There was much about the castle itself to interest Dorothy. She had
already begun the attempt to gather a clear notion of its many parts
and their relations, but the knowledge of the building could not
well advance more rapidly than her acquaintance with its inmates,
for little was to be done from the outside alone, and she could not
bear to be met in strange places by strange people. So that part of
her education-I use the word advisedly, for to know all about the
parts of an old building may do more for the education of minds of a
certain stamp than the severest course of logic-must wait upon time
Every day, often twice, sometimes thrice, she would visit the
stable-yard, and have an interview first with the chained Marquis,
and then with her little horse. After that she would seldom miss
looking in at the armourer's shop, and spending a few minutes in
watching him at his work, so that she was soon familiar with all
sorts of armour favoured in the castle. The blacksmiths' and the
carpenters' shops were also an attraction to her, and it was not
long before she knew all the artisans about the place. There were
the farm and poultry yards too, with which kinds of place she was
familiar--especially with their animals and all their ways. The
very wild beasts in their dens in the solid basement of the kitchen
tower--a panther, two leopards, an ounce, and a toothless old lion
had already begun to know her a little, for she never went near
their cages without carrying them something to eat. For all these
visits there was plenty of room, lady Margaret never requiring much
of her time in the early part of the day, and finding the reports
she brought of what was going on always amusing. And now the
orchards and gardens would soon be inviting, for the heart of the
world was already sending up its blood to dye the apple blossoms.
But all the opportunities she yet had were less than was needful for
the development of such a mind as Dorothy's, which, powerful in
itself, needed to be roused, and was slow in its movements except
when excited by a quick succession of objects, or the contact of a
kindred but busier nature. It was lacking not only in generative,
but in self-moving energy. Of self-sustaining force she had
There was a really fine library in the castle, to which she had free
access, and whence, now and then, lady Margaret would make her bring
a book from which to read aloud, while she and her other ladies were
at work; but books were not enough to rouse Dorothy, and when
inclined to read she would return too exclusively to what she
already knew, making little effort to extend her gleaning-ground.
From this fragment of analysis it will be seen that the new resource
thus opened to her might prove of more consequence than, great as
were her expectations from it, she was yet able to anticipate. But
infinitely greater good than any knowledge of his mechanical
triumphs could bring her, was on its way to Dorothy along the path
of growing acquaintance with the noble-minded inventor himself.
The next morning, then, she was up before the sun, and, sitting at
her window, awaited his arrival. The moment he shone upon the gilded
cock of the bell tower, she rose and hastened out, eager to taste of
the sweets promised her; stood a moment to gaze on the limpid stream
ever flowing from the mouth of the white horse, and wonder whence
that and the whale-spouts he so frequently sent aloft from his
nostrils came; then passing through the archway and over the bridge,
found herself at the magician's door. For a moment she hesitated:
from within came such a tumult of hammering, that plainly it was of
no use to knock, and she could not at once bring herself to enter
unannounced and uninvited. But confidence in lord Herbert soon
aroused her courage, and gently she opened the door and peeped in.
There he stood, in a linen frock that reached from his neck to his
knees, already hard at work at a small anvil on a bench, while
Caspar was still harder at work at a huge anvil on the ground in
front of a forge. This, with the mighty bellows attached to it,
occupied one of the six sides of the room, and the great roaring,
hissing thing that had so frightened lady Margaret, now silent and
cold, occupied another. Neither of the men saw her. So she entered,
closed the door, and approached lord Herbert, but he continued
unaware of her presence until she spoke. Then he ceased his
hammering, turned, and greeted her with his usual smile of sincerity
'Are you always as true to your appointments, cousin?' he said, and
resumed his hammering.
'It was hardly an appointment, my lord, and yet here I am,' said
'And you mean to infer that----?'
'An appointment is no slight matter, my lord, or one that admits of
'Right,' returned his lordship, still hammering at the thin plate of
whitish metal growing thinner and thinner under his blows. Dorothy
glanced around her for a moment.
'I would not be troublesome, my lord,' she said; 'but would you tell
me in a few words what it is you make here?'
'Had I three tongues, and thou three ears,' answered lord Herbert,
'I could not. But look round thee, cousin, and when thou spiest the
thing that draws thine eye more than another, ask me concerning
that, and I will tell thee.'
Hardly had Dorothy, in obedience, cast her eyes about the place, ere
they lighted on the same huge wheel which had before chiefly
attracted her notice.
'What is that great wheel for, with such a number of weights hung to
it?' she asked.
'For a memorial,' replied lord Herbert, 'of the folly of the man who
placeth his hopes in man. That wonderful engine; it is now nearly
three years since I showed it to his blessed majesty in the Tower of
London, also with him to the dukes of Richmond and Hamilton, and two
extraordinary ambassadors besides, but of them all no man hath ever
sought to look upon it again. It is a form of the Proteus-like
perpetuum mobile-a most incredible thing if not seen.'
He then proceeded to show her how, as every spoke passed the highest
point, the weight attached to it immediately hung a foot farther
from the centre of the wheel, and as every spoke passed the lowest
point, its weight returned a foot nearer to the centre, thus causing
the leverage to be greater always on one and the same side of the
wheel. Few of my readers will regret so much as myself that I am
unable to give them the constructive explanation his lordship gave
Dorothy as to the shifting of the weights. Whether she understood it
or not, I cannot tell either, but that is of less consequence.
