[From The Amazing Adventures of Father Brown, by G.K.
The Honour of Israel Gow
A stormy evening of olive and silver was closing in, as Father
Brown, wrapped in a grey Scotch plaid, came to the end of a grey
Scotch valley and beheld the strange castle of Glengyle. It
stopped one end of the glen or hollow like a blind alley; and it
looked like the end of the world. Rising in steep roofs and
spires of seagreen slate in the manner of the old French-Scotch
chateaux, it reminded an Englishman of the sinister steeple-hats
of witches in fairy tales; and the pine woods that rocked round
the green turrets looked, by comparison, as black as numberless
flocks of ravens. This note of a dreamy, almost a sleepy devilry,
was no mere fancy from the landscape. For there did rest on the
place one of those clouds of pride and madness and mysterious
sorrow which lie more heavily on the noble houses of Scotland
than on any other of the children of men. For Scotland has a
double dose of the poison called heredity; the sense of blood in
the aristocrat, and the sense of doom in the Calvinist.
The priest had snatched a day from his business at Glasgow
to meet his friend Flambeau, the amateur detective, who was at
Glengyle Castle with another more formal officer investigating
the life and death of the late Earl of Glengyle. That mysterious
person was the last representative of a race whose valour,
insanity, and violent cunning had made them terrible even among
the sinister nobility of their nation in the sixteenth century.
None were deeper in that labyrinthine ambition, in chamber within
chamber of that palace of lies that was built up around Mary
Queen of Scots.
The rhyme in the countryside attested the motive and the
result of their machinations candidly.
As green sap to the simmer trees
For many centuries there had never been a decent lord in
Glengyle Castle; and with the Victorian era one would have
thought that all eccentricities were exhausted. The last
Glengyle, however, satisfied his tribal tradition by doing the
only thing that was left for him to do; he disappeared. I do not
mean that he went abroad; by all accounts he was still in the
castle, if he was anywhere. But though his name was in the church
register and the big red Peerage, nobody ever saw him under the
Is red gold to the Ogilvies.
If anyone saw him it was a solitary manservant, something
between a groom and a gardener. He was so deaf that the more
businesslike assumed him to be dumb; while the more penetrating
declared him to be half-witted. A gaunt, red-haired labourer,
with a dogged jaw and chin, but quite blank blue eyes, he went by
the name of Israel Gow, and was the one silent servant on that
deserted estate. But the energy with which he dug potatoes, and
the regularity with which he disappeared into the kitchen gave
people an impression that he was providing for the meals of a
superior, and that the strange earl was still concealed in the
castle. If society needed any further proof that he was there,
the servant persistently asserted that he was not at home. One
morning the provost and the minister (for the Glengyles were
Presbyterian) were summoned to the castle. There they found that
the gardener, groom and cook had added to his many professions
that of an undertaker, and had nailed up his noble master in a
coffin. With how much or how little further inquiry this odd fact
was passed, did not as yet very plainly appear; for the thing had
never been legally investigated till Flambeau had gone north two
or three days before. By then the body of Lord Glengyle (if it
was the body) had lain for some time in the little churchyard on
As Father Brown passed through the dim garden and came under
the shadow of the chateau, the clouds were thick and the whole
air damp and thundery. Against the last stripe of the green-gold
sunset he saw a black human silhouette; a man in a chimney-pot
hat, with a big spade over his shoulder. The combination was
queerly suggestive of a sexton; but when Brown remembered the
deaf servant who dug potatoes, he thought it natural enough. He
knew something of the Scotch peasant; he knew the respectability
which might well feel it necessary to wear "blacks" for an
official inquiry; he knew also the economy that would not lose an
hour's digging for that. Even the man's start and suspicious
stare as the priest went by were consonant enough with the
vigilance and jealousy of such a type.
