At the King's Head Inn at Thatcham on the Bath Road a post chaise drew up, but with no great flourish, for the postilion knew that his only passenger was a lady, and he had no intention of pulling his horses on their haunches merely for the sake of impressing a lady. In his youth he had made many flourishes of such a type, but had failed to win an extra crown from a traveller of this sex.

The groom, who advanced with some degree of briskness from the stable-yard, became more languid in his movements when he perceived that only a lady was descending from the chaise. He knew that briskness on the part of a groom never caused a coin to spring from the purse of a lady. The landlord, however, taking a more hopeful view of the harvest prospects of the solitary lady as a guest—he had lived in London, and had heard of assignations in which the (temporarily) solitary lady became a source of profit to the inn-keeper—made a pretence of bustling out to assist the occupant of the chaise to alight, bowing elaborately when he perceived that the lining of her travel-ling-cloak was of quilted silk, and once again as she tripped very daintily over the cobble-stones in front of the King's Head, and smiled very bewitchingly within the satin frame of her hood. The landlord had a notion that he had seen her face and her smile before. He carried with him the recollection of a good many faces and smiles within the frame-work of quilted satin hoods.

“Madam, you honour my poor house,” he said in his best London manner as the lady passed through the porch. “'T is rarely that a person of your ladyship's quality—”

“Spare us good lord—good landlord,” cried the lady in an accent that had a certain amount of Hibernian persuasiveness about it. “Spare us your remarks about our quality.'T is two horses and not four that brought me hither. It's of your quality, sir, that I'd fain have a taste. If I do n't have breakfast within an hour, I honestly believe that my death will be at your door, and where will your compliments be then, my good man?”

“Your ladyship is pleased to be facetious,” said the landlord, throwing open the door of the public room with as great a flourish as if he were giving admittance to sixty-foot salle, instead of a twenty-foot inn parlour. He looked closely at his visitor as she passed through: her voice sounded strangely familiar to him. “'T is a poor room for one, who, I doubt not, is no stranger to the noblest mansions,” he added.

“There's no one better accustomed to the noblest mansions than myself,” said the lady, going to the looking-glass that occupied a place in a panel between the windows, throwing back her hood, and then arranging her hair.

“Yes, faith, many's the palace I've lived in—for the space of half an hour at a time—but I make no objections to the room I 'm in just now. See the pictures!” She raised her hands in an attitude of surprise and admiration, so well simulated as to deceive the landlord, though he had lived in London.

“Pictures! Oh, the grandeur of it all! And what about breakfast? Give us your notions of the proper decorations of a breakfast-table, good sir. It's a picture of rashers that I've got my heart set on.”

“The best breakfast that my poor house can afford your ladyship shall be prepared.”

“And soon, good Mr. Landlord, I implore of you, sir. Breakfast for two.”

“For two, madam!” The landlord began to feel that his experience of assignations was about to be augmented.

“For two, sir—I look for my brother to arrive by the coach from Levizes. If he should enquire for me at the bar, just show him in here.”

“Your commands shall be obeyed, madam. Will he enquire for your ladyship by name?”

“By name? Why, how else would you have him enquire, my good man? Do you fancy that he carries a Bow Street runner's description of so humble a person as myself?”

“Nay, madam; but you see your name is just what I have n't yet had the honour of learning.”

The lady burst out laughing.

“Faith, good sir, my name is a somewhat important detail in the transaction I speak of. The gentleman will ask for Mistress Clive.”

“Ah,” cried the landlord, “I could have sworn that I knew the face and the voice, but I failed to think of them in connection with our Kitty.” He checked himself in his cackle of laughter, and bowed in his best style. “Madam, I implore your pardon, but—oh lord! how I've laughed in the old days at Kitty's pranks!—nay, madam, forgive my familiarity. I am your servant. Oh, lord! to think that it's Kitty Clive herself—our Kitty—madam—”

Only when he had fled to the door and had opened it did the man recover himself sufficiently to be able to repeat his bow. After he had disappeared at the other side of the door, the lady heard his outburst of laughter once again. It grew fainter as he hurried off to (she hoped) the kitchen.

