When I entered my garden I saw
Môme sprawling on the stone doorstep. He eyed me sideways and flopped
"Are you not mortified, you idiot
dog?" I said, looking about the upper windows for Lys.
Môme rolled over on his
back and raised one deprecating forepaw, as though to ward off calamity.
"Don't act as though I was in
the habit of beating you to death," I said, disgusted. I had never in my
life raised whip to the brute. "But you are a fool dog," I continued. "No,
you needn't come to be babied and wept over; Lys can do across that, if
she insists, but I am ashamed of you, and you can go to the devil."
Môme slunk off into the
house, and I followed, mounting directly to my wife's boudoir. It was empty.
"Where has she gone?" I said,
looking hard at Môme, who had followed me. "Oh! I see you don't know.
Don't pretend you do. Come off that lounge! Do you think Lys wants tan-coloured
hairs all over her lounge?"
I rang the bell for Catherine
and "Fine, but they didn't know where "madame" had gone; so I went into
my room, bathed, exchanged my somewhat grimy shooting clothes for a suit
of warm, soft knickerbockers, and, after lingering some extra moments over
my toilet - for I was particular, now that I had married Lys - I went down
to the garden and took a chair out under the fig-trees.
"Where can she be?" I wondered.
Môme came sneaking out to be comforted, and I forgave him for Lys's
sake, whereupon he frisked.
"You bounding cur," said I, "now
what on earth started you off the moor? If you do it again I'll push you
along with a charge of dust shot."
As yet I had scarcely dared think
about the ghastly hallucination of which I had been a victim, but now I
faced it squarely, flushing a little with mortification at the thought
of my hasty retreat from the gravel pit.
"To think," I said aloud, "that
those old woman's tales of Max Fortin and Le Bihan should have actually
made me see what didn't exist at all!'' I lost my nerve like a schoolboy
in a dark bedroom." For I knew now that I had mistaken a round stone for
a skull each time, and had pushed a couple of big pebbles into the pit
instead of the skull itself.
"By jingo!" said I, "I'm nervous;
my liver must be in a devil of condition if I see such things when I'm
awake! Lys will know what to give me."
I felt mortified and irritated
and sulky, and thought disgustedly of Le Bihan and Max Fortin.
But after a while I ceased speculating,
dismissed the mayor, the chemist, and the skull from my mind, and smoked
pensively, watching the sun low dipping in the western ocean. As the twilight
fell for a moment over ocean and moorland, a wistful, restless happiness
filled my heart, the happiness that all men know - all men who have loved.
Slowly the purple mist crept
out over the sea; the cliffs darkened; the forest was shrouded.
Suddenly the sky above burned
with the afterglow, and the world was alight again.
Cloud after cloud caught the
rose dye; the cliffs were tinted with it; moor and pasture, heather and
forest burned and pulsated with the gentle blush. I saw the gulls turning
and tossing above the sand bar, their snowy wings tipped with pink; I saw
the sea swallows sheering the surface of the still river, stained to its
placid depths with warn reflections of the clouds. The twitter of drowsy
hedge birds broke out in the stillness; a salmon rolled its shining side
The interminable monotone of
the ocean intensified the silence. I sat motionless, holding my breath
as one who listens to the first low rumour of an organ. All at once the
pure whistle of a nightingale cut the silence, and the first moonbeam silvered
the wastes of mist-hung waters.
I raised my head.
Lys stood before me in the garden.
When we had kissed each other,
we linked arms and moved up and down the gravel walks, watching the moonbeams
sparkle on the sand bar as the tide ebbed and ebbed. The broad beds of
white pinks about us were atremble with hovering white moths; the October
roses hung all abloom, perfuming the salt wind.
"Sweetheart," I said, "where
is Yvonne? Has she promised to spend Christmas with us?"
"Yes, Dick; she drove me down
from Plougat this afternoon. She sent her love to you. I am not jealous.
What did you shoot?"
"A hare and four partridges.
They are in the gun room. I told Catherine not to touch them until you
had seen them."
Now I suppose I knew that Lys
could not be particularly enthusiastic over game or guns; but she pretended
she was, and always scornfully denied that it was for my sake and not for
the pure love of sport. So she dragged me off to inspect the rather meagre
game bag, and she paid me pretty compliments and gave a little cry of delight
and pity as I lifted the enormous hare out of the sack by his ears.
"He'll eat no more of our lettuce,"
I said, attempting to justify the assassination.
"Unhappy little bunny - and what
a beauty!" O Dick, you are a splendid shot, are you not?"
