John Boyle O'Reilly, Frederic Jesup Stimson, John T. Wheelwright, Robert Grant

The King's Men: A Tale of To-morrow

Published by Good Press, 2019
EAN 4064066241643

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There are few Americans who went to England before the late wars but will remember Ripon House. The curious student of history—a study, perhaps, too little in vogue with us—could find no better example of the palace of an old feudal lord. Dating almost from the time of the first George—and some even say it was built by the same Wren who designed that St. Paul's Cathedral whose ruins we may still see to the east of London—it frowned upon the miles of private park surrounding it, a marble memorial of feudal monopoly and man's selfish greed. The very land about it, to an extent of almost half a county, was owned by the owners of the castle, and by them rented out upon an annual payment to such farmers as they chose to favor with a chance to earn their bread.

In an ancient room of a still older house which stands some two miles from the castle, and had formerly been merely the gatekeeper's lodge (though large enough for several families), a young man was sitting, one late afternoon in early November. The room was warmed by a fire, in the old fashion; and the young man was gloomily plunging the poker into the coals, breaking them into oily flakes which sent out fierce flickerings as they burned away. He was dressed in a rough shooting suit of blue velveteen, and his heavy American shoes were crusted with mud. His handsome, boyish face wore an expression of deep anxiety; and his hands seemed to minister to the troubles of his meditation by tumbling his hair about the contracted forehead, while his lips closed about a short brier-wood pipe of a kind only used by men. The pipe had gone out, unnoticed by the smoker; and he did not seem to mind the fierce heat thrown out by the broken coals. Above the mantel was the portrait of a gentleman in the quaint costume of the latter Victorian age; the absurd starched collar and shirt, the insignificant cravat, the trousers reaching to the ankles, and the coat and waistcoat of black cloth and fantastic cut, familiar to the readers of the London Punch. This antedated worthy looked out from the canvas upon the room as if he owned it; and the mullioned windows and carved oak wainscoting justified his claim, even to the very books in the bookcases, which showed an antiquarian taste. Here were the strange old-fashioned satires of Thackeray and the more modern romances of the humorist Dickens; the crude speculations of the philosopher Spencer, and the one-sided, aristocratic economies of Malthus and Mill; with the feeble rhymes of Lord Tennyson d'Eyncourt, which men, in a time-serving age, called poetry.

Geoffrey Ripon had come to his last legs. And he was one of the few aristocrats of his generation who had ever (metaphorically speaking) had any legs worth considering. When O'Donovan Rourke had been President of the British Republic, that good-natured Irishman, who had been at school with Ripon's father, had given him a position in the legation at Paris; but when the Radicals overthrew Rourke's government, Ripon lost his place. And Ripon could not but think it hard that he, Geoffrey Ripon, by all right and law Earl of Brompton, Viscount Mapledurham in the peerage of Ireland, etc., etc., should that afternoon have been fined ten shillings and costs for poaching on what had been his own domain.

His great-uncle looked down upon him with that exasperating equanimity that only a canvas immortality can give—his great-uncle who fell on the field of Tel-el-Kebir, dead as if the Arab bullet had sped from a worthier foe, in the days when England had a foreign policy and could spare her soldiers from the coast defence. And his grandfather, who smirked from another coroneted frame behind him, had been a great leader in the Liberal party under Gladstone, Lord Liverpool, the grand old man who stole Beaconsfield's thunder to guard the Suez Canal, that road to India which he, like another Moses, had made for their proud legions through the Red Sea.

And now Ripon was living in his porter's lodge, all that was still his of the great Ripon estates, with his empty title left him, minus the robes and coronet no longer worn; and his King, George the Fifth, an exile, wandering with his semblance of a court in foreign lands.

