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What's Bred In the Bone
Grant Allen



For a day or two more, Granville remained seriously ill in the
dirty hut. At the end of that time, weak and wasted as he was, he
insisted upon getting up and setting out alone on his long march

It was a wild resolve. He was utterly unfit for it. The hospitable
Namaqua, whose wives had nursed him well through that almost hopeless
illness, did his best to persuade the rash Englishman from so mad
a course, by gestures and entreaties, in his own mute language.
But Granville was obstinate. He would NOT sit down quietly and
be robbed like this of the fruit of his labours. He would not be
despoiled. He would not be trampled upon. He would make for the
coast, if he staggered in like a skeleton, and would confront the
robber with his own vile crime, be it at Angra Pequena, or Cape
Town, or London, or Tilgate.

In short, he would do much as Guy himself had done when he discovered
Montague Nevitt's theft of the six thousand. He would follow the
villain till he ran him to earth, and would tax him at last to
his face with the open proofs of his consummate treachery. What's
bred in the bone will out in the blood. The Kelmscott strain worked
alike its own way in each of them.

The Namaqua, to be sure, tried in vain to explain to Granville by
elaborate signs that the other white man had given orders to the
contrary. The other white man had strictly enjoined upon him not to
let the invalid escape from his hut on any pretext whatever. The
other white man had promised him a reward, a very large reward--money,
guns, ammunition--if he kept him safely and didn't allow him to
escape. Granville Kelmscott smiled to himself a bitter, cynical,
smile. Poor confiding savage! He didn't know Guy as well as he,
his brother, did.

And yet, in the midst of it all, in spite of the revulsion, Granville
was conscious now and then of some little ingratitude somewhere to
his half-brother's memory. After all, Guy had shown him time and
again no small kindness. Some excuse should be made for a man who
saves his own life first in very dire extremities. But none, no,
none for one who has the incredible and inhuman meanness to rob his
own brother of his hard-earned gams, in a strange wild land, when
he thinks him dying.

For it was the robbery, not the desertion, Granville could never
forgive. The man who was capable of doing that basest of acts was
capable also of murder or any crime in the decalogue.

So the fevered white man rose at last one morning on his shrunken
limbs, and staggered, as best he might, from his protector's hut
in a wild impulse of resolution, on his mad journey seaward. When
the Namaqua saw nothing on earth would induce him to remain, he
shouldered his arms and went out beside him, fully equipped for
fight with matchlock and assegai. Not that the savage made any
undue pretence to a purely personal devotion to the belated white
man. On the contrary, he signified to Granville with many ingenious
signs that he was afraid of losing the great reward he had been
promised, if once he let the invalid get out of his sight unattended.

Granville smiled once more that bitter smile of new-born cynicism.
Well, let the fellow follow him if he liked! He would reward
him himself if ever they reached the coast in safety. And in any
case, it was better to go attended by a native. An interpreter who
can communicate in their own tongue with the people through whose
territory you are going to pass is always, useful in a savage

How Granville got over that terrible journey seaward he could never
tell. He crawled on and on, supported by the faithful Namaqua with
unfailing good-humour, over that endless veldt, for three long days
of wretched footsore marching. And for three long nights he slept,
or lay awake, under the clear desert stars, on the open ground of
barren Namaqua land. It was a terrible time. Worn and weary with
the fever, Granville was wholly unfit for any kind of travelling.
Nothing but the iron constitution of the Kelmscotts could ever
have stood so severe an ordeal. But the son of six generations of
soldiers, who had commanded in the fever-stricken flats of Walcheren,
or followed Wellesley through the jungles of tropical India, or
forced their way with Napier into the depths of Abyssinia, was not
to be daunted even by the nameless horrors of that South African
desert. Granville still endured, for three days and nights, and
was ready to march, or crawl on, once more, upon the fourth morning.

