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Erewhon Revisited
by Samuel Butler
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Transcribed from the 1916 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



EREWHON REVISITED TWENTY YEARS LATER Both by the Original Discoverer of the Country and by his Son

I forget when, but not very long after I had published "Erewhon" in 1872, it occurred to me to ask myself what course events in Erewhon would probably take after Mr. Higgs, as I suppose I may now call him, had made his escape in the balloon with Arowhena. Given a people in the conditions supposed to exist in Erewhon, and given the apparently miraculous ascent of a remarkable stranger into the heavens with an earthly bride—what would be the effect on the people generally?

There was no use in trying to solve this problem before, say, twenty years should have given time for Erewhonian developments to assume something like permanent shape, and in 1892 I was too busy with books now published to be able to attend to Erewhon. It was not till the early winter of 1900, i.e. as nearly as may be thirty years after the date of Higgs's escape, that I found time to deal with the question above stated, and to answer it, according to my lights, in the book which I now lay before the public.

I have concluded, I believe rightly, that the events described in Chapter XXIV. of "Erewhon" would give rise to such a cataclysmic change in the old Erewhonian opinions as would result in the development of a new religion. Now the development of all new religions follows much the same general course. In all cases the times are more or less out of joint—older faiths are losing their hold upon the masses. At such times, let a personality appear, strong in itself, and made to seem still stronger by association with some supposed transcendent miracle, and it will be easy to raise a Lo here! that will attract many followers. If there be a single great, and apparently well-authenticated, miracle, others will accrete round it; then, in all religions that have so originated, there will follow temples, priests, rites, sincere believers, and unscrupulous exploiters of public credulity. To chronicle the events that followed Higgs's balloon ascent without shewing that they were much as they have been under like conditions in other places, would be to hold the mirror up to something very wide of nature.

Analogy, however, between courses of events is one thing—historic parallelisms abound; analogy between the main actors in events is a very different one, and one, moreover, of which few examples can be found. The development of the new ideas in Erewhon is a familiar one, but there is no more likeness between Higgs and the founder of any other religion, than there is between Jesus Christ and Mahomet. He is a typical middle- class Englishman, deeply tainted with priggishness in his earlier years, but in great part freed from it by the sweet uses of adversity.

If I may be allowed for a moment to speak about myself, I would say that I have never ceased to profess myself a member of the more advanced wing of the English Broad Church. What those who belong to this wing believe, I believe. What they reject, I reject. No two people think absolutely alike on any subject, but when I converse with advanced Broad Churchmen I find myself in substantial harmony with them. I believe—and should be very sorry if I did not believe—that, mutatis mutandis, such men will find the advice given on pp. 277-281 and 287-291 of this book much what, under the supposed circumstances, they would themselves give.

Lastly, I should express my great obligations to Mr. R. A. Streatfeild of the British Museum, who, in the absence from England of my friend Mr. H. Festing Jones, has kindly supervised the corrections of my book as it passed through the press.

SAMUEL BUTLER. May 1, 1901.



CHAPTER I: UPS AND DOWNS OF FORTUNE—MY FATHER STARTS FOR EREWHON

Before telling the story of my father's second visit to the remarkable country which he discovered now some thirty years since, I should perhaps say a few words about his career between the publication of his book in 1872, and his death in the early summer of 1891. I shall thus touch briefly on the causes that occasioned his failure to maintain that hold on the public which he had apparently secured at first.

His book, as the reader may perhaps know, was published anonymously, and my poor father used to ascribe the acclamation with which it was received, to the fact that no one knew who it might not have been written by. Omne ignotum pro magnifico, and during its month of anonymity the book was a frequent topic of appreciative comment in good literary circles. Almost coincidently with the discovery that he was a mere nobody, people began to feel that their admiration had been too hastily bestowed, and before long opinion turned all the more seriously against him for this very reason. The subscription, to which the Lord Mayor had at first given his cordial support, was curtly announced as closed before it had been opened a week; it had met with so little success that I will not specify the amount eventually handed over, not without protest, to my father; small, however, as it was, he narrowly escaped being prosecuted for trying to obtain money under false pretences.

The Geographical Society, which had for a few days received him with open arms, was among the first to turn upon him—not, so far as I can ascertain, on account of the mystery in which he had enshrouded the exact whereabouts of Erewhon, nor yet by reason of its being persistently alleged that he was subject to frequent attacks of alcoholic poisoning—but through his own want of tact, and a highly-strung nervous state, which led him to attach too much importance to his own discoveries, and not enough to those of other people. This, at least, was my father's version of the matter, as I heard it from his own lips in the later years of his life.

"I was still very young," he said to me, "and my mind was more or less unhinged by the strangeness and peril of my adventures." Be this as it may, I fear there is no doubt that he was injudicious; and an ounce of judgement is worth a pound of discovery.

Hence, in a surprisingly short time, he found himself dropped even by those who had taken him up most warmly, and had done most to find him that employment as a writer of religious tracts on which his livelihood was then dependent. The discredit, however, into which my father fell, had the effect of deterring any considerable number of people from trying to rediscover Erewhon, and thus caused it to remain as unknown to geographers in general as though it had never been found. A few shepherds and cadets at up-country stations had, indeed, tried to follow in my father's footsteps, during the time when his book was still being taken seriously; but they had most of them returned, unable to face the difficulties that had opposed them. Some few, however, had not returned, and though search was made for them, their bodies had not been found. When he reached Erewhon on his second visit, my father learned that others had attempted to visit the country more recently—probably quite independently of his own book; and before he had himself been in it many hours he gathered what the fate of these poor fellows doubtless was.

Another reason that made it more easy for Erewhon to remain unknown, was the fact that the more mountainous districts, though repeatedly prospected for gold, had been pronounced non-auriferous, and as there was no sheep or cattle country, save a few river-bed flats above the upper gorges of any of the rivers, and no game to tempt the sportsman, there was nothing to induce people to penetrate into the fastnesses of the great snowy range. No more, therefore, being heard of Erewhon, my father's book came to be regarded as a mere work of fiction, and I have heard quite recently of its having been seen on a second-hand bookstall, marked "6d. very readable."

Though there was no truth in the stories about my father's being subject to attacks of alcoholic poisoning, yet, during the first few years after his return to England, his occasional fits of ungovernable excitement gave some colour to the opinion that much of what he said he had seen and done might be only subjectively true. I refer more particularly to his interview with Chowbok in the wool-shed, and his highly coloured description of the statues on the top of the pass leading into Erewhon. These were soon set down as forgeries of delirium, and it was maliciously urged, that though in his book he had only admitted having taken "two or three bottles of brandy" with him, he had probably taken at least a dozen; and that if on the night before he reached the statues he had "only four ounces of brandy" left, he must have been drinking heavily for the preceding fortnight or three weeks. Those who read the following pages will, I think, reject all idea that my father was in a state of delirium, not without surprise that any one should have ever entertained it.

It was Chowbok who, if he did not originate these calumnies, did much to disseminate and gain credence for them. He remained in England for some years, and never tired of doing what he could to disparage my father. The cunning creature had ingratiated himself with our leading religious societies, especially with the more evangelical among them. Whatever doubt there might be about his sincerity, there was none about his colour, and a coloured convert in those days was more than Exeter Hall could resist. Chowbok saw that there was no room for him and for my father, and declared my poor father's story to be almost wholly false. It was true, he said, that he and my father had explored the head-waters of the river described in his book, but he denied that my father had gone on without him, and he named the river as one distant by many thousands of miles from the one it really was. He said that after about a fortnight he had returned in company with my father, who by that time had become incapacitated for further travel. At this point he would shrug his shoulders, look mysterious, and thus say "alcoholic poisoning" even more effectively than if he had uttered the words themselves. For a man's tongue lies often in his shoulders.

Readers of my father's book will remember that Chowbok had given a very different version when he had returned to his employer's station; but Time and Distance afford cover under which falsehood can often do truth to death securely.

I never understood why my father did not bring my mother forward to confirm his story. He may have done so while I was too young to know anything about it. But when people have made up their minds, they are impatient of further evidence; my mother, moreover, was of a very retiring disposition. The Italians say:-

"Chi lontano va ammogliare Sara ingannato, o vorra ingannare."

"If a man goes far afield for a wife, he will be deceived—or means deceiving." The proverb is as true for women as for men, and my mother was never quite happy in her new surroundings. Wilfully deceived she assuredly was not, but she could not accustom herself to English modes of thought; indeed she never even nearly mastered our language; my father always talked with her in Erewhonian, and so did I, for as a child she had taught me to do so, and I was as fluent with her language as with my father's. In this respect she often told me I could pass myself off anywhere in Erewhon as a native; I shared also her personal appearance, for though not wholly unlike my father, I had taken more closely after my mother. In mind, if I may venture to say so, I believe I was more like my father.