The world moves quickly as it grows older, with an accelerated velocity, like that of a falling stone; and it is hard for us of the present day to picture the England of King Albert Edward. The restlessness and poverty of the masses; the agitations in Ireland, feebly, blindly protesting with dynamite and other rude weapons against foreign oppression; the shameful monopoly of land, the social haughtiness of the titled classes, the luxury and profligacy of the court—perhaps even at the opening of our story, poor England was hardly worse off. But then came the change. Gradually the bone and sinew of the country sought refuge in emigration. The titled classes, after mortgage upon mortgage of their valueless land, were forced to break their entails to sell their estates. And at last, when the great American Republic, in 1889, cut down the Chinese wall of protection, which so long had surrounded their country, even trade succumbed, and England was under-sold in the markets of the world. Then retrenchment was the cry; universal suffrage elected a parliament which literally cut off the royal princes with a shilling; and the Premier Bradlaugh swamped the House of Lords by the creation of a battalion of life peers, who abolished the hereditary House and established an elective Senate. It was easy then to call a constitutional convention, declare the sovereign but the servant and figure-head of the people, confiscate the royal estates and vote King Albert a salary of £10,000 a year.

Then Russia took advantage of the great struggle between Germany and France to seize India, and after the terrible defeat at Cyprus and the siege of Calcutta the old King of England abdicated in favor of his grandson George. But the people clamored for an elective President, and it was nigh twenty years before the opening of our story that King George had been forced to seek his only safe refuge in America.

Thus it was that Geoffrey Ripon had come to depend on poaching and the garden stuff his old servant managed to raise in the two-acre lot surrounding the lodge. Almost the only modern things in his room were the guns and fishing tackle in the corners and the electric battery for charging the cartridges; and now he was judicially informed that he must poach no more, the mortgage had been finally foreclosed, and he looked out of his window upon lands no longer his even in name. It is a sad thing to be ruined, and if ever man was ruined beyond all hope, Geoffrey Ripon, Earl of Brompton, was the man; it is hard to feel you are the last of your race, that you are almost an outlaw in your own land—and Ripon's king, George the Fifth, was suffered to play out his idle play of royal state, in Boston, Massachusetts. Ripon had never been in America. He pushed back his chair from the fire, as it gave out a heat too great for any man to stand. He walked to the window, and stood looking out upon the long perspective of elms, where the avenue stretched away in the direction of Ripon House. As his eye wandered over the broad view of park and forest, a carriage, drawn by four horses, insolent in the splendor of its trappings, rolled toward him from the castle. In that moment it seemed to Ripon that he felt all the bitterness of hatred and envy that might have rankled in the hearts of all the poor wayfarers who had in eight hundred years peered through the park gate and looked at those broad acres that his race so long had held. The carriage rolled swiftly by him, with a glitter of silver harness and liveries; on one seat were an elderly man and a young girl. As he saw her face Ripon started in surprise. Then, after a moment, he walked to the table and filled his pipe.

"Bah!" he said to himself, "it cannot be possible." Again he threw himself on a chair by the fireplace, and tried to read the Saturday Review. There was a long leader against Richard Lincoln; but as Lincoln was the one member in the House for whom Geoffrey had any respect, he threw it aside in disgust. He heard a timid knock at the door.

"Come in!" growled Geoffrey, as he turned to light his pipe.

An old family servant, the last survivor of an extinct race, entered with a battered silver tray.

"Please, my lord, a letter from the persons at the castle; one of them is waiting for an answer."

Reynolds made no distinction between the "persons at the castle" and their servants; and he always called it the castle, now that Ripon House was the gatekeeper's lodge.

"I suppose," grunted Geoffrey, as he took the letter, "they want to warn me against poaching. So considerate, after I have been fined ten shillings by their gamekeeper."

To his surprise the letter had a familiar look; it was addressed to him by his title in the ancient fashion, and was in a handwriting which he thought he should have known in Paris. Tearing open the envelope, he read:

"My dear Lord Brompton: I hear that you are back to your own estate, and you will doubtless be surprised to learn that I am so near you. Papa telephoned over last week for an estate, and here we are, with a complete retinue of servants and a gallery of ancestors—yours, by the way, as I found to my surprise. I felt so sorry when they called you back from Paris; I had no idea I should see you again so soon. Papa wanted to look after his affairs in England; so we have come over again for the winter, and I was delighted to get out of the wild gayety of America for this dear sleepy old country.

"If you have nothing better to do, will you dine with us to-morrow night? Do not stay away because we are in your old family house. We have no such feelings in America, you know. Richard Lincoln will be here, and Sir John Dacre. Do you know Sir John? I admire him immensely, you must know.

"Sincerely yours,

"Margaret Windsor."

