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The Princeton union. [volume] (Princeton, Minn.) 1876-1976, March 05, 1903, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016758/1903-03-05/ed-1/seq-6/

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Arabian
By ROBERT
LOUIS
STEVENSON
"What have you done?" cried Miss
Vandeleur. "He is dead!"
The dictator replied in a violent whis
per, so strong and sibilant that every
word was audible to the watcher at the
window.
"Silence!" said Mr. Vandeleur. "The
man is as well as I am. Take him by
the heels while I carry him by the
shoulders.
Francis heard Miss Vandeleur break
forth into a ptfission of tears.
"Do you hear what I say," resumed
the dictator in the same tones, "or do
you wish to quarrel with me? I give
you your choice, Miss Vandeleur."
There was another pause, and the
dictator spoke again.
"Take that man by the heels," he
said. "I must have him brought into
the house. If I were a little younger,
I could help myself against the world,
but now that years and dangers are
upon me and my hands are weakened
I must turn to you for aid."
"It is a crime," replied the girl.
"I am your father," said Mr. Vande
leur.
This appeal seemed to produce its
effect. A scuffling noise followed upon
the gravel, a chair was overset, and
then Francis saw the father and daugh
ter stagger across the walk and disap
pear under the veranda, bearing the
Inanimate body of Mr. Rolles embraced
about the knees and shoulders. The
young clergyman was limp and pallid,
and his head rolled upon his shoulders
at every step.
Was he alive or dead? Francis, in
spite of the dictator's declaration, in
clined to the latter view. A great crime
had been committed, a great calamity
had fallen upon the inhabitants of the
house with the green blinds. To his
surprise, Francis found all horror for
the deed swallowed up in sorrow for
a girl and an old man whom he judged
to be in the height of peril. A tide of
generous feeling swept into his heart.
He, too, would help his father against
man and mankind, against fate and
justice, and, casting open the shutters,
he closed his eyes and threw himself
with outstretched arms into the foliage
of the chestnut.
Branch after branch slipped from his
grasp and broke under his weight.
Then he caught a stalwart bough un
der his armpit and hung suspended for
a second, and then he let himself drop
and fell heavily against the table. A
-r5"ot~^tlaTEr"from the house warned
him that his entrance had not been
effected unobserved. He recovered him
self with a stagger and in three bounds
crossed the intervening space and stood
before the door in the veranda.
In a small apartment, carpeted with
matting and surrounded by glazed
cabinets full of rare and costly curios,
Mr. Vandeleur was stooping over the
body of Mi- Rolles. He raised himself
as Francis entered, and there was an
instantaneous passage of hands. It
was the business of a second. As fast
as the eje can wink the thing was
done The young man had not the
time to be sure, but it seemed to him
as if the dictator had taken something
from the curate's breast, looked at it
foi the least fraction of time as it lay
in his hand and then suddenly and
swiftly passed it to his daughter.
All this was o\er while Francis had
btill one foot upon the threshold and
the otin... vaised the air. The next
instant he was on his knees to Mr
Vandeleur
"Father!" he cried. "Let me, too, help
yon I will do what you wish and ask
no questions I ^ill obey jou with my
life Treat me as a son, and you will
find I have a son's devotion
A d^p'orable explosion of oaths was
the lietatoi's fiist reply
"Son and father?" he cried "Father
and son*' What dashed unnatural
coruedj is all this? How do you come
in mj maiden? What do you want?
And who, in God's name, are you?"
Francis, with a stunned and shame
faced aspect, got upon his feet again
and stood in silence.
Then a light seemed to break upon
Mr. Vandeleur and he laughed aloud.
"I see," ciied he. "It is the Scrym
geour. Very well, Mr. Scrymgeour.
Let me tell you in a few words how
you stand. You have entered my pri
vate residence by force, or perhaps by
fraud, but certainly with no encour
agement from me, and you come at a
moment of some annoyance, a guest
having fainted at my table, to besiege
me with your protestations. You are
no son of mine. You are my brother's
bastard by a fishwife, if you want to
'know. I regard you with an indiffer
ence closely bordering on aversion, and
from what I now see of your conduct
I judge your mind to bo exactly suit
able to your exterior. I recommend
you these mortifying reflections for
your leisure, and, in the meantime, let
me beseech you to rid us of your pres
ence. If I were not occupied," added
the dictator, with a terrifying oath, "I
should give you the unholiest drub
bing ere you went."
