List Of Contents | Contents of The Pursuit of the House-Boat, by John Bangs
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was willing to part with--ah--his sister."

"Well, your Majesty," began Kidd, hesitatingly, "you see it was this
way:  Sir Walter--er--did say that, but--ah--he--ah--but he added
that he of course merely judged--er--this man Bassanio's feelings by
his own in parting from his sister--"

"Did he say sister?" cried Elizabeth.

"Well--no--not in those words," shuffled Kidd, perceiving quickly
wherein his error lay, "but--ah--I jumped at the conclusion, seeing
his intense enthusiasm for the lady's beauty and--er--intellectual
qualities, that he referred to you, and it is from yourself that I
have gained my knowledge as to the fraternal, not to say sororal,
relationship that exists between you."

"That man's a diplomat from Diplomaville!" muttered Sir Henry Morgan,
who, with Abeuchapeta and Conrad, was listening at the port without.

"He is that," said Abeuchapeta, "but he can't last much longer.  He's
perspiring like a pitcher of ice-water on a hot day, and a spirit of
his size and volatile nature can't stand much of that without
evaporating.  If you will observe him closely you will see that his
left arm already has vanished into thin air."

"By Jove!" whispered Conrad, "that's a fact!  If they don't let up on
him he'll vanish.  He's getting excessively tenuous about the top of
his head."

All of which was only too true.  Subjected to a scrutiny which he had
little expected, the deceitful ambassador of the thieving band was
rapidly dissipating, and, as those without had so fearsomely noted,
was in imminent danger of complete sublimation, which, in the case of
one possessed of so little elementary purity, meant nothing short of
annihilation.  Fortunately for Kidd, however, his wonderful tact had
stemmed the tide of suspicion.  Elizabeth was satisfied with his
explanation, and in the minds of at least three of the most
influential ladies on board, Portia, Xanthippe, and Elizabeth, he had
become a creature worthy of credence, which meant that he had nothing
more to fear.

"I am prepared, your Majesty," said Elizabeth, addressing Cleopatra,
"to accept from this time on the gentleman's word.  The little that
he has already told us is hall-marked with truth.  I should like to
ask, however, one more question, and that is how our gentleman
friends expected to embark us upon this voyage without letting us
into the secret?"

"Oh, as for that," replied Kidd, with a deep-drawn sigh of relief,
for he too had noticed the gradual evaporation of his arm and the
incipient etherization of his cranium--"as for that, it was simple
enough.  There was to have been a day set apart for ladies' day at
the club, and when you were all on board we were quietly to weigh
anchor and start.  The fact that you had anticipated the day, of your
own volition, was telephoned by my scouts to me at my headquarters,
and that news was by me transmitted by messenger to Sir Walter at
Charon's Glen Island, where the long-talked-of fight between Samson
and Goliath was taking place.  Raleigh immediately replied, 'Good!
Start at once.  Paris first.  Unlimited credit.  Love to Elizabeth.'
Wherefore, ladies," he added, rising from his chair and walking to
the door--"wherefore you are here and in my care.  Make yourselves
comfortable, and with the aid of the fashion papers which you have
already received prepare yourselves for the joys that await you.
With the aid of Madame Recamier and Baedeker's Paris, which you will
find in the library, it will be your own fault if when you arrive
there you resemble a great many less fortunate women who don't know
what they want."

With these words Kidd disappeared through the door, and fainted in
the arms of Sir Henry Morgan.  The strain upon him had been too

"A charming fellow," said Portia, as the pirate disappeared.

"Most attractive," said Elizabeth.

"Handsome, too, don't you think?" asked Helen of Troy.

"And truthful beyond peradventure," observed Xanthippe, as she
reflected upon the words the captain had attributed to Socrates.  "I
didn't believe him at first, but when he told me what my sweet-
tempered philosopher had said, I was convinced."

"He's a sweet child," interposed Mrs. Noah, fondly.  "One of my
favorite grandchildren."

"Which makes it embarrassing for me to say," cried Cassandra,
starting up angrily, "that he is a base caitiff!"

Had a bomb been dropped in the middle of the room, it could not have
created a greater sensation than the words of Cassandra.

"What?" cried several voices at once.  "A caitiff?"

"A caitiff with a capital K," retorted Cassandra.  "I know that,
because while he was telling his story I was listening to it with one
ear and looking forward into the middle of next week with the other--
I mean the other eye--and I saw--"

"Yes, you saw?" cried Cleopatra.

