The Grey Monk
1. Page scan source:
Chapters 1-25. "The Argosy. Vol. LVII.
January to June, 1894."
(the University of Michigan)
Chapters 26-51. "The Argosy. Vol. LVIII.
July to December, 1894."
(the University of California)
2. Illustrations (by M. L. Gow) are not reproduced here.
THE GREY MONK.
By T. W. SPEIGHT.
RICHARD BENTLEY & SON,
8, NEW BURLINGTON STREET, LONDON, W.
|II,||An Old Family and its Home.|
|IV.||An Offer and its Acceptance.|
|V.||At One Fell Blow.|
|VIII.||The Ebony Casket.|
|IX.||Ethel and Tamsin.|
|XI.||Hopes and Fears.|
|XII.||A Recreant Lover.|
|XIII.||Captain Verinder and his Visitor.|
|XIV.||The Captain Takes a Little Journey.|
|XVI.||How Sir Gilbert received the News.|
|XVII.||Sir Gilbert and Giovanna.|
|XVIII.||The False Heir.|
|XX.||Sir Gilbert's Decision.|
|XXI.||Affairs at St. Oswyth's.|
|XXII.||Father and Son.|
|XXIV.||Tamsin Speaks her Mind.|
|XXVI.||Giovanna at Maylings.|
|XXVII.||"Mr. Lewis Clare."|
|XXVIII.||The Progress of Events.|
|XXIX.||Arrivals at the Chase.|
|XXX.||An Unexpected Meeting.|
|XXXII.||Sir Gilbert's Decision.|
|XXXIII.||Uncle and Nephew.|
|XXXIV.||A Desperate Resolve.|
|XXXV.||Matters at the Chase.|
|XXXVI.||A Deed of Darkness.|
|XXXVII.||The Defeat of Roguery.|
|XXXIX.||The Counsel of Experience.|
|XL.||"Love took up the Harp of Life."|
|XLI.||Sir Gilbert's Strange Experience.|
|XLII.||Sir Gilbert's Theory.|
|XLIII.||The Root of the Mystery.|
|XLIV.||Back at St. Oswyth's.|
|XLV.||"Come Back to Me."|
|XLVII.||Husband and Wife.|
|XLVIII.||Sir Gilbert's Great Surprise.|
|XLIX.||Payment in Full.|
|L.||The Veiled Stranger.|
|LI.||Safe in Port.|
THE GREY MONK.
By The Author Of "The Mysteries Of Heron Dyke."
It was a wild and stormy October night. The big moon-faced clock inthe entrance-hall, in its slow and solemn fashion, as of a horologethat felt the burden of its years, had just announced the hour ofeleven.
In his study alone, busy among his coins and curios, sat Sir GilbertClare of Withington Chase, Hertfordshire, and Chase Ridings,Yorkshire, a handsome, well-preserved man, in years somewhere betweenfifty and sixty. He had a tall, thin, upright figure, strongly markedfeatures of an aquiline type, a snow-white moustache, and anexpression at once proud and imperious.
It would, indeed, have been difficult to find a prouder man than SirGilbert. He was proud of the long line of his ancestors, of the bravemen and beautiful women who, from their faded frames in the picturegallery, seemed to smile approval on the latest representative oftheir race. He was proud of the unsullied name which had come down tohim from them, on which no action of his had ever cast the shadow of astain. He was proud of the position, which he accepted as his byright, in his native county; he was proud of his three sturdy boys, atthis hour wrapped in the sleep of innocent childhood. But his pridewas strictly locked up in his own bosom. No syllable ever escaped himwhich told of its existence. To the world at large, and even to themembers of his own household, he was a man of a quick and irascibletemper, of cold manners and unsympathetic ways.
Proud as Sir Gilbert had just cause for being, there was one point,and one that could in no wise be ignored, at which his pride wastouched severely.
His eldest son and heir was a disappointment and a failure. He hadfought against the knowledge as long as it had been possible for himto do so, but some months had now gone by since the bitter truth hadforced itself upon him in a way he could no longer pretend to ignore.He had caused private inquiries to be made, the result of which hadsatisfied him that, from being simply a good-natured harum-scarumspendthrift, the young man was gradually degenerating into a bettingman and a turf gambler of a type especially obnoxious to thefastidious baronet. He told himself that he would almost as soon havehad his son become a common pickpocket.
It never entered his mind to suspect that the evidence of Alec'sdelinquencies which had been laid before him, and to obtain which hehad paid a heavy price, might, to some extent, have been manufactured;that the shadows of the picture might have been purposely darkened inorder that he might be supplied with that which he presumably lookedfor. He had accepted it in full and without question.
It had been Alec's misfortune to get mixed up with a fast set while atcollege, and he seemed never to have quite broken with themafterwards.
At the Chase he and his stepmother had not got on well together--forthe present Lady Clare was the baronet's second wife--and when,shortly after coming of age, he announced his intention of making hishome, for a time at least, with some of his mother's relatives inLondon, Sir Gilbert had offered no opposition to the arrangement, forhe was wise enough to recognise that two such opposite dispositions asthose of his present wife and his eldest son could not possibly agree.
Then it presently came to his ears that Alec had gone into bachelorquarters of his own, after which came a long course of extravagancesand debts of various kinds, such as well-to-do fathers have had to putup with from spendthrift sons for more centuries than history can tellus of.
