVERSEWITHAMYSTERY
CHAPTERIV—IBECOMEANANCESTOR
CHAPTERV—IMEETTHEFOEANDFALL
CHAPTERVI—IDISCUSSMATRIMONY
CHAPTERVII—IRECEIVEVISITORS
CHAPTERVIII—IRESORTTODIPLOMACY
CHAPTERIX—IAMINVITEDOUTTODINNER
CHAPTERX—IAGREETOMEETTHEENEMY
CHAPTERXI—IAMINVITEDTOSPENDMONEY
CHAPTERXII—IAMINFORMEDTHATIAMINLOVE
CHAPTERXIII—IVISITANDAMVISITED
CHAPTERXIV—IAMFORCEDINTOBEINGAHERO
CHAPTERXV—ITRAVERSETHENIGHT
CHAPTERXVI—IINDULGEINPLAINLANGUAGE


CHAPTERXVII—ISEETOTHEBOTTOMOFTHINGS
CHAPTERXVIII—ISPEEDTHEPARTINGGUEST
CHAPTERXIX—IBURNAFEWBRIDGES
CHAPTERXX—ICHANGEGARDENSPOTS
CHAPTERXXI—SHEPROPOSES


CHAPTERI—IMAKENOEFFORTTODEFEND
MYSELF
IamquitesureitwasmyUncleRilaswhosaidthatIwasafool.Ifmemory
serves me well he relieved himself of that conviction in the presence of my
mother—whose brother he was—at a time when I was least competent to
acknowledge his wisdom and most arrogant in asserting my own. I was a
freshman in college: a fact—or condition, perhaps,—which should serve as an
excuse for both of us. I possessed another uncle, incidentally, and while I am
nowconvincedthathemusthavefeltasUncleRilasdidaboutit,hewasoneof
thosewhosufferinsilence.Thenearestheevergottoopenlyresentingmeasa


freshmanwas whenheadmitted,asifitwereacrime,thathetoohadbeen in
college and knew less when he came out than when he entered. Which was a
mildwayofputtingit,Iamsure,consideringthefactthatheremainedtherefor
twenty-threeyearsasadistinguishedmemberofthefaculty.
I assume, therefore, that it was Uncle Rilas who orally convicted me, an
assumption justified to some extent by putting two and two together after the
pooroldgentlemanwaslaidawayforhislongsleep.Hehadbeenveryemphatic
in his belief that a fool and his money are soon parted. Up to the time of his
deathIhadbeeninnowayqualifiedtodisputethisancienttheory.Intheory,no
doubt,Iwasthekindoffoolhereferredto,butinpracticeIwasquiteanuntried
novice.Itisveryhardforevenafooltopartwithsomethinghehasn'tgot.True,
I parted with the little I had at college with noteworthy promptness about the
middle of each term, but that could hardly have been called a fair test for the
adage. Not until Uncle Rilas died and left me all of his money was I able to
demonstratethatonlydeadmenandfoolspartwithit.Thedistinctionliesinthe
capacityforenjoymentwhilethesensationlasts.Deadmenpartwithitbecause
theyhaveto,foolsbecausetheywantto.
Inanyevent,UncleRilasdidnotleavemehismoneyuntilmyfreshmandays
were far behind me, wherein lies the solace that he may have outgrown an
opinionwhileIwasgoingthroughthesameprocess.Attwenty-threeIconfessed
thatallfreshmenwereinsufferable,andimmediatelyafterwardtookmydegree
and went out into the world to convince it that seniors are by no means
adolescent. Having successfully passed the age of reason, I too felt myself


admirably qualified to look with scorn upon all creatures employed in the
business of getting an education. There were times when I wondered how on
earthIcouldhavestoopedsolowastobeafreshman.Istillhavethedisquieting
fearthatmyuncledidnotmodifyhisopinionofmeuntilIwasthoroughlyover
beingasenior.YouwillnotethatIdonotsayhechangedhisopinion.Modifyis
theword.
Hisoriginalestimateofme,asafreshman,ofcourse,—wasutteredwhenI,at
theage of eighteen,pickedout mywalk inlife, sotospeak.After considering
everything, I decided to be a literary man. A novelist or a playwright, I hadn't
muchofachoicebetweenthetwo,orperhapsajournalist.Beingajournalist,of
course, was preliminary; a sort of makeshift. At any rate, I was going to be a
writer.MyUncleRilas,ahard-headedcustomerwhohadreadScottasaboyand
theWallStreetnewsasaman,—withoutbeingmisledbyeither,—wasscornful.
He said that I would outgrow it, there was some consolation in that. He even
admittedthatwhen hewas seventeenhewanted to be an actor.There youare,
saidhe!Ideclaredtherewasagreatdifferencebetweenbeinganactorandbeing
a writer. Only handsome men can be actors, while I—well, by nature I was
doomedtobenothingmoreengagingthananovelist,whodoesn'thavetospoil
anillusionbyshowinghimselfinpublic.
Besides,Iargued,novelistsmakeagreatdealofmoney,andplaywrightstoo,
forthatmatter.Hesaidinreplythatanordinarilyvigorouswasherwomancould
make more money than the average novelist, and she always had a stocking
withoutaholetokeepitin,whichwasmoretothepoint.
NowthatIcometothinkofit,itwasUncleRilaswhooracularlyprejudged
me,andnotUncleJohn,whowasbywayofbeingasortofliterarychaphimself
and therefore lamentably unqualified to guide me in any course whatsoever,
especially as he had all he could do to keep his own wolf at bay without
encouragingmine,andwho,besidesteachinggoodEnglish,loveditwiselyand
too well. I think Uncle Rilas would have held Uncle John up to me as an
example,—a scarecrow, you might say,—if it hadn't been for the fact that he
lovedhiminspiteofhisEnglish.Hemusthavelovedmeinspiteofmine.
MymotherfeltinherheartthatIoughttobeadoctororapreacher,butshe
wasn'tmean:shewaspositiveIcouldsucceedasawriterifIsetmymindtoit.
ShewasalsosurethatIcouldbePresidentoftheUnitedStatesorperhapsevena
Bishop.WewereEpiscopalian.


