Part 1 out of 7
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CAPITOLA THE MADCAP
PART II OF
THE HIDDEN HAND
MRS. EMMA D. E. N. SOUTHWORTH
I. The Orphan's Trial
II. Old Hurricane Storms
III. Cap's Visit to the Hidden House
IV. The Hidden Hollow
V. The Hidden House
VI. The Inmate of the Hidden House
VII. Cap's Return
VIII. Another Mystery at the Hidden House
IX. Cap Frees the Captive
X. Cap in Captivity
XI. An Unexpected Visitor at Marsh's Cottage
XII. Cap "Rests on her Laurels" and "Spoils for a Fight"
XIII. Black Donald
XV. Cap Captivates a Craven
XVI. Cap's Rage
XVII. Capitola Caps the Climax
XVIII. Black Donald's Last Attempt
XIX. The Awful Peril of Capitola
XX. The Next Morning
XXI. A Fatal Hatred
XXII. The Court-Martial
XXIII. The Verdict
XXIV. The End of the War
XXV. The Fortunate Bath
XXVI. The Mysterious Maniac
XXVII. The Maniac's Story
XXVIII. End of the Lady's Story
XXIX. Prospects Brighten
XXX. Capitola a Capitalist
XXXI. "There shall be light at the eventide."--Holy Bible
CAPITOLA THE MADCAP
THE HIDDEN HAND
THE ORPHAN'S TRIAL
"We met ere yet the world had come
To wither up the springs of youth,
Amid the holy joys of home,
And in the first warm blush of youth.
We parted as they never part,
Whose tears are doomed to be forgot;
Oh, by what agony of heart.
Forget me not!--forget me not!"
At nine o'clock the next morning Traverse went to the library to
keep his tryst with Colonel Le Noir.
Seated in the doctor's leathern chair, with his head thrown back,
his nose erect and his white and jeweled hand caressing his
mustached chin, the colonel awaited the young man's communication.
With a slight bow Traverse took a chair and drew it up to the table,
seated himself and, after a little hesitation, commenced, and in a
modest and self-respectful manner announced that he was charged with
the last verbal instructions from the doctor to the executor of his
Colonel Le Noir left off caressing his chin for an instant, and,
with a wave of his dainty hand, silently intimated that the young
man should proceed.
Traverse then began and delivered the dying directions of the late
doctor, to the effect that his daughter Clara Day should not be
removed from the paternal mansion, but that she should be suffered
to remain there, retaining as a matronly companion her old friend
Mrs. Marah Rocke.
"Umm! umm! very ingenious, upon my word!" commented the colonel,
still caressing his chin.
"I have now delivered my whole message, sir, and have only to add
that I hope, for Miss Day's sake, there will be no difficulty thrown
in the way of the execution of her father's last wishes, which are
also, sir, very decidedly her own" said Traverse.
"Umm! doubtless they are--and also yours and your worthy mother's."
"Sir, Miss Day's will in this matter is certainly mine. Apart from
the consideration of her pleasure, my wishes need not be consulted.
As soon as I have seen Miss Day made comfortable I leave for the far
West," said Traverse, with much dignity.
"Umm! and leave mama here to guard the golden prize until your
return, eh?" sneered the colonel.
"Sir, I do not--wish to understand you," said Traverse with a
"Possibly not, my excellent young friend," said the colonel,
ironically; then, rising from his chair and elevating his voice, he
cried, "but I, sir, understand you and your mother and your pretty
scheme perfectly! Very ingenious invention, these 'last verbal
instructions.' Very pretty plan to entrap an heiress; but it shall
not avail you, adventurers that you are! This afternoon Sauter, the
confidential attorney of my late brother-in-law, will be here with
the will, which shall be read in the presence of the assembled
household. If these last verbal directions are also to be found
duplicated in the will, very good, they shall be obeyed; if they
not, shall be discredited."
During this speech Traverse stood with kindling eyes and blazing
cheeks, scarcely able to master his indignation; yet, to his credit
be it spoken, he did "rule his own spirit" and replied with dignity
"Colonel Le Noir, my testimony in regard to the last wishes of
Doctor Day can, if necessary, be supported by other evidence--though
I do not believe that any man who did not himself act in habitual
disregard of truth would wantonly question the veracity of another."
"Sir! this to me!" exclaimed Le Noir, growing white with rage and
making a step toward the young man.
"Yes, Colonel Le Noir, that to you! And this in addition; You have
presumed to charge my mother, in connection with myself, with being
an adventuress; with forming dishonorable 'schemes,' and in so
charging her, Colonel Le Noir, you utter a falsehood!"
"Sirrah!" cried Le Noir, striding toward Traverse and raising his
hand over his head, with a fearful oath, "retract your words or--"
Traverse calmly drew himself up, folded his arms and replied coolly:
"I am no brawler, Colonel Le Noir; the pistol and the bowie-knife
are as strange to my hands as abusive epithets and profane language
are to my lips; nevertheless, instead of retracting my words, I
repeat and reiterate them. If you charge my mother with conspiracy
you utter a falsehood. As her son I am in duty bound to say as
"Villain!" gasped Le Noir, shaking his fist and choking with rage;
"villain! you shall repent this in every vein of your body!"
Then, seizing his hat, he strode from the room.
"Boaster!" said Traverse to himself, as he also left the library by
Clara was waiting for him in the little parlor below.
"Well, well, dear Traverse," she said, as he entered. "You have had
the explanation with my guardian, and--he makes no objection to
carrying out the last directions of my father and our own wishes--he
is willing to leave me here?"
"My dear girl, Colonel Le Noir defers all decision until the reading
of the will, which is to take place this afternoon," said Traverse,
unwilling to add to her distress by recounting the disgraceful scene
that had just taken place in the library.
"Oh! these delays! these delays! Heaven give me patience! Yet I do
not know why I should be so uneasy. It is only a form; of course he
will regard my father's wishes."
"I do not see well how he can avoid doing so, especially as Doctor
Williams is another witness to them, and I shall request the
doctor's attendance here this afternoon. Dear Clara, keep up your
spirits! A few hours now and all will be well," said Traverse, as he
drew on his gloves and took his hat to go on his morning round of
An early dinner was ordered, for the purpose of giving ample time in
the afternoon for the reading of the will.