"P.S. The new minister and legation are not received in society. We missed you so much."

"Maggie Windsor over here," thought Ripon, "with that curious old father of hers, taking Ripon House as if it were furnished lodgings." And he thought of the old house and of his great-uncle who fell at Tel-el-Kebir, and of King George over the sea in America. But he said to himself that Maggie Windsor was a nice girl, as he put out his pipe and went out into the park for a walk.


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The palace of a thousand wings, that nearly two thousand years had gone to build, had been tumbled into ruins in a day, and out of the monstrous confusion no fair structure had yet arisen.

Rich as a crimson sunset, with traditions splendid as sunlit clouds, English Royalty had sunk into the night, and the whole sky was lightless, except where the glory had descended.

The government which had lifted itself like a tower in the eyes and minds of Englishmen for a hundred generations had disappeared, and the ideal government of the people had not yet filled its place.

The British Republic was seventeen years old. For seventeen years King George the Fifth had been an exile in the United States, and the fifty millions of British people had been on trial as self-governors.

Providence had smiled on the young Republic. Its first guardians had been true to their trust; and like the fathers who laid the deep foundations of American freedom, their souls expanded with the magnitude of duty and responsibility.

The world looked on, sympathized, but for weeks and months almost feared to speak. But half a year passed, and the dreadful crest of Anarchy had not once been raised.

The French Republic, over seventy years old, strong, unenvious and equitable, was the first to applaud.

The Commonwealths of Germany, thirty-three years old, one after another spoke their congratulation.

The aristocratic Republic of Russia was officially silent. The noble Nihilists, who had murdered four Czars to obtain power, were now constitutionally terrorizing the masses; but the Russian people had learned from their rulers, and the popular press thundered encouragement to the English Commons.

America smiled like an elder sister, and held out her hand in loving friendship.

From the day of the revolution, the three names which forever belong to the history of British Republicanism were in the front—O'Donovan Rourke, the first President, and his two famous Ministers, Jonathan Simms and Richard Lincoln.

But the story of that first great Administration is read now in the school-books. The sudden death of the President was the first serious loss of the Republic. Had he lived another decade how different would have been the later history of England!

Matthew Gower, the Vice-President, entered on the unexpired term of the Presidency. He was a weak, well-meaning man, and he was jealous of the extraordinary popularity and personal influence of Richard Lincoln, the Secretary of State. When his cabinet was announced, Richard Lincoln, released from his long service in harness, with a deep feeling of relief, went back to his home in Nottingham.

At this time he was forty-six years of age. He had been a widower for over twenty years. At twenty-five he had married the beautiful girl he loved, and within the year his wife died, leaving the lonely man a little daughter whose eyes renewed his grief and love.

This was the tall girl who flung her arms round the neck of the dismissed minister when he entered his home at Nottingham.

"No one else, papa!" she cried, as she buried her face against his heart, sobbing with joy. "Do not speak to any one else till I am done with you."

The rest, the love, the peace of home were very sweet. Richard Lincoln renewed, or tried to renew, his interest in the work of his younger days. His daughter loved to go with him through the town, proud of the famous man who was hers, heedful of any curious or respectful glance of the people on the street.

He gave himself up to the new life. He began to wonder at and enjoy the beauty, accomplishments and unceasing amiability of his daughter.

Mary Lincoln was a rare type of womanhood. She had inherited her mother's grace and lithe beauty of form, and from her father she took a strong and self-sustained nature. But there was added a quality that was hers alone—a strange, silent power of enthusiasm—a fervor that did not cry out for ideals, but filled all her blood with a deep music of devotion. A man with such a nature had been a poet or the founder of a creed. But the ideal of a man is an idea, while the ideal of a woman is a man. Time alone can bring the touchstone to such a heart.

It was not strange that under such home influences public affairs should sink into a secondary place in Richard Lincoln's mind. He hardly looked at the newspapers, and he never expressed political opinions or predictions. When he did speak of the government, it was with confidence and respect. If he doubted or distrusted, no one knew.

For two years he had lived this quiet life; but, though he turned his eyes from many signs, the astute and silent man saw danger growing like a malarial weed beneath the waters of the social and political life of his country.