When I was twenty-seven my first short story appeared in a magazine of
considerableweight,duetoitsadvertisingpages,butmyUncleRilasdidn'tread
it until I had convinced him that the honorarium amounted to three hundred
dollars.EventhenIwasobligedtopromisehimaglimpseofthecheckwhenI
got it.Somewhatbelated,itcameinthecourseofthreeorfourmonthswitha
rathertartletterinwhichIwasgiventounderstandthatitwasn'tquitethething
to pester a great publishing house with queries of the kind I had been so
persistent in propounding. But at last Uncle Rilas saw the check and was
properly impressed. He took back what he said about the washerwoman, but
gavemealittlefurtheradviceconcerningthestocking.
Incourseoftimemyfirstnovelappeared.Itwasalovestory.UncleRilasread
thefirstfivechaptersandthenskippedovertothelastpage.Thenhebeganitall
over again and sat up nearly all night to finish it. The next day he called it
"trash"butinvitedmetohaveluncheonwithhimattheMetropolitanClub,and
rather noisily introduced me to a few old cronies of his, who were not
sufficientlyinterestedinmetoenquirewhatmynamewas—atriflingdetailhe
hadoverlookedinpresentingmeashisnephew—butwhodidaskmetohavea
drink.
A month later, he died. He left me a fortune, which was all the more
staggering in view of the circumstance that had seen me named for my Uncle
Johnandnotforhim.
It was not long afterward that I made a perfect fool of myself by falling in
love. It turned out very badly. I can't imagine what got into me to want to
commitbigamyafterIhadalreadyproclaimedmyselftobeirrevocablywedded
tomyprofession.Nevertheless,Ideliberatelycovetedtheexperience,andwould
haveattainedtoitnodoubthaditnotbeenfortheyoungwomaninthecase.She
wouldhavenoneofme,butwithconsiderableindependenceofspiritand,Imust
say, noteworthy acumen, elected to wed a splendid looking young fellow who
clerkedinajeweller'sshopinFifthAvenue.Theyhadbeenengagedforseveral
years, it seems, and my swollen fortune failed to disturb her sense of fidelity.
Perhaps you will be interested enough in a girl who could refuse to share a
fortuneofsomethinglikethreehundredthousanddollars—(notcountingme,of
course)—to let me tell you briefly who and what she was. She was my typist.
Thatistosay,shedidpiece-workformeasIhappenedtoprovidesubstancefor
heractivefingerstoworkuponwhenshewasn'ttypinglawbriefsintheregular
sort of grind. Not only was she an able typist, but she was an exceedingly
wholesome,handsomeandworthyyoungwoman.IthinkIcametolikeherwith


genuineresolutionwhenIdiscoveredthatshecouldspellcorrectlyandhadthe
additionalknackofunitingmystrayinfinitiveswithstubbornpurposefulness,as
wellastheabilitytoadministermygrammarwithtactanddiscretion.
Unfortunatelyshelovedthejeweller'sclerk.Shetriedtoconvinceme,witha
sweetness I shall never forget, that she was infinitely better suited to be a
jeweller'swifethantobeaweightupontheneckofagenius.Moreover,whenI
foolishlymentionedmysnugfortuneasanextrainducement,sheputmesmartly
inmyplacebyremarkingthatfortuneslikewinearemadeinadaywhilereally
excellentjeweller'sclerksaresomethinglikethirtyyearsinthemaking.Which,I
take it, was as much as to say that there is always room for improvement in a
man. I confess I was somewhat disturbed by one of her gentlest remarks. She
seemedtoberepeatingmyUncleRilas,althoughIamquitesureshehadnever
heard of him. She argued that the fortune might take wings and fly away, and
thenwhatwouldbetopay!Ofcourse,itwasperfectlycleartome,stupidasI
musthavebeen,thatshepreferredthejeweller'sclerktoafortune.
Iwaslothtoloseherasatypist.TheexactpointwhereIappeartohavemade
a fool of myself was when I first took it into my head that I could make
somethingelseofher.Inotonlylostacompetenttypist,butIlostagreatdealof
sleep,andhadtogoabroadforawhile,asmendowhentheyfindoutunpleasant
thingsaboutthemselvesinjustthatway.
I gave her as a wedding present a very costly and magnificent dining-room
set, fondly hoping that the jeweller's clerk would experience a great deal of
troubleinlivinguptoit.AtfirstIhadthoughtofaMarieAntoinettebedroom
set,butgaveitupwhenIcontemplatedthecost.
If you will pardon me, I shall not go any further into this lamentable love
affair. I submit, in extenuation, that people do not care to be regaled with the
heartachesofpastaffairs;theyareonlyinterestedinthosewhichappeartobein
theprocessofactivedevelopmentorretrogression.Sufficetosay,Iwasterribly
cutupoverthewaymyfirstseriousaffairoftheheartturnedout,andtriedmy
besttohatemyselfforlettingitworryme.SomehowIwasabletoattributethe
fiasco to an inborn sense of shyness that has always made me faint-hearted,
dilatoryandunaggressive.NodoubtifIhadgoneaboutitroughshodandfieryI
could have played hob with the excellent jeweller's peace of mind, to say the
least,butalas!Isucceededonlyinapproachingatatimewhentherewasnothing
leftformetodobuttostarthimoffinlifewithamildhandicapintheshapeofa
dining-roomsetthatwouldnotgowithanythingelsehehadintheapartment.