Here, however, his Namaqua, guide, with every appearance of terror,
made strong warnings of danger. The country beyond, he signified
by strange gestures, lay in the hands of a hostile tribe, hereditarily
at war with his fellow-clansmen. He didn't even know whether the
other white man, with the diamonds round his waist, had got safely
through, or whether the hostile tribe beyond the frontier had
assegaied him and "eaten him up," as the picturesque native phrase
goes. It was difficult enough for even a strong warrior to force
his way through that district with a good company of followers;
impossible for a single weak invalid like Granville, attended only
by one poor, ill-armed Namaqua.

So the savage seemed to say in his ingenious pantomime. If they
went on, they'd be killed and eaten up resistlessly. If they stopped
they might pull through. They must wait and camp there. For what
they were to wait, Granville hadn't the faintest conception. But
the Namaqua insisted upon it, and Granville was helpless as a child
in his hands. The man was alarmed, apparently, for his promised
reward. If Granville insisted, he showed in very frank dumb show,
why--a thrust with the assegai explained the rest most persuasively.
Granville still had his revolver, to be sure, and a few rounds
of ball cartridge. But he was too weak to show fight; the savage
overmastered him.

They were seated on a stony ridge or sharp hog's back, overlooking
the valley of a dry summer stream. The watershed on which they sat
separated, with its chine of rugged rocks, the territory of the
two rival tribes. But the Namaqua was evidently very little afraid
that the enemy might transgress the boundaries of his fellow-tribesmen.
He dared not himself go beyond the jagged crest of the ridge; but
he seemed to think it pretty certain the people of the other tribe
wouldn't, for their part, in turn come across to molest him. He sat
down there doggedly, as if expecting something or other to turn up
in the course of time; and more than once he made signs to Granville
which the Englishman interpreted to mean that after so many days
and nights from some previous event unspecified, somebody would
arrive on the track from the coast at the point of junction between
the hostile races.

Granville was gazing at the Namaqua in the vain attempt to interpret
these signs more fully to himself, when, all of a sudden, an
unexpected noise in the valley below attracted his attention. He
pricked up his ears, Impossible! Incredible! It couldn't be--yes,
it was--the sharp hiss of firearms!

At the very same moment the Namaqua leapt to his feet in sudden
alarm, and, shading his eyes with his dusky hand, gazed intently
in front of him. For a minute or so he stood still, with brows knit
and neck craning. Then he called out something in an excited tone
two or three times over in his own tongue to Granville. The Englishman
stared in the same direction, but could make out nothing definite
just at first, in the full glare of the sunlight. But the Namaqua,
with a cry of joy, held up his two fingers as before, to symbolize
the two white men, and pointed with one of them to his guest, while
with the other he indicated some object in the valley, nodding
many times over. Granville seized his meaning at once. Could it be
true, what he said in this strange mute language? Could relief be
at hand? Could the firing beneath show that Guy was returning?

As he looked and strained his eyes, peering down upon the red plain,
under the shadow of his open palm, the objects by the water-course
grew gradually clearer. Granville could make out now that a party
of natives, armed with spears and matchlocks, was attacking some
little encampment on the bank of the dry torrent. The small force
in the encampment was returning the fire with great vigour and
spirit, though apparently over-powered by the superior numbers of
their swarming assailants. Even as Granville looked, their case grew
more desperate. A whole horde of black men seemed to be making an
onset on some small white object, most jealously guarded, round
which the defenders of the camp rallied with infinite energy. At the
head of the little band of strangers, a European in a pith helmet
was directing the fire, and fighting hard himself for the precious
white object. The rest were blacks, he thought, in half-civilized
costume. Granville's heart gave a bound as the leader sprang forth
upon one approaching savage. His action, as he leapt, stamped the
man at once. There was Kelmscott in the leap. Granville knew in a
second it was indeed Guy Waring.

The Namaqua recognised him too, and pointed enthusiastically
forward. Granville saw what he meant. To the front! To the front!
If there was fighting to be done, let them help their friends. Let
them go forward and claim the great reward offered.

