MR. SILAS Q. SCUDDAMORE was a young American of a simple and
harmless disposition, which was the more to his credit as he came
from New England - a quarter of the New World not precisely famous
for those qualities. Although he was exceedingly rich, he kept a
note of all his expenses in a little paper pocket-book; and he had
chosen to study the attractions of Paris from the seventh story of
what is called a furnished hotel, in the Latin Quarter. There was
a great deal of habit in his penuriousness; and his virtue, which
was very remarkable among his associates, was principally founded
upon diffidence and youth.
The next room to his was inhabited by a lady, very attractive in
her air and very elegant in toilette, whom, on his first arrival,
he had taken for a Countess. In course of time he had learned that
she was known by the name of Madame Zephyrine, and that whatever
station she occupied in life it was not that of a person of title.
Madame Zephyrine, probably in the hope of enchanting the young
American, used to flaunt by him on the stairs with a civil
inclination, a word of course, and a knock-down look out of her
black eyes, and disappear in a rustle of silk, and with the
revelation of an admirable foot and ankle. But these advances, so
far from encouraging Mr. Scuddamore, plunged him into the depths of
depression and bashfulness. She had come to him several times for
a light, or to apologise for the imaginary depredations of her
poodle; but his mouth was closed in the presence of so superior a
being, his French promptly left him, and he could only stare and
stammer until she was gone. The slenderness of their intercourse
did not prevent him from throwing out insinuations of a very
glorious order when he was safely alone with a few males.
The room on the other side of the American's - for there were three
rooms on a floor in the hotel - was tenanted by an old English
physician of rather doubtful reputation. Dr. Noel, for that was
his name, had been forced to leave London, where he enjoyed a large
and increasing practice; and it was hinted that the police had been
the instigators of this change of scene. At least he, who had made
something of a figure in earlier life, now dwelt in the Latin
Quarter in great simplicity and solitude, and devoted much of his
time to study. Mr. Scuddamore had made his acquaintance, and the
pair would now and then dine together frugally in a restaurant
across the street.
Silas Q. Scuddamore had many little vices of the more respectable
order, and was not restrained by delicacy from indulging them in
many rather doubtful ways. Chief among his foibles stood
curiosity. He was a born gossip; and life, and especially those
parts of it in which he had no experience, interested him to the
degree of passion. He was a pert, invincible questioner, pushing
his inquiries with equal pertinacity and indiscretion; he had been
observed, when he took a letter to the post, to weigh it in his
hand, to turn it over and over, and to study the address with care;
and when he found a flaw in the partition between his room and
Madame Zephyrine's, instead of filling it up, he enlarged and
improved the opening, and made use of it as a spy-hole on his
One day, in the end of March, his curiosity growing as it was
indulged, he enlarged the hole a little further, so that he might
command another corner of the room. That evening, when he went as
usual to inspect Madame Zephyrine's movements, he was astonished to
find the aperture obscured in an odd manner on the other side, and
still more abashed when the obstacle was suddenly withdrawn and a
titter of laughter reached his ears. Some of the plaster had
evidently betrayed the secret of his spy-hole, and his neighbour
had been returning the compliment in kind. Mr. Scuddamore was
moved to a very acute feeling of annoyance; he condemned Madame
Zephyrine unmercifully; he even blamed himself; but when he found,
next day, that she had taken no means to baulk him of his favourite
pastime, he continued to profit by her carelessness, and gratify
his idle curiosity.
That next day Madame Zephyrine received a long visit from a tall,
loosely-built man of fifty or upwards, whom Silas had not hitherto
seen. His tweed suit and coloured shirt, no less than his shaggy
side-whiskers, identified him as a Britisher, and his dull grey eye
affected Silas with a sense of cold. He kept screwing his mouth
from side to side and round and round during the whole colloquy,
which was carried on in whispers. More than once it seemed to the
young New Englander as if their gestures indicated his own
apartment; but the only thing definite he could gather by the most
scrupulous attention was this remark made by the Englishman in a
somewhat higher key, as if in answer to some reluctance or
"I have studied his taste to a nicety, and I tell you again and
again you are the only woman of the sort that I can lay my hands
In answer to this, Madame Zephyrine sighed, and appeared by a
gesture to resign herself, like one yielding to unqualified
That afternoon the observatory was finally blinded, a wardrobe
having been drawn in front of it upon the other side; and while
Silas was still lamenting over this misfortune, which he attributed
to the Britisher's malign suggestion, the concierge brought him up
a letter in a female handwriting. It was conceived in French of no
very rigorous orthography, bore no signature, and in the most
encouraging terms invited the young American to be present in a
certain part of the Bullier Ball at eleven o'clock that night.
Curiosity and timidity fought a long battle in his heart; sometimes
he was all virtue, sometimes all fire and daring; and the result of
it was that, long before ten, Mr. Silas Q. Scuddamore presented
himself in unimpeachable attire at the door of the Bullier Ball
Rooms, and paid his entry money with a sense of reckless devilry
that was not without its charm.
It was Carnival time, and the Ball was very full and noisy. The
lights and the crowd at first rather abashed our young adventurer,
and then, mounting to his brain with a sort of intoxication, put
him in possession of more than his own share of manhood. He felt
ready to face the devil, and strutted in the ballroom with the
swagger of a cavalier. While he was thus parading, he became aware
of Madame Zephyrine and her Britisher in conference behind a
pillar. The cat-like spirit of eaves-dropping overcame him at
once. He stole nearer and nearer on the couple from behind, until
he was within earshot.
