There are some who find great interest, and even consolation,
amid the worries and anxieties of life in the collection of relics
of the past, drift or long-sunk treasures that the sea of time has
washed up upon our modern shore.
The great collectors are not of this class. Having large sums at
their disposal, these acquire any rarity that comes upon the market
and add it to their store which in due course, perhaps immediately
upon their deaths, also will be put upon the market and pass to the
possession of other connoisseurs. Nor are the dealers who buy to
sell again and thus grow wealthy. Nor are the agents of museums in
many lands, who purchase for the national benefit things that are
gathered together in certain great public buildings which perhaps,
some day, though the thought makes one shiver, will be looted or
given to the flames by enemies or by furious, thieving mobs.
Those that this Editor has in mind, from one of whom indeed he
obtained the history printed in these pages, belong to a quite
different category, men of small means often, who collect old
things, for the most part at out-of-the-way sales or privately,
because they love them, and sometimes sell them again because they
must. Frequently these old things appeal, not because of any
intrinsic value that they may have, not even for their beauty, for
they may be quite unattractive even to the cultivated eye, but
rather for their associations. Such folk love to reflect upon and
to speculate about the long-dead individuals who have owned the
relics, who have supped their soup from the worn Elizabethan spoon,
who have sat at the rickety oak table found in a kitchen or an
out-house, or upon the broken, ancient chair. They love to think of
the little children whose skilful, tired hands wrought the faded
sampler and whose bright eyes smarted over its innumerable
Who, for instance, was the May Shore ("Fairy" broidered in a
bracket underneath, was her pet name), who finished yonder
elaborate example on her tenth birthday, the 1st of May—doubtless
that is where she got her name—in the year 1702, and on what far
shore does she keep her birthdays now? None will ever know. She has
vanished into the great sea of mystery whence she came, and there
she lives and has her being, forgotten upon earth, or sleeps and
sleeps and sleeps. Did she die young or old, married or single? Did
she ever set her children to work other samplers, or had
she none? was she happy or unhappy, was she homely or beautiful?
Was she a sinner or a saint? Again none will ever know. She was
born on the 1st of May, 1692, and certainly she died on some date
unrecorded. So far as human knowledge goes that is all her history,
just as much or as little as will be left of most of us who breathe
to-day when this earth has completed two hundred and eighteen more
revolutions round the sun.
But the kind of collector alluded to can best be exemplified in
the individual instance of him from whom the manuscript was
obtained, of which a somewhat modernized version is printed on
these pages. He has been dead some years, leaving no kin; and under
his will, such of his motley treasures as it cared to accept went
to a local museum, while the rest and his other property were sold
for the benefit of a mystical brotherhood, for the old fellow was a
kind of spiritualist. Therefore, there is no harm in giving his
plebeian name, which was Potts. Mr. Potts had a small draper's shop
in an undistinguished and rarely visited country town in the east
of England, which shop he ran with the help of an assistant almost
as old and peculiar as himself. Whether he made anything out of it
or whether he lived upon private means is now unknown and does not
matter. Anyway, when there was something of antiquarian interest or
value to be bought, generally he had the money to pay for it,
though at times, in order to do so, he was forced to sell something
else. Indeed these were the only occasions when it was possible to
purchase anything, indifferent hosiery excepted, from Mr.
Now, I, the Editor, who also love old things, and to whom
therefore Mr. Potts was a sympathetic soul, was aware of this fact
and entered into an arrangement with the peculiar assistant to whom
I have alluded, to advise me of such crises which arose whenever
the local bank called Mr. Potts's attention to the state of his
account. Thus it came about that one day I received the following
The Guv'nor has gone a bust upon some cracked china, the ugliest
that ever I saw though no judge. So if you want to get that old
tall clock at the first price or any other of his rubbish, I think
now is your chance. Anyhow, keep this dark as per agreement.
Your obedient, Tom.
(He always signed himself Tom, I suppose to mystify, although I
believe his real name was Betterly.)
The result of this epistle was a long and disagreeable bicycle
ride in wet autumn weather, and a visit to the shop of Mr. Potts.
Tom, alias Betterly, who was trying to sell some mysterious
undergarments to a fat old woman, caught sight of me, the Editor
aforesaid, and winked. In a shadowed corner of the shop sat Mr.