Next moment, with a painful thrill of shame and remorse,
the Englishman saw what was the nature of the object they were so
jealously guarding. His heart stood still within him. It was a sort
of sedan chair, or invalid litter, borne on poles by four native
porters. Talk about coals of fire! Granville Kelmscott hardly knew
how to forgive himself for his unworthy distrust. Then Guy must
have reached the coast in safety, after leaving him in charge of
the Namaqua and fighting his way through, and now he was on his
way back to the interior again, with a sufficient escort and a
palanquin to fetch him.

Even as he looked, the assailants closed in more fiercely than
ever on the faltering little band. One of them thrust out with an
assegai at Guy. In an agony of horror, Granville cried aloud where
he stood. Surely, surely, they must be crushed to earth. No arms of
precision could ever avail them against such a swarm of assailants,
poured forth over their camp as if from some human ant-hill.

"Let us run!" the sick man cried to the Namaqua, pointing to the
fight below; and the Namaqua, comprehending the gesture, if not the
words, set forward to run with him down the slope into the valley.

At about a hundred yards off from the crowd, Granville, crouched
behind a clump of thorny acacia, and, signalling to the Namaqua to
hide at the same time, drew his revolver and fired point-blank at
the hindmost natives.

The effect was electrical. In a moment the savages turned and gazed
around them astonished. One of their number was hit and wounded
in the leg. Granville had aimed so purposely, to maim and terrify
them. The natives faltered and fell back. As they did so, Granville
emerged from the shelter of the acacia bush, and fired a second
shot from another point at them. At the same instant the Namaqua
raised a loud native battle-cry, and brandished his assegai. The
effect was electrical. The hostile tribe broke up in wild panic at
once. They cried in their own tongue that the Namaquas were down
upon them, under English guidance: and, quick as lightning, they
dispersed as if by magic, to hide themselves about in the thick
bush jungle.

Two seconds later, Guy was wringing Granville's hand in a fervour
of gratitude. Each man had saved the other's life. In the rapid
interchange of question and answer that followed, one point alone
puzzled them both for a minute or two.

"But why on earth didn't you leave a line to explain what you'd
done?" Granville cried, now thoroughly ashamed of his unbelief, "If
only I'd known, you were coming back to the village it would have
saved me so much distress, so much sleepless misery."

"Why, so I did," Guy answered, still thoroughly out of breath, and
stained with blood and powder. "I tore a leaf from my note-book and
gave it to the Namaqua, explaining to him by signs that he was to
let you have it at once, the moment you were conscious. Here, you,
sir," he went on, turning round to their faithful black ally, and
holding up the note-book before his eyes to refresh his memory,
"why didn't you give it to the gentleman as I told you?"

The Namaqua, catching hastily at the meaning from the mere tone
of the question, as well as from Guy's instinctive and graphic
imitation of the act of writing, pulled out from his waistband the
last relics of a very brown and tattered fragment of paper, on which
were still legible in pencil the half-obliterated words: "My dear
Granville,--I find there is no chance of conveying you to the coast
through the territory of the next tribe in your present condition,

The rest was torn off. Guy looked at it dubiously. But the Namaqua,
anxious to show he had followed out all instructions to the very
letter, tore off the next scrap before their eyes, rolled it up
between his palms into a nice greasy pill, and proceeded to offer
it for Granville's acceptance. The misapprehension was too absurd.
Guy went off into a hearty peal of laughter at once. The Namaqua
had taken the mysterious signs for "a very great medicine," and
had administered the magical paper accordingly, as he understood
himself to be instructed, at fixed intervals to his unfortunate
patient. That was the medicine Granville remembered having forced
down his throat at the moment when he first learned, as he thought,
his half-brother's treachery.