I may as well here inform the reader that I was born at the end of September 1871, and was christened John, after my grandfather. From what I have said above he will readily believe that my earliest experiences were somewhat squalid. Memories of childhood rush vividly upon me when I pass through a low London alley, and catch the faint sickly smell that pervades it—half paraffin, half black-currants, but wholly something very different. I have a fancy that we lived in Blackmoor Street, off Drury Lane. My father, when first I knew of his doing anything at all, supported my mother and myself by drawing pictures with coloured chalks upon the pavement; I used sometimes to watch him, and marvel at the skill with which he represented fogs, floods, and fires. These three "f's," he would say, were his three best friends, for they were easy to do and brought in halfpence freely. The return of the dove to the ark was his favourite subject. Such a little ark, on such a hazy morning, and such a little pigeon—the rest of the picture being cheap sky, and still cheaper sea; nothing, I have often heard him say, was more popular than this with his clients. He held it to be his masterpiece, but would add with some naivete that he considered himself a public benefactor for carrying it out in such perishable fashion. "At any rate," he would say, "no one can bequeath one of my many replicas to the nation."

I never learned how much my father earned by his profession, but it must have been something considerable, for we always had enough to eat and drink; I imagine that he did better than many a struggling artist with more ambitious aims. He was strictly temperate during all the time that I knew anything about him, but he was not a teetotaler; I never saw any of the fits of nervous excitement which in his earlier years had done so much to wreck him. In the evenings, and on days when the state of the pavement did not permit him to work, he took great pains with my education, which he could very well do, for as a boy he had been in the sixth form of one of our foremost public schools. I found him a patient, kindly instructor, while to my mother he was a model husband. Whatever others may have said about him, I can never think of him without very affectionate respect.

Things went on quietly enough, as above indicated, till I was about fourteen, when by a freak of fortune my father became suddenly affluent. A brother of his father's had emigrated to Australia in 1851, and had amassed great wealth. We knew of his existence, but there had been no intercourse between him and my father, and we did not even know that he was rich and unmarried. He died intestate towards the end of 1885, and my father was the only relative he had, except, of course, myself, for both my father's sisters had died young, and without leaving children.

The solicitor through whom the news reached us was, happily, a man of the highest integrity, and also very sensible and kind. He was a Mr. Alfred Emery Cathie, of 15 Clifford's Inn, E.C., and my father placed himself unreservedly in his hands. I was at once sent to a first-rate school, and such pains had my father taken with me that I was placed in a higher form than might have been expected considering my age. The way in which he had taught me had prevented my feeling any dislike for study; I therefore stuck fairly well to my books, while not neglecting the games which are so important a part of healthy education. Everything went well with me, both as regards masters and school-fellows; nevertheless, I was declared to be of a highly nervous and imaginative temperament, and the school doctor more than once urged our headmaster not to push me forward too rapidly—for which I have ever since held myself his debtor.

Early in 1890, I being then home from Oxford (where I had been entered in the preceding year), my mother died; not so much from active illness, as from what was in reality a kind of maladie du pays. All along she had felt herself an exile, and though she had borne up wonderfully during my father's long struggle with adversity, she began to break as soon as prosperity had removed the necessity for exertion on her own part.

My father could never divest himself of the feeling that he had wrecked her life by inducing her to share her lot with his own; to say that he was stricken with remorse on losing her is not enough; he had been so stricken almost from the first year of his marriage; on her death he was haunted by the wrong he accused himself—as it seems to me very unjustly—of having done her, for it was neither his fault nor hers—it was Ate.

His unrest soon assumed the form of a burning desire to revisit the country in which he and my mother had been happier together than perhaps they ever again were. I had often heard him betray a hankering after a return to Erewhon, disguised so that no one should recognise him; but as long as my mother lived he would not leave her. When death had taken her from him, he so evidently stood in need of a complete change of scene, that even those friends who had most strongly dissuaded him from what they deemed a madcap enterprise, thought it better to leave him to himself. It would have mattered little how much they tried to dissuade him, for before long his passionate longing for the journey became so overmastering that nothing short of restraint in prison or a madhouse could have stayed his going; but we were not easy about him. "He had better go," said Mr. Cathie to me, when I was at home for the Easter vacation, "and get it over. He is not well, but he is still in the prime of life; doubtless he will come back with renewed health and will settle down to a quiet home life again."

This, however, was not said till it had become plain that in a few days my father would be on his way. He had made a new will, and left an ample power of attorney with Mr. Cathie—or, as we always called him, Alfred—who was to supply me with whatever money I wanted; he had put all other matters in order in case anything should happen to prevent his ever returning, and he set out on October 1, 1890, more composed and cheerful than I had seen him for some time past.

I had not realised how serious the danger to my father would be if he were recognised while he was in Erewhon, for I am ashamed to say that I had not yet read his book. I had heard over and over again of his flight with my mother in the balloon, and had long since read his few opening chapters, but I had found, as a boy naturally would, that the succeeding pages were a little dull, and soon put the book aside. My father, indeed, repeatedly urged me not to read it, for he said there was much in it—more especially in the earlier chapters, which I had alone found interesting—that he would gladly cancel if he could. "But there!" he had said with a laugh, "what does it matter?"

He had hardly left, before I read his book from end to end, and, on having done so, not only appreciated the risks that he would have to run, but was struck with the wide difference between his character as he had himself portrayed it, and the estimate I had formed of it from personal knowledge. When, on his return, he detailed to me his adventures, the account he gave of what he had said and done corresponded with my own ideas concerning him; but I doubt not the reader will see that the twenty years between his first and second visit had modified him even more than so long an interval might be expected to do.

I heard from him repeatedly during the first two months of his absence, and was surprised to find that he had stayed for a week or ten days at more than one place of call on his outward journey. On November 26 he wrote from the port whence he was to start for Erewhon, seemingly in good health and spirits; and on December 27, 1891, he telegraphed for a hundred pounds to be wired out to him at this same port. This puzzled both Mr. Cathie and myself, for the interval between November 26 and December 27 seemed too short to admit of his having paid his visit to Erewhon and returned; as, moreover, he had added the words, "Coming home," we rather hoped that he had abandoned his intention of going there.

We were also surprised at his wanting so much money, for he had taken a hundred pounds in gold, which from some fancy, he had stowed in a small silver jewel-box that he had given my mother not long before she died. He had also taken a hundred pounds worth of gold nuggets, which he had intended to sell in Erewhon so as to provide himself with money when he got there.

I should explain that these nuggets would be worth in Erewhon fully ten times as much as they would in Europe, owing to the great scarcity of gold in that country. The Erewhonian coinage is entirely silver—which is abundant, and worth much what it is in England—or copper, which is also plentiful; but what we should call five pounds' worth of silver money would not buy more than one of our half-sovereigns in gold.

He had put his nuggets into ten brown holland bags, and he had had secret pockets made for the old Erewhonian dress which he had worn when he escaped, so that he need never have more than one bag of nuggets accessible at a time. He was not likely, therefore, to have been robbed. His passage to the port above referred to had been paid before he started, and it seemed impossible that a man of his very inexpensive habits should have spent two hundred pounds in a single month—for the nuggets would be immediately convertible in an English colony. There was nothing, however, to be done but to cable out the money and wait my father's arrival.

Returning for a moment to my father's old Erewhonian dress, I should say that he had preserved it simply as a memento and without any idea that he should again want it. It was not the court dress that had been provided for him on the occasion of his visit to the king and queen, but the everyday clothing that he had been ordered to wear when he was put in prison, though his English coat, waistcoat, and trousers had been allowed to remain in his own possession. These, I had seen from his book, had been presented by him to the queen (with the exception of two buttons, which he had given to Yram as a keepsake), and had been preserved by her displayed upon a wooden dummy. The dress in which he escaped had been soiled during the hours that he and my mother had been in the sea, and had also suffered from neglect during the years of his poverty; but he wished to pass himself off as a common peasant or working-man, so he preferred to have it set in order as might best be done, rather than copied.

So cautious was he in the matter of dress that he took with him the boots he had worn on leaving Erewhon, lest the foreign make of his English boots should arouse suspicion. They were nearly new, and when he had had them softened and well greased, he found he could still wear them quite comfortably.

But to return. He reached home late at night one day at the beginning of February, and a glance was enough to show that he was an altered man. "What is the matter?" said I, shocked at his appearance. "Did you go to Erewhon, and were you ill-treated there?"