Still, some men, no matter how shy and procrastinating they may be—or
reluctant,forthatmatter—aredoomedtohaveloveaffairsthrustuponthem,as
youwillperceiveifyoufollowthecourseofthisnarrativetothebitterend.
In order that you may know me when you see me struggling through these
pages,asonemightstrugglethroughamorassonadarknight,Ishalltakethe
libertyofdescribingmyselfinthebestlightpossibleunderthecircumstances.
Iamatallishsortofperson,moderatelyhomely,andnotquitethirty-five.Iam
strongbut notathletic.WhateverphysicaldevelopmentIpossesswasacquired
throughtheancientandhonourablegameofgolfandin swimming.Inbothof
thesesportsIamquiteproficient.Mynoseisratherlongandinquisitive,andmy
chinisconsideredtobesingularlyfirmforonewhohasnoambitiontobecomea
hero.Mythatchisabundantandquiteblack.Iunderstandthatmyeyesaregreen
whenIaffectagreentie,lightbluewhenIputononeofthatdelicatehue,and
curiouslyyellowwhenIwearbrownaboutmyneck.NotthatIreallyneedthem,
butIwearnoseglasseswhenreading:tosavemyeyes,ofcourse.Isometimes
wear them in public, with a very fetching and imposing black band draping
acrossmyexpanseofshirtfront.Ifindthistobemosteffectivewhensittingina
box at the theatre. My tailor is a good one. I shave myself clean with an oldfashioned razor and find it to be quite safe and tractable. My habits are
consideredrathergood,andIsangbassinthegleeclub.Sothereyouare.Not
quitewhatyonwouldcallaladykiller,orevenalady'sman,Ifancyyou'llsay.
You will be surprised to learn, however, that secretly I am of a rather
romantic, imaginative turn of mind. Since earliest childhood I have consorted
withprincessesandladiesofhighdegree,—mentally,ofcourse,—andmybosom
companions have been knights of valour and longevity. Nothing could have
suitedmebetterthanto have beenborninafeudalcastleafewcenturiesago,
fromwhichIshouldhavesalliedforthinfullarmourontheslightestprovocation
and returned in glory when there was no one left in the neighbourhood to
provokeme.
Even now, as I make this astounding statement, I can't help thinking of that
confoundedjeweller'sclerk.Atthirty-fiveIamstillunattachedand,sofarasI
cantell,unloved.Whatmorecouldasensible,experiencedbachelorexpectthan
that?Unless,ofcourse,heaspiredto beamonkora hermit,inwhichcasehe
reasonablycouldbesureofhimselfifnotofothers.
LastwinterinLondonmymotherwenttoagoodbitoftroubletosetmycap


for a lady who seemed in every way qualified to look after an only son as he
shouldbelookedafterfromamother'spointofview,andIdeclaretoyouIhada
wretchedlyclosecallofit.Mypoormother,thinkingitwasquitesettled,sailed
forAmerica,leavingmeentirelyunprotected,whereuponIsucceededinmaking
my escape. Heaven knows I had no desperate longing to visit Palestine at that
particular time, but I journeyed thither without a qualm of regret, and thereby
avoidedthesurrenderwithoutloveorhonour.
For the past year I have done little or no work. My books are few and far
between,sofewinfactthatmorethanonceIhavefeltthestingofdilettantism
inflictingmylabourswithmoreorlessincreasingsharpness.Itisnotformeto
saythatIdespiseafortune,butIamconstrainedtoremarkthatIbelievepoverty
wouldhavebeenafairerfriendtome.AtanyrateInowpampermyselftoan
unreasonableextent.Foronething,IfeelthatIcannotwork,—muchlessthink,
—when opposed by distracting conditions such as women, tea, disputes over
luggage,andthingsofthatsort.TheysubduealltheromantictendenciesIamso
parsimoniousaboutwasting.Mybestworkisdonewhenthemaddingcrowdis
far from me. Hence I seek out remote, obscure places when I feel the plot
boiling, and grind away for dear life with nothing to distract me save an
unconquerable habit acquired very early in life which urges me to eat three
mealsadayandtosleepninehoursoutoftwenty-four.
Amonthago,inVienna,Ifelttheplotbreakingoutonme,verymuchasthe
measles do, at a most inopportune time for everybody concerned, and my
secretary,morewide-awakethanyou'dimaginebylookingathim,urgedmeto
coddlethemusewhileshewaswillingandnottoputherofftillanevilday,as
frequentlyIaminthehabitofdoing.
Itwasespeciallyannoying,comingasitdid,justasIwasabouttosetofffora
fortnight's motor-boat trip up the Danube with Elsie Hazzard and her stupid
husband, the doctor. I compromised with myself by deciding to give them a
weekofmydreamycompany,andthendashofftoEnglandwhereIcouldwork
offthestoryinasequesteredvillageIhadhadinmindforsometimepast.
The fourth day of our delectable excursion brought us to an ancient town
whosenameyouwouldrecallinaninstantifIwerefoolenoughtomentionit,
and where we were to put up for the night. On the crest of a stupendous crag
overhanging the river, almost opposite the town, which isn't far from Krems,
stoodthevenerablebutunveneratedcastleofthathighhandedoldrobberbaron,
thefirstoftheRothhoefens.Hehasbeeninhissarcophagusthesesixcenturies,I