Owing to the kind forbearance of each member of this little family,
their meeting with their guest at the table was not so awkward as it
might have been rendered. Mrs. Rocke had concealed the insults that
had been offered her; Traverse had said nothing of the affronts put
upon him. So that each, having only their own private injuries to
resent, felt free in forbearing. Nothing but this sort of prudence
on the part of individuals rendered their meeting around one board
While they were still at the table the attorney, Mr. Sauter, with
Doctors Williams and Dawson, arrived, and was shown into the
And very soon after the dessert was put upon the table the family
left it and, accompanied by Colonel Le Noir, adjourned to the
library. After the usual salutations they arranged themselves along
each side of an extension table, at the head of which the attorney
In the midst of a profound silence the will was opened and read. It
was dated three years before.
The bulk of his estate, after the paying a few legacies, was left to
his esteemed brother-in-law, Gabriel Le Noir, in trust for his only
daughter, Clara Day, until the latter should attain the age of
twenty-one, at which period she was to come into possession of the
property. Then followed the distribution of the legacies. Among the
rest the sum of a thousand dollars was left to his young friend
Traverse Rocke, and another thousand to his esteemed neighbor Marah
Rocke. Gabriel Le Noir was appointed sole executor of the will,
trustee of the property and guardian of the heiress.
At the conclusion of the reading Mr. Sauter folded the document and
laid it upon the table.
Colonel Le Noir arose and said:
"The will of the late Doctor Day has been read in your presence. I
presume you all heard it, and that there can be no mistake as to its
purport. All that remains now is to act upon it. I shall claim the
usual privilege of twelve months before administering upon the
estate or paying the legacies. In the mean time, I shall assume the
charge of my ward's person, and convey her to my own residence,
known as the Hidden House. Mrs. Rocke," he said, turning toward the
latter, "your presence and that of your young charge is no longer
required here. Be so good as to prepare Miss Day's traveling trunks,
as we set out from this place to-morrow morning."
Mrs. Rocke started, looked wistfully in the face of the speaker and,
seeing that he was in determined earnest, turned her appealing
glances toward Traverse and Doctor Williams.
As for Clara, her face, previously blanched with grief, was now
flushed with indignation. In her sudden distress and perplexity she
knew not at once what to do--whether to utter a protest or continue
silent; whether to leave the room or remain. Her embarrassment was
perceived by Traverse, who, stooping, whispered to her:
"Be calm, love; all shall be well. Doctor Williams is about to
And at that moment, indeed, Doctor Williams arose and said:
"I have, Colonel Le Noir to endorse a dying message from Doctor Day
entrusted to my young friend here to be delivered to you, to the
effect that it was his last desire and request that his daughter,
Miss Clara Day, should be permitted to reside during the term of her
minority in this her patrimonial home, under the care of her present
matronly friend, Mrs. Marah Rocke, Doctor Rocke and myself are here
to bear testimony to these, the last wishes of the departed, which
wishes, I believe, also express the desires of his heiress."
"Oh, yes, yes!" said Clara, earnestly. "I do very much desire to
remain in my own home, among my old familiar friends. My dear father
only consulted my comfort and happiness when he left these
"There can be, therefore, no reason why Miss Day should be disturbed
in her present home," said Traverse.
Colonel Le Noir smiled grimly, saying:
"I am sorry, Doctor Williams, to differ with you or to distress Miss
Day. But if, as she says, her lamented father consulted her pleasure
in those last instructions, he certainly consulted nothing else--not
the proprieties of conventionalism, the opinion of the world, nor
the future welfare of his daughter. Therefore, as a man of Doctor
Day's high position and character in his sane moments never could
have made such a singular arrangement, I am forced to the conclusion
that he could not, at the time of giving those instructions, have
been in his right mind. Consequently, I cannot venture to act upon
any 'verbal instructions,' however well attested, but shall be
guided in every respect by the will, executed while yet the testator
was in sound body and mind."
"Doctor Rocke and myself are both physicians competent to certify
that, at the time of leaving these directions, our respected friend
was perfectly sound in mind at least," said Doctor Williams.
"That, sir, I repeat, I contest. And, acting upon the authority of
the will, I shall proceed to take charge of my ward as well as of
her estate. And as I think this house, under all the circumstances,
a very improper place for her to remain, I shall convey her without
delay to my own home. Mrs. Rocke, I believe I requested you to see
to the packing of Miss Day's trunks."
"Oh, heaven! shall this wrong be permitted?" ejaculated Marah.
"Mrs. Rocke, I will not go unless absolutely forced to do so by a
decree of the court. I shall get Doctor Williams to make an appeal
for me to the Orphans' Court," said Clara, by way of encouraging her
"My dear Miss Day, that, I hope, will not be required. Colonel Le
Noir acts under a misapprehension of the circumstances. We must
enter into more explanations with him, In the mean time, my dear
young lady, it is better that you should obey him for the present,
at least so far as retiring from the room," said Doctor Williams.
Clara immediately rose and, requesting Mrs. Rocke to accompany her,
withdrew from the library.
Doctor Williams then said;
"I advised the retirement of the young lady, having a communication
to make the hearing of which in a mixed company might have cost her
an innocent blush. But first I would ask you, Colonel Le Noir, what
are those circumstances to which you allude which render Miss Day's
residence here, in her patrimonial mansion, with her old and
faithful friends, so improper?" inquired Doctor Williams,
"The growing intimacy, sir, between herself and a very objectionable
party--this young man Rocke!" replied Colonel Le Noir.
"Ah! and is that all?"
"It is enough, sir," said Colonel Le Noir, loftily.
"Then suppose I should inform you, sir, that this young man, Doctor
Rocke, was brought up and educated at Doctor Day's cost and under
his own immediate eye?"
"Then, sir, you would only inform me that an eccentric gentleman of
fortune had done--what eccentric gentlemen of fortune will sometimes
do--educated a pauper."
At this opprobrious epithet Traverse, with a flushed face, started
to his feet.
"Sit down, my boy, sit down; leave me to deal with this man," said
Doctor Williams, forcing Traverse back into his seat. Then, turning
to Colonel Le Noir, he said:
"But suppose, sir, that such was the estimation in which Doctor Day
held the moral and intellectual worth of his young protege that he
actually gave him his daughter?"
"I cannot suppose an impossibility, Doctor Williams," replied
Colonel Le Noir, haughtily.