The great door was opened by Flambeau himself, who had with
him a lean man with iron-grey hair and papers in his hand:
Inspector Craven from Scotland Yard. The entrance hall was mostly
stripped and empty; but the pale, sneering faces of one or two of
the wicked Ogilvies looked down out of black periwigs and
Following them into an inner room, Father Brown found that
the allies had been seated at a long oak table, of which their
end was covered with scribbled papers, flanked with whisky and
cigars. Through the whole of its remaining length it was occupied
by detached objects arranged at intervals; objects about as
inexplicable as any objects could be. One looked like a small
heap of glittering broken glass. Another looked like a high heap
of brown dust. A third appeared to be a plain stick of wood.
"You seem to have a sort of geological museum here," he
said, as he sat down, jerking his head briefly in the direction
of the brown dust and the crystalline fragments.
"Not a geological museum," replied Flambeau; "say a
"Oh, for the Lord's sake," cried the police detective
laughing, "don't let's begin with such long words."
"Don't you know what psychology means?" asked Flambeau with
friendly surprise. "Psychology means being off your chump."
"Still I hardly follow," replied the official.
"Well," said Flambeau, with decision, "I mean that we've
only found out one thing about Lord Glengyle. He was a maniac."
The black silhouette of Gow with his top hat and spade
passed the window, dimly outlined against the darkening sky.
Father Brown stared passively at it and answered:
"I can understand there must have been something odd about
the man, or he wouldn't have buried himself alive--nor been in
such a hurry to bury himself dead. But what makes you think it
"Well," said Flambeau, "you just listen to the list of
things Mr. Craven has found in the house."
"We must get a candle," said Craven, suddenly. "A storm is
getting up, and it's too dark to read."
"Have you found any candles," asked Brown smiling, "among
Flambeau raised a grave face, and fixed his dark eyes on his
"That is curious, too," he said. "Twenty-five candles, and
not a trace of a candlestick."
In the rapidly darkening room and rapidly rising wind, Brown
went along the table to where a bundle of wax candles lay among
the other scrappy exhibits. As he did so he bent accidentally
over the heap of red-brown dust; and a sharp sneeze cracked the
"Hullo!" he said, "snuff!"
He took one of the candles, lit it carefully, came back and
stuck it in the neck of the whisky bottle. The unrestful night
air, blowing through the crazy window, waved the long flame like
a banner. And on every side of the castle they could hear the
miles and miles of black pine wood seething like a black sea
around a rock.
"I will read the inventory," began Craven gravely, picking
up one of the papers, "the inventory of what we found loose and
unexplained in the castle. You are to understand that the place
generally was dismantled and neglected; but one or two rooms had
plainly been inhabited in a simple but not squalid style by
somebody; somebody who was not the servant Gow. The list is as
"First item. A very considerable hoard of precious stones,
nearly all diamonds, and all of them loose, without any setting
whatever. Of course, it is natural that the Ogilvies should have
family jewels; but those are exactly the jewels that are almost
always set in particular articles of ornament. The Ogilvies would
seem to have kept theirs loose in their pockets, like coppers.
"Second item. Heaps and heaps of loose snuff, not kept in a
horn, or even a pouch, but lying in heaps on the mantelpieces, on
the sideboard, on the piano, anywhere. It looks as if the old
gentleman would not take the trouble to look in a pocket or lift
"Third item. Here and there about the house curious little
heaps of minute pieces of metal, some like steel springs and some
in the form of microscopic wheels. As if they had gutted some
"Fourth item. The wax candles, which have to be stuck in
bottle necks because there is nothing else to stick them in. Now
I wish you to note how very much queerer all this is than
anything we anticipated. For the central riddle we are prepared;
we have all seen at a glance that there was something wrong about
the last earl. We have come here to find out whether he really
lived here, whether he really died here, whether that red-haired
scarecrow who did his burying had anything to do with his dying.