Twice he had paid Alec's debts and started him afresh with a cleanslate; but on the second occasion he had given him plainly tounderstand that he must look for no further help in that line, butconfine himself strictly to the fairly liberal allowance which hadbeen settled on him when he came of age. Despite the determinationthus expressed, no very long time had elapsed before a couple oftradesmen's accounts for considerable sums were received by thebaronet, with a request for an early liquidation of the same--not,however, sent by Alec, but by the creditors themselves. Instead ofreturning the bills to their senders, as most parents would have done,with a curt disavowal of all liability, Sir Gilbert chose rather toconfiscate his son's allowance to the amount of the debts in question.
From that time, now upwards of half a year ago, there had been nocommunication of any kind between father and son. Alec, however, wasnot left wholly without means, he having still an income of a hundredand eighty pounds a year, derivable from funded property left him byhis mother.
Sir Gilbert had had an agreeable surprise in the course of the daywith the evening of which we are now concerned, and yet it was asurprise not untinged with sadness.
His old friend Mr. Jopling, like himself an ardent numismatist andcollector, had died a few weeks before, much to the baronet's regret.To-day there had reached him a tiny packet, forwarded by Mr. Jopling'sexecutors, containing a couple of rare coins bequeathed him by hisdead friend. One of them was a gold stater of Argos, with the head ofHera, the reverse being Diomedes carrying the palladium; while theother was a scarce fifty-shilling piece of Cromwell. Sir Gilbert hadlong envied his friend the possession of them, and now they were hisown; therefore was the feeling with which he regarded them one ofmingled pleasure and pain.
He had devoted the evening to a rearrangement of the contents of someof his cases and cabinets and to deciding upon a resting-place for hisnewly-acquired treasures.
It had been a labour of love. But, for all that, his thoughts everynow and again would keep reverting from the pleasant task he had sethimself to his eldest son; for this was the latter's birthday, a factwhich the father could not forget, although he would fain have kept itin the background of his memory. On just such a wild night twenty-fouryears before, had John Alexander Clare been born. With what brighthopes, with what glowing expectations he had been welcomed on thestage of life, Sir Gilbert alone could have told. A groan brokeinvoluntarily from his lips when he pictured in thought the differencebetween then and now. His heart was very bitter against his son.
The night was creeping on apace.
In the great house everybody was in bed save the baronet, who wasaddicted to solitude and late hours. Outside, at recurring intervals,the wind blew in great stormy gusts, which anon died down to aninarticulate sobbing and wailing, as it might be of some lost spiritwandering round the old mansion, seeking ingress but finding none.There were voices in the wide-mouthed chimney; the rain lashed thewindows furiously; by daybreak the trees would be nearly bare and allthe woodways be covered by a sodden carpet of fallen leaves. Summerwas dead indeed.
Suddenly, in a lull of the gale, Sir Gilbert was startled into themost vivid wakefulness by an unmistakable tapping at one of the twolong windows which lighted the room. He listened in rigid silence tillthe tapping came again. Then he crossed to the window whence the soundhad proceeded, and after having drawn back the curtains and unbarredand opened the shutters, he demanded in his sternest tones:
"Who is there?"
"It is I--Alec, your son," came the reply in a well-remembered voice.
Sir Gilbert drew a long breath and paused for a space of half-a-dozenseconds. Then he unhasped and flung wide the window, and JohnAlexander Clare, the scapegrace heir, rain-soaked and mud-bedraggled,stepped into the room.
His father closed the window after him, while Alec proceeded torelieve himself of his soft broad-brimmed hat and the long cloak whichhad enveloped him from head to foot.
Like his father, the heir of Withington Chase was tall and slender andas upright as a dart. He had the same aquiline, high-bred cast offeatures, but in his case there was lacking that expression of hauteurand domineering pride, which to a certain extent marred those of theelder man.
Sir Gilbert's eyes in colour were a cold bluish-grey, and, though notreally small, had the appearance of being so owing to their being sodeep set under his heavy brows and to his habit of contracting hislids when addressing himself to anyone. Alec's hazel eyes, inheritedfrom his mother, were large, clear, and open as the day. The baronet'slips under his white moustache were thin and hard-set, and his raresmile was that of a cynic and a man who loved to find food for hissardonic humour in the faults and follies of his fellow-creatures. Hisson's mouth, if betraying a touch of that weakness which as often asnot is the result of an overplus of good-nature, was yet an eminentlypleasant one, while his smile was frankness itself. His cheeks were alittle more sunken than they ought to have been at his age, and therewere dark half-circles under his eyes, which seemed to hint at latehours and mornings that bring a headache. His hair, which he woreshort and parted in the middle, was in colour a dark reddish-brown, aswere also his short pointed beard and small moustache.
"And to what, sir, am I indebted for the honour of a visit at thisuntimely hour?" inquired Sir Gilbert in his most freezing accents, ashis coldly critical eyes took in his son from head to foot.
Alec coloured for a moment and bit his lip, as if to keep down somerising emotion. Then, in a voice of studied calmness, he said,"Perhaps, sir, I may be permitted to take a seat; for, in point offact, I am dead tired, and have much to say to you."
The baronet waved his son to a chair, and took another himself somedistance away.
"I am here to-night, father, to make a confession."
"I presumed as much the moment I set eyes on you."
"I am afraid you will term it a very disgraceful confession."
"I have not much doubt on that point," responded the baronet grimly."Disgrace and you seem to have gone hand in hand for a long timepast."
"Folly, but not disgrace, father. At the worst----"
The baronet held up his hand. "I am not used to such hair-splittingdistinctions. You may call it by what term you like, t, my way ofthinking, it is nothing less than a disgrace when a young man permitshimself to contract debts which he has no reasonable prospect--nay,which, in many cases, he has no intention of liquidating.