"Then, sir, I have the pleasure of startling you a little by a
prodigy that you denominate an impossibility! Clara Day and Traverse
Rocke were betrothed with full knowledge and cordial approbation of
the young lady's father."
"Impossible! preposterous! I shall countenance no such ridiculous
absurdity!" said Colonel Le Noir, growing red in the face.
"Miss Day, Doctor Rocke, Mrs. Rocke, and myself are witnesses to
"The young lady, and the young man are parties immediately
concerned--they cannot be received as witnesses in their own case;
Mrs. Rocke is too much in their interest for her evidence to be
taken; you, sir, I consider the dupe of these cunning conspirators--
mother and son," replied Colonel Le Noir, firmly.
"Tut!" said Doctor Williams, almost out of patience. "I do not
depend upon the words of Miss Day and her friends, although I hold
their veracity to be above question; I had Doctor Day's dying words
to the same effect. And he mentioned the existing betrothal as the
very reason why Clara should remain here in the care of her future
"Then, sir, that the doctor should have spoken and acted thus, is
only another and a stronger reason for believing him to have been
deranged in his last moments! You need give yourself no farther
trouble! I shall act upon the authority of this instrument which I
hold in my hand," replied Colonel Le Noir, haughtily.
"Then, as the depository of the dying man's last wishes and as the
next friend of his injured daughter, I shall make an appeal to the
Orphans' Court," said Doctor Williams, coldly.
"You can do as you please about that; but in the mean time, acting
upon the authority of the will, I shall to-morrow morning set out
with my ward for my own home."
"There may be time to arrest that journey," said Doctor Williams,
arising and taking his hat to go.
In the passage he met Mrs. Rocke.
"Dear Doctor Williams," said Mrs. Rocke, earnestly, "pray come up to
poor Clara's room and speak to her, if you can possibly say anything
to comfort her; she is weeping herself into a fit of illness at the
bare thought of being, so soon after her dreadful bereavement, torn
away from her home and friends."
"Tut! tut! no use in weeping! all will yet be right."
"You have persuaded that man to permit her to remain here, then?"
said Marah, gladly.
"Persuaded him! no, nor even undertaken to do so! I never saw him
before to-day, yet I would venture to say, from what I have now seen
of him, that he never was persuaded by any agent except his own
passions and interests, to any act whatever. No, I have endeavored
to show him that we have law as well as justice on our side, and
even now I am afraid I shall have to take the case before the
Orphans' Court before I can convince him. He purposes removing Clara
to-morrow morning. I will endeavor to see the Judge of the Orphans'
Court to-night, take out a habeas corpus, ordering Le Noir to bring
his ward into court, and serve it on him as he passes through
Staunton on his way home."
"But is there no way of preventing him from taking Clara away from
the house to-morrow morning."
"No good way. No, madam, it is best that all things should be done
decently and in order. I advise you, as I shall also advise my young
friends, Traverse and Clara, not to injure their own cause by unwise
impatience or opposition. We should go before the Orphans' Court
with the very best aspect."
"Come, then, and talk to Clara. She has the most painful antipathy
to the man who claims the custody of her person, as well as the most
distressing reluctance to leaving her dear home and friends; and all
this, in addition to her recent heavy affliction, almost overwhelms
the poor child," said Mrs. Rocke, weeping.
"I will go at once and do what I can to soothe her," said Doctor
Williams, following Mrs. Rocke, who led him up to Clara's room.
They found her prostrate upon her bed, crushed with grief.
"Come, come, my dear girl, this is too bad! It is not like the usual
noble fortitude of our Clara," said the old man, kindly taking her
"Oh, Doctor, forgive--forgive me! but my courage must have been very
small, for I fear it is all gone. But then, indeed, everything comes
on me at once. My dear, dear father's death; then the approaching
departure and expected long absence of Traverse! All that was
grievous enough to bear; and now to be torn away from the home of my
childhood, and from the friend that has always been a mother to me,
and by a man, from whom every true, good instinct of my nature
teaches me to shrink. I, who have always had full liberty in the
house of my dear father, to be forced away against my will by this
man, as if I were his slave!" exclaimed Clara, bursting into fresh
tears of indignation and grief.
"Clara, my dear, dear girl, this impatience and rebellion is so
unlike your gentle nature that I can scarcely recognize you for the
mild and dignified daughter of my old friend. Clara, if the saints
in heaven could grieve at anything, I should think your dear father
would be grieved to see you thus!" said the old man in gentle rebuke
that immediately took effect upon the meek and conscientious maiden.
"Oh! I feel--I feel that I am doing very wrong, but I cannot help
it. I scarcely know myself in this agony of mingled grief,
indignation and terror--yes, terror--for every instinct of my nature
teaches me to distrust and fear that man, in whom my father must
have been greatly deceived before he could have entrusted him with
the guardianship of his only child."
"I think that quite likely," said the old man; "yet, my dear, even
in respect to your dear father's memory, you must try to bear this
"Oh, yes, I know I must. Dear father, if you can look down and see
me now, forgive your poor Clara, her anger and her impatience. She
will try to be worthy of the rearing you have given her and to bear
even this great trial with the spirit worthy of your daughter!" said
Clara within her own heart; then, speaking up, she said: "You shall
have no more reason to reprove me, Doctor Williams."
"That is my brave girl! That is my dear Clara Day! And now, when
your guardian directs you to prepare yourself for your journey, obey
him--go with him without making any objection. I purpose to arrest
your journey at Staunton with a habeas corpus that he dare not
resist, and which shall compel him to bring you into the Orphans'
Court. There our side shall be heard, and the decision will rest
with the judge."
"And all will be well! Oh, say that, sir! to give me the courage to
act with becoming docility," pleaded Clara.
"I have not a doubt in this world that it will all be right, for,
however Colonel Le Noir may choose to disregard the last wishes of
your father, as attested by myself and young Rocke, I have not the
least idea that the judge will pass them over. On the contrary, I
feel persuaded that he will confirm them by sending you back here to
your beloved home."
"Oh, may heaven grant it!" said Clara. "You do, indeed, give me new
"Yes, yes, be cheerful, my dear; trust in Providence and expect
nothing short of the best! And now I dare not tarry longer with you,
for I must see the Judge at his house this night. Good-by, my dear;
keep up a good heart!" said the old man, cheerfully, pressing her
hand and taking his leave.