One morning Patterson, his business partner, who was an excitable politician, threw down his Times, and turned to Lincoln with an impatient manner.

"We are going to smash, sir, with our eyes open. We are going to the devil on two roads."

"Who is going to smash?" asked Lincoln.

"The country. See here; there are two rocks ahead, the aristocrats and the demagogues, and which is worse no one can say. They are getting ready for something or other, and the good sense and patriotism of England stand by and do nothing."

"Has anything particular happened?"

"Yes; at West Derby yesterday, the Duke of Bayswater was elected to Parliament, getting a large majority over Tyler, a sound Republican."

"Pooh! You don't take that as a specimen of all our elections? The Derby voters are mainly farmers, and the farmers retain their old respect for the lords of the manor."

"And that means something," rejoined Patterson; "it is not as if those aristocrats had accepted the Republic, which they don't even pretend to do. There are now over forty of them in the lower house."

"Well," answered the ex-Minister, "they have been elected by the people."

"Yes; by the uninstructed people," said Patterson, warmly. "The people are talked to by these fellows with empty titles on one hand and by the demagogues on the other, and they think the only choice lies between the two."

"Surely, papa," said Mary, who was interested in the conversation, "the people will not be so easily deceived?"

"Deceived!" interrupted Mr. Patterson. "Why, Mary, here was an election in which the people were led to vote against one of the best Republicans in England, and for a lord who is nearly seventy, who has never done any good for himself or the country—an old pauper, who goes to Parliament for the salary and the chance to plot against the people."

Mary looked at her father as if she wished him to speak.

"These men," he said, "do not regain power as lords, but as commoners. That is good, instead of bad—their withdrawal would be more dangerous. We must remember that those who have lost by the revolution are still as much a part of the English people as those who have gained."

"I don't know about that," said Patterson, stubbornly. "I believe those aristocrats are actually plotting treason; and a traitor separates himself from his people."

Richard Lincoln's silence only stirred up the old Radical. He shot home next time.

"I believe we shall have a lord returned for Nottingham next election."

A slow flush rose in Lincoln's face, and he unconsciously raised his head.

"For the last two years," continued Patterson, seeing the effect of his words, "only two Englishmen have been heard of to any extent—the demagogue leader, Bagshaw, and Sir John Dacre, the insolent young leader of the aristocrats."

This time it was the daughter that flushed at Mr. Patterson's words.

"Mr. Dacre is not insolent," said Mary, warmly. "I have met him several times. He is a most remarkable man."

"He couldn't well be insolent to you, Mary," the wily Patterson answered, with a smile for his favorite, who usually agreed with his radicalism, "but his tone to the public is a different thing."

"You extremists are at least responsible for one of these—for the demagogue—" said Richard Lincoln.

"Yes; I admit it. The election of Bagshaw for Liverpool was a terrible mistake. But, if we had had our way, the other evil should have lost its head—O, I beg your pardon, Mary; I did not mean your friend, Mr. Dacre, but the principle he represents."

Mary Lincoln had exclaimed as if shocked, which brought out the concluding words from Mr. Patterson.

"If one were gone, would not the danger be greater?" asked Richard Lincoln. "They keep each other in check. They are useful enemies."

"Take care they don't some day turn round and be useful friends," retorted Patterson. "I believe they did so in Derby yesterday. If they were to do it in Nottingham they would sweep the city."

Mr. Patterson had scored his mark. The ex-Minister was silent and thoughtful.

"The Republic is like an iceberg," he said presently, "a dozen years above water, but a century below. We shall be able to handle our difficulties—Don't you think so, Mary?" he added lightly, as they went out.

"Papa," said Mary, as they walked across the main street, "I met Sir John Dacre at Arundel House when I was visiting Lucy Arundel last year, and I can assure you he is not an evil-minded man."

"Indeed!" answered the father, rather amused at the relation; "you like him, then?"

"Very much, indeed. He is a perfect old-fashioned cavalier, and the most distinguished-looking man I ever saw, except you."

Her father laughed at the unconscious flattery.

"And the very oldest men are constantly consulting him," continued Mary, who was on a subject which evidently interested her.

There was something in Mary's voice that made her father glance down at her face. But he did not pursue the subject.