Francis listened in profound humilia
tion. He would have fled had it been
possible but, as he had no means of
leaving the residence into which he had
J3(f unfortunately penetrated, he could
~do no more than stand foolishly where
lie was.
I was Miss Vandeleur who broke
the silence. "Father," she said, "you
Bpgak_|n_anger. Mr. Scrymgeour taaj
Jfe-fe
ftighis
have been mistaken, but he meant well
and kindly."
"Thank you for speaking," returned
the dictator. "You remind me of some
other observations which I hold it a
point of honor to make to Mr. Serym
geour. My brother," he continued, ad
dressing the young man, "has been
foolish enough to give you an allow
ance. He was foolish enough and pre
sumptuous enough to propose a match
between you and this young lady. You
were exhibited to her two nights ago,
and I rejoice to tell you that she reject
ed the idea with disgust. Let me add
that I have considerable influence with
your father, and it shall not be my
fault if you are not beggared of your
allowance and sent back to your scriv
ening ere the week be out."
The tones of the old man's voice were,
if possible, more wounding than his
language. Francis felt himself ex
posed to the most cruel, blighting and
unbearable contempt. His head turn
ed, and he covered his face with his
hands, uttering at the same time a tear
less sob of agony. But Miss Vandeleur
once again interfered in his behalf.
"Mr. Scrymgeour," she said, speaking
in clear and even tones, "you must not
be concerned at my father's*harsh ex
pressions. I felt no disgust for you.
On the contrary, I asked an opportuni
ty to make your better acquaintance.
As for what has passed tonight, believe
me it has filled my mind with both
pity and esteem."
Just then Mr. Rolles made a convul
sive movement of his arm, which con
vinced Francis that he was only drug
ged and was beginning to throw off the
influence of the opiate. Mr. Vandeleur
stooped over him and examined his face
for an instant.
"Come, come!" cried he, raising his
head. "Let there be an end of this.
And, since you are so pleased with his
conduct, Miss Vandeleur, take a candle
and show the cur out!"
The young lady hastened to obey.
"Thank you," said Francis as soon as
he was alone with her in the garden.
"I thank you from my soul. This has
been the bitterest evening of my~life,
but it will have always one pleasant
recollection."
"I spoke as 1 felt," she replied, "and in
justice to you. It made my heart sorry
that you should be so unkindly used."
By this time they had reached the
garden gate, and Miss Vandeleur, hav
ing set the candle on the ground, was
already unfastening the bolts.
"One word more," said Francis.
"This is not for the last time I shall
see you again, shall I not?"
"Alas," she answered, "you have
heard my father. What can I do but
obey?"
"Tell me at least that it is not with
your consent," returned Francis. "Tell
me that you have no wish to see the
last of me."
"Indeed," replied she, "I have none.
You seem to me both brave and hon-
est."
"Then," said Francis, "give me a
keepsake."
She paused for a moment, with her
hand upon the key, for the various
bars and bolts were all undone, and
there was nothing left but to open the
lock.
"If I agree," she said, "will you
promise to do as I tell you from point
to point?"
"Can you ask?" replied Francis "I
would do so willingly on your bare
wrord."
She turned the key and threw open
the door.
"Be it so," said she. "You do not
know what you ask, but be it so.
Whatever you hear," she continued,
"wrhatever
happens, do not return to
this house. Hurry fast until you reach
the lighted and populous quarters of
the city. Even there be on your guard.
You are in a greater danger than you
fancy Promise me you will not so
much as look at my keepsake until you
are in a place of safety."
"I promise," replied Francis.
She put something loosely wrapped
in a handkerchief into the young man's
hand, and at the same time, with more
strength than he could have antici
pated, she pushed him into the street.
"Now run!" she cried.
He heard the door close behind him
and the noise of the bolts being re
placed.
"My faith," said he, "since I have
promised."
And he took to his heels down the
lane that leads into the Rue Ravignan.