"I went to Erewhon," he said, "and I was not ill-treated there, but I have been so shaken that I fear I shall quite lose my reason. Do not ask me more now. I will tell you about it all to-morrow. Let me have something to eat, and go to bed."

When we met at breakfast next morning, he greeted me with all his usual warmth of affection, but he was still taciturn. "I will begin to tell you about it," he said, "after breakfast. Where is your dear mother? How was it that I have . . . "

Then of a sudden his memory returned, and he burst into tears.

I now saw, to my horror, that his mind was gone. When he recovered, he said: "It has all come back again, but at times now I am a blank, and every week am more and more so. I daresay I shall be sensible now for several hours. We will go into the study after breakfast, and I will talk to you as long as I can do so."

Let the reader spare me, and let me spare the reader any description of what we both of us felt.

When we were in the study, my father said, "My dearest boy, get pen and paper and take notes of what I tell you. It will be all disjointed; one day I shall remember this, and another that, but there will not be many more days on which I shall remember anything at all. I cannot write a coherent page. You, when I am gone, can piece what I tell you together, and tell it as I should have told it if I had been still sound. But do not publish it yet; it might do harm to those dear good people. Take the notes now, and arrange them the sooner the better, for you may want to ask me questions, and I shall not be here much longer. Let publishing wait till you are confident that publication can do no harm; and above all, say nothing to betray the whereabouts of Erewhon, beyond admitting (which I fear I have already done) that it is in the Southern hemisphere."

These instructions I have religiously obeyed. For the first days after his return, my father had few attacks of loss of memory, and I was in hopes that his former health of mind would return when he found himself in his old surroundings. During these days he poured forth the story of his adventures so fast, that if I had not had a fancy for acquiring shorthand, I should not have been able to keep pace with him. I repeatedly urged him not to overtax his strength, but he was oppressed by the fear that if he did not speak at once, he might never be able to tell me all he had to say; I had, therefore, to submit, though seeing plainly enough that he was only hastening the complete paralysis which he so greatly feared.

Sometimes his narrative would be coherent for pages together, and he could answer any questions without hesitation; at others, he was now here and now there, and if I tried to keep him to the order of events he would say that he had forgotten intermediate incidents, but that they would probably come back to him, and I should perhaps be able to put them in their proper places.

After about ten days he seemed satisfied that I had got all the facts, and that with the help of the pamphlets which he had brought with him I should be able to make out a connected story. "Remember," he said, "that I thought I was quite well so long as I was in Erewhon, and do not let me appear as anything else."

When he had fully delivered himself, he seemed easier in his mind, but before a month had passed he became completely paralysed, and though he lingered till the beginning of June, he was seldom more than dimly conscious of what was going on around him.

His death robbed me of one who had been a very kind and upright elder brother rather than a father; and so strongly have I felt his influence still present, living and working, as I believe for better within me, that I did not hesitate to copy the epitaph which he saw in the Musical Bank at Fairmead, {1} and to have it inscribed on the very simple monument which he desired should alone mark his grave.

* * * * *

The foregoing was written in the summer of 1891; what I now add should be dated December 3, 1900. If, in the course of my work, I have misrepresented my father, as I fear I may have sometimes done, I would ask my readers to remember that no man can tell another's story without some involuntary misrepresentation both of facts and characters. They will, of course, see that "Erewhon Revisited" is written by one who has far less literary skill than the author of "Erewhon;" but again I would ask indulgence on the score of youth, and the fact that this is my first book. It was written nearly ten years ago, i.e. in the months from March to August 1891, but for reasons already given it could not then be made public. I have now received permission, and therefore publish the following chapters, exactly, or very nearly exactly, as they were left when I had finished editing my father's diaries, and the notes I took down from his own mouth—with the exception, of course, of these last few lines, hurriedly written as I am on the point of leaving England, of the additions I made in 1892, on returning from my own three hours' stay in Erewhon, and of the Postscript.



CHAPTER II: TO THE FOOT OF THE PASS INTO EREWHON

When my father reached the colony for which he had left England some twenty-two years previously, he bought a horse, and started up country on the evening of the day after his arrival, which was, as I have said, on one of the last days of November 1890. He had taken an English saddle with him, and a couple of roomy and strongly made saddle-bags. In these he packed his money, his nuggets, some tea, sugar, tobacco, salt, a flask of brandy, matches, and as many ship's biscuits as he thought he was likely to want; he took no meat, for he could supply himself from some accommodation-house or sheep-station, when nearing the point after which he would have to begin camping out. He rolled his Erewhonian dress and small toilette necessaries inside a warm red blanket, and strapped the roll on to the front part of his saddle. On to other D's, with which his saddle was amply provided, he strapped his Erewhonian boots, a tin pannikin, and a billy that would hold about a quart. I should, perhaps, explain to English readers that a billy is a tin can, the name for which (doubtless of French Canadian origin) is derived from the words "faire bouillir." He also took with him a pair of hobbles and a small hatchet.

He spent three whole days in riding across the plains, and was struck with the very small signs of change that he could detect, but the fall in wool, and the failure, so far, to establish a frozen meat trade, had prevented any material development of the resources of the country. When he had got to the front ranges, he followed up the river next to the north of the one that he had explored years ago, and from the head waters of which he had been led to discover the only practicable pass into Erewhon. He did this, partly to avoid the terribly dangerous descent on to the bed of the more northern river, and partly to escape being seen by shepherds or bullock-drivers who might remember him.

If he had attempted to get through the gorge of this river in 1870, he would have found it impassable; but a few river-bed flats had been discovered above the gorge, on which there was now a shepherd's hut, and on the discovery of these flats a narrow horse track had been made from one end of the gorge to the other.

He was hospitably entertained at the shepherd's hut just mentioned, which he reached on Monday, December 1. He told the shepherd in charge of it that he had come to see if he could find traces of a large wingless bird, whose existence had been reported as having been discovered among the extreme head waters of the river.

"Be careful, sir," said the shepherd; "the river is very dangerous; several people—one only about a year ago—have left this hut, and though their horses and their camps have been found, their bodies have not. When a great fresh comes down, it would carry a body out to sea in twenty-four hours."

He evidently had no idea that there was a pass through the ranges up the river, which might explain the disappearance of an explorer.

Next day my father began to ascend the river. There was so much tangled growth still unburnt wherever there was room for it to grow, and so much swamp, that my father had to keep almost entirely to the river-bed—and here there was a good deal of quicksand. The stones also were often large for some distance together, and he had to cross and recross streams of the river more than once, so that though he travelled all day with the exception of a couple of hours for dinner, he had not made more than some five and twenty miles when he reached a suitable camping ground, where he unsaddled his horse, hobbled him, and turned him out to feed. The grass was beginning to seed, so that though it was none too plentiful, what there was of it made excellent feed.

He lit his fire, made himself some tea, ate his cold mutton and biscuits, and lit his pipe, exactly as he had done twenty years before. There was the clear starlit sky, the rushing river, and the stunted trees on the mountain-side; the woodhens cried, and the "more-pork" hooted out her two monotonous notes exactly as they had done years since; one moment, and time had so flown backwards that youth came bounding back to him with the return of his youth's surroundings; the next, and the intervening twenty years—most of them grim ones—rose up mockingly before him, and the buoyancy of hope yielded to the despondency of admitted failure. By and by buoyancy reasserted itself, and, soothed by the peace and beauty of the night, he wrapped himself up in his blanket and dropped off into a dreamless slumber.

Next morning, i.e. December 3, he rose soon after dawn, bathed in a backwater of the river, got his breakfast, found his horse on the river- bed, and started as soon as he had duly packed and loaded. He had now to cross streams of the river and recross them more often than on the preceding day, and this, though his horse took well to the water, required care; for he was anxious not to wet his saddle-bags, and it was only by crossing at the wide, smooth, water above a rapid, and by picking places where the river ran in two or three streams, that he could find fords where his practised eye told him that the water would not be above his horse's belly—for the river was of great volume. Fortunately, there had been a late fall of snow on the higher ranges, and the river was, for the summer season, low.

Towards evening, having travelled, so far as he could guess, some twenty or five and twenty miles (for he had made another mid day halt), he reached the place, which he easily recognised, as that where he had camped before crossing to the pass that led into Erewhon. It was the last piece of ground that could be called a flat (though it was in reality only the sloping delta of a stream that descended from the pass) before reaching a large glacier that had encroached on the river-bed, which it traversed at right angles for a considerable distance.

Here he again camped, hobbled his horse, and turned him adrift, hoping that he might again find him some two or three months hence, for there was a good deal of sweet grass here and there, with sow-thistle and anise; and the coarse tussock grass would be in full seed shortly, which alone would keep him going for as long a time as my father expected to be away. Little did he think that he should want him again so shortly.