Mrs. Rocke accompanied him to the hall door.
"My dear madam, keep up your spirits also for the sake of your young
charge! Make her go to bed early! To-morrow, when she thinks she is
about to be torn from you forever, remind her in her ear that I
shall meet the carriage at Staunton with a power that shall turn the
And so saying, the worthy old gentleman departed.
As Marah Rocke looked after him, she also saw with alarm that
Colonel Le Noir had mounted his horse and galloped off in the
direction of Staunton, as if impelled by the most urgent haste.
She returned to the bedside of Clara, and left her no more that
night. As the colonel did not return to supper, they, the family
party, had their tea in Clara's room.
Late at night Mrs. Rocke heard Colonel Le Noir come into the house
and enter his chamber.
Poor Clara slept no more that night; anxiety, despite of all her
efforts, kept her wide awake. Yet, though anxious and wakeful, yet
by prayer and endeavor she had brought her mind into a patient and
submissive mood, so that when a servant knocked at her door in the
morning with a message from Colonel Le Noir that she should be ready
to set forth immediately after breakfast, she replied that she
should obey him, and without delay she arose and commenced her
All the family met for the last time around the board. The party was
constrained. The meal was a gloomy one. On rising from the table
Colonel Le Noir informed his ward that his traveling carriage was
waiting, and that her baggage was already on, and requested her to
put on her bonnet and mantle, and take leave of her servants.
Clara turned to obey--Traverse went to her side and whispered:
"Take courage, dear love. My horse is saddled. I shall ride in
attendance upon the carriage whether that man likes it or not; nor
lose sight of you for one moment until we meet Williams with his
"Nor even then, dear Traverse, nor even then! You will attend me to
the court and be ready to take me back to this dear, dear home!"
murmured Clara in reply.
"Yes, yes, dear girl! There, be cheerful," whispered the young man,
as he pressed her hand and released it.
Colonel Le Noir had been a silent but frowning spectator of this
little scene, and now that Clara was leaving the room, attended by
Mrs. Rocke, he called the latter back, saying:
"You will be so kind as to stop here a moment, Mrs. Rocke and you
also, young man."
The mother and son paused to hear what he should have to say.
"I believe it is the custom here in discharging domestics to give a
month's warning, or in lieu of that, to pay a month's wages in
advance. There, woman, is the money. You will oblige me by leaving
the house to-day, together with your son and all your other
trumpery, as the premises are put in charge of an agent, who will be
here this afternoon, clothed with authority to eject all loiterers
While the colonel spoke Marah Rocke gazed at him in a panic from
which she seemed unable to rouse herself, until Traverse gravely
took her hand, saying:
"My dear mother, let me conduct you from the presence of this man,
who does not know how to behave himself toward women. Leave me to
talk with him, and do you, dear mother, go to Miss Day, who I know
is waiting for you."
Marah Rocke mechanically complied and allowed Traverse to lead her
from the room.
When he returned he went up to Colonel Le Noir, and, standing before
him and looking him full and sternly in the face, said, as sternly:
"Colonel Le Noir, my mother will remain here and abide the decision
of the Orphans' Court; until that has been pronounced, she does not
stir at your or any man's bidding!"
"Villain, out of my way!" sneered Le Noir, endeavoring to pass him.
Traverse prevented him, saying:
"Sir, in consideration of your age, which should be venerable, your
position which should prove you honorable, and of this sacred house
of mourning in which you stand, I have endeavored to meet all the
insults you have offered me with forbearance. But, sir, I am here to
defend my mother's rights and to protect her from insult! And I tell
you plainly that you have affronted her for the very last time! One
more word or look of insult leveled at Marah Rocke and neither your
age, position nor this sacred roof shall protect you from personal
chastisement at the hands of her son!"
Le Noir, who had listened in angry scorn, with many an ejaculation
of contempt, now at the conclusion which so galled his pride, broke
out furiously, with:
"Sir, you are a bully! If you were a gentleman I would call you
"And I should not come if you did, sir! Dueling is unchristian,
barbarous and abominable in the sight of God and all good men. For
the rest you may call me anything you please; but do not again
insult my mother, for if you do I shall hold it a Christian duty to
teach you better manners," said Traverse, coolly taking his hat and
walking from the room. He mounted his horse and stood ready to
attend Clara to Staunton.
Colonel Le Noir ground his teeth in impotent rage, muttering;
"Take care, young man! I shall live to be revenged upon you yet for
these affronts!" and his dastard heart burned with the fiercer
malignity that he had not dared to meet the eagle eye, or encounter
the strong arm of the upright and stalwart young man. Gnashing his
teeth with ill-suppressed fury, he strode into the hall just as Mrs.
Rocke and Clara, in her traveling dress, descended the stairs.
Clara threw her arms around Mrs. Rocke's neck, and, weeping, said:
"Good-by, dear, best friend--good-by! Heaven grant it may not be for
long! Oh, pray for me, that I may be sent back to you!"
"May the Lord have you in His holy keeping, my child I shall pray
until I hear from you!" said Marah, kissing and releasing her.
Colonel Le Noir then took her by the hand, led her out, and put her
into the carriage.
Just before entering Clara had turned to take a last look at her old
home--all, friends and servants, noticed the sorrowful, anxious,
almost despairing look of her pale face, which seemed to ask:
"Ah, shall I ever, ever return to you, dear old home, and dear,
In another instant she had disappeared within the carriage, which
immediately rolled off.
As the carriage was heavily laden, and the road was in a very bad
condition, it was a full hour before they reached the town of
Staunton. As the carriage drew up for a few moments before the door
of the principal hotel, and Colonel Le Noir was in the act of
stepping out, a sheriff's officer, accompanied by Dr. Williams,
approached, and served upon the colonel a writ of habeas corpus,
commanding him to bring his ward, Clara Day, into court.
Colonel Le Noir laughed scornfully, saying:
"And do any of you imagine this will serve your purposes? Ha, ha!
The most that it can do will be to delay my journey for a few hours
until the decision of the judge, which will only serve to confirm my
authority beyond all future possibility of questioning,"
"We will see to that," said Doctor Williams.
"Drive to the Court House!" ordered Colonel Le Noir.
And the carriage, attended by Traverse Rocke, Doctor Williams and
the Sheriff's officer, each on horseback, drove thither.