amadvised,butyouwouldn'tthinksotolookatthestronghold.Ataglanceyou
can almost convince yourself that he is still there, with battle-axe and broadsword,andaninflamedeyeateverywindowinthegrimfacade.
We picked up a little of its history while in the town, and the next morning
crossed over to visit the place. Its antiquity was considerably enhanced by the
presenceofacaretakerwhowouldneverseeeightyagain,andwhosewifewas
even older. Their two sons lived with them in the capacity of loafers and, as
thingsgointheserapidtimesofours,appearedtobeevenolderandmoresere
thantheirparents.
Itisawindingandtortuousroadthatleadsuptotheportalsofthishugeold
pile,andIcouldn'thelpthinkinghowstupidIhavealwaysbeeninexecratingthe
spirit of progress that conceives the funicular and rack-and-pinion railroads
whichservetocommercialisegrandeurinsteadofprotectingit.Halfwayupthe
hill, we paused to rest, and I quite clearly remember growling that if the
confounded thing belonged to me I'd build a funicular or install an elevator
withoutdelay.PoorElsiewastoofatiguedtosaywhatsheoughttohavesaidto
meforsuggestingandeveninsistingonthevisit.
Thenextday,insteadofcontinuingourdelightfultripdowntheriver,wethree
were scurrying to Saalsburg, urged by a sudden and stupendous whim on my
part,andfilledwithanewinterestinlife.
Ihadmadeupmymindtobuythecastle!
TheHazzardssatupwithmenearlythewholeofthenight,tryingtotalkme
outofthemaddesign,butalltonopurpose.Iwasdeterminedtobethesortof
foolthatUncleRilasreferredtowhenhesofrequentlyquotedtheoldadage.My
only argument in reply to their entreaties was that I had to have a quiet,
inspirationalplaceinwhichtoworkandbesidesIwasquitesurewecouldbeat
theimpoverishedownerdownconsiderablyintheprice,whateveritmightturn
outtobe.Whiletheancientcaretakeradmittedthatitwasforsale,hecouldn't
givemethefaintestnotionwhatitwasexpectedtobring,exceptthatitoughtto
bring more from an American than from any one else, and that he would be
proudandhappytoremaininmyservice,heandhiswifeandhisprodigiously
capable sons, either of whom if put to the test could break all the bones in a
bullockwithouthalftrying,Moreover,forsuchstrongmen,theyateverylittle
andseldomslept,theyweresoeagertoslaveintheinterestsofthemaster.We
allagreedthattheylookedstrongenough,butastheyweresleepingwithsome


intensityallthetimewewerethere,andmakingdreadfulnoisesinthecourtyard,
wecouldonlyinferthattheyweremakingupforatleastaweekofinsomnia.
Ihadnodifficultywhateverinstrikingabargainwiththeabandonedwretch
whoownedtheSchloss.Heseemedveryeagertosubmittomydemandthathe
knock off a thousand pounds sterling, and we hunted up a notary and all the
otherofficialsnecessaryto thetransferofproperty.At theendofthree days,I
wasthesoleownerandproprietorofafeudalstrongholdontheDanube,andthe
joyousAustrianwasalittlefartheronhiswaytothedogs,ajourneyhehadbeen
negotiatingwithgreatardoureversincecomingintopossessionofanestateonce
valuedatseveralmillions.IamquitesureIhaveneverseenaspendthriftwith
moreenergythanthisfellowseemstohavedisplayedingoingthroughwithhis
patrimony.Hewasonhisuppers,sotospeak,whenIcametohisrescue,solely
becausehecouldn'tfindapurchaseroratenantforthecastle,tryashewould.
AfterwardsIheardthathehadofferedtheplacetoasyndicateofJewsforonethirdthepriceIpaid,butluckilyformetheHebraicinstinctwasnotsokeenas
mine.Theyletaverygoodbargaingetawayfromthem.Ihavenottoldmymost
intimate friends what I paid for the castle, but they are all generous enough to
admit that I could afford it, no matter what it cost me. Their generosity stops
there,however.Ihaveneverhadsomanyunkindthingssaidtomeinallmylife
ashavebeensaidaboutthispurelypersonalmatter.
Well, to make the story short, the Hazzards and I returned to Schloss
Rothhoefen in some haste, primarily for the purpose of inspecting it from
dungeontobattlement.Iforgottomentionthat,beingverytiredaftertheclimb
upthesteep,wegotnofurtheronourfirstvisitthanthegreatbaronialhall,the
dining-roomandcertainotherimpressiveapartmentscustomarilykeptopenfor
theinspectionofvisitors.Aninterestingconcessiononthepartofthelateowner
(thegentlemanhurryingtocatchupwiththedogsthathadgotabitofastarton
him),—mayherebementioned.Heincludedallofthecontentsofthecastlefor
thepricepaid,andthedeed,orwhateveryoucallit,specificallysetforththatI,
JohnBellamySmart,wasthesoleandundisputedownerofeverythingthecastle
held.Thismadethebargainallthemoredesirable,forIhaveneverseenamore
beautifulassortmentofantiquefurnitureandtapestryinFourthAvenuethanwas
tobefoundinSchlossRothhoefen.
Oursecondandmorecriticalsurveyofthelowerfloorsofthecastlerevealed
rather urgent necessity for extensive repairs and refurbishing, but I was not
dismayed.Withablithesomedisregardforexpenses,IdespatchedRudolph,the
elderofthetwosonstoLinzwithinstructionstoprocureartisanswhocouldbe


depended upon to undo the ravages of time to a certain extent and who might
evensuggestaremedyforleaks.
Myfriends,abhorringrheumatismandlikecomplaints,refusedtosleepover
nightinthedrafty,almostpanelessstructure.Theycameovertoseemeonthe
ensuing day and begged me to return to Vienna with them. But, full of the
project in hand, I would not be moved. With the house full of carpenters,
blacksmiths, masons, locksmiths, tinsmiths, plumbers, plasterers, glaziers,
joiners, scrub-women and chimneysweeps, I felt that I couldn't go away and
leaveitwithoutacontrollinginfluence.
Theypromisedtocomeandmakemeaniceshortvisit,however,afterI'dgot
the castle primped up a bit: the mould off the walls of the bedrooms and the
greatfireplacesthoroughlyclearedofobstructiveswallows'nests,thebedsaired
andthelarderstocked.Justastheywereleaving,mysecretaryandmyvaletput
inanappearance,havingbeensummonedfromViennathedaybefore.Iconfess
Iwasgladtoseethem.Thethoughtofspendingasecondnightinthatlimitless
bed-chamber,withallmannerofnight-birdstryingtogetinatthewindows,was
ratherdisturbing,andIwelcomedmyretainerswithopenarms.
My first night had been spent in a huge old bed, carefully prepared for
occupancybyHerrSchmick'sfrau;andthehours,whichneverweresodark,in
tryingtofathomtheinfinitespacethatreachedabovemetothevaultedceiling.I
knewtherewasaceiling,forIhadseenitsbeamsduringthedaylighthours,but
tosavemysoulIcouldn'timagineanythingsofarawayasitseemedtobeafter
the candles had been taken away by the caretaker's wife, who had tucked me
awayinthebedwithampleproprietyandthoroughnesscombined.
TwiceduringthatinterminablenightIthoughtIheardababycrying.Soitis
not unreasonable to suppose that I was more than glad to see Poopendyke
clamberingupthepathwithhistypewriterinonehandandhisgreenbaisebag
in the other, followed close behind by Britton and the Gargantuan brothers
bearingtrunks,bags,boxesandmygolfclubs.
"Whew!" said Poopendyke, dropping wearily upon my doorstep—which, by
theway,happenstobearoughhewnslabsometenfeetsquaresurmountedbya
portcullis that has every intention of falling down unexpectedly one of these
daysandcreatinganearthquake."Whew!"herepeated.
Mysecretaryisayoungishmanwiththin,stoopingshouldersandahabitof
perpetuallyrubbinghiskneestogetherwhenhewalks.Ishuddertothinkofwhat


