G.K.Chesterton. The man who was Thursday. A nightmare

     To Edmund Clerihew Bentley

     A cloud was on the mind of men, and wailing went the weather,
     Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul when we were boys together.
     Science announced nonentity and art admired decay;
     The world was old and ended: but you and I were gay;
     Round us in antic order their crippled vices came--
     Lust that had lost its laughter, fear that had lost its shame.
     Like the white lock of Whistler, that lit our aimless gloom,
     Men showed their own white feather as proudly as a plume.
     Life was a fly that faded, and death a drone that stung;
     The world was very old indeed when you and I were young.
     They twisted even decent sin to shapes not to be named:
     Men were ashamed of honour; but we were not ashamed.
     Weak if we were and foolish, not thus we failed, not thus;
     When that black Baal blocked the heavens he had no hymns from us
     Children we were--our forts of sand were even as weak as eve,
     High as they went we piled them up to break that bitter sea.
     Fools as we were in motley, all jangling and absurd,
     When all church bells were silent our cap and beds were heard.

     Not all unhelped we held the fort, our tiny flags unfurled;
     Some giants laboured in that cloud to lift it from the world.
     I find again the book we found, I feel the hour that flings
     Far out of fish-shaped Paumanok some cry of cleaner things;
     And the Green Carnation withered, as in forest fires that pass,
     Roared in the wind of all the world ten million leaves of grass;
     Or sane and sweet and sudden as a bird sings in the rain--
     Truth out of Tusitala spoke and pleasure out of pain.
     Yea, cool and clear and sudden as a bird sings in the grey,
     Dunedin to Samoa spoke, and darkness unto day.
     But we were young; we lived to see God break their bitter charms.
     God and the good Republic come riding back in arms:
     We have seen the City of Mansoul, even as it rocked, relieved--
     Blessed are they who did not see, but being blind, believed.

     This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells,
     And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells--
     Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash,
     Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol flash.
     The doubts that were so plain to chase, so dreadful to withstand--
     Oh, who shall understand but you; yea, who shall understand?
     The doubts that drove us through the night as we two talked amain,
     And day had broken on the streets e'er it broke upon the brain.
     Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can now be told;
     Yea, there is strength in striking root and good in growing old.
     We have found common things at last and marriage and a creed,
     And I may safely write it now, and you may safely read.

           *G. K. C.*


     THE suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and
ragged as a cloud of  sunset. It was built of a bright brick throughout; its
sky-line was fantastic, and  even its ground plan was  wild. It had been the
outburst of  a speculative builder, faintly  tinged with art, who called its
architecture  sometimes  Elizabethan  and sometimes  Queen  Anne, apparently
under  the  impression  that  the  two  sovereigns  were  identical.  It was
described with  some justice as  an artistic colony, though it  never in any
definable  way produced  any  art.  But  although its pretensions to  be  an
intellectual centre were a little  vague, its  pretensions to be a  pleasant
place were quite indisputable. The stranger who looked for the first time at
the quaint red houses could only think how very oddly shaped the people must
be who could fit in to them. Nor when he met the people was  he disappointed
in this respect. The place was not  only pleasant, but perfect, if  once  he
could regard it not as a deception but rather as a dream. Even if the people
were not "artists," the whole was nevertheless artistic. That young man with
the long, auburn hair and the impudent face--  that young man was not really
a  poet; but surely he was a poem. That old  gentleman with  the wild, white
beard and  the  wild,  white  hat--that  venerable humbug  was not really  a
philosopher;  but at least he was the cause of  philosophy in  others.  That
scientific gentleman with the  bald, egg-like head and  the  bare, bird-like
neck had no real right to  the airs of  science that he assumed. He  had not
discovered  anything new  in  biology; but what biological creature could he
have  discovered more singular than himself?  Thus, and thus only, the whole
place had properly to be regarded; it had to be considered  not so much as a
workshop for  artists,  but as a  frail but finished work of art. A  man who
stepped into its social atmosphere felt as if he had stepped into  a written
     More especially this attractive unreality fell upon it about nightfall,
when  the  extravagant roofs  were dark against the afterglow and the  whole
insane  village seemed as separate as a drifting cloud. This  again was more
strongly true of the many nights of local festivity, when the little gardens
were often illuminated, and the big Chinese  lanterns glowed in the dwarfish
trees like some fierce and monstrous fruit. And this was strongest of all on
one particular  evening, still vaguely remembered in the  locality, of which
the  auburn-haired  poet was the  hero. It was  not  by  any means  the only
evening of which he was the hero. On many nights those passing by his little
back garden  might  hear his high, didactic voice laying down the law to men
and particularly  to women.  The  attitude of women in such cases was indeed
one  of  the  paradoxes of  the place. Most  of the  women  were of the kind
vaguely  called  emancipated,  and  professed  some   protest  against  male
supremacy. Yet  these new  women would  always pay to a  man the extravagant
compliment which no ordinary woman ever pays to him, that of listening while
he is talking. And  Mr. Lucian Gregory, the  red-haired poet, was really (in
some sense) a man worth listening to, even if one only laughed at the end of
it. He put the old cant of the lawlessness of art and the art of lawlessness
with a  certain impudent freshness which gave at least a momentary pleasure.
He  was helped  in  some degree by  the arresting oddity  of his appearance,
which he worked, as the phrase goes, for all it was worth. His dark red hair
parted  in the middle was literally like a woman's, and curved into the slow
curls of  a  virgin  in  a pre-Raphaelite picture.  From within this  almost
saintly  oval,  however,  his face projected suddenly broad  and brutal, the
chin  carried forward with a look of  cockney  contempt. This combination at
once tickled and  terrified  the nerves  of a neurotic population. He seemed
like a walking blasphemy, a blend of the angel and the ape.
     This particular evening, if it is remembered for  nothing else, will be
remembered in that  place for its strange sunset.  It looked like the end of
the world. All  the heaven  seemed  covered with a quite vivid  and palpable
plumage;  you  could only say  that  the sky  was  full of feathers,  and of
feathers that  almost brushed  the face. Across the great part  of the  dome
they  were  grey, with the  strangest tints  of  violet  and  mauve  and  an
unnatural pink  or  pale green;  but towards  the west the whole  grew  past
description, transparent and  passionate, and the  last red-hot plumes of it
covered up  the sun  like  something too good to be  seen. The whole  was so
close about the earth, as to express nothing but a violent secrecy. The very
empyrean seemed to  be a secret. It expressed that  splendid smallness which
is the soul of local patriotism. The very sky seemed small.
     I  say that there are some  inhabitants who may remember the evening if
only by that oppressive sky. There are others who may remember it because it
marked the first appearance in the place of the second poet of Saffron Park.
For a long time the red-haired revolutionary had reigned without a rival; it
was upon the  night of the sunset that his solitude suddenly ended. The  new
poet, who  introduced  himself by  the  name  of  Gabriel Syme  was  a  very
mild-looking mortal,  with a fair, pointed beard and faint, yellow hair. But
an impression  grew that he was less  meek than he looked. He signalised his
entrance by  differing with the  established poet,  Gregory,  upon the whole
nature of poetry. He  said that he (Syme) was poet  of law, a poet of order;
nay,  he said he was a poet  of respectability. So all  the  Saffron Parkers
looked at him as if he had that moment fallen out of that impossible sky.
     In  fact,  Mr.  Lucian Gregory, the anarchic  poet, connected  the  two
     "It may well be," he said, in  his sudden lyrical manner, "it may  well
be on such a night of clouds and cruel  colours that there is  brought forth
upon the earth such a portent as a respectable poet. You say  you are a poet
of law; I say you are a contradiction in terms. I only wonder there were not
comets and earthquakes on the night you appeared in this garden."
     The man with the meek  blue  eyes and the pale,  pointed  beard endured
these thunders with a certain submissive solemnity.  The third party of  the
group, Gregory's sister Rosamond,  who had her brother's braids of red hair,
but a kindlier face underneath them, laughed with such mixture of admiration
and disapproval as she gave commonly to the family oracle.
     Gregory resumed in high oratorical good humour.
     "An  artist  is  identical with  an anarchist," he  cried.  "You  might
transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist  is an artist. The man who throws
a bomb is  an artist, because he prefers a great  moment  to  everything. He
sees  how much  more valuable is  one burst of  blazing light, one  peal  of
perfect thunder, than  the mere common  bodies of a few shapeless policemen.
An artist  disregards  all governments, abolishes all  conventions. The poet
delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the
world would be the Underground Railway."
     "So it is," said Mr. Syme.
     "Nonsense!  " said  Gregory,  who  was  very rational when anyone  else
attempted paradox. "Why do all the clerks and navvies in the railway  trains
look so sad and tired, so very sad and tired? I will tell you. It is because
they know  that the train  is  going  right. It is  because they  know  that
whatever place they have taken a ticket for that place they will  reach.  It
is  because after they  have passed  Sloane Square they  know that the  next
station must be Victoria, and nothing but Victoria.  Oh, their wild rapture!
oh, their eyes like stars and their souls again in Eden, if the next station
were unaccountably Baker Street!"
     "It is you who are unpoetical," replied the poet Syme. "If what you say
of  clerks  is true, they can  only be as prosaic as your  poetry. The rare,
strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We
feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it
not also  epical when  man with one wild engine strikes  a  distant station?
Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker
Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his  whole magic is in this,
that  he does say Victoria,  and lo! it is Victoria.  No, take your books of
mere  poetry and prose; let me read  a time table, with tears of pride. Take
your Byron, who  commemorates  the  defeats of man; give  me  Bradshaw,  who
commemorates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say!"
     "Must you go?" inquired Gregory sarcastically.
     "I tell you," went on Syme with passion, "that every time a train comes
in I feel that it has broken past batteries of besiegers,  and that  man has
won a battle against chaos.  You say contemptuously that  when one has  left
Sloane Square one must come to Victoria. I say that one  might do a thousand
things instead,  and that whenever I  really come there I have  the sense of
hairbreadth escape. And when I hear the guard shout out the word 'Victoria,'
it  is not  an unmeaning word. It  is to me  the cry of a  herald announcing
conquest. It is to me indeed 'Victoria'; it is the victory of Adam."
     Gregory wagged his heavy, red head with a slow and sad smile.
     "And even then,"  he said, "we poets always ask the question, 'And what
is  Victoria now that you have got there ?'  You think  Victoria is like the
New Jerusalem. We  know that  the New Jerusalem will only  be like Victoria.
Yes, the  poet will be  discontented even in the streets of heaven. The poet
is always in revolt."
     "There again," said Syme irritably, "what is there poetical about being
in revolt ? You might as well say that it  is poetical to be sea-sick. Being
sick is a revolt. Both being sick and  being rebellious may be the wholesome
thing on  certain desperate occasions; but  I'm hanged if I can see why they
are poetical. Revolt in the abstract is--revolting. It's mere vomiting."
     The girl  winced for a flash at  the unpleasant word, but  Syme was too
hot to heed her.
     "It  is  things  going  right,"  he cried,  "that  is  poetical  I  Our
digestions, for  instance,  going sacredly and  silently right,  that is the
foundation of all  poetry. Yes, the most poetical thing, more poetical  than
the flowers,  more poetical than the stars-- the  most poetical thing in the
world is not being sick."
     "Really," said Gregory superciliously, "the examples you choose--"
     "I beg your pardon," said  Syme grimly, "I  forgot we had abolished all
     For the first time a red patch appeared on Gregory's forehead.
     "You don't expect me,"  he said, "to revolutionise society on this lawn
     Syme looked straight into his eyes and smiled sweetly.
     "No, I don't,"  he said; "but I suppose that if you were serious  about
your anarchism, that is exactly what you would do."
     Gregory's big bull's eyes blinked suddenly like those of an angry lion,
and one could almost fancy that his red mane rose.
     "Don't  you think, then,"  he said  in a  dangerous voice,  "that I  am
serious about my anarchism?"
     "I beg your pardon ?" said Syme.
     "Am I  not serious about my anarchism ?" cried  Gregory,  with  knotted
     "My dear fellow!" said Syme, and strolled away.
     With surprise,  but with a curious pleasure, he found  Rosamond Gregory
still in his company.
     "Mr. Syme," she  said, "do the people who talk like you and my  brother
often mean what they say ? Do you mean what you say now ?"
     Syme smiled.
     "Do you ?" he asked.
     "What do you mean ?" asked the girl, with grave eyes.
     "My dear Miss  Gregory,"  said Syme gently,  "there  are many  kinds of
sincerity and insincerity. When  you  say 'thank  you' for the salt,  do you
mean what  you say ? No. When you say 'the world is round,' do you mean what
you say ?  No. It is true,  but you don't mean it. Now, sometimes a man like
your brother really finds a thing he does mean. It may be only a half-truth,
quarter-truth, tenth-truth; but  then he says more than he means--from sheer
force of meaning it."
     She was looking at him  from under level brows; her  face was grave and
open,  and  there  had  fallen  upon  it  the  shadow  of  that  unreasoning
responsibility  which is  at the  bottom of the  most  frivolous woman,  the
maternal watch which is as old as the world.
     "Is he really an anarchist, then?" she asked.
     "Only in that sense I speak of," replied Syme; "or if you prefer it, in
that nonsense."
     She drew her broad brows together and said abruptly--
     "He wouldn't really use--bombs or that sort of thing?"
     Syme broke into a great laugh, that seemed too large for his slight and
somewhat dandified figure.
     "Good Lord, no!" he said, "that has to be done anonymously."
     And at that the  corners  of her own mouth broke into a smile, and  she
thought with  a simultaneous  pleasure  of  Gregory's absurdity  and of  his
     Syme  strolled with  her  to a seat in  the corner of  the garden,  and
continued to pour out his  opinions. For  he was a sincere man, and in spite
of his superficial airs  and graces, at root a humble  one. And it is always
the humble  man who  talks too  much;  the  proud  man watches  himself  too
closely. He defended  respectability with violence and exaggeration. He grew
passionate in his praise of tidiness and propriety. All the time there was a
smell  of lilac all round him.  Once he  heard  very faintly in some distant
street a barrel-organ begin to  play, and it seemed  to him that his  heroic
words were moving to a tiny tune from under or beyond the world.
     He stared  and  talked at the girl's red hair and  amused face for what
seemed  to  be a  few minutes; and  then, feeling that  the groups in such a
place should mix, rose to his feet. To his  astonishment, he  discovered the
whole garden empty. Everyone  had gone  long ago, and he went himself with a
rather hurried apology. He left with a sense of champagne in his head, which
he could  not afterwards explain. In the  wild events  which were to  follow
this girl had no part at all; he never saw her again until all his tale  was
over. And yet, in some indescribable way, she  kept  recurring like a motive
in music through all  his mad  adventures afterwards,  and the glory of  her
strange  hair  ran  like  a  red  thread through those  dark  and  ill-drawn
tapestries of the  night. For what followed was so improbable, that it might
well have been a dream.
     When Syme went out  into the starlit street, he found it for the moment
empty.  Then  he  realised (in some  odd way) that the silence  was rather a
living  silence than a  dead one. Directly outside the  door  stood a street
lamp, whose gleam gilded the leaves of the tree that bent out over the fence
behind him. About a foot from the  lamp-post stood  a figure almost as rigid
and motionless as  the lamp-post itself.  The  tall  hat and long frock coat
were black; the face, in an abrupt shadow, was almost as dark. Only a fringe
of fiery hair  against  the light, and  also  something  aggressive  in  the
attitude, proclaimed that it was  the poet Gregory. He had  something of the
look of a masked bravo waiting sword in hand for his foe.
     He made  a sort of  doubtful salute, which Syme somewhat  more formally
     "I was  waiting  for  you," said  Gregory.  "Might I  have  a  moment's
     "Certainly. About what?" asked Syme in a sort of weak wonder.
     Gregory struck  out with his  stick at the lamp-post,  and then at  the
tree. "About  this and this,"  he cried; "about order  and anarchy. There is
your precious  order, that  lean, iron lamp,  ugly and barren; and  there is
anarchy, rich,  living, reproducing itself--there  is anarchy,  splendid  in
green and gold."
     "All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at  present you  only see
the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp
by the light of the tree." Then after a pause he said, "But may I ask if you
have been standing out here in the dark only to resume our little argument?"
     "No," cried out Gregory, in a voice that rang down the  street, "I  did
not stand here to resume our argument, but to end it for ever."
     The silence  fell  again,  and  Syme,  though  he  understood  nothing,
listened instinctively  for  something  serious. Gregory  began in  a smooth
voice and with a rather bewildering smile.
     "Mr.  Syme,"  he said, "this evening you succeeded  in doing  something
rather remarkable. You did something  to  me  that no  man born of woman has
ever succeeded in doing before."
     "Now  I  remember,"  resumed Gregory  reflectively, "one  other  person
succeeded  in  doing it. The  captain of  a penny  steamer  (if  I  remember
correctly) at Southend. You have irritated me."
     "I am very sorry," replied Syme with gravity.
     "I am afraid  my fury and your insult are  too shocking to be wiped out
even with an apology," said Gregory very calmly. "No duel could wipe it out.
If I struck you dead I could not wipe it out. There is only one way by which
that  insult  can be  erased,  and that way  I choose. I  am going,  at  the
possible sacrifice  of  my life and honour,  to prove to  you  that you were
wrong in what you said."
     "In what I said?"
     "You said I was not serious about being an anarchist."
     "There are degrees of seriousness," replied Syme. "I have never doubted
that you  were  perfectly  sincere in  this sense, that you thought what you
said well worth saying,  that you thought a  paradox might  wake men up to a
neglected truth."
     Gregory stared at him steadily and painfully.
     "And in no other sense," he asked, "you think me serious? You  think me
a flaneur  who lets  fall occasional  truths.  You do not  think  that in  a
deeper, a more deadly sense, I am serious."
     Syme struck his stick violently on the stones of the road.
     "Serious! " he cried.  "Good Lord!  is this  street  serious? Are these
damned  Chinese lanterns  serious? Is the  whole caboodle serious? One comes
here and talks a pack of bosh, and perhaps  some sense as well, but I should
think very  little of  a  man who didn't keep something in the background of
his  life that  was  more  serious  than all  this talking-- something  more
serious, whether it was religion or only drink."
     "Very well," said Gregory, his face darkening, "you shall see something
more serious than either drink or religion."
     Syme  stood  waiting with his usual air of mildness until Gregory again
opened his lips.
     "You spoke just  now of having a religion. Is  it really  true that you
have one?"
     "Oh," said Syme with a beaming smile, "we are all Catholics now."
     "Then may I ask you to swear by  whatever gods or saints  your religion
involves that you will not reveal what I am now going to tell you to any son
of Adam, and especially not to the police? Will you  swear that! If you will
take upon yourself this awful abnegations if you will consent to burden your
soul  with a vow that you should never make and a knowledge you should never
dream about, I will promise you in return--"
     "You will promise me in return?" inquired Syme, as the other paused.
     "I will promise you  a very  entertaining evening." Syme  suddenly took
off his hat.
     "Your offer," he said, "is far too idiotic to be declined. You say that
a poet is  always an  anarchist. I  disagree; but I hope at least that he is
always a sportsman. Permit  me, here and now, to swear  as a Christian,  and
promise  as  a  good  comrade  and a fellow-artist, that I  will not  report
anything of  this, whatever it is,  to the police.  And  now, in the name of
Colney Hatch, what is it?"
     "I think," said Gregory, with placid irrelevancy, "that we will call  a
     He gave two long  whistles, and a hansom came rattling down  the  road.
The two got into it in silence. Gregory gave through the trap the address of
an obscure public-house on the Chiswick bank of  the river. The  cab whisked
itself  away  again, and in  it these two fantastics quitted their fantastic


     THE cab pulled up  before  a  particularly dreary and greasy  beershop,
into which Gregory rapidly  conducted his companion. They  seated themselves
in a close and dim  sort of bar-parlour, at a stained  wooden table with one
wooden leg. The room was so small and dark, that very little  could be  seen
of  the  attendant who was summoned, beyond  a vague and dark  impression of
something bulky and bearded.
     "Will you take a little supper?" asked Gregory politely.  "The  pate de
foie gras is not good here, but I can recommend the game."
     Syme received  the remark with stolidity, imagining  it  to be  a joke.
Accepting the vein of humour, he said, with a well-bred indifference--
     "Oh, bring me some lobster mayonnaise."
     To  his indescribable astonishment, the man only said "Certainly, sir!"
and went away apparently to get it.
     "What  will you drink?"  resumed  Gregory, with  the same  careless yet
apologetic air. "I shall only have a  crepe de menthe myself; I have  dined.
But  the champagne can  really  be  trusted.  Do  let  me start  you  with a
half-bottle of Pommery at least?"
     "Thank you!" said the motionless Syme. "You are very good."
     His  further  attempts   at   conversation,  somewhat  disorganised  in
themselves,  were  cut  short  finally as  by a thunderbolt  by  the  actual
appearance of the  lobster. Syme tasted it, and found  it particularly good.
Then he suddenly began to eat with great rapidity and appetite.
     "Excuse me if I  enjoy myself  rather  obviously!" he said to  Gregory,
smiling. "I  don't often have  the luck to have a dream like this. It is new
to me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is commonly the other way."
     "You  are not asleep, I assure you,"  said  Gregory. "You  are,  on the
contrary, close to the most actual and rousing moment of your existence. Ah,
here comes your champagne! I admit that there may be a slight disproportion,
let us say, between the  inner arrangements of this excellent hotel and  its
simple and unpretentious  exterior. But that is all our modesty. We are  the
most modest men that ever lived on earth."
     "And who are we?" asked Syme, emptying his champagne glass.
     "It is quite simple," replied Gregory. "We are the serious  anarchists,
in whom you do not believe."
     "Oh!" said Syme shortly. "You do yourselves well in drinks."
     "Yes, we are serious about everything," answered Gregory.
     Then after a pause he added--
     "If in a  few  moments this table begins to turn round  a little, don't
put  it down  to  your inroads into the  champagne.  I don't wish you to  do
yourself an injustice."
     "Well, if I am not drunk,  I am mad,"  replied  Syme with perfect calm;
"but  I  trust  I can behave  like  a  gentleman  in either condition. May I
     "Certainly!" said Gregory, producing a cigar-case. "Try one of mine."
     Syme took the cigar, clipped the end off with a cigar-cutter out of his
waistcoat pocket, put it in  his mouth, lit it slowly, and  let  out  a long
cloud  of smoke. It is not a  little to his credit that he  performed  these
rites with so much composure, for almost before he had  begun them the table
at which he sat had begun to revolve, first  slowly, and then rapidly, as if
at an insane seance.
     "You must not mind it," said Gregory; "it's a kind of screw."
     "Quite so," said Syme placidly, "a kind of screw. How simple that is!"
     The next moment the smoke of his cigar,  which had been wavering across
the room in snaky twists, went straight up as if from a factory chimney, and
the two, with their chairs and table, shot down through  the floor as if the
earth  had swallowed them. They went rattling down a kind of roaring chimney
as rapidly  as a lift cut loose,  and they came with an  abrupt bump  to the
bottom.  But  when Gregory  threw  open  a pair of doors  and let  in a  red
subterranean  light, Syme  was  still  smoking with one leg thrown  over the
other, and had not turned a yellow hair.
     Gregory led  him down a  low, vaulted passage, at the end of  which was
the  red light. It was an  enormous  crimson lantern,  nearly as  big  as  a
fireplace, fixed over  a small but heavy  iron door. In the door there was a
sort of hatchway or grating,  and on this Gregory struck five times. A heavy
voice with a  foreign accent asked  him who he was. To this he gave the more
or less  unexpected  reply, "Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." The heavy hinges began
to move; it was obviously some kind of password.
     Inside  the  doorway the passage  gleamed  as if  it were  lined with a
network of steel. On a  second glance, Syme  saw that the glittering pattern
was really  made up  of  ranks  and ranks  of rifles and revolvers,  closely
packed or interlocked.
     "I must ask you to forgive me all these formalities," said Gregory; "we
have to be very strict here."
     "Oh, don't apologise," said  Syme.  "I  know your passion for  law  and
order,"  and he stepped into the passage lined with the  steel weapons. With
his  long, fair hair  and rather foppish frock-coat, he looked  a singularly
frail and fanciful figure as he walked down that shining avenue of death.
     They passed through several such passages, and  came out at last into a
queer  steel chamber with curved  walls,  almost  spherical  in  shape,  but
presenting,  with its tiers of benches,  something  of  the appearance of  a
scientific  lecture-theatre.  There  were  no  rifles  or  pistols  in  this
apartment,  but  round the walls  of it were hung more dubious and  dreadful
shapes,  things that looked like the bulbs of iron plants,  or  the  eggs of
iron birds. They were bombs, and the very room itself seemed like the inside
of a bomb. Syme knocked his cigar ash off against the wall, and went in.
     "And  now,  my dear  Mr. Syme,"  said  Gregory,  throwing himself in an
expansive manner on  the  bench under  the largest bomb, "now  we are  quite
cosy, so let us talk properly. Now no human words can give you any notion of
why I brought you here. It was one of those quite  arbitrary emotions,  like
jumping off a cliff  or falling in love. Suffice it  to say that you were an
inexpressibly irritating  fellow,  and, to do you justice, you  are still. I
would break twenty oaths of secrecy  for  the pleasure of taking you  down a
peg.  That way you have of  lighting  a cigar would make a  priest break the
seal of confession. Well,  you said that you were quite certain  I was not a
serious anarchist. Does this place strike you as being serious?"
     "It does  seem  to have a moral under  all its gaiety," assented  Syme;
"but may I ask you two questions? You need not fear to give me  information,
because, as you remember, you  very wisely extorted from me a promise not to
tell  the  police,  a promise I shall  certainly keep.  So  it  is  in  mere
curiosity that I make my queries. First of all, what is it really all about?
What is it you object to? You want to abolish Government?"
     "To  abolish God!" said  Gregory, opening the eyes of a fanatic. "We do
not only want to upset a few despotisms and police regulations; that sort of
anarchism does exist, but it is a mere  branch of the Nonconformists. We dig
deeper  and  we  blow  you  higher.  We  wish to  deny all  those  arbitrary
distinctions of  vice  and  virtue, honour and  treachery,  upon which  mere
rebels base themselves. The  silly sentimentalists of  the French Revolution
talked  of the Rights  of Man! We hate Rights as  we  hate Wrongs.  We  have
abolished Right and Wrong."
     "And  Right and Left," said  Syme with a simple eagerness, "I hope  you
will abolish them too. They are much more troublesome to me."
     "You spoke of a second question," snapped Gregory.
     "With  pleasure,"  resumed  Syme.  "In   all  your   present  acts  and
surroundings  there  is a scientific  attempt at secrecy. I have an aunt who
lived over  a  shop, but this is  the first time  I have found people living
from preference under a public-house. You have a heavy iron door. You cannot
pass  it  without submitting  to  the humiliation  of  calling yourself  Mr.
Chamberlain. You  surround yourself  with  steel  instruments which make the
place, if I  may say so, more impressive than homelike. May I ask why, after
taking  all this trouble to barricade yourselves in the bowels of the earth,
you then parade your whole secret by talking  about anarchism to every silly
woman in Saffron Park?"
     Gregory smiled.
     "The answer is simple," he said. "I told you I was a serious anarchist,
and  you did not believe me. Nor do they believe me. Unless I took them into
this infernal room they would not believe me."
     Syme smoked thoughtfully, and looked at him with interest. Gregory went
     "The history of the  thing might amuse  you," he  said. "When  first  I
became one of the New Anarchists I tried all kinds of respectable disguises.
I dressed up  as  a  bishop. I  read  up all about  bishops in our anarchist
pamphlets,  in  Superstition  the  Vampire and Priests of  Prey. I certainly
understood from them that bishops are strange and terrible old men keeping a
cruel secret from mankind. I was misinformed. When  on my first appearing in
episcopal gaiters in  a  drawing-room I cried out  in  a  voice of  thunder,
'Down! down! presumptuous human reason!' they found out  in  some way that I
was not  a  bishop  at all.  I  was  nabbed at once.  Then  I made  up  as a
millionaire; but I defended  Capital  with  so much intelligence that a fool
could  see that I  was quite  poor. Then I tried  being a major. Now I am  a
humanitarian myself, but I have,  I  hope,  enough intellectual  breadth  to
understand the position of  those who, like Nietzsche, admire violence-- the
proud, mad war  of Nature and all  that, you know.  I threw myself  into the
major.  I drew my sword  and  waved  it constantly.  I  called out  'Blood!'
abstractedly,  like a  man calling  for  wine. I often said, 'Let  the  weak
perish;  it  is the Law.' Well, well, it  seems majors don't do  this. I was
nabbed  again.  At  last I went in despair to  the President of the  Central
Anarchist Council, who is the greatest man in Europe."
     "What is his name?" asked Syme.
     "You  would not know it,"  answered  Gregory.  "That is his  greatness.
Caesar and Napoleon put all their genius into being heard of,  and they were
heard of.  He puts  all his genius  into not being  heard of,  and he is not
heard  of. But  you cannot be for five minutes in  the room with him without
feeling that Caesar and Napoleon would have been children in his hands."
     He was silent and even pale for a moment, and then resumed--
     "But whenever he gives advice it is always something as startling as an
epigram, and yet as  practical as the Bank of England. I said  to him, 'What
disguise will hide me from the world? What can I find  more respectable than
bishops and majors?' He looked at me with his large but indecipherable face.
'You want a safe disguise, do you? You want a dress which will guarantee you
harmless;  a dress in which no one would ever look for a bomb?' I nodded. He
suddenly lifted  his lion's voice. 'Why, then, dress up as an anarchist, you
fool!'  he roared so that the room shook. 'Nobody will ever expect you to do
anything dangerous then.' And he turned his broad back on me without another
word. I took his advice, and  have never regretted it.  I preached blood and
murder to those women day and night, and--by God!-- they would let  me wheel
their perambulators."
     Syme sat watching him with some respect in his large, blue eyes.
     "You took me in," he said. "It is really a smart dodge."
     Then after a pause he added--
     "What do you call this tremendous President of yours?"
     "We generally call him Sunday,"  replied Gregory  with simplicity. 'You
see, there are seven members of  the Central Anarchist Council, and they are
named after days  of the week. He is called Sunday, by some of  his admirers
Bloody Sunday. It is curious you should mention the matter, because the very
night you have dropped in (if I may so express it) is the night on which our
London branch, which assembles in this room, has to  elect its own deputy to
fill  a  vacancy in the  Council.  The gentleman who has for some  time past
played, with propriety and general applause, the difficult part of Thursday,
has died  quite suddenly.  Consequently, we  have called a meeting this very
evening to elect a successor."
     He  got to his feet and strolled across the room with a sort of smiling
     "I feel somehow as if you were my mother, Syme," he continued casually.
"I feel that I  can confide anything to  you, as you  have  promised to tell
nobody. In fact, I will confide to you something  that I would not say in so
many words to the anarchists  who  will  be coming to the room in about  ten
minutes. We  shall,  of course, go through a form  of  election; but I don't
mind telling you that it is practically certain what the result will be." He
looked  down for  a moment modestly. "It is almost a settled thing that I am
to be Thursday."
     "My dear  fellow."  said Syme  heartily, "I congratulate you.  A  great
     Gregory smiled in  deprecation,  and  walked across  the  room, talking
     "As  a matter of  fact, everything is ready for me on  this table,"  he
said, "and the ceremony will probably be the shortest possible."
     Syme also  strolled  across to the  table, and found  lying across it a
walking-stick, which turned out on  examination to be a sword-stick, a large
Colt's revolver, a sandwich case, and a formidable flask of brandy. Over the
chair, beside the table, was thrown a heavy-looking cape or cloak.
     "I have only  to get the form of election  finished," continued Gregory
with  animation, "then  I snatch up this cloak  and stick, stuff these other
things into my pocket, step out of a door in this cavern, which opens on the
river,  where   there   is  a  steam-tug  already  waiting   for   me,   and
then--then--oh, the wild joy of being Thursday!" And he clasped his hands.
     Syme, who had sat down once more with his usual  insolent languor,  got
to his feet with an unusual air of hesitation.
     "Why is  it,"  he asked vaguely, "that I think you  are quite  a decent
fellow? Why do I positively like you, Gregory?" He paused a moment, and then
added with a sort of fresh curiosity, "Is it because you are such an ass?"
     There was a thoughtful silence again, and then he cried out--
     "Well, damn it all!  this is the funniest situation I have ever been in
in my life, and I am going to act accordingly. Gregory, I gave you a promise
before I  came  into this place. That  promise  I  would keep  under red-hot
pincers. Would you give me, for my own safety, a little promise  of the same
kind? "
     "A promise?" asked Gregory, wondering.
     "Yes," said Syme very seriously, "a promise. I swore before God  that I
would not tell your secret to the police.  Will you swear  by  Humanity,  or
whatever beastly thing  you believe in,  that you will not tell my secret to
the anarchists?"
     "Your secret?" asked the staring Gregory. "Have you got a secret?"
     "Yes,"  said  Syme,  "I have a secret." Then after a pause,  "Will  you
     Gregory  glared  at  him  gravely  for  a few  moments,  and then  said
     "You must have bewitched me, but I feel  a furious curiosity about you.
Yes, I will swear not to tell the anarchists anything  you tell me. But look
sharp, for they will be here in a couple of minutes."
     Syme rose slowly to his feet and thrust his  long, white hands into his
long, grey trousers' pockets. Almost as he did so  there came five knocks on
the outer grating, proclaiming the arrival of the first of the conspirators.
     "Well," said Syme slowly, "I don't know how to tell you  the truth more
shortly than by saying that your expedient of dressing up as an aimless poet
is not confined to you or your President.  We have known the dodge  for some
time at Scotland Yard."
     Gregory tried to spring up straight, but he swayed thrice.
     "What do you say?" he asked in an inhuman voice.
     "Yes," said Syme simply,  "I am a police detective. But I  think I hear
your friends coming."
     From  the doorway  there came a murmur  of "Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." It
was  repeated  twice and  thrice, and then  thirty times,  and the  crowd of
Joseph Chamberlains (a solemn thought)  could be heard  trampling  down  the