Having attended to his horse, he got his supper, and while smoking his pipe congratulated himself on the way in which something had smoothed away all the obstacles that had so nearly baffled him on his earlier journey. Was he being lured on to his destruction by some malicious fiend, or befriended by one who had compassion on him and wished him well? His naturally sanguine temperament inclined him to adopt the friendly spirit theory, in the peace of which he again laid himself down to rest, and slept soundly from dark till dawn.

In the morning, though the water was somewhat icy, he again bathed, and then put on his Erewhonian boots and dress. He stowed his European clothes, with some difficulty, into his saddle-bags. Herein also he left his case full of English sovereigns, his spare pipes, his purse, which contained two pounds in gold and seven or eight shillings, part of his stock of tobacco, and whatever provision was left him, except the meat—which he left for sundry hawks and parrots that were eyeing his proceedings apparently without fear of man. His nuggets he concealed in the secret pockets of which I have already spoken, keeping one bag alone accessible.

He had had his hair and beard cut short on shipboard the day before he landed. These he now dyed with a dye that he had brought from England, and which in a few minutes turned them very nearly black. He also stained his face and hands deep brown. He hung his saddle and bridle, his English boots, and his saddle-bags on the highest bough that he could reach, and made them fairly fast with strips of flax leaf, for there was some stunted flax growing on the ground where he had camped. He feared that, do what he might, they would not escape the inquisitive thievishness of the parrots, whose strong beaks could easily cut leather; but he could do nothing more. It occurs to me, though my father never told me so, that it was perhaps with a view to these birds that he had chosen to put his English sovereigns into a metal box, with a clasp to it which would defy them.

He made a roll of his blanket, and slung it over his shoulder; he also took his pipe, tobacco, a little tea, a few ship's biscuits, and his billy and pannikin; matches and salt go without saying. When he had thus ordered everything as nearly to his satisfaction as he could, he looked at his watch for the last time, as he believed, till many weeks should have gone by, and found it to be about seven o'clock. Remembering what trouble it had got him into years before, he took down his saddle-bags, reopened them, and put the watch inside. He then set himself to climb the mountain side, towards the saddle on which he had seen the statues.



CHAPTER III: MY FATHER WHILE CAMPING IS ACCOSTED BY PROFESSORS HANKY AND PANKY

My father found the ascent more fatiguing than he remembered it to have been. The climb, he said, was steady, and took him between four and five hours, as near as he could guess, now that he had no watch; but it offered nothing that could be called a difficulty, and the watercourse that came down from the saddle was a sufficient guide; once or twice there were waterfalls, but they did not seriously delay him.

After he had climbed some three thousand feet, he began to be on the alert for some sound of ghostly chanting from the statues; but he heard nothing, and toiled on till he came to a sprinkling of fresh snow—part of the fall which he had observed on the preceding day as having whitened the higher mountains; he knew, therefore, that he must now be nearing the saddle. The snow grew rapidly deeper, and by the time he reached the statues the ground was covered to a depth of two or three inches.

He found the statues smaller than he had expected. He had said in his book—written many months after he had seen them—that they were about six times the size of life, but he now thought that four or five times would have been enough to say. Their mouths were much clogged with snow, so that even though there had been a strong wind (which there was not) they would not have chanted. In other respects he found them not less mysteriously impressive than at first. He walked two or three times all round them, and then went on.

The snow did not continue far down, but before long my father entered a thick bank of cloud, and had to feel his way cautiously along the stream that descended from the pass. It was some two hours before he emerged into clear air, and found himself on the level bed of an old lake now grassed over. He had quite forgotten this feature of the descent—perhaps the clouds had hung over it; he was overjoyed, however, to find that the flat ground abounded with a kind of quail, larger than ours, and hardly, if at all, smaller than a partridge. The abundance of these quails surprised him, for he did not remember them as plentiful anywhere on the Erewhonian side of the mountains.

The Erewhonian quail, like its now nearly, if not quite, extinct New Zealand congener, can take three successive flights of a few yards each, but then becomes exhausted; hence quails are only found on ground that is never burned, and where there are no wild animals to molest them; the cats and dogs that accompany European civilisation soon exterminate them; my father, therefore, felt safe in concluding that he was still far from any village. Moreover he could see no sheep or goat's dung; and this surprised him, for he thought he had found signs of pasturage much higher than this. Doubtless, he said to himself, when he wrote his book he had forgotten how long the descent had been. But it was odd, for the grass was good feed enough, and ought, he considered, to have been well stocked.

Tired with his climb, during which he had not rested to take food, but had eaten biscuits, as he walked, he gave himself a good long rest, and when refreshed, he ran down a couple of dozen quails, some of which he meant to eat when he camped for the night, while the others would help him out of a difficulty which had been troubling him for some time.

What was he to say when people asked him, as they were sure to do, how he was living? And how was he to get enough Erewhonian money to keep him going till he could find some safe means of selling a few of his nuggets? He had had a little Erewhonian money when he went up in the balloon, but had thrown it over, with everything else except the clothes he wore and his MSS., when the balloon was nearing the water. He had nothing with him that he dared offer for sale, and though he had plenty of gold, was in reality penniless.

When, therefore, he saw the quails, he again felt as though some friendly spirit was smoothing his way before him. What more easy than to sell them at Coldharbour (for so the name of the town in which he had been imprisoned should be translated), where he knew they were a delicacy, and would fetch him the value of an English shilling a piece?

It took him between two and three hours to catch two dozen. When he had thus got what he considered a sufficient stock, he tied their legs together with rushes, and ran a stout stick through the whole lot. Soon afterwards he came upon a wood of stunted pines, which, though there was not much undergrowth, nevertheless afforded considerable shelter and enabled him to gather wood enough to make himself a good fire. This was acceptable, for though the days were long, it was now evening, and as soon as the sun had gone the air became crisp and frosty.

Here he resolved to pass the night. He chose a part where the trees were thickest, lit his fire, plucked and cleaned four quails, filled his billy with water from the stream hard by, made tea in his pannikin, grilled two of his birds on the embers, ate them, and when he had done all this, he lit his pipe and began to think things over. "So far so good," said he to himself; but hardly had the words passed through his mind before he was startled by the sound of voices, still at some distance, but evidently drawing towards him.

He instantly gathered up his billy, pannikin, tea, biscuits, and blanket, all of which he had determined to discard and hide on the following morning; everything that could betray him he carried full haste into the wood some few yards off, in the direction opposite to that from which the voices were coming, but he let his quails lie where they were, and put his pipe and tobacco in his pocket.

The voices drew nearer and nearer, and it was all my father could do to get back and sit down innocently by his fire, before he could hear what was being said.

"Thank goodness," said one of the speakers (of course in the Erewhonian language), "we seem to be finding somebody at last. I hope it is not some poacher; we had better be careful."

"Nonsense!" said the other. "It must be one of the rangers. No one would dare to light a fire while poaching on the King's preserves. What o'clock do you make it?"

"Half after nine." And the watch was still in the speaker's hand as he emerged from darkness into the glowing light of the fire. My father glanced at it, and saw that it was exactly like the one he had worn on entering Erewhon nearly twenty years previously.

The watch, however, was a very small matter; the dress of these two men (for there were only two) was far more disconcerting. They were not in the Erewhonian costume. The one was dressed like an Englishman or would- be Englishman, while the other was wearing the same kind of clothes but turned the wrong way round, so that when his face was towards my father his body seemed to have its back towards him, and vice verso. The man's head, in fact, appeared to have been screwed right round; and yet it was plain that if he were stripped he would be found built like other people.

What could it all mean? The men were about fifty years old. They were well-to-do people, well clad, well fed, and were felt instinctively by my father to belong to the academic classes. That one of them should be dressed like a sensible Englishman dismayed my father as much as that the other should have a watch, and look as if he had just broken out of Bedlam, or as King Dagobert must have looked if he had worn all his clothes as he is said to have worn his breeches. Both wore their clothes so easily—for he who wore them reversed had evidently been measured with a view to this absurd fashion—that it was plain their dress was habitual.

My father was alarmed as well as astounded, for he saw that what little plan of a campaign he had formed must be reconstructed, and he had no idea in what direction his next move should be taken; but he was a ready man, and knew that when people have taken any idea into their heads, a little confirmation will fix it. A first idea is like a strong seedling; it will grow if it can.

In less time than it will have taken the reader to get through the last foregoing paragraphs, my father took up the cue furnished him by the second speaker.

"Yes," said he, going boldly up to this gentleman, "I am one of the rangers, and it is my duty to ask you what you are doing here upon the King's preserves."