Kitty Clive laughed, also, as she seated herself carefully on the settle, for it was a piece of furniture whose cushions required to be tenderly treated.

“And this is real fame,” she murmured. “To be 'our Kitty' to a hundred thousand men and women is my ambition—a laudable one, too, I swear—one worth struggling for—worth fighting Davy for, and Davy Garrick takes a deal of fighting. He has got more of it from Kitty Clive than he bargained for.”

The recollection of her constant bickerings with David Garrick seemed to offer her a good deal of satisfaction. It is doubtful if David Garrick's recollection of the same incidents would have been equally pleasing to him; for Kitty Clive was very annoying, especially when she got the better of her manager in any matter upon which he tried to get the better of her, and those occasions were frequent.

She remained on the settle smiling now and again, and giving a laugh at intervals as she thought of how she had worsted David, as his namesake had worsted the champion of Gath. But soon she became grave.

“I should be ashamed of myself,” she muttered. “David Garrick is the only one of the whole crew at the Lane that never varies. He 's the only one that 's always at his best. God forgive me for the way. I sometimes try to spoil his scenes, for he 's worth Quinn, Macklin, and Barry bound up in one; only why does he keep his purse-strings so close? Ah, if he only had a pint of Irish blood in his veins.”

She yawned, for her contests with Garrick did not cause her any great concern; and then she tucked up her feet upon the settle and hummed an air from the Beggars' Opera. Hearing the sound of wheels she paused, listening.

“Sure it can't be the coach with my brother yet awhile,” said she. “Ah, no, 't is the sound of a chaise, not a coach.” She resumed her lilting of the air; but once again it was interrupted. Just outside the door of the room there was the sound of an altercation. The voice of the landlord was heard, apparently remonstrating with a very self-assertive person.

“I know my rights, sir, let me tell you,” this person shouted. “Lady me no ladies, sir; I have a right to enter the room—'t is a public room. Zounds, sir, cannot you perceive that I am a gentleman, if I am an actor?”

“I'll dare swear he could n't,” muttered Mrs. Clive.

“Nay, sir, you shall not intrude on the privacy of a lady,” came the voice of the landlord.

“Out of the way, sirrah,” the other cried, and at the same moment the door was flung open, and a tall young man wearing a travelling cloak and boots strode into the room followed by the landlord, at whom he turned scowling at every step.

“Madam, I give you my word that I am not to blame; the gentleman would come in,” cried the landlord.

“That will do, sir,” said the stranger. “I myself will make whatever apology may be needed. I flatter myself that I have had to make many apologies before now.”

“Madam,” continued the landlord, “I told him that you—”

“That will do, Boniface!” cried the other, standing between the landlord and Mrs. Clive, who had risen. Then giving a smirk and a flourishing bow, he said: “Madam, you look to be a sensible woman.”

“I vow, sir,” said Kitty, “I have never been accused of being sensible before. If you cannot pay a woman a better compliment than to call her sensible, you would be wise to refrain from the attempt to flatter her.”

The pause that followed was broken by the self-satisfied chuckle of the landlord. He seemed to take credit to himself for Kitty's sally. He looked at the stranger, then at the lady; his face puckered with a smile. Then he walked to the door, and gave another chuckle as he glanced round with his hand on the door.

“Mistress Kitty has taken the measure of my fine gentleman,” he muttered, with a shrewd wink; “there's no need for me here.”

His chuckle broadened into a guffaw as he went down the passage, having closed the door.

“Pray, madam, be not offended,” the man who was facing Kitty managed to say, after an interval. “If I called you sensible, I most humbly apologise. No offence was meant, madam.”

“I believe that, sir; but no woman likes to be called sensible. You may call one a silly piece, a romp, or a heartless coquette without offence; but never a sensible woman.”

“I forgot myself for the moment, madam, owing to the treatment I received at the hands of that bumpkin Boniface. I am, in what is doubtless your condition—awaiting the coach, and I objected to be relegated to the kitchen.”

“Faith, sir,” said Kitty, with a laugh, as she returned to the settle, “I have passed some pleasant enough hours in a kitchen.”