wouldhappentothemifheundertooktorun.Icouldnotresistaglanceatthem
now.
"Itissomethingofaclimb,isn'tit?"saidIbeamingly.
"Inthenameofheaven,Mr.Smart,whatcouldhaveinducedyouto—"Hegot
nofartherthanthis,andtomycertainknowledgethisunfinishedreproofwasthe
nearestheevercametoopenlyconvictingmeofasininity.
"Makeyourselfathome,oldfellow,"saidIinsomehaste.Ifeltsorryforhim.
"Wearegoingtobeverycosyhere."
"Cosy?"murmuredhe,blinkingashelookedup,notatmebutatthefrowning
wallsthatseemedtopenetratethesky.
"I haven't explored those upper regions," I explained nervously, divining his
thoughts."Weshalldoittogether,inadayortwo."
"Itlooksasthoughitmightfalldownifwejostleditcarelessly,"heremarked,
havingrecoveredhisbreath.
"I am expecting masons at any minute," said I, contemplating the unstable
stone crest of the northeast turret with some uneasiness. My face brightened
suddenly. "That particular section of the castle is uninhabitable, I am told. It
really doesn't matter if it collapses. Ah, Britton! Here you are, I see. Good
morning."
Britton,averyexactingservant,lookedmeovercritically.
"Yourcoatandtrousersneedpressing,sir,"saidhe."AndwhereamItoget
thehotwaterforshaving,sir?"
"FrauSchmickwillsupplyanythingyouneed,Britton,"saidI,happyonbeing
abletogivetheinformation.
"ItisnotIasneedsit,sir,"saidhe,feelingofhissmoothlyshavenchin.
"Comeinandhavealookabouttheplace,"saidI,withamagnificentsweep
ofmyarmtocounteractthefeelingofutterinsignificanceIwasexperiencingat
the moment. I could see that my faithful retinue held me in secret but polite
disdain.
A day or two later the castle was swarming with workmen; the banging of


hammers,theraspofsaws,thespatteringofmortar,thecrashingofstoneandthe
fumes of charcoal crucibles extended to the remotest recesses; the tower of
Babel was being reconstructed in the language of six or eight nations, and
everybodywashappy.Ihadnoideathereweresomanytinsmithsintheworld.
Everyartisaninthetownacrosstheriverseemstohavefeltithisdutytocome
overandhelpthemenfromLinzintheenterprise.Thereweresomanyofthem
thattheywereconstantlygettingineachother'swayandquarrellingovermatters
ofjurisdictionwithevenmorespiritthanwemightexpecttoencounteramong
thelabourunionsathome.
Poopendyke, in great distress of mind, notified me on the fourth day of
rehabilitation that the cost of labour as well as living had gone up appreciably
sinceourinstallation.Infactithaddoubled.Hepaidallofmybills,soIsuppose
heknewwhathewastalkingabout.
"You will be surprised to know, Mr. Smart," he said, consulting his sheets,
"thatscrub-womenaregettingmoreherethantheydoinNewYorkCity,andI
amconvincedthattherearemorescrub-women.Todaywehadthirtynewones
scrubbing the loggia on the gun-room floor, and they all seem to have
apprentices working under them. The carpenters and plasterers were not so
numerousto-day.Ipaidthemofflastnight,yousee.Itmayinterestyoutohear
thattheirwagesforthreedaysamountedtonearlysevenhundreddollarsinour
money,tosaynothingofmaterials—andbreakage."
"Breakage?"Iexclaimedinsurprise.
"Yes,sir,breakage.Theybreaknearlyasmuchastheymend.We'll—we'llgo
bankrupt,sir,ifwe'renotcareful."
Ilikedhispronoun."Nevermind,"Isaid,"we'llsoonberidofthem."
"They'vegotitintheirheads,sir,thatitwilltakeatleastayeartofinishthe
—"
"You tell the foremen that if this job isn't finished to our satisfaction by the
endofthemonth,I'llfireallofthem,"saidI,wrathfully.
"That's less than three weeks off, Mr. Smart. They don't seem to be making
muchheadway."
"Well,youtell'em,justthesame."AndthatishowIdismissedit."Tell'em
we'vegottogotoworkourselves."