"That is the man," the Britisher was saying; "there - with the long
blond hair - speaking to a girl in green."
Silas identified a very handsome young fellow of small stature, who
was plainly the object of this designation.
"It is well," said Madame Zephyrine. "I shall do my utmost. But,
remember, the best of us may fail in such a matter."
"Tut!" returned her companion; "I answer for the result. Have I
not chosen you from thirty? Go; but be wary of the Prince. I
cannot think what cursed accident has brought him here to-night.
As if there were not a dozen balls in Paris better worth his notice
than this riot of students and counter-jumpers! See him where he
sits, more like a reigning Emperor at home than a Prince upon his
Silas was again lucky. He observed a person of rather a full
build, strikingly handsome, and of a very stately and courteous
demeanour, seated at table with another handsome young man, several
years his junior, who addressed him with conspicuous deference.
The name of Prince struck gratefully on Silas's Republican hearing,
and the aspect of the person to whom that name was applied
exercised its usual charm upon his mind. He left Madame Zephyrine
and her Englishman to take care of each other, and threading his
way through the assembly, approached the table which the Prince and
his confidant had honoured with their choice.
"I tell you, Geraldine," the former was saying, "the action is
madness. Yourself (I am glad to remember it) chose your brother
for this perilous service, and you are bound in duty to have a
guard upon his conduct. He has consented to delay so many days in
Paris; that was already an imprudence, considering the character of
the man he has to deal with; but now, when he is within eight-and-
forty hours of his departure, when he is within two or three days
of the decisive trial, I ask you, is this a place for him to spend
his time? He should be in a gallery at practice; he should be
sleeping long hours and taking moderate exercise on foot; he should
be on a rigorous diet, without white wines or brandy. Does the dog
imagine we are all playing comedy? The thing is deadly earnest,
"I know the lad too well to interfere," replied Colonel Geraldine,
"and well enough not to be alarmed. He is more cautious than you
fancy, and of an indomitable spirit. If it had been a woman I
should not say so much, but I trust the President to him and the
two valets without an instant's apprehension."
"I am gratified to hear you say so," replied the Prince; "but my
mind is not at rest. These servants are well-trained spies, and
already has not this miscreant succeeded three times in eluding
their observation and spending several hours on end in private, and
most likely dangerous, affairs? An amateur might have lost him by
accident, but if Rudolph and Jerome were thrown off the scent, it
must have been done on purpose, and by a man who had a cogent
reason and exceptional resources."
"I believe the question is now one between my brother and myself,"
replied Geraldine, with a shade of offence in his tone.
"I permit it to be so, Colonel Geraldine," returned Prince
Florizel. "Perhaps, for that very reason, you should be all the
more ready to accept my counsels. But enough. That girl in yellow
And the talk veered into the ordinary topics of a Paris ballroom in
Silas remembered where he was, and that the hour was already near
at hand when he ought to be upon the scene of his assignation. The
more he reflected the less he liked the prospect, and as at that
moment an eddy in the crowd began to draw him in the direction of
the door, he suffered it to carry him away without resistance. The
eddy stranded him in a corner under the gallery, where his ear was
immediately struck with the voice of Madame Zephyrine. She was
speaking in French with the young man of the blond locks who had
been pointed out by the strange Britisher not half-an-hour before.
"I have a character at stake," she said, "or I would put no other
condition than my heart recommends. But you have only to say so
much to the porter, and he will let you go by without a word."
"But why this talk of debt?" objected her companion.
"Heavens!" said she, "do you think I do not understand my own
And she went by, clinging affectionately to her companion's arm.
This put Silas in mind of his billet.
"Ten minutes hence," thought he, "and I may be walking with as
beautiful a woman as that, and even better dressed - perhaps a real
lady, possibly a woman or title."
And then he remembered the spelling, and was a little downcast.
"But it may have been written by her maid," he imagined.
The clock was only a few minutes from the hour, and this immediate
proximity set his heart beating at a curious and rather
disagreeable speed. He reflected with relief that he was in no way
bound to put in an appearance. Virtue and cowardice were together,
and he made once more for the door, but this time of his own
accord, and battling against the stream of people which was now
moving in a contrary direction. Perhaps this prolonged resistance
wearied him, or perhaps he was in that frame of mind when merely to
continue in the same determination for a certain number of minutes
produces a reaction and a different purpose. Certainly, at least,
he wheeled about for a third time, and did not stop until he had
found a place of concealment within a few yards of the appointed
Here he went through an agony of spirit, in which he several times
prayed to God for help, for Silas had been devoutly educated. He
had now not the least inclination for the meeting; nothing kept him
from flight but a silly fear lest he should be thought unmanly; but
this was so powerful that it kept head against all other motives;
and although it could not decide him to advance, prevented him from
definitely running away. At last the clock indicated ten minutes
past the hour. Young Scuddamore's spirit began to rise; he peered
round the corner and saw no one at the place of meeting; doubtless
his unknown correspondent had wearied and gone away. He became as
bold as he had formerly been timid. It seemed to him that if he
came at all to the appointment, however late, he was clear from the
charge of cowardice. Nay, now he began to suspect a hoax, and
actually complimented himself on his shrewdness in having suspected
and outmanoeuvred his mystifiers. So very idle a thing is a boy's
Armed with these reflections, he advanced boldly from his corner;
but he had not taken above a couple of steps before a hand was laid
upon his arm. He turned and beheld a lady cast in a very large
mould and with somewhat stately features, but bearing no mark of
severity in her looks.