     BEFORE one of the fresh faces could  appear  at  the doorway, Gregory's
stunned surprise had fallen  from him. He was beside the table with a bound,
and  a  noise in his  throat  like  a wild  beast.  He caught  up the Colt's
revolver and took aim at Syme. Syme did not flinch, but he put up a pale and
polite hand.
     "Don't be such a silly man," he said, with the  effeminate dignity of a
curate. "Don't you see it's not necessary? Don't you see  that we're both in
the same boat? Yes, and jolly sea-sick."
     Gregory could not speak, but he could not fire  either,  and he  looked
his question.
     "Don't you see we've checkmated each other?" cried Syme. "I can't  tell
the  police  you are  an  anarchist.  You can't  tell  the anarchists  I'm a
policeman. I can  only watch you, knowing  what you  are; you can only watch
me,  knowing what I am. In short,  it's a lonely, intellectual duel, my head
against yours. I'm a policeman deprived of the help of the  police.  You, my
poor  fellow,  are  an  anarchist  deprived  of  the  help  of that  law and
organisation which  is so essential to anarchy. The  one solitary difference
is  in your favour. You are not  surrounded  by inquisitive policemen; I  am
surrounded by inquisitive  anarchists.  I cannot betray  you,  but  I  might
betray myself. Come, come! wait and see me betray myself. I  shall  do it so
     Gregory put the pistol slowly down, still staring at Syme as if he were
a sea-monster.
     "I don't believe in immortality," he  said at  last, "but if, after all
this, you were to break your word, God would make a hell  only  for  you, to
howl in for ever."
     "I  shall  not break my word," said  Syme  sternly, "nor will you break
yours. Here are your friends."
     The mass of the anarchists entered the room heavily,  with  a slouching
and  somewhat  weary  gait;  but  one little  man,  with a black  beard  and
glasses-- a man somewhat of the type of Mr. Tim Healy--detached himself, and
bustled forward with some papers in his hand.
     "Comrade Gregory," he said, "I suppose this man is a delegate?"
     Gregory, taken by surprise, looked  down and muttered the name of Syme;
but Syme replied almost pertly--
     "I am glad to see that your gate is well enough guarded to make it hard
for anyone to be here who was not a delegate."
     The brow  of  the little man with the black beard  was,  however, still
contracted with something like suspicion.
     "What branch do you represent?" he asked sharply.
     "I should hardly call it a branch," said Syme, laughing; "I should call
it at the very least a root."
     "What do you mean?"
     "The  fact is," said Syme serenely, "the truth is I am a Sabbatarian. I
have been  specially sent here  to see  that  you  show a due  observance of
     The little man dropped one of his papers, and a flicker  of  fear  went
over all the faces of  the group. Evidently  the awful President, whose name
was  Sunday,  did sometimes send down  such  irregular ambassadors  to  such
branch meetings.
     "Well, comrade," said the man with the papers after a pause, "I suppose
we'd better give you a seat in the meeting?"
     "If you ask my advice  as a friend," said Syme with severe benevolence,
"I think you'd better."
     When Gregory heard the dangerous dialogue end, with a sudden safety for
his rival, he rose abruptly and paced the floor in painful thought.  He was,
indeed, in  an  agony  of  diplomacy. It  was  clear  that  Syme's  inspired
impudence  was  likely to bring him out of all  merely accidental  dilemmas.
Little  was to be hoped from them.  He could not himself betray Syme, partly
from honour, but partly also because, if he betrayed him and for some reason
failed to destroy him, the Syme who escaped would  be a Syme freed  from all
obligation of secrecy, a Syme who  would simply  walk  to the nearest police
station.  After  all,  it  was  only  one  night's  discussion, and only one
detective  who would know of  it. He would  let out as little as possible of
their plans that night, and then let Syme go, and chance it.
     He  strode  across  to  the  group  of anarchists,  which  was  already
distributing itself along the benches.
     "I  think it is time  we began,"  he said; "the steam-tug is waiting on
the river already. I move that Comrade Buttons takes the chair."
     This being approved  by a show of hands, the little man with the papers
slipped into the presidential seat.
     "Comrades,"  he began, as sharp as a pistol-shot, "our meeting to-night
is important,  though  it  need not  be long. This branch has always had the
honour of  electing Thursdays for  the  Central European  Council.  We  have
elected many  and  splendid Thursdays. We all lament the sad decease  of the
heroic worker  who occupied the  post  until last  week.  As  you know,  his
services  to  the cause were considerable. He  organised the great  dynamite
coup of Brighton which,  under happier  circumstances,  ought to have killed
everybody  on  the pier. As you also  know, his death was as self-denying as
his  life, for he died through  his faith in a hygienic mixture of chalk and
water as a substitute for milk, which beverage  he regarded as barbaric, and
as  involving  cruelty  to  the  cow.  Cruelty,  or  anything approaching to
cruelty, revolted him always. But it is not  to acclaim his  virtues that we
are  met, but  for a  harder task. It  is  difficult properly  to praise his
qualities, but it is more  difficult to replace them. Upon you, comrades, it
devolves this evening to choose out of the company present the man who shall
be Thursday. If any comrade suggests a name I will put it to the vote. If no
comrade suggests a name, I can only  tell  myself  that that dear dynamiter,
who is gone from us, has carried into the unknowable abysses the last secret
of his virtue and his innocence."
     There  was a  stir  of almost inaudible applause,  such as is sometimes
heard in  church.  Then  a  large  old man, with a  long and venerable white
beard, perhaps  the  only real  working-man  present, rose  lumberingly  and
     "I  move that Comrade Gregory be elected Thursday," and sat lumberingly
down again.
     "Does anyone second?" asked the chairman.
     A little man with a velvet coat and pointed beard seconded.
     "Before I put the matter to the vote," said the chairman, "I will  call
on Comrade Gregory to make a statement."
     Gregory rose amid a great rumble of applause. His face was deadly pale,
so that by contrast his  queer  red  hair looked  almost scarlet. But he was
smiling and altogether at ease. He had made up his mind, and he saw his best
policy quite plain in front of him like a white road. His best chance was to
make a softened and ambiguous speech, such as would leave on the detective's
mind the  impression that the anarchist  brotherhood was a very  mild affair
after  all.  He  believed  in  his own  literary  power,  his  capacity  for
suggesting fine shades  and picking perfect words. He thought that with care
he could succeed, in spite of  all the  people around him, in  conveying  an
impression  of the institution, subtly and delicately  false. Syme had  once
thought  that  anarchists,  under  all their bravado, were only playing  the
fool. Could he not now, in the hour of peril, make Syme think so again?
     "Comrades," began Gregory, in  a low  but penetrating voice, "it is not
necessary for  me to tell you what is my policy, for it is your policy also.
Our belief has been slandered, it has been disfigured,  it has been  utterly
confused and concealed, but it has never been altered. Those  who talk about
anarchism  and  its  dangers   go  everywhere  and  anywhere  to  get  their
information, except to us, except to the  fountain head.  They  learn  about
anarchists  from  sixpenny  novels;   they   learn  about   anarchists  from
tradesmen's  newspapers;  they  learn  about  anarchists  from Ally Sloper's
Half-Holiday and the Sporting Times.  They never learn about anarchists from
anarchists.  We have no chance of denying the mountainous slanders which are
heaped  upon our heads from one end of  Europe to another.  The man who  has
always heard that we are walking plagues has  never heard our reply.  I know
that he  will not  hear it tonight, though my passion were to rend the roof.
For it  is deep,  deep under  the earth that the persecuted are permitted to
assemble, as the Christians assembled  in the  Catacombs. But  if,  by  some
incredible  accident, there were  here  to-night a  man who all his life had
thus immensely misunderstood us,  I  would  put this question to him:  'When
those  Christians met in those Catacombs, what sort  of moral reputation had
they in the streets  above? What tales were told of their atrocities by  one
educated Roman to another? Suppose'  (I would say to him),  'suppose that we
are only repeating that still mysterious paradox of history. Suppose we seem
as  shocking as the  Christians  because we are  really as  harmless  as the
Christians.  Suppose  we seem as mad as the Christians because we are really
as meek."'
     The applause that  had greeted the opening sentences had been gradually
growing fainter, and at  the last word  it stopped  suddenly. In  the abrupt
silence, the man with the velvet jacket said, in a high, squeaky voice--
     "I'm not meek!"
     "Comrade Witherspoon tells us," resumed Gregory,  "that he is not meek.
Ah,  how little he knows  himself! His words  are, indeed, extravagant;  his
appearance  is ferocious, and  even (to an ordinary taste) unattractive. But
only the eye of a friendship as deep  and  delicate as mine can perceive the
deep foundation  of  solid meekness which lies at  the base of him, too deep
even  for himself to  see. I repeat, we are  the true early Christians, only
that  we come  too  late. We  are  simple, as  they  revere simple-- look at
Comrade Witherspoon. We are  modest, as they were modest--look at me. We are
     "No, no!" called out Mr. Witherspoon with the velvet jacket.
     "I  say we  are merciful,"  repeated Gregory  furiously,  "as the early
Christians were merciful. Yet  this did  not prevent  their being accused of
eating human flesh. We do not eat human flesh--"
     "Shame!" cried Witherspoon. "Why not?"
     "Comrade  Witherspoon,"  said  Gregory,  with  a feverish  gaiety,  "is
anxious to know why nobody eats him (laughter). In our society, at any rate,
which loves him sincerely, which is founded upon love--"
     "No, no!" said Witherspoon, "down with love."
     "Which  is founded upon love,"  repeated  Gregory,  grinding his teeth,
"there will be no difficulty about the aims which we shall pursue as a body,
or which I should pursue were I chosen  as the representative of  that body.
Superbly careless of the slanders that represent us as assassins and enemies
of human society, we shall pursue with moral courage  and quiet intellectual
pressure, the permanent ideals of brotherhood and simplicity."
     Gregory resumed his  seat and passed  his hand across his forehead. The
silence was sudden and awkward, but the chairman rose like an automaton, and
said in a colourless voice--
     "Does anyone oppose the election of Comrade Gregory?"
     The assembly seemed vague and sub-consciously disappointed, and Comrade
Witherspoon moved restlessly on his seat and muttered in his thick beard. By
the  sheer  rush of routine, however,  the  motion would  have  been put and
carried. But as the chairman was opening his mouth to put it, Syme sprang to
his feet and said in a small and quiet voice--
     "Yes, Mr. Chairman, I oppose."
     The most  effective  fact in  oratory  is  an unexpected change in  the
voice.  Mr. Gabriel  Syme evidently understood  oratory.  Having said  these
first formal words in a moderated tone and  with a brief simplicity, he made
his  next word ring  and volley in the vault as  if one of the guns had gone
     "Comrades!" he cried, in  a  voice that  made every man jump out of his
boots, "have we come  here  for this? Do we  live underground like  rats  in
order to listen to talk  like  this? This is talk we might  listen  to while
eating buns at a Sunday School  treat. Do  we line these walls  with weapons
and bar  that  door  with  death lest  anyone should come and  hear  Comrade
Gregory saying to us, 'Be good, and you will be happy,' 'Honesty is the best
policy,'  and 'Virtue  is its own reward'?  There was not a word  in Comrade
Gregory's  address to which a  curate could  not have listened with pleasure
(hear, hear).  But I am not a curate (loud cheers), and I did  not listen to
it  with pleasure  (renewed cheers). The man  who  is fitted to  make a good
curate is not  fitted to make a  resolute,  forcible, and efficient Thursday
(hear, hear)."
     "Comrade  Gregory  has told us, in only  too apologetic a tone, that we
are not  the  enemies of society.  But  I  say that  we are  the  enemies of
society, and so much the worse for  society. We are the enemies of  society,
for society is the enemy of humanity, its oldest and its most pitiless enemy
(hear, hear). Comrade Gregory has told us (apologetically again) that we are
not  murderers. There  I  agree. We are not  murderers, we are  executioners
     Ever since  Syme  had risen Gregory  had sat  staring at him,  his face
idiotic with astonishment. Now in the pause his lips of clay parted,  and he
said, with an automatic and lifeless distinctness--
     "You damnable hypocrite!"
     Syme looked  straight  into those frightful eyes with his own pale blue
ones, and said with dignity--
     "Comrade Gregory accuses me of hypocrisy. He knows as well as I do that
I  am keeping all my  engagements and  doing  nothing but my duty.  I do not
mince words. I do  not pretend to. I say that Comrade Gregory is unfit to be
Thursday for  all his amiable qualities. He is unfit to be Thursday  because
of his amiable  qualities.  We do not want  the  Supreme  Council of Anarchy
infected with a maudlin mercy (hear,  hear). This is  no time for ceremonial
politeness,  neither is  it a time  for  ceremonial  modesty. I  set  myself
against Comrade Gregory as I would set myself against all the Governments of
Europe, because the anarchist who has given himself to anarchy has forgotten
modesty as much as he has forgotten pride (cheers). I am not a man at all. I
am  a  cause  (renewed cheers).  I  set  myself  against Comrade  Gregory as
impersonally and as calmly as I should choose one pistol rather than another
out of that rack  upon the wall; and I say that rather than have Gregory and
his milk-and-water methods on  the Supreme Council, I would offer myself for
     His  sentence  was drowned  in a  deafening cataract  of  applause. The
faces,  that had grown fiercer and fiercer  with approval as his tirade grew
more and more uncompromising, were now distorted with grins of  anticipation
or cloven with delighted cries. At the moment  when he  announced himself as
ready to  stand for  the  post of Thursday, a roar of  excitement and assent
broke  forth, and became  uncontrollable,  and at  the  same  moment Gregory
sprang to  his feet, with  foam  upon  his  mouth,  and  shouted against the
     "Stop, you blasted  madmen!" he cried, at the top of a  voice that tore
his throat. "Stop, you--"
     But louder than Gregory's shouting and louder than the roar of the room
came the voice of Syme, still speaking in a peal of pitiless thunder--
     "I do  not  go to  the  Council to rebut  that  slander that  calls  us
murderers; I  go to earn it (loud and prolonged cheering). To the priest who
says these men are the  enemies of religion, to the judge who says these men
are the enemies of law, to the  fat parliamentarian who  says  these men are
the enemies of order and public decency, to all these I will reply, 'You are
false kings, but  you are true prophets. I  am come  to destroy you, and  to
fulfil your prophecies.' "
     The  heavy  clamour  gradually  died  away, but  before it  had  ceased
Witherspoon had jumped to his feet, his hair and  beard all on end,  and had
     "I move, as an amendment, that Comrade Syme be appointed to the post."
     "Stop all  this,  I  tell you!"  cried  Gregory, with frantic  face and
hands. "Stop it, it is all--"
     The voice of the chairman clove his speech with a cold accent.
     "Does  anyone second this amendment?" he said. A tall, tired  man, with
melancholy eyes  and an  American chin beard, was observed on the back bench
to be slowly rising to his feet.  Gregory had  been  screaming for some time
past; now  there was a  change in his accent, more shocking than any scream.
"I end all this!" he said, in a voice as heavy as stone.
     "This man cannot be elected. He is a--"
     "Yes,"  said Syme,  quite  motionless,  "what  is  he?" Gregory's mouth
worked twice without sound; then slowly the blood  began to  crawl back into
his dead face. "He is a  man quite inexperienced in our work,"  he said, and
sat down abruptly.
     Before  he had done  so, the long, lean man with the American beard was
again upon his feet, and was repeating in a high American monotone--
     "I beg to second the election of Comrade Syme."
     "The  amendment  will,  as usual, be put first," said  Mr. Buttons, the
chairman, with mechanical rapidity.
     "The question is that Comrade Syme--"
     Gregory had again sprung to his feet, panting and passionate.
     "Comrades," he cried out, "I am not a madman."
     "Oh, oh!" said Mr. Witherspoon.
     "I  am not a madman," reiterated Gregory,  with  a  frightful sincerity
which for a moment  staggered the room, "but  I give you a counsel which you
can call mad  if you like. No, I will not  call it a counsel, for I can give
you no reason for it. I will call it a command. Call it a  mad  command, but
act  upon it.  Strike, but hear me! Kill me, but obey me! Do not  elect this
man."  Truth  is  so  terrible, even  in  fetters,  that for a moment Syme's
slender  and  insane  victory swayed like  a  reed. But you  could  not have
guessed it from Syme's bleak blue eyes. He merely began--
     "Comrade Gregory commands--"
     Then the spell was snapped, and one anarchist called out to Gregory--
     "Who  are  you? You are not Sunday"; and  another  anarchist added in a
heavier voice, "And you are not Thursday."
     "Comrades," cried  Gregory, in a voice  like that of a martyr who in an
ecstacy of pain has passed beyond  pain, "it is  nothing to me  whether  you
detest  me  as a tyrant or detest me as  a slave. If  you will  not  take my
command, accept my degradation. I kneel to you. I throw myself at your feet.
I implore you. Do not elect this man."
     "Comrade Gregory," said the  chairman after  a painful pause, "this  is
really not quite dignified."
     For the  first time in the proceedings there  was for  a few seconds  a
real silence. Then Gregory fell back in his seat, a pale wreck of a man, and
the chairman repeated, like a piece of clock-work suddenly started again--
     "The question is that Comrade Syme be  elected to the  post of Thursday
on the General Council."
     The roar rose like the sea, the  hands  rose like a forest,  and  three
minutes  afterwards  Mr. Gabriel  Syme,  of the Secret Police  Service,  was
elected to the post of Thursday on the General  Council of the Anarchists of
     Everyone in the room seemed to feel the tug  waiting on the river,  the
sword-stick and the revolver, waiting on the table. The instant the election
was ended  and  irrevocable,  and Syme  had  received the paper proving  his
election,  they all  sprang to their feet, and the  fiery groups  moved  and
mixed in the room. Syme found  himself, somehow  or other, face to face with
Gregory,  who  still regarded him  with a stare of stunned hatred. They were
silent for many minutes.
     "You are a devil!" said Gregory at last.
     "And you are a gentleman," said Syme with gravity.
     "It was you  that entrapped me,"  began Gregory,  shaking from  head to
foot, "entrapped me into--"
     "Talk sense," said Syme shortly. "Into  what sort of devils' parliament
have you entrapped me, if it comes  to that? You made me swear before I made
you. Perhaps we are both doing what we think right. But what we think  right
is so damned different that there can be nothing  between us in the  way  of
concession.  There is nothing possible between us but honour and death," and
he pulled the  great cloak about his shoulders and picked  up the flask from
the table.
     "The  boat is quite  ready,"  said Mr. Buttons,  bustling  up. "Be good
enough to step this way."
     With a gesture that revealed the shop-walker, he led Syme down a short,
iron-bound passage, the still agonised Gregory following feverishly at their
heels. At  the end of the passage was a door, which Buttons  opened sharply,
showing  a sudden blue and silver picture of  the moonlit river, that looked
like  a  scene in a  theatre. Close to  the  opening lay  a  dark,  dwarfish
steam-launch, like a baby dragon with one red eye.
     Almost in  the  act of stepping on board,  Gabriel  Syme  turned to the
gaping Gregory.
     "You have kept your  word," he  said gently, with  his face  in shadow.
"You are  a man of honour, and  I thank you. You have kept it even down to a
small particular.  There was one  special  thing  you  promised  me  at  the
beginning of the affair, and which you have certainly given me by the end of
     "What do you mean?"  cried  the  chaotic  Gregory. "What did I  promise
     "A very entertaining evening," said Syme, and he made a military salute
with the sword-stick as the steamboat slid away.


     GABRIEL SYME was not merely a  detective who pretended to be a poet; he
was  really a poet who had become a detective. Nor was his hatred of anarchy
hypocritical. He  was  one  of those who are driven  early in  life into too
conservative an attitude by the bewildering folly of most revolutionists. He
had   not  attained  it  by  any  tame  tradition.  His  respectability  was
spontaneous and  sudden, a rebellion against rebellion. He  came of a family
of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of
his uncles  always  walked  about without a  hat,  and  another had made  an
unsuccessful attempt  to walk about with a hat and  nothing else. His father
cultivated art  and self-realisation; his mother went in for  simplicity and
hygiene. Hence the child, during his tenderer years, was wholly unacquainted
with any drink between the  extremes of absinth and cocoa, of both of  which
he had a healthy dislike. The more his  mother preached a more than  Puritan
abstinence the more did his  father expand  into a more than pagan latitude;
and by the time the former had come  to enforcing vegetarianism, the  latter
had pretty well reached the point of defending cannibalism.
     Being surrounded with every conceivable kind  of revolt  from  infancy,
Gabriel had  to  revolt into  something, so he revolted into the  only thing
left--sanity.  But there  was  just  enough  in  him of  the  blood of these
fanatics to make even his protest for common sense a little too fierce to be
sensible.  His hatred  of  modern lawlessness had  been  crowned  also by an
accident. It happened that he was walking in a side street at the instant of
a dynamite outrage. He had been blind and deaf  for a moment, and then seen,
the smoke clearing, the broken windows and the bleeding faces. After that he
went about as usual--quiet, courteous, rather  gentle; but there  was a spot
on his mind that was  not sane.  He did not regard anarchists, as most of us
do, as a handful of morbid men, combining ignorance with intellectualism. He
regarded them as a huge and pitiless peril, like a Chinese invasion.
     He poured perpetually into newspapers and  their  waste-paper baskets a
torrent of tales, verses and violent articles, warning men of this deluge of
barbaric denial. But he seemed to be getting no nearer his  enemy, and, what
was worse, no nearer a  living. As he  paced the Thames embankment, bitterly
biting a cheap cigar and brooding  on the advance of Anarchy,  there  was no
anarchist with a bomb in his pocket so savage or so solitary as he.  Indeed,
he always  felt that Government stood alone and desperate, with its  back to
the wall. He was too quixotic to have cared for it otherwise.
     He walked on the Embankment once under a dark red sunset. The red river
reflected  the red sky, and they both reflected his  anger. The sky, indeed,
was so swarthy, and the  light on the  river  relatively so  lurid, that the
water almost seemed of fiercer flame than  the sunset it mirrored. It looked
like  a  stream  of  literal  fire  winding  under  the  vast  caverns of  a
subterranean country.
     Syme  was  shabby  in  those  days.  He  wore  an  old-fashioned  black
chimney-pot hat; he was wrapped in a yet more old-fashioned cloak, black and
ragged;  and  the  combination gave  him the look  of  the early villains in
Dickens and Bulwer Lytton. Also his yellow beard and hair  were more unkempt
and leonine than when they appeared long afterwards, cut and pointed, on the
lawns of  Saffron Park.  A  long,  lean,  black cigar,  bought  in  Soho for
twopence, stood out  from between  his tightened  teeth, and  altogether  he
looked a very satisfactory specimen of the anarchists upon whom he had vowed
a holy war. Perhaps this was why a policeman on the Embankment spoke to him,
and said "Good evening."
     Syme, at a crisis of his morbid fears for humanity, seemed stung by the
mere stolidity  of  the automatic official,  a  mere  bulk  of  blue  in the
     "A good evening  is it?" he said sharply.  "You  fellows would call the
end of the world a good evening. Look at that bloody red sun and that bloody
river!  I  tell you  that  if that were  literally  human blood,  spilt  and
shining,  you would still be standing here as solid as ever, looking out for
some poor harmless tramp whom you could move on. You policemen are  cruel to
the poor, but I could  forgive you even your cruelty if it were not for your
     "If we are calm," replied the policeman, "it  is the  calm of organised
     "Eh?" said Syme, staring.
     "The  soldier must  be calm  in the  thick  of the battle," pursued the
policeman. "The composure of an army is the anger of a nation."
     "Good  God, the Board Schools!"  said Syme.  "Is  this undenominational
     "No," said the policeman sadly,  "I never had any  of those advantages.
The Board Schools  came after my time. What  education I had was very  rough
and old-fashioned, I am afraid."
     "Where did you have it?" asked Syme, wondering.
     "Oh, at Harrow," said the policeman
     The class sympathies which, false as they are, are the truest things in
so many men, broke out of Syme before he could control them.
     "But, good Lord, man," he said, "you oughtn't to be a policeman!"
     The policeman sighed and shook his head.
     "I know," he said solemnly, "I know I am not worthy."
     "But why did you join the police?" asked Syme with rude curiosity.
     "For  much  the  same  reason that you abused  the police," replied the
other. "I found  that there was  a special opening in the service for  those
whose fears for humanity  were  concerned rather with the aberrations of the
scientific intellect than  with  the normal and excusable, though excessive,
outbreaks of the human will. I trust I make myself clear."
     "If  you mean that you make your opinion clear," said Syme, "I  suppose
you do. But as for making yourself clear, it is  the  last thing you do. How
comes a man like you to be talking philosophy in a blue helmet on the Thames
     "You  have evidently not heard of the latest  development in our police
system," replied  the other. "I am not  surprised  at it. We are  keeping it
rather dark from the educated class, because that class contains most of our
enemies. But you seem to be exactly in the  right frame of mind. I think you
might almost join us."
     "Join you in what?" asked Syme.
     "I will tell you,"  said  the policeman slowly. "This is the situation:
The head of one of our departments, one of the most celebrated detectives in
Europe, has long been of opinion that a purely intellectual conspiracy would
soon threaten  the very existence  of  civilisation. He  is certain that the
scientific and artistic worlds  are silently bound in a crusade against  the
Family  and  the  State.  He  has,  therefore,  formed  a special  corps  of
policemen, policemen  who  are also philosophers. It  is  their  business to
watch  the beginnings of this conspiracy, not  merely in a criminal but in a
controversial  sense. I am  a democrat myself,  and I am fully  aware of the
value of the  ordinary man  in matters of ordinary  valour or virtue. But it
would  obviously be  undesirable  to  employ  the  common  policeman  in  an
investigation which is also a heresy hunt."
     Syme's eyes were bright with a sympathetic curiosity.
     "What do you do, then?" he said.
     "The work of the philosophical policeman," replied the man in blue, "is
at  once  bolder  and more subtle than that  of the ordinary detective.  The
ordinary  detective goes to pot-houses to arrest thieves;  we go to artistic
tea-parties to detect pessimists. The  ordinary  detective discovers from  a
ledger or a diary that a crime has been committed. We  discover from  a book
of sonnets that  a crime will be  committed. We  have to trace the origin of
those dreadful thoughts that drive men on at last to intellectual fanaticism
and  intellectual  crime.  We   were  only  just  in  time  to  prevent  the
assassination at Hartle pool, and that was entirely due to the fact that our
Mr. Wilks (a smart young fellow) thoroughly understood a triolet."
     "Do  you mean," asked Syme,  "that  there is really  as much connection
between crime and the modern intellect as all that?"
     "You are not sufficiently democratic," answered the policeman, "but you
were right when you  said just now that our ordinary treatment  of the  poor
criminal was a pretty brutal business. I tell you I am  sometimes sick of my
trade when I see how perpetually it means merely a war upon the ignorant and
the desperate. But this new movement of ours is a very different  affair. We
deny the snobbish English  assumption that  the uneducated are the dangerous
criminals. We remember  the Roman Emperors. We remember  the great poisoning
princes  of the  Renaissance.  We say  that  the  dangerous criminal is  the
educated  criminal.  We say  that the most  dangerous  criminal  now is  the
entirely lawless modern philosopher. Compared to him, burglars and bigamists
are  essentially  moral  men; my  heart  goes  out  to them. They accept the
essential  ideal  of  man; they  merely  seek  it  wrongly. Thieves  respect
property.  They merely wish the property to become their  property that they
may  more  perfectly  respect  it.  But  philosophers  dislike  property  as
property;  they  wish  to destroy  the very  idea  of  personal  possession.
Bigamists  respect  marriage,  or  they  would  not  go through  the  highly
ceremonial  and  even  ritualistic  formality  of bigamy.  But  philosophers
despise marriage as marriage. Murderers respect human life; they merely wish
to attain a greater fulness of human  life in themselves by the sacrifice of
what seems to  them to be lesser lives. But philosophers  hate life  itself,
their own as much as other people's."
     Syme struck his hands together.
     "How true  that is," he cried. "I have  felt  it from  my  boyhood, but
never could  state the  verbal antithesis. The common criminal is a bad man,
but at least he is, as it were, a conditional good man. He says that if only
a certain obstacle be removed--  say a wealthy uncle--he is then prepared to
accept the  universe and  to  praise God.  He  is  a  reformer,  but not  an
anarchist. He wishes to cleanse the edifice, but  not to destroy it. But the
evil philosopher is not trying to alter things, but to annihilate them. Yes,
the modern  world has retained  all  those  parts of  police work which  are
really oppressive and ignominious, the harrying of the poor, the spying upon
the unfortunate. It has given up its more dignified work, the  punishment of
powerful traitors the in the State and powerful  heresiarchs  in the Church.
The moderns  say we must not  punish  heretics. My only doubt  is whether we
have a right to punish anybody else."
     "But this is  absurd!"  cried the policeman, clasping his hands with an
excitement  uncommon in  persons of  his  figure and  costume,  "but  it  is
intolerable! I  don't know what you're doing, but you're wasting  your life.
You must, you shall, join our special army against anarchy. Their armies are
on our frontiers. Their  bolt is  ready to  fall. A moment more, and you may
lose the glory of working with us, perhaps the glory of dying  with the last
heroes of the world."
     "It is a chance not to be missed, certainly," assented Syme, "but still
I do not quite understand. I  know as well  as anybody that the modern world
is full of lawless little men and mad little movements. But, beastly as they
are, they generally have  the one merit of disagreeing  with each other. How
can  you talk  of their  leading one army or hurling  one bolt. What is this
     "Do not confuse it," replied the constable, "with those chance dynamite
outbreaks  from Russia or from Ireland, which are  really the  outbreaks  of
oppressed, if mistaken, men. This is a vast philosophic movement, consisting
of an outer and an inner  ring. You might even call the outer ring the laity
and  the  inner  ring the  priesthood. I prefer  to call the  outer ring the
innocent  section,  the  inner ring the  supremely guilty section. The outer
ring--  the  main mass of their supporters--are merely  anarchists; that is,
men who believe that rules and formulas have destroyed human happiness. They
believe  that all the evil  results  of human crime are  the results of  the
system that has called  it crime. They do not believe that the crime creates
the punishment. They believe that the punishment has created the crime. They
believe that  if a man seduced seven women he would  naturally walk  away as
blameless as  the flowers of spring. They  believe that if a  man  picked  a
pocket he would naturally feel exquisitely good. These I call  the  innocent
     "Oh! " said Syme.
     "Naturally, therefore, these people talk  about  'a happy time coming';
'the paradise of the  future';  'mankind freed from the bondage of  vice and
the  bondage  of virtue,' and so on. And so also the men of the inner circle
speak--the  sacred  priesthood. They also speak to applauding crowds  of the
happiness  of  the future, and  of  mankind  freed at  last.  But  in  their
mouths"-- and the policeman lowered his voice--"in their  mouths these happy
phrases have a horrible meaning. They are  under no  illusions; they are too
intellectual to  think that man upon  this earth can  ever be  quite free of
original  sin  and the struggle. And they  mean death.  When they  say  that
mankind shall be free at last, they  mean that mankind shall commit suicide.
When they talk of a paradise without right or wrong, they mean the grave.
     They  have  but  two  objects,  to  destroy  first  humanity  and  then
themselves. That is  why  they throw  bombs instead of  firing pistols.  The
innocent rank and file are  disappointed because the bomb has not killed the
king; but the high-priesthood are happy because it has killed somebody."
     "How can I join you?" asked Syme, with a sort of passion.
     "I  know  for a fact that  there  is a vacancy at the moment," said the
policeman, "as I have  the honour  to be somewhat in  the  confidence of the
chief of whom I have  spoken. You should really come and see him. Or rather,
I should not say see  him, nobody ever sees him; but you can talk to him  if
you like."
     "Telephone?" inquired Syme, with interest.
     "No,"  said the  policeman placidly, "he has a fancy for always sitting
in  a  pitch-dark  room. He  says it makes his  thoughts  brighter. Do  come
     Somewhat dazed and considerably excited, Syme allowed himself to be led
to a side-door in  the long row of buildings of Scotland Yard. Almost before
he knew what he was doing,  he  had been  passed through the hands of  about
four intermediate officials, and was suddenly  shown into a room, the abrupt
blackness of  which startled  him like a  blaze  of light.  It  was not  the
ordinary darkness, in which forms  can be faintly traced;  it was like going
suddenly stone-blind.
     "Are you the new recruit?" asked a heavy voice.
     And in some strange way,  though there was not the shadow of a shape in
the gloom, Syme knew two things: first, that it came  from a  man of massive
stature; and second, that the man had his back to him.
     "Are you the new recruit?" said the invisible chief, who seemed to have
heard all about it. "All right. You are engaged."
     Syme,  quite swept off  his  feet,  made  a feeble  fight  against this
irrevocable phrase.
     "I really have no experience," he began.
     "No one  has  any  experience,"  said  the  other,  "of  the  Battle of
     "But I am really unfit--"
     "You are willing, that is enough," said the unknown.
     "Well, really," said Syme, "I  don't know any  profession of which mere
willingness is the final test."
     "I do," said the  other--"martyrs. I am  condemning you  to death. Good
     Thus it  was that  when Gabriel Syme came  out  again into the  crimson
light of evening, in his shabby black hat and shabby, lawless cloak, he came
out a member of  the  New Detective Corps for  the frustration of  the great
conspiracy. Acting under  the advice  of his  friend the  policeman (who was
professionally inclined to neatness), he trimmed  his hair and beard, bought
a good hat, clad  himself in an  exquisite summer suit  of light  blue-grey,
with  a  pale  yellow flower in the button-hole, and, in short,  became that
elegant and rather insupportable person whom Gregory had  first  encountered
in the little garden  of  Saffron Park.  Before he finally  left  the police
premises his  friend  provided  him with  a small  blue card,  on which  was
written,  "The  Last Crusade,"  and a  number,  the  sign  of  his  official
authority. He  put this carefully  in  his  upper waistcoat  pocket,  lit  a
cigarette,  and  went  forth  to track  and  fight  the  enemy  in  all  the
drawing-rooms of  London. Where his  adventure  ultimately led  him we  have
already seen.  At about half-past  one on  a February night he found himself
steaming in  a small tug up the  silent  Thames, armed  with  swordstick and
revolver, the duly elected Thursday of the Central Council of Anarchists.
     When  Syme stepped out on to the steam-tug he had a  singular sensation
of stepping out into  something entirely  new; not merely into the landscape
of a new land, but even into the landscape  of a new planet. This was mainly
due to the insane yet solid decision of that evening, though partly  also to
an entire change in the  weather and  the sky  since he entered  the  little
tavern some two  hours before. Every  trace of the passionate plumage of the
cloudy sunset had been  swept away, and a naked  moon stood in  a naked sky.
The moon was so strong  and full that (by a  paradox often to be noticed) it
seemed  like a  weaker sun. It gave, not the sense of bright moonshine,  but
rather of a dead daylight.
     Over the whole landscape lay a luminous and unnatural discoloration, as
of that disastrous twilight which  Milton spoke of as  shed by  the  sun  in
eclipse; so  that Syme fell  easily  into  his  first thought,  that  he was
actually  on some other and emptier planet, which  circled round some sadder
star. But the more he felt  this glittering desolation in the  moonlit land,
the more his own chivalric folly glowed in the night like a great fire. Even
the common things he  carried  with him--the food  and the  brandy  and  the
loaded pistol--took on exactly  that concrete  and  material poetry which  a
child feels when he takes a gun upon a journey or a bun with him to bed. The
sword-stick and the brandy-flask,  though in themselves only  the  tools  of
morbid conspirators, became the expressions of his own more healthy romance.
The sword-stick became almost the sword of chivalry, and the brandy the wine
of the stirrup-cup. For even the most dehumanised modern fantasies depend on
some older and simpler figure; the adventures may be mad, but the adventurer
must be sane. The  dragon without St. George would not even be grotesque. So
this inhuman landscape was only imaginative  by the presence of a man really
human. To Syme's exaggerative mind  the bright, bleak houses and terraces by
the Thames looked as empty as  the mountains  of the moon. But even the moon
is only poetical because there is a man in the moon.
     The tug was worked by two men, and  with  much toil  went comparatively
slowly.  The clear  moon that had lit up Chiswick  had gone down by the time
that they  passed  Battersea, and when they came under  the enormous bulk of
Westminster  day had  already begun to break. It broke like the splitting of
great bars of  lead, showing  bars of silver;  and these had brightened like
white  fire when the  tug,  changing its onward  course, turned inward  to a
large landing stage rather beyond Charing Cross.
     The great stones  of the Embankment seemed equally dark and gigantic as
Syme looked up at them. They were big and black against the huge white dawn.
They made  him feel that  he  was  landing on  the  colossal  steps  of some
Egyptian palace; and, indeed, the  thing suited his mood, for he was, in his
own  mind,  mounting  to attack the solid thrones  of horrible  and  heathen
kings. He leapt out of the boat on to one  slimy step, and stood, a dark and
slender figure, amid the  enormous masonry. The two  men in the tug  put her
off again and turned up stream. They had never spoken a word.