But suppose the worst in all this, the most lurid or melodramatic
solution you like. Suppose the servant really killed the master,
or suppose the master isn't really dead, or suppose the master is
dressed up as the servant, or suppose the servant is buried for
the master; invent what Wilkie Collins' tragedy you like, and you
still have not explained a candle without a candlestick, or why
an elderly gentleman of good family should habitually spill snuff
on the piano. The core of the tale we could imagine; it is the
fringes that are mysterious. By no stretch of fancy can the human
mind connect together snuff and diamonds and wax and loose
"I think I see the connection," said the priest. "This
Glengyle was mad against the French Revolution. He was an
enthusiast for the ancien régime, and was trying to re-enact
literally the family life of the last Bourbons. He had snuff
because it was the eighteenth century luxury; wax candles,
because they were the eighteenth century lighting; the mechanical
bits of iron represent the locksmith hobby of Louis XVI; the
diamonds are for the Diamond Necklace of Marie Antoinette."
Both the other men were staring at him with round eyes.
"What a perfectly extraordinary notion!" cried Flambeau. "Do you
really think that is the truth?"
"I am perfectly sure it isn't," answered Father Brown, "only
you said that nobody could connect snuff and diamonds and
clockwork and candles. I give you that connection offhand. The
real truth, I am very sure, lies deeper."
He paused a moment and listened to the wailing of the wind
in the turrets. Then he said, "The late Earl of Glengyle was a
thief. He lived a second and darker life as a desperate
housebreaker. He did not have any candlesticks because he only
used these candles cut short in the little lantern he carried.
The snuff he employed as the fiercest French criminals have used
pepper: to fling it suddenly in dense masses in the face of a
captor or pursuer. But the final proof is in the curious
coincidence of the diamonds and the small steel wheels. Surely
that makes everything plain to you? Diamonds and small steel
wheels are the only two instruments with which you can cut out a
pane of glass."
The bough of a broken pine tree lashed heavily in the blast
against the windowpane behind them, as if in parody of a burglar,
but they did not turn round. Their eyes were fastened on Father
"Diamonds and small wheels," repeated Craven ruminating. "Is
that all that makes you think it the true explanation?"
"I don't think it the true explanation," replied
the priest placidly; "but you said that nobody could connect the four
things. The true tale, of course, is something much more humdrum.
Glengyle had found, or thought he had found, precious stones on
his estate. Somebody had bamboozled him with those loose
brilliants, saying they were found in the castle caverns. The
little wheels are some diamond-cutting affair. He had to do the
thing very roughly and in a small way, with the help of a few
shepherds or rude fellows on these hills. Snuff is the one great
luxury of such Scotch shepherds; it's the one thing with which
you can bribe them. They didn't have candlesticks because they
didn't want them; they held the candles in their hands when they
explored the caves."
"Is that all?" asked Flambeau after a long pause. "Have we
got to the dull truth at last?"
"Oh, no," said Father Brown.
As the wind died in the most distant pine woods with a long hoot
as of mockery Father Brown, with an utterly impassive face, went
"I only suggested that because you said one could not plausibly
connect snuff with clockwork or candles with bright stones. Ten
false philosophies will fit the universe; ten false theories will
fit Glengyle Castle. But we want the real explanation of the
castle and the universe. But are there no other exhibits?"
Craven laughed, and Flambeau rose smiling to his feet and
strolled down the long table.
"Items five, six, seven, etc.," he said, "and certainly more
varied than instructive. A curious collection, not of lead
pencils, but of the lead out of lead pencils. A senseless stick
of bamboo, with the top rather splintered. It might be the
instrument of the crime. Only, there isn't any crime. The only
other things are a few old missals and little Catholic pictures,
which the Ogilvies kept, I suppose, from the Middle Ages--their
family pride being stronger than their Puritanism. We only put
them in the museum because they seem curiously cut about and
The heady tempest without drove a dreadful wrack of clouds across
Glengyle and threw the long room into darkness as Father Brown
picked up the little illuminated pages to examine them. He spoke
before the drift of darkness had passed; but it was the voice of
an utterly new man.