I evaded the question and hauled
out a partridge.
"Poor little dead things!" said
Lys in a whisper; "it seems a pity - doesn't it, Dick? But then you are
so cleaver -"
"We'll have them broiled," I
said guardedly; "tell Catherine."
Catherine came in to take away
the game, and presently 'Fine Lelocard, Lys's maid, announced dinner, and
Lys tripped away to her boudoir.
I stood an instant contemplating
he blissfully, thinking, "My boy, you're the happiest fellow in the world
- you're in love with your wife!"
I walked into the dinning room,
beamed at the plates, walked out again; met Tregunc in the hallway, beamed
on him; glanced into the kitchen, beamed at Catherine, and went up stairs,
Before I could knock at Lys's
door it opened, and Lys came hastily out. When she saw me she gave a little
cry of relief, and nestled close to my breast.
"There is something peering in
at my window," she said.
"What!" I cried angrily.
"A man, I think, disguised as
a priest, and he has a mask on. He must have climbed up by the bay tree."
I was down the stairs and out
of doors in no time. The moonlit garden was absolutely deserted. Tregunc
came up, and together we searched the hedge and shrubbery around the house
and out to the road.
"Jean Marie," said I at length,
"loose my bulldog - he knows you - and take your supper on the porch where
you can watch. My wife says the fellow is disguised as a priest, and wears
Tregunc showed his white teeth
in a smile. "He will not care to venture in here again, I think, Monsieur
I went back and found Lys seated
quietly at the table.
"The soup is ready, dear," she
said. "Don't worry; it was only some foolish lout from Bannalec. No one
in St. Gildas or St. Julien would do such a thing."
I was too much exasperated to
reply at first, but Lys treated it as a stupid joke, and after a while
I began to look at it in that light.
Lys told me about Yvonne, and
reminded me of my promise to have Herbert Stuart down to meet her.
"You wicked diplomat!" I protested.
"Herbert is in Paris, and hard at work for the Salon."
"Don't you think he might spare
a week to flirt with the prettiest girl in Finistère?" inquired
"Prettiest girl! Not much!" I
"Who is, then?" urged Lys.
I laughed a trifle sheepishly.
"I suppose you mean me, Dick,"
said Lys, colouring up.
"Now I bore you, don't I?"
"Bore me? Ah, no, Dick."
After coffee and cigarettes were
served I spoke about Tregunc, and Lys approved.
"Poor Jean! he will be glad,
won't he? What a dear fellow you are!"
"Nonsense," said I: "we need
a gardener; you said so yourself, Lys."
But Lys leaned over and kissed
me, and then bent down and hugged Môme, who whistled through his
nose in sentimental appreciation.
"I am a very happy woman," said
"Môme was a very bad dog
to-day," I observed.
"Poor Môme!" said Lys,
When dinner was over and Môme
lay snoring before the blaze - for the October nights are often chilly
in Finistère - Lys curled up in the chimney corner with her embroidery,
and gave me a swift glance from under her dripping lashes.
"You look like a schoolgirl,
Lys," I said teasingly. "I don't believe you are sixteen yet."
She pushed back her heavy burnished
hair thoughtfully. Her wrist was as white as surf foam.
"Have we been married four years?
I don't believe it," I said.
She gave me another swift glance
and touched the embroidery on her knee, smiling faintly.
"I see," said I, also smiling
at the embroidered garment. "Do you think it will fit?"
"Fit?" repeated Lys. Then she
"And," I persisted, "are you
perfectly sure that you - er - we shall need it?"
"Perfectly," said Lys. A delicate
colour touched her cheeks and neck. She held up the little garment, all
fluffy with misty lace and wrought with quaint embroidery.
"It is very gorgeous," said I;
"don't use your eyes too much, dearest. May I smoke a pipe?"
"Of course," she said, selecting
a skein of pale blue silk.
For a while I sat and smoked
in silence, watching her slender fingers among the tinted silks and thread
Presently she spoke: "What did
you say your crest is, Dick?"
"My crest? Oh, something or other
rampant on a something or other -"
"Don't be flippant."
"But I really forget. It's an
ordinary crest; everybody in New York has them. No family should be without
"You are disagreeable, Dick.
Send Josephine upstairs for my album."
"Are you going to put that crest
on the - the - whatever it is?"
"I am; and my own crest, too."
I thought of the Purple Emperor
and wondered a little.
"You didn't know I had one, did
you?" she smiled.
"What is it?" I replied evasively.
"You shall see. Ring for Josephine."