"I see that you are a very self-confident lady-killer," said she;
"for you make yourself expected. But I was determined to meet you.
When a woman has once so far forgotten herself as to make the first
advance, she has long ago left behind her all considerations of
Silas was overwhelmed by the size and attractions of his
correspondent and the suddenness with which she had fallen upon
him. But she soon set him at his ease. She was very towardly and
lenient in her behaviour; she led him on to make pleasantries, and
then applauded him to the echo; and in a very short time, between
blandishments and a liberal exhibition of warm brandy, she had not
only induced him to fancy himself in love, but to declare his
passion with the greatest vehemence.
"Alas!" she said; "I do not know whether I ought not to deplore
this moment, great as is the pleasure you give me by your words.
Hitherto I was alone to suffer; now, poor boy, there will be two.
I am not my own mistress. I dare not ask you to visit me at my own
house, for I am watched by jealous eyes. Let me see," she added;
"I am older than you, although so much weaker; and while I trust in
your courage and determination, I must employ my own knowledge of
the world for our mutual benefit. Where do you live?"
He told her that he lodged in a furnished hotel, and named the
street and number.
She seemed to reflect for some minutes, with an effort of mind.
"I see," she said at last. "You will be faithful and obedient,
will you not?"
Silas assured her eagerly of his fidelity.
"To-morrow night, then," she continued, with an encouraging smile,
"you must remain at home all the evening; and if any friends should
visit you, dismiss them at once on any pretext that most readily
presents itself. Your door is probably shut by ten?" she asked.
"By eleven," answered Silas.
"At a quarter past eleven," pursued the lady, "leave the house.
Merely cry for the door to be opened, and be sure you fall into no
talk with the porter, as that might ruin everything. Go straight
to the corner where the Luxembourg Gardens join the Boulevard;
there you will find me waiting you. I trust you to follow my
advice from point to point: and remember, if you fail me in only
one particular, you will bring the sharpest trouble on a woman
whose only fault is to have seen and loved you."
"I cannot see the use of all these instructions," said Silas.
"I believe you are already beginning to treat me as a master," she
cried, tapping him with her fan upon the arm. "Patience, patience!
that should come in time. A woman loves to be obeyed at first,
although afterwards she finds her pleasure in obeying. Do as I ask
you, for Heaven's sake, or I will answer for nothing. Indeed, now
I think of it," she added, with the manner of one who has just seen
further into a difficulty, "I find a better plan of keeping
importunate visitors away. Tell the porter to admit no one for
you, except a person who may come that night to claim a debt; and
speak with some feeling, as though you feared the interview, so
that he may take your words in earnest."
"I think you may trust me to protect myself against intruders," he
said, not without a little pique.
"That is how I should prefer the thing arranged," she answered
coldly. "I know you men; you think nothing of a woman's
Silas blushed and somewhat hung his head; for the scheme he had in
view had involved a little vain-glorying before his acquaintances.
"Above all," she added, "do not speak to the porter as you come
"And why?" said he. "Of all your instructions, that seems to me
the least important."
"You at first doubted the wisdom of some of the others, which you
now see to be very necessary," she replied. "Believe me, this also
has its uses; in time you will see them; and what am I to think of
your affection, if you refuse me such trifles at our first
Silas confounded himself in explanations and apologies; in the
middle of these she looked up at the clock and clapped her hands
together with a suppressed scream.
"Heavens!" she cried, "is it so late? I have not an instant to
lose. Alas, we poor women, what slaves we are! What have I not
risked for you already?"
And after repeating her directions, which she artfully combined
with caresses and the most abandoned looks, she bade him farewell
and disappeared among the crowd.
The whole of the next day Silas was filled with a sense of great
importance; he was now sure she was a countess; and when evening
came he minutely obeyed her orders and was at the corner of the
Luxembourg Gardens by the hour appointed. No one was there. He
waited nearly half-an-hour, looking in the face of every one who
passed or loitered near the spot; he even visited the neighbouring
corners of the Boulevard and made a complete circuit of the garden
railings; but there was no beautiful countess to throw herself into
his arms. At last, and most reluctantly, he began to retrace his
steps towards his hotel. On the way he remembered the words he had
heard pass between Madame Zephyrine and the blond young man, and
they gave him an indefinite uneasiness.
"It appears," he reflected, "that every one has to tell lies to our
He rang the bell, the door opened before him, and the porter in his
bed-clothes came to offer him a light.
"Has he gone?" inquired the porter.
"He? Whom do you mean?" asked Silas, somewhat sharply, for he was
irritated by his disappointment.
"I did not notice him go out," continued the porter, "but I trust
you paid him. We do not care, in this house, to have lodgers who
cannot meet their liabilities."
"What the devil do you mean?" demanded Silas rudely. "I cannot
understand a word of this farrago."
"The short blond young man who came for his debt," returned the
other. "Him it is I mean. Who else should it be, when I had your
orders to admit no one else?"
"Why, good God, of course he never came," retorted Silas.
"I believe what I believe," returned the porter, putting his tongue
into his cheek with a most roguish air.
"You are an insolent scoundrel," cried Silas, and, feeling that he
had made a ridiculous exhibition of asperity, and at the same time
bewildered by a dozen alarms, he turned and began to run upstairs.
"Do you not want a light then?" cried the porter.
But Silas only hurried the faster, and did not pause until he had
reached the seventh landing and stood in front of his own door.
