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Chapter 21

  • OF THE RENEWAL OF THE GREAT ATTACK; AND HOW IT FARED
  • DOUGLAS had been decidedly put out by the death of his wife. After all, sh_ad been a sort of habit; a useful drudge, when all was said. Besides, h_issed, acutely, the pleasures of torturing her. His suspicions of the bon_ides of Balloch were conjoined with actual annoyance.
  • It was at this painful moment in his career that Cremers came to the rescue. _idowed friend of hers had left a daughter in her charge: for Cremers had th_reat gift of inspiring confidence. This daughter was being educated in _onvent in Belgium. The old woman immediately telegraphed for her, an_resented her to Douglas with the compliments of the season. Nothing coul_ave been more timely or agreeable. She was a gentle innocent child, as prett_nd charming as he had ever seen. It was a great point in the game of th_stute Cremers to have pleased the sorcerer; and she began insensibly to gai_scendancy over his spirit. He had at first suspected her of being an emissar_f his colleague, "A.B." who might naturally wish to destroy him. For the pla_f the sorcerer who wishes to be sole and supreme is to destroy all rivals, enemies, and companions; while the magician attains supremacy in Unity b_onstantly uniting himself with others, and finding himself equally in ever_lement of existence. It is the difference between hate and love. [292] He ha_een careful to examine her magically, and found no trace of "A.B." in her
  • "aura." On the contrary, he concluded that her ambition was to supplant
  • "A.B."; and that went well with his own ideas. But first he must get her int_is Fourteen, and have a permanent hold over her.
  • She, on the other hand, appeared singly desirous of making herself a treasur_o him. She knew the one torment that gnawed continually at his liver, th_ate of Cyril Grey. And she proposed to herself to win him wholly by offerin_hat gentleman's scalp. She sharpened her linguistic tomahawk.
  • One fine day in April she tackled him openly on the subject.
  • "Say, great one, you `n' I gotta have another peek at that sperrit writing.
  • Seems t' me that was a fool's game down there." She jerked her head toward_he river. "And I don't say but what you done right about Balloch."
  • Douglas glanced at her sharply in his most dangerous mood. How much did sh_now of a certain recent manoeuvre? But she went on quite placidly.
  • "Now, look `e here. We gotta get these guys. An' we gotta get them where the_ive. You been hitting at their strong point. Now I tell you something. Tha_irl she live five years with Lavinia King, durn her! I see that brigh_aughter of Terpsichore on'y five minutes, but she didn't leave one mora_angin' on me, no, sir. Now see here, big chief, you been beatin' the wate_or them fish, an', natural, off they goes. For the land's sake! Look `e here, I gotta look after this business. An' all I need is just one hook an' line, an' a pailful o' bait, an' ef I don' land her, never trus' me no more. Ain't _omebody, all ways? Didn' I down ole Blavatzsky? Sure I did. An' ain't thi_ike eatin' pie after that?" [293]
  • The sorcerer deliberated with himself a while. Then he consulted his familia_emons. The omens were confusing. He thought that perhaps he had put hi_uestion ambiguously, and tried again in other words. He had begun by askin_aguely "whether Cremers would succeed in her mission," which had earned him _ery positive "yes," flanked by a quite unintelligible message about
  • "deception," "the false Dmitri" and "the wrong horse," also some apparen_onsense about Scotland and an island. This time he asked whether Cremer_ould succeed in luring Lisa to her destruction. This time the answer was mor_avourable, though tremulous. But ever since his wife's death, his demons ha_ehaved very strangely. They seemed the prey of hesitation and even of fear.
  • Such as it was, however, their voice now jumped with his own convictions, an_e agreed to her proposal.
  • They spent the evening merrily in torturing a cat by blinding it, and the_quirting sulphuric acid on it from a syringe; and in the morning Cremers, with Abdul Bey for bait, set out upon her journey to Naples. Arrived in tha_avoured spot, she bade Abdul Bey enjoy the scenery, and hold his peace. Sh_ould warn him when the hour struck. For Cremers was a highly practical ol_erson. She was not like St. James' devils, who believe and tremble; sh_isbelieved, but she trembled all the same. She hated Truth, because the Trut_ets men free, and therefore makes them happy; but she had too much sense t_hut her eyes to it; and though she doubted the causes of magick, and scoffe_t all spiritual theory, she could not deny the effects. It was no idle boas_f hers that she had destroyed Madame Blavatzsky. Together with another woman, she had wormed her way into the big-hearted Theosophist's confidence, an_etrayed her foully at the proper moment. She [294] had tried the same game o_nother adept; but, when he found her out, and she knew it, he had merel_ontinued his kindnesses. The alternative before her was repentance or brai_ever; and she had chosen the latter.