I rang, and, when 'Fine appeared,
Lys gave her some orders in a low voice, and Josephine trotted away, bobbing
her white-coiffed head with a "Bien, madame!"
After a few minutes she returned,
bearing a tattered, musty volume, from which the gold and blue had mostly
I took the book in my hands and
examined the ancient emblazoned covers.
"Lilies!" I exclaimed.
"Fleur-de-lis," said my wife
"Oh!" said I, astonished, and
opened the book.
"You have never before seen this
book?" asked Lys, with a touch of malice in her eyes.
"You know I haven't. Hello! what's
this? Oho! So there should be a de before Trevec? Lys de Trevec? Then why
in the world did the Purple Emperor -"
"Dick!" cried Lys.
"All right," said I. "Shall I
read about the Sieur de Trevec who rode to Saladin's tent alone to seek
for medicine for St. Louis? or shall I read about - what is it? Oh, here
it is, all down in black and white - about the Marquis de Trevec who drowned
himself before Alva's eyes rather than surrender the banner of the fleur-de-lis
to Spain? It's all written here. But, dear, how about that soldier named
Trevec who was killed in the old fort on the cliff yonder?"
"He dropped the de, and the Trevecs
since then have been Republicans," said Lys - "all except me."
"That's quite right," said I;
"it is time that we Republicans should agree upon some feudal system. My
dear, I drink to the king!" and I raised my wine-glass and looked at Lys.
"To the king," said Lys, flushing.
She smoothed out the tiny garment on her knees; she touched the glass with
her lips; her eyes were very sweet. I drained the glass to the king.
After a silence I said: "I will
tell the king stories. His Majesty shall be amused."
"His Majesty," repeated Lys softly.
"Or hers," I laughed. "Who knows?"
"Who knows?" murmured Lys, with
a gentle sigh.
"I know some stories about Jack
the Giant-Killer," I announced. "Do you, Lys?"
"I? No, not about a giant-killer,
but I know all about the were-wolf, and Jeanne-la-Flamme, and the Man in
Purple Tatters, and - O dear me! I know lots more."
"You are very wise," said I.
"I shall teach his Majesty English."
"And I Breton," cried Lys jealously.
"I shall bring playthings to
the king." said I - "big green lizards from the gorse, little gray mullets
to swim in glass globes, baby rabbits from the forest of Kerselec -"
"And I," said Lys, "will bring
the first primrose, the first branch of aubepine, the first jonquil, to
the king - my king."
"Our king," said I: and there
was peace in Finistère.
I lay back, idly turning the
leaves of the curious old volume.
"I am looking," said I, for the
"The crest, dear? It is a priest's
head with an arrow-shaped mark on the forehead, on a field -"
I sat up and stared at my wife.
"Dick, whatever is the matter?"
she smiled. "The story is there in that book. Do you care to read it? No?
Shall I tell it to you? Well, then: It happened in the third crusade. There
was a monk whom men called the Black Priest. He turned apostate, and sold
himself to the enemies of Christ. A Sieur de Trevec burst into the Saracen
camp, at the head of only one hundred lances, and carried the Black Priest
away out of the very midst of their army."
"So that is how you came by the
crest," I said quietly; but I thought of the branded skull in the gravel
pit, and wondered.
"Yes," said Lys. "The Sieur de
Trevec cut the Black Priest's head off, but first he branded him with an
arrow mark on the forehead. The book says it was a pious action, and the
Sieur de Trevec got great merit by it. But I think it was cruel, the branding,"
"Did you ever hear of any other
"Yes. There was one in the last
century, here in St. Gildas. He cast a white shadow in the sun. He wrote
in the Breton language. Chronicles, too, I believe. I never saw them. His
name was the same as that of the old chronicler, and the other priest,
Jacques Sorgue. Some said he was a lineal descendant of the traitor. Of
course the first Black Priest was bad enough for anything. But if he did
have a child, it need not have been the ancestor of the last Jacques Sorgue.
They say this one was a holy man. They say he was so good he was not allowed
to die, but was caught up to heaven one day," added Lys, with believing
"But he disappeared," persisted
"I'm afraid his journey was in
another direction," I said jestingly, and thoughtlessly told her the story
of the morning. I had utterly forgotten the masked man at her window, but
before I finished I remembered him fast enough, and realized what I had
done as I saw her face whiten.
"Lys," I urged tenderly, "that
was only some clumsy clown's trick. You said so yourself. you are not superstitious,
Her eyes were on mine. She slowly
drew the little gold cross from her bosom and kissed it. But her lips trembled
as they pressed the symbol of faith.
End of PART TWO..... GO TO PART