     AT first the large stone stair seemed to Syme as deserted as a pyramid;
but before he reached the top he had realised that  there was a  man leaning
over  the parapet of the Embankment and  looking out across  the river. As a
figure he was  quite conventional,  clad in a silk hat and frock-coat of the
more formal type of fashion; he  had a red flower in his buttonhole. As Syme
drew nearer to him step by step, he did not even move a hair; and Syme could
come close enough to notice  even  in  the dim,  pale morning light that his
face  was long, pale and intellectual, and  ended in a small triangular tuft
of  dark beard at  the very point  of the chin, all else being clean-shaven.
This scrap of hair almost  seemed a mere oversight; the rest of the face was
of  the  type that is best shaven--clear-cut, ascetic, and in its way noble.
Syme drew closer  and closer,  noting all this, and still the figure did not
     At  first an  instinct had told Syme that this was the man whom he  was
meant to meet. Then, seeing that the man made no sign, he had concluded that
he was not. And now again  he had  come back to a certainty that the man had
something to do with his mad adventure. For the man remained more still than
would  have  been  natural  if  a stranger  had come  so  close.  He was  as
motionless  as a wax-work, and  got on the nerves somewhat in  the same way.
Syme  looked again and again at the  pale, dignified and delicate  face, and
the face still looked  blankly across the river.  Then he  took  out of  his
pocket the note  from Buttons proving  his election, and  put it before that
sad  and beautiful face. Then the man smiled, and his smile was a shock, for
it was all on one side, going up in the right cheek and down in the left.
     There was  nothing,  rationally speaking, to scare anyone  about  this.
Many people have this nervous trick  of a crooked  smile,  and in many it is
even attractive. But in all Syme's circumstances, with the dark dawn and the
deadly errand and  the loneliness on  the  great dripping  stones, there was
something unnerving in it.
     There was the silent river and  the  silent  man, a man of even classic
face.  And there was  the last nightmare touch that  his smile suddenly went
     The spasm of  smile was  instantaneous,  and the  man's face dropped at
once into its harmonious melancholy. He spoke without further explanation or
inquiry, like a man speaking to an old colleague.
     "If we walk up towards Leicester Square," he said, "we shall just be in
time for breakfast. Sunday always  insists on an  early breakfast. Have  you
had any sleep?"
     "No," said Syme.
     "Nor have I," answered the man in an ordinary tone. "I shall try to get
to bed after breakfast."
     He  spoke  with  casual civility, but in  an utterly  dead  voice  that
contradicted the fanaticism of his face. It seemed almost as if all friendly
words were to him  lifeless conveniences, and that his only life  was  hate.
After a pause the man spoke again.
     "Of course, the Secretary of the branch told you everything that can be
told.  But the  one thing that can never be told  is the last  notion of the
President, for his notions grow like a tropical forest. So in case you don't
know, I'd better tell you  that he is  carrying out his notion of concealing
ourselves by not concealing ourselves to the most extraordinary lengths just
now. Originally,  of course,  we met  in  a  cell underground, just  as your
branch  does. Then  Sunday  made  us  take  a  private room  at  an ordinary
restaurant. He said that if  you didn't  seem to be hiding nobody hunted you
out. Well, he is the only man on earth, I know; but sometimes I really think
that his huge brain is going a little  mad in its old age. For now we flaunt
ourselves  before the public.  We  have our  breakfast  on a  balcony--on  a
balcony, if you please-- overlooking Leicester Square."
     "And what do the people say?" asked Syme.
     "It's quite simple what they say," answered his guide.
     "They  say  we  are a lot  of  jolly gentlemen  who  pretend  they  are
     "It seems to me a very clever idea," said Syme.
     "Clever! God blast your impudence! Clever!" cried out the  other  in  a
sudden, shrill voice which  was as startling and  discordant as his  crooked
smile. "When you've seen Sunday for  a split second you'll leave off calling
him clever."
     With  this they  emerged  out  of a  narrow street,  and saw the  early
sunlight  filling  Leicester Square. It will never be known, I  suppose, why
this square itself  should look so alien and in some ways so continental. It
will  never  be known whether it was the  foreign look  that  attracted  the
foreigners or  the foreigners  who gave  it  the foreign look.  But  on this
particular  morning the effect seemed singularly  bright and  clear. Between
the  open  square and the  sunlit  leaves  and the statue  and the Saracenic
outlines of the  Alhambra, it looked  the replica  of  some French  or  even
Spanish public place. And this effect increased in Syme the sensation, which
in many shapes he had  had through the whole  adventure, the eerie sensation
of having  strayed  into a  new  world. As a fact, he  had bought bad cigars
round Leicester  Square ever  since he  was  a  boy.  But as he turned  that
corner, and saw the trees and the Moorish  cupolas, he could have sworn that
he was turning into an unknown Place  de something or  other in some foreign
     At  one corner of the square  there  projected  a kind  of  angle of  a
prosperous but quiet hotel, the bulk of which belonged to a  street  behind.
In  the  wall there  was  one large French window, probably the window  of a
large coffee-room; and outside this window, almost literally overhanging the
square, was  a  formidably  buttressed  balcony,  big enough  to  contain  a
dining-table.  In fact,  it did contain a  dining-table, or more strictly  a
breakfast-table; and  round the breakfast-table, glowing in the sunlight and
evident to the street, were a group of noisy and talkative  men, all dressed
in  the  insolence   of  fashion,  with   white  waistcoats  and   expensive
button-holes. Some of  their  jokes could almost be heard across the square.
Then the  grave Secretary gave his unnatural smile,  and Syme knew that this
boisterous  breakfast  party  was  the  secret  conclave  of   the  European
     Then, as Syme continued to stare at them, he saw something that he  had
not seen before. He had not seen it literally because  it  was too large  to
see. At the nearest  end of the  balcony, blocking  up a great part  of  the
perspective, was the back of  a great mountain of a man. When Syme had  seen
him,  his first thought  was  that  the weight  of him must  break down  the
balcony  of  stone. His  vastness did not lie only  in the  fact that he was
abnormally tall and quite incredibly fat. This man was planned enormously in
his original proportions, like a statue carved deliberately as colossal. His
head, crowned with white hair, as seen from behind looked bigger than a head
ought to be. The ears that  stood out from it looked larger than human ears.
He was enlarged terribly to scale; and this sense of size was so staggering,
that when  Syme  saw  him all the  other  figures seemed  quite  suddenly to
dwindle and  become  dwarfish. They  were still sitting there as before with
their flowers and  frock-coats,  but now it looked  as  if the  big  man was
entertaining five children to tea.
     As Syme and  the guide approached the side door  of the hotel, a waiter
came out smiling with every tooth in his head.
     "The gentlemen are up there, sare," he said. "They  do talk and they do
laugh at what they talk. They do say they will throw bombs at ze king."
     And  the waiter  hurried away with a napkin over his arm,  much pleased
with the singular frivolity of the gentlemen upstairs.
     The two men mounted the stairs in silence.
     Syme had never thought of asking whether the monstrous  man  who almost
filled  and  broke the balcony was  the  great President  of whom the others
stood  in awe. He knew  it  was so,  with an unaccountable but instantaneous
certainty. Syme, indeed,  was one of those men  who are open to all the more
nameless psychological influences in a degree  a little dangerous  to mental
health. Utterly devoid of fear in physical dangers, he was a great  deal too
sensitive to the smell of spiritual evil. Twice already  that  night  little
unmeaning  things had  peeped out at him  almost pruriently, and given him a
sense of drawing nearer and nearer to the head-quarters  of  hell.  And this
sense became overpowering as he drew nearer to the great President.
     The form it took  was a childish and yet  hateful fancy.  As  he walked
across the inner  room towards the balcony,  the  large face  of Sunday grew
larger  and larger; and Syme was gripped with a fear that when he was  quite
close  the face would be  too big to be  possible, and that he would  scream
aloud. He remembered that as a child he would not look at the mask of Memnon
in the British Museum, because it was a face, and so large.
     By an  effort, braver  than that of leaping over a cliff, he went to an
empty seat at the breakfast-table  and sat down. The  men  greeted  him with
good-humoured raillery as if they had always known him. He sobered himself a
little by looking at their conventional coats and solid, shining coffee-pot;
then he looked again at Sunday. His face was  very  large, but  it was still
possible to humanity.
     In the presence of the President  the whole company looked sufficiently
commonplace; nothing about them caught  the eye at first, except that by the
President's caprice  they had been dressed up with a festive respectability,
which gave the meal  the look of a wedding breakfast. One  man  indeed stood
out  at even  a superficial glance.  He at  least was the common  or  garden
Dynamiter. He wore, indeed, the high  white collar and  satin  tie that were
the  uniform  of the  occasion; but out of this collar there  sprang  a head
quite unmanageable and quite unmistakable, a  bewildering bush of brown hair
and  beard  that almost obscured the  eyes like those of a Skye terrier. But
the eyes did  look out of the tangle,  and they were the  sad  eyes  of some
Russian serf. The effect of this figure was not  terrible like  that of  the
President,  but  it had  every  diablerie  that  can  come from the  utterly
grotesque. If out of  that stiff  tie and collar there had come abruptly the
head of a cat or a dog, it could not have been a more idiotic contrast.
     The man's name, it seemed, was Gogol; he was a Pole, and in this circle
of days he was called Tuesday. His soul and speech were incurably tragic; he
could  not force himself to play the prosperous  and frivolous part demanded
of  him by President Sunday. And,  indeed,  when Syme came in the President,
with that daring  disregard of  public suspicion which  was his policy,  was
actually chaffing Gogol upon his inability to assume conventional graces.
     "Our  friend Tuesday,"  said the President in a  deep voice  at once of
quietude  and volume, "our friend Tuesday doesn't seem to grasp the idea. He
dresses up like a gentleman,  but he seems to be too great a soul to  behave
like  one.  He  insists  on the  ways  of  the stage  conspirator.  Now if a
gentleman goes about London in a top hat and a frock-coat, no one  need know
that he  is an  anarchist.  But  if  a gentleman  puts on  a top  hat and  a
frock-coat, and  then  goes about  on his hands  and  knees--  well,  he may
attract  attention. That's what Brother  Gogol  does.  He  goes about on his
hands  and knees  with such  inexhaustible diplomacy, that  by this time  he
finds it quite difficult to walk upright."
     "I  am not good  at  goncealment," said  Gogol  sulkily,  with a  thick
foreign accent; "I am not ashamed of the cause."
     "Yes you are, my boy, and so  is the cause of you," said the  President
good-naturedly. "You hide as much as anybody; but you can't do it,  you see,
you're such an  ass!  You  try to combine two  inconsistent methods.  When a
householder finds a man  under his bed,  he will probably pause  to note the
circumstance.  But if he finds  a man under  his bed in a top hat,  you will
agree with me, my dear Tuesday, that he is not likely even to forget it. Now
when you were found under Admiral Biffin's bed--"
     "I am not good at deception," said Tuesday gloomily, flushing.
     "Right, my boy, right," said the President with a ponderous heartiness,
"you aren't good at anything."
     While  this  stream of  conversation continued,  Syme was  looking more
steadily  at  the men  around him. As he did  so, he  gradually felt all his
sense of something spiritually queer return.
     He  had  thought at first that  they  were all of  common  stature  and
costume, with the evident exception of the hairy Gogol. But as  he looked at
the others, he began to see in each of them exactly  what he had seen in the
man by the river, a demoniac detail  somewhere.  That lop-sided laugh, which
would suddenly disfigure the fine face of his original guide, was typical of
all these types. Each man had something about him, perceived  perhaps at the
tenth or  twentieth glance, which was not  normal, and  which  seemed hardly
human. The only metaphor he could think of was this, that they all looked as
men of fashion and presence would look, with the additional twist given in a
false and curved mirror.
     Only  the   individual  examples  will   express  this   half-concealed
eccentricity. Syme's original cicerone bore  the title of Monday; he was the
Secretary of  the  Council, and  his  twisted smile  was regarded with  more
terror than anything, except  the  President's horrible, happy laughter. But
now  that Syme had more space and light to observe  him,  there  were  other
touches. His fine face was so emaciated, that Syme thought it must be wasted
with  some disease;  yet  somehow the very distress of his dark  eyes denied
this. It  was  no physical  ill that troubled him.  His eyes were alive with
intellectual torture, as if pure thought was pain.
     He  was  typical  of  each  of  the  tribe;  each  man  was  subtly and
differently wrong. Next to him sat Tuesday,  the  tousle-headed Gogol, a man
more obviously mad. Next was Wednesday, a certain Marquis de St. Eustache, a
sufficiently  characteristic  figure. The  first  few  glances found nothing
unusual about him, except that he was the only man  at table  who  wore  the
fashionable clothes as if  they were  really his own.  He had a black French
beard cut square and a black English frock-coat cut even  squarer. But Syme,
sensitive  to  such  things,  felt  somehow  that the  man  carried  a  rich
atmosphere  with him, a  rich  atmosphere that suffocated. It  reminded  one
irrationally  of  drowsy odours and of  dying lamps  in the darker poems  of
Byron and Poe.  With  this went a  sense  of his  being clad, not in lighter
colours, but  in softer materials;  his black  seemed richer and warmer than
the black shades about him, as if it were compounded of profound colour. His
black  coat looked as if it were only black by being too dense a purple. His
black beard looked as if it were only black by being too deep a blue. And in
the gloom and thickness of the beard his dark  red mouth showed  sensual and
scornful. Whatever he was  he  was not a  Frenchman; he  might be a Jew;  he
might  be something deeper yet in the dark heart of the East.  In the bright
coloured  Persian tiles  and  pictures showing tyrants hunting, you  may see
just those almond eyes, those blue-black beards, those cruel, crimson lips.
     Then came Syme, and next  a very old man, Professor de Worms, who still
kept the chair of Friday, though every  day it  was  expected that his death
would leave it empty. Save for his intellect, he was in the last dissolution
of senile decay. His face was as grey  as  his long grey beard, his forehead
was lifted and fixed finally in a furrow of  mild despair. In no other case,
not  even that of Gogol, did the bridegroom brilliancy of  the morning dress
express  a more painful contrast.  For  the  red flower  in his  button-hole
showed up against a face that was literally discoloured like lead; the whole
hideous effect was as if some drunken  dandies had put  their clothes upon a
corpse. When  he rose or sat down,  which was  with long  labour  and peril,
something  worse was  expressed than  mere  weakness,  something indefinably
connected with the horror of the whole scene. It did not express decrepitude
merely, but corruption. Another hateful fancy crossed Syme's quivering mind.
He could not  help thinking that  whenever  the man moved a leg or arm might
fall off.
     Right at the end sat the man called Saturday, the simplest and the most
baffling of all.  He  was  a  short, square man  with  a  dark,  square face
clean-shaven, a medical practitioner going by the name of Bull. He had  that
combination of savoir-faire  with a sort of well-groomed coarseness which is
not uncommon in young  doctors. He carried his  fine clothes with confidence
rather than ease, and he mostly wore a set smile. There was nothing whatever
odd about him, except that he wore a pair of dark, almost opaque spectacles.
It may have been merely  a crescendo  of nervous fancy that had gone before,
but  those  black  discs  were  dreadful  to  Syme;  they  reminded  him  of
half-remembered  ugly  tales, of some story  about pennies being  put on the
eyes of  the dead.  Syme's eye always caught the black glasses and the blind
grin.  Had the dying Professor worn  them, or even the pale Secretary,  they
would have been appropriate. But on the younger and grosser  man they seemed
only an enigma. They took away the key of the  face. You could not tell what
his smile or his gravity  meant. Partly from this, and partly because he had
a  vulgar virility  wanting in  most of the others it seemed to Syme that he
might be the  wickedest of all those  wicked men. Syme even had  the thought
that his eyes might be covered up because they were too frightful to see.


     SUCH  were  the six men who had sworn  to destroy the world.  Again and
again Syme strove to  pull  together  his common  sense  in  their presence.
Sometimes he saw for an instant that these notions  were subjective, that he
was  only  looking at  ordinary men,  one of whom was  old, another nervous,
another short-sighted. The sense of an  unnatural  symbolism  always settled
back on  him again. Each figure seemed to be, somehow, on the  borderland of
things, just as their theory was on the borderland of  thought. He knew that
each one of these men stood at  the extreme  end, so to speak, of some  wild
road of reasoning. He could only  fancy, as in some old-world fable, that if
a man went westward to the end of the world he would  find something-- say a
tree--that  was more or less than a  tree, a tree possessed by a spirit; and
that if he went east  to the  end  of the world he would find something else
that was not  wholly itself-- a  tower, perhaps, of which the very shape was
wicked. So these figures  seemed  to  stand  up, violent and  unaccountable,
against an ultimate  horizon,  visions from the verge. The ends of the earth
were closing in.
     Talk had been going on steadily as he  took  in  the scene; and not the
least of the  contrasts of that bewildering breakfast-table was the contrast
between the easy and unobtrusive tone of talk and its terrible purport. They
were deep  in the  discussion of an  actual  and  immediate plot. The waiter
downstairs had spoken quite correctly when  he said that  they were  talking
about  bombs and kings. Only three  days afterwards the Czar was to meet the
President  of  the French Republic in Paris, and over their bacon  and  eggs
upon their sunny balcony these beaming gentlemen had decided how both should
die. Even the instrument was chosen; the black-bearded Marquis, it appeared,
was to carry the bomb.
     Ordinarily speaking, the proximity of this positive and objective crime
would  have  sobered Syme, and cured him of all his merely mystical tremors.
He would have thought of nothing but the need  of saving  at least two human
bodies from  being ripped in pieces with iron and roaring gas. But the truth
was  that  by  this time he had begun to  feel  a third  kind of fear,  more
piercing  and  practical  than either  his  moral  revulsion or  his  social
responsibility.  Very  simply,  he  had  no  fear to  spare  for the  French
President or the Czar; he had begun to fear for himself. Most of the talkers
took little heed of him, debating  now with their faces closer together, and
almost uniformly grave, save when for an instant the smile of  the Secretary
ran aslant across  his  face as the jagged lightning  runs aslant across the
sky. But  there was  one persistent thing which  first troubled  Syme and at
last terrified  him. The President was  always looking at him, steadily, and
with a great and baffling interest. The  enormous man was  quite quiet,  but
his blue eyes stood out of his head. And they were always fixed on Syme.
     Syme  felt  moved to  spring up and  leap  over  the balcony.  When the
President's  eyes were on him he felt as if  he were made of  glass.  He had
hardly the shred of a doubt that in some silent and extraordinary way Sunday
had found out that he was a spy. He looked over the edge of the balcony, and
saw  a policeman, standing abstractedly  just beneath, staring at the bright
railings and the sunlit trees.
     Then there  fell upon him the great temptation that was to torment  him
for many days. In the presence of these powerful and repulsive men, who were
the princes  of  anarchy, he  had almost forgotten  the  frail  and fanciful
figure of  the poet Gregory, the mere aesthete of anarchism. He even thought
of  him  now  with  an old  kindness, as if they had  played  together  when
children. But he  remembered that he was  still tied  to Gregory by  a great
promise. He had promised never to do the very thing that he now felt himself
almost  in the act of doing. He  had  promised not to jump over that balcony
and  speak to  that policeman.  He  took his  cold hand  off the cold  stone
balustrade. His soul swayed in a vertigo of moral indecision. He had only to
snap the thread of a rash vow made to a villainous society, and all his life
could be as open and sunny as the square beneath  him. He had,  on the other
hand, only to keep his antiquated honour, and be delivered inch by inch into
the power  of  this  great enemy of  mankind, whose  very  intellect  was  a
torture-chamber.  Whenever  he  looked  down into  the  square  he  saw  the
comfortable policeman, a pillar of common sense  and common  order. Whenever
he  looked back  at  the breakfast-table he  saw the President still quietly
studying him with big, unbearable eyes.
     In all the torrent  of his thought  there  were two thoughts that never
crossed his  mind.  First, it  never  occurred  to  him  to  doubt  that the
President  and  his Council could crush him if he continued to  stand alone.
The place might be public, the project might seem impossible. But Sunday was
not the man who would carry himself  thus easily  without having, somehow or
somewhere,  set  open his  iron  trap. Either by anonymous poison  or sudden
street accident,  by hypnotism or by fire from  hell, Sunday could certainly
strike him.  If he defied  the man he was probably dead, either struck stiff
there in his chair or  long  afterwards as by an  innocent  ailment.  If  he
called in the police promptly, arrested everyone,  told all, and set against
them  the  whole energy of England, he would probably escape;  certainly not
otherwise. They were a balconyful of gentlemen overlooking a bright and busy
square; but he felt  no more safe with them than if they had been  a boatful
of armed pirates overlooking an empty sea.
     There was a second thought that never came to him. It never occurred to
him  to be spiritually won over to the enemy. Many moderns, inured to a weak
worship of intellect and force, might have wavered in their allegiance under
this  oppression of a great personality. They might  have called Sunday  the
super-man. If  any such creature be conceivable, he looked, indeed, somewhat
like it, with his earth-shaking abstraction,  as of a stone statue  walking.
He might have  been called something above man, with his  large plans, which
were too obvious to be detected, with his large face, which was too frank to
be understood. But this was a kind  of modern meanness  to  which Syme could
not sink even  in his extreme  morbidity. Like any man, he was coward enough
to fear great force; but he was not quite coward enough to admire it.
     The men were eating as they talked, and even in this they were typical.
Dr. Bull and the Marquis ate  casually and conventionally of the best things
on  the table--cold pheasant  or Strasbourg  pie. But  the Secretary  was  a
vegetarian, and he  spoke earnestly  of the projected murder over half a raw
tomato and three quarters  of a glass of tepid water. The old  Professor had
such slops  as  suggested  a  sickening second  childhood. And even  in this
President Sunday preserved his curious predominance of mere mass. For he ate
like twenty  men; he ate incredibly, with a frightful freshness of appetite,
so that it was like watching a sausage factory. Yet continually, when he had
swallowed a dozen crumpets  or  drunk  a quart of coffee, he would  be found
with his great head on one side staring at Syme.
     "I have often wondered," said the Marquis, taking a great bite out of a
slice of bread and jam, "whether it wouldn't be better for  me to do it with
a knife. Most of the  best things have been brought off with a knife. And it
would be a new emotion to get a knife into a French President and wriggle it
     "You are wrong," said the Secretary,  drawing his black brows together.
"The knife was  merely the  expression of the  old  personal quarrel  with a
personal tyrant. Dynamite is not only our best tool, but our best symbol. It
is as perfect a symbol of us as is incense of the prayers of the Christians.
It expands;  it  only  destroys because  it  broadens; even so, thought only
destroys  because  it broadens. A  man's brain  is  a bomb,"  he  cried out,
loosening  suddenly  his  strange passion and  striking his own  skull  with
violence. "My brain feels like a  bomb,  night and day. It must  expand!  It
must expand! A man's brain must expand, if it breaks up the universe."
     "I don't want the universe broken up just yet," drawled the Marquis. "I
want to do  a lot of beastly things before I die. I thought of one yesterday
in bed."
     "No, if the only end  of the thing is  nothing," said Dr. Bull with his
sphinx-like smile, "it hardly seems worth doing."
     The old Professor was staring at the ceiling with dull eyes.
     "Every man  knows  in  his  heart,  " he said, "that nothing  is  worth
     There was a singular silence, and then the Secretary said--
     "We are  wandering, however, from the point. The  only  question is how
Wednesday  is  to  strike the blow. I  take it  we should all agree with the
original notion of a bomb. As to the actual  arrangements, I  should suggest
that tomorrow morning he should go first of all to--"
     The  speech  was broken off short under a vast shadow. President Sunday
had risen to his feet, seeming to fill the sky above them.
     "Before we discuss that," he  said in  a small, quiet voice, "let us go
into a private room. I have something vent particular to say."
     Syme stood up before any of the  others. The instant of choice had come
at  last, the pistol was at his head. On  the  pavement before he could hear
the policeman idly stir and stamp, for the morning, though bright, was cold.
     A barrel-organ in the street suddenly sprang with a jerk into a  jovial
tune. Syme stood up taut, as  if it had  been a bugle before the  battle. He
found himself filled  with a supernatural  courage that came  from  nowhere.
That  jingling music seemed  full of the vivacity,  the  vulgarity, and  the
irrational valour  of the poor, who in all those unclean  streets  were  all
clinging to the  decencies and the  charities of  Christendom. His  youthful
prank  of being a  policeman  had faded from his mind; he did  not  think of
himself  as the  representative of the corps of gentlemen turned  into fancy
constables, or of the old  eccentric who lived in the dark room.  But he did
feel himself as the ambassador of all  these common and kindly people in the
street, who every day marched into battle  to the music of the barrel-organ.
And  this  high  pride  in  being human had lifted  him  unaccountably to an
infinite  height above  the  monstrous  men  around him. For an  instant, at
least,  he  looked  down  upon  all their sprawling  eccentricities from the
starry  pinnacle  of  the   commonplace.  He  felt  towards  them  all  that
unconscious and elementary superiority  that a brave man feels over powerful
beasts or a wise man over  powerful errors. He knew that he had  neither the
intellectual  nor  the  physical  strength of President Sunday; but  in that
moment he minded it no  more than the fact that he had not the  muscles of a
tiger  or a horn on  his nose like a rhinoceros. All  was swallowed up in an
ultimate certainty that the President was  wrong  and that  the barrel-organ
was  right. There clanged in  his mind that unanswerable and terrible truism
in the song of Roland--

     "Pagens ont tort et Chretiens ont droit."

     which in  the old nasal French  has the  clang and groan of great iron.
This liberation  of his spirit from the  load of  his weakness  went with  a
quite  clear decision  to embrace death.  If the people of the  barrel-organ
could  keep  their old-world obligations, so could he. This  very  pride  in
keeping  his word was that he was keeping  it to miscreants. It was his last
triumph over these lunatics  to  go down into  their dark room  and  die for
something that they could not  even understand. The barrel-organ  seemed  to
give  the  marching tune  with the energy  and the mingled noises of a whole
orchestra; and he could hear deep and rolling, under all the trumpets of the
pride of life, the drums of the pride of death.
     The conspirators were already filing  through  the open window and into
the rooms behind. Syme went last, outwardly calm, but with all his brain and
body  throbbing  with  romantic  rhythm.  The  President  led them  down  an
irregular side stair, such as might be  used  by servants, and  into a  dim,
cold, empty  room, with  a  table  and benches, like an abandoned boardroom.
When they were all in, he closed and locked the door.
     The first to speak  was  Gogol, the irreconcilable, who seemed bursting
with inarticulate grievance.
     "Zso!  Zso!"  he  cried, with an  obscure excitement, his heavy  Polish
accent becoming almost impenetrable. "You zay you nod 'ide. You zay you show
himselves.  It is  all  nuzzinks.  Ven  you  vant  talk  importance  you run
yourselves in a dark box!"
     The President  seemed  to take the foreigner's  incoherent satire  with
entire good humour.
     "You can't get hold of it yet, Gogol," he said in a fatherly way. "When
once they have heard us talking nonsense  on that balcony they will not care
where we go afterwards.  If we had come here first, we should  have had  the
whole staff at the keyhole. You don't seem to know anything about mankind."
     "I die for zem," cried the  Pole in thick excitement, "and I slay  zare
oppressors. I  care not for  these games  of gonzealment. I would  zmite  ze
tyrant in ze open square."
     "I see, I see," said the President, nodding kindly as he seated himself
at the top of a  long table. "You die for mankind first, and then you get up
and smite their  oppressors. So that's  all right. And now may  I ask you to
control your beautiful sentiments, and sit down  with the other gentlemen at
this table. For  the first time this morning something  intelligent is going
to be said."
     Syme, with the perturbed promptitude he had  shown since  the  original
summons, sat down first.  Gogol sat down last, grumbling  in his brown beard
about gombromise. No one except  Syme seemed to have any notion  of the blow
that  was about to fall.  As for  him, he had  merely the  feeling of a  man
mounting  the  scaffold with the intention, at any  rate, of making  a  good
     "Comrades," said the President, suddenly rising, "we have spun out this
farce long  enough.  I have called  you  down here to tell you something  so
simple  and shocking that  even  the  waiters upstairs (long  inured to  our
levities) might hear some new  seriousness  in my  voice. Comrades, we  were
discussing plans and naming places. I propose, before saying anything  else,
that those  plans and places should not be voted by this meeting, but should
be left wholly in the control of some one reliable member. I suggest Comrade
Saturday, Dr. Bull."
     They all stared at him; then they all started in their seats,  for  the
next  words,  though not loud, had a living and sensational emphasis. Sunday
struck the table.
     "Not one  word  more about  the  plans and places must be  said at this
meeting. Not one tiny detail more about what we mean to do must be mentioned
in this company."
     Sunday had spent his life in astonishing  his followers; but  it seemed
as  if  he had  never really  astonished  them  until  now. They  all  moved
feverishly in their seats,  except Syme. He sat stiff in his, with his  hand
in his pocket, and on the handle of his loaded revolver. When  the attack on
him came he would sell  his  life  dear. He would  find out at least if  the
President was mortal.
     Sunday went on smoothly--
     "You  will probably understand that  there is only one  possible motive
for  forbidding   free  speech  at  this  festival  of   freedom.  Strangers
overhearing  us matters nothing. They assume that  we  are joking.  But what
would matter, even unto death, is this, that  there  should be  one actually
among us  who is not of  us, who knows our grave purpose, but does not share
it, who--"
     The Secretary screamed out suddenly like a woman.
     "It can't be!" he cried, leaping. "There can't--"
     The President flapped his large flat hand  on the table like the fin of
some huge fish.
     "Yes," he said slowly, "there is a spy in this room. There is a traitor
at this table. I will waste no more words. His name--"
     Syme half rose from his seat, his finger firm on the trigger.
     "His name is  Gogol," said the President. "He is that hairy humbug over
there who pretends to be a Pole."
     Gogol  sprang to his feet, a pistol in each  hand. With  the same flash
three men sprang  at his throat. Even the Professor made  an effort to rise.
But Syme  saw  little of the  scene, for he  was blinded  with a  beneficent
darkness;  he  had  sunk  down  into  his  seat shuddering,  in a  palsy  of
passionate relief.