Potts himself upon a high stool, a wizened little old man with a
bent back, a bald head, and a hooked nose upon which were set a
pair of enormous horn-rimmed spectacles that accentuated his
general resemblance to an owl perched upon the edge of its
nest-hole. He was busily engaged in doing nothing, and in staring
into nothingness as, according to Tom, was his habit when communing
with what he, Tom, called his "dratted speerits."
"Customer!" said Tom in a harsh voice. "Sorry to disturb you at
your prayers, Guv'nor, but not having two pair of hands I can't
serve a crowd," meaning the old woman of the undergarments and
Mr. Potts slid off his stool and prepared for action. When he
saw, however, who the customer was he bristled—that is the only
word for it. The truth is that although between us there was an
inward and spiritual sympathy, there was also an outward and
visible hostility. Twice I had outbid Mr. Potts at a local auction
for articles which he desired. Moreover, after the fashion of every
good collector he felt it to be his duty to hate me as another
collector. Lastly, several times I had offered him smaller sums for
antiques upon which he set a certain monetary value. It is true
that long ago I had given up this bargaining for the reason that
Mr. Potts would never take less than he asked. Indeed he followed
the example of the vendor of the Sibylline books in ancient Rome.
He did not destroy the goods indeed after the fashion of that
person and demand the price of all of them for the one that
remained, but invariably he put up his figure by 10 per cent. and
nothing would induce him to take off one farthing.
"What do you want, sir?" he said grumpily. "Vests,
hose, collars, or socks?"
"Oh, socks, I think," I replied at hazard, thinking that they
would be easiest to carry, whereupon Mr. Potts produced some
peculiarly objectionable and shapeless woollen articles which he
almost threw at me, saying that they were all he had in stock. Now
I detest woollen socks and never wear them. Still, I made a
purchase, thinking with sympathy of my old gardener whose feet they
would soon be scratching, and while the parcel was being tied up,
said in an insinuating voice, "Anything fresh upstairs, Mr.
"No, sir," he answered shortly, "at least, not much, and if
there were what's the use of showing them to you after the business
about that clock?"
"It was L15 you wanted for it, Mr. Potts?" I asked.
"No, sir, it was L17 and now it's 10 per cent. on to that; you
can work out the sum for yourself."
"Well, let's have another look at it, Mr. Potts," I replied
humbly, whereon with a grunt and a muttered injunction to Tom to
mind the shop, he led the way upstairs.
Now the house in which Mr. Potts dwelt had once been of
considerable pretensions and was very, very old, Elizabethan, I
should think, although it had been refronted with a horrible stucco
to suit modern tastes. The oak staircase was good though narrow,
and led to numerous small rooms upon two floors above, some of
which rooms were panelled and had oak beams, now whitewashed like
the panelling—at least they had once been whitewashed, probably in
the last generation.
These rooms were literally crammed with every sort of old
furniture, most of it decrepit, though for many of the articles
dealers would have given a good price. But at dealers Mr. Potts
drew the line; not one of them had ever set a foot upon that oaken
stair. To the attics the place was filled with this furniture and
other articles such as books, china, samplers with the glass
broken, and I know not what besides, piled in heaps upon the floor.
Indeed where Mr. Potts slept was a mystery; either it must have
been under the counter in his shop, or perhaps at nights he
inhabited a worm-eaten Jacobean bedstead which stood in an attic,
for I observed a kind of pathway to it running through a number of
legless chairs, also some dirty blankets between the moth-riddled
Not far from this bedstead, propped in an intoxicated way
against the sloping wall of the old house, stood the clock which I
desired. It was one of the first "regulator" clocks with a wooden
pendulum, used by the maker himself to check the time-keeping of
all his other clocks, and enclosed in a chaste and perfect mahogany
case of the very best style of its period. So beautiful was it,
indeed, that it had been an instance of "love at first sight"
between us, and although there was an estrangement on the matter of
settlements, or in other words over the question of price, now I
felt that never more could that clock and I be parted.
So I agreed to give old Potts the L20 or, to be accurate, L18
14s. which he asked on the 10 per cent. rise principle, thankful in
my heart that he had not made it more, and prepared to go. As I
turned, however, my eye fell upon a large chest of the almost
indestructible yellow cypress wood of which were made, it is said,
the doors of St. Peter's at Rome that stood for eight hundred years
and, for aught I know, are still standing, as good as on the day
when they were put up.
"Marriage coffer," said Potts, answering my unspoken
"Italian, about 1600?" I suggested.
"May be so, or perhaps Dutch made by Italian artists; but older
than that, for somebody has burnt 1597 on the lid with a hot iron.