There he waited a moment to recover his breath, assailed by the
worst forebodings and almost dreading to enter the room.
When at last he did so he was relieved to find it dark, and to all
appearance, untenanted. He drew a long breath. Here he was, home
again in safety, and this should be his last folly as certainly as
it had been his first. The matches stood on a little table by the
bed, and he began to grope his way in that direction. As he moved,
his apprehensions grew upon him once more, and he was pleased, when
his foot encountered an obstacle, to find it nothing more alarming
than a chair. At last he touched curtains. From the position of
the window, which was faintly visible, he knew he must be at the
foot of the bed, and had only to feel his way along it in order to
reach the table in question.
He lowered his hand, but what it touched was not simply a
counterpane - it was a counterpane with something underneath it
like the outline of a human leg. Silas withdrew his arm and stood
a moment petrified.
"What, what," he thought, "can this betoken?"
He listened intently, but there was no sound of breathing. Once
more, with a great effort, he reached out the end of his finger to
the spot he had already touched; but this time he leaped back half
a yard, and stood shivering and fixed with terror. There was
something in his bed. What it was he knew not, but there was
It was some seconds before he could move. Then, guided by an
instinct, he fell straight upon the matches, and keeping his back
towards the bed lighted a candle. As soon as the flame had
kindled, he turned slowly round and looked for what he feared to
see. Sure enough, there was the worst of his imaginations
realised. The coverlid was drawn carefully up over the pillow, but
it moulded the outline of a human body lying motionless; and when
he dashed forward and flung aside the sheets, he beheld the blond
young man whom he had seen in the Bullier Ball the night before,
his eyes open and without speculation, his face swollen and
blackened, and a thin stream of blood trickling from his nostrils.
Silas uttered a long, tremulous wail, dropped the candle, and fell
on his knees beside the bed.
Silas was awakened from the stupor into which his terrible
discovery had plunged him by a prolonged but discreet tapping at
the door. It took him some seconds to remember his position; and
when he hastened to prevent anyone from entering it was already too
late. Dr. Noel, in a tall night-cap, carrying a lamp which lighted
up his long white countenance, sidling in his gait, and peering and
cocking his head like some sort of bird, pushed the door slowly
open, and advanced into the middle of the room.
"I thought I heard a cry," began the Doctor, "and fearing you might
be unwell I did not hesitate to offer this intrusion."
Silas, with a flushed face and a fearful beating heart, kept
between the Doctor and the bed; but he found no voice to answer.
"You are in the dark," pursued the Doctor; "and yet you have not
even begun to prepare for rest. You will not easily persuade me
against my own eyesight; and your face declares most eloquently
that you require either a friend or a physician - which is it to
be? Let me feel your pulse, for that is often a just reporter of
He advanced to Silas, who still retreated before him backwards, and
sought to take him by the wrist; but the strain on the young
American's nerves had become too great for endurance. He avoided
the Doctor with a febrile movement, and, throwing himself upon the
floor, burst into a flood of weeping.
As soon as Dr. Noel perceived the dead man in the bed his face
darkened; and hurrying back to the door which he had left ajar, he
hastily closed and double-locked it.
"Up!" he cried, addressing Silas in strident tones; "this is no
time for weeping. What have you done? How came this body in your
room? Speak freely to one who may be helpful. Do you imagine I
would ruin you? Do you think this piece of dead flesh on your
pillow can alter in any degree the sympathy with which you have
inspired me? Credulous youth, the horror with which blind and
unjust law regards an action never attaches to the doer in the eyes
of those who love him; and if I saw the friend of my heart return
to me out of seas of blood he would be in no way changed in my
affection. Raise yourself," he said; "good and ill are a chimera;
there is nought in life except destiny, and however you may be
circumstanced there is one at your side who will help you to the
Thus encouraged, Silas gathered himself together, and in a broken
voice, and helped out by the Doctor's interrogations, contrived at
last to put him in possession of the facts. But the conversation
between the Prince and Geraldine he altogether omitted, as he had
understood little of its purport, and had no idea that it was in
any way related to his own misadventure.
"Alas!" cried Dr. Noel, "I am much abused, or you have fallen
innocently into the most dangerous hands in Europe. Poor boy, what
a pit has been dug for your simplicity! into what a deadly peril
have your unwary feet been conducted! This man," he said, "this
Englishman, whom you twice saw, and whom I suspect to be the soul
of the contrivance, can you describe him? Was he young or old?
tall or short?"
But Silas, who, for all his curiosity, had not a seeing eye in his
head, was able to supply nothing but meagre generalities, which it
was impossible to recognise.
"I would have it a piece of education in all schools!" cried the
Doctor angrily. "Where is the use of eyesight and articulate
speech if a man cannot observe and recollect the features of his
enemy? I, who know all the gangs of Europe, might have identified
him, and gained new weapons for your defence. Cultivate this art
in future, my poor boy; you may find it of momentous service."
"The future!" repeated Silas. "What future is there left for me
except the gallows?"
"Youth is but a cowardly season," returned the Doctor; "and a man's
own troubles look blacker than they are. I am old, and yet I never
"Can I tell such a story to the police?" demanded Silas.
"Assuredly not," replied the Doctor. "From what I see already of
the machination in which you have been involved, your case is
desperate upon that side; and for the narrow eye of the authorities
you are infallibly the guilty person. And remember that we only
know a portion of the plot; and the same infamous contrivers have
doubtless arranged many other circumstances which would be elicited
by a police inquiry, and help to fix the guilt more certainly upon
"I am then lost, indeed!" cried Silas.