He was not fifty paces from the
house with the green blinds when the
most diabolical outcry suddenly arose
out on the stillness of the night Me
chanically he stood still another pas
senger followed his example. In the
neighboring floors he saw people
crowding to the windows. A conflagra
tion could not have produced more dis
turbance in this empty quarter. And
yet it seemed to be all the work of a
single man, roaring between grief and
rage, like a lioness robbed of her
whelps, and Francis was surprised and
alarmed to hear his own name shouted
with English imprecations to the wind.
His first movement was to return to
the house his second, as he remember
ed Miss Vandeleur's advice, to con
tinue his flight with greater expedition
than before, and he was in the act of
burning to put hi thought in
actioln the dictator,s bareheaded, baw
wne
m3*&$*
ins aloud, bis white hair blowing about
bis head, shot past him like a ball oqt
of the cannon's mouth and went ca
reering down the street. Pfi
"That was a close shave," though^
Francis to bimself. "What he Wants
with me and why he should be so dis
turbed I cannot think, but he is plainly
not good company for the moment, and
I cannot do better than follow Miss
Vandeleur's advice."
So saying, he turned- to retrace his
steps, thinking to double and descend
by the Rue Lepic itself while his pur
suer should continue to follow after
him on the other line of street. The
plan was ill devised. As a matter of
fact, he should have taken his seat in
the nearest cafe and waited there until
the first heat of the pursuit was over.
But besides that Francis had no ex
perience and little natural aptitude for
the small war of private life. He was
so unconscious of any evil on his part
that he saw nothing to fear, beyond
a disagreeable interview, and to dis
agreeable interviews he felt he had
already served his apprenticeship that
evening nor could he suppose that
Miss Vandeleur had left anything un
said. Indeed, the young man was sore
both in body and mindthe one was all
bruised, the other was full of smarting
arrows, and he owned to himself that
Mr. Vandeleur was master of a very
deadly tongue.
The thought of his bruises reminded
him that he had not only come with
out a hat, but that his clothes had con
siderably suffered in his descent
through -the chestnut At the first
magazine he purchased a cheap wide
awake and had the disorder of his
toilet summarily repaired. The keep
sake, still rolled in the handkerchief,
he thrust In the meanwhile into his
trousers pocket.
Not many steps beyond tbe shop he
was conscious of a sudden shock, a
hand upon his throat, an infuriated
face close to his own and an open
mouth howling curses in his ear. The
dictator, having found no trace of his
quarry, was returning by the other
way. Francis was a stalwart young
fellow, but he was no match for his
adversary whether in strength or skill,
and after a few ineffectual struggles
he resigned himself entirely to his cap
tor.
"What do you want with me?" said
he.
"We will talk of that at home," re
turned the dictator grimly.
And he continued to march the
young man up hill in the direction of
the house with the green blinds.
But Francis, although he no longer
struggled, was only waiting an oppor
tunity to make a bold push for free
dom. With a sudden jerk, he left the
collar of his coat in the hands of Mr.
Vandeleur and once more made off at
his best speed in the direction of the
boulevards.
The tables were now turned. If the
dictator was the stronger, Francis, in
the top of his youth, was the more
fleet of foot, and he had soon effected
THE VS&CGM&m fcte^Htf BSDAYfMARCH 5^
A HAND UPON HIS THROAT, AN INFURIATED FACE CLOSE TO
HIS OWN.
his escape among the crowds. Relieved
for a moment, he walked briskly until
he debouched upon the Place de
l'Opera, lighted up like day with elec
tric lamps.
"This, at least," thought he, "should
satisfy Miss Vandeleur."
And, turning to his right along the
boulevards, he entered the Cafe Amer
icain and ordered some beer. It was
both late and early for the majority of
the frequenters of the establishment.
Only two or three persons, all men,
were dotted here and there at separate
tables in the hall, and Francis was too
much occupied by his own thoughts to
observe their presence.
He drew the handkerchief from his
pocket. The object wrapped in it
proved to be a morocco case, clasped
and ornamented in gilt, which opened
by means of a spring and disclosed to
tiie horrified young man a diamond of'
monstrous bigness and extraordinary
brilliancy. The circumstance was so
inexplicable, the value of the stone was
plainly so enormous, that Francis sat
staring into the open casket without
movement, without conscious thought,
like a man stricken with idiocy.