"Bytheway,oldmanSchmickandhisfamilyhaven'tbeenpaidfornearlytwo
years. They have put in a claim. The late owner assured them they'd get their
moneyfromthenext—"
"Dischargethematonce,"saidI.
"We can't get on without them," protested he. "They know the ropes, so to
speak, and, what's more to the point, they know all the keys. Yesterday I was
nearly two hours in getting to the kitchen for a conference with Mrs. Schmick
about the market-men. In the first place, I couldn't find the way, and in the
secondplaceallthedoorsarelocked."
"PleasesendHerrSchmicktomeinthe—inthe—"Icouldn'trecallthename
of the administration chamber at the head of the grand staircase, so I was
compelledtosay:"I'llseehimhere."
"Ifwelosethemwealsoarelost,"washissententiousdeclaration.Ibelieved
him.
Onthefifthdayofouroccupancy,Brittonreportedtomethathehaddevised
aplanbywhichwecouldutilisethetremendoushorse-powerrepresentedbythe
musclesofthoselazygiants,RudolphandMax.Hesuggestedthatwerigupa
hugewindlassatthetopoftheincline,withstoutsteelcablesattachedtoasmall
carwhichcouldbehauledupthecliffbyahithertowastedhumanenergy,andas
readily lowered. It sounded feasible and I instructed him to have the
extraordinaryrailwaybuilt,buttobesurethatthesafetydeviceclutchesinthe
cog wheels were sound and trusty. It would prove to be an infinitely more
gracefulmodeofascendingthepeakthanridinguponthedonkeysIhadbeen
persuadedtobuy,especiallyforPoopendykeandme,whoselegsweresolong
that when we sat in the saddles our knees either touched our chins or were
spreadoutsofarthatweresembledthePrussiancoat-of-arms.
Thatevening,aftertheworkmenhadfileddownthesteeplookingforallthe
worldlikeanevacuatingarmy,Isoughtafewmomentsofpeaceandquietinthe
smallbalconyoutsidemybedroomwindows.Myroomwasinthewesternwing
of the castle, facing the river. The eastern wing mounted even higher than the
oneinwhichwewereliving,andwastoppedbytheloftiestwatchtowerofthem
all. We had not attempted to do any work over in that section as yet, for the
simplereasonthatHerrSchmickcouldn'tfindthekeystothedoors.
Thesunwasdisappearingbeyondthehighlandsandacool,softbreezeswept


up through the valley. I leaned back in a comfortable chair that Britton had
selectedforme,andpuffedatmypipe,notquitesurethatmyserenitywasreal
orassumed.Thiswasallcostingmeaprettypenny.WasI,afterall,partingwith
mymoneyinthewayprescribedforfools?Wasallthissplendidantiquityworth
the—
MyreflectionsterminatedsharplyatthatcriticalinstantandIdon'tbelieveI
everfeltcalleduponafterthattocompletetheinquiry.
I found myself staring as if stupefied at the white figure of a woman who
stoodinthetopmostbalconyoftheeasternwing,fullyrevealedbythelastglow
ofthesunandapparentlyasdeepindreamsasIhadbeentheinstantbefore.


CHAPTERII—IDEFENDMYPROPERTY
FortenminutesIstoodtherestaringupather,completelybewilderedandnot
alittleshaken.Myfirstthoughthadbeenofghosts,butitwasalmostinstantly
dispelledbyasignificantactiononthepartofthesuspectedwraith.Sheturned
towhistleoverhershoulder,andtosnapherfingersperemptorily,andthenshe
stooped and picked up a rather lusty chow dog which promptly barked at me
across the intervening space, having discovered me almost at once although I
wasmanyrodsawayandquitesnuglyensconcedamongtheshadows.Thelady
in white muzzled him with her hand and I could almost imagine I heard her
reprovingwhispers.Afterafewminutes,sheapparentlyforgotthedogandlifted
her hand to adjust something in her hair. He again barked at me, quite
ferociouslyforachow.Thistimeitwasquiteplaintoherthathewasnotbarking
atthenowshadowymoon.Shepeeredoverthestonebalustradeandaninstant
laterdisappearedfromviewthroughthehigh,narrowwindow.
Vastlyexercised,IsetoutinquestofHerrSchmick,martialingPoopendykeas
Iwentalong,realisingthatIwouldhavetodependonhisGerman,whichwas
less halting than mine and therefore, more likely to dovetail with that of the
Schmicks, neither of whom spoke German because they loved it but because
theyhadto,—beingAustrians.WefoundthefourSchmicksinthevastkitchen,
watchingBrittonwhilehepressedmytrousersonanoaktablesolargethatthe
castlemusthavebeenbuiltaroundit.
HerrSchmickwasweighteddownwiththekeysofthecastle,whichneverleft
hispossessiondayornight.
"HerrSchmick,"saidI,"willyoubesogoodastoinformmewhothedickens
thatwomanisoverintheeastwingofthecastle?"
"Woman, mein herr?" He almost dropped his keys. His big sons said
somethingtoeachotherthatIcouldn'tquitecatch,butitsoundedverymuchlike
"derduyvil."
"Awomaninawhitedress,—withadog."
"Adog?"hecried."But,meinherr,dogsarenotpermittedtobeinthecastle."


"Whoisshe?Howdidshegetthere?"
"Heavendefendus,sir!Itmusthavebeentheghostof—"
"Ghost,yourgranny!"Icried,relapsingintoEnglish."Pleasedon'tbeatabout
thebush,Mr.Schmick.She'soverthereintheunusedwing,whichIhaven'tbeen
allowedtopenetrateinspiteofthefactthatitbelongstome.Yousayyoucan't
findthekeystothatsideofthecastle.Willyouexplainhowitisthatitisopento
strangewomenand—anddogs?"
"Youmustbemistaken,meinherr,"hewhinedabjectly."Shecannotbethere.
She—Ah,Ihaveit!Itmayhavebeenmywife.Gretel!Haveyoubeenintheeast
—"
"Nonsense!"Icriedsharply."Thiswon'tdo,Mr.Schmick.Givemethatbunch
of keys. We'll investigate. I can't have strange women gallivanting about the
place as if they owned it. This is no trysting place for Juliets, Herr Schmick.
We'll get to the bottom of this at once. Here, you Rudolph, fetch a couple of
lanterns. Max, get a sledge or two from the forge. There is a forge. I saw it
yesterdayouttherebackofthestables.Sodon'ttrytotellmethereisn'tone.If
wecan'tunlockthedoors,we'llsmash'emin.They'remine,andI'llknock'emto
smithereensifIfeellikeit."
The four Schmicks wrung their hands and shook their heads and, then,
repairing to the scullery, growled and grumbled for fully ten minutes before
deciding to obey my commands. In the meantime, I related my experience to
PoopendykeandBritton.
"Thatremindsme,sir,"saidBritton,"thatIfoundarag-dollinthecourtyard
yesterday,onthatsideofthebuilding,sir—Ishouldsaycastle,sir."
"I am quite sure I heard a baby crying the second night we were here, Mr.
Smart,"saidmysecretarynervously.
"And there was smoke coming from one of the back chimney pots this
morning,"addedBritton.
I was thoughtful for a moment. "What became of the rag-doll, Britton?" I
enquiredshrewdly.
"IturneditovertooldSchmick,sir,"saidhe.Hegrinned."Ithoughtasmaybe
itbelongedtooneofhisboys."