"Quite so, my man," was the rejoinder. "We have been to see the statues at the head of the pass, and have a permit from the Mayor of Sunch'ston to enter upon the preserves. We lost ourselves in the thick fog, both going and coming back."

My father inwardly blessed the fog. He did not catch the name of the town, but presently found that it was commonly pronounced as I have written it.

"Be pleased to show it me," said my father in his politest manner. On this a document was handed to him.

I will here explain that I shall translate the names of men and places, as well as the substance of the document; and I shall translate all names in future. Indeed I have just done so in the case of Sunch'ston. As an example, let me explain that the true Erewhonian names for Hanky and Panky, to whom the reader will be immediately introduced, are Sukoh and Sukop—names too cacophonous to be read with pleasure by the English public. I must ask the reader to believe that in all cases I am doing my best to give the spirit of the original name.

I would also express my regret that my father did not either uniformly keep to the true Erewhonian names, as in the cases of Senoj Nosnibor, Ydgrun, Thims, &c.—names which occur constantly in Erewhon—or else invariably invent a name, as he did whenever he considered the true name impossible. My poor mother's name, for example, was really Nna Haras, and Mahaina's Enaj Ysteb, which he dared not face. He, therefore, gave these characters the first names that euphony suggested, without any attempt at translation. Rightly or wrongly, I have determined to keep consistently to translation for all names not used in my father's book; and throughout, whether as regards names or conversations, I shall translate with the freedom without which no translation rises above construe level.

Let me now return to the permit. The earlier part of the document was printed, and ran as follows:-

"Extracts from the Act for the afforesting of certain lands lying between the town of Sunchildston, formerly called Coldharbour, and the mountains which bound the kingdom of Erewhon, passed in the year Three, being the eighth year of the reign of his Most Gracious Majesty King Well-beloved the Twenty-Second.

"Whereas it is expedient to prevent any of his Majesty's subjects from trying to cross over into unknown lands beyond the mountains, and in like manner to protect his Majesty's kingdom from intrusion on the part of foreign devils, it is hereby enacted that certain lands, more particularly described hereafter, shall be afforested and set apart as a hunting-ground for his Majesty's private use.

"It is also enacted that the Rangers and Under-rangers shall be required to immediately kill without parley any foreign devil whom they may encounter coming from the other side of the mountains. They are to weight the body, and throw it into the Blue Pool under the waterfall shown on the plan hereto annexed; but on pain of imprisonment for life they shall not reserve to their own use any article belonging to the deceased. Neither shall they divulge what they have done to any one save the Head Ranger, who shall report the circumstances of the case fully and minutely to his Majesty.

"As regards any of his Majesty's subjects who may be taken while trespassing on his Majesty's preserves without a special permit signed by the Mayor of Sunchildston, or any who may be convicted of poaching on the said preserves, the Rangers shall forthwith arrest them and bring them before the Mayor of Sunchildston, who shall enquire into their antecedents, and punish them with such term of imprisonment, with hard labour, as he may think fit, provided that no such term be of less duration than twelve calendar months.

"For the further provisions of the said Act, those whom it may concern are referred to the Act in full, a copy of which may be seen at the official residence of the Mayor of Sunchildston."

Then followed in MS. "XIX. xii. 29. Permit Professor Hanky, Royal Professor of Worldly Wisdom at Bridgeford, seat of learning, city of the people who are above suspicion, and Professor Panky, Royal Professor of Unworldly Wisdom in the said city, or either of them" [here the MS. ended, the rest of the permit being in print] "to pass freely during the space of forty-eight hours from the date hereof, over the King's preserves, provided, under pain of imprisonment with hard labour for twelve months, that they do not kill, nor cause to be killed, nor eat, if another have killed, any one or more of his Majesty's quails."

The signature was such a scrawl that my father could not read it, but underneath was printed, "Mayor of Sunchildston, formerly called Coldharbour."

What a mass of information did not my father gather as he read, but what a far greater mass did he not see that he must get hold of ere he could reconstruct his plans intelligently.

"The year three," indeed; and XIX. xii. 29, in Roman and Arabic characters! There were no such characters when he was in Erewhon before. It flashed upon him that he had repeatedly shewn them to the Nosnibors, and had once even written them down. It could not be that . . . No, it was impossible; and yet there was the European dress, aimed at by the one Professor, and attained by the other. Again "XIX." what was that? "xii." might do for December, but it was now the 4th of December not the 29th. "Afforested" too? Then that was why he had seen no sheep tracks. And how about the quails he had so innocently killed? What would have happened if he had tried to sell them in Coldharbour? What other like fatal error might he not ignorantly commit? And why had Coldharbour become Sunchildston?

These thoughts raced through my poor father's brain as he slowly perused the paper handed to him by the Professors. To give himself time he feigned to be a poor scholar, but when he had delayed as long as he dared, he returned it to the one who had given it him. Without changing a muscle he said—

"Your permit, sir, is quite regular. You can either stay here the night or go on to Sunchildston as you think fit. May I ask which of you two gentlemen is Professor Hanky, and which Professor Panky?"

"My name is Panky," said the one who had the watch, who wore his clothes reversed, and who had thought my father might be a poacher.

"And mine Hanky," said the other.

"What do you think, Panky," he added, turning to his brother Professor, "had we not better stay here till sunrise? We are both of us tired, and this fellow can make us a good fire. It is very dark, and there will be no moon this two hours. We are hungry, but we can hold out till we get to Sunchildston; it cannot be more than eight or nine miles further down."

Panky assented, but then, turning sharply to my father, he said, "My man, what are you doing in the forbidden dress? Why are you not in ranger's uniform, and what is the meaning of all those quails?" For his seedling idea that my father was in reality a poacher was doing its best to grow.

Quick as thought my father answered, "The Head Ranger sent me a message this morning to deliver him three dozen quails at Sunchildston by to-morrow afternoon. As for the dress, we can run the quails down quicker in it, and he says nothing to us so long as we only wear out old clothes and put on our uniforms before we near the town. My uniform is in the ranger's shelter an hour and a half higher up the valley."

"See what comes," said Panky, "of having a whippersnapper not yet twenty years old in the responsible post of Head Ranger. As for this fellow, he may be speaking the truth, but I distrust him."

"The man is all right, Panky," said Hanky, "and seems to be a decent fellow enough." Then to my father, "How many brace have you got?" And he looked at them a little wistfully.

"I have been at it all day, sir, and I have only got eight brace. I must run down ten more brace to-morrow."

"I see, I see." Then, turning to Panky, he said, "Of course, they are wanted for the Mayor's banquet on Sunday. By the way, we have not yet received our invitation; I suppose we shall find it when we get back to Sunchildston."

"Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" groaned my father inwardly; but he changed not a muscle of his face, and said stolidly to Professor Hanky, "I think you must be right, sir; but there was nothing said about it to me, I was only told to bring the birds."

Thus tenderly did he water the Professor's second seedling. But Panky had his seedling too, and, Cain-like, was jealous that Hanky's should flourish while his own was withering.

"And what, pray, my man," he said somewhat peremptorily to my father, "are those two plucked quails doing? Were you to deliver them plucked? And what bird did those bones belong to which I see lying by the fire with the flesh all eaten off them? Are the under-rangers allowed not only to wear the forbidden dress but to eat the King's quails as well?"

The form in which the question was asked gave my father his cue. He laughed heartily, and said, "Why, sir, those plucked birds are landrails, not quails, and those bones are landrail bones. Look at this thigh-bone; was there ever a quail with such a bone as that?"

I cannot say whether or no Professor Panky was really deceived by the sweet effrontery with which my father proffered him the bone. If he was taken in, his answer was dictated simply by a donnish unwillingness to allow any one to be better informed on any subject than he was himself.

My father, when I suggested this to him, would not hear of it. "Oh no," he said; "the man knew well enough that I was lying." However this may be, the Professor's manner changed.

"You are right," he said, "I thought they were landrail bones, but was not sure till I had one in my hand. I see, too, that the plucked birds are landrails, but there is little light, and I have not often seen them without their feathers."

"I think," said my father to me, "that Hanky knew what his friend meant, for he said, 'Panky, I am very hungry.'"

"Oh, Hanky, Hanky," said the other, modulating his harsh voice till it was quite pleasant. "Don't corrupt the poor man."

"Panky, drop that; we are not at Bridgeford now; I am very hungry, and I believe half those birds are not quails but landrails."

My father saw he was safe. He said, "Perhaps some of them might prove to be so, sir, under certain circumstances. I am a poor man, sir."

"Come, come," said Hanky; and he slipped a sum equal to about half-a-crown into my father's hand.

"I do not know what you mean, sir," said my father, "and if I did, half-a- crown would not be nearly enough."

"Hanky," said Panky, "you must get this fellow to give you lessons."



