Imágenes de página
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

HAWKINS, ANTHONY HOPE, an English writer of fiction, known by his pen-name of “ Anthony Hope," was born in Hackney, February 9, 1863. He studied law and began the practice of his profession at the age of twenty-four. At first he only wrote for his own amusement, and his first two ventures in Men of Mark (1889); and Father Stafford (1890), were unsuccessful. He then wrote a number of short stories for the St. James Gazette, some of which were republished in a volume entitled Sport Royal (1893). His first success was Mr. Witt's Widow (1892). This was followed by A Change of Air (1893); The Dolly Dialogues ; Half a Hero ; The Prisoner of Zenda; The God in the Car; The Indiscretion of the Duchess, and Secret of Wardale Court (1894); and Chronicles of Count Antonio (1895); and A Little Wizard and Phroso (1896). In 1897 Mr. Hawkins made a tour of America to gather material for a new romance of modern American push.

Upon the appearance of The God in the Car, a writer in The Critic said of it :-" Here we find the large canvas of serious life brushed over with a firm hand, relentless in general outlines and details—telling the tragedy of a woman's love, and the price that ambition pays for its own gratification. In this story we meet not one or two, but several characters that are worth knowing, and

whom we will remember for many a day. Juggernaut, · The God in the Car,' is the incarnation of all the qualities and shortcomings of what the French are pleased to call the strugforlifer." It is true that the French have coined from our “ struggle-for-life," a word which they not only define by “lutte pour la vie," but refer to as itself a "nouvelle définition du mot assassin."


“My dear lord," said the Pasha after a glance round to see that nobody listened, “the conventions must be observed. Yesterday you had not committed the offences of which I regret to say you have now been guilty."

“The offences ? You amuse me, Pasha.”

“I don't grudge it you," said Mouraki. “Yes, the offences of aiding my prisoner--that lady- to escape, and-well, the death of Constantine is at least a matter for inquiry, isn't it? The man was a rogue, of course, but we must observe the law, my dear Wheatley. Besides-” He paused, then he added : “You mustn't grudge me my amusement either.”

Mouraki's sneers and jocularity had no power in themselves to anger me. Plainly he told me that he had employed Constantine to assassinate me; plainly he exposed to me the trick by which he had obtained a handle against me. Now to whom, if to any one, does a man like Mouraki Pasha reveal such things as these ? Why to men—and only to men—who will tell no tales.

"We've both lost a friend this morning, Pasha."

“ Constantine ? Ah, yes. Still-he's as well where he is just as well where he is.”

Apparently Mouraki did not think the matter worth his care. He had approached very near to Phroso now, leaning down toward her as she sat on a rock. Suddenly I heard a low cry of terror and “No, no," in horrified accents; but Mouraki, raising his voice a little, answered “Yes, yes.”

I strained my ears to hear ; nay, I half rose from

where I sat, and sank back only under the pointed hint of a soldier's bayonet. I could not hear the words, but a soft pleading murmur came from Phroso, a short relentless laugh from Mouraki, a silence, a shrug of Mouraki's shoulders. Then he turned and came across

to me.

“Ah, yes, yes,” he laughed. “And there is to be one more polite fiction, my dear lord."

“I believe I can guess it,” said I, meeting his eye ; " though the precise form of it I confess I don't understand.”

"Well, our lamented Constatine, who had much experience, but rather wanted imagination, was in favor of a fever. He told me that it was the usual device in Neopalia."

“ His wife died of it, I suppose ?” I believe I smiled as I put the question, great as was my peril.

“Oh, no; now that's unworthy of you. Never have a fiction when the truth will serve. Since he's dead, he murdered his wife. If he had lived, of course."

“Ah, then it would have been fever.”

“Precisely; we must adapt ourselves to circumstances. Now in case Don't you think the outraged patriotism of Neopalia ?” he suggested with a smile. "You bought the island-you a stranger. was very rash. These islanders are desperate fellows."

“That would have served with Constantine alive, but he's dead. Your patriot is gone, Pacha."

“ Alas, yes ; our good Constantine is dead. But there are others. There's a fellow whom I ought to hang."

“ Demetri ?" I asked, with a careless air.

“Well, yes, Demetri," smiled the Pasha. “Demetri is very open to reason. I hanged his brother three years


The little bay in which we were was surrounded by steep and precipitous cliffs except in one place. Here there was a narrow cleft ; the rocks did not rise abruptly; the ground sloped gradually upward as it receded from the beach. Just on this spot of gently rising ground Demetri sat, and the Pasha, having amused himself with me for as long as it pleased him, walked up to

Demetri. The fellow sprang to his feet and saluted Mouraki with great respect. Mouraki beckoned to him to come nearer, and began to speak to him.

I sat still where I was, under the bayonets of the soldiers, who faced me and had their backs to their commander. My eyes were fixed steadily on the pair who stood conferring on the slope ; and my mind was in a ferment. Scruples troubled me no more ; Mouraki himself had made them absurd. I read my only chance of life in the choice or caprice of the wild, passionate barbarian-he was little else—who stood with head meekly bowed and knife carelessly dangled in his hand. This man was he of whom Panayiota had spoken so mysteriously; he was the friend whom I had “more than I knew of ;” in his blood-feud with the Pasha, in his revengeful wrath, lay my chance. It was only a chance indeed, for the soldiers might kill me. But it was a chance, and there was no other. For if Mouraki won him over by promises or bribes, or intimidated him into doing his will, then Demetri would take the easier task,—that which carried no risk and did not involve his own death, as an attack on the Pasha almost certainly would. Would he be prudent and turn his hand against the single helpless man? Or would his longnursed rage stifle all care for himself and drive him against Mouraki? If so, if he chose that way, there was a glimmer of hope. I glanced at Phroso's motionless figure and pallid face: I glanced at the little boat that floated on the water (why had Demetri not beached it?); I glanced at the rope which bound it to the other

I boat : I measured the distance between the boat and myself ; I thrust my hand into the pocket of my coat and contrived to open the blade of my clasp-knife, which was now the only weapon left to me.

Mouraki spoke and smiled; he made no gesture, but there was just a movement of his eyes toward me; Demetri's eyes followed his for an instant, but would not dwell on my face. The Pasha spoke again ; Demetri shook his head, and Mouraki's face assumed a persuasive good-humored expression : Demetri glanced round apprehensively. The Pasha took him by the arm, and they went a few paces further up the slope, so as to be

« AnteriorContinuar »