“And so have I, madam, when the wenches were well favoured,” said the man, assuming the sly look of a man who had seen life. [Men who fancied they knew the world were as plentiful in the last century as they are in the present.] “Yes, madam; but then I went into the kitchen by choice, not on compulsion.”

“Maybe you left on compulsion; kitchen wenches have strong arms, sir,” remarked Kitty.

“Nay, nay, madam, Jack Bates—my name, madam—has always been a favourite with the wenches.”

“The kitchen wenches?”

“Zounds, madam, a wench is a wench, whether in the kitchen or the parlour, Oh, I know woman thoroughly: I have studied her. Woman is a delightful branch of education.”

“Oh, sir!” cried Kitty, sinking in a curtesy with the look of mock demureness with which she was accustomed to fascinate her audiences at Drury Lane.

Mr. Bates was fascinated by that look. He smiled good-naturedly, waving his hat as if to deprecate the suggestion that he meant to be a gay dog.

“Nay, be not fluttered, fair one,” he cried with a smirk. “I protest that I am a gentleman.”

“Oh, I breathe again,” said Kitty, rising to the surface, so to speak, after her curtesy, “A gentleman? I should never have guessed it. I fancied I heard you assert that you were an actor—just the opposite, you know.”

“So I am, madam. I am an actor,” said Mr. Bates. Sharp though Kitty's sarcasm was, it glanced off him.

Kitty assumed a puzzled look. Then she pretended that his meaning had dawned on her.

“Oh, I see; you mean, sir, that you are the actor of the part of a gentleman. Faith, sir, the part might have been better cast.”

“I hope that I am a gentleman first, and an actor afterwards, madam,” said Mr. Bates, with some measure of dignity.

“In that case, I presume you were appearing in the former rôle before you arrived at the inn,” said Kitty, whose sarcasm was at no time deficient in breadth.

Even Mr. Bates was beginning to appreciate her last sally, when she added, “I do not remember having seen your name in a bill of any of the London playhouses, Mr. Bates.”

“I have never appeared in London, madam,” said Mr. Bates, “and, so far as I can gather, I have not lost much by remaining in the country.”

“Nay, but think what the playgoers of London have lost, Mr. Bates,” said Kitty solemnly.

“I do think of it,” cried the man. “Yes, I swear to you that I do. When I hear of the upstarts now in vogue I feel tempted sometimes to put my pride in my pocket and appear in London.”

“Before starting in London, a person needs to have his pockets full of something besides pride,” said Kitty. “There are other ways of making a fortune besides appearing on the London stage. Why should men come to London to act when they may become highwaymen in the country—ay, or inn-keepers—another branch of the same profession?”

“It is clear, madam, that you have no high opinion of the stage. To let you into a secret—neither have I.” Mr. Bates' voice sank to a whisper, and he gave a confidential wink or two while making this confession.

Kitty was now truly surprised. Most actors of the stamp of Mr. Bates, whom she had met, had a profound belief in the art of acting, and particularly in themselves as exponents of that art.

“What, sir!” she cried, “are you not an actor on your own confession, whatever the critics may say?”

“I admit it, my dear lady; but at the same time, I repeat that I have no faith in the stage. Acting is the most unconvincing of the arts. Is there ever a human being outside Bedlam who fancies that the stage hero is in earnest?”

“I should say that the force of the illusion is largely dependent upon the actor,” said Kitty.

“Nothing of the sort, I assure you,” said Bates, with a pitying smile—the smile of the professor for the amateur. “The greatest of actors—nay, even I myself, madam, fail to carry an audience along with me so as to make my hearers lose sight of the sham. What child would be imposed on by the sufferings of the stage hero or heroine? What school miss would fail to detect the ring of falsehood in the romance of what authors call their plots?”

“You fancy that everyone should be capable of detecting the difference between a woman's account of her real woes and an actress's simulation of such woes?”

“That is my contention, madam. The truth has a ring about it that cannot be simulated by even the best actress.”

“Dear, dear!” cried Kitty, lifting up her hands. “What a wonder it is that any persons can be prevailed upon to go evening after evening to the playhouses! Why, I myself go—yes, frequently. Indeed—perhaps I should blush to confess it—I am a constant attender at Drury Lane. I do not believe I should be able to live without going to the playhouse!”