"Mr. Craven," said he, talking like a man ten years younger,
"you have got a legal warrant, haven't you, to go up and examine
that grave? The sooner we do it the better, and get to the bottom
of this horrible affair. If I were you I should start now."
"Now," repeated the astonished detective, "and why now?"
"Because this is serious," answered Brown; "this is not
spilt snuff or loose pebbles, that might be there for a hundred
reasons. There is only one reason I know of for this being done;
and the reason goes down to the roots of the world. These
religious pictures are not just dirtied or torn or scrawled over,
which might be done in idleness or bigotry, by children or by
Protestants. These have been treated very carefully--and very
queerly. In every place where the great ornamented name of God
comes in the old illuminations it has been elaborately taken out.
The only other thing that has been removed is the halo round the
head of the Child Jesus. Therefore, I say, let us get our warrant
and our spade and our hatchet, and go up and break open that
"What do you mean?" demanded the London officer.
"I mean," answered the little priest, and his voice seemed
to rise slightly in the roar of the gale. "I mean that the great
devil of the universe may be sitting on the top tower of this
castle at this moment, as big as a hundred elephants, and roaring
like the Apocalypse. There is black magic somewhere at the bottom
"Black magic," repeated Flambeau in a low voice, for he was
too enlightened a man not to know of such things; "but what can these
other things mean?"
"Oh, something damnable, I suppose," replied Brown
impatiently. "How should I know? How can I guess all their mazes
down below? Perhaps you can make a torture out of snuff and
bamboo. Perhaps lunatics lust after wax and steel filings.
Perhaps there is a maddening drug made of lead pencils! Our
shortest cut to the mystery is up the hill to the grave."
His comrades hardly knew that they had obeyed and followed
him till a blast of the night wind nearly flung them on their
faces in the garden. Nevertheless they had obeyed him like
automata; for Craven found a hatchet in his hand, and the warrant
in his pocket; Flambeau was carrying the heavy spade of the
strange gardener; Father Brown was carrying the little gilt book
from which had been torn the name of God.
The path up the hill to the churchyard was crooked but
short; only under that stress of wind it seemed laborious and
long. Far as the eye could see, farther and farther as they
mounted the slope, were seas beyond seas of pines, now all aslope
one way under the wind. And that universal gesture seemed as vain
as it was vast, as vain as if that wind were whistling about some
unpeopled and purposeless planet. Through all that infinite
growth of grey-blue forests sang, shrill and high, that ancient
sorrow that is in the heart of all heathen things. One could
fancy that the voices from the under world of unfathomable
foliage were cries of the lost and wandering pagan gods: gods who
had gone roaming in that irrational forest, and who will never
find their way back to heaven.
"You see," said Father Brown in low but easy tone, "Scotch
people before Scotland existed were a curious lot. In fact,
they're a curious lot still. But in the prehistoric times I fancy
they really worshipped demons. That," he added genially, "is why
they jumped at the Puritan theology."
"My friend," said Flambeau, turning in a kind of fury, "what does
all that snuff mean?"
"My friend," replied Brown, with equal seriousness, "there is one
mark of all genuine religions: materialism. Now, devil-worship is
a perfectly genuine religion."
They had come up on the grassy scalp of the hill, one of the few
bald spots that stood clear of the crashing and roaring pine
forest. A mean enclosure, partly timber and partly wire, rattled
in the tempest to tell them the border of the graveyard. But by
the time Inspector Craven had come to the corner of the grave,
and Flambeau had planted his spade point downwards and leaned on
it, they were both almost as shaken as the shaky wood and wire.
At the foot of the grave grew great tall thistles, grey and
silver in their decay. Once or twice, when a ball of thistledown
broke under the breeze and flew past him, Craven jumped slightly
as if it had been an arrow.