Not for sale, not for sale at all, much too good to sell. Just you
look inside it, the old key is tied to the spring lock. Never saw
such poker-work in my life. Gods and goddesses and I don't know
what; and Venus sitting in the middle in a wreath of flowers with
nothing on, and holding two hearts in her hands, which shows that
it was a marriage chest. Once it was full of some bride's outfit,
sheets and linen and clothes, and God knows what. I wonder where
she has got to to-day. Some place where the moth don't eat clothes,
I hope. Bought it at the break-up of an ancient family who fled to
Norfolk on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes—Huguenot, of
course. Years ago, years ago! Haven't looked into it for many
years, indeed, but think there's nothing there but rubbish
Thus he mumbled on while he found and untied the old key. The
spring lock had grown stiff from disuse and want of oil, but at
length it turned and reopened the chest revealing the poker-work
glories on the inner side of the lid and elsewhere. Glories they
were indeed, never had I seen such artistry of the sort.
"Can't see it properly," muttered Potts, "windows want washing,
haven't been done since my wife died, and that's twenty years ago.
Miss her very much, of course, but thank God there's no spring-
cleaning now. The things I've seen broken in spring-cleaning! yes,
and lost, too. It was after one of them that I told my wife that
now I understood why the Mahomedans declare that women have no
souls. When she came to understand what I meant, which it took her
a long time to do, we had a row, a regular row, and she threw a
Dresden figure at my head. Luckily I caught it, having been a
cricketer when young. Well, she's gone now, and no doubt heaven's a
tidier place than it used to be—that is, if they will stand her
rummagings there, which I doubt. Look at that Venus, ain't she a
beauty? Might have been done by Titian when his paints ran out, and
he had to take to a hot iron to express his art. What, you can't
see her well? Wait a bit and I'll get a lantern. Can't have a naked
candle here—things too valuable; no money could buy them again. My
wife and I had another row about naked candles, or it may have been
a paraffin lamp. You sit in that old prayer-stool and look at the
Off he went crawling down the dusky stairs and leaving me
wondering what Mrs. Potts, of whom now I heard for the first time,
could have been like. An aggravating woman, I felt sure, for upon
whatever points men differ, as to "spring-cleaning" they are all of
one mind. No doubt he was better without her, for what did that
dried-up old artist want with a wife?
Dismissing Mrs. Potts from my mind, which, to tell the truth,
seemed to have no room for her shadowy and hypothetical entity, I
fell to examining the chest. Oh! it was lovely. In two minutes the
clock was deposed and that chest became the sultana in my seraglio
of beauteous things. The clock had only been the light love of an
hour. Here was the eternal queen, that is, unless there existed a
still better chest somewhere else, and I should happen to find it.
Meanwhile, whatever price that old slave-dealer Potts wanted for
it, must be paid to him even if I had to overdraw my somewhat
slender account. Seraglios, of whatever sort, it must be
remembered, are expensive luxuries of the rich indeed, though, if
of antiques, they can be sold again, which cannot be said of the
human kind for who wants to buy a lot of antique frumps?
There were plenty of things in the chest, such as some odds and
ends of tapestry and old clothes of a Queen Anne character, put
here, no doubt, for preservation, as moth does not like this
cypress wood. Also there were some books and a mysterious bundle
tied up in a curious shawl with stripes of colour running through
it. That bundle excited me, and I drew the fringes of the shawl
apart and looked in. So far as I could see it contained another
dress of rich colours, also a thick packet of what looked like
parchment, badly prepared and much rotted upon one side as though
by damp, which parchment appeared to be covered with faint
black-letter writing, done by some careless scribe with poor ink
that had faded very much. There were other things, too, within the
shawl, such as a box made of some red foreign wood, but I had not
time to investigate further for just then I heard old Potts's foot
upon the stair, and thought it best to replace the bundle. He
arrived with the lantern and by its light we examined the chest and
the poker work.
"Very nice," I said, "very nice, though a good deal knocked
"Yes, sir," he replied with sarcasm, "I suppose you'd like to
see it neat and new after four hundred years of wear, and if so, I
think I can tell you where you can get one to your liking. I made
the designs for it myself five years ago for a fellow who wanted to
learn how to manufacture antiques. He's in quod now and his
antiques are for sale cheap. I helped to put him there to get him
out of the way as a danger to Society."
"What's the price?" I asked with airy detachment.
"Haven't I told you it ain't for sale. Wait till I'm dead and
come and buy it at my auction. No, you won't, though, for it's
going somewhere else."