A hand was laid upon his shoulder
lightly, but firmly, and a quiet voice,
which yet had in it the ring of com
mand, uttered thee words in his ear:
"Close the casket and compose your
face."
Looking up, he beheld a man, still
young, of an urbane and tranquil pres
ence and dressed with rich simplicity.
This personage had risen from a neigh
boring table and, bringing his glass with
him, had taken a seat beside Francis.
"Close the casket," repeated the stran
ger, "and put it quietly back into your
pocket, where I feel persuaded it should
never have been. Try, if you please, to
throw off your bewildered air and act
as though I were one of your acquaint
ances whom you had met by chance.
So! Touch glasses with me. That is
better. I fear, sir, you must be an am
ateur."
And the stranger pronounced these
last words with a smile of peculiar
meaning, leaned back in his seat and
enjoyed a deep inhalation of tobacco.
"For God's sake," said Francis, "tell
me who you are and what this means?
Why I should obey your most unusual
suggestions I am sure I know not, but
the truth is I have fallen this evening
into so many perplexing adventures,
and all I meet conduct themselves so
strangely, that I think I must either
have gone mad or wandered into anoth
er planet. Your face inspn'es me with
confidence. You seem wise, good and
experienced. Tell me, for heaven's
sake, why you accost me in so odd a
fashion?"
"All in due time," replied the stran
ger. "But I have the first hand, and
you must begin by telling me how the
rajah's diamond is in your possession."
"The rajah's diamond!" echoed Fran
cis.
"I would not speak so loud if I were
you," returned the other. "But most
certainly you have the rajah's diamond
in your pocket. I have seen and han
dled it a score of times in Sir Thomas
Vandeleur's collection."
"Sir Thomas Vandeleur! The gen
eral! My father!" cried Francis.
"Your father?" repeated the stranger.
"I was not aware the general had any
family."
"I am illegitimate, sir," replied Fran
cis, with a flush.
The other bowed with gravity. It
was a respectful bow, as of a man
silently apologizing to his equal, and
Francis felt relieved and comforted,
he scarce knew why. The society of
this person did him good. He seemed to
touch firm ground. A strong feeling
of respect grew up in his bosom and
mechanically he removed his wide
awake as though in the presence of a
superior.
"I perceive," said the stranger, "that
your adventures have not all been
peaceful. Your collar is torn, your faca
is scratched, and you have a cut upon
your temple. You will perhaps pardon
my curiosity when I ask you to explain
how you came by these injuries and
how you happen to have stolen proper
ty to an enormous value in your pock-
et."
"I must differ from you," returned
i Francis hotly. "I possess no stolen
property, and if you refer to the dia
iniond it was given to me not an houi
'ago by Miss Vandeleur in the Rue
Lepic."
"By Miss Vandeleur of the Rue Le-
ipic!" repeated the other. "You interest
me more than you suppose.
Itinue."
"Heavens!" cried Francis.
His memory had made
bound. He had seen Mr.
Pray con-
a sudden
VandeleuJ
Cake an article from the breast of bis
dragged visitor,'and that article, be
was now persuaded, was a morocco
case. ^V*^'
"You "have a light?" inquired the
stranger.
"Listen," replied Francis. "I know
not what you are, but I believe you to
be worthy of confidence and helpful.
I find myself in strange waters. I
piust have counsel and support, and
fsince you invite me I shall tell you all."
And he briefly recounted his experi
ences smce the day when he was sum
moned from the bank by his lawyer.
"Yours Is indeed a remarkable his-
tory," said the stranger after the young
man had made an end of his narrative,
"and your position is full of difficulty
and peril. Many would counsel you to
seek out your father and give the dia
mond to him, but I have other views.
Waiter!" he cried.
The waiter drew near.
"Will you ask the manager to speak
with me a moment?" said he. And
Francis observed once more, both in
his tone and manner, the evidence of a
habit of command.
The waiter withdrew and returned in
a moment with the manager, who
bowed with obsequious respect.
"What," said he, "can I do to serves
you?"
"Have the goodness," replied the
stranger, indicating Francis, "to tell
this gentleman my name."
"You have the honor, sir," said the
functionary, addressing young Scrym
geour, "to occupy the same table with
his highness Prince Flonzel of Bohe-
mia."