  • Her disbelief in magick had left her with its correlate, a belief in death. I_as the one thing she feared, besides magick itself. But she did not make th_istake of being in a hurry, on that account. The strength of her characte_as very great, in its own way; and she possessed infinite reserves o_atience. She played the game with no thought of the victory; and this is hal_he secret of playing most games of importance. To do right for its own sak_s Righteousness, though if you apply this obvious truth to Art the Philistin_alls you names, and your morals in question.
  • Cremers was a genuine artist in malice. She was not even glad when she ha_armed a friend and benefactor, however irreparably; nothing could ever mak_er glad — but she was contented with herself on such occasions. She felt _ort of sense of duty done. She denied herself every possible pleasure, sh_ated happiness in the abstract in a genuinely Puritan spirit, and sh_bjected to eat a good dinner herself as much as to consent that anyone els_hould eat it. Her principal motive in assisting Abdul Bey to his heart'_esire was the cynical confidence that Lisa was capable of pouring him out _ell-broth at least forty per cent above proof.
  • The summer was well begun. The sun had turned toward the southern hemispher_nce more; he had entered the Sign of the Lion, and with fierce and noble hea_carred the dry slopes of Posilippo. Iliel spent most of her time on th_errace of the Moon at her needlework, watching the ships as they sailed by, or the peasants at their labour or their pastimes. [295]
  • It was a little before sunset on the first of August. She was leaning over th_all of the Terrace. Sister Clara had gone up to the house to make ready fo_he adoration of the setting of the sun. Up the uneven flagstones of the lan_elow toiled the old fishwife with her burden, and looked up with the usua_heery greeting. At that moment the crone slipped and fell. "I'm afraid I'v_urt my back," she cried, with an adjuration to some saint. "I can't get up."
  • Iliel, whether she understood the Italian words fully or no, could not mistak_he nature of the accident. She did not hesitate; in a moment she had lowere_erself from the wall. She bent down and gave her hand to the old woman.
  • "Say," said the woman in English, "that boy's just crazy about you; and he'_he loveliest man on God's earth. Won't you say one word to him?"
  • Lisa's jaw dropped in amazement. "What? Who?" she stammered.
  • "Why, that perfectly sweet Turk, Abdul. Sure, you know him, dearie!"
  • Cremers was watching Lisa's face; she read the answer. She gave a low whistle, and round the corner Abdul Bey came running. He took Lisa in his arms, an_ained kisses passionately on her mouth.
  • She had no thought of resistance. The situation entranced her. The captiv_rincess; the intrigue; the fairy prince; every syllable was a poem.
  • "I've longed for you every hour for months," she cried, between his kisses;
  • "why, oh why didn't you come for me before?" She had no idea that she was no_elling the truth. The past was wiped clean out of her mind by the swirl o_he new impulse; and once outside the enchanted circle of the garden, her vo_n tatters, there was nothing to remind her.
  • "I'm — here — now. "The words burst, like [296] explosions, from his lips.
  • "Come. I've got a yacht waiting."
  • "Take me — oh, take me — where you will."
  • Cremers was on her feet, spry and business-like. "We're best out of here," sh_aid. "Let's beat it!" Taking Lisa's arms, she and Abdul hurried her down th_teps which led to the Shore-road.
  • Brother Onofrio's. patrol witnessed the scene. He took no notice; it was no_gainst that contingency that he was armed. But at the summons to th_doration he reported the event to his superior.
  • Brother Onofrio received the news in silence, and proceeded to perform th_eremony of the Salutation.
  • An hour later, as supper ended, the sound of the bell rang through the House.
  • The visitor was Simon Iff.
  • He found Cyril dressed in every-day clothes, no more in his green robe. Th_oy was smoking a cigar upon the Terrace where he had read his poem on the da_fter Walpurgis Night.
  • He did not rise to greet his master. "Tell the Praetor that you have see_aius Marius a fugitive seated upon the ruins of Carthage!" he exclaimed.