“Tell the truth, madam,” cried Mr. Bates, stretching out an eloquent forefinger at her as she sat on the settle looking at her hands on her lap, “have you ever sat out an entire play?”

Kitty looked up and laughed loud and long, so that Mr. Bates felt greatly flattered. He began to believe that he had just said a very clever thing.

“Well, there I allow that you have me,” said Kitty. “Sir, I admit that as a rule I do not remain seated during even an entire act of a play.”

“Ah,” cried Mr. Bates triumphantly, “I knew that you were a sensible woman, asking your pardon again for my presumption. Your confession bears out my contention; and let me tell you that, on the stage, matters, so far from improving, are steadily degenerating. I hear that that young man Garrick is now more in vogue than that fine old actor, Mr. Quin. Think of it, madam! A wine merchant they say this Garrick was. Have you ever seen him?”

“Oh, yes,” said Kitty; “I have seen him.”

“And what may he be like?”

“Mr. Garrick is like no one, and no one is like Mr. Garrick,” said Kitty warmly.

“Ah!” Mr. Bates' lips were curled with a sneer that caused Kitty's feet to tap the floor nervously. “Ah! A little fellow, I understand—not up to my shoulder.”

“Physically, perhaps not,” Kitty replied. “But the stature of Mr. Garrick varies. I have seen him tower over every one on the stage—over every one in the playhouse; and again I have seen him dwindle until he was no higher than a child.”

Mr. Bates looked surprised.

“How does he manage that? A stage trick, I expect.”

“I dare say 't is so—merely that stage trick—genius.”

“He could not deceive me: I would take his measure,” said Mr. Bates, with a shrewd smirk.

“Still, I have heard that even the players beside him on the stage are sometimes carried away with the force of his acting,” said Kitty.

“A paltry excuse for forgetting their lines!” sneered Mr. Bates. “Ah! no actor could make a fool of me!”

“Would anyone think it necessary to improve on Nature's handiwork in this respect?” asked Kitty demurely.

“How?” For a moment Mr. Bates had his doubts as to whether or not the lady meant to pass a compliment upon him. The demure look upon her face reassured him. “You are right, madam; they could easily see what I am,” he said, tapping his chest.

“They could, indeed, sir,” said Kitty, more demurely than ever.

“I do not doubt, mind you, that there is a certain superficial ability about this Mr. Garrick,” resumed Mr. Bates in a condescending way.

“I am sure that Mr. Garrick would feel flattered could he but know that he had the good opinion of Mr. Bates,” remarked Kitty.

“Yes, I know that I am generous,” said Mr. Bates. “But this Garrick—I wonder what his Hamlet is like.”

“It is like nothing, sir: it is Hamlet,” cried Kitty.

“You have seen it? What is he like when the ghost enters? I have made that scene my own.”

Kitty sprang from the settle.

“Like?” she said. “What is he like? He is like a man in the presence of a ghost at first, and then—then the ghost becomes more substantial than he. You hear a sudden cry—he stands transfixed with horror—you see that he is not breathing, and he makes you one with himself. You cannot breathe. You feel that his hand is on your heart. You are in the power of his grasp. He can do what he pleases with you. If he tightens his grasp you will never breathe again in this world. There is a terrible pause—he draws his breath—he allows you to draw yours; but you feel in that long silence you have been carried away to another world—you are in a place of ghosts—there is nothing real of all that is about you—you have passed into a land of shadows, and you are aware of a shadow voice that can thrill a thousand men and women as though they were but one person:—

“'Angels and ministers of grace defend us!'

“Bah! what a fool I am!” cried Kitty, flinging herself excitedly upon the settle. “Imitate Mr. Garrick? Sir, he is inimitable! One may imitate an actor of Hamlet. David Garrick is not that; he is, I repeat, Hamlet himself.”

Mr. Bates was breathing hard. There was a considerable pause before he found words to say,—“Madam, for one who has no stage training, I protest that you display some power. You have almost persuaded me to admire another actor's Hamlet—a thing unheard of on the stage. I, myself, play the part of the Prince of Denmark. It would gratify me to be permitted to rehearse a scene in your presence. You would then see on what points Mr. Garrick resembles me.”

