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Devereux’s Dream
by [?]

I give you this story only at second-hand; but you have it in substance–and he wasted few words over it–as Paul Devereux told it me.

It was not the only queer story he could have told about himself if he had chosen, by a good many, I should say. Paul’s life had been an eminently unconventional one: the man’s face certified to that–hard, bronzed, war-worn, seamed and scarred with strange battle-marks–the face of a man who had dared and done most things.

It was not his custom to speak much of what he had done, however. Probably only because he and I were little likely to meet again that he told me this I am free to tell you now.

We had come across one another for the first time for years that afternoon on the Italian Boulevart. Paul had landed a couple of weeks previously at Marseilles from a long yacht-cruise in southern waters, the monotony of which we heard had been agreeably diversified by a little pirate-hunting and slaver-chasing–the evil tongues called it piracy and slave-running; and certainly Devereux was quite equal to either metier; and he was about starting on a promising little filibustering expedition across the Atlantic, where the chances were he would be shot, and the certainty was that he would be starved. So perhaps he felt inclined to be a trifle more communicative than usual, as we sat late that night over a blazing pyre of logs and in a cloud of Cavendish. At all events he was, and after this fashion.

I forget now exactly how the subject was led up to. Expression of some philosophic incredulity on my part regarding certain matters, followed by a ten-minutes’ silence on his side pregnant with unwonted words to come–that was it, perhaps. At last he said, more to himself, it seemed, than to me:

“‘Such stuff as dreams are made of.’ Well, who knows? You’re a Sadducee, Bertie; you call this sort of thing, politely, indigestion. Perhaps you’re right. But yet I had a queer dream once.”

“Not unlikely,” I assented.

“You’re wrong; I never dream, as a rule. But, as I say, I had a queer dream once; and queer because it came literally true three years afterward.”

“Queer indeed, Paul.”

“Happens to be true. What’s queerer still, my dream was the means of my finding a man I owed a long score, and a heavy one, and of my paying him in full.”

“Bad for the payee!” I thought.

Paul’s face had grown terribly eloquent as he spoke those last words. On a sudden the expression of it changed–another memory was stirring in him. Wonderfully tender the fierce eyes grew; wonderfully tender the faint, sad smile, that was like sunshine on storm-scathed granite. That smile transfigured the man before me.

“Ah, poor child–poor Lucille!” I heard him mutter.

That was it, was it? So I let him be. Presently he lifted his head. If he had let himself get the least thing out of hand for a moment, he had got back his self-mastery the next.

“I’ll tell you that queer story, Bertie, if you like,” he said.

The proposition was flatteringly unusual, but the voice was quite his own.

“Somehow I’d sooner talk than think about–her,” he went on after a pause.

I nodded. He might talk about this, you see, but I couldn’t. He began with a question–an odd one:

“Did you ever hear I’d been married?”

Paul Devereux and a wife had always seemed and been to me a most unheard-of conjunction. So I laconically said:


“Well, I was once, years ago. She was my wife–that child–for a week. And then—-“

I easily filled up the pause; but, as it happened, I filled it up wrongly; for he added:

“And then she was murdered.”

I was not unused to our Paul’s stony style of talk; but this last sentence was sufficiently startling.


“Murdered–in her sleep. They never found the man who did it either, though I had Durbec and all the Rue de Jerusalem at work. But I forgave them that, for I found the man myself, and killed him.”