And now, reader, I will not trouble you with a detailed account of
this trial. Clara, clothed in deep mourning, and looking pale and
terrified, was led into the court room on the arm of her guardian.
She was followed closely by her friends, Traverse Rocke and Doctor
Williams, each of whom whispered encouraging words to the orphan.
As the court had no pressing business on its hands, the case was
immediately taken up, the will was read and attested by the attorney
who had drawn it up and the witnesses who had signed it. Then the
evidence of Doctor Williams and Doctor Rocke was taken concerning
the last verbal instruction of the deceased. The case occupied about
three hours, at the end of which the judge gave a decision in favor
of Colonel Le Noir.
This judgment carried consternation to the heart of Clara and of all
Clara herself sank fainting in the arms of her old friend, the
venerable Doctor Williams.
Traverse, in bitterness of spirit, approached and bent over her.
Colonel Le Noir spoke to the judge.
"I deeply thank your honor for the prompt hearing and equally prompt
decision of this case, and I will beg your honor to order the
Sheriff and his officers to see your judgment carried into effect,
as I foresee violent opposition, and wish to prevent trouble."
"Certainly. Mr. Sheriff, you will see that Colonel Le Noir is put in
possession of his ward, and protected in that right until he shall
have placed her in security," said the judge.
Clara, on hearing these words, lifted her head from the old man's
bosom, nerved her gentle heart, and in a clear, sweet, steady voice
"It is needless precaution, your honor; my friends are no law-
breakers, and since the court has given me into the custody of my
guardian, I do not dispute its judgment. I yield myself up to
Colonel Le Noir."
"You do well, young lady," said the judge.
"I am pleased, Miss Day, to see that you understand and perform your
duty; believe me, I shall do all that I can to make you happy," said
Colonel Le Noir.
Clara replied by a gentle nod, and then, with a slight blush
mantling her pure cheeks she advanced a step and placed herself
immediately in front of the judge, saying:
"But there is a word that I would speak to your honor."
"Say on, young lady," said the judge.
And as she stood there in her deep mourning dress, with her fair
hair unbound and floating softly around her pale, sweet face, every
eye in that court was spellbound by her almost unearthly beauty.
Before proceeding with what she was about to say, she turned upon
Traverse a look that brought him immediately to her side.
"Your honor," she began, in a low, sweet, clear tone, "I owe it to
Doctor Rocke here present, who has been sadly misrepresented to you,
to say (what, under less serious circumstances, my girl's heart
would shrink from avowing so publicly) that I am his betrothed wife-
-sacredly betrothed to him by almost the last act of my dear
father's life. I hold this engagement to be so holy that no earthly
tribunal can break or disturb it. And while I bend to your honor's
decision, and yield myself to the custody of my legal guardian for
the period of my minority, I here declare to all who may be
interested, that I hold my hand and heart irrevocably pledged to
Doctor Rocke, and that, as his betrothed wife, I shall consider
myself bound to correspond with him regularly, and to receive him as
often as he shall seek my society, until my majority, when I and all
that I possess will become his own. And these words I force myself
to speak, your honor, both in justice to my dear lost father and his
friend, Traverse Rocke, and also to myself, that hereafter no one
may venture to accuse me of clandestine proceedings, or distort my
actions into improprieties, or in any manner call in question the
conduct of my father's daughter." And, with another gentle bow,
Clara retired to the side of her old friend.
"You are likely to have a troublesome charge in your ward," said the
sheriff apart to the colonel, who shrugged his shoulders by way of
The heart of Traverse was torn by many conflicting passions,
emotions and impulses; there was indignation at the decision of the
court; grief for the loss of Clara, and dread for her future!
One instant he felt a temptation to denounce the guardian as a
villain and to charge the judge with being a corrupt politician,
whose decisions were swayed by party interests!
The next moment he felt an impulse to catch Clara up in his arms,
fight his way through the crowd and carry her off! But all these
wild emotions, passions and impulses he succeeded in controlling.
Too well he knew that to rage, do violence, or commit extravagance
as he might, the law would take its course all the same.
While his heart was torn in this manner, Colonel Le Noir was urging
the departure of his ward. And Clara came to her lover's side and
said, gravely and sweetly:
"The law, you see, has decided against us, dear Traverse! Let us
bend gracefully to a decree that we cannot annul! It cannot, at
least, alter our sacred relations; nor can anything on earth shake
our steadfast faith in each other; let us take comfort in that, and
in the thought that the years will surely roll round at length and
bring the time that shall reunite us."
"Oh, my angel-girl! My angel-girl! Your patient heroism puts me to
the blush, for my heart is crushed in my bosom and my firmness quite
gone!" said Traverse, in a broken voice.
"You will gain firmness, dear Traverse. 'Patient!' I patient! You
should have heard me last night! I was so impatient that Doctor
Williams had to lecture me. But it would be strange if one did not
learn something by suffering. I have been trying all night and day
to school my heart to submission, and I hope I have succeeded,
Traverse. Bless me and bid me good-by."
"The Lord forever bless and keep you, my own dear angel, Clara!"
burst from the lips of Traverse. "The Lord abundantly bless you!"
"And you," said Clara.
And thus they parted.
Clara was hurried away and put into the carriage by her guardian.
Ah, no one but the Lord knew how much it had-cost that poor girl to
maintain her fortitude during that trying scene. She had controlled
herself for the sake of her friends. But now, when she found herself
in the carriage, her long strained nerves gave way--she sank
exhausted and prostrated into the corner of her seat, in the utter
collapse of woe!
But leaving the travelers to pursue their journey, we must go back
Almost broken-hearted, Traverse returned to Willow Heights to convey
the sad tidings of his disappointment to his mother's ear.
Marah Rocke was so overwhelmed with grief at the news that she was
for several hours incapable of action.
The arrival of the house agent was the first event that recalled her
to her senses.
She aroused herself to action, and, assisted by Traverse, set to
work to pack up her own and his wardrobe and other personal effects.
And the next morning Marah Rocke was re-established in her cottage.
And the next week, having equally divided their little capital, the
mother and son parted--Traverse, by her express desire, keeping to
his original plan, set out for the far West.
OLD HURRICANE STORMS.
"At this sir knight flamed up with ire!
His great chest heaved! his eyes flashed fire.
The crimson that suffused his face
To deepest purple now gave place."