Francis arose with precipitation and
made a grateful reverence to the prince,
who bade him resume his seat.
"I thank you," said Florizel, once
more addressing the functionary. "I
am sorry to have deranged you for so
small a matter."
And he dismissed him with a move
ment of his hand.
"And now," added the prince, turn
ing to Francis, "give me the diamond."
Without a word the casket was hand
ed over.
"You have done right," said Florizel.
"Your sentiments have properly in
spired you, and you will live to be
grateful for the misfortunes of tonight.
lA. man, Mr. Scrymgeour, may fall into
a thousand perplexities, but if his heart
be upright and his intelligence uncloud
ed he will issue from them all without
dishonor. Let your mind be at rest
pfour affairs are in my hand, and with
the aid of heaven I am strong enough
to bring them to a good end. Follow
me, if you please, to my carriage."
So saying, the prince arose and, hav
ing left a piece of gold for the waiter,
{conducted the young man from the
cafe and along the boulevard to where
San unpretentious brougham and a cou
jple of servants out of livery awaited
bis arrival.
"This carriage," said he, "is at your
disposal. Collect your baggage as rap
idly as you can make it convenient,
and my servants will conduct you to a
villa in the neighborhood of Paris
Where yoir can wait in some degree of
comfort until I have had time to ar-,
range your situation. You will find
there a pleasant garden, a library of
good authors, a cook, a cellar and some
good cigars, which I recommend to
your attention. Jerome," he added,
turning to one of the servants, "jou
have heard what I say. I lea\e Mr.
Scrymgeour in your charge. You will,
I know, be careful of my friend."
Francis uttered some broken phrases
of gratitude.
"It will be time enough to thank
me," said the prince, "when you are
acknowledged by your father and mar
ried to Miss Vandeleur."
And with that the prince turned
away and strolled leisurely in the di
rection of Montmartre. He hailed the
first passing cab, gave an address, and
a quarter of an hour afterward, having
discharged the driver some distance
lower, he was knocking at Mr. Vande
leur's garden gate.
It was opened with singular precau
tions by the dictator in person.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"You must pardon me this late visit,
Mr. Vandeleur," replied the prince.
"Your highness is always welcome,"
returned Mr. Vandeleur, stepping back.
The prince profited by the open space
and without waiting for his host
walked right into the house and opened
the door of the saloon. Two people
were seated there. One was Miss Van
deleur, who bore the marks of weeping
about her eyes and was still shaken
from time to time by a sob. In the
other the prince recognized the young
'man who had consulted him on liter
ary matters about a month before in a
club smoking room.
"Good evening, Miss Vandeleur,"
said Florizel. "You look fatigued. Mr.
Rolles, I believe? I hope you have
profited by the study of Gaboriau, Mr.
Rolles."
But the young clergyman's temper
[was too much imbittered for speech,
and he contented himself with bowing
stiffly and continued to gnaw his lip.
"To what good wind," said Mr. Van
deleur, following his guest, "am I to
attribute the honor of your highness'
ipresence?"
"I am come on business," returned
the prince"on business with you. As
soon as that is settled I shall request
iMr. Rolles to accompany me for a
(walk. Mr. Rolles," he added, with se
verity, "let me remind you that I have
jiot yet sat down."
*The clergyman spiung to his feet,
[with an apology, whereupon the prince
|took an armchair beside the table,
'handed his hat to Mr. Vandeleur, his
cane to Mr. Rolles and, lea\ing them
standing and thus menially employed
upon his service, spoke as follows:
"I have come here, as I said, upon
business. But had I come looking for
pleasure I could not have been more
displeased with my reception nor more
dissatisfied with my company. You,
Bir," addressing Mr. Rolles"you have
**$?%- gr
treated your superior in station with
discourtesy. Yon, Vandeleur, receive^
me with a smile, but you know right"
well that your hands are not yet
cleansed from misconduct I do not
desire to be interrupted, sir," he added
imperiously. "I am here to speak and
not to listen, and I have to ask you to
hear with respect and to obey punc
tiliously. At the earliest possible date
your daughter shall be married at the
tmbassy to my friend, Francis Scrym
feour, your brother's acknowledged
Jon. You will oblige by offering not
less than 10,000 dowry. For yourself,
I will indicate to you in writing a mis
sion of some importance in Siam which
I destine to your care. And now, sir,
you will answer me in two words
Whether or not you agree to those con
flitions."