The months rolled on in this unrestful peace, and day by day it grew clear that the internal troubles of the Republic were forming a dangerous congestion.

Richard Lincoln again became an attentive reader of the newspapers. No man in England studied more carefully the signs of the times. Daily, too, he listened to the denunciation of the aristocrats by his radical old friend.

"They ought to be banished!" exclaimed Mr. Patterson, one morning. "I said it would come to this."

He pointed to an announcement of a meeting of "gentlemen who still retained respect for their Sacred Cause," to be held at Arundel House the following week, the wording of which was rather vague, as if intended to convey more than the verbal meaning. The notice was signed: "John Dacre, Bart."

"Why, that is Mary's friend," thought Richard Lincoln. And when he met Mary, an hour later, he said, half-jestingly:

"Is your friend, Mr. Dacre, a conspirator?"

"He is only an acquaintance, papa; and I hardly know what a conspirator is. But Mr. Dacre is certainly nothing wrong. You should see his face, papa."

"Oh, yes; those dreamers—"

"Papa!" said Mary, almost angrily, "Mr. Dacre is not a dreamer. He is a leader of men—a natural leader—like you!"

The eloquence of voice and gesture surprised Richard Lincoln; but he was too puzzled by Mary's manner to reply. Looking at her as if from a distance, he only remembered, sadly, how little of her life he had seen—how much there was from which he had been left out in the heart of his motherless girl.

Mary read something in his eyes that made her run to him and fold her arms around his neck.

"You were thinking of mamma then," she whispered, with brimming eyes.

"Your face was like hers, Mary," he said, and kissed her tenderly.

In the growing excitement of the times, father and daughter were growing daily into closer union. The Parliamentary elections were coming on, and Richard Lincoln took a deep interest in the preparations. He had been asked to stand for several places, but he had firmly declined; nevertheless he had become almost a public character during the campaign. From all sides men looked to him for counsel. His correspondence became burdensome, and Mary, having urged him long to let her help, at last had her way.

In this way it was that she became familiar with the troubled issues of the time, and learned to think with her father in all his moods. Their house in Nottingham, with comings and goings, committees and councils, was soon like the office of a great Minister.

"This can't last," said Mr. Patterson to Mary Lincoln, one day; "he is needed in London again, and he will go. I believe they mean to nominate him for President."

Two days later, Patterson, with all the rest of England, was allowed to see the secret that had moved the political sea for years.

The National Convention was held to nominate the President. The Radical wing (they were proud to call themselves anarchists) had developed unlooked-for strength, chiefly from the cities and great towns, and had put forward as their candidate the blatant demagogue, Lemuel Bagshaw, whose name has left so deep a stain on his country's record.

On the first day of the National Convention the news of Bagshaw's strength caused only a pained surprise throughout England. Men awaited with some irritation the proper work of the Convention. But on the second day, when the two strongest opposing candidates did not together count as many votes as the demagogue, there was downright consternation.

Then the Aristocrats showed their hand: they abandoned their sham candidate and voted solidly for the demagogue—and Lemuel Bagshaw, the atheist and anarchist, received the nomination for the Presidency of the British Republic!

The ship was fairly among the shoals and the horizon was ridged with ominous clouds. The petrels of disorder were everywhere on the wing. The Republic was driving straight into the breakers.

A few days later a great meeting was held in Nottingham, at which a workingman proposed the name of Richard Lincoln as their representative in Parliament.

A great shout of acclamation greeted the name and spoke for all Nottingham. Then the meeting broke up, the crowd hurrying and pressing toward Richard Lincoln's house.

Mary Lincoln heard the growing tumult, and looked up at her father alarmed. She had been playing softly on an organ in the dimly-lighted room, while her father sat thinking and half listening to the low music, as he gazed into the fire.

He had heard the crowd gathering in the square below, but he had not heeded, till he started at last as a voice outside addressed the multitude, calling for three cheers for the Member of Parliament for Nottingham. The response, ringing from thousands of hearts, made Mary Lincoln leap to her feet.

Her father sat still, looking toward the open window beneath which was the tumult.

"Father," said Mary, calling him so for the first time in her life; "they have nominated you. You will not refuse?"

"No," he said, almost mournfully. "I shall accept—and leave you again."