Who can describe the frenzy of Old Hurricane upon discovering the
fraud that had been practised upon him by Black Donald?
It was told him the next morning in his tent, at his breakfast
table, in the presence of his assembled family, by the Rev Mr.
Upon first hearing it, he was incapable of anything but blank
staring, until it seemed as though his eyes must start from their
Then his passion, "not loud but deep," found utterance only in
emphatic thumps of his walking stick upon the ground!
Then, as the huge emotion worked upward, it broke out in grunts,
groans and inarticulate exclamations!
Finally it burst forth as follows:
"Ugh! ugh! ugh! Fool! dolt! blockhead! Brute that I've been! I wish
somebody would punch my wooden head! I didn't think the demon
himself could have deceived me so! Ugh! Nobody but the demon could
have done it! and he is the demon! The very demon himself! He does
not disguise--he transforms himself! Ugh! ugh! ugh! that I should
have been such a donkey!"
"Sir, compose yourself! We are all liable to suffer deception," said
"Sir," broke forth Old Hurricane, in fury, "that wretch has eaten at
my table! Has drunk wine with me!! Has slept in my bed!!! Ugh! ugh!!
"Believing him to be what he seemed, sir, you extended to him the
rights of hospitality; you have nothing to blame yourself with!"
"Demmy, sir, I did more than that! I've coddled him up with
negusses! I've pampered him up with possets and put him to sleep in
my own bed! Yes, sir--and more! Look there at Mrs. Condiment, sir!
The way in which she worshiped that villain was a sight to behold!"
said Old Hurricane, jumping up and stamping around the tent in fury.
"Oh, Mr. Goodwin, sir, how could I help it when I thought he was
such a precious saint?" whimpered the old lady.
"Yes, sir! when 'his reverence' would be tired with delivering a
long-winded mid-day discourse, Mrs. Condiment, sir, would take him
into her own tent--make him lie down on her own sacred cot, and set
my niece to bathing his head with cologne and her maid to fanning
him, while she herself prepared an iced sherry cobbler for his
reverence! Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Mrs. Condiment, mum!"
said Old Hurricane, suddenly stopping before the poor old woman, in
"Indeed, I'm sure if I'd known it was Black Donald, I'd no more have
suffered him inside of my tent than I would Satan!"
"Demmy, mum, you had Satan there as well! Who but Satan could have
tempted you all to disregard me, your lawful lord and master, as you
every one of you did for that wretch's sake! Hang it, parson, I
wasn't the master of my own house, nor head of my own family!
Precious Father Gray was! Black Donald was! Oh, you shall hear!"
cried Old Hurricane, in a frenzy.
"Pray, sir, be patient and do not blame the women for being no wiser
than you were yourself," said Mr. Goodwin.
"Tah! tah! tah! One act of folly is a contingency to which any man
may for once in his life be liable; but folly is the women's normal
condition! You shall hear! You shall hear! Hang it, sir, everybody
had to give way to Father Gray! Everything was for Father Gray!
Precious Father Gray! Excellent Father Gray! Saintly Father Gray! It
was Father Gray here and Father Gray there, and Father Gray
everywhere and always! He ate with us all day and slept with us all
night! The coolest cot in the dryest nook of the tent at night--the
shadiest seat at the table by day--were always for his reverence!
The nicest tit-bits of the choicest dishes--the middle slices of the
fish, the breast of the young ducks, and the wings of the chickens,
the mealiest potatoes, the juiciest tomatoes, the tenderest roasting
ear, the most delicate custard, and freshest fruit always for his
reverence! I had to put up with the necks of poultry, and the tails
of fishes, watery potatoes, specked apples and scorched custards--
and if I dared to touch anything better before his precious
reverence had eaten and was filled, Mrs. Condiment there--would look
as sour as if she had bitten an unripe lemon--and Cap would tread on
my gouty toe! Mrs. Condiment, mum, I don't know how you can look me
in the face!" said Old Hurricane, savagely. A very unnecessary
reproach, since poor Mrs. Condiment had not ventured to look any one
in the face since the discovery of the fraud of which she, as well
as others, had been an innocent victim.
"Come, come, my dear major, there is no harm done to you or your
family; therefore, take patience!" said Mr. Goodwin.
"Demmy, sir, I beg you pardon, parson, I won't take patience! You
don't know! Hang it, man, at last they got me to give up one-half of
my own blessed bed to his precious reverence--the best half which
the fellow always took right out of the middle, leaving me to sleep
on both sides of him, if I could! Think of it--me, Ira Warfield--
sleeping between the sheets--night after night--with Black Donald!
Ugh! ugh! ugh! Oh, for some lethean draught that I might drink and
forget! Sir, I won't be patient! Patience would be a sin! Mrs.
Condiment, mum, I desire that you will send in your account and
supply yourself with a new situation! You and I cannot agree any
longer. You'll be putting me to bed with Beelzebub next!" exclaimed
Old Hurricane, besides himself with indignation.
Mrs. Condiment sighed and wiped her eyes under her spectacles.
The worthy minister, now seriously alarmed, came to him and said:
"My dear, dear major, do not be unjust--consider. She is an old
faithful domestic, who has been in your service forty years--whom
you could not live without! I say it under advisement--whom you
could not live without!"
"Hang it, sir, nor live with! Think of her helping to free the
prisoners! Actually taking Black Donald--precious Father Gray!--into
their cell and leaving them together to hatch their--beg you pardon-
"But, sir, instead of punishing the innocent victim of his
deception, let us be merciful and thank the Lord, that since those
men were delivered from prison, they were freed without bloodshed;
for remember that neither the warden nor any of his men, nor any one
else has been personally injured,"
"Hang it, sir, I wish they had cut all our throats to teach us more
discretion!" broke forth Old Hurricane.
"I am afraid that the lesson so taught would have come too late to
be useful!" smiled the pastor.
"Well, it hasn't come too late now! Mrs. Condiment, mum, mind what I
tell you! As soon as we return to Hurricane Hall, send in your
accounts and seek a new home! I am not going to suffer myself to be
set at naught any longer!" exclaimed Old Hurricane, bringing down
his cane with an emphatic thump.
The sorely troubled minister was again about to interfere, when, as
the worm if trodden upon, will turn, Mrs. Condiment herself spoke
"Lor, Major Warfield, sir, there were others deceived besides me,
and as for myself, I never can think of the risk I've run without
growing cold all over!"