     "SIT down!" said Sunday  in a voice that he used  once or twice in  his
life, a voice that made men drop drawn swords.
     The three who had risen fell away from Gogol, and that equivocal person
himself resumed his seat.
     "Well, my  man,"  said the  President  briskly, addressing him  as  one
addresses a total stranger, "will you oblige me by putting your hand in your
upper waistcoat pocket and showing me what you have there?"
     The alleged Pole was a little  pale under his tangle of dark hair,  but
he put two fingers into  the pocket with apparent coolness  and pulled out a
blue strip of card. When Syme saw it lying on the table, he woke up again to
the world outside him. For although the card lay at the other extreme of the
table,  and  he  could read  nothing  of the inscription  on it,  it bore  a
startling resemblance to the blue card in his own pocket, the card which had
been given to him when he joined the anti-anarchist constabulary.
     "Pathetic  Slav," said  the President, "tragic child of Poland, are you
prepared in the presence of that card to deny that you are in this company--
shall we say de trop?"
     "Right oh!" said the late Gogol. It made everyone jump to hear a clear,
commercial and somewhat cockney voice coming out  of  that forest of foreign
hair. It was irrational, as if a Chinaman  had suddenly spoken with a Scotch
     "I gather that you fully understand your position," said Sunday.
     "You bet," answered the  Pole. "I see it's a  fair cop. All I say is, I
don't believe any Pole could have imitated my accent like I did his."
     "I concede the  point," said Sunday. "I believe your own  accent  to be
inimitable, though I shall  practise it in my bath. Do you mind leaving your
beard with your card?"
     "Not  a bit,"  answered Gogol; and with  one finger  he ripped off  the
whole of his shaggy head-covering, emerging with thin red hair and  a  pale,
pert face. "It was hot," he added.
     "I will do  you the justice to say," said Sunday, not without a sort of
brutal admiration,  "that you seem to have  kept  pretty cool  under it. Now
listen to me. I like you. The consequence is that it would annoy me for just
about two and a half minutes if I heard that you had died in torments. Well,
if you ever tell the police or  any human soul about us, I  shall  have that
two and a half minutes of discomfort.  On your discomfort I will not  dwell.
Good day. Mind the step."
     The red-haired detective who had masqueraded as Gogol  rose to his feet
without  a  word,  and walked  out of  the  room  with  an  air  of  perfect
nonchalance. Yet the astonished  Syme was able to realise that this ease was
suddenly assumed; for  there  was a slight  stumble outside  the door, which
showed that the departing detective had not minded the step.
     "Time  is  flying," said  the President  in  his  gayest manner,  after
glancing at his watch, which like everything about him seemed bigger than it
ought  to be.  "I  must go off at once;  I have  to  take  the  chair  at  a
Humanitarian meeting."
     The Secretary turned to him with working eyebrows.
     "Would it not be better," he said a little sharply, "to discuss further
the details of our project, now that the spy has left us?"
     "No, I think not," said  the President  with a yawn like an unobtrusive
earthquake. "Leave it as it  is. Let  Saturday  settle it.  I  must be  off.
Breakfast here next Sunday."
     But the late loud scenes had whipped up the almost  naked nerves of the
Secretary. He was one of those men who are conscientious even in crime.
     "I must protest, President,  that the thing is irregular," he said. "It
is a fundamental rule of our society that all plans shall be debated in full
council. Of course, I fully appreciate your forethought  when  in the actual
presence of a traitor--"
     "Secretary,"  said  the President  seriously, "if you'd take your  head
home and boil it for a turnip it might be useful. I can't say. But it might.
     The Secretary reared back in a kind of equine anger.
     "I really fail to understand--" he began in high offense.
     "That's it, that's it," said the President, nodding a great many times.
"That's where  you  fail  right  enough.  You fail to  understand.  Why, you
dancing  donkey," he roared, rising, "you didn't want to be overheard  by  a
spy, didn't you? How do you know you aren't overheard now?"
     And with  these  words  he shouldered his way out  of the room, shaking
with incomprehensible scorn.
     Four of  the  men  left  behind gaped after  him  without  any apparent
glimmering of  his meaning. Syme alone had even a glimmering, and such as it
was it  froze him  to the  bone. If  the  last words of  the President meant
anything,  they meant  that he  had  not after all passed  unsuspected. They
meant  that  while Sunday could not denounce him like Gogol,  he still could
not trust him like the others.
     The other four  got  to their feet  grumbling more or less, and  betook
themselves elsewhere to find lunch, for it was already well past midday. The
Professor went last, very slowly and painfully. Syme sat long after the rest
had gone, revolving his strange position. He  had escaped a thunderbolt, but
he was still under a cloud. At last  he  rose and  made his  way out of  the
hotel into  Leicester Square. The  bright, cold day  had  grown increasingly
colder, and  when  he came out  into the street he was surprised  by  a  few
flakes  of  snow. While  he still carried the sword-stick  and  the  rest of
Gregory's portable  luggage,  he  had  thrown the  cloak  down  and left  it
somewhere,  perhaps  on  the  steam-tug,  perhaps  on  the  balcony. Hoping,
therefore, that the snow-shower might be slight, he stepped back out of  the
street  for a moment  and stood  up under the doorway of a  small and greasy
hair-dresser's shop,  the front  window  of  which  was  empty, except for a
sickly wax lady in evening dress.
     Snow, however, began to  thicken  and fall fast; and Syme, having found
one glance at the wax lady quite sufficient  to depress  his spirits, stared
out instead into the white and empty  street. He was considerably astonished
to see, standing quite still outside the shop and staring into the window, a
man. His top hat was loaded with snow like the hat  of Father Christmas, the
white drift was rising  round his boots  and  ankles; but it  seemed  as  if
nothing  could  tear him away from  the contemplation  of the colourless wax
doll  in  dirty evening dress.  That  any human being should  stand  in such
weather looking  into such a shop was a matter of sufficient wonder to Syme;
but his  idle wonder turned suddenly into a  personal shock; for he realised
that the man standing there  was  the  paralytic old Professor de  Worms. It
scarcely seemed the place for a person of his years and infirmities.
     Syme  was  ready to  believe anything  about the  perversions  of  this
dehumanized brotherhood; but even  he  could  not believe that the Professor
had fallen in love with that particular wax lady. He could only suppose that
the man's malady (whatever  it was) involved some momentary fits of rigidity
or  trance. He was not  inclined, however,  to feel in  this  case any  very
compassionate concern. On the contrary, he rather congratulated himself that
the Professor's stroke and his elaborate and limping walk would make it easy
to escape  from him and leave  him miles behind. For Syme thirsted first and
last  to get clear of the whole poisonous  atmosphere,  if only for an hour.
Then he could collect his thoughts, formulate his policy, and decide finally
whether he should or should not keep faith with Gregory.
     He  strolled away through the  dancing  snow, turned  up  two or  three
streets,  down  through  two  or  three  others,  and  entered a  small Soho
restaurant  for lunch. He  partook reflectively of  four  small  and  quaint
courses, drank half a bottle of red wine, and ended up over black coffee and
a black cigar,  still  thinking.  He had taken his seat in the upper room of
the restaurant,  which was  full of the chink  of  knives and the chatter of
foreigners. He remembered that  in old days he had imagined  that all  these
harmless and kindly aliens were  anarchists.  He  shuddered, remembering the
real thing.  But even the shudder  had  the delightful  shame of escape. The
wine,  the  common  food, the  familiar  place,  the  faces  of  natural and
talkative men,  made him almost feel as if the Council of the Seven Days had
been  a bad dream;  and  although he  knew it was nevertheless an  objective
reality, it was at least a distant one. Tall houses and populous streets lay
between him and his  last  sight of the shameful seven; he  was free in free
London, and drinking  wine among the free. With a somewhat easier action, he
took his hat and stick and strolled down the stair into the shop below.
     When he entered  that lower  room he  stood stricken and rooted  to the
spot. At a small table, close up to the blank window and the white street of
snow, sat the old anarchist  Professor over a glass of milk, with his lifted
livid  face  and  pendent eyelids. For an instant Syme stood as rigid as the
stick  he leant upon. Then with a gesture as of blind hurry, he brushed past
the Professor, dashing open the door and  slamming it  behind him, and stood
outside in the snow.
     "Can that old  corpse be following  me?" he  asked himself,  biting his
yellow moustache.  "I stopped too long up in  that room,  so that  even such
leaden feet could catch me up. One comfort is, with a little brisk walking I
can put a man like that as  far away as Timbuctoo. Or am I too fanciful? Was
he really following me? Surely Sunday would not be such  a fool as to send a
lame man? "
     He set  off  at a smart pace,  twisting and whirling  his stick, in the
direction  of  Covent  Garden.  As he  crossed  the  great market  the  snow
increased,  growing  blinding  and  bewildering  as  the afternoon began  to
darken.  The  snow-flakes tormented him like a swarm of silver bees. Getting
into  his  eyes  and  beard,  they  added  their unremitting futility to his
already irritated nerves; and by  the time that  he had  come  at a swinging
pace  to the  beginning of  Fleet  Street, he lost patience,  and  finding a
Sunday teashop, turned into it to take shelter.  He ordered  another cup  of
black coffee as an excuse. Scarcely had he done so,  when Professor de Worms
hobbled heavily into the shop, sat down with difficulty and  ordered a glass
of milk.
     Syme's walking-stick had fallen from his hand with a great clang, which
confessed the concealed  steel. But  the Professor did not look round. Syme,
who was commonly a cool character, was literally gaping as a rustic gapes at
a  conjuring trick. He had seen  no cab following; he  had  heard no  wheels
outside the  shop; to all mortal appearances the man had  come on foot.  But
the old man could only walk like a snail, and Syme had walked like the wind.
He started  up and snatched his stick, half  crazy with the contradiction in
mere  arithmetic, and swung  out of the  swinging doors,  leaving his coffee
untasted.  An  omnibus going to  the Bank went  rattling by with  an unusual
rapidity. He  had  a violent  run of a hundred  yards to reach  it;  but  he
managed to spring, swaying upon the splash-board and, pausing for an instant
to pant, he climbed on to the top. When he had  been seated for about half a
minute, he heard behind him a sort of heavy and asthmatic breathing.
     Turning  sharply, he  saw rising  gradually higher  and higher  up  the
omnibus  steps a top hat soiled and dripping with snow, and under the shadow
of its brim  the  short-sighted  face  and  shaky shoulders of  Professor de
Worms.  He  let himself into a  seat with characteristic care,  and  wrapped
himself up to the chin in the mackintosh rug.
     Every movement of the old man's tottering figure and vague hands, every
uncertain gesture and panic-stricken pause, seemed to put it beyond question
that he  was helpless, that  he was  in the last imbecility of  the body. He
moved by inches, he let himself  down with little gasps of caution. And yet,
unless the philosophical entities called time and space have no vestige even
of  a practical existence, it appeared quite  unquestionable that he had run
after the omnibus.
     Syme sprang erect upon the rocking car, and after staring wildly at the
wintry  sky, that grew gloomier every moment,  he ran down the steps. He had
repressed an elemental impulse to leap over the side.
     Too bewildered  to look back or to reason,  he rushed into  one  of the
little courts at the side of Fleet Street as a rabbit rushes into a hole. He
had a vague idea, if this  incomprehensible  old Jack-in-the-box was  really
pursuing him, that in that labyrinth of  little streets he could  soon throw
him off the scent. He  dived  in and out of those  crooked lanes, which were
more like cracks  than thoroughfares; and  by the time that he had completed
about  twenty  alternate  angles  and  described  an unthinkable polygon, he
paused to  listen for any sound of pursuit. There was none;  there could not
in any case  have been much,  for the  little  streets  were thick  with the
soundless snow. Somewhere behind Red Lion Court, however, he noticed a place
where some energetic citizen had cleared away the snow for a space of  about
twenty yards, leaving the  wet,  glistening cobble-stones. He thought little
of this as he passed it, only plunging into yet another arm of the maze. But
when  a  few  hundred  yards  farther on he stood still again to listen, his
heart stood  still also, for  he heard  from that space of rugged stones the
clinking crutch and labouring feet of the infernal cripple.
     The sky above was loaded  with the clouds of snow, leaving  London in a
darkness and oppression premature for that hour of the evening. On each side
of Syme  the  walls of the alley were blind and featureless;  there  was  no
little window or any kind of eve. He felt a new impulse to break out of this
hive of houses, and to get once more into the open  and lamp-lit street. Yet
he  rambled  and  dodged  for  a  long  time  before  he  struck   the  main
thoroughfare.  When  he  did so, he  struck it much  farther  up than he had
fancied. He  came out into what seemed the vast and  void of Ludgate Circus,
and saw St. Paul's Cathedral sitting in the sky.
     At  first  he was startled to  find these great roads so empty, as if a
pestilence had swept through the city. Then he told himself that some degree
of emptiness was natural; first because the snow-storm  was even dangerously
deep, and secondly because it was Sunday. And at the very word Sunday he bit
his lip; the word was  henceforth for hire like some indecent pun. Under the
white fog of snow high up in the heaven the whole atmosphere of the city was
turned to  a very queer kind of green twilight, as of men under the sea. The
sealed and sullen  sunset behind the dark dome of St. Paul's had in it smoky
and sinister colours-- colours of sickly green, dead red or decaying bronze,
that were just bright enough to emphasise the solid  whiteness of  the snow.
But right  up against  these  dreary  colours rose  the  black  bulk of  the
cathedral; and  upon the top of the cathedral was a random splash  and great
stain  of  snow,  still  clinging  as  to  an Alpine  peak.  It  had  fallen
accidentally, but just so fallen  as to half  drape  the dome from  its very
topmost  point,  and  to pick out  in perfect silver the great  orb and  the
cross. When Syme saw it he suddenly straightened himself, and made with  his
sword-stick an involuntary salute.
     He  knew  that  that evil figure,  his shadow, was creeping  quickly or
slowly behind him, and he did not care.
     It seemed  a symbol of human faith and valour that while the skies were
darkening  that high place of the earth was  bright.  The devils might  have
captured heaven,  but  they had not  yet captured the  cross. He  had  a new
impulse  to  tear  out the  secret of  this  dancing, jumping  and  pursuing
paralytic; and at the entrance of the  court as it opened upon the Circus he
turned, stick in hand, to face his pursuer.
     Professor de Worms came slowly round the corner of the irregular  alley
behind  him,  his  unnatural  form  outlined   against  a  lonely  gas-lamp,
irresistibly recalling that  very imaginative figure  in the nursery rhymes,
"the crooked  man who went  a crooked mile."  He really  looked as if he had
been twisted out of shape by the tortuous streets  he had been threading. He
came  nearer and nearer, the lamplight shining on his lifted spectacles, his
lifted,  patient  face. Syme  waited for him as  St. George  waited  for the
dragon, as a man waits  for a  final explanation or for death.  And the  old
Professor came right up to him and passed him like a total stranger, without
even a blink of his mournful eyelids.
     There was  something in this  silent and unexpected innocence that left
Syme in a  final fury. The man's colourless face and manner seemed to assert
that the whole following had been an accident. Syme  was  galvanised with an
energy that was something between bitterness and a burst of boyish derision.
He made a wild gesture as if  to knock  the  old  man's hat  off, called out
something like "Catch me if you can," and went racing away across the white,
open  Circus.  Concealment was  impossible  now; and  looking back  over his
shoulder, he could  see  the black figure of  the old gentleman coming after
him with long, swinging strides like a man winning a mile race. But the head
upon that bounding  body was  still pale,  grave and professional, like  the
head of a lecturer upon the body of a harlequin.
     This outrageous chase  sped  across  Ludgate  Circus, up Ludgate  Hill,
round  St.  Paul's  Cathedral, along  Cheapside,  Syme remembering  all  the
nightmares he  had ever known. Then Syme broke  away towards the river,  and
ended almost down by  the docks.  He saw the yellow panes of  a low, lighted
public-house, flung himself into it and ordered beer. It  was a foul tavern,
sprinkled with  foreign  sailors, a  place  where  opium might be  smoked or
knives drawn.
     A  moment  later  Professor  de  Worms  entered  the  place,  sat  down
carefully, and asked for a glass of milk.

          The Man Who Was Thursday. A nightmare

          G. K. CHESTERTON


     WHEN Gabriel Syme  found himself  finally established  in  a chair, and
opposite  to him,  fixed  and  final  also, the lifted  eyebrows and  leaden
eyelids  of the Professor, his  fears  fully returned. This incomprehensible
man  from the  fierce council,  after all, had certainly pursued him. If the
man had one character as a paralytic and another character as a pursuer, the
antithesis might  make him more interesting, but scarcely more  soothing. It
would be a  very small comfort that he could not  find the Professor out, if
by some serious  accident  the Professor  should find him out.  He emptied a
whole pewter pot of ale before the professor had touched his milk.
     One possibility, however, kept him  hopeful and yet  helpless.  It  was
just  possible that  this  escapade signified  something  other than even  a
slight suspicion of  him. Perhaps it was some regular form  or sign. Perhaps
the  foolish scamper  was some sort of friendly signal that he ought to have
understood. Perhaps it was a ritual. Perhaps  the  new Thursday  was  always
chased along Cheapside,  as the new Lord  Mayor is always escorted along it.
He was just selecting  a tentative  inquiry, when the old Professor opposite
suddenly  and  simply  cut  him  short.  Before  Syme could  ask  the  first
diplomatic  question, the old anarchist had asked suddenly, without any sort
of preparation--
     "Are you a policeman?"
     Whatever else  Syme  had expected,  he  had never expected anything  so
brutal and actual as this. Even his great presence of mind could only manage
a reply with an air of rather blundering jocularity.
     "A policeman?" he said, laughing vaguely. "Whatever made you think of a
policeman in connection with me?"
     "The process  was simple enough,"  answered the Professor patiently. "I
thought you looked like a policeman. I think so now."
     "Did I take a policeman's hat by mistake out  of the restaurant?" asked
Syme, smiling wildly.  "Have I  by  any chance got a  number  stuck on to me
somewhere? Have my boots got that watchful look? Why must I be a  policeman?
Do, do let me be a postman."
     The old Professor shook his head with a gravity that gave no hope,  but
Syme ran on with a feverish irony.
     "But perhaps I misunderstood the  delicacies of your German philosophy.
Perhaps policeman is a relative term. In an evolutionary sense, sir, the ape
fades so gradually into the  policeman, that I  myself  can never detect the
shade. The monkey is  only the policeman that may be.  Perhaps a maiden lady
on Clapham Common is only  the policeman that might have  been. I don't mind
being  the  policeman  that might have been. I  don't mind being anything in
German thought."
     "Are you  in the police service?" said the old man, ignoring all Syme's
improvised and desperate raillery. "Are you a detective?"
     Syme's heart turned to stone, but his face never changed.
     "Your suggestion is ridiculous," he began. "Why on earth--"
     The old man struck his palsied hand passionately  on the rickety table,
nearly breaking it.
     "Did you hear me ask a plain question, you pattering spy?" he  shrieked
in a high, crazy voice. "Are you, or are you not, a police detective?"
     "No!" answered Syme, like a man standing on the hangman's drop.
     "You swear it," said the  old man, leaning across to him, his dead face
becoming as it were loathsomely alive. "You swear  it! You  swear it! If you
swear falsely, will you be damned? Will you be sure that the devil dances at
your funeral? Will you see that the nightmare sits on your grave? Will there
really be no mistake? You are an anarchist, you are a dynamiter! Above  all,
you are not in any sense a detective? You are not in the British police?"
     He leant his angular elbow far across the table,  and put up his  large
loose hand like a flap to his ear.
     "I am not in the British police," said Syme with insane calm.
     Professor de Worms fell  back in his chair with a curious air of kindly
     "That's a pity," he said, "because I am."
     Syme  sprang up  straight,  sending  back the  bench behind  him with a
     "Because you are what?" he said thickly. "You are what?"
     "I am a policeman," said the Professor with his first broad smile.  and
beaming through his spectacles. "But as you think  policeman only a relative
term,  of course  I have nothing to do with you. I am in  the British police
force;  but  as  you tell me you are not in  the British police force, I can
only say that I met you  in  a dynamiters' club. I suppose I ought to arrest
you."  And  with these  words  he  laid on  the table before  Syme an  exact
facsimile of the blue card  which Syme had in his own waistcoat pocket,  the
symbol of his power from the police.
     Syme had for a flash the sensation that the  cosmos had turned  exactly
upside down, that  all trees were growing downwards and that  all stars were
under  his  feet. Then came  slowly the  opposite  conviction. For the  last
twenty-four  hours the cosmos  had  really  been upside  down, but  now  the
capsized universe had come  right side up again. This devil from whom he had
been fleeing all day was only  an elder brother of his own house, who on the
other  side of  the  table  lay back and laughed at  him. He did not for the
moment ask  any questions of detail;  he only knew the happy and  silly fact
that this  shadow, which had pursued him  with an intolerable oppression  of
peril,  was only  the  shadow  of a  friend  trying to catch him up. He knew
simultaneously that he was a fool and a free man. For with any recovery from
morbidity there must go a certain healthy humiliation. There comes a certain
point  in such  conditions when only  three  things  are possible:  first  a
perpetuation of Satanic pride,  secondly tears,  and third laughter.  Syme's
egotism  held  hard to the first course for a few seconds, and then suddenly
adopted the third. Taking his own blue police ticket from his own waist coat
pocket, he tossed it on to the  table; then he flung his head back until his
spike  of  yellow  beard almost pointed at the  ceiling, and shouted with  a
barbaric laughter.
     Even in that  close den,  perpetually filled with  the  din  of knives,
plates, cans,  clamorous  voices, sudden struggles and stampedes,  there was
something  Homeric  in  Syme's mirth which made  many  half-drunken men look
     "What yer laughing at, guv'nor?"  asked one wondering labourer from the
     "At  myself," answered Syme,  and went off again into the agony  of his
ecstatic reaction.
     "Pull   yourself  together,"   said  the  Professor,   "or  you'll  get
hysterical. Have some more beer. I'll join you."
     "You haven't drunk your milk," said Syme.
     "My milk!  " said  the other, in  tones  of  withering and unfathomable
contempt, "my milk! Do  you think I'd look at the beastly stuff when I'm out
of sight of the bloody anarchists? We're all Christians in this room, though
perhaps," he added, glancing around at the  reeling crowd, "not strict ones.
Finish  my  milk? Great blazes!  yes, I'll finish it  right enough!"  and he
knocked  the tumbler off  the table, making a crash of glass and a splash of
silver fluid.
     Syme was staring at him with a happy curiosity.
     "I understand  now,"  he cried;  "of course, you're not an  old man  at
     "I can't take  my face off here,"  replied  Professor  de Worms.  "It's
rather an elaborate make-up. As to whether I'm an old man, that's not for me
to say. I was thirty-eight last birthday."
     "Yes, but  I mean," said Syme impatiently, "there's nothing  the matter
with you."
     "Yes," answered the other dispassionately. "I am subject to colds."
     Syme's laughter  at all this had about it a wild weakness of relief. He
laughed  at the  idea of the paralytic Professor being  really a young actor
dressed up as if for the foot-lights. But he felt that he would have laughed
as loudly if a pepperpot had fallen over.
     The false Professor drank and wiped his false beard.
     "Did you know," he asked, "that that man Gogol was one of us?"
     "I? No, I didn't know it," answered Syme in  some surprise. "But didn't
     "I knew  no more than the dead," replied  the man who called himself de
Worms. "I  thought the President was  talking about me,  and I rattled in my
     "And I thought he was  talking  about me,"  said Syme, with  his rather
reckless laughter. "I had my hand on my revolver all the time."
     "So had I," said the Professor grimly; "so had Gogol evidently."
     Syme struck the table with an exclamation.
     "Why, there were three of us there!" he cried. "Three out of seven is a
fighting number. If we had only known that we were three!"
     The face of Professor de Worms darkened, and he did not look up.
     "We were  three," he said. "If we had been three hundred we could still
have done nothing."
     "Not if we were three hundred against four?" asked Syme, jeering rather
     "No,"  said  the Professor with sobriety, "not if we were three hundred
against Sunday."
     And the mere  name struck Syme  cold and serious; his laughter had died
in his  heart before it could die on his lips. The face of the unforgettable
President sprang into his mind as startling as a coloured photograph, and he
remarked this  difference  between Sunday and all his satellites, that their
faces, however fierce or sinister, became gradually blurred  by memory  like
other human faces, whereas Sunday's seemed almost to grow more actual during
absence, as if a man's painted portrait should slowly come alive.
     They were both silent for a measure of  moments, and then Syme's speech
came with a rush, like the sudden foaming of champagne.
     "Professor," he cried, "it is intolerable. Are you afraid of this man?"
     The Professor lifted his  heavy  lids, and  gazed  at Syme with  large,
wide-open, blue eyes of an almost ethereal honesty.
     "Yes, I am," he said mildly. "So are you."
     Syme was  dumb for an instant. Then he rose to  his feet erect, like an
insulted man, and thrust the chair away from him.
     "Yes," he said in a voice indescribable, "you are right. I am afraid of
him.  Therefore I swear by  God that I  will  seek out this man  whom I fear
until I find him, and strike him on the mouth. If heaven were his throne and
the earth his footstool, I swear that I would pull him down."
     "How?" asked the staring Professor. "Why?"
     "Because I am afraid of him,"  said  Syme; "and no man should  leave in
the universe anything of which he is afraid."
     De Worms blinked at him with a sort of blind wonder.  He made an effort
to  speak, but Syme went on in  a low  voice,  but with  an undercurrent  of
inhuman exaltation--
     "Who would  condescend to strike down the mere things  that he does not
fear?  Who  would  debase  himself  to  be  merely brave,  like  any  common
prizefighter? Who would stoop to be fearless--like a  tree?  Fight the thing
that you  fear. You remember the old tale of the English clergyman who  gave
the last rites  to the brigand of Sicily, and how on his death-bed the great
robber said, 'I  can  give you  no  money, but I can  give you advice for  a
lifetime: your thumb  on the blade,  and strike  upwards.'  So I say to you,
strike upwards, if you strike at the stars."
     The other looked at the ceiling, one of the tricks of his pose.
     "Sunday is a fixed star," he said.
     "You shall see him a falling star," said Syme, and put on his hat.
     The decision of his gesture drew the Professor vaguely to his feet.
     "Have you any idea," he asked, with a sort of benevolent  bewilderment,
"exactly where you are going?"
     "Yes,"  replied Syme  shortly, "I am going  to prevent  this bomb being
thrown in Paris."
     "Have you any conception how?" inquired the other.
     "No," said Syme with equal decision.
     "You remember, of course," resumed the soi-disant de Worms, pulling his
beard and looking out of the window, "that when we broke up rather hurriedly
the whole  arrangements  for the atrocity were  left in the private hands of
the Marquis and Dr.  Bull. The Marquis is by this time probably crossing the
Channel. But where he  will go  and  what he will do it is doubtful  whether
even  the  President  knows;  certainly we don't know. The only man who does
know is Dr. Bull.
     "Confound it!" cried Syme. "And we don't know where he is."
     "Yes," said the other in his curious, absent-minded way, "I know  where
he is myself."
     "Will you tell me?" asked Syme with eager eyes.
     "I will take you there," said  the Professor, and took down his own hat
from a peg.
     Syme stood looking at him with a sort of rigid excitement.
     "What do you mean?" he asked sharply. "Will you  join me? Will you take
the risk?"
     "Young man," said the Professor pleasantly,  "I  am  amused  to observe
that you think I am a coward. As to  that I will say only one word, and that
shall  be  entirely in  the  manner of your own philosophical  rhetoric. You
think that  it is  possible to pull down  the  President. I know  that it is
impossible, and I  am going to  try it," and opening  the tavern door, which
let  in a blast of bitter air, they  went out together into the dark streets
by the docks.
     Most of  the snow was melted or trampled to mud, but here and  there  a
clot  of it still  showed grey  rather than white  in  the  gloom. The small
streets were sloppy  and full  of  pools, which reflected  the flaming lamps
irregularly, and by accident, like fragments of some other and fallen world.
Syme  felt almost dazed  as  he  stepped  through this growing  confusion of
lights and shadows; but his companion walked  on  with a certain  briskness,
towards where, at the end of the street, an inch or two of the lamplit river
looked like a bar of flame.
     "Where are you going?" Syme inquired.
     "Just now," answered  the Professor, "I am going  just round the corner
to see whether Dr. Bull has gone to bed. He is hygienic, and retires early."
     "Dr. Bull!" exclaimed Syme. "Does he live round the corner?"
     "No," answered his friend. "As  a matter of fact he lives some way off,
on the other side of  the river,  but  we can tell from here  whether he has
gone to bed."
     Turning the corner as he spoke, and facing  the dim river, flecked with
flame, he pointed with his stick to the other  bank.  On the Surrey side  at
this point there  ran out into the Thames,  seeming almost to overhang it, a
bulk and  cluster of those  tall tenements, dotted with lighted windows, and
rising like factory chimneys to an almost insane height. Their special poise
and  position made  one block of buildings especially  look like a Tower  of
Babel with  a hundred  eyes.  Syme had never  seen any  of the  sky-scraping
buildings in America, so he could only think of the buildings in a dream.
     Even as he stared, the highest light in this innumerably lighted turret
abruptly went out, as if this  black Argus had winked at him with one of his
innumerable eyes.
     Professor  de  Worms swung round  on  his  heel, and  struck  his stick
against his boot.
     "We are too late," he said, "the hygienic Doctor has gone to bed."
     "What do you mean?" asked Syme. "Does he live over there, then?"
     "Yes,"  said de Worms,  "behind that particular window which you  can't
see. Come along and get some dinner. We must call on him to-morrow morning."
     Without  further parley, he led  the way  through several by-ways until
they came  out into  the flare and  clamour of the East India Dock Road. The
Professor, who seemed to know his way about the neighbourhood, proceeded  to
a  place where the line of lighted  shops  fell back into a  sort of  abrupt
twilight and quiet, in which an old white inn, all out of repair, stood back
some twenty feet from the road.
     "You  can find  good English  inns left by  accident  everywhere,  like
fossils," explained the Professor. "I once found a  decent place in the West
     "I suppose," said Syme, smiling, "that this is the corresponding decent
place in the East End?"
     "It is," said the Professor reverently, and went in.
     In that place they dined and slept, both very thoroughly. The beans and
bacon,  which  these  unaccountable  people  cooked  well,  the  astonishing
emergence of  Burgundy  from  their cellars, crowned  Syme's  sense of a new
comradeship and comfort. Through  all this  ordeal  his root horror had been
isolation, and there are no words to express the abyss between isolation and
having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematicians that four is twice
two. But two is not twice one; two is two thousand times  one. That  is why,
in  spite  of  a  hundred disadvantages,  the world will  always  return  to
     Syme  was able  to  pour  out  for the  first  time  the  whole  of his
outrageous tale,  from the time when Gregory  had taken  him  to  the little
tavern by the river. He did it idly and amply, in a luxuriant monologue,  as
a man  speaks with  very old friends. On  his  side, also, the  man who  had
impersonated  Professor de Worms was  not less communicative. His  own story
was almost as silly as Syme's.
     "That's a good get-up of yours,"  said Syme, draining a glass of Macon;
"a lot better than old Gogol's. Even at the start I thought he was a bit too
     "A  difference  of  artistic  theory," replied the Professor pensively.
"Gogol was an idealist. He made up  as the abstract  or platonic ideal of an
anarchist. But I am a realist. I am a portrait painter. But, indeed, to  say
that I am a portrait painter is an inadequate expression. I am a portrait."
     "I don't understand you," said Syme.
     "I  am a portrait,"  repeated the Professor. "I am  a portrait  of  the
celebrated Professor de Worms, who is, I believe, in Naples."
     "You mean  you are made up like him," said  Syme. "But doesn't he  know
that you are taking his nose in vain?"
     "He knows it right enough," replied his friend cheerfully.
     "Then why doesn't he denounce you?"
     "I have denounced him," answered the Professor.
     "Do explain yourself," said Syme.
     "With pleasure, if  you  don't  mind  hearing  my  story,"  replied the
eminent foreign philosopher. "I am  by profession an  actor, and my  name is
Wilks.  When I was  on the  stage  I  mixed  with all sorts of Bohemian  and
blackguard company. Sometimes I touched the edge of the turf, sometimes  the
riff-raff of the  arts, and occasionally the political  refugee. In some den
of  exiled  dreamers  I  was  introduced  to  the   great  German   Nihilist
philosopher, Professor de Worms. I did not gather much about  him beyond his
appearance,  which was  very disgusting,  and which I  studied  carefully. I
understood that he had proved that the destructive principle in the universe
was God; hence  he insisted on the need for a furious and incessant  energy,
rending  all things in  pieces. Energy,  he said, was the  All. He was lame,
shortsighted, and  partially paralytic. When I met him I was in a  frivolous
mood, and I disliked him  so much that I resolved to  imitate him. If  I had
been a draughtsman I would have drawn a caricature.  I was only  an actor, I
could only act a caricature. I made myself up into what was meant for a wild
exaggeration  of the  old Professor's  dirty old self. When I went into  the
room  full  of  his supporters I  expected  to  be  received with a  roar of
laughter, or (if  they were too far gone) with a roar of indignation  at the
insult. I cannot describe the surprise I felt when my entrance  was received
with a respectful silence, followed (when I had first opened my lips) with a
murmur of admiration. The curse of the perfect artist had fallen upon me.  I
had been too  subtle, I had been too true.  They thought  I really  was  the
great Nihilist Professor. I was a healthy-minded young  man at the time, and
I confess that it was a blow. Before I could fully recover,  however, two or
three of these admirers ran up to me radiating indignation, and told me that
a  public insult had  been put  upon  me  in  the next  room. I inquired its
nature. It  seemed that an impertinent  fellow  had dressed himself up  as a
preposterous parody of myself. I had drunk more champagne than was good  for
me, and  in  a  flash  of folly  I decided  to  see the  situation  through.
Consequently  it  was  to meet the glare of the company and  my  own  lifted
eyebrows and freezing eyes that the real Professor came into the room.
     "I need hardly say there was a collision.  The pessimists all  round me
looked anxiously from one Professor to the other Professor to  see which was
really the more feeble. But I won. An old man in poor health, like my rival,
could  not be expected to be  so impressively feeble as a young actor in the
prime  of life. You  see, he really had paralysis, and  working  within this
definite  limitation,  he couldn't  be  so jolly paralytic as I was. Then he
tried to blast  my claims intellectually. I countered that by  a very simple
dodge. Whenever he  said something that  nobody but he  could  understand, I
replied with something which I  could  not  even understand myself. 'I don't
fancy,'  he  said,  'that  you  could  have  worked out  the principle  that
evolution is only negation, since there inheres in  it the  introduction  of
lacuna,  which  are  an  essential  of  differentiation.'  I  replied  quite
scornfully, 'You read all that up in  Pinckwerts; the notion that involution
functioned  eugenically was exposed  long ago by  Glumpe.' It is unnecessary
for me  to say that there never were  such people as Pinckwerts  and Glumpe.
But the  people all round (rather  to my  surprise) seemed  to remember them
quite well,  and  the  Professor,  finding  that  the learned and mysterious
method left him  rather  at the  mercy of an  enemy  slightly  deficient  in
scruples, fell  back upon a more popular form  of wit.  'I see,' he sneered,
'you  prevail  like  the  false pig in  Aesop.' 'And you  fail,' I answered,
smiling, 'like  the hedgehog in  Montaigne.'  Need I say  that there  is  no
hedgehog  in Montaigne?  'Your claptrap comes  off,' he said; 'so would your
beard.' I had no intelligent answer to this, which was quite true and rather
witty. But  I laughed heartily, answered,  'Like  the Pantheist's boots,' at
random, and  turned on my  heel with all the honours of  victory.  The  real
Professor was  thrown out, but not with  violence, though one man tried very
patiently to pull off his nose. He is now, I believe, received everywhere in
Europe as  a delightful  impostor.  His apparent  earnestness and anger, you
see, make him all the more entertaining."
     "Well," said  Syme, "I can understand your  putting  on  his  dirty old
beard for a night's practical joke, but I don't understand your never taking
it off again."
     "That is the rest of the story," said  the impersonator. "When I myself
left the company,  followed by reverent  applause, I went limping  down  the
dark street, hoping that I should soon be far enough away to be able to walk
like a  human being. To my astonishment, as I was turning the corner, I felt
a  touch  on the  shoulder, and turning, found myself under the shadow of an
enormous  policeman. He told me I  was wanted.  I struck a sort of paralytic
attitude,  and  cried in a high German  accent,  'Yes, I  am  wanted--by the
oppressed  of the  world. You are  arresting  me on the charge  of being the
great anarchist, Professor  de Worms.' The policeman impassively consulted a
paper in his hand, 'No, sir,' he said civilly, 'at least,  not exactly, sir.
I am arresting  you on the charge of  not  being  the  celebrated anarchist,
Professor de Worms.' This charge,  if it was criminal at all, was  certainly
the lighter of  the  two, and  I went along with  the man, doubtful, but not
greatly  dismayed. I was  shown into a number of rooms, and  eventually into
the presence of a police officer, who explained that a serious  campaign had
been  opened against the centres  of anarchy,  and that this,  my successful
masquerade, might be of considerable value  to the public safety. He offered
me a good  salary  and this little  blue card.  Though our conversation  was
short,  he struck me as a man of very massive common sense and humour; but I
cannot tell you much about him personally, because--"
     Syme laid down his knife and fork.
     "I know," he said, "because you talked to him in a dark room."
     Professor de Worms nodded and drained his glass.