I made no answer but continued my examination while Potts took
his seat on the prayer-stool and seemed to go off into one of his
fits of abstraction.
"Well," I said at length when decency told me that I could
remain no longer, "if you won't sell it's no use my looking. No
doubt you want to keep it for a richer man, and of course you are
quite right. Will you arrange with the carrier about sending the
clock, Mr. Potts, and I will let you have a cheque. Now I must be
off, as I've ten miles to ride and it will be dark in an hour."
"Stop where you are," said Potts in a hollow voice. "What's a
ride in the dark compared with a matter like this, even if you
haven't a lamp and get hauled before your own bench? Stop where you
are, I'm listening to something."
So I stopped and began to fill my pipe.
"Put that pipe away," said Potts, coming out of his reverie,
"pipes mean matches; no matches here."
I obeyed, and he went on thinking till at last what between the
chest and the worm-eaten Jacobean bed and old Potts on the
prayer-stool, I began to feel as if I were being mesmerized. At
length he rose and said in the same hollow voice:
"Young man, you may have that chest, and the price is L50. Now
for heaven's sake don't offer me L40, or it will be L100 before you
leave this room."
"With the contents?" I said casually.
"Yes, with the contents. It's the contents I'm told you are to
"Look here, Potts," I said, exasperated, "what the devil do you
mean? There's no one in this room except you and me, so who can
have told you anything unless it was old Tom downstairs."
"Tom," he said with unutterable sarcasm, "Tom! Perhaps you mean
the mawkin that was put up to scare birds from the peas in the
garden, for it has more in its head than Tom. No one here? Oh! what
fools some men are. Why, the place is thick with them."
"Thick with whom?"
"Who? why, ghosts, of course, as you would call them in your
ignorance. Spirits of the dead I name them. Beautiful enough, too,
some of them. Look at that one there," and he lifted the lantern
and pointed to a pile of old bed posts of Chippendale design.
"Good day, Potts," I said hastily.
"Stop where you are," repeated Potts. "You don't believe me yet,
but when you are as old as I am you will remember my words and
believe— more than I do and see—clearer than I do, because it's in
your soul, yes, the seed is in your soul, though as yet it is
choked by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Wait till your sins
have brought you trouble; wait till the fires of trouble have
burned the flesh away; wait till you have sought Light and found
Light and live in Light, then you will believe; then you
All this he said very solemnly, and standing there in that dusky
room surrounded by the wreck of things that once had been dear to
dead men and women, waving the lantern in his hand and staring—at
what was he staring?—really old Potts looked most impressive. His
twisted shape and ugly countenance became spiritual; he was one who
had "found Light and lived in Light."
"You won't believe me," he went on, "but I pass on to you what a
woman has been telling me. She's a queer sort of woman; I never saw
her like before, a foreigner and dark-hued with strange rich
garments and something on her head. There, that, that,"
and he pointed through the dirty window-place to the crescent of a
young moon which appeared in the sky. "A fine figure of a woman,"
he went on, "and oh! heaven, what eyes—I never saw such eyes
before. Big and tender, something like those of the deer in the
park yonder. Proud, too, she is, one who has ruled, and a lady,
though foreign. Well, I never fell in love before, but I feel like
it now, and so would you, young man, if you could see her, and so I
think did someone else in his day."
"What did she say to you?" I asked, for by now I was interested
enough. Who wouldn't be when old Potts took to describing beautiful
"It's a little difficult to tell you for she spoke in a strange
tongue, and I had to translate it in my head, as it were. But this
is the gist of it. That you were to have that chest and what was in
it. There's a writing there, she says, or part of a writing for
some has gone—rotted away. You are to read that writing or to get
it read and to print it so that the world may read it also. She
said that 'Hubert' wishes you to do so. I am sure the name was
Hubert, though she also spoke of him with some other title which I
do not understand. That's all I can remember, except something
about a city, yes, a City of Gold and a last great battle in which
Hubert fell, covered with glory and conquering. I understood that
she wanted to talk about that because it isn't in the writing, but
you interrupted and of course she's gone. Yes, the price is L50 and
not a farthing less, but you can pay it when you like for I know
you're as honest as most, and whether you pay it or not, you must
have that chest and what's in it and no one else."