"Never again," she cried, "my own dear father. I shall go with you to London. Oh, I am so proud of you!"

And Richard Lincoln accepted the nomination, and was elected. His name rallied throughout the whole country the men who had its good at heart.

But the demagogue was raised to the highest place in the Republic, and his party would have grown drunken with exultation had they not been deterred by the solid front and the stern character of the opposition, the leader of which from the first meeting of the new Parliament was Richard Lincoln.


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The seashore in late November is never cheerful. The gray, downcast skies sadden the sympathetic ocean; the winds cut to the marrow, and the yellow grass and bare trees make the land as sad-colored as the sea. But even at this season a walk along the cliff upon which Ripon House stands is invigorating, if the walker's blood is young. The outlook toward the water is bluff and bold and the descent sheer.

A neat, gravelled path conforming to the line of the coast divides the precipice from the smooth, closely-cropped lawn which sweeps down from the terrace of the ancient mansion. Ripon House is an imposing, spacious pile. It bears marks of the tampering of the last century when the resuscitated architecture of Queen Anne threatened to become ubiquitous.

A vast plantation of stately trees originally shut out the buildings on three sides from the common gaze, but the exigencies of the lawn-tennis court and the subsequent destitution of the late earl, who renounced his wood fire the last of all the luxuries then appurtenant to a noble lineage, have sadly thinned the splendid grove. Nor is the domain void of historic interest. Here was the scene of the crowning festivity of the pleasure-loving Victorian era when the nobility of the United Kingdom gathered to listen to a masque by Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan in aid of a fund to erect a statue to the memory of one John Brown, a henchman of the sovereign.

But what boots in this age of earnest activity more than a trivial reference to the selfish splendor of a superstitious past? To-day is to-day, and the nails on the coffin-lid of the last Hanoverian would scarcely be of silver, so many hungry mouths are to be fed.

Geoffrey Ripon on the morning following his reflections was sauntering along the gravel path which bordered the cliff. He was reading the half-penny morning paper, in which he had just come upon a paragraph describing the discovery by the police of a batch of infernal machines supposed to have been sent over from America by friends of the Royalists. Among the emissaries captured he read the name of Cedric Ruskin, an old schoolfellow and great-grandson to an art critic of that surname who flourished in former days by force of his own specific gravity. Pained at the intelligence, he sighed heavily, and was on the point of sitting down upon a rustic bench close at hand when a melodious, gladsome voice hallooing his name broke in upon his meditation. He looked up and perceived Miss Maggie Windsor skipping down the lawn with charming unconventionality.

"Lord Brompton, Lord Brompton."

He raised his hat and stood waiting for the girl, whose motions were marvellously graceful, especially if her large and vigorous physique be considered. No sylph could have glided with less awkwardness, and yet a spindle more closely resembles the bole of a giant oak than Maggie Windsor the frail damsels who bent beneath the keen blasts of New England a hundred years ago. Her countenance disclosed all the sprightly intelligence which her great-grandmother may have possessed, but her glowing cheeks and bright blue eyes told of a constitution against which nervous prostration fulminated in vain. Nor were the bang or bangle of a former generation visible in her composition. But here a deceptive phrase deserves an explanation. "Composition" is an epithet which, least of all, is applicable. Miss Windsor's perfections of whatever kind were wholly natural.

A St. Bernard dog of superb proportions gambolled at her side.

"I thought it was you," she said. "I am very glad to see you again."

"And I, Miss Windsor, to see you." They shook hands with cordiality. "And how do you like your new lodgings?" he inquired.

"Ah, Lord Brompton, I was afraid you would feel nettled that we capitalists should possess your grand old homestead. My purpose in swooping down upon you in this unceremonious style was to ask you to make yourself quite at home in the place. Consider it your own if you will."

"What would your father say to such an arrangement, I wonder?" he asked, glancing at her.

"Oh," she laughed, "papa monopolizes everybody and everything else, but I monopolize him. But you look serious, Lord Brompton, and less complacent, if I may use the expression, than when we met last. Dear old Paris. That was two years ago."

"Ought I to look complacent after reading in the newspaper that my old schoolmate, Cedric Ruskin, has been arrested on a charge of high treason?"