At the Holkers' at Chetwood, one evening some days later, Cyril
Waring met Elma Clifford once more, the first time for months, and
had twenty minutes' talk in the tea-room alone with her. Contrary
to his rule, he had gone to the Holkers' party that night, for a man
can't remain a recluse all his life, no matter how hard he tries,
merely because his brother's suspected of having committed a murder.
In course of time, the attitude palls upon him. For the first year
after Guy's sudden and mysterious disappearance, indeed, Cyril
refused all invitations point-blank, except from the most intimate
friends; the shame and disgrace of that terrible episode weighed
him down so heavily that he couldn't bear to go out in the world
among unsympathetic strangers.

But the deepest sorrow wears away by degrees, and at the end of
twelve months Cyril found he could mix a little more unreservedly
at last among his fellow-men. The hang-dog air sat ill upon his
frank, free nature. This invitation to the Holkers', too, had one
special attraction: he knew it was a house where he was almost
certain of meeting Elma. And since Elma insisted now on writing
to him constantly--she was a self-willed young woman was Elma, and
would have her way--he really saw no reason on earth himself why
he shouldn't meet her. To meet is one thing, don't you know--to
marry, another. At least so fifty generations of young people have
deluded themselves under similar circumstances into believing.

Elma was in the room before him, prettier than ever, people said,
in the pale red ball-dress which exactly suited her gipsy-like
eyes and creamy complexion. As she entered she saw Sir Gilbert
Gildersleeve with his wife and Gwendoline standing in the corner
by the big piano. Gwendoline looked pale and preoccupied, as she
had always looked since Granville Kelmscott disappeared, leaving
behind him no more definite address for love-letters than simply
Africa; and Lady Gildersleeve was, as usual, quite subdued and
broken. But the judge himself, consoled by his new honours, seemed,
as time wore on, to have recovered a trifle of his old blustering
manner. A knighthood had reassured him. He was talking to Mr.
Holker in a loud voice as Elma approached him from behind.

"Yes, a very curious coincidence," he was just saying, in his noisy
fashion, with one big burly hand held demonstratively before him.
"A very curious and unexplained coincidence. They both vanished
into space about the self-same time. And nothing more has ever
since been heard of them. Quite an Arabian Nights' affair in its
way--the Enchanted Carpet sort of business, don't you know--wafted
through the air unawares, like Sinbad the Sailor, or the One-eyed
Calender, from London to Bagdad, or Timbuctoo or St. Petersburg. The
OTHER young man one understands about, of course; HE had sufficient
reasons of his own, no doubt, for leaving a country which had
grown too warm for him. But that Granville Kelmscott, a gentleman
of means, the heir to such a fine estate as Tilgate, should disappear
into infinity leaving no trace behind, like a lost comet--and at
the very moment, too, when he was just about to come into the family
property--why, I call it... I call it... I call it--"

His jaw dropped suddenly. He grew deadly pale. Words failed his
stammering tongue. Do what he would, he couldn't finish his sentence.
And yet, nothing very serious had occurred to him in any way. It
was merely that, as he uttered these words, he caught Elma Clifford's
eye, and saw lurking in it a certain gleam of deadly contempt before
which the big blustering man himself had quailed more than once
in many a Surrey drawing-room.

For Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve knew, as well as if she had told him
the truth in so many words, that Elma Clifford suspected him of
being Montague Nevitt's murderer.

Elma came forward, just to break the awkward pause, and shook hands
with the party by the piano coldly. Sir Gilbert tried to avoid
her; but, with the inherited instinct of her race, Elma cut off
his retreat. She boxed him in the corner between the piano and the

"I heard what you were saying just now, Sir Gilbert," she murmured
low, but with marked emphasis, after a few polite commonplaces of
conversation had first passed between them; "and I want to ask you
one question only about the matter. ARE you so sure as you seem
of what you said this minute? Are you so sure that Mr. Guy Waring
HAD sufficient reasons of his own for wishing to leave the country?"