"I saw that he was deceiving us.  Mark my words, ladies, he is a base
caitiff," replied Cassandra--"a base caitiff."

"What did you see?" cried Elizabeth, excitedly.

"This," said Cassandra, and she began a narration of future events
which I must defer to the next chapter.  Meanwhile his associates
were endeavoring to restore the evaporated portions of the prostrated
Kidd's spirit anatomy by the use of a steam-atomizer, but with
indifferent success.  Kidd's training had not fitted him for an
intellectual combat with superior women, and he suffered accordingly.


"It is with no desire to interrupt my friend Cassandra
unnecessarily," said Mrs. Noah, as the prophetess was about to
narrate her story, "that I rise to beg her to remember that, as an
ancestress of Captain Kidd, I hope she will spare a grandmother's
feelings, if anything in the story she is about to tell is improper
to be placed before the young.  I have been so shocked by the stories
of perfidy and baseness generally that have been published of late
years, that I would interpose a protest while there is yet time if
there is a line in Cassandra's story which ought to be withheld from
the public; a protest based upon my affection for posterity, and in
the interests of morality everywhere."

"You may rest easy upon that score, my dear Mrs. Noah," said the
prophetess.  "What I have to say would commend itself, I am sure,
even to the ears of a British matron; and while it is as complete a
demonstration of man's perfidy as ever was, it is none the less as
harmless a little tale as the Dottie Dimple books or any other more
recent study of New England character."

"Thank you for the load your words have lifted from my mind," said
Mrs. Noah, settling back in her chair, a satisfied expression upon
her gentle countenance.  "I hope you will understand why I spoke, and
withal why modern literature generally has been so distressful to me.
When you reflect that the world is satisfied that most of man's
criminal instincts are the result of heredity, and that Mr. Noah and
I are unable to shift the responsibility for posterity to other
shoulders than our own, you will understand my position.  We were
about the most domestic old couple that ever lived, and when we see
the long and varied assortment of crimes that are cropping out
everywhere in our descendants it is painful to us to realize what a
pair of unconsciously wicked old fogies we must have been."

"We all understand that," said Cleopatra, kindly; "and we are all
prepared to acquit you of any responsibility for the advanced
condition of wickedness to-day.  Man has progressed since your time,
my dear grandma, and the modern improvements in the science of crime
are no more attributable to you than the invention of the telephone
or the oyster cocktail is attributable to your husband."

"Thank you kindly," murmured the old lady, and she resumed her
knitting upon a phantom tam-o'-shanter, which she was making as a
Christmas surprise for her husband.

"When Captain Kidd began his story," said Cassandra, "he made one
very bad mistake, and yet one which was prompted by that courtesy
which all men instinctively adopt when addressing women.  When he
entered the room he removed his hat, and therein lay his fatal error,
if he wished to convince me of the truth of his story, for with his
hat removed I could see the workings of his mind.  While you ladies
were watching his lips or his eyes, some of you taking in the
gorgeous details of his dress, all of you hanging upon his every
word, I kept my eye fixed firmly upon his imagination, and I saw,

"How extraordinary!" cried Elizabeth.

"Yes--and fortunate," said Cassandra.  "Had I not done so, a week
hence we should, every one of us, have been lost in the surging
wickedness of the city of Paris."

"But, Cassandra," said Trilby, who was anxious to return once more to
the beautiful city by the Seine, "he told us we were going to Paris."

"Of course he did," said Madame Recamier, "and in so many words.
Certainly he was not drawing upon his imagination there."

"And one might be lost in a very much worse place," put in Marguerite
de Valois, "if, indeed, it were possible to lose us in Paris at all.
I fancy that I know enough about Paris to find my way about."

"Humph!" ejaculated Cassandra.  "What a foolish little thing you are!
You don't imagine that the Paris of to-day is the Paris of your time,
or even the Paris of that sweet child Trilby's time, do you?  If you
do you are very much mistaken.  I almost wish I had not warned you of
your danger and had let you go, just to see those eyes of yours open
with amazement at the change.  You'd find your Louvre a very
different sort of a place from what it used to be, my dear lady.
Those pleasing little windows through which your relations were wont
in olden times to indulge in target practice at people who didn't go
to their church are now kept closed; the galleries which used to
swarm with people, many of whom ought to have been hanged, now swarm
with pictures, many of which ought not to have been hung; the romance
which clung about its walls is as much a part of the dead past as
yourselves, and were you to materialize suddenly therein you would
find yourselves jostled and hustled and trodden upon by the curious
from other lands, with Argus eyes taking in five hundred pictures a
minute, and traversing those halls at a rate of speed at which
Mercury himself would stand aghast."