  • "Don't take it so hardly, boy!" cried the old mystic. "The man who makes n_istakes makes nothing. But it is my duty to reprove you, and we had bette_et it over. Your whole operation was badly conceived; in one way or anothe_t was bound to fail. You select a woman with no moral strength — not eve_ith that code of convention which helps so many weak creatures through thei_emptations. I foresaw from the first that soon or late she would throw up th_xperiment."
  • "Your words touch me the more deeply because I also foresaw it from th_irst."
  • "Yet you went on with it." [297]
  • "Oh no!" Cyril's eyes were half closed.
  • "What do you mean — Oh, no!" cried the other sharply. He knew his Cyril like _ook.
  • "I never even began," murmured the boy, dreamily.
  • "You will be polite to explain yourself."
  • Simon's lips took a certain grimness of grip upon themselves.
  • "This telegram has consoled me in my grief," said Cyril, taking with langui_race a slip of paper from his pocket. "It came last week."
  • Simon Iff turned it towards the light. "Horatii," he read. "A code word, _uppose. But this is dated from Iona, from the Holy House where Himself is!"
  • "Himself" was the word used in the Order to designate its Head.
  • "Yes," said Cyril, softly, "I was fortunate enough to interest Himself in th_xperiment; so Sister Cybele has been there, under the charge of the Mahather_hang!"
  • "You young devil!" It was the first time that Simple Simon had been startle_n forty years. "So you arranged this little game to draw the enemy's fire?"
  • "Naturally, the safety of Sister Cybele was the first consideration."
  • "And 'Horatii'?"
  • "It's not a code word. I think it must be Roman History."
  • "Three Boys!"
  • "Rather a lot, isn't it?"
  • "They'll be needed," said Simon grimly. "I have been doing magick too."
  • "Do tell me."
  • "The Quest of the Golden Fleece, Cyril. I've been sowing the Dragon's Teeth; you remember? Armed men sprang to life, and killed each other." [298]
  • "But I don't see any armed men."
  • "You will. Haven't you seen the papers?"
  • "I never see papers. I'm a poet, and I like my lies the way mother used t_ake them."
  • "Well, Europe's at war I have got your old commission back for you, with a_ppointment as Inteelligence Officer on the staf of General Cripps."
  • "It sounds like Anarchism. From each according to his powers; to eac_ccording to his needs, you know. By the way, what's it about? Anything?"
  • "The people think it's about the violation of solemn treaties, and the right_f the little nations, and so on; the governments think it's about commercia_xpansion; but I who made it know that it is the baptism of blood of the Ne_eon. How could we promulgate the Law of Liberty in a world where Freedom ha_een strangled by industrialism? Men have become such slaves that they submi_o laws which would have made a revolution in any other country since th_orld began; they have registration cards harder to bear than iron fetters; they allow their tyrants to bar them from every pleasure that even thei_overty allows them. There is only one way to turn the counter-jumper into _urtius and the factory girl into a Cornelia; and I have taken it."  "How di_ou work it? "
  • "It has been a long business, But as you know. Sir Edward is a mystic. You sa_hat article on fishing, I suppose?"
  • "Oh yes; I knew that. But I didn't know it was more definite."
  • It was he did it. But he'll lose his place; he's too fair-minded; and in _ear they'll clamour for fanatics. It's all right; they'll butt each other'_rains out; and then the philosophers will come back, and build up a noble_ype of civilization." [299]
  • "I think you accused me recently of using strong medicine."
  • "I was practising British hypocrisy on you. I had to see the Prime Ministe_hat week. Excuse me if I answer a humourist according to his humour. I wan_o show you how necessary this step has been. Observe: the bourgeois is th_eal criminal, always."
  • "I'm with you there."
  • "Look at the testimony of literature. In the days of chivalry our sympathie_o with the Knight-errant, who redresses wrongs; with the King, whose courag_nd wisdom deliver his people from their enemies. But when Kingship becam_yranny, and feudalism oppression, we took our heroes from the rebels. Robi_ood, Hereward the Wake, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Rob Roy; it was always th_nder Dog that appealed to the artist. Then industrialism became paramount, and we began — in Byron's time — to sympathize with brigands and corsairs.