Before that unflinching eye, the great lawyer trembled, as many
a witness had trembled of old under his own cross-examination. But
he tried to pass it off just at first with a little society banter.
He bowed, and smiled, and pretended to look arch--look arch, indeed,
with that ashen, white face of his!--as he answered, with forced

"My dear young lady, Mr. Guy Waring, as I understand, is Mr. Cyril
Waring's brother, and as by the law of England the king can do no
wrong, so I suppose--"

Elma cut him short in the middle of his sentence with an imperious
gesture. He had never cut short an obnoxious and intruding barrister
himself with more crushing dignity.

"Mr. Cyril Waring has nothing at all to do with the point, one way
or the other," the girl said severely. "Attend to my question.
What I ask is this: Why do you, a judge who may one day be called
upon to try the case, venture to say, on such partial evidence,
that Mr. Guy Waring had sufficient reasons of his own for leaving
the country?"

Called upon to try Guy Waring's case! The judge paused abashed.
He was very much afraid of her. This girl had such a strange look
about the eyes, she made him tremble. People said the Ewes women
were the descendants of a witch. And there was something truly
witch-like in the way Elma Clifford looked straight down into his
eyes. She seemed to see into his very soul. He knew she suspected

He shuffled and temporized. "Well, everybody says so, you know," he
answered, shrugging his shoulders carelessly. "And what everybody
says MUST be true. ... Besides, if HE, didn't do it, who did, I

Elma pounced upon her opportunity with a woman's quickness. "Somebody
else who was at Mambury that day, no doubt," she replied, with a
meaning look. "It MUST have been somebody out of the few who were
at Mambury."

That home-thrust told. The judge's colour was livid to look upon.
What could this girl mean? How on earth could she know? How had she
even found out he was at Mambury at all? A terrible doubt oppressed
his soul. Had Gwendoline confided his movements to Elma? He had
warned his daughter time and again not to mention the fact, "for
fear of misapprehension," he said, with shuffling eyes askance. It
was better nobody should know he had been anywhere near Dartmoor
on the day of the accident.

However, there was one consolation; the law! the law! She could
have no legal proof, and intuition goes for nothing in a court
of justice. All the suspicion went against Guy Waring, and Guy
Waring--well, Guy Waring had fled the kingdom in the very nick of
time, and was skulking now, Heaven alone knew where or why, in the
remotest depths of some far African diggings.

And even as he thought it, the servant opened the door, and, in
the regulation footman's voice, announced "Mr. Waring."

The judge started afresh. For one moment his senses deceived him
sadly. His mind was naturally full of Guy, just now; and as the
servant spoke, he saw a handsome young man in evening dress coming
up the long drawing-room with the very air and walk of the man
he had met that eventful afternoon at the "Duke of Devonshire"
at Plymouth. Of course, it was only Cyril; and a minute later the
judge saw his mistake, and remembered, with a bitter smile, how
conscience makes cowards of us all, as he had often remarked about
shaky witnesses in his admirable perorations. But Elma hadn't failed
to notice either the start or its reason.

"It's only Mr. Cyril," she said pointedly; "not Mr. Guy, Sir Gilbert.
The name came very pat, though. I don't wonder it startled you."

She was crimson herself. The judge moved away with a stealthy
uncomfortable air. He didn't half care for this uncanny young
woman. A girl who can read people's thoughts like that, a girl who
can play with you like a cat with a mouse, oughtn't to be allowed
at large in society. She should be shut up in a cage at home like
a dangerous animal, and prevented from spying out the inmost history
of families.

A little later, Elma had twenty minutes' talk with Cyril alone. It
was in the tea-room behind, where the light refreshments were laid
out before supper. She spoke low and seriously.

"Cyril," she said, in a tone of absolute confidence--they were
not engaged, of course, but still, it had got to plain "Cyril" and
"Elma" by this time--"I'm surer of it than ever, no matter what you
say. Guy's perfectly innocent. I know it as certainly as I know my
own name. I can't be mistaken. And the man who really did it is,
as I told you, Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve."