"I have not said so," answered Dr. Noel "for I am a cautious man."
"But look at this!" objected Silas, pointing to the body. "Here is
this object in my bed; not to be explained, not to be disposed of,
not to be regarded without horror."
"Horror?" replied the Doctor. "No. When this sort of clock has
run down, it is no more to me than an ingenious piece of mechanism,
to be investigated with the bistoury. When blood is once cold and
stagnant, it is no longer human blood; when flesh is once dead, it
is no longer that flesh which we desire in our lovers and respect
in our friends. The grace, the attraction, the terror, have all
gone from it with the animating spirit. Accustom yourself to look
upon it with composure; for if my scheme is practicable you will
have to live some days in constant proximity to that which now so
greatly horrifies you."
"Your scheme?" cried Silas. "What is that? Tell me speedily,
Doctor; for I have scarcely courage enough to continue to exist."
Without replying, Doctor Noel turned towards the bed, and proceeded
to examine the corpse.
"Quite dead," he murmured. "Yes, as I had supposed, the pockets
empty. Yes, and the name cut off the shirt. Their work has been
done thoroughly and well. Fortunately, he is of small stature."
Silas followed these words with an extreme anxiety. At last the
Doctor, his autopsy completed, took a chair and addressed the young
American with a smile.
"Since I came into your room," said he, "although my ears and my
tongue have been so busy, I have not suffered my eyes to remain
idle. I noted a little while ago that you have there, in the
corner, one of those monstrous constructions which your fellow-
countrymen carry with them into all quarters of the globe - in a
word, a Saratoga trunk. Until this moment I have never been able
to conceive the utility of these erections; but then I began to
have a glimmer. Whether it was for convenience in the slave trade,
or to obviate the results of too ready an employment of the bowie-
knife, I cannot bring myself to decide. But one thing I see
plainly - the object of such a box is to contain a human body.
"Surely," cried Silas, "surely this is not a time for jesting."
"Although I may express myself with some degree of pleasantry,"
replied the Doctor, "the purport of my words is entirely serious.
And the first thing we have to do, my young friend, is to empty
your coffer of all that it contains."
Silas, obeying the authority of Doctor Noel, put himself at his
disposition. The Saratoga trunk was soon gutted of its contents,
which made a considerable litter on the floor; and then - Silas
taking the heels and the Doctor supporting the shoulders - the body
of the murdered man was carried from the bed, and, after some
difficulty, doubled up and inserted whole into the empty box. With
an effort on the part of both, the lid was forced down upon this
unusual baggage, and the trunk was locked and corded by the
Doctor's own hand, while Silas disposed of what had been taken out
between the closet and a chest of drawers.
"Now," said the Doctor, "the first step has been taken on the way
to your deliverance. To-morrow, or rather to-day, it must be your
task to allay the suspicions of your porter, paying him all that
you owe; while you may trust me to make the arrangements necessary
to a safe conclusion. Meantime, follow me to my room, where I
shall give you a safe and powerful opiate; for, whatever you do,
you must have rest."
The next day was the longest in Silas's memory; it seemed as if it
would never be done. He denied himself to his friends, and sat in
a corner with his eyes fixed upon the Saratoga trunk in dismal
contemplation. His own former indiscretions were now returned upon
him in kind; for the observatory had been once more opened, and he
was conscious of an almost continual study from Madame Zephyrine's
apartment. So distressing did this become, that he was at last
obliged to block up the spy-hole from his own side; and when he was
thus secured from observation he spent a considerable portion of
his time in contrite tears and prayer.
Late in the evening Dr. Noel entered the room carrying in his hand
a pair of sealed envelopes without address, one somewhat bulky, and
the other so slim as to seem without enclosure.
"Silas," he said, seating himself at the table, "the time has now
come for me to explain my plan for your salvation. To-morrow
morning, at an early hour, Prince Florizel of Bohemia returns to
London, after having diverted himself for a few days with the
Parisian Carnival. It was my fortune, a good while ago, to do
Colonel Geraldine, his Master of the Horse, one of those services,
so common in my profession, which are never forgotten upon either
side. I have no need to explain to you the nature of the
obligation under which he was laid; suffice it to say that I knew
him ready to serve me in any practicable manner. Now, it was
necessary for you to gain London with your trunk unopened. To this
the Custom House seemed to oppose a fatal difficulty; but I
bethought me that the baggage of so considerable a person as the
Prince, is, as a matter of courtesy, passed without examination by
the officers of Custom. I applied to Colonel Geraldine, and
succeeded in obtaining a favourable answer. To-morrow, if you go
before six to the hotel where the Prince lodges, your baggage will
be passed over as a part of his, and you yourself will make the
journey as a member of his suite."
"It seems to me, as you speak, that I have already seen both the
Prince and Colonel Geraldine; I even overheard some of their
conversation the other evening at the Bullier Ball."
"It is probable enough; for the Prince loves to mix with all
societies," replied the Doctor. "Once arrived in London," he
pursued, "your task is nearly ended. In this more bulky envelope I
have given you a letter which I dare not address; but in the other
you will find the designation of the house to which you must carry
it along with your box, which will there be taken from you and not
trouble you any more."
"Alas!" said Silas, "I have every wish to believe you; but how is
it possible? You open up to me a bright prospect, but, I ask you,
is my mind capable of receiving so unlikely a solution? Be more
generous, and let me further understand your meaning."
The Doctor seemed painfully impressed.