"Serves you right, mum, for your officiousness, and obsequiousness
and toadying to--precious Mr. Gray!--serves you doubly right for
famishing me at my own table!"
"Uncle!" said Capitola, "'Honor bright! Fair play is a jewel! If you
and I, who have seen Black Donald before, failed to recognize that
stalwart athlete in a seemingly old and sickly man, how could you
expect Mrs. Condiment to do so, who never saw him but once in her
life, and then was so much frightened that she instantly fainted?"
"Pah! pah! pah! Cap, hush! You, all of you, disgust me, except Black
Donald! I begin to respect him! Confound if I don't take in all the
offers I have made for his apprehension, and at the very next
convention of our party I'll nominate him to represent us in the
National Congress; for, of all the fools that ever I have met in my
life, the people of this county are the greatest! And fools should
at least be represented by one clever man--and Black Donald is the
very fellow! He is decidedly the ablest man in this congressional
"Except yourself, dear uncle!" said Capitola.
"Except nobody, Miss Impudence!--least of all me! The experience of
the last week has convinced me that I ought to have a cap and bells
awarded me by public acclamation!" said Old Hurricane, stamping
about in fury.
The good minister finding that he could make no sort of impression
upon the irate old man, soon took his leave, telling Mrs. Condiment
that if he could be of any service to her in her trouble she must be
sure to let him know.
At this Capitola and Mrs. Condiment exchanged looks, and the old
lady, thanking him for his kindness, said that if it should become
necessary, she should gratefully avail herself of it.
That day the camp meeting broke up.
Major Warfield struck tents and with his family and baggage returned
to Hurricane Hall.
On their arrival, each member of the party went about his or her own
Capitola hurried to her own room to take off her bonnet and shawl.
Pitapat, before attending her young mistress, lingered below to
astonish the housemaids with accounts of "Brack Donel, dress up like
an ole parson, an' 'ceiving everybody, even ole Marse!"
Mrs. Condiment went to her store room to inspect the condition of
her newly put up preserves and pickles, lest any of them should have
"worked" during her absence.
And Old Hurricane, attended by Wool, walked down to his kennels and
his stables to look after the well-being of his favorite hounds and
horses. It was while going through this interesting investigation
that Major Warfield was informed--principally by overhearing the
gossip of the grooms with Wool--of the appearance of a new inmate of
the Hidden House--a young girl, who, according to their description,
must have been the very pearl of beauty.
Old Hurricane pricked up his ears! Anything relating to the "Hidden
House" possessed immense interest for him.
"Who is she, John?" he inquired of the groom.
"Deed I dunno, sir, only they say she's a bootiful young creature,
fair as any lily, and dressed in deep mourning."
"Humph! humph! humph! another victim! Ten thousand chances to one,
another victim! who told you this, John?"
"Why, Marse, you see Tom Griffith, the Rev. Mr. Goodwill's man, he's
very thick long of Davy Hughs, Colonel Le Noir's coachman. And Davy
he told Tom how one day last month his marse ordered the carriage,
and went two or three days' journey up the country beyant Staunton,
there he stayed a week and then came home, fetching along with him
in the carriage this lovely young lady, who was dressed in the
deepest mourning, and wept all the way. They 'spects how she's an
orphan, and has lost all her friends, by the way she takes on."
"Another victim! My life on it--another victim! Poor child! She had
better be dead than in the power of that atrocious villain and
consummate hypocrite!" said Old Hurricane, passing on to the
examination of his favorite horses, one of which, the swiftest in
the stud, he found galled on the shoulders. Whereupon he flew into a
towering passion, abusing his unfortunate groom by every opprobrious
epithet blind fury could suggest, ordering him, as he valued whole
bones, to vacate the stable instantly, and never dare to set foot on
his premises again as he valued his life, an order which the man
meekly accepted and immediately disobeyed, muttered to himself:
"Humph! If we took ole marse at his word, there'd never be man or
'oman left on the 'state," knowing full well that his tempestuous
old master would probably forget all about it, as soon as he got
comfortably seated at the supper table of Hurricane Hall, toward
which the old man now trotted off.
Not a word did Major Warfield say at supper in regard to the new
inmate of the Hidden House, for he had particular reasons for
keeping Cap in ignorance of a neighbor, lest she should insist upon
exchanging visits and being "sociable."
But it was destined that Capitola should not remain a day in
ignorance of the interesting fact.
That night, when she retired to her chamber, Pitapat lingered
behind, but presently appeared at her young mistress's room door
with a large waiter on her head, laden with meat, pastry, jelly and
fruit, which she brought in and placed upon the work stand.
"Why, what on the face of earth do you mean by bringing all that
load of victuals into my room to-night? Do you think I am an ostrich
or a cormorant, or that I am going to entertain a party of friends?"
asked Capitola, in astonishment, turning from the wash stand, where
she stood bathing her face.
"'Deed I dunno, Miss, whedder you'se an ostrizant or not, but I
knows I don't 'tend for to be 'bused any more 'bout wittels, arter
findin' out how cross empty people can be! Dar dey is! You can eat
um or leab um alone, Miss Caterpillar!" said little Pitapat, firmly.
Capitola laughed, "Patty" she said, "you are worthy to be called my
"And Lors knows, Miss Caterpillar, if it was de wittels you was a-
frettin' arter, you ought to a-told me before! Lors knows dere's
"Yes, I'm much obliged to you, Patty, but now I am not hungry, and I
do not like the smell of food in my bedroom,, so take the waiter out
and set it on the passage table until morning."
Patty obeyed, and came back smiling and saying:
"Miss Caterpillar, has you hern de news?"
"What news, Pat?"
"How us has got a new neighbor--a bootiful young gal--as bootiful as
a picter in a gilt-edged Christmas book--wid a snowy skin, and sky-
blue eyes and glistenin' goldy hair, like the princess you was a
readin' me about, all in deep mournin' and a weepin' and a weepin'
all alone down there in that wicked, lonesome, onlawful ole haunted
place, the Hidden House, along of old Colonel Le Noir and old Dorkey
Knight, and the ghost as draws people's curtains of a night, just
for all de worl' like dat same princess in de ogre's castle!"
"What on earth is all this rigmarole about? Are you dreaming or
"I'm a-telling on you de bressed trufe! Dere's a young lady a-livin'
at de Hidden House!"
