The Dynamiter

Page 97

Your expressions may pain, they cannot surprise me; I am aware our point of view requires a little training, a little moral hygiene, if I may so express it; and one of the points that has always charmed me in your character is this delightful frankness. As for the small advance, it shall be remitted you from Philadelphia.'

'It shall not,' said Somerset.

'Dear fellow, you do not understand,' returned the plotter. 'I shall now be received with fresh confidence by my superiors; and my experiments will be no longer hampered by pitiful conditions of the purse.'

'What I am now about, sir, is a crime,' replied Somerset; 'and were you to roll in wealth like Vanderbilt, I should scorn to be reimbursed of money I had so scandalously misapplied. Take it, and keep it. By George, sir, three days of you have transformed me to an ancient Roman.'

With these words, Somerset hailed a passing hansom; and the pair were driven rapidly to the railway terminus. There, an oath having been exacted, the money changed hands.

'And now,' said Somerset, 'I have bought back my honour with every penny I possess. And I thank God, though there is nothing before me but starvation, I am free from all entanglement with Mr. Zero Pumpernickel Jones.'

'To starve?' cried Zero. 'Dear fellow, I cannot endure the thought.'

'Take your ticket!' returned Somerset.

'I think you display temper,' said Zero.

'Take your ticket,' reiterated the young man.

'Well,' said the plotter, as he returned, ticket in hand, 'your attitude is so strange and painful, that I scarce know if I should ask you to shake hands.'

'As a man, no,' replied Somerset; 'but I have no objection to shake hands with you, as I might with a pump-well that ran poison or bell-fire.'

'This is a very cold parting,' sighed the dynamiter; and still followed by Somerset, he began to descend the platform. This was now bustling with passengers; the train for Liverpool was just about to start, another had but recently arrived; and the double tide made movement difficult. As the pair reached the neighbourhood of the bookstall, however, they came into an open space; and here the attention of the plotter was attracted by a Standard broadside bearing the words: 'Second Edition: Explosion in Golden Square.' His eye lighted; groping in his pocket for the necessary coin, he sprang forward--his bag knocked sharply on the corner of the stall--and instantly, with a formidable report, the dynamite exploded. When the smoke cleared away the stall was seen much shattered, and the stall keeper running forth in terror from the ruins; but of the Irish patriot or the Gladstone bag no adequate remains were to be found.

In the first scramble of the alarm, Somerset made good his escape, and came out upon the Euston Road, his head spinning, his body sick with hunger, and his pockets destitute of coin. Yet as he continued to walk the pavements, he wondered to find in his heart a sort of peaceful exultation, a great content, a sense, as it were, of divine presence and the kindliness of fate; and he was able to tell himself that even if the worst befell, he could now starve with a certain comfort since Zero was expunged.

Late in the afternoon, he found himself at the door of Mr. Godall's shop; and being quite unmanned by his long fast, and scarce considering what he did, he opened the glass door and entered.

'Ha!' said Mr. Godall, 'Mr. Somerset! Well, have you met with an adventure? Have you the promised story? Sit down, if you please; suffer me to choose you a cigar of my own special brand; and reward me with a narrative in your best style.'

'I must not take a cigar,' said Somerset.

'Indeed!' said Mr. Godall. 'But now I come to look at you more closely, I perceive that you are changed. My poor boy, I hope there is nothing wrong?'

Somerset burst into tears.


On a certain day of lashing rain in the December of last year, and between the hours of nine and ten in the morning, Mr. Edward Challoner pioneered himself under an umbrella to the door of the Cigar Divan in Rupert Street.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book