  • Presently these were wiped out, and to-day or rather, the day befor_esterday, we were reduced to loving absolute scoundrels, Arsene Lupin, Raffles, Stingaree, Fantomas, and a hundred others, or the detectives who (although on the side of society) were equally occupied in making the polic_ook like fools. That is the whole charm of Pere What's-his-name in Gaboriau, and Dupin, and Sherlock Holmes. There has never been a really sympatheti_etectlve in fiction who was on good terms with the police! And you mus_emember that the artist always represents the subconscious will of th_eople. The literary hack who panders to the bourgeois, and makes his heroe_f millionaires' sons, has never yet created a character, and never will.
  • Well, when the People love a burglar, and hate a judge, there's somethin_rong with the judges."
  • "But what are you doing here, in a world-crisis?" [300]
  • "I'm over here to buy Italy. Bowling bought Belgium, you know, some time back.
  • He was thick with Leopold, but the old man had too much sense to deal. He kne_e would be the first to go smash when the war came. But Albert pocketed th_ood red gold without a second thought; that's partly what the trouble i_ver. Germany found out about it."
  • "And why buy Italy? To keep Austria busy, I suppose? These Wops can hardl_ope to force the line, especially with the Trentino Salient on the flank."
  • "That's the idea. It would have been better and cheaper to buy Bulgaria. Bu_rey wouldn't see it. There's the eternal fear of Russia to remember. We'r_ighting against both sides in the Balkans! And that makes Russia half- hearted, and endangers the whole Entente. But it doesn't matter so long a_nough people are killed. The survivors must have elbow-room for their souls, and the memory of heroic deeds in the lives of them and theirs to weig_gainst the everlasting pull of material welfare. When those men come bac_rom a few years in the trenches, they'll make short work of the pious perso_hat informs them of the wickedness of smoking, and eating meat, and drinkin_eer, and being out after eleven o'clock at night, and kissing a girl, an_eading novels, and playing cards, and going to the theatre, and whistling o_he Sabbath!"
  • "I hope you're right. You're old, which tends, I suppose, to make yo_ptimistic. In my young ears there always rings the scream of terror of th_lave when you offer to strike off his fetters."
  • "All Europe will be scream and stench for years to come. But the ne_eneration will fear neither poverty nor death. They will fear weakness; the_ill fear dishonour." [301]
  • "It is a great programme. Qui vivra verra. Meanwhile, I suppose I report t_eneral Cripps."
  • "You will meet him, running hard, I expect, somewhere in France. It will be _luke if Paris is saved. As you know, it always takes England three years t_ut her boots on. If we had listened to the men who knew — like 'Bobs' — an_ixed up an army of three millions, there could have been no war — at least, not in this particular tangle of alliances. There would have been a Socia_evolution, more likely, an ignoble business of greed against greed, whic_ould have left men viler and more enslaved than ever. As it is, the masses o_oth sides think they are fighting for ideals; only the governments know wha_ypocrisy and sham it is; so the ideals will win, both in defeat and victory.
  • Man! only three days ago France was the France of Panama, and Dreyfus, an_adame Humbert, and Madame Steinheil, and Madame Caillaux; and to-day she i_lready the France of Roland and Henri Quatre and Danton and Napoleon an_ambetta and Joan of Arc!"
  • "And England of the Boer wars, and the Irish massacres, and the Marcon_candals, and Tranby Croft?"
  • "Oh, give England time! She'll have to be worse before she's better!"
  • "Talking of time, I must pack up if I'm to catch the morning train for th_and of Hope and Glory."
  • "The train service is disorganized. I came from Toulon in a destroyer; she'l_ake you back there. Jack Manners is in command. Report at Toulon to the O.C.!
  • You'd better start in half-an-hour, I'll see you safe on board. My car's a_he door. Here s your commission!"
  • Cyril Grey thrust the document into his pocket, and the two men went up int_he house.
  • An hour later they were aboard the destroyer; [302] they shook hands i_ilence. Simon Iff went down the gangway, and Manners gave the word. As the_aced northward, they passed under the lee of Abdul's yacht, where Lisa, up t_he eyes in champagne, was fondling her new lover.
  • Her little pig-like eyes sparkled through their rolls of fat; her cheeks, th_olour and consistency of ripe Camembert cheese, sagged pendulous upon a many- chinned neck which looked almost goitrous; and the whole surmounted one o_hose figures dear to engineers, because they afford endless food fo_peculation as to the means of support. The moon was now exercising her ful_nfluence, totally unchecked and unbalanced; and the woman's nature bein_holly of the body, with as little brain in proportion as a rhinoceros, th_ffect was seen mostly on the physical plane. Her mind was a mere swamp o_ucculent luxury. So she sat there and swayed and wallowed over Abdul Bey.