Ontheagedcaretaker'sreappearance,Ibluntlyinquiredwhathadbecomeof
thedoll-baby.Hewasterriblyconfused.
"Iknownothing,Iknownothing,"hemumbled,andIcouldseethathewas
miserably upset. His sons towered and glowered and his wife wrapped and
unwrappedherhandsinherapron,allthetimesupplicatingheaventobegoodto
thetrueandthefaithful.
FromwhatIcouldgather,theyallseemedtobemoredisturbedoverthefact
thatmyhallucinationincludedadogthanbytheclaimthatIhadseenawoman.
"But,confoundyou,Schmick,"Icriedinsomeheat,"itbarkedatme."
"Gottinhimmel!"theyallcried,and,tomysurprise,theoldwomanburstinto
tears.
"Itisbadtodreamofadog,"shewailed."Itmeanseviltoallofus.Evilto—"
"Come!"saidI,grabbingthekeysfromtheoldman'sunresistinghand."And,
Schmick, if that dog bites me, I'll hold you personally responsible. Do you
understand?"
Two abreast we filed through the long, vaulted halls, Rudolph carrying a
gigantic lantern and Max a sledge. We traversed extensive corridors, mounted
tortuousstairsandcameatlengthtothesturdyoakdoorthatseparatedtheeast
wingfromthewest:ahuge,formidablethingstrengthenedbymanycross-pieces
andstuddedwithrustybolt-heads.Padlocksaslargeashorse-shoes,corrodedby
rustandrenderedabsolutelyimpracticablebyage,confrontedus.
"I have not the keys," said old Conrad Schmick sourly. "This door has not
beenopenedinmytime.Itisnouse."
"Itisnouse,"repeatedhisgrizzlysons,leaningagainstthemouldywallswith
wearytolerance.
"Then how did the woman and her dog get into that part of the castle?" I
demanded."Tellmethat!"
They shook their heads, almost compassionately, as much as to say, "It is
alwaysbesttohumouramadman."
"And the baby," added Poopendyke, turning up his coat collar to protect his
thinneckfromthedraftthatsmoteusfromthehalls.


"Smashthosepadlocks,Max,"Icommandedresolutely.
Maxlookedstupidlyathisfatherandtheoldmanlookedathiswife,andthen
allfourofthemlookedatme,almostimploringly.
"Whydestroyaperfectlygoodpadlock,meinherr?"beganMax,twirlingthe
sledgeinhishandasifitwereabamboocane.
"Hi! Look out there!" gasped Britton, in some alarm. "Don't let that thing
slip!"
"Doesn't this castle belong to me?" I demanded, considerably impressed by
theeasewithwhichheswungthesledge.Averydangerousperson,Ibeganto
perceive.
"Itdoes,meinherr,"shoutedallofthemgladly,andtouchedtheirforelocks.
"Everythingisyours,"addedoldConrad,withacomprehensivesweepofhis
handthatmighthaveputthewholeuniverseinmyname.
"Smashthatpadlock,Max,"Isaidafterasecond'shesitation.
"I'llbethecan'tdoit,"saidBritton,ingeniously.
Very reluctantly Max bared his great arms, spit upon his hands, and, with a
pitiful look at his parents, prepared to deal the first blow upon the ancient
padlock. The old couple turned their heads away, and put their fingers to their
ears,cringinglikethingsabouttobewhipped.
"Now,one—two—three!"criedI,affectinganenthusiasmIdidn'tfeel.
Thesledgefelluponthepadlockandreboundedwithalmostequalforce.The
soundofthecrashmusthavedisturbedeverybirdandbatinthetowersofthe
grimoldpile.Butthepadlockmerelyshedafewscabsofrustandrattledback
intoitscustomaryrepose.
"See!" cried Max, triumphantly. "It cannot be broken." Rudolph, his broad
facebeaming,heldthelanternclosetothepadlockandshowedmethatithadn't
beendentedbytheblow.
"Itisaveryfinelock,"criedoldConrad,withanoteofprideinhisvoice.
Ibegantofeelsomeprideinthethingmyself."Itis,indeed,"Isaid."Tryonce
more,Max."


Itseemedtomethathestruckwithagreatdealmoreconfidencethanbefore,
andagaintheyallutteredejaculationsofpleasure.IcaughtDameSchmickinthe
actofthankingGodwithherfingers.
"Seehere,"Iexclaimed,facingthem angrily,"whatdoesallthismean?You
aredeceivingme,allofyou.Now,let'shavethetruth—everywordofit—orout
yougoto-morrow,thewholelotofyou.Iinsistonknowingwhothatwomanis,
whysheishereinmyhou—mycastle,and—everything,doyouunderstand?"
Apparentlytheydidn'tunderstand,fortheylookedatmewithallthestupidity
theycouldcommand.
"You try, Mr. Poopendyke," I said, giving it up in despair. He sought to
improveonmyGerman,butIthinkhemadeitworse.Theypositivelyrefusedto
beintelligent.
"Give me the hammer," I said at last in desperation. Max surrendered the
clumsy, old-fashioned instrument with a grin and I motioned for them all to
standback.ThreesuccessiveblowswithallthemightIhadinmybodyfailedto
shatterthelock,whereuponmycholerrosetoheightshithertounknown,Ibeing
a very mild-mannered, placid person and averse to anything savouring of the
tempestuous. I delivered a savage and resounding thwack upon the broad oak
panelofthedoor,regardlessofthedestructivenessthatmightattendtheeffort.If
anyonehadtoldmethatIcouldn'tsplinteranoakboardwithasledge-hammer
at a single blow I should have laughed in his face. But as it turned out in this
caseInotonlyfailedtosplitthepanelbutbrokeoffthesledgehandlenearthe
head,puttingitwhollyoutofcommissionforthetimebeingaswellasstinging
myhandssoseverelythatIdoubledupwithpainandshoutedwordsthatDame
Schmickcouldnotputintoherprayers.
TheSchmicksfairlyglowedwithjoy!AfterwardsMaxinformedmethatthe
door was nearly six inches thick and often had withstood the assaults of huge
batteringrams,backinthedimpastwhenoccasioninducedtheprimalbaronto
seek safety in the east wing, which, after all, appears to have been the real,
simonpurefortress.Thewestwingwasmerelyasettingforfestalamenitiesand
wasbynomeansfeudalinitsaspectorappeal.Here,asIcametoknow,theold
baronsreceivedtheirfriendsandfeastedthemandmademerrywiththeflagon
andthehornofplenty;herethehumbletithepayercametosettlehisdueswith
gold and silver instead of with blood; here the little barons and baronesses
rompedandriotedwithchildishglee;andherethebaronsgrewfatandgrossand