"Alas! poor Cedric!—no, that was Yorick. Down, Bayard, down," she cried to her dog.

"A great many things may happen in two years, Miss Windsor. When chance first brought us together, I was a landed proprietor, and the heir of a noble lineage. To-day I am a beggar at the feet of fatherless wealth."

"Excuse me, Lord Brompton, I have a father."

"Did I say I was at your feet, Miss Windsor?"

"You are the same clever creature as ever," she answered. "But I am beginning to believe you are in earnest. Is it possible that you are the Lord Brompton who told me once that fate's quiver held no shaft to terrify a philosopher? 'Dust to dust, and what matters it whether king or chaos rule?' Those were your words. I warned you then, but you laughed me to scorn—"

"And now you are deriding me."

"You are unjust. I met you with a proffer of hospitality, but you would none of it."

"Am I not to dine with you this evening?"

"True. Then as a further instance that you are still a stoic, come now and exhibit to me the treasures and secrets of Ripon House. I have got no farther than the picture gallery as yet. There is an ancestor of George the Third's time whose features are the prototype of yours—the same dreamy eye—the same careless smile—the same look of being petted. You remember I always said you had been spoiled by petting."

She led the way across the lawn, with Bayard bounding close at hand.

"I am sure there must be secret galleries and haunted chambers and all sorts of dreadful places. I telephoned to Mr. Jawkins to inquire, but he answered, 'Not as I know of, miss.' I suppose he is so fearfully practical he wouldn't care if a real ghost met him in a remote wing."

"What a pity we didn't live in the last century when people still gave ghosts the benefit of the doubt," said Lord Brompton, sadly. "Now we are certain that there never were any."

"But we may still run across a skeleton in a closet," said the girl.

"Oh, yes. But who, by the way, is Mr. Jawkins?"

"Have you never heard of Mr. Jarley Jawkins, the famous country-house agent and individual caterer?"

Lord Brompton shook his head.

"He is indeed a remarkable man," she continued. "When we decided to come to England my father telephoned to Jawkins, who immediately sent out a list of country-seats. We chose this and made arrangements with him to supply us with guests at so much a head. A regular country-house party—a duke and duchess, one or two financially embarrassed noblemen, a disestablished bishop, a professional beauty, a poet-peer, and several other attractions. Oh, Jawkins is wonderful. They are all coming to-day. Won't it be fun? But it may seem rude to ask you to meet such people? I am sorry. You will be almost the only guest not hired for the occasion. It was very inconsiderate of me."

"That's all right," said the young lord. "Perhaps I may find an opening here. I'm looking out for a job. Possibly you may not be aware, Miss Windsor, that the porter's lodge, which I occupy at present, is my sole piece of property. I will send my card to Jawkins. By the way, does he conduct them in person?"

"Oh, yes. He comes on the first day to introduce them. Jawkins is a most amusing man. He is enormously rich and a great bon-vivant. He has a retinue of thoroughly trained servants whom he dispatches to his customers, and everything he supplies is in the most perfect taste. He has but one weakness: he loves a lord and is the sworn enemy of the new régime. Don't you look forward with interest to the feast to-night? I shall give you a professional beauty to take into dinner; and of course I shall go in with the man of the highest rank. But here we are," she said, as they reached the upper terrace in front of the house.

"What a superb dog you have, Miss Windsor. What is his name?" said Lord Brompton, gazing with admiration at the noble creature, who stood on the threshold, panting after his run.

"His name is Bayard."

"Ah, Miss Windsor, I perceive that you still recognize the glamour of a lordly title in the matter of naming your pets. The Chevalier Bayard smacks of royal prerogative."

"Pardon me; Bayard is named after an American statesman who was contemporary with my great-grandfather. But isn't he a beauty? He cost $1000. There is not another of his variety in the United States."

"I should like to go to America," said Lord Brompton, pensively, as he entered the familiar library now renovated by the taste of Jawkins. "My views have changed materially on many questions since we last met. I can see that things here are likely to be in a chaotic state for a long time to come, whereas your institutions have become permanent."

"But you ought to wish to remain and help your fellow-countrymen to better things, Lord Brompton. Look at that line of ancestors," she exclaimed. "You ought to do something worthy of them."