     "BURGUNDY  is a jolly thing," said the  Professor sadly, as he  set his
glass down.
     "You  don't look as if it were," said Syme; "you drink it as if it were
     "You  must excuse my manner," said the Professor dismally, "my position
is  rather a curious one. Inside I am really bursting with boyish merriment;
but I acted the paralytic Professor so well, that now I can't  leave off. So
that when I am among friends, and have no need at all to disguise  myself, I
still  can't help  speaking slow and wrinkling  my forehead--  just as if it
were my  forehead.  I can be  quite happy,  you understand,  but  only in  a
paralytic sort of way. The  most  buoyant  exclamations leap up in my heart,
but they come out of my mouth quite different. You should hear me say, 'Buck
up, old cock!' It would bring tears to your eyes."
     "It does," said Syme;  "but I cannot help thinking that apart from  all
that you are really a bit worried."
     The Professor started a little and looked at him steadily.
     "You are a very clever fellow," he said, "it is a pleasure to work with
you.  Yes, I have rather  a heavy cloud in my head. There is a great problem
to face," and he sank his bald brow in his two hands.
     Then he said in a low voice--
     "Can you play the piano?"
     "Yes," said Syme in simple wonder, "I'm supposed to have a good touch."
     Then, as the other did not speak, he added--
     "I trust the great cloud is lifted."
     After a long silence, the Professor said out of the cavernous shadow of
his hands--
     "It would have done just as well if you could work a typewriter."
     "Thank you," said Syme, "you flatter me."
     "Listen to me,"  said  the other,  "and  remember whom  we have to  see
tomorrow.  You and  I are going to-morrow to attempt something which is very
much more dangerous than trying to steal the Crown  Jewels out of the Tower.
We are trying to  steal a secret from a very  sharp,  very strong, and  very
wicked man. I believe there is no man,  except the President, of course, who
is so seriously startling and formidable as that little  grinning  fellow in
goggles. He has not  perhaps  the  white-hot enthusiasm unto death,  the mad
martyrdom  for  anarchy,  which marks  the Secretary.  But  then  that  very
fanaticism  in  the Secretary has a human pathos, and  is almost a redeeming
trait. But the little Doctor has a brutal sanity that is more  shocking than
the  Secretary's  disease.  Don't you  notice  his  detestable virility  and
vitality. He bounces like an india-rubber ball. Depend on it, Sunday was not
asleep (I wonder if he ever sleeps?) when he locked up all the plans of this
outrage in the round, black head of Dr. Bull."
     "And you  think," said Syme, "that this unique  monster will be soothed
if I play the piano to him?"
     "Don't be  an ass," said his mentor. "I mentioned  the piano because it
gives  one quick and independent fingers. Syme, if we are to go through this
interview  and come out sane  or alive,  we must have some  code  of signals
between  us that this  brute  will not see. I have made a rough alphabetical
cypher corresponding to  the five fingers-- like  this, see," and he rippled
with his fingers on the wooden table--"B A D,  bad, a word we may frequently
     Syme poured himself out  another glass of wine, and began  to study the
scheme. He was abnormally quick with his  brains  at  puzzles, and  with his
hands  at conjuring, and it  did not  take  him long to  learn how he  might
convey  simple messages by what would seem to be idle  taps upon a table  or
knee. But wine and companionship had always the effect of inspiring him to a
farcical ingenuity, and the Professor soon found himself struggling with the
too  vast energy of the new language, as it  passed through the heated brain
of Syme.
     "We must  have several word-signs," said Syme seriously--"words that we
are likely to want, fine shades of meaning.  My favourite word is ' coeval.'
What's yours?"
     "Do stop playing the goat," said the  Professor plaintively. "You don't
know how serious this is."
     " ' Lush,' too, "  said  Syme, shaking his  head sagaciously, "we  must
have ' lush'--word applied to grass, don't you know?"
     "Do you imagine,"  asked the Professor furiously, "that we are going to
talk to Dr. Bull about grass?"
     "There are several ways in which the subject could be approached," said
Syme reflectively, "and  the  word  introduced  without appearing forced. We
might say, ' Dr. Bull, as a revolutionist, you remember that a  tyrant  once
advised us to eat grass;  and  indeed many of us,  looking on the fresh lush
grass of summer "'
     "Do you understand," said the other, "that this is a tragedy?"
     "Perfectly," replied Syme;  "always  be  comic in a  tragedy.  What the
deuce else  can you do? I  wish  this language of yours had a wider scope. I
suppose we could not extend  it from  the fingers to the  toes?  That  would
involve  pulling off our  boots and  socks  during  the conversation,  which
however unobtrusively performed--"
     "Syme," said his friend with a stern simplicity, "go to bed!"
     Syme,  however, sat up in bed for a considerable time mastering the new
code. He was awakened  next morning  while  the  east was still sealed  with
darkness,  and found his grey-bearded ally  standing like a ghost beside his
     Syme sat up in bed blinking; then slowly collected  his thoughts, threw
off the bed-clothes, and stood up. It seemed to him in some curious way that
all the  safety and sociability of the night before fell with the bedclothes
off him, and he stood up in an air  of cold  danger. He still felt an entire
trust and loyalty towards his  companion;  but it was the trust  between two
men going to the scaffold.
     "Well,"  said Syme  with  a  forced  cheerfulness as  he pulled  on his
trousers, "I dreamt  of that alphabet of yours. Did it take you long to make
it up?"
     The Professor made no answer, but gazed  in front of him with  eyes the
colour of a wintry sea; so Syme repeated his question.
     "I say, did it take you long to invent all this? I'm considered good at
these things, and it was a  good  hour's  grind. Did you learn it all on the
     The Professor was silent;  his eyes were wide open, and he wore a fixed
but very small smile.
     "How long did it take you?"
     The Professor did not move.
     "Confound you,  can't you  answer?" called  out Syme, in a sudden anger
that  had something like  fear underneath. Whether or no the Professor could
answer, he did not.
     Syme stood staring back at the stiff face like parchment and the blank,
blue eyes. His first  thought  was that the Professor had gone  mad, but his
second thought was  more  frightful. After  all, what did he know about this
queer  creature  whom he  had heedlessly accepted as  a  friend? What did he
know, except that  the man had been at the anarchist breakfast  and had told
him a ridiculous tale? How  improbable it  was  that there should be another
friend there  beside  Gogol!  Was  this man's  silence a  sensational way of
declaring war? Was  this adamantine stare after all only the  awful sneer of
some threefold  traitor,  who had  turned for the  last  time?  He stood and
strained his ears in this heartless silence. He almost fancied he could hear
dynamiters come to capture him shifting softly in the corridor outside.
     Then  his  eye strayed downwards, and he burst out laughing. Though the
Professor himself  stood there  as voiceless  as  a  statue,  his five  dumb
fingers were dancing alive  upon the dead table. Syme  watched the twinkling
movements of the talking hand, and read clearly the message--
     "I will only talk like this. We must get used to it."
     He rapped out the answer with the impatience of relief--
     "All right. Let's get out to breakfast."
     They  took their  hats  and  sticks  in silence; but as  Syme  took his
sword-stick, he held it hard.
     They paused for  a few minutes only to  stuff  down coffee  and  coarse
thick sandwiches  at  a coffee  stall, and then made  their  way across  the
river, which under the grey and growing light looked as desolate as Acheron.
They reached the  bottom of the huge block  of buildings which they had seen
from across  the  river,  and  began  in silence  to  mount  the  naked  and
numberless stone steps, only  pausing now and  then to make short remarks on
the rail of the banisters. At about every other flight they passed a window;
each window showed  them  a pale  and tragic dawn lifting itself laboriously
over London. From each the innumerable roofs of slate looked like the leaden
surges of  a grey,  troubled sea after rain. Syme was increasingly conscious
that his new adventure had somehow  a  quality of cold sanity worse than the
wild adventures of  the past.  Last night,  for instance, the tall tenements
had  seemed to him like  a tower in a dream. As he now went up the weary and
perpetual steps,  he  was daunted and  bewildered  by their almost  infinite
series. But it was  not  the hot horror of a dream or of anything that might
be exaggeration or delusion. Their infinity was more like the empty infinity
of arithmetic, something unthinkable, yet  necessary  to  thought. Or it was
like  the  stunning statements of astronomy about the distance of the  fixed
stars.  He was ascending the  house of  reason, a  thing more  hideous  than
unreason itself.
     By the time they reached Dr. Bull's landing,  a last window showed them
a harsh, white dawn edged with banks of a kind of coarse  red, more like red
clay  than red cloud. And when  they entered  Dr.  Bull's bare garret it was
full of light.
     Syme had been haunted by  a  half  historic memory in  connection  with
these  empty  rooms  and that austere daybreak. The moment he saw the garret
and Dr. Bull sitting writing at a table, he remembered what the memory was--
the French  Revolution.  There should  have  been the  black  outline  of  a
guillotine against that heavy red and white of  the morning. Dr. Bull was in
his white shirt and black breeches only;  his cropped,  dark head might well
have just come out of its wig; he  might have been Marat or  a more slipshod
     Yet when he was seen properly, the French fancy fell away. The Jacobins
were  idealists;  there  was  about  this man  a  murderous materialism. His
Dosition gave him  a  somewhat new appearance.  The  strong,  white light of
morning coming from one side creating sharp shadows, made him seem both more
pale and more angular  than  he had looked  at the breakfast on the balcony.
Thus the two black glasses that encased  his  eyes  might  really  have been
black cavities  in  his  skull,  making him look  like a death's-head.  And,
indeed, if ever  Death himself sat writing at a wooden  table, it might have
been he.
     He looked up  and smiled brightly enough as the  men  came in, and rose
with the resilient rapidity of which the Professor had spoken. He set chairs
for both of them, and going to a  peg behind the door, proceeded to put on a
coat and waistcoat of rough, dark tweed; he buttoned  it up neatly, and came
back to sit down at his table.
     The quiet good humour of his manner left his two opponents helpless. It
was  with  some momentary difficulty  that the  Professor broke silence  and
began, "I'm sorry to disturb you so early, comrade," said he, with a careful
resumption  of the  slow  de Worms manner. "You  have no doubt  made all the
arrangements for the Paris  affair?"  Then  he added with infinite slowness,
"We have information which renders  intolerable anything  in the nature of a
moment's delay."
     Dr. Bull  smiled again, but continued to gaze on them without speaking.
The Professor resumed, a pause before each weary word--
     "Please do not think me excessively abrupt; but  I  advise you to alter
those plans, or if it is too  late for  that, to follow your agent  with all
the support you can get for  him. Comrade  Syme and I have had an experience
which it would take more time to recount than  we  can afford, if we are  to
act  on it. I  will, however,  relate the  occurrence in detail, even at the
risk of losing  time,  if  you  really feel  that  it  is  essential  to the
understanding of the problem we have to discuss."
     He  was spinning out his sentences,  making  them  intolerably long and
lingering,  in  the  hope of  maddening the practical little Doctor into  an
explosion  of impatience which might  show his hand. But  the little  Doctor
continued only to stare and smile, and the monologue was  uphill  work. Syme
began  to  feel  a  new sickness and despair. The Doctor's smile and silence
were  not at all like the cataleptic stare and horrible silence which he had
confronted  in the  Professor half  an hour  before. About  the  Professor's
makeup and all his antics there  was always something merely grotesque, like
a gollywog. Syme  remembered those wild woes of  yesterday as one  remembers
being  afraid  of  Bogy in  childhood.  But here was  daylight; here  was  a
healthy, square-shouldered  man in tweeds, not odd  save for the accident of
his ugly  spectacles, not glaring  or grinning  at all, but smiling steadily
and  not saying a  word. The  whole had a sense of unbearable reality. Under
the  increasing sunlight the colours of the Doctor's complexion, the pattern
of  his tweeds, grew  and expanded  outrageously, as  such  things  grow too
important in a realistic novel. But his smile was quite slight, the pose  of
his head polite; the only uncanny thing was his silence.
     "As  I  say," resumed the  Professor, like a man toiling through  heavy
sand, "the incident that  has  occurred  to  us and  has  led  us to ask for
information about the Marquis, is one which you may think it  better to have
narrated; but as it came in the way of Comrade Syme rather than me--"
     His  words he seemed  to be dragging  out like words in an  anthem; but
Syme, who  was watching, saw his long fingers rattle quickly  on the edge of
the crazy table. He read the message, "You must go on. This devil has sucked
me dry!"
     Syme plunged into  the breach with that bravado of  improvisation which
always came to him when he was alarmed.
     "Yes, the  thing really  happened  to me," he said hastily. "I  had the
good fortune to fall into  conversation with a detective who took me, thanks
to  my  hat, for a respectable  person.  Wishing to clinch my reputation for
respectability, I took him and  made him very drunk at the Savoy. Under this
influence he became friendly, and told me in so many words that within a day
or two they hope to arrest the Marquis in France.
     So unless you or I can get on his track--"
     The  Doctor  was  still  smiling  in  the  most  friendly way, and  his
protected eyes were still impenetrable. The Professor signalled to Syme that
he would resume his explanation, and he  began again with the same elaborate
     "Syme immediately  brought  this information to me,  and  we  came here
together to see what use you would be inclined to make of it. It seems to me
unquestionably urgent that--"
     All this time Syme had been staring at the Doctor almost as steadily as
the  Doctor stared at the Professor, but quite without the smile. The nerves
of both comrades-in-arms were near snapping under that strain of  motionless
amiability, when Syme suddenly leant forward and idly tapped the edge of the
table. His message to his ally ran, "I have an intuition."
     The Professor, with  scarcely a pause in his monologue, signalled back,
"Then sit on it."
     Syme telegraphed, "It is quite extraordinary."
     The other answered, "Extraordinary rot!"
     Syme said, "I am a poet."
     The other retorted, "You are a dead man."
     Syme had  gone  quite red  up to  his  yellow hair, and  his eyes  were
burning feverishly. As he said he had an intuition,  and  it had risen  to a
sort of lightheaded certainty. Resuming his symbolic taps,  he signalled  to
his  friend, "You scarcely realise  how poetic  my intuition is. It has that
sudden quality we sometimes feel in the coming of spring."
     He then studied the answer on his friend's fingers. The answer was, "Go
to hell! "
     The Professor then resumed his merely verbal monologue addressed to the
     "Perhaps  I  should rather say,"  said  Syme  on his  fingers, "that it
resembles that sudden smell of the sea which  may be found in  the  heart of
lush woods."
     His companion disdained to reply.
     "Or yet again,"  tapped Syme, "it is positive, as is the passionate red
hair of a beautiful woman."
     The Professor was continuing his speech,  but in the middle  of it Syme
decided to  act. He  leant across the table, and said in a  voice that could
not be neglected--
     "Dr. Bull!"
     The Doctor's sleek and smiling head did not move,  but  they could have
sworn that under his dark glasses his eyes darted towards Syme.
     "Dr. Bull," said  Syme, in a  voice peculiarly  precise and  courteous,
"would  you do me a small favour? Would you be so kind as to take  off  your
     The Professor swung round on his  seat, and  stared at Syme with a sort
of frozen fury of astonishment. Syme, like a man who has thrown his life and
fortune on the  table, leaned forward with a fiery face. The Doctor did  not
     For  a few seconds  there  was a silence in which one could hear a  pin
drop, split once by the single hoot of a distant steamer on the Thames. Then
Dr. Bull rose slowly, still smiling, and took off his spectacles.
     Syme sprang to his  feet, stepping backwards  a little, like a chemical
lecturer  from a successful explosion. His eyes were like stars,  and for an
instant he could only point without speaking.
     The Professor had also started to  his feet, forgetful of his  supposed
paralysis.  He leant on the back of the  chair and stared doubtfully  at Dr.
Bull,  as if the  Doctor had  been turned  into a toad  before his eyes. And
indeed it was almost as great a transformation scene.
     The two  detectives  saw  sitting  in  the  chair before  them  a  very
boyish-looking  young man,  with very  frank and happy  hazel  eyes, an open
expression,  cockney  clothes  like  those  of   a   city  clerk,   and   an
unquestionable breath about him  of being  very good and rather commonplace.
The smile was still there, but it might have been the first smile of a baby.
     "I  knew I was  a  poet," cried  Syme in a sort of ecstasy. "I  knew my
intuition was as infallible as  the Pope. It was the spectacles that did it!
It was all the spectacles. Given  those beastly black eyes, and all the rest
of  him  his health  and his jolly looks, made  him a live  devil among dead
     "It  certainly  does  make  a queer  difference,"  said  the  Professor
shakily. "But as regards the project of Dr. Bull--"
     "Project be damned!" roared Syme, beside himself. "Look at him! Look at
his  face, look at his collar, look at his blessed boots! You don't suppose,
do you, that that thing's an anarchist?"
     "Syme!" cried the other in an apprehensive agony.
     "Why, by God," said Syme, "I'll take the risk of that myself! Dr. Bull,
I  am a police officer. There's my card," and  he flung  down the  blue card
upon the table.
     The  Professor still  feared  that all  was lost; but  he was loyal. He
pulled out his  own official card and put it beside  his  friend's. Then the
third man burst out laughing, and for the first time that morning they heard
his voice.
     "I'm awfully glad you chaps have come so early," he said, with  a  sort
of schoolboy flippancy, "for  we can all start for France together. Yes, I'm
in the force right enough," and he flicked a blue card towards them  lightly
as a matter of form.
     Clapping a  brisk  bowler on  his head and resuming his goblin glasses,
the Doctor moved so quickly towards the door, that the others  instinctively
followed  him.  Syme seemed a  little distrait, and as he passed  under  the
doorway he suddenly struck his stick on the stone passage so that it rang.
     "But Lord  God Almighty," he  cried  out, "if  this is all right, there
were more damned detectives than there were damned dynamiters at the  damned
     "We might have fought easily," said Bull; "we were four against three."
     The  Professor was descending the stairs, but  his voice came  up  from
     "No,"  said the voice,  "we were not four against three--we were not so
lucky. We were four against One."
     The others went down the stairs in silence.
     The young man called  Bull, with an innocent courtesy characteristic of
him, insisted on going last until they reached the street; but there his own
robust  rapidity asserted itself  unconsciously,  and he walked  quickly  on
ahead towards  a  railway inquiry office, talking  to  the  others  over his
     "It is jolly to get some pals," he said. "I've been  half dead with the
jumps, being quite  alone.  I nearly flung my arms round Gogol and  embraced
him, which would have been imprudent. I hope you won't despise me for having
been in a blue funk."
     "All the blue devils in blue  hell," said Syme, "contributed to my blue
funk! But the worst devil was you and your infernal goggles."
     The young man laughed delightedly.
     "Wasn't it a rag?" he said. "Such a simple idea--not my  own. I haven't
got  the  brains.  You see,  I  wanted  to  go into  the detective  service,
especially  the  anti-dynamite business. But  for  that  purpose they wanted
someone to  dress up as a dynamiter;  and they all swore  by blazes  that  I
could never look like  a dynamiter. They said my very  walk was respectable,
and that seen from behind I looked like the  British Constitution. They said
I  looked too healthy and too optimistic, and too reliable  and  benevolent;
they called me all sorts of names at Scotland Yard. They  said that if I had
been a criminal, I might have made my fortune  by looking so like an  honest
man; but as I had the misfortune to be an honest man, there was not even the
remotest chance of my assisting them by ever looking like a criminal. But as
last I was brought before some old josser  who was high up in the force, and
who seemed  to  have no end of a head on his shoulders. And there the others
all talked hopelessly.  One  asked whether a bushy beard  would hide my nice
smile; another said that  if  they blacked my face I might look like a negro
anarchist; but this old chap chipped in with a most extraordinary remark. 'A
pair of smoked spectacles will do it,' he said positively. 'Look at him now;
he looks like an angelic office boy. Put him on a pair of smoked spectacles,
and  children will  scream at the  sight of him.'  And so it was, by George!
When  once  my  eyes were covered, all the rest, smile and big shoulders and
short  hair, made me look a perfect  little devil.  As I say, it  was simple
enough  when  it  was  done,  like miracles;  but  that  wasn't  the  really
miraculous  part  of it.  There was one  really staggering  thing  about the
business, and my head still turns at it."
     "What was that?" asked Syme.
     "I'll tell you," answered the  man in spectacles. "This big  pot in the
police who sized me up so that he knew how the goggles would go with my hair
and socks--by God, he never saw me at all!"
     Syme's eyes suddenly flashed on him.
     "How was that?" he asked. "I thought you talked to him."
     "So I did," said Bull  brightly;  "but we talked  in  a pitch-dark room
like a coalcellar. There, you would never have guessed that."
     "I could not have conceived it," said Syme gravely.
     "It is indeed a new idea," said the Professor.
     Their  new  ally was in practical matters  a whirlwind. At  the inquiry
office he asked with businesslike brevity about the trains for Dover. Having
got his  information, he bundled  the company into a cab,  and put them  and
himself inside a  railway carriage before  they had  properly  realised  the
breathless process. They were already on the Calais boat before conversation
flowed freely.
     "I had  already arranged," he explained, "to go to France for my lunch;
but I am delighted to have someone to lunch  with me. You see, I had to send
that beast, the Marquis, over  with his bomb, because the President  had his
eye on  me, though  God knows how. I'll tell you the story  some day. It was
perfectly choking. Whenever I tried  to  slip out  of it I saw the President
somewhere, smiling out of the bow-window of a club, or taking off his hat to
me  from the top  of an omnibus. I tell you, you can say what you like, that
fellow sold himself to the devil; he can be in six places at once."
     "So you sent the Marquis off, I understand," asked the Professor.  "Was
it long ago? Shall we be in time to catch him?"
     "Yes," answered the  new guide, "I've  timed it all. He'll still be  at
Calais when we arrive."
     "But when we do catch him  at Calais," said the Professor, "what are we
going to do?"
     At this question the  countenance of Dr.  Bull fell for the first time.
He reflected a little, and then said--
     "Theoretically, I suppose, we ought to call the police."
     "Not I,"  said  Syme.  "Theoretically I ought to drown  myself first. I
promised  a poor  fellow,  who was a  real  modern  pessimist, on my word of
honour not to  tell the police. I'm no  hand at casuistry, but I can't break
my word to a modern pessimist. It's like breaking one's word to a child."
     "I'm in the same boat," said the Professor. "I tried to tell the police
and  I couldn't, because  of some  silly oath I took. You see, when I was an
actor I was a sort of  all-round beast. Perjury or treason is the only crime
I haven't committed. If I did that I shouldn't  know the  difference between
right and wrong."
     "I've been through all that," said Dr. Bull, "and I've made up my mind.
I gave  my  promise  to  the Secretary--you know him, man who smiles  upside
down. My friends, that man is the  most  utterly unhappy man  that was  ever
human.  It may be  his digestion, or his conscience, or his  nerves,  or his
philosophy  of the universe, but  he's damned,  he's  in hell! Well, I can't
turn on a man like that, and hunt him  down. It's like  whipping  a leper. I
may be mad, but that's how I feel; and there's jolly well the end of it."
     "I  don't think you're mad," said  Syme. "I knew  you would decide like
that when first you--"
     "Eh?" said Dr. Bull.
     "When first you took off your spectacles."
     Dr. Bull smiled a little, and strolled across the deck to  look  at the
sunlit sea. Then he strolled back again, kicking his heels carelessly, and a
companionable silence fell between the three men.
     "Well," said Syme, "it seems that we have all the same kind of morality
or immorality, so we had better face the fact that comes of it."
     "Yes,"  assented the Professor, "you're quite right;  and we must hurry
up, for I can see the Grey Nose standing out from France."
     "The fact that comes  of it," said Syme  seriously, "is  this,  that we
three are alone on this planet. Gogol has gone, God knows where; perhaps the
President  has smashed  him  like  a fly. On  the Council  we  are three men
against three, like  the  Romans  who held the bridge. But we are worse  off
than that, first because they can appeal to their organization and we cannot
appeal to ours, and second because--"
     "Because one of  those other three men,"  said the Professor, "is not a
     Syme nodded and was silent for a second or two, then he said--
     "My  idea is this. We  must do  something to keep the Marquis in Calais
till  tomorrow midday. I have turned  over twenty  schemes  in my  head.  We
cannot  denounce him  as  a  dynamiter;  that is agreed. We  cannot get  him
detained on some trivial charge, for we should have to appear; he  knows us,
and  he  would  smell a rat.  We cannot  pretend  to  keep  him on anarchist
business; he might swallow  much in that way, but not the notion of stopping
in Calais while the Czar went safely through Paris. We  might try to  kidnap
him,  and lock him up ourselves; but  he is a  well-known man here. He has a
whole bodyguard of friends;  he  is very strong  and brave, and the event is
doubtful.  The only thing I  can see to do is actually to take advantage  of
the very things that are in the Marquis's favour.  I am going  to profit  by
the fact that he is a highly respected nobleman. I am going to profit by the
fact that he has many friends and moves in the best society."
     "What the devil are you talking about?" asked the Professor.
     "The Symes  are first mentioned in the fourteenth century,"  said Syme;
"but there is a tradition that one of them rode behind Bruce at Bannockburn.
Since 1350 the tree is quite clear."
     "He's gone off his head," said the little Doctor, staring.
     "Our  bearings,"  continued Syme calmly,  "are 'argent  a chevron gules
charged with three cross crosslets of the field.' The motto varies."
     The Professor seized Syme roughly by the waistcoat.
     "We are just inshore," he said. "Are you seasick or joking in the wrong
     "My  remarks  are  almost  painfully practical,"  answered  Syme, in an
unhurried manner. "The  house  of  St. Eustache  also  is very ancient.  The
Marquis cannot  deny that  he is a gentleman.  He cannot deny  that  I  am a
gentleman. And in order to put the matter of my social position quite beyond
a doubt, I propose at the  earliest  opportunity to knock  his  hat off. But
here we are in the harbour."
     They went on shore under the strong sun in  a sort  of daze. Syme,  who
had now taken the lead as Bull had taken it in London, led them along a kind
of  marine  parade  until  he came to  some cafes, embowered  in a  bulk  of
greenery and  overlooking the  sea. As  he  went  before  them his step  was
slightly swaggering,  and  he  swung his stick  like a  sword. He was making
apparently  for  the  extreme  end  of the line  of  cafes,  but he  stopped
abruptly. With a sharp  gesture he motioned them  to silence, but he pointed
with one gloved finger  to a cafe table under a bank of flowering foliage at
which sat the Marquis de St. Eustache, his teeth shining in his thick, black
beard, and his bold,  brown face shadowed by  a light  yellow straw hat  and
outlined against the violet sea.

          CHAPTER X . THE DUEL

     SYME sat  down at a  cafe table  with his  companions,  his  blue  eyes
sparkling like the bright sea  below, and ordered a bottle  of Saumur with a
pleased  impatience.  He  was for some  reason  in a  condition  of  curious
hilarity. His spirits were already unnaturally high; they rose as the Saumur
sank, and in half an hour his talk was a torrent  of nonsense.  He professed
to be making out a plan of the conversation which was going to ensue between
himself and the deadly Marquis. He jotted  it down wildly with a pencil.  It
was arranged like a  printed catechism, with questions and answers, and  was
delivered with an extraordinary rapidity of utterance.
     "I shall approach.  Before taking off his hat, I shall take off my own.
I shall say, 'The Marquis  de Saint Eustache, I believe.' He will say, ' The
celebrated Mr. Syme, I presume.' He will  say  in the most exquisite French,
'How are you?' I shall  reply in  the most exquisite Cockney,  'Oh, just the
Syme--' "
     "Oh, shut it," said the man in spectacles. "Pull yourself together, and
chuck away that bit of paper. What are you really going to do?"
     "But  it was a lovely catechism,"  said Syme pathetically.  "Do let  me
read it you. It has only forty-three questions and answers, and some of  the
Marquis's answers are wonderfully witty. I like to be just to my enemy."
     "But what's the good of it all?" asked Dr. Bull in exasperation.
     "It leads up to my challenge, don't you see," said Syme, beaming. "When
the Marquis has given the thirty-ninth reply, which runs--"
     "Has it  by  any chance occurred to you," asked the Professor,  with  a
ponderous  simplicity, "that the  Marquis  may not say all  the  forty-three
things you have  put  down for him?  In that  case, I  understand,  your own
epigrams may appear somewhat more forced."
     Syme struck the table with a radiant face.
     "Why, how true that is," he said,  "and I never thought of it. Sir, you
have an intellect beyond the common. You will make a name."
     "Oh, you're as drunk as an owl!" said the Doctor.
     "It only  remains," continued Syme quite  unperturbed,  "to adopt  some
other method of breaking the ice (if I may so express it) between myself and
the  man  I wish  to kill.  And  since the  course  of a  dialogue cannot be
predicted by one  of its parties alone (as  you have pointed  out  with such
recondite  acumen), the only thing  to  be done, I suppose, is for  the  one
party, as far as possible, to do all the dialogue by himself. And so I will,
by George!" And he stood up suddenly, his yellow  hair blowing in the slight
sea breeze.
     A band was playing in a cafe chantant hidden somewhere among the trees,
and a woman had just stopped singing. On Syme's heated head the bray of  the
brass band seemed like the jar and  jingle of that barrel-organ in Leicester
Square, to the  tune  of which he had once stood up to die. He looked across
to the little table where  the Marquis  sat. The man had two companions now,
solemn  Frenchmen in frock-coats and  silk hats,  one  of  them with the red
rosette  of  the Legion  of  Honour,  evidently  people of  a  solid  social
position. Besides these  black,  cylindrical costumes, the  Marquis,  in his
loose straw hat and light spring clothes, looked Bohemian and even barbaric;
but he looked the  Marquis. Indeed, one might  say that he looked the  king,
with his  animal  elegance,  his scornful eyes, and  his proud  head  lifted
against the purple sea.  But he was no Christian king,  at any rate; he was,
rather, some  swarthy despot, half Greek, half Asiatic, who in the days when
slavery  seemed natural looked down  on the Mediterranean, on his galley and
his  groaning  slaves. Just so,  Syme thought,  would the brown-gold face of
such a tyrant have shown against the dark green olives and the burning blue.
     "Are you going to address the  meeting?" asked the Professor peevishly,
seeing that Syme still stood up without moving.
     Syme drained his last glass of sparkling wine.
     "I am," he said,  pointing across  to the  Marquis and his  companions,
"that meeting. That meeting displeases me. I am going to pull that meeting's
great ugly, mahogany-coloured nose."
     He stepped  across swiftly,  if not quite steadily. The Marquis, seeing
him, arched his black Assyrian eyebrows in surprise, but smiled politely.
     "You are Mr. Syme, I think," he said.
     Syme bowed.
     "And  you  are the  Marquis  de  Saint Eustache,"  he said  gracefully.
"Permit me to pull your nose."
     He  leant over to  do so, but the Marquis started backwards,  upsetting
his chair, and the two men in top hats held Syme back by the shoulders.
     "This man has insulted me!" said Syme, with gestures of explanation.
     "Insulted you?" cried the gentleman with the red rosette, "when?"
     "Oh, just now," said Syme recklessly. "He insulted my mother."
     "Insulted your mother!" exclaimed the gentleman incredulously.
     "Well, anyhow," said Syme, conceding a point, "my aunt."
     "But  how can the Marquis have insulted  your aunt  just now?" said the
second gentleman with some legitimate wonder. "He has been  sitting here all
the time."
     "Ah, it was what he said!" said Syme darkly.
     "I said nothing at all," said  the Marquis, "except something about the
band. I only said that I liked Wagner played well."
     "It  was an allusion to my family," said Syme  firmly. "My aunt  played
Wagner badly. It was a painful subject. We  are always being insulted  about
     "This  seems most extraordinary," said  the  gentleman  who was decore,
looking doubtfully at the Marquis.
     "Oh,  I  assure  you,"  said  Syme   earnestly,   "the  whole  of  your
conversation  was  simply  packed  with  sinister  allusions  to  my  aunt's
     "This is nonsense!"  said the  second  gentleman. "I for one  have said
nothing for half an hour except  that  I liked the singing of that girl with
black hair."
     "Well, there  you are again!"  said  Syme indignantly.  "My aunt's  was
     "It  seems  to  me,"  said the other, "that  you are  simply seeking  a
pretext to insult the Marquis."
     "By George!" said Syme, facing round and looking at him, "what a clever
chap you are!"
     The Marquis started up with eyes flaming like a tiger's.
     "Seeking a quarrel  with me!"  he  cried. "Seeking  a fight with me! By
God! there  was never a  man  who  had to seek  long. These  gentlemen  will
perhaps  act for me. There are still four  hours  of daylight. Let us  fight
this evening."
     Syme bowed with a quite beautiful graciousness.
     "Marquis,"  he said, "your  action is  worthy of  your  fame and blood.
Permit me to consult for a moment with the  gentlemen in whose hands I shall
place myself."
     In three  long  strides he rejoined  his  companions, and they, who had
seen his champagne-inspired attack and listened to his idiotic explanations,
were quite startled at the look of him. For now that he came back to them he
was quite sober,  a  little pale, and he spoke in a low voice of  passionate
     "I have done it," he said hoarsely. "I have fixed a fight on the beast.
But look here, and listen carefully. There is  no time for talk. You are  my
seconds, and everything must come from you. Now you must  insist, and insist
absolutely, on the duel coming off after seven  to-morrow, so as  to give me
the chance of preventing him from catching the 7.45 for Paris. If  he misses
that he misses his crime. He can't refuse to meet you on such  a small point
of time  and place.  But  this  is what he will  do. He will  choose a field
somewhere near  a wayside station,  where he can pick up the train.  He is a
very good swordsman, and he  will  trust to killing me in time  to catch it.
But I  can fence well too,  and I think I can keep him in play, at any rate,
until  the  train  is lost.  Then perhaps  he  may kill  me  to console  his
feelings. You understand?  Very well  then, let  me  introduce  you  to some
charming  friends  of mine," and leading them quickly across  the parade, he
presented them to the Marquis's seconds  by  two very aristocratic  names of
which they had not previously heard.
     Syme was subject to spasms of singular  common sense,  not  otherwise a
part  of his  character. They  were (as he said  of his  impulse  about  the
spectacles) poetic intuitions, and  they sometimes rose to the exaltation of
     He had correctly calculated in this  case  the policy of  his opponent.
When the Marquis was  informed  by his seconds that Syme could only fight in
the morning,  he  must fully  have  realised  that  an obstacle had suddenly
arisen between  him and his bomb-throwing business in the capital. Naturally
he could  not explain this objection  to his friends, so he chose the course
which Syme had predicted. He induced his seconds to settle on a small meadow
not far  from  the  railway, and he  trusted  to the fatality of  the  first
     When he came down very coolly to the field of honour, no one could have
guessed that he  had any  anxiety about  a journey; his hands  were  in  his
pockets, his straw hat on the back of his head, his  handsome face brazen in
the sun. But it might have struck a stranger  as odd  that there appeared in
his  train, not  only his  seconds carrying the  sword-case, but two of  his
servants carrying a portmanteau and a luncheon basket.
     Early as  was the hour, the sun soaked everything  in warmth,  and Syme
was vaguely surprised to see  so many spring flowers burning gold and silver
in the tall grass in which the whole company stood almost knee-deep.
     With the exception  of the  Marquis, all  the  men  were  in sombre and
solemn morning-dress, with  hats like  black chimney-pots; the little Doctor
especially,  with  the  addition of  his  black spectacles,  looked like  an
undertaker in a farce. Syme could not help  feeling a comic contrast between
this  funereal church parade of apparel  and the rich and glistening meadow,
growing wild flowers  everywhere. But, indeed, this  comic contrast  between
the yellow blossoms  and the  black hats  was  but a symbol  of  the  tragic
contrast between  the yellow  blossoms and the  black business. On his right
was a little wood;  far away  to his left lay the  long curve of the railway
line, which  he was, so to  speak, guarding from the Marquis, whose goal and
escape it was. In front of him, behind the black group of his opponents,  he
could  see, like a  tinted cloud, a  small almond bush in flower against the
faint line of the sea.
     The member of the Legion of Honour, whose name  it  seemed  was Colonel
Ducroix,  approached  the Professor and Dr. Bull with great  politeness, and
suggested that the play should terminate with the first considerable hurt.
     Dr. Bull, however,  having  been carefully coached  by  Syme upon  this
point of policy, insisted, with great dignity and in  very bad French,  that
it should  continue  until one of the combatants was disabled. Syme had made
up his mind  that  he could  avoid disabling  the  Marquis  and  prevent the
Marquis  from disabling him for at least twenty  minutes. In  twenty minutes
the Paris train would have gone by.
     "To  a man  of  the well-known  skill  and  valour of  Monsieur de  St.
Eustache," said the Professor solemnly, "it must be a matter of indifference
which method is adopted, and our  principal has strong reasons for demanding
the longer  encounter, reasons the delicacy  of  which prevent me from being
explicit, but for the just and honourable nature of which I can--"
     "Peste!"  broke from  the  Marquis  behind,  whose  face  had  suddenly
darkened,  "let us stop talking and begin," and he slashed off the head of a
tall flower with his stick.
     Syme understood his rude  impatience and instinctively looked over  his
shoulder  to see  whether the train was  coming in sight.  But there  was no
smoke on the horizon.
     Colonel Ducroix knelt down and unlocked the case, taking out a  pair of
twin swords,  which took  the sunlight and turned to  two streaks  of  white
fire. He offered one to  the Marquis, who snatched it without ceremony,  and
another to Syme, who took it, bent it, and poised it with as  much  delay as
was consistent with dignity.
     Then  the  Colonel took  out another pair  of blades,  and  taking  one
himself and giving another to Dr. Bull, proceeded to place the men.
     Both  combatants had thrown off their coats  and  waistcoats, and stood
sword  in hand. The seconds stood  on each side  of the  line  of fight with
drawn swords  also, but still sombre in their dark frock-coats and hats. The
principals  saluted. The Colonel said quietly, "Engage!" and  the two blades
touched and tingled.
     When  the jar of the joined iron ran up Syme's arm,  all the  fantastic
fears that  have  been the subject  of this  story fell from him like dreams
from a man waking up in bed. He remembered them clearly and in order as mere
delusions of the nerves--how the fear of the Professor had been the  fear of
the tyrannic accidents of nightmare, and how the fear of the Doctor had been
the fear of  the airless vacuum  of science. The first was the old fear that
any  miracle might happen, the second the more hopeless modern fear  that no
miracle can ever happen.  But  he  saw that these fears were fancies, for he
found himself in the presence of the great fact of the fear of  death,  with
its coarse and pitiless common sense. He felt like a man who had dreamed all
night of falling over precipices, and had woke up on the morning when he was
to  be hanged. For as soon as he had seen the sunlight run down the  channel
of his foe's foreshortened blade, and as soon as he had felt the two tongues
of steel touch, vibrating like two living things, he knew that his enemy was
a terrible fighter, and that probably his last hour had come.
     He felt a  strange and vivid value in  all the earth around him, in the
grass under  his feet; he  felt the love of  life in  all living  things. He
could almost fancy  that he heard the  grass growing; he  could almost fancy
that even as he  stood  fresh flowers  were  springing  up and breaking into
blossom  in  the  meadow--flowers  blood  red  and  burning  gold and  blue,
fulfilling the  whole pageant of the  spring.  And whenever his eyes strayed
for  a flash from  the calm, staring, hypnotic eyes of the Marquis, they saw
the little tuft of almond tree against the sky-line. He had the feeling that
if by some miracle he escaped he would be  ready to sit for ever before that
almond tree, desiring nothing else in the world.
     But while earth and sky and everything had the living beauty of a thing
lost, the other half of his  head was as clear as glass, and he was parrying
his  enemy's point with a  kind of  clockwork  skill of which  he had hardly
supposed himself  capable.  Once  his  enemy's  point  ran  along his wrist,
leaving a  slight streak of  blood, but it  either  was not noticed  or  was
tacitly ignored. Every now and then he riposted, and once  or twice he could
almost  fancy that  he felt his point go home,  but as there was no blood on
blade or shirt he supposed he  was mistaken. Then came an interruption and a
     At  the risk of losing all, the Marquis, interrupting  his quiet stare,
flashed one glance over his shoulder  at the  line  of railway on his right.
Then he turned on Syme a face transfigured to that of  a fiend, and began to
fight as if with  twenty weapons. The attack came  so fast and furious, that
the one shining sword seemed a shower of shining arrows. Syme had no  chance
to look at the railway; but also he  had no need.  He could guess the reason
of the Marquis's sudden madness of battle-- the Paris train was in sight.
     But  the Marquis's  morbid  energy  over-reached  itself.  Twice  Syme,
parrying, knocked his opponent's point far out  of the  fighting circle; and
the third time his riposte was so rapid, that there was  no doubt  about the
hit this time. Syme's sword actually bent under the weight of  the Marquis's
body, which it had pierced.
     Syme was as  certain  that he had stuck his blade  into his  enemy as a
gardener that he has stuck his spade into the ground. Yet the Marquis sprang
back from the stroke without a  stagger, and  Syme stood  staring at his own
sword-point like an idiot. There was no blood on it at all.
     There  was an  instant of rigid silence, and then Syme in his turn fell
furiously  on the other,  filled with a flaming  curiosity.  The Marquis was
probably, in a general sense, a better fencer than he, as he had surmised at
the  beginning,  but  at the  moment  the Marquis seemed distraught and at a
disadvantage.  He  fought wildly and even weakly,  and he  constantly looked
away  at  the railway line, almost as  if he feared the train  more than the
pointed steel. Syme, on the other hand, fought fiercely but still carefully,
in  an  intellectual fury, eager  to solve  the riddle of  his own bloodless
sword. For  this purpose, he  aimed less at the Marquis's body, and more  at
his throat and  head. A minute and a half afterwards he felt his point enter
the man's neck below the jaw.  It came out clean. Half mad, he thrust again,
and made what  should have been  a  bloody scar on the Marquis's  cheek. But
there was no scar.
     For one moment the heaven of Syme  again grew black  with  supernatural
terrors. Surely the man had a charmed life. But this new spiritual dread was
a  more  awful  thing  than  had  been  the  mere  spiritual  topsy-turvydom
symbolised  by  the paralytic  who  pursued him.  The  Professor was only  a
goblin; this man was a  devil--perhaps he was  the  Devil! Anyhow, this  was
certain, that three times had a human sword been driven into him and made no
mark. When Syme had that thought he drew himself up, and  all that  was good
in him sang high up in the air as a high wind sings in the trees. He thought
of all the  human things in  his  story--of the  Chinese lanterns in Saffron
Park, of the girl's  red hair in the  garden,  of the  honest, beer-swilling
sailors down  by the dock,  of his loyal companions standing by.  Perhaps he
had been chosen as a champion of  all these fresh and kindly things to cross
swords with the enemy  of all creation. "After all," he  said to himself, "I
am more than a devil; I am a man. I can do the one thing which Satan himself
cannot  do--I  can die,"  and as  the word went through his head, he heard a
faint and far-off hoot, which would soon be the roar of the Paris train.
     He fell to fighting again with a supernatural levity, like a Mohammedan
panting for  Paradise. As the train came nearer  and  nearer he  fancied  he
could see  people  putting up the  floral arches in Paris;  he joined in the
growing noise and the glory of the great Republic whose gate he was guarding
against Hell.  His thoughts  rose higher and higher with the rising roar  of
the train, which ended,  as if proudly, in  a long and piercing whistle. The
train stopped.
     Suddenly, to the astonishment of everyone the Marquis sprang back quite
out of sword reach and threw down his sword. The leap was wonderful, and not
the less wonderful because Syme  had plunged his sword a moment  before into
the man's thigh.
     "Stop!"  said  the  Marquis  in  a  voice  that  compelled a  momentary
obedience. "I want to say something."
     "What is the matter?" asked Colonel Ducroix, staring.  "Has  there been
foul play?"
     "There  has been foul play somewhere," said Dr. Bull,  who was a little
pale. "Our principal  has wounded the Marquis four times at least, and he is
none the worse ."
     The Marquis put up his hand with a curious air of ghastly patience.
     "Please let me speak," he said.  "It is rather important. Mr. Syme," he
continued,  turning to  his opponent, "we are fighting to-day, if I remember
right, because you expressed a wish (which I thought irrational) to pull  my
nose.  Would you oblige me by pulling my nose now as  quickly as possible? I
have to catch a train."
     "I protest that this is most irregular," said Dr. Bull indignantly.
     "It is certainly somewhat opposed to precedent,"  said Colonel Ducroix,
looking wistfully at his principal.  "There is,  I think, one case on record
(Captain  Bellegarde and the Baron Zumpt) in which the weapons were  changed
in the middle of the encounter at  the request of one of the combatants. But
one can hardly call one's nose a weapon."
     "Will  you  or  will  you not  pull  my  nose?"  said  the  Marquis  in
exasperation. "Come, come, Mr.  Syme!  You wanted to do it,  do it!  You can
have  no conception of how important it is to me. Don't be so  selfish! Pull
my nose at  once, when I  ask you!"  and  he bent  slightly  forward  with a
fascinating smile. The  Paris train, panting and groaning, had grated into a
little station behind the neighbouring hill.
     Syme had the feeling  he  had more than once  had in these adventures--
the  sense  that  a horrible and  sublime  wave  lifted  to heaven was  just
toppling over.  Walking  in a  world he  half understood, he took two  paces
forward and  seized the Roman nose of this remarkable nobleman. He pulled it
hard, and it came off in his hand.
     He stood for some seconds with a foolish solemnity, with the pasteboard
proboscis still  between his fingers, looking  at it, while the sun  and the
clouds and the wooded hills looked down upon this imbecile scene.
     The Marquis broke the silence in a loud and cheerful voice.
     "If anyone has any  use for my left eyebrow," he said, "he can have it.
Colonel Ducroix,  do  accept  my left eyebrow!  It's the kind of  thing that
might  come in useful any day," and  he gravely tore off one  of his swarthy
Assyrian brows, bringing about half his brown forehead with it, and politely
offered it to the Colonel, who stood crimson and speechless with rage.
     "If I had  known," he spluttered, "that I was acting for a poltroon who
pads himself to fight--"
     "Oh,  I know,  I know!" said the Marquis,  recklessly throwing  various
parts of himself right and left about the field. "You are making  a mistake;
but it can't be explained just now.  I tell you  the train has come into the
     "Yes," said  Dr.  Bull fiercely,  "and  the train  shall  go out of the
station. It  shall go out without you. We  know well enough for what devil's
     The mysterious Marquis lifted his hands with a  desperate  gesture.  He
was a strange scarecrow  standing there in  the  sun with half his old  face
peeled off, and half another face glaring and grinning from underneath.
     "Will you drive me mad?" he cried. "The train--"
     "You  shall not go by the train,"  said  Syme firmly, and  grasped  his
     The wild figure turned towards Syme, and seemed  to be gathering itself
for a sublime effort before speaking.
     "You great fat, blasted, blear-eyed, blundering, thundering, brainless,
Godforsaken, doddering,  damned fool!" he said  without  taking breath. "You
great silly, pink-faced, towheaded turnip! You--"
     "You shall not go by this train," repeated Syme.
     "And  why the infernal blazes," roared the other, "should I want to  go
by the train?"
     "We know all," said the Professor sternly. "You  are going to  Paris to
throw a bomb!"
     "Going to Jericho to throw a Jabberwock!" cried  the other, tearing his
hair, which came off easily.
     "Have you all got softening of the brain, that you don't realise what I
am? Did you really think I  wanted to catch that train? Twenty  Paris trains
might go by for me. Damn Paris trains!"
     "Then what did you care about?" began the Professor.
     "What did I care about? I didn't care about catching the train; I cared
about whether the train caught me, and now, by God! it has caught me."
     "I regret  to inform you," said Syme with restraint, "that your remarks
convey  no impression to my mind. Perhaps if you  were to remove the remains
of your original forehead and some  portion of what was once your chin, your
meaning would become clearer. Mental  lucidity fulfils  itself in many ways.
What  do  you mean by saying  that  the train  has caught you? It may  be my
literary fancy, but somehow I feel that it ought to mean something."
     "It means  everything,"  said the  other, "and  the end  of everything.
Sunday has us now in the hollow of his hand."
     "Us!"  repeated the Professor,  as  if  stupefied. "What do you mean by
     "The police, of course!" said the  Marquis, and tore off his scalp  and
half his face.
     The head which emerged was the blonde, well brushed, smooth-haired head
which is common in the English constabulary, but the face was terribly pale.
     "I am Inspector Ratcliffe," he said, with a sort  of haste that  verged
on harshness. "My name is pretty  well known to the  police, and I  can  see
well  enough  that you belong to  them.  But if there is any  doubt about my
position, I have a card " and he began to pull a blue card from his pocket.
     The Professor gave a tired gesture.
     "Oh, don't show it  us," he said wearily; "we've got enough  of them to
equip a paper-chase."
     The little man named Bull, had, like many men who  seem to be of a mere
vivacious vulgarity, sudden movements of good taste. Here he certainly saved
the situation.  In  the  midst of  this staggering  transformation scene  he
stepped forward  with  all the gravity and responsibility of  a  second, and
addressed the two seconds of the Marquis.
     "Gentlemen,"  he said,  "we all owe you a serious apology; but I assure
you  that you have  not  been  made the victims of such  a low  joke  as you
imagine, or indeed of anything undignified in a man of honour.  You have not
wasted your  time; you have helped to save the world. We  are  not buffoons,
but very  desperate men at war with a vast conspiracy.  A  secret society of
anarchists is hunting us like hares; not such unfortunate madmen as may here
or there throw  a bomb through  starvation  or German philosophy, but a rich
and  powerful  and fanatical  church,  a church of  eastern pessimism, which
holds it holy to destroy mankind like vermin.  How hard they hunt us you can
gather from the fact that we are driven to such disguises as those for which
I apologise, and to such pranks as this one by which you suffer. "
     The younger second of the Marquis, a short man with  a black moustache,
bowed politely, and said--
     "Of course, I accept the apology; but you will in your turn forgive  me
if I decline to follow you further into your difficulties, and permit myself
to  say good  morning!  The  sight  of  an  acquaintance  and  distinguished
fellow-townsman coming  to pieces in the open air is unusual, and,  upon the
whole,  sufficient for one day. Colonel Ducroix, I would in no way influence
your actions,  but if  you feel with me that our present society is a little
abnormal, I am now going to walk back to the town."
     Colonel  Ducroix moved  mechanically, but then tugged  abruptly at  his
white moustache and broke out--
     "No, by George! I won't. If these gentlemen are really in a mess with a
lot of low wreckers like that, I'll  see them through it. I have  fought for
France, and it is hard if I can't fight for civilization."
     Dr.  Bull took  off  his  hat and waved it,  cheering  as  at a  public
     "Don't make too much noise," said Inspector Ratcliffe, "Sunday may hear
     "Sunday!" cried Bull, and dropped his hat.
     "Yes," retorted Ratcliffe, "he may be with them."
     "With whom?" asked Syme.
     "With the people out of that train," said the other.
     "What you say seems utterly  wild,"  began  Syme. "Why, as a matter  of
fact--But, my  God," he cried out suddenly, like a man who sees an explosion
a long way off, "by God! if this is true  the  whole bally  lot of us on the
Anarchist  Council  were  against  anarchy! Every  born man  was a detective
except the President and his personal secretary. What can it mean?"
     "Mean!" said the new policeman with incredible violence. "It means that
we are struck dead! Don't you know Sunday? Don't you know that his jokes are
always so big and simple  that one has  never thought of them? Can you think
of anything  more like Sunday than this, that he should put all his powerful
enemies on the Supreme Council, and then take care that it was  not supreme?
I tell you  he has  bought every trust, he has captured every cable,  he has
control of every  railway  line--especially of that  railway line!"  and  he
pointed  a shaking  finger towards  the  small  wayside  station. "The whole
movement was controlled  by him; half the world was ready to  rise  for him.
But  there were just five people, perhaps, who would have resisted him . . .
and the old devil  put  them on the Supreme  Council, to waste their time in
watching  each  other.  Idiots  that we  are, he  planned  the whole of  our
idiocies!  Sunday knew  that the Professor  would chase Syme through London,
and that Syme would fight me in France. And he was combining great masses of
capital, and  seizing great lines of telegraphy, while  we five  idiots were
running after each other like a lot of confounded babies playing blind man's
     "Well?" asked Syme with a sort of steadiness.
     "Well,"  replied  the other  with sudden serenity,  "he  has  found  us
playing  blind  man's  buff to-day  in a field  of  great  rustic beauty and
extreme solitude. He has probably captured the world; it only remains to him
to capture this field and all the fools in it. And since you really  want to
know what was my objection to the arrival of that train, I will tell you. My
objection  was that Sunday or his Secretary  has just this moment got out of
     Syme uttered an involuntary cry, and they all turned their eyes towards
the far-off  station. It was quite  true that a considerable bulk of  people
seemed to  be moving in  their direction.  But they  were  too distant to be
distinguished in any way.
     "It  was a habit  of the  late Marquis de  St. Eustache,"  said the new
policeman, producing  a leather  case,  "always  to  carry  a  pair of opera
glasses. Either the President or the  Secretary is coming after us with that
mob.  They  have  caught  us  in  a  nice quiet  place where we are under no
temptations  to break our oaths  by calling the police. Dr.  Bull,  I have a
suspicion  that  you  will see  better through these than  through your  own
highly decorative spectacles."
     He handed the field-glasses to the Doctor, who immediately took off his
spectacles and put the apparatus to his eyes.
     "It cannot be  as bad as you say," said the Professor, somewhat shaken.
"There are a good number of them  certainly, but they may easily be ordinary
     "Do ordinary tourists," asked Bull, with the fieldglasses to  his eyes,
"wear black masks half-way down the face?"
     Syme almost tore the  glasses out of his hand, and looked through them.
Most men  in the advancing  mob  really looked ordinary  enough; but  it was
quite true  that two or three of the leaders in front wore black  half-masks
almost  down to their mouths. This disguise is very  complete, especially at
such a distance, and Syme found it impossible to  conclude anything from the
clean-shaven  jaws and chins of the men talking in  the front. But presently
as they talked they all smiled and one of them smiled on one side.