soggywithlazinessandprosperity,andheretheydiedinstupidquiescence.On
the other side of that grim, staunch old door they simply went to the other
extreme in every particular. There they killed their captives, butchered their
enemies, and sometimes died with the daggers of traitors in their shivering
backs.
Aswetrudgedbacktothelowerhalls,defeatedbutnonethelessimpressed
byourfailuretodevastateourstronghold,Iwasstruckbytheawfulbarrenness
ofthesurroundings.Theresuddenlycameovermetheshockingrealisation:the
"contents"ofthecastle,assetforthrathervaguelyinthebillofsale,werenot
whatIhadbeenledtoconsiderthem.Ithadnotoccurredtomeatthetimeofthe
transaction to insist upon an inventory, and I had been too busy since the
beginningofmytenancytotakemorethanapassingaccountofmybelongings.
Inexcusingmyselfforthisrathercarelessoversight,Icanonlysaythatduring
daylight hours the castle was so completely stuffed with workmen and their
queerutensilsthatIcouldn'tdomuchinthewayofelimination,andbynightit
wassohorriblyblackandlonesomeabouttheplaceandthehallsweresolittered
withtoolsandmopsandtimberthatitwasextremelyhazardoustogoprowling
about, so I preferred to remain in my own quarters, which were quite
comfortableandcosyinspiteofthedistancebetweenpointsofconvenience.
StillIwasvaguelycertainthatmanyarticlesIhadseenaboutthehallsonmy
firstandsecondvisitswerenolongerinevidence.Twoorthreeantiquerugs,for
instance, were missing from the main hall, and there was a lamentable
suggestionofemptinessatthelowerendwherewehadstackedaquantityofrare
oldfurnitureinordertomakeroomfortheworkmen.
"Herr Schmick," said I, abruptly halting my party in the centre of the hall,
"whathasbecomeoftherugsthatwereherelastweek,andwhereisthatpileof
furniturewehadbackyonder?"
Rudolph allowed the lantern to swing behind his huge legs, intentionally I
believe,andIwascompelledtorelievehimofitinorderthatwemightextract
ourselvesfromhisshadow.Ihaveneverseensuchacolossalshadowastheone
hecast.
OldConradwasnotslowinanswering.
"Thegentlemencalleddaybeforeyesterday,meinherr,andtookmuchaway.
Theywillreturnto-morrowfortheremainder."


"Gentlemen?"Igasped."Remainder?"
"ThegentlementowhomtheHerrCountsoldtherugsandchairsandchests
and—"
"What!" I roared. Even Poopendyke jumped at this sudden exhibition of
wrath. "Do you mean to tell me that these things have been sold and carried
awaywithoutmyknowledgeorconsent?I'llhavethelaw—"
HerrPoopendykeintervened."Theyhadbillsofsaleandordersforremovalof
property dated several weeks prior to your purchase, Mr. Smart. We had to let
thearticlesgo.Yousurelyremembermyspeakingtoyouaboutit."
"Idon'trememberanything,"Isnapped,whichwasthetruth."Why—why,I
bought everything that the castle contained. This is robbery! What the dickens
doyoumeanby—"
OldConradhelduphishandsasifexpectingtopacifyme.Isputteredoutthe
restofthesentence,whichreallyamountedtonothing.
"TheCounthasbeensellingoffthelovelyoldpiecesforthepastsixmonths,
sir.Ach,whatasin!Theyhavecomeheredayafterday,thesefurniturebuyers,
totakeawaythemostpricelessofourtreasures,tosellthemtothepoorrichat
twenty prices. I could weep over the sacrifices. I have wept, haven't I, Gretel?
Eh, Rudolph? Buckets of tears have I shed, mein herr. Oceans of them. Time
aftertimehaveIimploredhimtodenytheserascallycuriohunters,thesebloodsucking—"
"But listen to me," I broke in. "Do you mean to say that articles have been
takenawayfromthecastlesinceIcameintopossession?"
"Manyofthem,sir.Alwayswithpropercredentials,believeme.Ach,whata
spendthriftheis!Andhispoorwife!Ach,Gott,howshemustsuffer.Nearlyall
ofthegrandpaintings,thetapestriesthatcamefromFranceandItalyhundreds
of years ago, the wonderful old bedsteads and tables that were here when the
castle was new—all gone! And for mere songs, mein herr,—the cheapest of
songs!I—I—"
"Please don't weep now, Herr Schmick," I made haste to exclaim, seeing
lachrymosesymptomsinhisblearoldeyes.ThenIbecamefirmoncemore.This
knaverymustcease,orI'dknowthereasonwhy."Thenextmanwhocomeshere
tocartawaysomuchasasinglepieceistobekickedout.Doyouunderstand?


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