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A Blue Pantomime
by [?]

“And as Sir Felix wouldn’t consent–for which nobody blamed him– Squire Philip and Miss Cicely agreed to go off together one dark night. But the old man found them out and stopped them in the nick of time and got six inches of cold steel for his pains. However, he kept his girl, and Squire Philip had to fly the country. He went off that same night, they say: and wherever he went, he never came back.”

“What became of him?”

“Ne’er a soul knows; for ne’er a soul saw his face again. Year after year, old Parkyn, his tenant, took the rent of Tremenhuel out of his right pocket and paid it into his left: and in time, there being no heir, he just took over the property and stepped into Cardinnock’s shoes with a ‘by your leave’ to nobody, and there his grandson is to this day.”

“What became of the young lady–of Miss Cicely Williams?” I asked.

“Died an old maid. There was something curious between her and her only brother who had helped to stop the runaway match. Nobody knows what it was: but when Sir Felix died–as he did about ten years after– she packed up and went somewhere to the North of England and settled. They say she and her brother never spoke: which was carrying her anger at his interference rather far, ‘specially as she remained good friends with her father.”

He broke off here to fetch up the second course. We talked no more, for I was pondering his tale and disinclined to be diverted to other topics. Nor can I tell whether the rest of the meal was good or ill. I suppose I ate: but it was only when the landlord swept the cloth, and produced a bottle of port, with a plate of biscuits and another of dried raisins, that I woke out of my musing. While I drew the arm-chair nearer the fire, he pushed forward the table with the wine to my elbow. After this, he poured me out a glass and fell to dusting a high-backed chair with vigour, as though he had caught it standing at ease and were giving it a round dozen for insubordination in the ranks. “Was there anything more?” “Nothing, thank you.” He withdrew.

I drank a couple of glasses and began meditatively to light my pipe. I was trying to piece together these words “Philip Cardinnock– Cicely Williams–fui,” and to fit them into the tune that kept running in my head.

My pipe went out. I pulled out my pouch and was filling it afresh when a puff of wind came down the chimney and blew a cloud of blue smoke out into the room.

The smoke curled up and spread itself over the face of the mirror confronting me. I followed it lazily with my eyes. Then suddenly I bent forward, staring up. Something very curious was happening to the glass.


The smoke that had dimmed the mirror’s face for a moment was rolling off its surface and upwards to the ceiling. But some of it still lingered in filmy, slowly revolving eddies. The glass itself, too, was stirring beneath this film and running across its breadth in horizontal waves which broke themselves silently, one after another, against the dark frame, while the circles of smoke kept widening, as the ripples widen when a stone is tossed into still water.

I rubbed my eyes. The motion on the mirror’s surface was quickening perceptibly, while the glass itself was steadily becoming more opaque, the film deepening to a milky colour and lying over the surface in heavy folds. I was about to start up and touch the glass with my hand, when beneath this milky colour and from the heart of the whirling film, there began to gleam an underlying brilliance after the fashion of the light in an opal, but with this difference, that the light here was blue– a steel blue so vivid that the pain of it forced me to shut my eyes. When I opened them again, this light had increased in intensity. The disturbance in the glass began to abate; the eddies revolved more slowly; the smoke-wreaths faded: and as they died wholly out, the blue light went out on a sudden and the mirror looked down upon me as before.