     SYME put the field-glasses from his eyes with an almost ghastly relief.
     "The  President is not  with  them,  anyhow," he  said,  and  wiped his
     "But surely they  are right away on  the horizon,"  said the bewildered
Colonel, blinking  and but half  recovered from  Bull's hasty  though polite
explanation.  "Could  you  possibly  know  your  President among  all  those
     "Could I know a white elephant among  all those people!"  answered Syme
somewhat irritably. "As you  very truly say, they are on the horizon; but if
he were walking with them . . . by God! I believe this ground would shake."
     After an instant's pause the new man called  Ratcliffe said with gloomy
     "Of  course the President isn't with them. I  wish  to Gemini  he were.
Much more  likely the  President  is  riding in  triumph  through  Paris, or
sitting on the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral."
     "This  is  absurd!"  said  Syme. "Something may  have  happened  in our
absence; but he cannot have  carried  the world with a rush like that. It is
quite true,"  he  added, frowning dubiously at  the distant fields that  lay
towards  the little station, "it is certainly true that there  seems to be a
crowd coming this way; but they are not all the army that you make out."
     "Oh, they," said the new  detective contemptuously; "no they  are not a
very valuable force.  But  let me tell  you frankly that they  are precisely
calculated to our  value-- we are not much, my boy, in Sunday's universe. He
has got  hold  of all  the  cables and telegraphs  himself. But to kill  the
Supreme Council he regards as a  trivial matter, like a post card; it may be
left to his private secretary," and he spat on the grass.
     Then he turned to the others and said somewhat austerely--
     "There is a  great deal to  be  said for  death; but if  anyone has any
preference for the other alternative,  I strongly  advise him  to walk after
     With  these  words,  he turned his  broad back and  strode with  silent
energy towards  the wood. The others gave  one glance  over their shoulders,
and saw that the dark cloud  of men had detached itself from the station and
was moving with a mysterious  discipline across the plain. They saw already,
even with the naked eye, black blots on the foremost faces, which marked the
masks  they wore.  They turned  and followed their leader, who  had  already
struck the wood, and disappeared among the twinkling trees.
     The sun on the grass was dry and hot. So in plunging into the wood they
had  a cool shock of  shadow, as of divers  who plunge into a dim  pool. The
inside of  the wood  was full of shattered sunlight and shaken shadows. They
made  a  sort  of  shuddering  veil, almost  recalling the  dizziness  of  a
cinematograph. Even the solid figures walking with him Syme could hardly see
for the patterns of sun  and shade that danced upon them.  Now a man's  head
was  lit as  with a light  of  Rembrandt,  leaving all else obliterated; now
again  he had strong  and  staring white hands with the face of a negro. The
ex-Marquis had pulled the old straw hat  over his eyes,  and the black shade
of the brim cut his face so squarely in two that it seemed to be wearing one
of  the  black  half-masks  of  their  pursuers.  The  fancy  tinted  Syme's
overwhelming  sense of wonder.  Was he wearing a mask? Was anyone  wearing a
mask?  Was  anyone anything? This  wood  of witchery,  in  which men's faces
turned black and white by turns, in which  their figures first  swelled into
sunlight and then faded into formless night, this  mere chaos of chiaroscuro
(after the clear daylight outside), seemed to Syme a  perfect symbol of  the
world in which he had been moving for three days, this world where men  took
off their beards and their spectacles and their noses, and turned into other
people. That tragic self-confidence which  he had felt when he believed that
the Marquis was a devil had strangely disappeared now that he knew that  the
Marquis  was  a  friend.  He  felt  almost  inclined to ask after  all these
bewilderments what was  a friend and what  an enemy. Was there anything that
was apart from what it seemed? The Marquis had taken off his nose and turned
out to be a detective. Might he  not just as well take off his head and turn
out to be a hobgoblin? Was not everything,  after all, like this bewildering
woodland, this  dance of dark  and light?  Everything  only  a glimpse,  the
glimpse  always unforeseen, and always forgotten. For Gabriel Syme had found
in the  heart  of that sun-splashed wood what many modern painters had found
there. He had found  the thing which  the  modern people call Impressionism,
which is another name  for  that final scepticism which can find no floor to
the universe.
     As  a  man in an evil dream  strains  himself to scream and wake,  Syme
strove with a sudden effort to fling off this last and worst of his fancies.
With two impatient  strides he overtook the man in  the Marquis's straw hat,
the  man whom he had come to address as Ratcliffe. In a voice exaggeratively
loud and cheerful, he broke the bottomless silence and made conversation.
     "May I ask," he said, "where on earth we are all going to? "
     So genuine had been the doubts of his  soul,  that he was quite glad to
hear his companion speak in an easy, human voice.
     "We  must get down through the town  of Lancy to the sea,"  he said. "I
think that part of the country is least likely to be with them."
     "What can you mean by all this?" cried Syme. "They can't be running the
real world  in  that way. Surely  not many working men  are  anarchists, and
surely if they were, mere mobs could not beat modern armies and police."
     "Mere mobs!" repeated  his new friend with a  snort of scorn.  "So  you
talk about mobs and the working classes as if they were the question. You've
got that  eternal idiotic  idea that if anarchy came it would come  from the
poor. Why should it? The poor  have  been rebels, but they  have never  been
anarchists; they  have  more interest than anyone else in there  being  some
decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the  country. The rich
man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes
objected  to  being governed  badly;  the rich have always objected to being
governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists, as you can see from the
barons' wars."
     "As a lecture on English history for the little ones," said Syme, "this
is all very nice; but I have not yet grasped its application."
     "Its application is," said  his  informant, "that most  of old Sunday's
right-hand men are South  African and American  millionaires. That is why he
has got  hold of  all  the  communications; and that  is why  the last  four
champions of the anti-anarchist police force are running through a wood like
     "Millionaires  I  can  understand,"  said Syme  thoughtfully, "they are
nearly all mad. But getting hold  of a few wicked old gentlemen with hobbies
is one thing;  getting hold of great Christian nations  is  another. I would
bet the  nose off  my face (forgive the  allusion) that  Sunday would  stand
perfectly helpless before the task of converting any ordinary healthy person
     "Well," said the  other, "it  rather  depends  what sort of person  you
     "Well, for instance," said Syme, "he could never convert  that person,"
and he pointed straight in front of him.
     They had  come to an open space of sunlight, which seemed to express to
Syme  the  final return of  his  own good sense; and  in the  middle of this
forest clearing was a figure that might well stand  for that common sense in
an almost awful actuality. Burnt by the  sun  and stained with perspiration,
and grave with  the  bottomless gravity of  small  necessary toils, a  heavy
French  peasant was cutting wood with a hatchet. His  cart stood a few yards
off,  already half full of timber; and the horse that cropped the grass was,
like  his master, valorous but not desperate; like his master, he  was  even
prosperous, but  yet was almost sad. The man  was a Norman,  taller than the
average  of the French  and  very angular; and his swarthy figure stood dark
against a square of sunlight,  almost like some allegoric  figure  of labour
frescoed on a ground of gold.
     "Mr. Syme is saying," called out Ratcliffe to the French Colonel, "that
this man, at least, will never be an anarchist."
     "Mr.  Syme is right enough there,"  answered Colonel Ducroix, laughing,
"if only for the reason that he  has  plenty of  property  to defend.  But I
forgot that in your country you are not used to peasants being wealthy."
     "He looks poor," said Dr. Bull doubtfully.
     "Quite so," said the Colonel; "that is why he is rich."
     "I have an idea," called out Dr. Bull suddenly; "how much would he take
to give us a lift in his cart? Those dogs are all on foot, and we could soon
leave them behind."
     "Oh, give him anything! " said Syme eagerly.  "I have piles of money on
     "That will never do," said the Colonel; "he will never have any respect
for you unless you drive a bargain."
     "Oh, if he haggles!" began Bull impatiently.
     "Erie haggles because he  is a free man," said  the  other. "You do not
understand;  he  would not  see the meaning of generosity. He  is not  being
     And  even  while they seemed to  hear the heavy  feet of  their strange
pursuers behind  them, they had to stand and stamp while the  French Colonel
talked  to  the  French wood-cutter  with all  the  leisurely  badinage  and
bickering of market-day. At the end  of the four minutes,  however, they saw
that the Colonel  was  right, for the wood-cutter entered into their  plans,
not  with  the  vague  servility  of  a tout too-well  paid,  but  with  the
seriousness of  a solicitor who had been paid the proper  fee.  He told them
that the best thing they  could do was to make their way  down to the little
inn  on the hills above Lancy, where the  innkeeper, an old soldier  who had
become devot in his latter years, would be certain to sympathise with  them,
and even to take risks in their support. The whole company, therefore, piled
themselves  on top of the stacks of wood,  and went rocking in the rude cart
down the other and steeper side of the woodland. Heavy and ramshackle as was
the  vehicle,  it  was  driven  quickly   enough,  and  they  soon  had  the
exhilarating impression of distancing  altogether those, whoever  they were,
who were hunting them. For, after all, the riddle as to where the anarchists
had  got  all  these  followers  was still unsolved. One  man's presence had
sufficed for them; they had fled at the first sight of the deformed smile of
the  Secretary. Syme every now and then looked back over his shoulder at the
army on their track.
     As the wood grew first thinner and then smaller with distance, he could
see the sunlit  slopes beyond it and above it;  and across  these  was still
moving the  square black mob like one monstrous  beetle.  In the very strong
sunlight and with  his own  very strong eyes, which  were almost telescopic,
Syme could see this mass of men quite plainly. He could see them as separate
human  figures;  but he was increasingly surprised by the way in  which they
moved as one man. They seemed to be dressed in dark clothes  and plain hats,
like any common crowd out of the streets; but they did not spread and sprawl
and trail by various lines to the attack, as would be natural in an ordinary
mob.  They  moved with  a  sort of dreadful  and  wicked woodenness,  like a
staring army of automatons.
     Syme pointed this out to Ratcliffe.
     "Yes," replied the  policeman, "that's discipline. That's Sunday. He is
perhaps five hundred miles off, but the fear of him is on all of  them, like
the finger of God. Yes,  they are walking  regularly; and you bet your boots
that they are talking regularly, yes, and  thinking  regularly. But  the one
important thing for us is that they are disappearing regularly."
     Syme  nodded. It was true that the black patch of the pursuing  men was
growing smaller and smaller as the peasant belaboured his horse.
     The level of the sunlit landscape, though flat as a whole, fell away on
the farther side of the wood in billows of heavy slope towards the sea, in a
way not unlike the lower slopes of the Sussex downs. The only difference was
that in  Sussex the road would have  been broken and  angular like  a little
brook, but here  the  white French road fell  sheer in front of  them like a
waterfall. Down this direct descent  the  cart  clattered at  a considerable
angle, and in a few minutes, the  road growing  yet  steeper, they saw below
them the little  harbour of Lancy  and a  great  blue  arc of the  sea.  The
travelling cloud of their enemies had wholly disappeared from the horizon.
     The  horse and  cart took a sharp turn round a clump of  elms, and  the
horse's nose nearly struck  the face of  an old gentleman who was sitting on
the benches outside the little cafe of "Le Soleil d'Or." The peasant grunted
an apology, and  got down from his seat.  The others  also descended one  by
one,  and  spoke to the old  gentleman with fragmentary phrases of courtesy,
for it was quite evident from his  expansive manner that he was the owner of
the little tavern.
     He was a white-haired, apple-faced old boy, with sleepy eyes and a grey
moustache; stout, sedentary, and very innocent, of a type  that may often be
found in France, but is still commoner in Catholic Germany. Everything about
him, his pipe, his pot of beer, his  flowers, and  his beehive, suggested an
ancestral  peace;  only  when his  visitors looked  up  as they  entered the
inn-parlour, they saw the sword upon the wall.
     The Colonel, who greeted the innkeeper as an old friend, passed rapidly
into  the inn-parlour, and sat  down ordering  some  ritual refreshment. The
military decision of his action interested Syme, who sat next to him, and he
took the opportunity  when the old innkeeper had  gone out of satisfying his
     "May I ask you, Colonel," he said  in  a  low voice, "why we have  come
     Colonel Ducroix smiled behind his bristly white moustache.
     "For  two reasons, sir," he said; "and I will  give first, not the most
important, but the  most utilitarian. We came here because this  is the only
place within twenty miles in which we can get horses."
     "Horses!" repeated Syme, looking up quickly.
     "Yes," replied the  other; "if you  people are really  to distance your
enemies it is horses or nothing for  you, unless of course you have bicycles
and motor-cars in your pocket."
     "And where do you advise us to make for?" asked Syme doubtfully.
     "Beyond question," replied the Colonel, "you had better make all  haste
to the police station beyond the  town.  My friend,  whom I  seconded  under
somewhat deceptive  circumstances, seems to me  to  exaggerate very much the
possibilities  of a  general  rising; but even he would  hardly  maintain, I
suppose, that you were not safe with the gendarmes."
     Syme nodded gravely; then he said abruptly--
     "And your other reason for coming here?"
     "My other reason for coming here," said Ducroix soberly, "is that it is
just as well to see a good man or two when one is possibly near to death."
     Syme  looked  up at  the  wall, and saw  a crudely-painted and pathetic
religious picture. Then he said--
     "You are right," and  then almost  immediately afterwards, "Has  anyone
seen about the horses?"
     "Yes," answered Ducroix,  "you may be quite certain that I  gave orders
the  moment I came in. Those enemies of  yours gave  no impression of hurry,
but they were really  moving wonderfully  fast, like a well-trained army.  I
had  no  idea that the  anarchists  had so much discipline. You have  not  a
moment to waste."
     Almost as he spoke, the old innkeeper with the blue eyes and white hair
came ambling  into the  room,  and  announced  that six horses were  saddled
     By  Ducroix's  advice  the five others  equipped themselves  with  some
portable form  of  food  and wine, and keeping their  duelling swords as the
only weapons available, they clattered  away down the steep, white road. The
two servants, who had carried the Marquis's luggage when he  was a  marquis,
were  left  behind to drink at the  cafe  by common consent, and not  at all
against their own inclination.
     By this time the afternoon  sun was slanting westward,  and by its rays
Syme could see  the sturdy figure of the old  innkeeper  growing smaller and
smaller,  but  still standing and  looking after  them  quite silently,  the
sunshine in his silver hair. Syme had a fixed, superstitious fancy, left  in
his mind by the chance phrase of the Colonel, that this was indeed, perhaps,
the last honest stranger whom he should ever see upon the earth.
     He was still looking at this dwindling figure, which  stood as  a  mere
grey blot  touched with  a  white  flame against the great green wall of the
steep down behind him. And as he stared over the  top of the down behind the
innkeeper,  there  appeared an  army  of black-clad  and marching  men. They
seemed  to  hang above the good  man  and  his  house like  a black cloud of
locusts. The horses had been saddled none too soon.