“Oh, lord!” muttered Kitty, making a face behind Mr. Bates' back.

“There is the scene at the grave. I am reckoned amazing in that scene.”

“Amazing? I do not doubt it.”

“I wonder how Mr. Garrick acts the grave scene.”

“Oh, sir, 't is his humour to treat it paradoxically.” Kitty was now herself again. “He does not treat the grave scene gravely but merrily.”


“Why not? Novelty is everything in these days. Does not Mr. Macklin make Shylock a serious and not a comic character? An innovation on the stage draws the town.”

“Faith, madam, to act the grave scene in a burst of merriment is past an innovation.”

“Not at all, sir. With Mr. Garrick it seems quite natural. He is one of those actors who are superior to nature. I am sure you have met some such.”

“I never met one who was otherwise.”

“Ah, then you will see how Mr. Garrick could enter upon the scene, beginning to play bowls with Horatio, using skulls for the game; this goes on for some time, while they quarrel on the score of the score. They fling their skulls at one another, and then they take to fencing with two thigh bones which they pick up. Hamlet runs Horatio through with his bone, and he falls atop of the first grave-digger, who has been watching the fight, and in pantomime—much is done by pantomime nowadays—laying odds on Hamlet. Both topple over into the grave, and Hamlet stands on the brink, convulsed with laughter. This, you observe, gives extra point to Hamlet's enquiry, 'Whose grave is that, sirrah?' and certainly extraordinary point to the man's reply, 'Mine, sir.' Has it ever occurred to you to act the scene after that fashion?”

“Never, madam—never, I swear,” cried Mr. Bates heartily.

“Ah, there you see is the difference between Mr. Garrick and you,” said Kitty. “Do you bring on Hamlet's Irish servant, Mr. Bates?”

“Hamlet's Irish servant?”

“Is it possible that you have not yet followed the new reading in the scene where Hamlet comes upon the king praying?”

“I know the scene,” cried Mr. Bates, throwing himself into an attitude as he began: “Oh, my offense is rank; it smells to heaven!”

“That is it,” cried Kitty, interrupting him. “Well, then Hamlet appears with his Irish servant.”

“'Tis the first I've heard of him.”

“Let it not be the last.'T is a new reading. Hamlet enters, sees the king, and then turns to his Irish servant saying, 'Now might I do it, Pat'—the man's name is Patrick, you perceive?”

“Madam, a more ridiculous innovation I protest I never heard of,” said Mr. Bates.

“By my faith, sir, 't is not more ridiculous than some stage innovations that I could name,” said Kitty.

“I could understand Kitty Clive introducing such a point into one of the farces in which I hear she is a merry baggage, but—”

“You have never seen Kitty Clive then?”

“Never, but I hear she is a romp. Are you an admirer of hers, madam?”

“Sir, she has no more devoted admirer than myself,” said Kitty, looking at the man straight in the face.

“Is she not a romp?”

“Oh, surely, a sad, sad romp. She has by her romping, saved many a play from being damned.”

“She is so great a favorite with playgoers, I doubt her ability,” said Mr. Bates. “I doubt if she could move me. What is the nature of her merriment?”

“Extravagance, sir, extravagance. She bounces on as a hoyden, and pulls a long face like this”—even Mr. Bates roared at Kitty's long face—“behind the back of the very proper gentleman who has come to woo her. She catches the point of his sword sheath so that when he tries to turn he almost falls. She pretends that he has struck her with his sword and she howls with pain. He hastens to comfort her—down goes a chair, and he topples over it. 'Murder, murder!' she cries, and snatches up the shovel as if to defend herself. My gentleman recovers, and hastens to assure her of his honourable intentions. She keeps him off with her shovel. He drops his hat, and she shovels it up and runs around the room to throw it on the fire. He follows her over tables, chairs, and a sofa or two. 'Tally ho!' she cries and gives a view-halloo. Round the room they go, and just as he is at the point of catching her she uses the shovel as a racket, and sends the hat flying, and at the same stroke, sends her lover sprawling.”