CHAPTER IV: MY FATHER OVERHEARS MORE OF HANKY AND PANKY'S CONVERSATION

My father, schooled under adversity, knew that it was never well to press advantage too far. He took the equivalent of five shillings for three brace, which was somewhat less than the birds would have been worth when things were as he had known them. Moreover, he consented to take a shilling's worth of Musical Bank money, which (as he has explained in his book) has no appreciable value outside these banks. He did this because he knew that it would be respectable to be seen carrying a little Musical Bank money, and also because he wished to give some of it to the British Museum, where he knew that this curious coinage was unrepresented. But the coins struck him as being much thinner and smaller than he had remembered them.

It was Panky, not Hanky, who had given him the Musical Bank money. Panky was the greater humbug of the two, for he would humbug even himself—a thing, by the way, not very hard to do; and yet he was the less successful humbug, for he could humbug no one who was worth humbugging—not for long. Hanky's occasional frankness put people off their guard. He was the mere common, superficial, perfunctory Professor, who, being a Professor, would of course profess, but would not lie more than was in the bond; he was log-rolled and log-rolling, but still, in a robust wolfish fashion, human.

Panky, on the other hand, was hardly human; he had thrown himself so earnestly into his work, that he had become a living lie. If he had had to play the part of Othello he would have blacked himself all over, and very likely smothered his Desdemona in good earnest. Hanky would hardly have blacked himself behind the ears, and his Desdemona would have been quite safe.

Philosophers are like quails in the respect that they can take two or three flights of imagination, but rarely more without an interval of repose. The Professors had imagined my father to be a poacher and a ranger; they had imagined the quails to be wanted for Sunday's banquet; they had imagined that they imagined (at least Panky had) that they were about to eat landrails; they were now exhausted, and cowered down into the grass of their ordinary conversation, paying no more attention to my father than if he had been a log. He, poor man, drank in every word they said, while seemingly intent on nothing but his quails, each one of which he cut up with a knife borrowed from Hanky. Two had been plucked already, so he laid these at once upon the clear embers.

"I do not know what we are to do with ourselves," said Hanky, "till Sunday. To-day is Thursday—it is the twenty-ninth, is it not? Yes, of course it is—Sunday is the first. Besides, it is on our permit. To-morrow we can rest; what, I wonder, can we do on Saturday? But the others will be here then, and we can tell them about the statues."

"Yes, but mind you do not blurt out anything about the landrails."

"I think we may tell Dr. Downie."

"Tell nobody," said Panky.

They then talked about the statues, concerning which it was plain that nothing was known. But my father soon broke in upon their conversation with the first instalment of quails, which a few minutes had sufficed to cook.

"What a delicious bird a quail is," said Hanky.

"Landrail, Hanky, landrail," said the other reproachfully.

Having finished the first birds in a very few minutes they returned to the statues.

"Old Mrs. Nosnibor," said Panky, "says the Sunchild told her they were symbolic of ten tribes who had incurred the displeasure of the sun, his father."

I make no comment on my father's feelings.

"Of the sun! his fiddlesticks' ends," retorted Hanky. "He never called the sun his father. Besides, from all I have heard about him, I take it he was a precious idiot."

"O Hanky, Hanky! you will wreck the whole thing if you ever allow yourself to talk in that way."

"You are more likely to wreck it yourself, Panky, by never doing so. People like being deceived, but they like also to have an inkling of their own deception, and you never inkle them."

"The Queen," said Panky, returning to the statues, "sticks to it that . . . "

"Here comes another bird," interrupted Hanky; "never mind about the Queen."

The bird was soon eaten, whereon Panky again took up his parable about the Queen.

"The Queen says they are connected with the cult of the ancient Goddess Kiss-me-quick."

"What if they are? But the Queen sees Kiss-me-quick in everything. Another quail, if you please, Mr. Ranger."

My father brought up another bird almost directly. Silence while it was being eaten.

"Talking of the Sunchild," said Panky; "did you ever see him?"

"Never set eyes on him, and hope I never shall."

And so on till the last bird was eaten.

"Fellow," said Panky, "fetch some more wood; the fire is nearly dead."

"I can find no more, sir," said my father, who was afraid lest some genuine ranger might be attracted by the light, and was determined to let it go out as soon as he had done cooking.

"Never mind," said Hanky, "the moon will be up soon."

"And now, Hanky," said Panky, "tell me what you propose to say on Sunday. I suppose you have pretty well made up your mind about it by this time."

"Pretty nearly. I shall keep it much on the usual lines. I shall dwell upon the benighted state from which the Sunchild rescued us, and shall show how the Musical Banks, by at once taking up the movement, have been the blessed means of its now almost universal success. I shall talk about the immortal glory shed upon Sunch'ston by the Sunchild's residence in the prison, and wind up with the Sunchild Evidence Society, and an earnest appeal for funds to endow the canonries required for the due service of the temple."

"Temple! what temple?" groaned my father inwardly.

"And what are you going to do about the four black and white horses?"

"Stick to them, of course—unless I make them six."

"I really do not see why they might not have been horses."

"I dare say you do not," returned the other drily, "but they were black and white storks, and you know that as well as I do. Still, they have caught on, and they are in the altar-piece, prancing and curvetting magnificently, so I shall trot them out."

"Altar-piece! Altar-piece!" again groaned my father inwardly.

He need not have groaned, for when he came to see the so-called altar- piece he found that the table above which it was placed had nothing in common with the altar in a Christian church. It was a mere table, on which were placed two bowls full of Musical Bank coins; two cashiers, who sat on either side of it, dispensed a few of these to all comers, while there was a box in front of it wherein people deposited coin of the realm according to their will or ability. The idea of sacrifice was not contemplated, and the position of the table, as well as the name given to it, was an instance of the way in which the Erewhonians had caught names and practices from my father, without understanding what they either were or meant. So, again, when Professor Hanky had spoken of canonries, he had none but the vaguest idea of what a canonry is.

I may add further that as a boy my father had had his Bible well drilled into him, and never forgot it. Hence biblical passages and expressions had been often in his mouth, as the effect of mere unconscious cerebration. The Erewhonians had caught many of these, sometimes corrupting them so that they were hardly recognizable. Things that he remembered having said were continually meeting him during the few days of his second visit, and it shocked him deeply to meet some gross travesty of his own words, or of words more sacred than his own, and yet to be unable to correct it. "I wonder," he said to me, "that no one has ever hit on this as a punishment for the damned in Hades."

Let me now return to Professor Hanky, whom I fear that I have left too long.

"And of course," he continued, "I shall say all sorts of pretty things about the Mayoress—for I suppose we must not even think of her as Yram now."

"The Mayoress," replied Panky, "is a very dangerous woman; see how she stood out about the way in which the Sunchild had worn his clothes before they gave him the then Erewhonian dress. Besides, she is a sceptic at heart, and so is that precious son of hers."

"She was quite right," said Hanky, with something of a snort. "She brought him his dinner while he was still wearing the clothes he came in, and if men do not notice how a man wears his clothes, women do. Besides, there are many living who saw him wear them."

"Perhaps," said Panky, "but we should never have talked the King over if we had not humoured him on this point. Yram nearly wrecked us by her obstinacy. If we had not frightened her, and if your study, Hanky, had not happened to have been burned . . . "

"Come, come, Panky, no more of that."

"Of course I do not doubt that it was an accident; nevertheless if your study had not been accidentally burned, on the very night the clothes were entrusted to you for earnest, patient, careful, scientific investigation—and Yram very nearly burned too—we should never have carried it through. See what work we had to get the King to allow the way in which the clothes were worn to be a matter of opinion, not dogma. What a pity it is that the clothes were not burned before the King's tailor had copied them."

Hanky laughed heartily enough. "Yes," he said, "it was touch and go. Why, I wonder, could not the Queen have put the clothes on a dummy that would show back from front? As soon as it was brought into the council chamber the King jumped to a conclusion, and we had to bundle both dummy and Yram out of the royal presence, for neither she nor the King would budge an inch.

Even Panky smiled. "What could we do? The common people almost worship Yram; and so does her husband, though her fair-haired eldest son was born barely seven months after marriage. The people in these parts like to think that the Sunchild's blood is in the country, and yet they swear through thick and thin that he is the Mayor's duly begotten offspring—Faugh! Do you think they would have stood his being jobbed into the rangership by any one else but Yram?"

My father's feelings may be imagined, but I will not here interrupt the Professors.

"Well, well," said Hanky; "for men must rob and women must job so long as the world goes on. I did the best I could. The King would never have embraced Sunchildism if I had not told him he was right; then, when satisfied that we agreed with him, he yielded to popular prejudice and allowed the question to remain open. One of his Royal Professors was to wear the clothes one way, and the other the other."