     URGING the horses  to  a gallop, without  respect  to the rather rugged
descent of the road, the horsemen soon regained their advantage over the men
on the march, and at last the bulk of the first buildings  of Lancy cut  off
the sight of their pursuers. Nevertheless, the ride had been a long one, and
by the time they reached the  real town the west was warming with the colour
and quality of sunset. The Colonel suggested that, before making finally for
the police station, they should  make the  effort, in passing,  to attach to
themselves one more individual who might be useful.
     "Four out  of the  five  rich men in this  town," he said, "are  common
swindlers. I suppose the proportion is pretty  equal all over the world. The
fifth  is a friend of mine, and a  very fine fellow; and what  is  even more
important from our point of view, he owns a motor-car."
     "I  am  afraid," said the Professor  in his  mirthful way, looking back
along the white road on which the black, crawling patch might appear  at any
moment, "I am afraid we have hardly time for afternoon calls."
     "Doctor Renard's house is only three minutes off," said the Colonel.
     "Our danger," said Dr. Bull, "is not two minutes off."
     "Yes," said  Syme,  "if we ride  on fast we must leave them behind, for
they are on foot."
     "He has a motor-car," said the Colonel.
     "But we may not get it," said Bull.
     "Yes, he is quite on your side."
     "But he might be out."
     "Hold your tongue," said Syme suddenly. "What is that noise?"
     For a  second they all sat as still  as equestrian statues, and  for  a
second-- for  two or three or four  seconds--heaven and earth seemed equally
still. Then all their  ears, in an agony of attention,  heard along the road
that indescribable thrill and throb that means only one thing--horses!
     The  Colonel's face  had  an instantaneous  change, as if lightning had
struck it, and yet left it scatheless.
     "They  have done us," he said,  with brief military irony.  "Prepare to
receive cavalry!"
     "Where can they have got the  horses?" asked  Syme,  as he mechanically
urged his steed to a canter.
     The Colonel was silent for a little, then he said in a strained voice--
     "I was speaking with strict accuracy when I said that the 'Soleil d'Or'
was the only place where one can get horses within twenty miles."
     "No!"  said Syme violently, "I don't believe he'd do  it. Not  with all
that white hair."
     "He may  have been forced," said  the Colonel gently. "They must be  at
least a  hundred strong, for which reason we are all  going to see my friend
Renard, who has a motor-car."
     With these words he swung his horse suddenly round a street corner, and
went  down the street with  such thundering  speed, that  the others, though
already well  at the gallop, had difficulty in  following the flying tail of
his horse.
     Dr. Renard inhabited a high and comfortable house at the top of a steep
street, so that  when the riders alighted at his  door  they could once more
see  the solid  green ridge  of  the hill, with  the  white  road across it,
standing up above all the roofs of the town. They breathed again to see that
the road as yet was clear, and they rang the bell.
     Dr. Renard was a beaming,  brown-bearded  man,  a  good example of that
silent but very busy professional class which France has preserved even more
perfectly than England.  When the matter was explained to him he pooh-poohed
the  panic  of  the  ex-Marquis altogether;  he said, with the solid  French
scepticism, that there was no conceivable probability of a general anarchist
rising. "Anarchy," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "it is childishness! "
     "Et ca,"  cried  out the  Colonel  suddenly, pointing over  the other's
shoulder, "and that is childishness, isn't it?"
     They all looked round, and saw a curve of  black cavalry  come sweeping
over  the  top of the hill  with all the  energy of Attila. Swiftly  as they
rode, however, the whole rank  still kept well together, and they  could see
the black vizards  of  the first  line as  level as a line of uniforms.  But
although the main black square was the same, though travelling faster, there
was  now  one sensational difference  which they could see  clearly upon the
slope of the hill, as if  upon a slanted map. The bulk of the riders were in
one block;  but  one rider flew  far  ahead of the column, and with  frantic
movements  of hand  and heel urged his horse faster and faster,  so that one
might have fancied that he was not the pursuer but the pursued. But  even at
that great distance they could see something so fanatical, so unquestionable
in  his figure,  that they knew it was the Secretary himself. "I am sorry to
cut  short a cultured discussion,"  said  the  Colonel, "but can you lend me
your motor-car now, in two minutes?"
     "I  have a  suspicion that  you are all mad," said Dr.  Renard, smiling
sociably;  "but  God  forbid  that  madness  should  in  any  way  interrupt
friendship. Let us go round to the garage."
     Dr. Renard was a mild  man  with monstrous wealth; his  rooms were like
the Musee de  Cluny, and he had three  motor-cars. These, however, he seemed
to use very sparingly, having the simple tastes of  the French middle class,
and when his impatient friends came to examine them, it took them  some time
to assure themselves that one of them even could be made  to work. This with
some  difficulty  they  brought  round into the  street before  the Doctor's
house.  When they came out of the dim garage they were startled to find that
twilight  had  already fallen with the abruptness  of  night in the tropics.
Either they had been longer in the place than they imagined, or some unusual
canopy  of  cloud  had  gathered  over the town. They looked down  the steep
streets, and seemed to see a slight mist coming up from the sea.
     "It is now or never," said Dr. Bull. "I hear horses."
     "No," corrected the Professor, "a horse."
     And as they listened,  it was evident  that the  noise,  rapidly coming
nearer on the rattling stones, was not the noise  of the whole cavalcade but
that of the one horseman, who had left it far behind-- the insane Secretary.
     Syme's  family, like most of those who end in the simple life, had once
owned  a  motor, and  he knew all about  them. He had leapt at once into the
chauffeur's  seat, and with  flushed  face was  wrenching and tugging at the
disused machinery. He bent his strength upon one handle, and then said quite
     "I am afraid it's no go."
     As he  spoke, there  swept round  the corner a man rigid on his rushing
horse, with  the rush and rigidity of an arrow. He  had a  smile that thrust
out his chin as if it were  dislocated. He swept alongside of the stationary
car, into which its company had crowded, and laid his  hand on the front. It
was the Secretary,  and his mouth  went quite  straight  in the solemnity of
     Syme was leaning hard upon the steering wheel,  and  there was no sound
but  the rumble of the other pursuers  riding into the town. Then there came
quite  suddenly a scream of  scraping iron,  and the  car leapt forward.  It
plucked  the Secretary clean out of his saddle, as a knife is whipped out of
its sheath, trailed him  kicking terribly for twenty  yards,  and  left  him
flung flat upon the  road far  in front of his  frightened horse. As the car
took the corner of the street with a splendid curve, they could just see the
other anarchists filling the street and raising their fallen leader.
     "I  can't  understand why it has grown so dark,"  said the Professor at
last in a low voice.
     "Going to  be a storm, I think," said Dr. Bull.  "I say, it's a pity we
haven't got a light on this car, if only to see by."
     "We have," said the Colonel, and from the floor of the car he fished up
a heavy, old-fashioned, carved iron lantern with a  light inside it. It  was
obviously an  antique, and it would seem as if its original use had  been in
some way semi-religious, for there  was a rude moulding of  a cross upon one
of its sides.
     "Where on earth did you get that?" asked the Professor.
     "I got it where I got the car," answered the Colonel, chuckling,  "from
my best friend. While our friend here was  fighting with the steering wheel,
I ran  up the front steps of the house and spoke to Renard, who was standing
in his own porch, you will remember. 'I suppose,'  I said, 'there's no  time
to  get a lamp.'  He  looked up,  blinking amiably  at the beautiful  arched
ceiling  of his  own front  hall. From  this  was  suspended,  by  chains of
exquisite  ironwork,  this  lantern, one  of the  hundred  treasures of  his
treasure house. By sheer force he tore  the  lamp  out  of  his own ceiling,
shattering  the painted  panels, and bringing down two blue  vases with  his
violence. Then he handed me the iron lantern, and I put it in the car. Was I
not right when I said that Dr. Renard was worth knowing?"
     "You  were," said Syme seriously,  and hung the  heavy lantern over the
front. There was a certain allegory of their  whole position in the contrast
between  the modern automobile and its strange ecclesiastical lamp. Hitherto
they had passed through the quietest  part of the town, meeting  at most one
or  two  pedestrians,  who could  give  them no  hint of  the  peace  or the
hostility of the place. Now, however, the windows in the houses began one by
one to  be lit up, giving  a greater  sense of habitation and humanity.  Dr.
Bull turned  to the new detective  who had led their  flight,  and permitted
himself one of his natural and friendly smiles.
     "These lights make one feel more cheerful."
     Inspector Ratcliffe drew his brows together.
     "There is only  one set of lights that make me more cheerful," he said,
"and they are those lights of the  police station which I can see beyond the
town. Please God we may be there in ten minutes."
     Then all  Bull's boiling good sense and optimism broke  suddenly out of
     "Oh, this is all raving nonsense!" he cried. "If  you really think that
ordinary people  in ordinary houses are anarchists, you must  be madder than
an anarchist yourself. If we turned and fought these fellows, the whole town
would fight for us."
     "No,"  said the  other with an immovable  simplicity,  "the  whole town
would fight for them. We shall see.'
     While they were  speaking the Professor  had  leant forward with sudden
     "What is that noise?" he said.
     "Oh, the horses behind us, I suppose," said the Colonel. "I thought  we
had got clear of them."
     "The horses behind us!  No," said the Professor, "it is not horses, and
it is not behind us."
     Almost as he  spoke, across  the  end  of  the  street before  them two
shining and rattling shapes shot past. They were gone almost in a flash, but
everyone  could  see that they were motor-cars, and  the Professor stood  up
with a pale face and swore that they were the  other two motor-cars from Dr.
Renard's garage.
     "I tell you they were his," he repeated, with wild eyes, "and they were
full of men in masks!"
     "Absurd!" said the Colonel angrily.  "Dr.  Renard would never give them
his cars."
     "He  may have been forced," said Ratcliffe quietly.  "The whole town is
on their side."
     "You still believe that," asked the Colonel incredulously.
     "You will all believe it soon," said the other with a hopeless calm.
     There was a puzzled pause for some  little time,  and then the  Colonel
began again abruptly--
     "No, I can't believe it.  The thing is nonsense. The plain people of  a
peaceable French town--"
     He was cut short by a bang and a blaze of  light, which seemed close to
his eyes. As the  car sped on it left a floating patch of white smoke behind
it, and Syme had heard a shot shriek past his ear.
     "My God!" said the Colonel, "someone has shot at us."
     "It need not interrupt conversation," said the gloomy Ratcliffe.  "Pray
resume your  remarks, Colonel.  You were talking,  I think, about the  plain
people of a peaceable French town."
     The staring Colonel was long  past minding satire. He  rolled his  eyes
all round the street.
     "It is extraordinary," he said, "most extraordinary."
     "A  fastidious person,"  said Syme,  "might  even  call it  unpleasant.
However, I suppose those lights out in the field beyond this street are  the
Gendarmerie. We shall soon get there."
     "No," said Inspector Ratcliffe, "we shall never get there."
     He had been  standing  up  and looking keenly ahead  of him. Now he sat
down and smoothed his sleek hair with a weary gesture.
     "What do you mean?" asked Bull sharply.
     "I  mean that  we shall never get  there," said the pessimist placidly.
"They  have  two rows of armed  men across the road already; I  can see them
from here. The town is in arms, as I said it was.
     I can only wallow in the exquisite comfort of my own exactitude."
     And  Ratcliffe sat down comfortably in the car and lit a cigarette, but
the others rose excitedly and stared down the road. Syme had slowed down the
car  as  their plans  became  doubtful,  and  he  brought  it finally  to  a
standstill just at the corner of a side street that ran down very steeply to
the sea.
     The town was mostly in shadow, but the sun  had not sunk;  wherever its
level light could break through,  it  painted everything  a burning gold. Up
this side street  the last sunset light  shone as sharp  and  narrow as  the
shaft of artificial light at  the  theatre. It struck  the car  of the  five
friends,  and lit it like a burning chariot.  But the  rest  of  the street,
especially the two ends  of it, was  in the  deepest twilight, and for  some
seconds  they could  see nothing. Then  Syme, whose eyes  were  the keenest,
broke into a little bitter whistle, and said
     "It  is quite true.  There is a crowd  or an army  or some  such  thing
across the end of that street."
     "Well,  if there  is,"  said Bull impatiently,  "it must  be  something
else--a sham  fight or the mayor's birthday or something. I cannot  and will
not believe that plain, jolly  people in  a place like  this walk about with
dynamite in their pockets. Get on a bit, Syme, and let us look at them."
     The  car crawled about a hundred yards farther, and then they were  all
startled by Dr. Bull breaking into a high crow of laughter.
     "Why, you silly mugs!" he cried, "what did I tell you. That  crowd's as
law-abiding as a cow, and if it weren't, it's on our side."
     "How do you know?" asked the professor, staring.
     "You blind bat," cried Bull, "don't you see who is leading them?"
     They peered again,  and then the  Colonel, with  a catch in his  voice,
cried out--
     "Why, it's Renard!"
     There was, indeed, a rank of dim figures running across  the road,  and
they  could  not  be  clearly  seen; but  far enough  in  front to catch the
accident of the  evening light was stalking up and down the unmistakable Dr.
Renard,  in  a  white hat,  stroking  his long  brown  beard, and  holding a
revolver in his left hand.
     "What a fool I've been! " exclaimed  the Colonel. "Of course, the  dear
old boy has turned out to help us."
     Dr. Bull  was bubbling over  with laughter, swinging  the sword  in his
hand as carelessly  as a cane. He jumped out of the car and  ran  across the
intervening space, calling out--
     "Dr. Renard! Dr. Renard!"
     An instant after Syme thought  his own  eyes had gone mad in  his head.
For the  philanthropic  Dr. Renard had deliberately raised  his revolver and
fired twice at Bull, so that the shots rang down the road.
     Almost at the same second as the puff of white cloud went up  from this
atrocious explosion a  long  puff of  white  cloud  went  up also  from  the
cigarette of the cynical Ratcliffe. Like  all  the rest he  turned a  little
pale,  but he  smiled.  Dr. Bull, at  whom the bullets had been  fired, just
missing his  scalp, stood quite still in  the middle  of the road without  a
sign of fear, and then turned very slowly  and crawled back to the car,  and
climbed in with two holes through his hat.
     "Well," said the cigarette smoker slowly, "what do you think now?"
     "I think," said Dr. Bull with precision, "that I am lying in bed at No.
217 Peabody Buildings, and that I shall soon  wake up  with a jump;  or,  if
that's  not it,  I think  that I  am sitting  in a small  cushioned cell  in
Hanwell,  and that the doctor can't make much of my case. But if you want to
know  what I don't  think, I'll  tell you. I don't think what  you  think. I
don't think,  and I never shall think,  that the  mass of ordinary men are a
pack of dirty  modern  thinkers. No, sir, I'm a democrat, and I  still don't
believe that Sunday could convert one average navvy or counter-jumper. No, I
may be mad, but humanity isn't."
     Syme turned his  bright  blue eyes on Bull with an earnestness which he
did not commonly make clear.
     "You are a very fine  fellow,"  he said. "You can believe  in  a sanity
which is not  merely  your  sanity.  And you're right enough about humanity,
about peasants and people like  that jolly old  innkeeper.  But  you're  not
right about Renard. I suspected him from the first. He's rationalistic, and,
what's worse,  he's  rich. When duty and  religion are really destroyed,  it
will be by the rich."
     "They  are  really  destroyed now,"  said the man with a cigarette, and
rose with his hands in his pockets. "The devils are coming on!"
     The  men  in  the motor-car  looked  anxiously in the direction  of his
dreamy gaze, and they saw that the whole regiment at the end of the road was
advancing upon  them,  Dr. Renard marching  furiously  in front,  his  beard
flying in the breeze.
     The Colonel sprang out of the car with an intolerant exclamation.
     "Gentlemen," he cried, "the thing is incredible. It must be a practical
joke. If you  knew  Renard  as I  do--  it's like calling  Queen  Victoria a
dynamiter. If you had got the man's character into your head--"
     "Dr. Bull," said Syme sardonically, "has at least got it into his hat."
     "I tell you it can't be!" cried the Colonel, stamping.
     "Renard  shall  explain it.  He shall explain it to me," and  he strode
     "Don't be  in  such a hurry," drawled the smoker.  "He  will very  soon
explain it to all of us."
     But the impatient Colonel was already out of earshot, advancing towards
the advancing enemy. The excited  Dr.  Renard  lifted  his pistol again, but
perceiving his opponent,  hesitated, and  the Colonel came face to face with
him with frantic gestures of remonstrance.
     "It is no good," said Syme. "He will never get anything out of that old
heathen. I vote we drive bang through the thick of them, bang as the bullets
went  through  Bull's hat.  We may all be killed,  but  we must  kill a tidy
number of them."
     "I won't 'ave it,"  said Dr. Bull, growing more vulgar in the sincerity
of his  virtue. "The poor chaps may be making a  mistake. Give the Colonel a
     "Shall we go back, then?" asked the Professor.
     "No," said  Ratcliffe in  a cold voice, "the  street behind  us is held
too. In fact, I seem to see there another friend of yours, Syme."
     Syme spun round smartly, and  stared backwards at the track which  they
had  travelled. He saw an irregular body of horsemen gathering and galloping
towards them in the gloom. He saw above the foremost saddle the silver gleam
of  a sword, and  then as it grew nearer the  silver  gleam of an old  man's
hair.  The  next moment, with shattering violence,  he had  swung  the motor
round and sent it dashing down the  steep side street to the sea, like a man
that desired only to die.
     "What the devil is up?" cried the Professor, seizing his arm.
     "The morning star has fallen!" said Syme, as his own car  went down the
darkness like a falling star.
     The  others did not understand his words, but when they looked back  at
the  street  above they saw  the hostile cavalry coming round the corner and
down the slopes after  them;  and foremost of all rode the  good  innkeeper,
flushed with the fiery innocence of the evening light.
     "The world is insane!" said  the Professor, and buried his face in  his
     "No," said Dr. Bull in adamantine humility, "it is I."
     "What are we going to do?" asked the Professor.
     "At this moment," said Syme,  with a scientific detachment, "I think we
are going to smash into a lamppost."
     The  next instant  the  automobile  had  come  with a catastrophic  jar
against an iron object. The instant after that four men had crawled out from
under a chaos of metal, and a tall lean lamp-post that had stood up straight
on the  edge of  the  marine parade stood out, bent and  twisted,  like  the
branch of a broken tree.
     "Well, we  smashed something," said the  Professor, with a faint smile.
"That's some comfort."
     "You're becoming an anarchist," said Syme, dusting his clothes with his
instinct of daintiness.
     "Everyone is," said Ratcliffe.
     As  they  spoke,  the  white-haired  horseman and  his  followers  came
thundering from above, and almost at the same  moment  a dark string of  men
ran shouting along  the sea-front. Syme snatched a sword, and took it in his
teeth;  he stuck  two  others under  his arm-pits, took a fourth in his left
hand and the lantern in his right, and leapt off the high  parade on  to the
beach below.
     The others leapt after  him, with a common acceptance  of such decisive
action, leaving the debris and the gathering mob above them.
     "We have one  more  chance,"  said  Syme, taking the  steel out of  his
mouth. "Whatever  all this  pandemonium  means, I suppose the police station
will help us. We can't get there, for they hold  the way. But there's a pier
or  breakwater runs out into the sea just here, which we could defend longer
than anything else, like Horatius and his bridge. We must defend it till the
Gendarmerie turn out. Keep after me."
     They followed him as he went crunching  down the beach, and in a second
or  two their boots broke not  on the sea gravel, but on broad, flat stones.
They  marched down a long, low  jetty, running  out in one arm into the dim,
boiling  sea, and when they  came to the  end of it they felt that they  had
come to the end of their story. They turned and faced the town.
     That town was transfigured  with uproar. All along the high parade from
which they had just descended  was  a dark and roaring  stream  of humanity,
with  tossing  arms  and fiery  faces, groping and glaring towards them. The
long dark line was dotted with torches and lanterns; but even where no flame
lit up a  furious face,  they could see in the farthest figure, in the  most
shadowy gesture, an organised hate. It was clear that they were the accursed
of all men, and they knew not why.
     Two or three men, looking little and black like monkeys, leapt over the
edge as they had done and dropped on to the beach. These came ploughing down
the deep sand, shouting horribly, and strove to wade into the sea at random.
The example was followed, and  the whole black mass  of men began to run and
drip over the edge like black treacle.
     Foremost among the men on the beach Syme saw the peasant who had driven
their cart. He splashed into  the surf  on a  huge cart-horse, and shook his
axe at them.
     "The peasant!" cried Syme. "They have not risen since the Middle Ages."
     "Even if the police  do come now," said the Professor mournfully, "they
can do nothing with this mob."
     "Nonsence!" said Bull desperately; "there must be  some people left  in
the town who are human."
     "No,"  said  the  hopeless  Inspector,  "the  human being  will soon be
extinct. We are the last of mankind."
     "It may  be," said the Professor absently. Then he added in  his dreamy
voice, "What is all that at the end of the 'Dunciad'?

     Nor public flame; nor private, dares to shine;
     Nor human light is left, nor glimpse divine!
     Lo! thy dread Empire, Chaos, is restored;
     Light dies before thine uncreating word:
     Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtain fall;
     And universal darkness buries all."'

     "Stop!" cried Bull suddenly, "the gendarmes are out."
     The low lights of the  police station  were  indeed  blotted and broken
with hurrying figures,  and they  heard through  the  darkness the clash and
jingle of a disciplined cavalry.
     ' They are charging the mob!" cried Bull in ecstacy or alarm.
     "No," said Syme, "they are formed along the parade."
     "They have unslung their carbines," cried Bull dancing with excitement.
     "Yes," said Ratcliffe, "and they are going to fire on us."
     As he spoke there came a long  crackle of musketry,  and bullets seemed
to hop like hailstones on the stones in front of them.
     'The gendarmes have joined them!"  cried the Professor, and struck  his
     "I am in the padded cell," said Bull solidly.
     There was a long silence, and then Ratcliffe said, looking out over the
swollen sea, all a sort of grey purple--
     "What  does  it matter who is mad or who is sane? We shall all be  dead
     Syme turned to him and said--
     "You are quite hopeless, then?"
     Mr. Ratcliffe kept a stony silence; then at last he said quietly--
     "No; oddly enough I  am not quite hopeless. There  is one insane little
hope that  I cannot get out of  my mind. The  power  of this whole planet is
against us,  yet I cannot help wondering whether this one  silly little hope
is hopeless yet."
     "In what or whom is your hope?" asked Syme with curiosity.
     "In a man I never saw," said the other, looking at the leaden sea.
     "I know what you mean," said Syme in a low voice, "the man  in the dark
room. But Sunday must have killed him by now."
     "Perhaps,"  said the other steadily; "but  if so,  he was the only  man
whom Sunday found it hard to kill."
     "I heard what you said,"  said the Professor, with his back turned.  "I
also am holding hard on to the thing I never saw."
     All of  a sudden Syme, who was standing  as if blind with introspective
thought, swung round and cried out, like a man waking from sleep--
     "Where is the Colonel? I thought he was with us!"
     "The Colonel! Yes," cried Bull, "where on earth is the Colonel?"
     "He went to speak to Renard," said the Professor.
     "We cannot leave him among all those beasts," cried Syme.  "Let us  die
like gentlemen if--"
     "Do not pity the  Colonel," said Ratcliffe, with  a pale sneer. "He  is
extremely comfortable. He is--"
     "No! no! no!" cried  Syme in a kind of frenzy, "not the Colonel too!  I
will never believe it!"
     "Will you believe  your eyes?" asked the  other,  and  pointed  to  the
     Many of their  pursuers  had  waded into the water shaking their fists,
but  the  sea was  rough, and they could  not reach the  pier. Two or  three
figures, however, stood on the beginning of the stone footway, and seemed to
be cautiously advancing down it.  The glare  of a chance lantern  lit up the
faces of the two foremost. One face wore a black half-mask, and under it the
mouth was twisting about  in such a madness of nerves that the black tuft of
beard  wriggled round and round like a restless, living thing. The other was
the  red face and white moustache of Colonel Ducroix.  They were  in earnest
     "Yes, he is gone too," said  the  Professor, and  sat down  on a stone.
"Everything's gone. I'm gone! I can't trust  my own bodily machinery. I feel
as if my own hand might fly up and strike me."
     "When my hand flies up," said Syme, "it will strike somebody else," and
he strode along the pier towards the Colonel, the sword in one  hand and the
lantern in the other.
     As  if  to destroy the  last hope  or doubt, the Colonel, who  saw  him
coming,  pointed his revolver at him  and fired. The shot  missed Syme,  but
struck his sword, breaking  it short at the hilt. Syme  rushed on, and swung
the iron lantern above his head.
     "Judas  before  Herod!" he said,  and struck the Colonel down  upon the
stones. Then he turned to the  Secretary,  whose frightful mouth  was almost
foaming now, and held the  lamp high with so rigid and arresting  a gesture,
that the man was, as it were, frozen for a moment, and forced to hear.
     "Do  you see this lantern?" cried Syme in a terrible voice. "Do you see
the cross carved on it, and the flame inside?  You did not  make it. You did
not  light it, Better men than you, men who could  believe and obey, twisted
the entrails of iron and preserved the legend of fire. There is not a street
you  walk on, there is not a thread  you  wear,  that was not  made  as this
lantern was, by  denying  your philosophy  of  dirt  and rats.  You can make
nothing. You can only destroy. You  will  destroy mankind;  you will destroy
the world.  Let that suffice you.  Yet this one old  Christian  lantern  you
shall not destroy. It shall go where your empire of apes will never have the
wit to find it."
     He struck the Secretary once with the lantern so that he staggered; and
then, whirling it twice round his head, sent it flying far out to sea, where
it flared like a roaring rocket and fell.
     "Swords!" shouted Syme, turning his flaming face ; to the  three behind
him. "Let us charge these dogs, for our time has come to die."
     His  three companions came after him  sword  in hand. Syme's  sword was
broken, but he  rent  a  bludgeon from the fist of a fisherman, flinging him
down. In a moment  they would have flung themselves upon the face of the mob
and  perished, when  an interruption  came. The Secretary, ever since Syme's
speech, had stood  with his hand to his  stricken  head as if dazed;  now he
suddenly pulled off his black mask.
     The pale face thus peeled in the lamplight revealed not so much rage as
astonishment. He put up his hand with an anxious authority.
     "There  is  some  mistake,"  he said. "Mr. Syme,  I  hardly  think  you
understand your position. I arrest you in the name of the law."
     "Of the law?" said Syme, and dropped his stick.
     "Certainly!" said the Secretary. "I am a detective from Scotland Yard,"
and he took a small blue card from his pocket.
     "And what do you suppose we are?" asked the Professor, and threw up his
     "You," said the  Secretary stiffly, "are, as I know for a fact, members
of the Supreme Anarchist Council. Disguised as one of you, I--"
     Dr. Bull tossed his sword into the sea.
     "There never was  any Supreme Anarchist Council," he said. "We were all
a lot  of silly policemen looking at each  other. And all  these nice people
who have been peppering us with shot thought we were the  dynamiters. I knew
I couldn't  be  wrong  about the mob," he said,  beaming  over  the enormous
multitude, which  stretched  away  to the distance  on  both sides.  "Vulgar
people are never mad. I'm vulgar myself, and I know. I am now going on shore
to stand a drink to everybody here."


     NEXT  morning five bewildered  but hilarious people took the  boat  for
Dover. The  poor  old Colonel  might have had some cause to complain, having
been first  forced  to fight  for two  factions that didn't exist,  and then
knocked  down with an iron lantern. But he was  a magnanimous old gentleman,
and being much relieved that neither party had anything to do with dynamite,
he saw them off on the pier with great geniality.
     The five reconciled detectives had a hundred details to explain to each
other. The  Secretary had  to tell Syme  how  they  had  come to  wear masks
originally in order to approach the supposed enemy as fellow-conspirators;
     Syme had  to explain how they  had fled with such  swiftness through  a
civilised country. But above all  these  matters  of detail  which could  be
explained,  rose  the central  mountain  of the matter that  they could  not
explain. What did it all mean? If they were all harmless officers,  what was
Sunday? If he had  not  seized  the world, what on earth had he been up  to?
Inspector Ratcliffe was still gloomy about this.
     "I can't  make head  or tail of  old Sunday's little game any more than
you can," he said.  "But  whatever  else  Sunday is,  he  isn't  a blameless
citizen. Damn it! do you remember his face?"
     "I grant  you," answered Syme,  "that I have never been able  to forget
     "Well," said  the  Secretary, "I  suppose we can  find  out  soon,  for
to-morrow  we have our  next general meeting. You will excuse me,"  he said,
with a rather ghastly  smile, "for being well acquainted with my secretarial
     "I suppose you are  right," said the Professor reflectively. "I suppose
we might find it out from him; but I confess that I should feel a bit afraid
of asking Sunday who he really is."
     "Why," asked the Secretary, "for fear of bombs?"
     "No," said the Professor, "for fear he might tell me."
     "Let us have some drinks," said Dr. Bull, after a silence.
     Throughout  their  whole journey by  boat and  train  they  were highly
convivial, but  they instinctively kept together. Dr. Bull,  who  had always
been the optimist of the party, endeavoured to persuade the other  four that
the whole company could take the same hansom cab from Victoria; but this was
over-ruled,  and  they went in a four-wheeler, with  Dr.  Bull on  the  box,
singing. They finished their journey at an hotel in Piccadilly Circus, so as
to  be close  to the early breakfast next morning in  Leicester  Square. Yet
even  then the adventures of  the  day were  not  entirely  over. Dr.  Bull,
discontented with the general proposal to go to bed, had strolled out of the
hotel at  about  eleven  to see and taste some  of  the beauties of  London.
Twenty minutes afterwards, however, he came back and made quite a clamour in
the hall.  Syme, who  tried at  first to  soothe  him, was forced at last to
listen to his communication with quite new attention.
     "I tell you I've seen him!" said Dr. Bull, with thick emphasis.
     "Whom?" asked Syme quickly. "Not the President?"
     "Not so bad as that," said Dr. Bull, with unnecessary laughter, "not so
bad as that. I've got him here."
     "Got whom here?" asked Syme impatiently.
     "Hairy  man,"  said the  other  lucidly,  "man  that used  to be  hairy
man--Gogol.  Here he is,"  and he  pulled forward  by a  reluctant elbow the
identical young man who five days before had marched out of the Council with
thin red hair and a pale face, the  first of all the sham anarchists who had
been exposed.
     "Why do you worry with me?" he cried. "You have expelled me as a spy."
     "We are all spies!" whispered Syme.
     "We're all spies!" shouted Dr. Bull. "Come and have a drink."
     Next morning the battalion of the reunited six marched stolidly towards
the hotel in Leicester Square.
     "This  is more cheerful," said  Dr. Bull; "we are six men going to  ask
one man what he means."
     "I think  it is a bit queerer than that," said Syme. "I think it is six
men going to ask one man what they mean."
     They turned in silence into the Square, and though the hotel was in the
opposite  corner,  they  saw  at  once the little balcony and  a figure that
looked too  big for it. He was  sitting alone with  bent head, poring over a
newspaper. But all his  councillors,  who had come to vote him down, crossed
that Square as if they were watched out of heaven by a hundred eyes.
     They  had  disputed much upon their policy, about  whether they  should
leave the unmasked Gogol without and  begin  diplomatically, or whether they
should bring him in and blow up the gunpowder at once. The influence of Syme
and Bull prevailed  for  the latter course, though the Secretary to the last
asked them why they attacked Sunday so rashly.
     "My reason is quite simple," said Syme. "I attack him rashly because  I
am afraid of him."
     They followed Syme up the dark stair in silence,  and they all came out
simultaneously into the broad sunlight of the morning and the broad sunlight
of Sunday's smile.
     "Delightful!" he  said. "So pleased to  see you all. What an  exquisite
day it is. Is the Czar dead?"
     The Secretary, who happened to be foremost, drew himself together for a
dignified outburst.
     "No, sir,"  he said sternly  "there has been  no massacre. I  bring you
news of no such disgusting spectacles."
     "Disgusting  spectacles?"  repeated  the  President,   with  a  bright,
inquiring smile. "You mean Dr. Bull's spectacles?"
     The Secretary choked for  a moment,  and the  President went  on with a
sort of smooth appeal--
     "Of course, we all  have our opinions and even  our eyes, but really to
call them disgusting before the man himself--"
     Dr. Bull tore off his spectacles and broke them on the table.
     "My spectacles are blackguardly,"  he said,  "but  I'm not. Look  at my
     "I  dare  say  it's  the sort  of  face  that grows on one,"  said  the
President, "in fact, it grows on you; and who  am I to quarrel with the wild
fruits upon the Tree of Life? I dare say it will grow on me some day."
     "We  have no time  for  tomfoolery," said  the Secretary,  breaking  in
savagely. "We have  come to know what all this means. Who are  you? What are
you? Why did you get us all here? Do you know who and what we are? Are you a
half-witted man playing the conspirator, or are you a clever man playing the
fool? Answer me, I tell you."
     "Candidates," murmured  Sunday, "are only required to  answer eight out
of the  seventeen questions on the paper. As far as I can make out, you want
me to tell you what I am, and what you are, and what this table is, and what
this Council is, and what this world is for all  I  know. Well, I will go so
far as to rend  the  veil of  one mystery. If you want to know what you are,
you are a set of highly well-intentioned young jackasses."
     "And you," said Syme, leaning forward, "what are you?"
     "I?  What am  I?"  roared  the  President, and  he  rose  slowly  to an
incredible  height,  like some enormous  wave about  to arch above them  and
break. "You want to know what I am, do you?  Bull, you are a man of science.
Grub in the roots of those trees and find out  the truth  about them.  Syme,
you are a poet. Stare at those morning clouds. But I tell you this, that you
will have found out the truth of the last tree and the top-most cloud before
the truth about me. You will understand the sea,  and I  shall  be  still  a
riddle; you shall know what the stars are, and not know what I am. Since the
beginning of the world all men have hunted me like a wolf-- kings and sages,
and  poets  and lawgivers, all the churches, and all the philosophies. But I
have  never been caught yet, and the skies will fall in the time I  turn  to
bay. I have given them a good run for their money, and I will now."
     Before one of them could move, the monstrous man had swung himself like
some huge ourang-outang over the balustrade of  the  balcony.  Yet before he
dropped he pulled himself up again as on a horizontal bar, and thrusting his
great chin over the edge of the balcony, said solemnly--
     "There's one thing I'll tell you though about who I am. I am the man in
the dark room, who made you all policemen."
     With that he fell from the balcony, bouncing on the stones below like a
great ball of india-rubber, and went bounding off towards the corner of  the
Alhambra, where  he hailed  a  hansom-cab  and  sprang  inside  it. The  six
detectives  had been  standing  thunderstruck and livid in the  light of his
last  assertion;  but  when he disappeared  into the  cab,  Syme's practical
senses returned to him, and leaping over the balcony so recklessly as almost
to break his legs, he called another cab.
     He  and  Bull sprang  into the  cab together,  the  Professor  and  the
Inspector  into another, while the  Secretary and the  late  Gogol scrambled
into a third just  in  time to pursue the  flying Syme, who was pursuing the
flying President. Sunday led them a wild chase  towards the  north-west, his
cabman, evidently under  the  influence  of  more than  common  inducements,
urging the horse at breakneck speed. But Syme was in no mood for delicacies,
and  he stood up in his own cab  shouting,  "Stop  thief!" until crowds  ran
along  beside his cab, and  policemen began to  stop and  ask questions. All
this had  its  influence upon  the President's  cabman, who  began  to  look
dubious, and  to slow down to a trot. He  opened the trap to talk reasonably
to his fare,  and in so doing let the long whip droop over  the front of the
cab. Sunday leant  forward, seized it, and  jerked it  violently out  of the
man's  hand.  Then standing  up in front of the  cab himself,  he lashed the
horse and  roared aloud, so that they went  down  the streets like  a flying
storm.  Through street after street  and square  after square went  whirling
this preposterous vehicle,  in which the  fare was  urging the horse and the
driver trying desperately to stop it. The other three cabs came after it (if
the phrase be  permissible of a cab) like panting hounds.  Shops and streets
shot by like rattling arrows.
     At the highest ecstacy of speed, Sunday turned round on the splashboard
where  he stood, and  sticking his great grinning head out  of the cab, with
white hair whistling in the wind, he  made a horrible face at his  pursuers,
like some colossal urchin. Then raising  his right hand swiftly,  he flung a
ball  of paper in Syme's  face and vanished.  Syme  caught  the thing  while
instinctively  warding  it  off,  and  discovered that it  consisted  of two
crumpled papers. One was  addressed to himself,  and the  other to Dr. Bull,
with a very long, and it is  to be feared partly ironical, string of letters
after his name. Dr. Bull's  address was,  at  any rate,  considerably longer
than  his  communication, for the  communication  consisted entirely  of the

     "What about Martin Tupper now?"

     "What  does  the old maniac mean?" asked  Bull,  staring  at the words.
"What does yours say, Syme?"
     Syme's message was, at any rate, longer, and ran as follows:--
     "No  one  would regret anything in the nature of an interference by the
Archdeacon more than I. I trust it will  not come to that. But, for the last
time, where are your  goloshes?  The thing is too bad, especially after what
uncle said."
     The  President's cabman seemed to be regaining some  control  over  his
horse, and the pursuers gained a little as they swept round into the Edgware
Road.  And here  there  occurred  what seemed to the  allies  a providential
stoppage. Traffic of every kind was  swerving  to right or left or stopping,
for  down  the  long road  was coming  the unmistakable roar  announcing the
fire-engine, which  in a few  seconds went by like a brazen thunderbolt. But
quick  as  it went  by,  Sunday  had bounded out of  his cab, sprung at  the
fire-engine, caught  it, slung  himself  on  to  it,  and  was  seen  as  he
disappeared  in the noisy  distance talking  to the  astonished fireman with
explanatory gestures.
     "After him!" howled Syme. "He can't go astray now. There's no mistaking
a fire-engine."
     The three cabmen, who had been stunned  for a moment, whipped up  their
horses and  slightly decreased the distance  between  themselves  and  their
disappearing  prey. The  President acknowledged  this proximity by coming to
the back  of  the  car, bowing  repeatedly,  kissing  his  hand, and finally
flinging a neatly-folded note into  the bosom of Inspector  Ratcliffe.  When
that gentleman opened it, not  without impatience, he found it contained the

     "Fly  at  once. The truth about  your trouser-stretchers  is  known.--A

     The  fire-engine had struck  still farther  to the north, into a region
that  they  did not recognise; and as  it ran  by a  line of  high  railings
shadowed with trees, the six  friends were startled,  but somewhat relieved,
to  see the President leap  from  the fire-engine,  though  whether  through
another  whim or  the increasing protest of his entertainers they  could not
see. Before the three cabs, however, could reach up to the spot, he had gone
up the high railings like a huge grey cat, tossed himself over, and vanished
in a darkness of leaves.
     Syme  with a  furious gesture  stopped his cab,  jumped out, and sprang
also to the  escalade. When  he had one leg over the fence and  his  friends
were following, he turned  a  face  on them  which shone  quite  pale in the
     "What place can this  be?"  he asked. "Can it be the old devil's house?
I've heard he has a house in North London."
     "All  the  better," said the  Secretary grimly,  planting a  foot in  a
foothold, "we shall find him at home."
     "No,  but it isn't that," said  Syme,  knitting his brows.  "I hear the
most horrible  noises,  like devils  laughing and sneezing and blowing their
devilish noses!"
     "His dogs barking, of course," said the Secretary.
     "Why not say his black-beetles  barking!" said Syme  furiously, "snails
barking! geraniums barking! Did you ever hear a dog bark like that?"
     He held up his hand, and there  came out of the thicket a long growling
roar that seemed  to  get  under  the  skin  and  freeze  the  flesh-- a low
thrilling roar that made a throbbing in the air all about them.
     "The  dogs  of  Sunday  would be  no  ordinary dogs,"  said Gogol,  and
     Syme had jumped down on the  other  side, but he still  stood listening
     "Well, listen to that," he said, "is that a dog--anybody's dog?"
     There  broke upon their ear a hoarse screaming as of things  protesting
and clamouring in sudden pain; and then,  far off like an echo, what sounded
like a long nasal trumpet.
     "Well, his house ought to be hell!  " said the Secretary; "and if it is
hell,  I'm  going in!" and he sprang over the tall  railings almost with one
     The others followed. They broke through a  tangle of plants and shrubs,
and came out on an  open  path.  Nothing was in sight, but Dr. Bull suddenly
struck his hands together.
     "Why, you asses," he cried, "it's the Zoo!"
     As they were looking round wildly for any trace of their wild quarry, a
keeper in uniform came running along the path with a man in plain clothes.
     "Has it come this way?" gasped the keeper.
     "Has what?" asked Syme.
     "The  elephant!" cried the keeper. "An  elephant has  gone mad and  run
     "He has  run  away  with  an old gentleman,"  said  the other  stranger
breathlessly, "a poor old gentleman with white hair! "
     "What sort of old gentleman?" asked Syme, with great curiosity.
     "A  very large and fat old gentleman  in light  grey clothes," said the
keeper eagerly.
     "Well," said Syme,  "if he's that particular kind  of old gentleman, if
you're  quite sure that he's a large and fat old  gentleman in grey clothes,
you may take my word for it that the elephant has not run away with  him. He
has run away with the elephant. The elephant is not made by  God  that could
run away with him if he did not consent to the elopement.  And, by  thunder,
there he is! "
     There was no doubt about it this time. Clean across the space of grass,
about two hundred yards  away, with a crowd screaming  and scampering vainly
at his heels, went a huge grey elephant at  an  awful stride, with his trunk
thrown out as rigid as a ship's bowsprit, and trumpeting like the trumpet of
doom. On the back  of the bellowing and plunging animal sat President Sunday
with all the placidity of  a sultan,  but goading  the  animal to a  furious
speed with some sharp object in his hand.
     "Stop him!" screamed the populace. "He'll be out of the gate!"
     "Stop a landslide!" said the keeper. "He is out of the gate!"
     And even as he spoke,  a final crash and roar of  terror announced that
the  great  grey  elephant had broken  out  of  the  gates of the Zoological
Gardens,  and was careening down Albany  Street like a new and swift sort of
     "Great Lord!" cried  Bull, "I never knew  an elephant could go so fast.
Well, it must be hansom-cabs again if we are to keep him in sight."
     As they raced along to the gate out of which the elephant had vanished,
Syme felt a glaring  panorama of the strange animals in the cages which they
passed. Afterwards  he thought  it queer that  he  should have seen  them so
clearly.  He remembered especially seeing pelicans, with their preposterous,
pendant throats.  He wondered  why  the pelican  was the  symbol of charity,
except it was that  it wanted a good deal of charity to admire a pelican. He
remembered a hornbill, which was simply a huge yellow beak with a small bird
tied on behind it. The whole gave him a sensation, the vividness of which he
could not  explain, that Nature  was always  making quite mysterious  jokes.
Sunday had told them that they would understand him when they had understood
the stars. He wondered whether even the archangels understood the hornbill.
     The six unhappy detectives flung  themselves into cabs and followed the
elephant sharing the terror which he  spread through the long stretch of the
streets. This  time  Sunday  did not turn round, but offered  them the solid
stretch of his unconscious back, which maddened them, if possible, more than
his  previous  mockeries. Just before they came to Baker Street, however, he
was  seen to throw  something  far up  into the air, as a  boy  does  a ball
meaning to catch it again. But  at their rate of racing it fell  far behind,
just by the cab containing Gogol; and in  faint hope of a  clue or  for some
impulse  unexplainable,  he  stopped his  cab so as  to pick  it  up. It was
addressed to himself, and was quite a bulky parcel. On examination, however,
its bulk  was found to consist  of  thirty-three pieces of paper of no value
wrapped one round the other. When the last covering was torn away it reduced
itself to a small slip of paper, on which was written:--

     "The word, I fancy, should be 'pink'."

     The man once  known  as Gogol said nothing, but  the movements  of  his
hands and feet were like those of a man urging a horse to renewed efforts.
     Through street after street, through district after district, went  the
prodigy of the flying elephant, calling crowds to  every window, and driving
the traffic left and right. And still through all  this insane publicity the
three cabs toiled  after  it, until  they came to be  regarded as part of  a
procession, and perhaps the  advertisement of a  circus. They went at such a
rate that distances were shortened beyond  belief, and  Syme saw  the Albert
Hall  in  Kensington  when he  thought that he was still in Paddington.  The
animal's pace was even  more fast  and free through  the empty, aristocratic
streets of South Kensington, and he finally headed towards that part of  the
sky-line where the enormous Wheel of Earl's  Court stood up  in the sky. The
wheel grew larger and larger, till it filled heaven like the wheel of stars.
     The  beast outstripped the  cabs.  They lost him round several corners,
and when they came to  one of the  gates of the Earl's Court Exhibition they
found themselves finally blocked. In front of them was an enormous crowd; in
the  midst  of it was an enormous elephant,  heaving and  shuddering as such
shapeless creatures do. But the President had disappeared.
     "Where has he gone to?" asked Syme, slipping to the ground.
     "Gentleman rushed  into  the  Exhibition, sir!" said  an official  in a
dazed  manner. Then he added in  an injured  voice:  "Funny  gentleman, sir.
Asked me to hold his horse, and gave me this."
     He held  out  with distaste a piece of folded paper, addressed: "To the
Secretary of the Central Anarchist Council."
     The Secretary, raging, rent it open, and found written inside it:--

     "When the herring runs a mile,
     Let the Secretary smile;
     When the herring tries to fly,
     Let the Secretary die.
     Rustic Proverb."