"All right," I said, "but don't trust it to the carrier. I'll
send a cart for it to-morrow morning. Lock it now and give me the
In due course the chest arrived, and I examined the bundle for
the other contents do not matter, although some of them were
interesting. Pinned inside the shawl I found a paper, undated and
unsigned, but which from the character and style of the writing
was, I should say, penned by a lady about sixty years ago. It ran
"My late father, who was such a great traveller in his young
days and so fond of exploring strange places, brought these things
home from one of his journeys before his marriage, I think from
South America. He told me once that the dress was found upon the
body of a woman in a tomb and that she must have been a great lady,
for she was surrounded by a number of other women, perhaps her
servants who were brought to be buried with her here when they
died. They were all seated about a stone table at the end of which
were the remains of a man. My father saw the bodies near the ruins
of some forest city, in the tomb over which was heaped a great
mound of earth. That of the lady, which had a kind of shroud made
of the skins of long-wooled sheep wrapped about it as though to
preserve the dress beneath, had been embalmed in some way, which
the natives of the place, wherever it was, told him showed that she
was royal. The others were mere skeletons, held together by the
skin, but the man had a long fair beard and hair still hanging to
his skull, and by his side was a great cross-hilted sword that
crumbled to fragments when it was touched, except the hilt and the
knob of amber upon it which had turned almost black with age. I
think my father said that the packet of skins or parchment of which
the underside is badly rotted with damp was set under the feet of
the man. He told me that he gave those who found the tomb a great
deal of money for the dress, gold ornaments, and emerald necklace,
as nothing so perfect had been found before, and the cloth is all
worked with gold thread. My father told me, too, that he did not
wish the things to be sold."
This was the end of the writing.
Having read it I examined the dress. It was of a sort that I had
never seen before, though experts to whom I have shown it say that
it is certainly South American of a very early date, and like the
ornaments, probably pre-Inca Peruvian. It is full of rich colours
such as I have seen in old Indian shawls which give a general
effect of crimson. This crimson robe clearly was worn over a skirt
of linen that had a purple border. In the box that I have spoken of
were the ornaments, all of plain dull gold: a waist-band; a circlet
of gold for the head from which rose the crescent of the young moon
and a necklace of emeralds, uncut stones now much flawed, for what
reason I do not know, but polished and set rather roughly in red
gold. Also there were two rings. Round one of these a bit of paper
was wrapped upon which was written, in another hand, probably that
of the father of the writer of the memorandum:—
"Taken from the first finger of the right hand of a lady's mummy
which I am sorry, in our circumstances, it was quite impossible to
This ring is a broad band of gold with a flat bezel upon which
something was once engraved that owing to long and hard wear now
cannot be distinguished. In short, it appears to be a signet of old
European make but of what age and from what country it is
impossible to determine. The other ring was in a small leathery
pouch, elaborately embroidered in gold thread or very thin wire,
which I suppose was part of the lady's costume. It is like a very
massive wedding ring, but six or eight times as thick, and engraved
all over with an embossed conventional design of what look like
stars with rays round them, or possibly petalled flowers. Lastly
there was the sword- hilt, of which presently.
Such were the trinkets, if so they may be called. They are of
little value intrinsically except for their weight in gold,
because, as I have said, the emeralds are flawed as though they
have been through a fire or some other unknown cause. Moreover,
there is about them nothing of the grace and charm of ancient
Egyptian jewellery; evidently they belonged to a ruder age and
civilization. Yet they had, and still have, to my imagining, a
certain dignity of their own.
Also—here I became infected with the spirit of the peculiar
Potts— without doubt these things were rich in human associations.
Who had worn that dress of crimson with the crosses worked on it in
gold wire (they cannot have been Christian crosses), and the
purple-bordered skirt underneath, and the emerald necklace and the
golden circlet from which rose the crescent of the young moon?
Apparently a mummy in a tomb, the mummy of some long-dead lady of a
strange and alien race. Was she such a one as that old lunatic
Potts had dreamed he saw standing before him in the filthy,
cumbered upper-chamber of a ruinous house in an England market
town, I wondered, one with great eyes like to those of a doe and a
No, that was nonsense. Potts had lived with shadows until he
believed in shadows that came out of his own imagination and into
it returned again. Still, she was a woman of some sort, and
apparently she had a lover or a husband, a man with a great fair
beard. How at this date, which must have been remote, did a
golden-bearded man come to foregather with a woman who wore such
robes and ornaments as these? And that sword hilt, worn smooth by
handling and with an amber knob? Whence came it? To my mind—this
was before expert examination confirmed my view—it looked very
Norse. I had read the Sagas and I remembered a tale recovered in
them of some bold Norsemen who about the years eight or nine
hundred had wandered to the coast of what is known now to be
America—I think a certain Eric was their captain. Could the
fair-haired man in the grave have been one of these?