Flambeau drove the blade of his spade through the whistling
grass into the wet clay below. Then he seemed to stop and lean on
it as on a staff.
"Go on," said the priest very gently. "We are only trying to
find the truth. What are you afraid of?"
"I am afraid of finding it," said Flambeau.
The London detective spoke suddenly in a high crowing voice
that was meant to be conversational and cheery. "I wonder why he
really did hide himself like that. Something nasty, I suppose;
was he a leper?"
"Something worse than that," said Flambeau.
"And what do you imagine," asked the other, "would be worse
than a leper?"
"I don't imagine it," said Flambeau.
He dug for some dreadful minutes in silence, and then said
in a choked voice, "I'm afraid of his not being the right shape."
"Nor was that piece of paper, you know," said Father Brown
quietly, "and we survived even that piece of paper."
Flambeau dug on with a blind energy. But the tempest had
shouldered away the choking grey clouds that clung to the hills
like smoke and revealed grey fields of faint starlight before he
cleared the shape of a rude timber coffin, and somehow tipped it
up upon the turf. Craven stepped forward with his axe; a
thistle-top touched him, and he flinched. Then he took a firmer
stride, and hacked and wrenched with an energy like Flambeau's
till the lid was torn off, and all that was there lay glimmering
in the grey starlight.
"Bones," said Craven; and then he added, "but it is a man,"
as if that were something unexpected.
"Is he," asked Flambeau in a voice that went oddly up and
down, "is he all right?"
"Seems so," said the officer huskily, bending over the
obscure and decaying skeleton in the box. "Wait a minute."
A vast heave went over Flambeau's huge figure. "And now I
come to think of it," he cried, "why in the name of madness
shouldn't he be all right? What is it gets hold of a man on these
cursed cold mountains? I think it's the black, brainless
repetition; all these forests, and over all an ancient horror of
unconsciousness. It's like the dream of an atheist. Pine-trees
and more pine-trees and millions more pine-trees--"
"God!" cried the man by the coffin, "but he hasn't got a
While the others stood rigid the priest, for the first time,
showed a leap of startled concern.
"No head!" he repeated. "No head?" as if he had almost
expected some other deficiency.
Half-witted visions of a headless baby born to Glengyle, of
a headless youth hiding himself in the castle, of a headless man
pacing those ancient halls or that gorgeous garden, passed in
panorama through their minds. But even in that stiffened instant
the tale took no root in them and seemed to have no reason in it.
They stood listening to the loud woods and the shrieking sky
quite foolishly, like exhausted animals. Thought seemed to be
something enormous that had suddenly slipped out of their grasp.
"There are three headless men," said Father Brown, "standing
round this open grave."
The pale detective from London opened his mouth to speak,
and left it open like a yokel, while a long scream of wind tore
the sky; then he looked at the axe in his hands as if it did not
belong to him, and dropped it.
"Father," said Flambeau in that infantile and heavy voice he
used very seldom, "what are we to do?"
His friend's reply came with the pent promptitude of a gun
"Sleep!" cried Father Brown. "Sleep. We have come to the end
of the ways. Do you know what sleep is? Do you know that every
man who sleeps believes in God? It is a sacrament; for it is an
act of faith and it is a food. And we need a sacrament, if only a
natural one. Something has fallen on us that falls very seldom on
men; perhaps the worst thing that can fall on them."
Craven's parted lips came together to say, "What do you
The priest had turned his face to the castle as he answered:
"We have found the truth; and the truth makes no sense."