“Madam, she is a vulgar jade, I swear,” cried Mr. Bates. He was more out of breath than Kitty, for she had acted the part so vividly that she had forced him involuntarily to take the part of the hoyden's lover, and both he and his hat had suffered. “That scene which you have described bears out my argument that the more outrageous a scene is, the better pleased are the public. Women do not make fools of men in real life.”

“Indeed, sir?”

“No; there you have the absurdity of the stage. Authors set reason and sense at defiance, daily. Shakespeare is one of the worst offenders.”

“What, Shakespeare?”

“Oh, believe me, madam, Shakespeare is a greatly over-rated writer. Look, for instance, at his play of 'Romeo and Juliet': Romeo sees the lady, exchanges a few words with her, and falls at once in love with her. He has only to rant beneath her window by the light of the moon, and forthwith she agrees to marry him, and sure enough, they are married the very next day. Good lord! Would Shakespeare have us believe that men can be so easily fooled? Our moderns have not greatly improved upon Shakespeare.”

“I am with you there, sir, heart and soul.”

“No, they still outrage sense by their plots. A man meets a woman quite by chance. She tells him a cock and bull story that any fool could see outrages probability; but he is captivated in a moment. He falls on his knees before her and vows that she has only to speak to make him the happiest of mortals. All this is, madam, I need scarcely say, quite monstrous and unnatural. Such a proceeding could not occur outside Bedlam.”

“This gentleman should be taught a lesson,” said Kitty to herself, as she watched Mr. Bates swaggering across the room. She became thoughtful for a moment, and then smiled—only for a second, however; then she became grave and her voice faltered as she said: “Sir, I protest that I never before knew—nay, felt—what real eloquence was—eloquence wedded to reason.”

“Nay, madam,” smirked Mr. Bates.

“'T is the truth, sir. May I hope that you will not think me too forward, if I venture to express a humble opinion, sir?” Her voice was low, and it certainly faltered more than before.

“I shall treasure that opinion, madam,” said Mr. Bates. That soft voice produced its impression upon him. He felt that he was in the presence of an amazingly fine woman.

“You will not be offended, sir, if I say that I feel it to be a great pity that one who has such eloquence at his command should spend his time merely repeating the phrases—the very inferior phrases—of others. The Senate, sir, should be your stage. You are not angry, sir?”

She had laid a hand upon his arm and was looking pleadingly up to his face.

“Angry?” cried Mr. Bates, patting her hand, at which she turned her eyes, modestly from his face to the ground.

“Angry? Nay, dear lady, you have but expressed what I have often thought.”

“I am so glad that you are not offended by my presumption, sir,” said Kitty, removing her hand—Mr. Bates did not seem willing to let it go. “If you were offended, I protest that I should be the most wretched of women.”

Mr. Bates marked how her voice broke, He took a step after her, as she went to the settle.

“Dear madam, you deserve to be the happiest rather than the most wretched of your sex,” he said—his voice was also very soft and low.

Kitty turned to him, crying quickly: “And I should be so if—” here she sighed—it seemed to Mr. Bates quite involuntarily. “Pardon me: I—I—that is—sometimes the heart forces the lips to speak when they should remain silent. A woman is a simple creature, sir.”

“A woman is a very fascinating creature, I vow,” cried Mr. Bates, and he felt that he was speaking the truth.

“Ah, Mr. Bates, she has a heart: that is woman's weakness—her heart!” murmured Kitty.

“I protest that she has not a monopoly of that organ,” said Mr. Bates. “May not a man have a heart also, sweet one?”

“Alas!” sighed Kitty, “it has not been my lot to meet with any but those who are heartless. I have often longed—but why should I burden you with the story of my longings—of my sufferings?”

“Your woman's instinct tells you that you have at last met with a man who has a heart. I have a heart, dear creature. Was it my fate brought me into this room to-day? Was it my inscrutable destiny that led me to meet the most charming—”

“Pray, Mr. Bates, be merciful as you are strong!” cried Kitty, pressing one hand to her tumultuous bosom. “Do not compel a poor weak woman to betray her weakness: the conqueror should be merciful. What a voice is yours, sir! What poor woman could resist its melody? Oh, sir, forgive the tears of a weak, unhappy creature.”