Thus I speculated before I looked at the pile of parchments so
evidently prepared from sheep skins by one who had only a very
rudimentary knowledge of how to work such stuff, not knowing that
in those parchments was hid the answer to many of my questions. To
these I turned last of all, for we all shrink from parchments;
their contents are generally so dull. There was a great bundle of
them that had been lashed together with a kind of straw rope, fine
straw that reminded me of that used to make Panama hats. But this
had rotted underneath together with all the bottom part of the
parchments, many sheets of them, of which only fragments remained,
covered with dry mould and crumbling. Therefore the rope was easy
to remove and beneath it, holding the sheets in place, was only
some stout and comparatively modern string—it had a red thread in
it that marked it as navy cord of an old pattern.
I slipped these fastenings off and lifted a blank piece of skin
set upon the top. Beneath appeared the first sheet of parchment,
closely, very closely covered with small "black-letter" writing, so
faint and faded that even if I were able to read black-letter,
which I cannot, of it I could have made nothing at all. The thing
was hopeless. Doubtless in that writing lay the key to the mystery,
but it could never be deciphered by me or any one else. The lady
with the eyes like a deer had appeared to old Potts in vain; in
vain had she bidden him to hand over this manuscript to me.
So I thought at the time, not knowing the resources of science.
Afterwards, however, I took that huge bundle to a friend, a learned
friend whose business in life it was and is, to deal with and to
decipher old manuscripts.
"Looks pretty hopeless," he said, after staring at these.
"Still, let's have a try; one never knows till one tries."
Then he went to a cupboard in his muniment room and produced a
bottle full of some straw-coloured fluid into which he dipped an
ordinary painting brush. This charged brush he rubbed backwards and
forwards over the first lines of the writing and waited. Within a
minute, before my astonished eyes, that faint, indistinguishable
script turned coal-black, as black as though it had been written
with the best modern ink yesterday.
"It's all right," he said triumphantly, "it's vegetable ink, and
this stuff has the power to bring it up as it was on the day when
it was used. It will stay like that for a fortnight and then fade
away again. Your manuscript is pretty ancient, my friend, time of
Richard II, I should say, but I can read it easily enough. Look, it
begins, 'I, Hubert de Hastings, write this in the land of
Tavantinsuyu, far from England where I was born, whither I shall
never more return, being a wanderer as the rune upon the sword of
my ancestor, Thorgrimmer, foretold that I should be, which sword my
mother gave me on the day of the burning of Hastings by the
French,' and so on." Here he stopped.
"Then for heaven's sake, do read it," I said.
"My dear friend," he answered, "it looks to me as though it
would mean several months' work, and forgive me for saying that I
am paid a salary for my time. Now I'll tell you what you have to
do. All this stuff must be treated, sheet by sheet, and when it
turns black it must be photographed before the writing fades once
more. Then a skilled person—so-and-so, or so-and-so, are two names
that occur to me—must be employed to decipher it again, sheet by
sheet. It will cost you money, but I should say that it was worth
while. Where the devil is, or was, the land of Tavantinsuyu?"
"I know," I answered, glad to be able to show myself superior to
my learned friend in one humble instance. "Tavantinsuyu was the
native name for the Empire of Peru before the Spanish Invasion. But
how did this Hubert get there in the time of Richard II? That is
some centuries earlier than Pizarro set foot upon its shores."
"Go and find out," he answered. "It will amuse you for quite a
long while and perhaps the results may meet the expenses of
decipherment, if they are worth publishing. I expect they are not,
but then, I have read so many old manuscripts and found most of
them so jolly dull."
Well, that business was accomplished at a cost that I do not
like to record, and here are the results, more or less modernised,
since often Hubert of Hastings expressed himself in a queer and
archaic fashion. Also sometimes he used Indian words as though he
had talked the tongue of these Peruvians, or rather the Chanca
variety of it, so long that he had begun to forget his own
language. Myself I have found his story very romantic and
interesting, and I hope that some others will be of the same
opinion. Let them judge.
But oh, I do wonder what was the end of it, some of which
doubtless was recorded on the rotted sheets though of course there
can have been no account of the great battle in which he fell,
since Quilla could not write at all, least of all in English,
though I suppose she survived it and him.
The only hint of that end is to be found in old Potts's dream or
vision, and what is the worth of dreams and visions?