"Boy," he answered, "you do not know how hard a thing you ask of
me. But be it so. I am now inured to humiliation; and it would be
strange if I refused you this, after having granted you so much.
Know, then, that although I now make so quiet an appearance -
frugal, solitary, addicted to study - when I was younger, my name
was once a rallying-cry among the most astute and dangerous spirits
of London; and while I was outwardly an object for respect and
consideration, my true power resided in the most secret, terrible,
and criminal relations. It is to one of the persons who then
obeyed me that I now address myself to deliver you from your
burden. They were men of many different nations and dexterities,
all bound together by a formidable oath, and working to the same
purposes; the trade of the association was in murder; and I who
speak to you, innocent as I appear, was the chieftain of this
"What?" cried Silas. "A murderer? And one with whom murder was a
trade? Can I take your hand? Ought I so much as to accept your
services? Dark and criminal old man, would you make an accomplice
of my youth and my distress?"
The Doctor bitterly laughed.
"You are difficult to please, Mr. Scuddamore," said he; "but I now
offer you your choice of company between the murdered man and the
murderer. If your conscience is too nice to accept my aid, say so,
and I will immediately leave you. Thenceforward you can deal with
your trunk and its belongings as best suits your upright
"I own myself wrong," replied Silas. "I should have remembered how
generously you offered to shield me, even before I had convinced
you of my innocence, and I continue to listen to your counsels with
"That is well," returned the Doctor; "and I perceive you are
beginning to learn some of the lessons of experience."
"At the same time," resumed the New-Englander, "as you confess
yourself accustomed o this tragical business, and the people to
whom you recommend me are your own former associates and friends,
could you not yourself undertake the transport of the box, and rid
me at once of its detested presence?"
"Upon my word," replied the Doctor, "I admire you cordially. If
you do not think I have already meddled sufficiently in your
concerns, believe me, from my heart I think the contrary. Take or
leave my services as I offer them; and trouble me with no more
words of gratitude, for I value your consideration even more
lightly than I do your intellect. A time will come, if you should
be spared to see a number of years in health of mind, when you will
think differently of all this, and blush for your to-night's
So saying, the Doctor arose from his chair, repeated his directions
briefly and clearly, and departed from the room without permitting
Silas any time to answer.
The next morning Silas presented himself at the hotel, where he was
politely received by Colonel Geraldine, and relieved, from that
moment, of all immediate alarm about his trunk and its grisly
contents. The journey passed over without much incident, although
the young man was horrified to overhear the sailors and railway
porters complaining among themselves about the unusual weight of
the Prince's baggage. Silas travelled in a carriage with the
valets, for Prince Florizel chose to be alone with his Master of
the Horse. On board the steamer, however, Silas attracted his
Highness's attention by the melancholy of his air and attitude as
he stood gazing at the pile of baggage; for he was still full of
disquietude about the future.
"There is a young man," observed the Prince, "who must have some
cause for sorrow."
"That," replied Geraldine, "is the American for whom I obtained
permission to travel with your suite."
"You remind me that I have been remiss in courtesy," said Prince
Florizel, and advancing to Silas, he addressed him with the most
exquisite condescension in these words:- "I was charmed, young sir,
to be able to gratify the desire you made known to me through
Colonel Geraldine. Remember, if you please, that I shall be glad
at any future time to lay you under a more serious obligation."
And he then put some questions as to the political condition of
America, which Silas answered with sense and propriety.
"You are still a young man," said the Prince; "but I observe you to
be very serious for your years. Perhaps you allow your attention
to be too much occupied with grave studies. But, perhaps, on the
other hand, I am myself indiscreet and touch upon a painful
"I have certainly cause to be the most miserable of men," said
Silas; "never has a more innocent person been more dismally
"I will not ask you for your confidence," returned Prince Florizel.
"But do not forget that Colonel Geraldine's recommendation is an
unfailing passport; and that I am not only willing, but possibly
more able than many others, to do you a service."
Silas was delighted with the amiability of this great personage;
but his mind soon returned upon its gloomy preoccupations; for not
even the favour of a Prince to a Republican can discharge a
brooding spirit of its cares.
The train arrived at Charing Cross, where the officers of the
Revenue respected the baggage of Prince Florizel in the usual
manner. The most elegant equipages were in waiting; and Silas was
driven, along with the rest, to the Prince's residence. There
Colonel Geraldine sought him out, and expressed himself pleased to
have been of any service to a friend of the physician's, for whom
he professed a great consideration.
"I hope," he added, "that you will find none of your porcelain
injured. Special orders were given along the line to deal tenderly
with the Prince's effects."
And then, directing the servants to place one of the carriages at
the young gentleman's disposal, and at once to charge the Saratoga
trunk upon the dickey, the Colonel shook hands and excused himself
on account of his occupations in the princely household.
Silas now broke the seal of the envelope containing the address,
and directed the stately footman to drive him to Box Court, opening
off the Strand. It seemed as if the place were not at all unknown
to the man, for he looked startled and begged a repetition of the
order. It was with a heart full of alarms, that Silas mounted into
the luxurious vehicle, and was driven to his destination. The
entrance to Box Court was too narrow for the passage of a coach; it
was a mere footway between railings, with a post at either end. On
one of these posts was seated a man, who at once jumped down and
exchanged a friendly sign with the driver, while the footman opened
the door and inquired of Silas whether he should take down the
Saratoga trunk, and to what number it should be carried.
"If you please," said Silas. "To number three."