  • Cremers thought she looked like a snow man just beginning to melt.
  • With a sardonic grin, the old woman waved her hand, and went on deck. Th_acht was now well out in the open sea on her way to Marseilles. Here Cremer_as to be landed, so that she might return to Paris to report her success t_ouglas, while the lovers went on their honeymoon. The wind blew fresh fro_he south-west, and Cremers, who was a good sailor, came as near as she eve_ould to joy as she felt the yacht begin to roll, and pictured the tepid ice- cream heroine of romance in the saloon.
  • Meanwhile, the destroyer, her nose burrowing into the sea hike a ferre_lipped into a warren, drove passionately towards Toulon. The keenness an_cstasy of Cyril's face were so intense that Manners rallied him about it.
  • "I thought you were one of the all-men-are- [303] brothers crowd," he said. "
  • Yet you're as keen as mustard to slay your cousin-German."
  • "Puns," replied Cyril, "are the torpedo-boat destroyers of the navy wit.
  • Consider yourself crushed. Your matchless intelligence has not misled you a_o my views. All men  _are_  brothers. As a magician, I embrace, I caress, _lobber over the cheeks of Bloody Bill. But fighting in the army is not _agical ceremony. It is the senseless, idiotic, performance of a numskull, th_ct, in a word, of a gentleman; and as, to my lasting shame, I happened to b_orn in that class, I love to do it. Be reasonable! It's no pleasure to me, a_n immortal God, to sneeze; I refuse to render myself a laughing-stock to th_ther Olympians by such indignity; but when my body has a cold in its head, i_s proper for it to blow its nose. I do not approve, much less participate; and my body is therefore the more free to act according to its nature, and i_lows its nose much harder than it would if I took a hand. That is th_dvantage of being a magician; all one's different parts are free to act wit_he utmost possible vigour according to their own natures, because the othe_arts do not interfere with them. You don't let your navigators into th_toke-hole, or your stokers into the chart-house. The first art in adeptshi_s to get your elements sorted out and specialized and organized an_isciplined. Here endeth the first lesson. I think I'll turn in."
  • "It's a bit beyond me, Cyril. All I know is that I'm willing to risk my lif_n a good cause."
  • "But it's a rotten bad cause! We have isolated Germany and hemmed her in fo_ears exactly as we did a century ago with Napoleon; Wilhelm, who wante_eace, because he was getting fat on it, knew us for his real enemy. In `ninety-nine he came within [304] an ace of uniting Europe against us, at th_ime of the Fashoda incident. But we baffled him, and since then he has bee_etting deeper in every moment. He tried again over the Boer war. He trie_hreats, he tried diplomacy, he tried everything. The Balkan War and th_gadir incident showed him his utter helplessness. The kingdom of Albania! Th_ar in Tripoli proved that he could no longer rely on Italy. And when Russi_esorted to so shameless an assassination as that of Sarajevo —  my dear goo_an! England has been a pirate as she always was. From Hengist and Horsa, an_he Vikings, she first learnt the trick. William the Conqueror was a pirate; so was Francis Drake. Look at Morgan, whom we knighted, and all the othe_uccaneers! Look at our system of privateering! Ever hear of the 'Alabama'? W_earnt the secret of sea-power; we can cut the alimentary canal of any natio_n Europe — bar Switzerland and Russia. Hence our fear of Russia! It's th_olly Roger you should fly, Jack Manners! We stood all Germany's expansion; w_aid we were her cousins — but when she, started a Navy, that was anothe_arrel of fish!
  • "I don't think I can bear this, you know!"
  • "Cheer up! I'm one of the pirate crew!"
  • "Oh, you're Captain Kidd!"
  • "I have already stated my opinion as to the conversational value of puns. I'_oing to turn in; you get busy, and find a neutral ship to rob."
  • "I shall do my best to maintain the law of the sea."
  • "Made by the pirate to suit his game. Good God! I can't see why we shouldn'_e sensible. Why must we invoke Law and Gospel every time we want to do _irty act? My character's strong enough to let me kill all the Germans I ca_ithout persuading myself that I'm saving them from Prusian Tyranny! Good- night!"
  • "The youth is unintelligible or immoral," thought Manners, as he turned hi_ace to the spindrift; "but I bet he kills a lot of Germans!" [305]