Before she left the workshop that morning, she had learned that a
thousand knowledges are needed to build up the pyramid on whose top
alone will the bird of knowledge lay her new egg.
When he had finished his explanation, lord Herbert returned to his
work, leaving Dorothy again to her own observations. And now she
would gladly have questioned him about the huge mass of brick and
iron, which, now standing silent, cold, and motionless as death, had
that night seemed alive with the fierce energy of flame, and yet
sorely driven, sighing, and groaning, and furiously hissing; but as
it was not now at work, she thought it would be better to wait an
opportunity when it should be in the agony of its wrestle with
whatever unseen enemy it coped withal. She did not know that, the
first of its race, it was not quite equal to the task the magician
had imposed upon it, but that its descendants would at length become
capable of doing a thousand times as much, with the swinging joy of
conscious might, with the pant of the giant, not the groan of the
overtasked stripling urging his last effort.
She was standing by a chest, examining the strangely elaborate and
mysterious-looking scutcheon of its lock, when his lordship's
hammering ceased, and presently she found that he was by her side.
'That escutcheon is the best thing of the kind I have yet made,' he
said. 'A humour I have, never to be contented to produce any
invention the second time, without appearing refined. The lock and
key of this are in themselves a marvel, for the little triangle
screwed key weighs no more than a shilling, and yet it bolts and
unbolts an hundred bolts through fifty staples round about the
chest, and as many more from both sides and ends, and at the self-
same time shall fasten it to a place beyond a man's natural strength
to take it away. But the best thing is the escutcheon; for the owner
of it, though a woman, may with her own delicate hand vary the ways
of coming to open the lock ten millions of times, beyond the
knowledge of the smith that made it, or of me who invented it. If a
stranger open it, it setteth an alarm agoing, which the stranger
cannot stop from running out; and besides, though none should .be
within hearing, yet it catcheth his hand, as a trap doth a fox; and
though far from maiming him, yet it leaveth such a mark behind it,
as will discover him if suspected; the escutcheon or lock plainly
showing what moneys he hath taken out of the box to a farthing, and
how many times opened since the owner hath been at it.'
He then showed her how to set it, left the chest open, and gave her
the key off his bunch that she might use it more easily. Ere she
returned it, she had made herself mistress of the escutcheon as far
as the mere working of it was concerned, as she proved to the
satisfaction of the inventor.
Her docility and quickness greatly pleased him. He opened a cabinet,
and after a search in its drawers, took from it a little thing, in
form and colour like a plum, which he gave her, telling her to eat
it. She saw from his smile that there was something at the back of
the playful request, and for a moment hesitated, but reading in his
countenance that he wished her at least to make the attempt, she put
it in her mouth.
She was gagged. She could neither open nor shut her mouth a hair's
breadth, could neither laugh, cry out, nor make any noise beyond an
ugly one she would not make twice. The tears came into her eyes, for
her position was ludicrous, and she imagined that his lordship was
making game of her. A girl less serious or more merry would have
been moved only to laughter.
But lord Herbert hastened to relieve her. On the application of a
tiny key, fixed with a joint in a finger-ring, the little steel
bolts it had thrown out in every direction returned within the plum,
and he drew it from her mouth.
'You little fool!' he said, with indescribable sweetness, for he saw
the tears in her eyes; 'did you think I would hurt you? '
'No, my lord; but I did fear you were going to make game of me. I
could not have borne Caspar to see me so.'
'Alas, my poor child!' he rejoined, 'you have come to the wrong
house if you cannot put up with a little chafing. There!' he added,
putting the plum in her hand, 'it is an untoothsome thing, but the
moment may come when you will find it useful enough to repay you for
the annoyance of a smile that had in it ten times more friendship
'I ask your pardon, my lord,' said Dorothy, by this time blushing
deep with shame of her mistrust and over-sensitiveness, and on the
point of crying downright. But his lordship smiled so kindly that
she took heart and smiled again.
He then showed her how to raise the key hid in the ring, and how to
unlock the plum.
'Do not try it on yourself,' he said, as he put the ring on her
finger; 'you might find that awkward.'
'Be sure I shall avoid it, my lord,' returned Dorothy.
'And do not let any one know you have such a thing,' he said, 'or
that there is a key in your ring.'
'I will try not, my lord.'
The breakfast bell rang.
'If you will come again after supper,' he said, as he pulled off his
linen frock, 'I will show you my fire-engine at work, and tell you
all that is needful to the understanding thereof;--only you must
not publish it to the world,' he added, 'for I mean to make much
gain by my invention.'
Dorothy promised, and they parted--lord Herbert for the marquis's
parlour, Dorothy for the housekeeper's room, and Caspar for the
third table in the great hall.
After breakfast Dorothy practised with her plum until she could
manage it with as much readiness as ease. She found that it was made
of steel, and that the bolts it threw out upon the slightest
pressure were so rounded and polished that they could not hurt,
while nothing but the key would reduce them again within their