He went down the path in front of them with a plunging and
reckless step very rare with him, and when they reached the
castle again he threw himself upon sleep with the simplicity of a
Despite his mystic praise of slumber, Father Brown was up
earlier than anyone else except the silent gardener; and was
found smoking a big pipe and watching that expert at his
speechless labours in the kitchen garden. Towards daybreak the
rocking storm had ended in roaring rains, and the day came with a
curious freshness. The gardener seemed even to have beenconversing, but
at sight of the detectives he planted his spade sullenly in a bed
and, saying something about his breakfast, shifted along the
lines of cabbages and shut himself in the kitchen. "He's a
valuable man, that," said Father Brown. "He does the potatoes
amazingly. Still," he added, with a dispassionate charity, "he
has his faults; which of us hasn't? He doesn't dig this bank
quite regularly. There, for instance," and he stamped suddenly on
one spot. "I'm really very doubtful about that potato."
"And why?" asked Craven, amused with the little man's hobby.
"I'm doubtful about it," said the other, "because old Gowwas
doubtful about it himself. He put his spade in methodically in
every place but just this. There must be a mighty fine potato
Flambeau pulled up the spade and impetuously drove it intothe
place. He turned up, under a load of soil, something that did not
look like a potato, but rather like a monstrous, over-domed
mushroom. But it struck the spade with a cold click; it rolled
over like a ball, and grinned up at them.
"The Earl of Glengyle," said Brown sadly, and looked down
heavily at the skull.
Then, after a momentary meditation, he plucked the spade
from Flambeau, and, saying "We must hide it again," clamped the
skull down in the earth. Then he leaned his little body and huge
head on the great handle of the spade, that stood up stiffly in
the earth, and his eyes were empty and his forehead full of
wrinkles. "If one could only conceive," he muttered, "the meaning
of this last monstrosity." And leaning on the large spade handle,
he buried his brows in his hands, as men do in church.
All the corners of the sky were brightening into blue and
silver; the birds were chattering in the tiny garden trees; so
loud it seemed as if the trees themselves were talking. But the
three men were silent enough.
"Well, I give it all up," said Flambeau at last
boisterously. "My brain and this world don't fit each other; and
there's an end of it. Snuff, spoiled Prayer Books, and the
insides of musical boxes--what--"
Brown threw up his bothered brow and rapped on the spade
handle with an intolerance quite unusual with him. "Oh, tut, tut,
tut, tut!" he cried. "All that is as plain as a pikestaff. I
understood the snuff and clockwork, and so on, when I first
opened my eyes this morning. And since then I've had it out with
old Gow, the gardener, who is neither so deaf nor so stupid as he
pretends. There's nothing amiss about the loose items. I was
wrong about the torn mass-book, too; there's no harm in that. But
it's this last business. Desecrating graves and stealing dead
men's heads--surely there's harm in that? Surely there's black
magic still in that? That doesn't fit in to the quite simple
story of the snuff and the candles." And, striding about again,
he smoked moodily.
"My friend," said Flambeau, with a grim humour, "you must be
careful with me and remember I was once a criminal. The great
advantage of that estate was that I always made up the story
myself, and acted it as quick as I chose. This detective business
of waiting about is too much for my French impatience. All my
life, for good or evil, I have done things at the instant; I
always fought duels the next morning; I always paid bills on the
nail; I never even put off a visit to the dentist--"
Father Brown's pipe fell out of his mouth and broke into three
pieces on the gravel path. He stood rolling his eyes, the exact
picture of an idiot. "Lord, what a turnip I am!" he kept saying.
"Lord, what a turnip!" Then, in a somewhat groggy kind of way, he
began to laugh.
"The dentist!" he repeated. "Six hours in the spiritual abyss,
and all because I never thought of the dentist! Such a simple,
such a beautiful and peaceful thought! Friends, we have passed a
night in hell; but now the sun is risen, the birds are singing,
and the radiant form of the dentist consoles the world."
"I will get some sense out of this," cried Flambeau,
striding forward, "if I use the tortures of the Inquisition."
Father Brown repressed what appeared to be a momentary
disposition to dance on the now sunlit lawn and cried quite
piteously, like a child, "Oh, let me be silly a little. You don't
know how unhappy I have been. And now I know that there has been
no deep sin in this business at all. Only a little lunacy,
perhaps --and who minds that?"