She had thrown herself on the settle and had laid her head upon one of its arms.

In an instant he was beside her and had caught her hand.

“Nay, dear one, I cannot forgive the tears that dim those bright eyes,” he whispered in her ear. “You have had a past, madam?”

“Ah, sir,” cried Kitty, from the folds of her handkerchief, “all my life up to the present has been my past—that is why I weep.”

“Is it so sad as that? You have a story?”

“Should I tell it to you?” said Kitty, raising her head suddenly and looking at the face that was so near hers. “I will, I will—yes, I will trust you—you may be able to help me.”

“With my latest breath!” cried Mr. Bates.

“Sir, to be brief, I am a great heiress,” said Kitty, quite calmly. Mr. Bates started, his eyes brightened. “My uncle was trustee of my father's property—it is in two counties,” continued Kitty. “For some years after my father's death I had no reason for complaint. But then a change came. My uncle's son appeared upon the scene, and I soon perceived his true character—a ruined, dissolute scamp, I knew him to be, and when I rejected his advances with scorn, his father, who I fancied was my friend, commenced such a series of persecutions as would have broken a less ardent spirit than mine. They did not move me. They shut me up in a cold, dark dungeon and loaded these limbs of mine with fetters.”

“The infernal ruffians!”

“They fed me with bread and water. They tortured me by playing on the harpsichord outside my prison all the best known airs from the Beggars' Opera.


“Oh, I thought I should have gone mad—mad; but I knew that that was just what they wanted, in order that they might shut me up in Bedlam, and enjoy my property. I made a resolution not to go mad, and I have adhered to it ever since.”

“Noble girl!”

“At last the time came when I could stand their treatment no longer. I flung my iron fetters to the winds—I burst through the doors of my prison and rushed into the dining-hall where my two persecutors were carousing in their cups. They sprang up with a cry of horror when I appeared. My uncle's hand was upon the bell, when I felled him with a heavy glass decanter. With a yell—I hear it now—his son sprang upon me—he went down beneath the stroke of the ten-light chandelier which I hastily plucked down and hurled at him. I called for a horse and chaise. They were at the door in a moment and I fled all night. But alas! alas! I feel that my flight shall avail me nothing. They are on my track, and I shall be forced to marry at least one of them. But no, no, sooner than submit, with this dagger—”

She had sprung from her place and her hand was grasping something inside her bodice, when Mr. Bates caught her firmly by the wrist.

“You shall do nothing so impious, madam,” he cried.

“Who shall prevent me?” cried Kitty, struggling with him. “Who shall save me from my persecutors?”

“I, madam—I will do it!” cried Mr. Bates.

“You—how?” Kitty had now ceased to struggle.

“I will marry you myself!” shouted Mr. Bates, grasping both her hands.

“But only half an hour has passed since we met,” said Kitty, looking down.

“That is enough, madam, to convince me that my heart is yours. Sweet one, I throw myself at your feet. Let me be your protector. Let me hold you from your persecutors. Dearest lady, marry me and you are safe.”

“Thank heaven—thank heaven I have found a friend!” murmured Kitty.

“You agree?” said Mr. Bates, rising to his feet.

“Oh, sir, I am overcome with gratitude,” cried Kitty, throwing herself into his arms.

“An heiress—and mine,” Mr. Bates whispered.

“Mistress Clive, the gentleman has arrived—oh, lud! what has Kitty been up to?”

The landlord was standing at the door with his hands raised.

“'T is my brother, Jimmy Raftor,” said Kitty, coolly arranging the disordered hood of her cloak before the glass. “Jimmy is one of the best pistol-shots in all Ireland, and that's saying a good deal. Show the gentleman in, Mr. Landlord.”

Mr. Bates stood aghast. “Mistress Clive—not Kitty Clive of Drury Lane?” he faltered.

“I am Kitty Clive of Drury Lane, at your service, sir, if you should need another lesson to convince you that even the most ridiculous story, if plausibly told, will carry conviction to the most astute of men.”

Kitty Clive sank in a mock curtesy; the landlord roared with laughter; Mr. Bates stood amazed in the center of the room.

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