The ex-peer shook his head. "I have ambition, I think, thanks largely to my friendship with you two summers ago; but the outlook is very gloomy. England is in the hands of professional politicians. There is no chance for gentlemen in political life."

"But the King may come to his own again," she murmured, in pity for his mood. "Your title is unimpeached at his exiled court."

"I have doubts as to the desirability of a return to the old order of things, even if there were hopes of success. It is useless to fight against the spirit of the age. The King is old and fat."

"I saw the King riding in a herdic in Boston a few days before we sailed," said Maggie. "He was stopping at the old Province House. Poor sovereign, he looked destitute."

"He is very poor. What was saved from the wreck is in the hands of Bugbee, the London banker. The court has since been moved to the South End. But a monarchy is surely vastly preferable to our present administration. President Bagshaw is a disgrace to any civilized community, to say nothing of an ideal republic."

"There is the ancestor who looks like you," said she, pointing to the portrait of a cavalier wearing hat and plume and long mustaches. "But is there no hope from the opposition?" she inquired.

"I cannot yet bring myself to sympathize with the Liberals, although their leader, Richard Lincoln, is a great and upright man. While the King lives I can no more be disloyal to the House of Hanover than my namesake up there could have been to his master's cause. Still, I feel we are living in an age when opinions are no more secure from revolution than dynasties."

"Speaking just now of the Chevalier Bayard reminds me that Jawkins mentioned as one of the guests he had procured for the occasion—"

"Like so much plate or china," interrupted the quondam peer, bitterly.

"Sir John Dacre," continued Miss Windsor, without regard to his petulance.

"John Dacre?" he cried, with interest.

"Yes. Do you know him?"

"Know him! He was one of my dearest college friends. He is a man of the utmost dignity of soul and consummate breeding."

"Jawkins spoke of him with positive awe as a gentleman of the old school. 'He is a chevalier sans peur et sans reproche, miss,' said he, 'and one of my choicest specimens. He is more precious than Sèvres china; but at present he declines pay.'"

"St. George and the dragon!" cried Lord Brompton, "what would Dacre say could he hear the comparison? Jawkins's life would not be worth an hour's purchase. We regarded John Dacre at Oxford as the ideal of a chivalric nature."

"You interest me greatly," said she. "But what has he been doing since you graduated?"

"We have not met, but I have heard of him as loyal and devoted to the royal cause when the outlook was darkest. I shall find him the same noble, ardent soul as ever, I have not a doubt. Like enough his zeal will be the needful spur to my flagging spirit."

They had been wandering through the spacious mansion as they talked, but so absorbed were they in the conversation that the changes in the arrangement of the ancient heirlooms of the once illustrious house of Ripon made but little impression upon Lord Brompton. Weary at last with their wanderings the twain seated themselves upon a broad leather couch, from which they could command a view of a magnificent stained-glass mullioned window, which dated back to the days of George the First. The half light of the apartment was perhaps a begetter of remembrances, for they began to talk of the past, if indeed so short a period back as two summers deserves to be so entitled. Through Lord Brompton's thoughts floated an inquiry as to whether he was not in love with his companion, for, if not, why this joyous sense of re-acquisition on his part? He had never forgotten the pleasant, happy hours passed in La Belle France, and here they were come again, and he was visiting side by side with her whose smile had been their harbinger.

"But I am forgetting, Lord Brompton, the object of our coming here," she exclaimed at last. "I want to know the secrets of Ripon House. Where is the haunted chamber?"

Geoffrey smiled, and rising from his seat walked to the other side of the room and touched a spring in the wainscot. A panel flew to one side and revealed a narrow aperture.

"Follow me if you have a brave heart," he cried, looking back.

The apartment in which they were sitting was the library and this exit was a curious winding staircase, which gradually grew less dark as they proceeded. At last they found themselves in a sort of antechamber, scarcely large enough to turn about in, formed by a bay or projection. There was an oak seat with the Ripon arms carved on the back. Above it a tiny window, showing the great thickness of the wall, let in a few rays of light.

"Sit down—sh!" said Lord Brompton, and he put his finger to his lips and nodded toward a low door which was visible a few feet beyond. "It is there."

"Oh, this is delightful. Is it a real, genuine, ancestral ghost?"