"Your highness will pardon me," said
Mr. Vandeleur, "and permit me, with
all respect, to submit to him two
queries?"
"The permission is granted," replied
the prince.
"Your highness," resumed the dicta
tor, "has called Mr. Scrymgeour his
friend. Believe me, had I known he
was thus honored I should have treated
him with proportional respect."
"You interrogate adroitly," said the
prince, "but it will not serve your turn.
You have my commands. If I had
never seen that gentleman before to
night, it would not render them less
absolute."
"Your highness interprets my mean
ing with his usual subtlety," returned
Vandeleur "Once more, I have unfor
tunately put the police upon the track
of Mr. Scrymgeour on a charge of
theft Am I to withdraw' or to uphold
the accusation?"
"You will please yourself," replied
Florizel. "The question is one between
your conscience and the laws of this
land. Give me my hat and you, Mr.
Rolles, give me my cane and follow
me. Miss Vandeleur, I wish you good
evening. I judge," he added to Vande
leur, "that your silence means unquali
fied assent."
"If I can do no better," replied the
old man, "I shall submit, but I warn
you openly it shall not be without a
struggle."
"You are old," said the prince, "but
years are disgraceful to the wicked.
Your age is more unwise than the
youth of others. Do not provoke me or
you may find me harder than you
dream. This is the first time that I
have fallen across your path in anger.
Take care that it be the last."
With these words, motioning the
clergyman to follow, Florizel left the
apartment and directed his steps to
ward the garden gate, and the* dicta
tor, following with a candle, gave them
light and once more undid the elabo
rate fastenings with which he sought
to protect himself from intrusion.
"Your daughter is no longer present,"
said the prince, turning on the thresh
old. "Let me tell you that I under
stand your threats, and you have only
to lift your hand to bring upon your
self sudden and irremediable ruin."
The dictator ma^ no reply, but as
the prince turned his back upon him in
the lamplight he made a gesture full
of menace and insane fury, and the
next moment, slipping round a corner,
he wras
running at full speed for the
nearest cab stand.
Here, sajs my Arabian, the thread
of events is finally diverted from "The
House With the Green Blinds." One
more adventure, he adds, and we have
done writh
PB??
""The Rajah's Diamond."
That last link in the chain is known
among the inhabitants of Bagdad by
the name of "The Adventuie of Prince
Florizel and a Detective
&he IIAJAH'S
VIAMOJTD
TA-RT IV
The ^/Sd'tienture of Prince
Ftorizet and a DetecfftJe
RINCE FLORIZEL walk
ed with Mr. Rolles to the
door of a small hotel
where the latter resided.
They spoke much togeth
er, and the clergyman
was more than once af
fected to tears by the mingled severity
and tenderness of Florizel's reproaches.
"I have made ruin of my life," he
said at last. "Help me tell me what I
am to do. I have, alas, neither the vir
tues of a priest nor the dexterity of a
rogue."
"Now that you are humbled," said
the prince, "I command no longer. The
repentant have to do with God and not
with princes. But if you will let me
advise you, go to Australia as a colo
nist seek menial labor in the open_air
and try to forget that you have ever
been a clergyman or that you ever set
eyes on that accursed stone."
"Accursed indeed." replied Mr. Rolles.
"Where is it now? What further hurt
is it working for mankind?"
"It will do no more evil," returned
the prince. "It is here in my pocket
And this," he added kindly, "will show
that I place some faith in your peni
tence, young as it is."
"Suffer me to touch your band,"
pleaded Mr. RoHes.
"No." replied Prince Florizel, "not
rot."
The tone in which he uttered these
last words was eloquent in the ears of
the young clergyman, and for some
minutes after the prince had turned
away he stood on the threshold follow
ing with his eyes the retreating figure
and invoking the blessing of heaven
Upon a man so excellent in counsel.
For several hours the prince walked
alone in unfrequented streets. His
mind was full of concern. What to do
with the diamondwhether to return it
to its owner, whom he judged unwor-

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