"My way of wearing them," said Panky, "is much the most convenient."

"Not a bit of it," said Hanky warmly. On this the two Professors fell out, and the discussion grew so hot that my father interfered by advising them not to talk so loud lest another ranger should hear them. "You know," he said, "there are a good many landrail bones lying about, and it might be awkward."

The Professors hushed at once. "By the way," said Panky, after a pause, "it is very strange about those footprints in the snow. The man had evidently walked round the statues two or three times, as though they were strange to him, and he had certainly come from the other side."

"It was one of the rangers," said Hanky impatiently, "who had gone a little beyond the statues, and come back again."

"Then we should have seen his footprints as he went. I am glad I measured them."

"There is nothing in it; but what were your measurements?"

"Eleven inches by four and a half; nails on the soles; one nail missing on the right foot and two on the left." Then, turning to my father quickly, he said, "My man, allow me to have a look at your boots."

"Nonsense, Panky, nonsense!"

Now my father by this time was wondering whether he should not set upon these two men, kill them if he could, and make the best of his way back, but he had still a card to play.

"Certainly, sir," said he, "but I should tell you that they are not my boots."

He took off his right boot and handed it to Panky.

"Exactly so! Eleven inches by four and a half, and one nail missing. And now, Mr. Ranger, will you be good enough to explain how you became possessed of that boot. You need not show me the other." And he spoke like an examiner who was confident that he could floor his examinee in viva voce.

"You know our orders," answered my father, "you have seen them on your permit. I met one of those foreign devils from the other side, of whom we have had more than one lately; he came from out of the clouds that hang higher up, and as he had no permit and could not speak a word of our language, I gripped him, flung him, and strangled him. Thus far I was only obeying orders, but seeing how much better his boots were than mine, and finding that they would fit me, I resolved to keep them. You may be sure I should not have done so if I had known there was snow on the top of the pass."

"He could not invent that," said Hanky; "it is plain he has not been up to the statues."

Panky was staggered. "And of course," said he ironically, "you took nothing from this poor wretch except his boots."

"Sir," said my father, "I will make a clean breast of everything. I flung his body, his clothes, and my own old boots into the pool; but I kept his blanket, some things he used for cooking, and some strange stuff that looks like dried leaves, as well as a small bag of something which I believe is gold. I thought I could sell the lot to some dealer in curiosities who would ask no questions."

"And what, pray, have you done with all these things?"

"They are here, sir." And as he spoke he dived into the wood, returning with the blanket, billy, pannikin, tea, and the little bag of nuggets, which he had kept accessible.

"This is very strange," said Hanky, who was beginning to be afraid of my father when he learned that he sometimes killed people.

Here the Professors talked hurriedly to one another in a tongue which my father could not understand, but which he felt sure was the hypothetical language of which he has spoken in his book.

Presently Hanky said to my father quite civilly, "And what, my good man, do you propose to do with all these things? I should tell you at once that what you take to be gold is nothing of the kind; it is a base metal, hardly, if at all, worth more than copper."

"I have had enough of them; to-morrow morning I shall take them with me to the Blue Pool, and drop them into it."

"It is a pity you should do that," said Hanky musingly: "the things are interesting as curiosities, and—and—and—what will you take for them?"

"I could not do it, sir," answered my father. "I would not do it, no, not for—" and he named a sum equivalent to about five pounds of our money. For he wanted Erewhonian money, and thought it worth his while to sacrifice his ten pounds' worth of nuggets in order to get a supply of current coin.

Hanky tried to beat him down, assuring him that no curiosity dealer would give half as much, and my father so far yielded as to take 4 pounds, 10s. in silver, which, as I have already explained, would not be worth more than half a sovereign in gold. At this figure a bargain was struck, and the Professors paid up without offering him a single Musical Bank coin. They wanted to include the boots in the purchase, but here my father stood out.

But he could not stand out as regards another matter, which caused him some anxiety. Panky insisted that my father should give them a receipt for the money, and there was an altercation between the Professors on this point, much longer than I can here find space to give. Hanky argued that a receipt was useless, inasmuch as it would be ruin to my father ever to refer to the subject again. Panky, however, was anxious, not lest my father should again claim the money, but (though he did not say so outright) lest Hanky should claim the whole purchase as his own. In so the end Panky, for a wonder, carried the day, and a receipt was drawn up to the effect that the undersigned acknowledged to have received from Professors Hanky and Panky the sum of 4 pounds, 10s. (I translate the amount), as joint purchasers of certain pieces of yellow ore, a blanket, and sundry articles found without an owner in the King's preserves. This paper was dated, as the permit had been, XIX. xii. 29.

My father, generally so ready, was at his wits' end for a name, and could think of none but Mr. Nosnibor's. Happily, remembering that this gentleman had also been called Senoj—a name common enough in Erewhon—he signed himself "Senoj, Under-ranger."

Panky was now satisfied. "We will put it in the bag," he said, "with the pieces of yellow ore."

"Put it where you like," said Hanky contemptuously; and into the bag it was put.

When all was now concluded, my father laughingly said, "If you have dealt unfairly by me, I forgive you. My motto is, 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.'"

"Repeat those last words," said Panky eagerly. My father was alarmed at his manner, but thought it safer to repeat them.

"You hear that, Hanky? I am convinced; I have not another word to say. The man is a true Erewhonian; he has our corrupt reading of the Sunchild's prayer."

"Please explain."

"Why, can you not see?" said Panky, who was by way of being great at conjectural emendations. "Can you not see how impossible it is for the Sunchild, or any of the people to whom he declared (as we now know provisionally) that he belonged, could have made the forgiveness of his own sins depend on the readiness with which he forgave other people? No man in his senses would dream of such a thing. It would be asking a supposed all-powerful being not to forgive his sins at all, or at best to forgive them imperfectly. No; Yram got it wrong. She mistook 'but do not' for 'as we.' The sound of the words is very much alike; the correct reading should obviously be, 'Forgive us our trespasses, but do not forgive them that trespass against us.' This makes sense, and turns an impossible prayer into one that goes straight to the heart of every one of us." Then, turning to my father, he said, "You can see this, my man, can you not, as soon as it is pointed out to you?"

My father said that he saw it now, but had always heard the words as he had himself spoken them.

"Of course you have, my good fellow, and it is because of this that I know they never can have reached you except from an Erewhonian source."

Hanky smiled,—snorted, and muttered in an undertone, "I shall begin to think that this fellow is a foreign devil after all."

"And now, gentlemen," said my father, "the moon is risen. I must be after the quails at daybreak; I will therefore go to the ranger's shelter" (a shelter, by the way, which existed only in my father's invention), "and get a couple of hours' sleep, so as to be both close to the quail-ground; and fresh for running. You are so near the boundary of the preserves that you will not want your permit further; no one will meet you, and should any one do so, you need only give your names and say that you have made a mistake. You will have to give it up to-morrow at the Ranger's office; it will save you trouble if I collect it now, and give it up when I deliver my quails.

"As regards the curiosities, hide them as you best can outside the limits. I recommend you to carry them at once out of the forest, and rest beyond the limits rather than here. You can then recover them whenever, and in whatever way, you may find convenient. But I hope you will say nothing about any foreign devil's having come over on to this side. Any whisper to this effect unsettles people's minds, and they are too much unsettled already; hence our orders to kill any one from over there at once, and to tell no one but the Head Ranger. I was forced by you, gentlemen, to disobey these orders in self-defence; I must trust your generosity to keep what I have told you secret. I shall, of course, report it to the Head Ranger. And now, if you think proper, you can give me up your permit."

All this was so plausible that the Professors gave up their permit without a word but thanks. They bundled their curiosities hurriedly into "the poor foreign devil's" blanket, reserving a more careful packing till they were out of the preserves. They wished my father a very good night, and all success with his quails in the morning; they thanked him again for the care he had taken of them in the matter of the landrails, and Panky even went so far as to give him a few Musical Bank coins, which he gratefully accepted. They then started off in the direction of Sunch'ston.

My father gathered up the remaining quails, some of which he meant to eat in the morning, while the others he would throw away as soon as he could find a safe place. He turned towards the mountains, but before he had gone a dozen yards he heard a voice, which he recognised as Panky's, shouting after him, and saying—

"Mind you do not forget the true reading of the Sunchild's prayer."

"You are an old fool," shouted my father in English, knowing that he could hardly be heard, still less understood, and thankful to relieve his feelings.