He spun round once more, then faced them with gravity.
"This is not a story of crime," he said; "rather it is the
story of a strange and crooked honesty. We are dealing with the
one man on earth, perhaps, who has taken no more than his due. It
is a study in the savage living logic that has been the religion
of this race.
"That old local rhyme about the house of Glengyle--
" 'As green sap to the simmer trees
was literal as well as metaphorical. It did not merely mean that
the Glengyles sought for wealth; it was also true that they
literally gathered gold; they had a huge collection of ornaments
and utensils in that metal. They were, in fact, misers whose
mania took that turn. In the light of that fact, run through all
the things we found in the castle. Diamonds without their gold
rings; candles without their gold candlesticks; snuff without the
gold snuff-boxes; pencil-leads without the gold pencil-cases; a
walking stick without its gold top; clockwork without the gold
clocks--or rather watches. And, mad as it sounds, because the
halos and the name of God in the old missals were of real gold;
these also were taken away."
Is red gold to the Ogilvies'-- "
The garden seemed to brighten, the grass to grow gayer in
the strengthening sun, as the crazy truth was told. Flambeau lit
a cigarette as his friend went on.
"Were taken away," continued Father Brown; "were taken
away--but not stolen. Thieves would never have left this mystery.
Thieves would have taken the gold snuff-boxes, snuff and all; the
gold pencil-cases, lead and all. We have to deal with a man with
a peculiar conscience, but certainly a conscience. I found that
mad moralist this morning in the kitchen garden yonder, and I
heard the whole story.
"The late Archibald Ogilvie was the nearest approach to a
good man ever born at Glengyle. But his bitter virtue took the
turn of the misanthrope; he moped over the dishonesty of his
ancestors, from which, somehow, he generalised a dishonesty of
all men. More especially he distrusted philanthropy or free
giving; and he swore if he could find one man who took his exact
rights he should have all the gold of Glengyle. Having delivered
this defiance to humanity he shut himself up, without the
smallest expectation of its being answered. One day, however, a
deaf and seemingly senseless lad from a distant village brought
him a belated telegram; and Glengyle, in his acrid pleasantry,
gave him a new farthing. At least he thought he had done so, but
when he turned over his change he found the new farthing still
there and a sovereign gone. The accident offered him vistas of
sneering speculation. Either way, the boy would show the greasy
greed of the species. Either he would vanish, a thief stealing a
coin; or he would sneak back with it virtuously, a snob seeking a
reward. In the middle of that night Lord Glengyle was knocked up
out of his bed--for he lived alone--and forced to open the door
to the deaf idiot. The idiot brought with him, not the sovereign,
but exactly nineteen shillings and eleven-pence three-farthings
"Then the wild exactitude of this action took hold of
the mad lord's brain like fire. He swore he was Diogenes,
that had long sought an honest man, and at last had found one. He
made a new will, which I have seen. He took the literal youth
into his huge, neglected house, and trained him up as his
solitary servant and--after an odd manner--his heir. And whatever
that queer creature understands, he understood absolutely his
lord's two fixed ideas: first, that the letter of right is
everything; and second, that he himself was to have the gold of
Glengyle. So far, that is all; and that is simple. He has
stripped the house of gold, and taken not a grain that was not
gold; not so much as a grain of snuff. He lifted the gold leaf
off an old illumination, fully satisfied that he left the rest
unspoiled. All that I understood; but I could not understand this
skull business. I was really uneasy about that human head buried
among the potatoes. It distressed me--till Flambeau said the
"It will be all right. He will put the skull back in the
grave, when he has taken the gold out of the tooth."
And, indeed, when Flambeau crossed the hill that morning, he
saw that strange being, the just miser, digging at the desecrated
grave, the plaid round his throat thrashing out in the mountain
wind; the sober top hat on his head.
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