     "Why the eternal crikey," began the Secretary, "did you let the man in?
Do people commonly come to you Exhibition riding on mad elephants? Do--"
     "Look! " shouted Syme suddenly. "Look over there! '
     "Look at what?" asked the Secretary savagely.
     "Look at the captive balloon!" said Syme, and pointed in a frenzy.
     "Why  the  blazes should  I  look at a captive  balloon?' demanded  the
Secretary. "What is there queer about a captive balloon?"
     "Nothing," said Syme, "except that it isn't captive!'
     They all turned their eyes to where the balloon swung and swelled above
the  Exhibition on a string, like a child's balloon. A second afterwards the
string  came  in  two just under  the car, and  the  balloon,  broken loose,
floated away with the freedom of a soap bubble.
     "Ten thousand  devils!" shrieked the Secretary. "He's got into it!" and
he shook his fists at the sky.
     The balloon, borne by some chance wind, came right above them, and they
could see the great white head of the  President  peering over the  side and
looking benevolently down on them.
     "God bless my soul!" said the Professor with the elderly manner that he
could  never  disconnect from his  bleached beard and parchment  face.  "God
bless my soul! I seemed to fancy that something fell on the top of my hat!"
     He put  up a trembling hand and took from that shelf a piece of twisted
paper,  which he opened absently  only  to  find it  inscribed  with a  true
lover's knot and, the words:--
     "Your beauty has not left me indifferent.--From LITTLE SNOWDROP. "
     There was a short silence, and then Syme said, biting his beard--
     "I'm  not beaten yet. The blasted thing must come down somewhere. Let's
follow it!"


     ACROSS green  fields, and breaking through blooming  hedges, toiled six
draggled detectives, about  five  miles  out  of London. The optimist of the
party had at first proposed that they should follow the balloon across South
England in hansom-cabs. But he was  ultimately convinced of  the  persistent
refusal of  the  balloon to follow the roads,  and the still more persistent
refusal of  the cabmen  to follow  the  balloon.  Consequently the  tireless
though exasperated  travellers  broke through  black  thickets  and ploughed
through ploughed fields till each was turned into a figure too outrageous to
be mistaken  for a tramp. Those green hills of Surrey saw the final collapse
and tragedy of  the admirable light grey suit in which Syme had set out from
Saffron Park. His silk hat was broken over his nose by a swinging bough, his
coat-tails  were  torn  to the  shoulder by arresting  thorns,  the clay  of
England was splashed up to his collar; but he still carried his yellow beard
forward with a  silent  and furious determination, and  his  eyes were still
fixed on that floating ball of gas, which in the full flush of sunset seemed
coloured like a sunset cloud.
     "After all," he said, "it is very beautiful!"
     "It is singularly and strangely beautiful!" said the Professor. "I wish
the beastly gas-bag would burst!"
     "No," said Dr. Bull, "I hope it won't. It might hurt the old boy."
     "Hurt him!" said  the  vindictive Professor,  "hurt him! Not as much as
I'd hurt him if I could get up with him. Little Snowdrop!"
     "I don't want him hurt, somehow," said Dr. Bull.
     "What!" cried  the Secretary bitterly.  "Do you  believe all that  tale
about his being our man in the dark room? Sunday would say he was anybody."
     "I  don't know whether I  believe it or  not,"  said  Dr. Bull. "But it
isn't  that  that  I  mean.  I  can't  wish  old  Sunday's balloon  to burst
     "Well," said Syme impatiently, "because?"
     "Well,  because  he's so jolly like a balloon himself,"  said Dr.  Bull
desperately. "I don't understand a word of  all  that idea of  his being the
same  man who  gave us  all  our blue cards.  It  seems  to make  everything
nonsense.  But  I don't  care who knows it, I  always had a sympathy for old
Sunday himself, wicked as he was.  Just as if he was a  great bouncing baby.
How can I explain what my  queer sympathy was? It didn't prevent my fighting
him like hell! Shall I make it  clear if I  say that I  liked him because he
was so fat?"
     "You will not," said the Secretary.
     "I've got  it now,"  cried  Bull, "it was because he was  so fat and so
light. Just like a balloon.  We always  think of fat people as heavy, but he
could have danced  against a sylph. I see now what I mean. Moderate strength
is shown in violence, supreme strength is  shown in levity. It was  like the
old  speculations--what would happen if an elephant could leap up in the sky
like a grasshopper?"
     "Our  elephant," said Syme,  looking upwards, "has  leapt into the  sky
like a grasshopper."
     "And  somehow,"  concluded Bull, "that's  why I can't  help liking  old
Sunday. No, it's not an admiration of  force, or any  silly thing like that.
There is  a kind of gaiety  in the thing, as if  he were bursting with  some
good news. Haven't you sometimes  felt it on  a spring day?  You know Nature
plays  tricks, but  somehow that day proves  they are good-natured tricks. I
never read the Bible myself,  but that part they laugh  at is literal truth,
'Why leap ye, ye high hills?' The hills do leap ---at least, they try to....
Why do I like  Sunday?  . . . how can I tell you? . . . because  he's such a
     There was  a long  silence,  and then the Secretary  said in a curious,
strained voice--
     "You do  not know Sunday at all. Perhaps it is because you  are  better
than  I, and do not know hell. I  was a  fierce fellow, and a trifle  morbid
from the first. The man who sits in darkness, and who chose us all, chose me
because I  had all the crazy look of a  conspirator--because  my  smile went
crooked, and my eyes were  gloomy,  even when I smiled. But there  must have
been something in me that answered to the nerves in all  these anarchic men.
For when  I first saw Sunday he expressed to me, not your airy vitality, but
something both gross and sad in the Nature of Things. I found him smoking in
a twilight  room,  a  room with brown blind down, infinitely more depressing
than the genial darkness in which our master lives. He sat there on a bench,
a huge heap of a man, dark and out of shape. He listened  to  all  my  words
without  speaking or even stirring. I poured out my most passionate appeals,
and asked my most eloquent questions. Then, after  a long silence, the Thing
began to shake, and I thought  it was shaken by some secret malady. It shook
like a loathsome and living jelly. It  reminded me of everything I  had ever
read  about the base bodies that are the origin of life-- the deep sea lumps
and protoplasm. It seemed like the final form of  matter, the most shapeless
and the  most shameful. I could only tell myself, from its shudderings, that
it was something  at least  that such a monster could be miserable. And then
it  broke  upon  me  that the  bestial mountain was shaking  with  a  lonely
laughter, and the laughter was at me. Do you ask me to forgive him that?  It
is no small thing  to be laughed at by something at  once lower and stronger
than oneself."
     "Surely you fellows are exaggerating wildly," cut in the clear voice of
Inspector  Ratcliffe.  "President  Sunday  is  a  terrible  fellow for one's
intellect, but  he is not such  a Barnum's freak physically as you make out.
He  received  me in an ordinary  office,  in a  grey  check coat,  in  broad
daylight. He  talked to me in an  ordinary way. But I'll tell  you what is a
trifle  creepy  about  Sunday.  His room  is  neat, his  clothes  are  neat,
everything  seems in  order;  but  he's absent-minded.  Sometimes his  great
bright eyes go  quite blind. For hours he  forgets  that you  are there. Now
absent-mindedness is just a bit too awful in a bad man. We think of a wicked
man as  vigilant.  We can't think  of  a  wicked  man  who  is  honestly and
sincerely dreamy,  because  we daren't  think  of  a  wicked man alone  with
himself.  An absentminded man means a good-natured man. It means a man  who,
if  he  happens  to see  you,  will  apologise.  But  how will  you  bear an
absentminded man who, if he happens to see  you, will kill you? That is what
tries  the  nerves,  abstraction  combined  with  cruelty. Men  have felt it
sometimes  when  they went through wild forests, and felt  that the  animals
there  were at once innocent  and pitiless. They  might ignore or slay.  How
would you like to pass ten mortal  hours in  a parlour with an absent-minded
     "And what do you think of Sunday, Gogol?" asked Syme.
     "I  don't  think of Sunday on  principle," said Gogol simply, "any more
than I stare at the sun at noonday."
     "Well,  that is a point of view," said Syme thoughtfully.  "What do you
say, Professor?"
     The Professor was walking with bent head and trailing stick, and he did
not answer at all.
     "Wake up, Professor!" said  Syme genially. "Tell  us what you  think of
     The Professor spoke at last very slowly.
     "I think something," he said, "that I cannot say clearly. Or, rather, I
think  something that I cannot even think clearly. But it  is something like
this. My early life, as you know, was a bit too large and loose.
     Well, when I saw Sunday's face I thought  it was too  large-- everybody
does,  but I also thought it was too loose. The  face was so  big,  that one
couldn't focus it or make it a face at all. The eye was so far away from the
nose, that it wasn't an eye. The mouth was so much  by itself, that one  had
to think of it by itself. The whole thing is too hard to explain."
     He paused for a little, still trailing his stick, and then went on--
     "But put it this way. Walking up a  road at  night, I have seen a  lamp
and  a  lighted  window  and  a  cloud make  together  a  most complete  and
unmistakable face. If anyone in heaven has that face I shall know him again.
Yet when I walked a little farther I found that there was no face,  that the
window  was ten yards away, the lamp ten hundred yards, the cloud beyond the
world.  Well, Sunday's face  escaped me; it  ran away to right  and left, as
such chance pictures run away. And so  his face has made me,  somehow, doubt
whether there are any faces. I don't know whether your face, Bull, is a face
or  a  combination  in perspective.  Perhaps  one black disc of your beastly
glasses  is quite  close  and another fifty  miles away. Oh, the doubts of a
materialist  are  not worth a dump. Sunday has  taught me  the  last and the
worst doubts, the doubts  of a spiritualist. I am a Buddhist, I suppose; and
Buddhism is not a creed, it is a doubt. My poor dear Bull, I do  not believe
that you really have a face. I have not faith enough to believe in matter."
     Syme's  eyes were still fixed upon the  errant  orb, which, reddened in
the evening light, looked like some rosier and more innocent world.
     "Have you noticed an odd thing," he said, "about all your descriptions?
Each man of you finds Sunday quite different, yet each man  of you can  only
find one thing  to compare  him to--the universe itself. Bull finds him like
the  earth  in  spring, Gogol  like  the  sun  at  noonday. The Secretary is
reminded of the shapeless protoplasm, and the Inspector  of the carelessness
of virgin forests. The Professor says he  is like a changing landscape. This
is queer,  but it is queerer still that  I also have had my odd notion about
the  President,  and I also find  that I think of Sunday  as I think of  the
whole world."
     "Get on a little faster, Syme," said Bull; "never mind the balloon."
     "When I first  saw Sunday," said Syme slowly, "I only saw his back; and
when I saw his back, I knew he was the worst man  in the world. His neck and
shoulders were  brutal, like those of some  apish  god. His head had a stoop
that  was hardly human, like the stoop of an ox. In fact, I had at once  the
revolting  fancy  that this was not a man at all, but a beast  dressed up in
men's clothes."
     "Get on," said Dr. Bull.
     "And  then  the  queer thing happened.  I  had seen his  back  from the
street, as he sat in the balcony. Then I entered the hotel, and coming round
the other side of him, saw his face in the sunlight. His face frightened me,
as it did everyone; but not  because it was brutal, not because it was evil.
On the contrary, it  frightened  me because it was so beautiful,  because it
was so good."
     "Syme," exclaimed the Secretary, "are you ill?"
     "It was like  the face of  some ancient archangel, judging justly after
heroic  wars.  There  was laughter in the eyes, and in the mouth  honour and
sorrow. There was the same white hair, the same  great,  grey-clad shoulders
that I had seen from behind. But when I saw him from behind I was certain he
was an animal, and when I saw him in front I knew he was a god."
     "Pan," said the Professor dreamily, "was a god and an animal."
     "Then,  and  again  and  always," went on  Syme  like a  man talking to
himself,  "that has  been for me  the mystery of  Sunday, and it is also the
mystery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I am sure the noble face
is but a mask.  When  I see the face but for an  instant, I know the back is
only a  jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good an accident; good
is so good, that we feel certain that evil could be explained. But the whole
came to a  kind of crest yesterday when I raced Sunday  for the cab, and was
just behind him all the way."
     "Had you time for thinking then?" asked Ratcliffe.
     "Time," replied  Syme,  "for  one  outrageous thought.  I was  suddenly
possessed with  the idea that the blind,  blank back  of his head really was
his  face--an  awful,  eyeless face staring at me!  And I fancied  that  the
figure running in  front of me was  really a figure running  backwards,  and
dancing as he ran."
     "Horrible!" said Dr. Bull, and shuddered.
     "Horrible  is  not the  word," said Syme.  "It was  exactly  the  worst
instant of my life. And yet ten minutes afterwards, when he put his head out
of the cab and made a grimace like a gargoyle,  I knew that he was only like
a father playing hide-and-seek with his children."
     "It is  a  long game," said  the Secretary,  and  frowned at his broken
     "Listen to me," cried Syme  with extraordinary emphasis. "Shall I  tell
you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of
the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a
tree, but the back of a  tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud.
Cannot you see that everything is stooping and  hiding a  face? If  we could
only get round in front--"
     "Look!" cried out Bull clamorously, "the balloon is coming down!"
     There was no need to cry out to Syme, who had never taken  his eyes off
it. He  saw  the great  luminous globe  suddenly  stagger  in the sky, right
itself, and then sink slowly behind the trees like a setting sun.
     The man called Gogol,  who had  hardly spoken through all  their  weary
travels, suddenly threw up his hands like a lost spirit.
     "He is dead!" he cried. "And now I know he was my friend-- my friend in
the dark!"
     "Dead!" snorted the Secretary. "You will not find  him dead easily.  If
he has been tipped out of the car, we shall find him rolling as a colt rolls
in a field, kicking his legs for fun."
     "Clashing  his hoofs," said the  Professor.  "The colts do,  and so did
     "Pan again!"  said  Dr.  Bull  irritably.  "You  seem to think  Pan  is
     "So he is," said the Professor, "in Greek. He means everything."
     "Don't forget," said the Secretary,  looking  down, "that he also means
     Syme had stood without hearing any of the exclamations.
     "It fell over there," he said shortly. "Let us follow it!"
     Then he added with an indescribable gesture--
     "Oh, if he has cheated us all by getting  killed! It would  be like one
of his larks."
     He strode off towards the distant trees with a new energy, his rags and
ribbons fluttering  in the wind. The others followed  him in a more footsore
and dubious manner. And  almost at the same moment all six men realised that
they were not alone in the little field.
     Across  the  square of  turf  a  tall  man was advancing  towards them,
leaning  on a strange  long staff like a sceptre. He was clad  in a fine but
old-fashioned suit with  knee-breeches; its  colour  was  that shade between
blue,  violet and grey which can be seen in certain shadows of the woodland.
His hair was  whitish  grey, and at the first glance, taken  along with  his
knee-breeches, looked as if it was powdered. His advance was very quiet; but
for the silver frost upon his head, he might have been one to the shadows of
the wood.
     "Gentlemen," he said, "my master has a carriage waiting  for you in the
road just by."
     "Who is your master?" asked Syme, standing quite still.
     "I was told you knew his name," said the man respectfully.
     There was a silence, and then the Secretary said--
     "Where is this carriage?"
     "It has been waiting only a few moments," said the stranger. "My master
has only just come home."
     Syme  looked left and right upon the  patch of green field in which  he
found  himself. The hedges were ordinary hedges, the  trees seemed  ordinary
trees; yet he felt like a man entrapped in fairyland.
     He looked the mysterious ambassador up and  down, but he could discover
nothing  except  that  the  man's coat was the  exact  colour of  the purple
shadows, and that the man's face was the exact colour  of the  red and brown
and golden sky.
     "Show us  the place," Syme said briefly,  and without a word the man in
the violet coat turned his back and walked towards a gap in the hedge, which
let in suddenly the light of a white road.
     As  the  six  wanderers broke out upon this thoroughfare, they  saw the
white  road blocked by what looked like  a long row of carriages, such a row
of carriages  as might close the approach  to some house in Park Lane. Along
the side of these  carriages stood  a rank of splendid servants, all dressed
in the grey-blue uniform, and  all having  a certain  quality of stateliness
and freedom which would not commonly  belong to the servants of a gentleman,
but rather to the officials and  ambassadors of a great king. There were  no
less  than six carriages waiting, one for each of the tattered and miserable
band. All the attendants (as if in court-dress) wore swords, and as each man
crawled into his carriage they drew them, and saluted with a sudden blaze of
     "What can it all mean?"  asked Bull of Syme as they separated. "Is this
another joke of Sunday's?"
     "I don't know," said Syme  as he  sank wearily  back in the cushions of
his carriage;  "but  if it is,  it's one of the jokes you talk about. It's a
good-natured one."
     The six adventurers had passed through many adventures, but not one had
carried them so  utterly off  their feet as this last adventure of  comfort.
They  had all  become  inured to things going  roughly; but  things suddenly
going smoothly swamped  them. They could not even  feebly  imagine what  the
carriages were; it was enough for them to know that they were carriages, and
carriages with cushions. They could not conceive who the old man was who had
led them; but it  was quite  enough that  he had  certainly led them  to the
     Syme drove  through a drifting darkness of trees in utter  abandonment.
It was typical  of him that  while  he had carried his bearded  chin forward
fiercely  so  long as anything  could  be done, when the whole  business was
taken out of his hands he fell back on the cushions in a frank collapse.
     Very gradually and very vaguely he realised into  what  rich  roads the
carriage  was carrying him.  He saw that they passed the stone gates of what
might have been a  park,  that they began gradually to  climb a  hill which,
while wooded  on  both sides, was somewhat more  orderly than a forest. Then
there  began to grow upon him,  as  upon  a man slowly waking from a healthy
sleep, a pleasure in everything.  He felt that  the hedges were  what hedges
should be, living walls; that a hedge is like a human army, disciplined, but
all  the more alive. He saw high elms behind the hedges, and vaguely thought
how happy boys would be climbing there. Then his carriage took a turn of the
path,  and he  saw suddenly and quietly, like a long, low, sunset  cloud,  a
long, low house,  mellow in the mild  light of sunset.  All the six  friends
compared notes  afterwards and quarrelled; but they all agreed that in  some
unaccountable way  the place reminded them  of their boyhood. It was  either
this  elm-top or that crooked path, it was either this scrap  of  orchard or
that shape of a window; but each man of them declared that he could remember
this place before he could remember his mother.
     When  the  carriages eventually  rolled up  to a large,  low, cavernous
gateway, another  man in the same uniform, but wearing  a silver star on the
grey breast of his coat, came  out to meet them. This impressive person said
to the bewildered Syme--
     "Refreshments are provided for you in your room."
     Syme, under the influence of the same mesmeric sleep of amazement, went
up  the  large  oaken  stairs  after  the respectful attendant. He entered a
splendid suite of apartments that seemed  to be designed specially  for him.
He walked up to  a long mirror with the ordinary instinct of  his class,  to
pull his tie straight or to smooth his hair; and there  he saw the frightful
figure that  he  was--blood running down  his face from where  the bough had
struck him,  his  hair standing  out like  yellow  rags of  rank grass,  his
clothes torn  into long,  wavering  tatters. At once the whole enigma sprang
up, simply as the question of how he  had got there, and  how he was to  get
out  again. Exactly at the same moment a man in blue, who had been appointed
as his valet, said very solemnly--
     "I have put out your clothes, sir."
     "Clothes!" said Syme sardonically.  "I have  no clothes except  these,"
and he lifted two long strips of his frock-coat in fascinating festoons, and
made a movement as if to twirl like a ballet girl.
     "My master asks me to say,"  said the attendant, that there  is a fancy
dress  ball to-night, and  that he desires you to put on the  costume that I
have laid out.  Meanwhile,  sir, there is a bottle of Burgundy and some cold
pheasant, which he  hopes you  will not refuse, as  it is  some hours before
     "Cold pheasant is a good thing," said Syme  reflectively, "and Burgundy
is a spanking good thing. But really I do not want either of them so much as
I want to know what  the devil all this means, and what sort of  costume you
have got laid out for me. Where is it?"
     The servant lifted off a kind of ottoman  a long  peacock-blue drapery,
rather of  the  nature of a domino, on the front of which was  emblazoned  a
large golden sun,  and which was splashed  here and there with flaming stars
and crescents.
     "You're  to  be dressed as Thursday,  sir,"  said  the  valet  somewhat
     "Dressed  as Thursday!" said Syme in  meditation.  "It doesn't  sound a
warm costume."
     "Oh, yes, sir," said the other  eagerly, "the Thursday costume is quite
warm, sir. It fastens up to the chin."
     "Well, I don't understand anything," said  Syme, sighing.  "I have been
used  so  long to uncomfortable adventures that comfortable adventures knock
me out. Still,  I  may be allowed to ask  why I should be particularly  like
Thursday  in  a green frock spotted all over  with the  sun and  moon. Those
orbs,  I  think,  shine on other days. I once saw  the  moon  on  Tuesday, I
     "Beg pardon, sir," said the valet, "Bible also  provided for you,"  and
with a respectful and  rigid finger he  pointed out a  passage  in the first
chapter of  Genesis. Syme read it wondering. It was that in which the fourth
day of the week is  associated with the creation of the  sun and moon. Here,
however, they reckoned from a Christian Sunday.
     "This is getting wilder  and wilder," said Syme, as he  sat down  in  a
chair.  "Who are  these people who provide cold pheasant  and Burgundy,  and
green clothes and Bibles? Do they provide everything?"
     "Yes, sir,  everything," said the attendant gravely.  "Shall I help you
on with your costume?"
     "Oh, hitch the bally thing on! " said Syme impatiently.
     But  though  he  affected  to despise  the mummery, he  felt a  curious
freedom  and naturalness in his movements as the blue  and gold garment fell
about  him; and when  he found  that he  had to wear  a  sword, it stirred a
boyish dream. As he passed out of the room  he flung the  folds  across  his
shoulder with a gesture, his sword stood out at an angle, and he had all the
swagger of a troubadour. For these disguises did not disguise, but reveal.


     AS Syme strode along  the corridor he saw the Secretary standing at the
top of a  great flight  of stairs. The man had never looked so noble. He was
draped  in a long robe  of starless black,  down the centre of which  fell a
band  or broad stripe of pure white, like a single shaft of light. The whole
looked like some very severe ecclesiastical vestment. There  was no need for
Syme to search his memory or the Bible in order to remember that  the  first
day  of creation  marked the mere creation of  light  out  of  darkness. The
vestment itself would  alone have suggested  the symbol; and  Syme felt also
how perfectly this pattern of pure white and black expressed the soul of the
pale and austere Secretary, with his inhuman veracity and his  cold  frenzy,
which made him so easily  make war on the anarchists, and yet so easily pass
for one of them. Syme was  scarcely  surprised  to notice that, amid all the
ease and hospitality of their  new surroundings, this man's eyes  were still
stern. No smell of  ale or orchards could make the Secretary  cease to ask a
reasonable question.
     If Syme had been able  to see himself,  he would have realised that he,
too, seemed to be for the first time  himself  and no one  else.  For if the
Secretary stood for  that  philosopher who loves  the  original and formless
light, Syme was  a type of  the poet who seeks always to make  the  light in
special  shapes,  to  split it  up  into sun and star. The  philosopher  may
sometimes love the infinite; the poet  always loves the  finite. For him the
great moment is not the  creation of light,  but the creation of the sun and
     As they  descended  the broad stairs together  they overtook Ratcliffe,
who was  clad in spring  green  like  a huntsman, and the pattern upon whose
garment was  a green  tangle of  trees.  For he stood for that third day  on
which the earth and green things  were  made, and his square, sensible face,
with its not unfriendly cynicism, seemed appropriate enough to it.
     They  were  led out of another  broad and low gateway into a very large
old English garden, full of torches  and bonfires,  by  the  broken light of
which a vast carnival of people were dancing in motley dress. Syme seemed to
see every shape  in Nature imitated in some crazy  costume. There was a  man
dressed as a windmill with enormous sails, a  man  dressed as an elephant, a
man dressed  as a balloon; the two last, together, seemed to keep the thread
of their farcical adventures. Syme even saw, with a queer thrill, one dancer
dressed like an enormous hornbill, with a beak twice as big  as himself--the
queer bird which had  fixed itself on his fancy like a living question while
he was  rushing down the long road at  the Zoological Gardens.  There were a
thousand other such  objects, however.  There  was  a dancing  lamp-post,  a
dancing  apple  tree,  a  dancing ship.  One  would  have thought  that  the
untamable tune of some mad musician had set  all the common objects of field
and  street  dancing an  eternal jig. And  long  afterwards,  when  Syme was
middle-aged  and at rest,  he  could  never  see  one  of  those  particular
objects--a lamppost, or an apple tree, or a  windmill--without thinking that
it was a strayed reveller from that revel of masquerade.
     On one side of this lawn, alive with dancers, was a sort of green bank,
like the terrace in such old-fashioned gardens.
     Along  this, in  a  kind of  crescent,  stood  seven great  chairs, the
thrones  of the  seven days. Gogol and Dr. Bull were already in their seats;
the  Professor  was  just  mounting  to his.  Gogol,  or  Tuesday,  had  his
simplicity well  symbolised  by a  dress designed upon  the division  of the
waters, a dress that separated upon his  forehead and fell to his feet, grey
and silver, like a sheet of rain. The Professor, whose day was that on which
the birds and fishes-- the ruder forms of life--were created, had a dress of
dim purple, over which sprawled goggle-eyed fishes and  outrageous  tropical
birds, the union in him of unfathomable fancy and of  doubt.  Dr. Bull,  the
last day of Creation, wore a coat  covered with heraldic  animals in red and
gold, and on his crest a  man rampant. He lay back in his chair with a broad
smile, the picture of an optimist in his element.
     One  by one the  wanderers ascended the bank and  sat in  their strange
seats. As each of them sat down a roar of enthusiasm rose from the carnival,
such as that  with which crowds receive kings. Cups were clashed and torches
shaken, and feathered hats flung in the air. The men for whom  these thrones
were  reserved  were  men  crowned with  some extraordinary laurels. But the
central chair was empty.
     Syme was  on the left hand of  it and the  Secretary on  the right. The
Secretary looked across the empty throne at Syme, and  said, compressing his
     "We do not know yet that he is not dead in a field."
     Almost  as Syme heard the  words, he  saw on the sea  of human faces in
front of him a frightful and beautiful alteration, as if heaven  had  opened
behind  his head. But Sunday had only passed silently along the front like a
shadow, and  had sat in the central seat.  He was draped plainly, in a  pure
and terrible white, and his hair was like a silver flame on his forehead.
     For a long time--it  seemed for hours--that huge  masquerade of mankind
swayed and stamped  in front  of  them to marching and exultant music. Every
couple dancing seemed a separate romance; it might be a fairy dancing with a
pillar-box,  or a  peasant girl  dancing with the moon; but in each case  it
was, somehow, as absurd as Alice in Wonderland,  yet  as grave and kind as a
love story. At last, however, the thick  crowd began to thin itself. Couples
strolled away into the garden-walks,  or began to drift towards that  end of
the building where stood smoking, in  huge pots like  fish-kettles, some hot
and  scented mixtures of old  ale or wine. Above  all these, upon a sort  of
black framework on  the  roof  of the  house, roared in its  iron  basket  a
gigantic  bonfire,  which lit  up the land  for miles. It  flung the  homely
effect  of firelight over the face of vast forests of grey or brown, and  it
seemed to fill with warmth even the emptiness of upper night. Yet this also,
after  a time, was allowed to grow fainter; the dim groups gathered more and
more round the great cauldrons, or passed, laughing and clattering, into the
inner  passages  of  that  ancient  house. Soon  there  were only  some  ten
loiterers in the garden; soon only four. Finally the  last stray merry-maker
ran into the house whooping to his companions. The fire faded, and the slow,
strong stars came out. And the seven strange men were left alone, like seven
stone statues on their chairs of stone. Not one of them had spoken a word.
     They seemed  in no  haste to  do so, but  heard  in silence the hum  of
insects and the distant song of one bird. Then Sunday spoke, but so dreamily
that he might have been continuing a conversation rather than beginning one.
     "We  will eat and  drink later," he said.  "Let  us  remain  together a
little, we who have loved each other  so sadly, and  have fought so long.  I
seem to remember only centuries  of heroic  war, in  which  you  were always
heroes--epic  on  epic,  iliad  on  iliad, and you always  brothers in arms.
Whether it was but recently (for time  is  nothing), or at the  beginning of
the world, I sent you out to war. I sat in the darkness, where  there is not
any created thing, and to you I  was only a voice  commanding  valour and an
unnatural virtue. You heard the voice in the  dark,  and you never  heard it
again. The sun in  heaven denied it, the earth and sky denied it,  all human
wisdom denied it. And when I met you in the daylight I denied it myself."
     Syme stirred sharply in his seat, but otherwise there was silence,  and
the incomprehensible went on.
     "But you were men. You  did not forget  your secret  honour, though the
whole cosmos turned an engine of  torture  to tear it out of you. I knew how
near you  were to  hell. I know  how you, Thursday, crossed swords with King
Satan, and how you, Wednesday, named me in the hour without hope."
     There  was  complete  silence  in  the  starlit  garden,  and then  the
black-browed Secretary, implacable, turned in his chair towards  Sunday, and
said in a harsh voice--
     "Who and what are you?"
     "I  am the Sabbath," said the other without moving. "I am the peace  of
     The Secretary started  up,  and stood crushing  his costly robe in  his
     "I know what you mean," he cried, "and it is exactly that that I cannot
forgive  you. I know you are contentment, optimism,  what  do  they call the
thing, an ultimate reconciliation. Well, I  am not  reconciled.  If you were
the man  in the  dark  room, why  were you  also Sunday, an  offense  to the
sunlight? If you were from the first our father and our friend, why were you
also  our greatest enemy? We wept, we fled in terror; the  iron entered into
our  souls-- and you are the peace of God! Oh, I can  forgive God His anger,
though it destroyed nations; but I cannot forgive Him His peace."
     Sunday answered not a word, but very slowly he turned his face of stone
upon Syme as if asking a question.
     "No," said Syme, "I do not feel fierce like that. I am grateful to you,
not only for wine and hospitality here, but for many a fine scamper and free
fight. But I should  like to know. My soul and heart are as happy  and quiet
here as this old garden, but my reason is still crying out. I should like to
     Sunday looked at Ratcliffe, whose clear voice said--
     "It seems so  silly that you should have been on both  sides and fought
     Bull said--
     "l understand nothing, but I am happy. In fact, I am going to sleep."
     "I  am  not  happy," said the  Professor with  his  head in  his hands,
"because I do not understand. You let me stray a little too near to hell."
     And then Gogol said, with the absolute simplicity of a child--
     "I wish I knew why I was hurt so much."
     Still Sunday said nothing, but only sat with his mighty chin  upon  his
hand, and gazed at the distance. Then at last he said--
     "I  have  heard  your complaints  in  order. And here,  I think,  comes
another to complain, and we will hear him also."
     The falling fire in the great cresset  threw a last long  gleam, like a
bar of  burning  gold,  across the dim  grass. Against this fiery  band  was
outlined in utter black the advancing legs of a black-clad figure. He seemed
to  have a fine close suit with knee-breeches such as that which was worn by
the servants of the house, only that it was  not blue, but  of this absolute
sable. He had, like the servants,  a kind of word by his  side.  It was only
when he  had come quite close to the crescent of the seven and  flung up his
face to look at them, that Syme saw, with thunder-struck clearness, that the
face was the broad, almost ape-like face of his old friend Gregory, with its
rank red hair and its insulting smile.
     "Gregory!"  gasped Syme,  half-rising from his seat. "Why, this is  the
real anarchist!"
     "Yes," said  Gregory, with  a great  and dangerous restraint, "I am the
real anarchist."
     " 'Now  there was a day,' "  murmured Bull,  who  seemed really to have
fallen asleep, " 'when the sons of God came to present themselves before the
Lord, and Satan came also among them.' "
     "You are right," said Gregory, and gazed all round. "I am a  destroyer.
I would destroy the world if I could."
     A  sense  of  a pathos  far under the earth  stirred up in Syme, and he
spoke brokenly and without sequence.
     "Oh, most unhappy  man," he cried, "try  to be happy! You have red hair
like your sister."
     "My red  hair, like red flames, shall burn up the world," said Gregory.
"I thought  I hated everything more than common men can hate anything; but I
find that I do not hate everything so much as I hate you! "
     "I never hated you," said Syme very sadly.
     Then out of this unintelligible creature the last thunders broke.
     "You! " he cried. "You never hated because you never lived. I know what
you are  all of you, from first to last-- you are  the people  in power! You
are the police--the great fat, smiling men in blue and  buttons! You are the
Law,  and you have never  been  broken. But is  there a free soul alive that
does not long to break  you, only because you have never been broken?  We in
revolt talk all kind of nonsense doubtless about this crime or that crime of
the Government. It is all folly! The only crime of the Government is that it
governs.  The unpardonable sin of the supreme power is that it is supreme. I
do not curse you for  being cruel. I  do not curse you (though  I might) for
being kind. I curse you for being safe! You sit in your chairs of stone, and
have  never come down from them. You are the seven angels of heaven, and you
have had no troubles. Oh, I could forgive you everything, you  that rule all
mankind, if I could feel for once that you had  suffered for one hour a real
agony such as I--"
     Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to foot.
     "I see everything," he cried, "everything that there is. Why does  each
thing on the earth war against  each  other thing? Why does each small thing
in the world have to fight against  the world itself? Why does a fly have to
fight the  whole  universe? Why  does  a dandelion have to  fight  the whole
universe? For the same reason that I had to be alone in the dreadful Council
of  the  Days. So  that each thing that obeys  law  may have the  glory  and
isolation of  the anarchist. So that each man  fighting for order  may be as
brave and good a man as the dynamiter. So that the  real lie of Satan may be
flung back in the face of  this blasphemer, so that by tears and  torture we
may earn  the  right to say to  this man, 'You  lie!' No agonies  can be too
great to buy the right to say to this accuser, 'We also have suffered.'
     "It  is  not  true that we have never been  broken. We have been broken
upon  the wheel.  It is not true that we  have  never  descended  from these
thrones. We have  descended into  hell. We were complaining of unforgettable
miseries even at the very moment when this  man entered insolently to accuse
us of happiness. I repel the slander; we have not been happy.  I  can answer
for every one of the great guards of Law whom he has accused. At least--"
     He had turned his eyes so as to see suddenly the  great face of Sunday,
which wore a strange smile.
     "Have you," he cried in a dreadful voice, "have you ever suffered?"
     As he gazed, the great face grew to an awful size, grew larger than the
colossal  mask of Memnon,  which  had made  him scream as a  child. It  grew
larger  and larger, filling  the whole sky; then everything went black. Only
in the blackness before it entirely destroyed his brain he  seemed to hear a
distant voice saying a commonplace text that he had heard somewhere, "Can ye
drink of the cup that I drink of?"

          x x x

     When men in books awake from a vision, they commonly find themselves in
some place in which they  might have fallen asleep; they yawn in a chair, or
lift themselves  with  bruised  limbs from  a field. Syme's  experience  was
something  much more psychologically strange  if  there  was indeed anything
unreal,  in  the earthly sense, about the things  he  had gone  through. For
while  he could always remember  afterwards that he  had  swooned before the
face of  Sunday,  he could not remember having ever come to at all. He could
only remember that gradually and naturally he knew that he was and had  been
walking along a country lane with an easy and conversational companion. That
companion had  been a part of his recent drama; it was  the  red-haired poet
Gregory. They were  walking  like old friends,  and were  in the middle of a
conversation about some  triviality. But Syme  could only feel an  unnatural
buoyancy in his body  and a crystal simplicity in his mind that seemed to be
superior to everything that he said or did. He felt he was in  possession of
some impossible good news, which made every other thing a triviality, but an
adorable triviality.
     Dawn was breaking over everything in  colours at once  clear and timid;
as if Nature made a first attempt at yellow  and a first attempt at  rose. A
breeze blew so clean and sweet, that one could  not think that  it blew from
the sky; it blew  rather through some hole in  the sky. Syme  felt a  simple
surprise when he saw rising all round him on both sides of the road the red,
irregular buildings of  Saffron Park. He had no  idea  that he had walked so
near  London. He  walked by instinct  along one white road,  on which  early
birds hopped and sang, and found himself outside  a fenced  garden. There he
saw  the sister  of Gregory, the girl with the  gold-red hair, cutting lilac
before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl.

          THE END

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