"But my beloved Tuileries?" cried Marie Antoinette.

"Has been swallowed up by a play-ground for the people, my dear,"
said Cassandra, gently.  "Paris is no place for us, and it is the
intention of these men, in whose hands we are, to take us there and
then desert us.  Can you imagine anything worse than ourselves, the
phantoms of a glorious romantic past, basely deserted in the streets
of a wholly strange, superficial, material city of to-day?  What do
you think, Elizabeth, would be your fate if, faint and famished, you
begged for sustenance at an English door to-day, and when asked your
name and profession were to reply, 'Elizabeth, Queen of England'?"

"Insane asylum," said Elizabeth, shortly.

"Precisely.  So in Paris with the rest of us," said Cassandra.

"How do you know all this?" asked Trilby, still unconvinced.

"I know it just as you knew how to become a prima donna," said
Cassandra.  "I am, however, my own Svengali, which is rather
preferable to the patent detachable hypnotizer you had.  I hypnotize
myself, and direct my mind into the future.  I was a professional
forecaster in the days of ancient Troy, and if my revelations had
been heeded the Priam family would, I doubt not, still be doing
business at the old stand, and Mr. AEneas would not have grown round-
shouldered giving his poor father a picky-back ride on the opening
night of the horse-show, so graphically depicted by Virgil."

"I never heard about that," said Trilby.  "It sounds like a very
funny story, though."

"Well, it wasn't so humorous for some as it was for others," said
Cassandra, with a sly glance at Helen.  "The fact is, until you
mentioned it yourself, it never occurred to me that there was much
fun in any portion of the Trojan incident, excepting perhaps the
delirium tremens of old Laocoon, who got no more than he deserved for
stealing my thunder.  I had warned Troy against the Greeks, and they
all laughed at me, and said my eye to the future was strabismatic;
that the Greeks couldn't get into Troy at all, even if they wanted
to.  And then the Greeks made a great wooden horse as a gift for the
Trojans, and when I turned my X-ray gaze upon it I saw that it
contained about six brigades of infantry, three artillery regiments,
and sharp-shooters by the score.  It was a sort of military Noah's
Ark; but I knew that the prejudice against me was so strong that
nobody would believe what I told them.  So I said nothing.  My
prophecies never came true, they said, failing to observe that my
warning as to what would be was in itself the cause of their non-
fulfilment.  But desiring to save Troy, I sent for Laocoon and told
him all about it, and he went out and announced it as his own private
prophecy; and then, having tried to drown his conscience in strong
waters, he fell a victim to the usual serpentine hallucination, and
everybody said he wasn't sober, and therefore unworthy of belief.
The horse was accepted, hauled into the city, and that night orders
came from hindquarters to the regiments concealed inside to march.
They marched, and next morning Troy had been removed from the map;
ninety per cent of the Trojans died suddenly, and AEneas, grabbing up
his family in one hand and his gods in the other, went yachting for
several seasons, ultimately settling down in Italy.  All of this
could have been avoided if the Trojans would have taken the hint from
my prophecies.  They preferred, however, not to do it, with the
result that to-day no one but Helen and myself knows even where Troy
was, and we'll never tell."

"It is all true," said Helen, proudly.  "I was the woman who was at
the bottom of it all, and I can testify that Cassandra always told
the truth, which is why she was always so unpopular.  When anything
that was unpleasant happened, after it was all over she would turn
and say, sweetly, 'I told you so.'  She was the original 'I told you
so' nuisance, and of course she had the newspapyruses down on her,
because she never left them any sensation to spring upon the public.
If she had only told a fib once in a while, the public would have had
more confidence in her."

"Thank you for your endorsement," said Cassandra, with a nod at
Helen.  "With such testimony I cannot see how you can refrain from
taking my advice in this matter; and I tell you, ladies, that this
man Kidd has made his story up out of whole cloth; the men of Hades
had no more to do with our being here than we had; they were as much
surprised as we are to find us gone.  Kidd himself was not aware of
our presence, and his object in taking us to Paris is to leave us
stranded there, disembodied spirits, vagrant souls with no familiar
haunts to haunt, no place to rest, and nothing before us save
perpetual exile in a world that would have no sympathy for us in our

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