CHAPTER V: MY FATHER MEETS A SON, OF WHOSE EXISTENCE HE WAS IGNORANT; AND STRIKES A BARGAIN WITH HIM

The incidents recorded in the two last chapters had occupied about two hours, so that it was nearly midnight before my father could begin to retrace his steps and make towards the camp that he had left that morning. This was necessary, for he could not go any further in a costume that he now knew to be forbidden. At this hour no ranger was likely to meet him before he reached the statues, and by making a push for it he could return in time to cross the limits of the preserves before the Professors' permit had expired. If challenged, he must brazen it out that he was one or other of the persons therein named.

Fatigued though he was, he reached the statues as near as he could guess, at about three in the morning. What little wind there had been was warm, so that the tracks, which the Professors must have seen shortly after he had made them, had disappeared. The statues looked very weird in the moonlight but they were not chanting.

While ascending, he pieced together the information he had picked up from the Professors. Plainly, the Sunchild, or child of the sun, was none other than himself, and the new name of Coldharbour was doubtless intended to commemorate the fact that this was the first town he had reached in Erewhon. Plainly, also, he was supposed to be of superhuman origin—his flight in the balloon having been not unnaturally believed to be miraculous. The Erewhonians had for centuries been effacing all knowledge of their former culture; archaeologists, indeed, could still glean a little from museums, and from volumes hard to come by, and still harder to understand; but archaeologists were few, and even though they had made researches (which they may or may not have done), their labours had never reached the masses. What wonder, then, that the mushroom spawn of myth, ever present in an atmosphere highly charged with ignorance, had germinated in a soil so favourably prepared for its reception?

He saw it all now. It was twenty years next Sunday since he and my mother had eloped. That was the meaning of XIX. xii. 29. They had made a new era, dating from the day of his return to the palace of the sun with a bride who was doubtless to unite the Erewhonian nature with that of the sun. The New Year, then, would date from Sunday, December 7, which would therefore become XX. i. 1. The Thursday, now nearly if not quite over, being only two days distant from the end of a month of thirty- one days, which was also the last of the year, would be XIX. xii. 29, as on the Professors' permit.

I should like to explain here what will appear more clearly on a later page—I mean, that the Erewhonians, according to their new system, do not believe the sun to be a god except as regards this world and his other planets. My father had told them a little about astronomy, and had assured them that all the fixed stars were suns like our own, with planets revolving round them, which were probably tenanted by intelligent living beings, however unlike they might be to ourselves. From this they evolved the theory that the sun was the ruler of this planetary system, and that he must be personified, as they had personified the air-god, the gods of time and space, hope, justice, and the other deities mentioned in my father's book. They retain their old belief in the actual existence of these gods, but they now make them all subordinate to the sun. The nearest approach they make to our own conception of God is to say that He is the ruler over all the suns throughout the universe—the suns being to Him much as our planets and their denizens are to our own sun. They deny that He takes more interest in one sun and its system than in another. All the suns with their attendant planets are supposed to be equally His children, and He deputes to each sun the supervision and protection of its own system. Hence they say that though we may pray to the air-god, &c., and even to the sun, we must not pray to God. We may be thankful to Him for watching over the suns, but we must not go further.

Going back to my father's reflections, he perceived that the Erewhonians had not only adopted our calendar, as he had repeatedly explained it to the Nosnibors, but had taken our week as well, and were making Sunday a high day, just as we do. Next Sunday, in commemoration of the twentieth year after his ascent, they were about to dedicate a temple to him; in this there was to be a picture showing himself and his earthly bride on their heavenward journey, in a chariot drawn by four black and white horses—which, however, Professor Hanky had positively affirmed to have been only storks.

Here I interrupted my father. "But were there," I said, "any storks?"

"Yes," he answered. "As soon as I heard Hanky's words I remembered that a flight of some four or five of the large storks so common in Erewhon during the summer months had been wheeling high aloft in one of those aerial dances that so much delight them. I had quite forgotten it, but it came back to me at once that these creatures, attracted doubtless by what they took to be an unknown kind of bird, swooped down towards the balloon and circled round it like so many satellites to a heavenly body. I was fearful lest they should strike at it with their long and formidable beaks, in which case all would have been soon over; either they were afraid, or they had satisfied their curiosity—at any rate, they let us alone; but they kept with us till we were well away from the capital. Strange, how completely this incident had escaped me."

I return to my father's thoughts as he made his way back to his old camp.

As for the reversed position of Professor Panky's clothes, he remembered having given his own old ones to the Queen, and having thought that she might have got a better dummy on which to display them than the headless scarecrow, which, however, he supposed was all her ladies-in-waiting could lay their hands on at the moment. If that dummy had never been replaced, it was perhaps not very strange that the King could not at the first glance tell back from front, and if he did not guess right at first, there was little chance of his changing, for his first ideas were apt to be his last. But he must find out more about this.

Then how about the watch? Had their views about machinery also changed? Or was there an exception made about any machine that he had himself carried?

Yram too. She must have been married not long after she and he had parted. So she was now wife to the Mayor, and was evidently able to have things pretty much her own way in Sunch'ston, as he supposed he must now call it. Thank heaven she was prosperous! It was interesting to know that she was at heart a sceptic, as was also her light-haired son, now Head Ranger. And that son? Just twenty years of age! Born seven months after marriage! Then the Mayor doubtless had light hair too; but why did not those wretches say in which month Yram was married? If she had married soon after he had left, this was why he had not been sent for or written to. Pray heaven it was so. As for current gossip, people would talk, and if the lad was well begotten, what could it matter to them whose son he was? "But," thought my father, "I am glad I did not meet him on my way down. I had rather have been killed by some one else."

Hanky and Panky again. He remembered Bridgeford as the town where the Colleges of Unreason had been most rife; he had visited it, but he had forgotten that it was called "The city of the people who are above suspicion." Its Professors were evidently going to muster in great force on Sunday; if two of them had robbed him, he could forgive them, for the information he had gleaned from them had furnished him with a pied a terre. Moreover, he had got as much Erewhonian money as he should want, for he had resolved to retrace his steps immediately after seeing the temple dedicated to himself. He knew the danger he should run in returning over the preserves without a permit, but his curiosity was so great that he resolved to risk it.

Soon after he had passed the statues he began to descend, and it being now broad day, he did so by leaps and bounds, for the ground was not precipitous. He reached his old camp soon after five—this, at any rate, was the hour at which he set his watch on finding that it had run down during his absence. There was now no reason why he should not take it with him, so he put it in his pocket. The parrots had attacked his saddle-bags, saddle, and bridle, as they were sure to do, but they had not got inside the bags. He took out his English clothes and put them on—stowing his bags of gold in various pockets, but keeping his Erewhonian money in the one that was most accessible. He put his Erewhonian dress back into the saddle-bags, intending to keep it as a curiosity; he also refreshed the dye upon his hands, face, and hair; he lit himself a fire, made tea, cooked and ate two brace of quails, which he had plucked while walking so as to save time, and then flung himself on to the ground to snatch an hour's very necessary rest. When he woke he found he had slept two hours, not one, which was perhaps as well, and by eight he began to reascend the pass.

He reached the statues about noon, for he allowed himself not a moment's rest. This time there was a stiffish wind, and they were chanting lustily. He passed them with all speed, and had nearly reached the place where he had caught the quails, when he saw a man in a dress which he guessed at once to be a ranger's, but which, strangely enough, seeing that he was in the King's employ, was not reversed. My father's heart beat fast; he got out his permit and held it open in his hand, then with a smiling face he went towards the Ranger, who was standing his ground.

"I believe you are the Head Ranger," said my father, who saw that he was still smooth-faced and had light hair. "I am Professor Panky, and here is my permit. My brother Professor has been prevented from coming with me, and, as you see, I am alone."

My father had professed to pass himself off as Panky, for he had rather gathered that Hanky was the better known man of the two.

While the youth was scrutinising the permit, evidently with suspicion, my father took stock of him, and saw his own past self in him too plainly—knowing all he knew—to doubt whose son he was. He had the greatest difficulty in hiding his emotion, for the lad was indeed one of whom any father might be proud. He longed to be able to embrace him and claim him for what he was, but this, as he well knew, might not be. The tears again welled into his eyes when he told me of the struggle with himself that he had then had.

"Don't be jealous, my dearest boy," he said to me. "I love you quite as dearly as I love him, or better, but he was sprung upon me so suddenly, and dazzled me with his comely debonair face, so full of youth, and health, and frankness. Did you see him, he would go straight to your heart, for he is wonderfully like you in spite of your taking so much after your poor mother."

I was not jealous; on the contrary, I longed to see this youth, and find in him such a brother as I had often wished to have. But let me return to my father's story.

The young man, after examining the permit, declared it to be in form, and returned it to my father, but he eyed him with polite disfavour.

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