The footman and the man who had been sitting on the post, even with
the aid of Silas himself, had hard work to carry in the trunk; and
before it was deposited at the door of the house in question, the
young American was horrified to find a score of loiterers looking
on. But he knocked with as good a countenance as he could muster
up, and presented the other envelope to him who opened.
"He is not at home," said he, "but if you will leave your letter
and return to-morrow early, I shall be able to inform you whether
and when he can receive your visit. Would you like to leave your
box?" he added.
"Dearly," cried Silas; and the next moment he repented his
precipitation, and declared, with equal emphasis, that he would
rather carry the box along with him to the hotel.
The crowd jeered at his indecision and followed him to the carriage
with insulting remarks; and Silas, covered with shame and terror,
implored the servants to conduct him to some quiet and comfortable
house of entertainment in the immediate neighbourhood.
The Prince's equipage deposited Silas at the Craven Hotel in Craven
Street, and immediately drove away, leaving him alone with the
servants of the inn. The only vacant room, it appeared, was a
little den up four pairs of stairs, and looking towards the back.
To this hermitage, with infinite trouble and complaint, a pair of
stout porters carried the Saratoga trunk. It is needless to
mention that Silas kept closely at their heels throughout the
ascent, and had his heart in his mouth at every corner. A single
false step, he reflected, and the box might go over the banisters
and land its fatal contents, plainly discovered, on the pavement of
Arrived in the room, he sat down on the edge of his bed to recover
from the agony that he had just endured; but he had hardly taken
his position when he was recalled to a sense of his peril by the
action of the boots, who had knelt beside the trunk, and was
proceeding officiously to undo its elaborate fastenings.
"Let it be!" cried Silas. "I shall want nothing from it while I
"You might have let it lie in the hall, then," growled the man; "a
thing as big and heavy as a church. What you have inside I cannot
fancy. If it is all money, you are a richer man than me."
"Money?" repeated Silas, in a sudden perturbation. "What do you
mean by money? I have no money, and you are speaking like a fool."
"All right, captain," retorted the boots with a wink. "There's
nobody will touch your lordship's money. I'm as safe as the bank,"
he added; "but as the box is heavy, I shouldn't mind drinking
something to your lordship's health."
Silas pressed two Napoleons upon his acceptance, apologising, at
the same time, for being obliged to trouble him with foreign money,
and pleading his recent arrival for excuse. And the man, grumbling
with even greater fervour, and looking contemptuously from the
money in his hand to the Saratoga trunk and back again from the one
to the other, at last consented to withdraw.
For nearly two days the dead body had been packed into Silas's box;
and as soon as he was alone the unfortunate New-Englander nosed all
the cracks and openings with the most passionate attention. But
the weather was cool, and the trunk still managed to contain his
He took a chair beside it, and buried his face in his hands, and
his mind in the most profound reflection. If he were not speedily
relieved, no question but he must be speedily discovered. Alone in
a strange city, without friends or accomplices, if the Doctor's
introduction failed him, he was indubitably a lost New-Englander.
He reflected pathetically over his ambitious designs for the
future; he should not now become the hero and spokesman of his
native place of Bangor, Maine; he should not, as he had fondly
anticipated, move on from office to office, from honour to honour;
he might as well divest himself at once of all hope of being
acclaimed President of the United States, and leaving behind him a
statue, in the worst possible style of art, to adorn the Capitol at
Washington. Here he was, chained to a dead Englishman doubled up
inside a Saratoga trunk; whom he must get rid of, or perish from
the rolls of national glory!
I should be afraid to chronicle the language employed by this young
man to the Doctor, to the murdered man, to Madame Zephyrine, to the
boots of the hotel, to the Prince's servants, and, in a word, to
all who had been ever so remotely connected with his horrible
He slunk down to dinner about seven at night; but the yellow
coffee-room appalled him, the eyes of the other diners seemed to
rest on his with suspicion, and his mind remained upstairs with the
Saratoga trunk. When the waiter came to offer him cheese, his
nerves were already so much on edge that he leaped half-way out of
his chair and upset the remainder of a pint of ale upon the table-
The fellow offered to show him to the smoking-room when he had
done; and although he would have much preferred to return at once
to his perilous treasure, he had not the courage to refuse, and was
shown downstairs to the black, gas-lit cellar, which formed, and
possibly still forms, the divan of the Craven Hotel.
Two very sad betting men were playing billiards, attended by a
moist, consumptive marker; and for the moment Silas imagined that
these were the only occupants of the apartment. But at the next
glance his eye fell upon a person smoking in the farthest corner,
with lowered eyes and a most respectable and modest aspect. He
knew at once that he had seen the face before; and, in spite of the
entire change of clothes, recognised the man whom he had found
seated on a post at the entrance to Box Court, and who had helped
him to carry the trunk to and from the carriage. The New-Englander
simply turned and ran, nor did he pause until he had locked and
bolted himself into his bedroom.
There, all night long, a prey to the most terrible imaginations, he
watched beside the fatal boxful of dead flesh. The suggestion of
the boots that his trunk was full of gold inspired him with all
manner of new terrors, if he so much as dared to close an eye; and
the presence in the smoking-room, and under an obvious disguise, of
the loiterer from Box Court convinced him that he was once more the
centre of obscure machinations.