"My dear child," Cyril answered--you call the girl you are in love
with "my dear child," when you mean to differ from her, with an
air of masculine superiority--"how on earth can that be, when, as
I told you, I have Guy's confession in writing, under his own very
hand, that he really did it?"

"I don't care a pin for that," Elma cried, with a true woman's
contempt for anything so unimportant as mere positive evidence.
"Perhaps Sir Gilbert made him do it somehow--compelled him, or
coerced him, or willed him, or something--I don't understand these
new notions--or perhaps he got him into a scrape and then hadn't
the courage or the manliness to get him out of it. But at any rate,
I can answer for one thing, I were to go to the stake for it--Sir
Gilbert Gildersleeve is the man who's really guilty."

As she spoke, a great shadow darkened the door of the room for a
moment ominously. Sir Gilbert looked in with a lady on his arm--the
inevitable dowager who refreshes herself continuously at frequent
intervals through six hours of entertainment. When he saw those
two tte--tte, he drew back, somewhat disconcerted.

"Don't let's go in there, Lady Knowles," he whispered to the dowager
by his side. "A pair of young people discussing their hearts. We
were once young ourselves. It's a pity to disturb them."

And he passed on across the hall towards the great refreshment-room

"Well, I don't know," Cyril said bitterly, as the judge disappeared
through the opposite door. "I wish I could agree with you. But I
can't, I can't. The burden of it's heavier than my shoulders can
bear. Guy's weak, I know, and might be led half unawares into
certain sorts of crime; yet I only knew one man ever likely to lead
him--and that was poor Nevitt himself, not Sir Gilbert Gildersleeve,
whom he hardly even knew to speak to."

As he paused and reflected, a servant with a salver came up and
looked into Cyril's face inquiringly.

"Beg your pardon, sir," he said, hesitating, "but I think you're
Mr. Waring."

"That's my name," Cyril answered, with a faint blush on his cheek.
"Do you want to speak to me?"

"Yes, sir; there's half-a-crown to pay for porterage, if you please.
A telegram for you, sir."

Cyril pulled out the half-a-crown, and tore open the telegram.
Its contents were indeed enough to startle him. It was dated "Cape
Town," and was as brief as is the wont of cable messages at nine
shillings a word--

"Coming home immediately to repay everything and stand my trial.
Kelmscott accompanies me. All well.--GUY WARING."

Cyril looked at it with a gasp, and handed it on to Elma. Elma took
it in her dainty gloved fingers, and read it through with keen eyes
of absorbing interest. Cyril sighed a profound sigh. Elma glanced
back at him all triumph. "I told you so," she said, in a very jubilant
voice. "He wouldn't do that if he didn't KNOW he was innocent."

At the very same second, a blustering voice was heard above the
murmur in the hall without.

"What, half-a-crown for porterage!" it exclaimed in indignant tones.
"Why, that's a clear imposition. The people at my house ought
never to have sent it on. It's addressed to Woodlands. Unimportant,
unimportant! Here, Gwendoline, take your message--some milliner's
or dressmaker's appointment for to-morrow, I suppose. Half-a-crown
for porterage! They'd no right to bring it."

Gwendoline took the telegram with trembling hands, tore it open
all quivers, and broke into a cry of astonishment. Then she fell
all at once into her father's arms. Elma understood it all. It was
a similar message from Granville Kelmscott to tell the lady of his
heart he was coming home to marry her.

Sir Gilbert, somewhat flustered, called for water in haste, and
revived the fainting girl by bathing her temples. At last he took
up the cause of the mischief himself. As he read it his own face
turned white as death. Elma noticed that, too. And no wonder it
did--for these were the words of that unexpected message--

"Coming home to claim you by the next mail. Guy Waring accompanies

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  Blog créé le 10-04-2009 à 16h36 | Mis à jour le 09-10-2011 à 14h55 | Note : 9.04/10