Midnight had sounded some time, when, impelled by uneasy
suspicions, Silas opened his bedroom door and peered into the
passage. It was dimly illuminated by a single jet of gas; and some
distance off he perceived a man sleeping on the floor in the
costume of an hotel under-servant. Silas drew near the man on
tiptoe. He lay partly on his back, partly on his side, and his
right forearm concealed his face from recognition. Suddenly, while
the American was still bending over him, the sleeper removed his
arm and opened his eyes, and Silas found himself once more face to
face with the loiterer of Box Court.
"Good-night, sir," said the man, pleasantly.
But Silas was too profoundly moved to find an answer, and regained
his room in silence.
Towards morning, worn out by apprehension, he fell asleep on his
chair, with his head forward on the trunk. In spite of so
constrained an attitude and such a grisly pillow, his slumber was
sound and prolonged, and he was only awakened at a late hour and by
a sharp tapping at the door.
He hurried to open, and found the boots without.
"You are the gentleman who called yesterday at Box Court?" he
Silas, with a quaver, admitted that he had done so.
"Then this note is for you," added the servant, proffering a sealed
Silas tore it open, and found inside the words: "Twelve o'clock."
He was punctual to the hour; the trunk was carried before him by
several stout servants; and he was himself ushered into a room,
where a man sat warming himself before the fire with his back
towards the door. The sound of so many persons entering and
leaving, and the scraping of the trunk as it was deposited upon the
bare boards, were alike unable to attract the notice of the
occupant; and Silas stood waiting, in an agony of fear, until he
should deign to recognise his presence.
Perhaps five minutes had elapsed before the man turned leisurely
about, and disclosed the features of Prince Florizel of Bohemia.
"So, sir," he said, with great severity, "this is the manner in
which you abuse my politeness. You join yourselves to persons of
condition, I perceive, for no other purpose than to escape the
consequences of your crimes; and I can readily understand your
embarrassment when I addressed myself to you yesterday."
"Indeed," cried Silas, "I am innocent of everything except
And in a hurried voice, and with the greatest ingenuousness, he
recounted to the Prince the whole history of his calamity.
"I see I have been mistaken," said his Highness, when he had heard
him to an end. "You are no other than a victim, and since I am not
to punish you may be sure I shall do my utmost to help. And now,"
he continued, "to business. Open your box at once, and let me see
what it contains."
Silas changed colour.
"I almost fear to look upon it," he exclaimed.
"Nay," replied the Prince, "have you not looked at it already?
This is a form of sentimentality to be resisted. The sight of a
sick man, whom we can still help, should appeal more directly to
the feelings than that of a dead man who is equally beyond help or
harm, love or hatred. Nerve yourself, Mr. Scuddamore," and then,
seeing that Silas still hesitated, "I do not desire to give another
name to my request," he added.
The young American awoke as if out of a dream, and with a shiver of
repugnance addressed himself to loose the straps and open the lock
of the Saratoga trunk. The Prince stood by, watching with a
composed countenance and his hands behind his back. The body was
quite stiff, and it cost Silas a great effort, both moral and
physical, to dislodge it from its position, and discover the face.
Prince Florizel started back with an exclamation of painful
"Alas!" he cried, "you little know, Mr. Scuddamore, what a cruel
gift you have brought me. This is a young man of my own suite, the
brother of my trusted friend; and it was upon matters of my own
service that he has thus perished at the hands of violent and
treacherous men. Poor Geraldine," he went on, as if to himself,
"in what words am I to tell you of your brother's fate? How can I
excuse myself in your eyes, or in the eyes of God, for the
presumptuous schemes that led him to this bloody and unnatural
death? Ah, Florizel! Florizel! when will you learn the discretion
that suits mortal life, and be no longer dazzled with the image of
power at your disposal? Power!" he cried; "who is more powerless?
I look upon this young man whom I have sacrificed, Mr. Scuddamore,
and feel how small a thing it is to be a Prince."
Silas was moved at the sight of his emotion. He tried to murmur
some consolatory words, and burst into tears.
The Prince, touched by his obvious intention, came up to him and
took him by the hand.
"Command yourself," said he. "We have both much to learn, and we
shall both be better men for to-day's meeting."
Silas thanked him in silence with an affectionate look.
"Write me the address of Doctor Noel on this piece of paper,"
continued the Prince, leading him towards the table; "and let me
recommend you, when you are again in Paris, to avoid the society of
that dangerous man. He has acted in this matter on a generous
inspiration; that I must believe; had he been privy to young
Geraldine's death he would never have despatched the body to the
care of the actual criminal."
"The actual criminal!" repeated Silas in astonishment.
"Even so," returned the Prince. "This letter, which the
disposition of Almighty Providence has so strangely delivered into
my hands, was addressed to no less a person than the criminal
himself, the infamous President of the Suicide Club. Seek to pry
no further in these perilous affairs, but content yourself with
your own miraculous escape, and leave this house at once. I have
pressing affairs, and must arrange at once about this poor clay,
which was so lately a gallant and handsome youth."
Silas took a grateful and submissive leave of Prince Florizel, but
he lingered in Box Court until he saw him depart in a splendid
carriage on a visit to Colonel Henderson of the police. Republican
as he was, the young American took off his hat with almost a
sentiment of devotion to the retreating carriage. And the same
night he started by rail on his return to Paris.
Here (observes my Arabian author) is the end of THE HISTORY OF THE
PHYSICIAN AND THE SARATOGA TRUNK. Omitting some reflections on the
power of Providence, highly pertinent in the original, but little
suited to our occiddental taste, I shall only add that Mr.
Scuddamore has already begun to mount the ladder of political fame,
and by last advices was the Sheriff of his native town.
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