"Eh? Is that really true, Patty?"
"True as preaching, miss."
"Then, I am very glad of it! I shall certainly ride over and call on
the stranger," said Capitola, gaily.
"Oh, Miss Cap! Oh, miss, don't you do no sich thing! Ole Marse kill
me! I heerd him t'reaten all de men and maids how if dey telled you
anything 'bout de new neighbor, how he'd skin dem alive!"
"Won't he skin you?" asked Cap.
"No, miss, not 'less you 'form ag'in me, 'case he 'didn't tell me
not to tell you, 'case you see he didn't think how I knowed! But,
leastways, I know from what I heard, ole marse wouldn't have you to
know nothin' about it, no, not for de whole worl'."
"He does not want me to call at the Hidden House! That's it! Now why
doesn't he wish me to call there? I shall have to go in order to
find out, and so I will," thought Cap
CAP'S VISIT TO THE HIDDEN HOUSE
And such a night "she" took the road in
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed
Loud, deep and long the thunder bellowed;
That night a child might understand
The de'il had business on his hand.
A week passed before Capitola carried her resolution of calling upon
the inmate of the Hidden House into effect. It was in fact a hot,
dry, oppressive season, the last few days of August, when all
people, even the restless Capitola, preferred the coolness and
repose of indoors. But that she should stay at home more than a week
was a moral and physical impossibility. So on Thursday afternoon,
when Major Warfield set out on horseback to visit his mill, Capitola
ordered her horse saddled and brought up that she might take an
"Now please, my dear child, don't go far," said Mrs. Condiment, "for
besides that your uncle does not approve of your riding alone, you
must hurry back to avoid the storm."
"Storm, Mrs. Condiment, why bless your dear old heart, there has not
been a storm these four weeks!" said Capitola, almost indignant that
such an absurd objection to a long ride should be raised.
"The more reason, my child, that we should have a very severe one
when it does come, and I think it will be upon us before sunset; so
I advise you to hurry home."
"Why, Mrs. Condiment, there's not a cloud in the sky."
"So much the worse, my dear! The blackest cloud that ever gathered
is not so ominous of mischief as this dull, coppery sky and still
atmosphere! And if forty years' observation of weather signs goes
for anything, I tell you that we are going to have the awfulest
storm that ever gathered in the heavens! Why, look out of that
window--the very birds and beasts know it, and instinctively seek
shelter--look at that flock of crows flying home! See how the dumb
beasts come trooping toward their sheds! Capitola, you had better
give up going altogether, my dear! "
"There! I thought all this talk tended to keeping me within doors,
but I can't stay, Mrs. Condiment! Good Mrs. Condiment, I can't!"
"But, my dear, if you should be caught out in the storm!"
"Why, I don't know but I should like it! What harm could it do? I'm
not soluble in water--rain won't melt me away! I think upon the
whole I rather prefer being caught in the storm," said Cap,
"Well, well, there is no need of that! You may ride as far as the
river's bank and back again in time to escape, if you choose!" said
Mrs. Condiment, who saw that her troublesome charge was bent upon
And Cap, seeing her horse approach, led by one of the grooms, ran
up-stairs, donned her riding habit, hat and gloves, ran down again,
sprang into her saddle and was off, galloping away toward the river
before Mrs. Condiment could add another word of warning.
She had been gone about an hour, when the sky suddenly darkened, the
wind rose and the thunder rolled in prelude to the storm.
Major Warfield came skurrying home from the mill, grasping his
bridle with one hand and holding his hat on with the other.
Meeting poor old Ezy in the shrubbery, he stormed out upon him with:
"What are you lounging there for, you old idiot! You old sky-gazing
lunatic! Don't you see that we are going to have an awful blow!
Begone with you and see that the cattle are all under shelter! Off,
I say, or," he rode toward Bill Ezy, but the old man, exclaiming:
"Yes, sir--yes, sir! In coorse, sir!" ducked his head and ran off in
Major Warfield quickened his horse's steps and rode to the house,
dismounted and threw the reins to the stable boy, exclaiming:
"My beast is dripping with perspiration--rub him down well you
knave, or I'll impale you!"
Striding into the hall, he threw down his riding whip, pulled off
his gloves and called:
"Wool! Wool, you scoundrel, close every door and window in the
house! Call all the servants together in the dining-room; we're
going to have one of the worst tempests that ever raised!"
Wool flew to do his bidding.
"Mrs. Condiment, mum," said the old man, striding into the sitting-
room, "Mrs. Condiment, mum, tell Miss Black to come down from her
room until the storm is over; the upper chambers of this old house
are not safe in a tempest. Well, mum, why don't you go, or send
"Major Warfield, sir, I'm very sorry, but Miss Black has not come in
yet," said Mrs. Condiment, who for the last half hour had suffered
extreme anxiety upon account of Capitola.
"Not come in yet! Demmy, mum! Do you tell me she has gone out?"
cried Old Hurricane, in a voice of thunder, gathering his brows into
a dark frown, and striking his cane angrily upon the floor.
"Yes, sir, I am sorry to say she rode out about an hour ago and has
not returned," said Mrs. Condiment, summoning all her firmness to
meet Old Hurricane's "roused wrath."
"Ma'am! You venture to stand there before my face and tell me
composedly that you permitted Miss Black to go off alone in the face
of such a storm as this?" roared Old Hurricane.
"Sir, I could not help it!" said the old lady.
"Demmy, mum! You should have helped it! A woman of your age to stand
there and tell me that she could not prevent a young creature like
Capitola from going out alone in the storm!"
"Major Warfield, could you have done it?"
"Me? Demmy, I should think so; but that is not the question! You--"
He was interrupted by a blinding flash of lightning, followed
immediately by an awful peal of thunder and a sudden fall of rain.
Old Hurricane sprang up as though he had been shot off his chair and
trotted up and down the floor exclaiming:
"And she--she out in all this storm! Mrs. Condiment, mum, you
deserve to be ducked! Yes, mum, you do! Wool! Wool! you diabolical
"Yes, marse, yes, sir, here I is!" exclaimed that officer, in
trepidation, as he appeared in the doorway. "De windows and doors,
sir, is all fastened close and de maids are all in the dining-room
as you ordered, and--"
"Hang the maids and the doors and windows, too! Who the demon cares
about them? How dared you, you knave, permit your young mistress to
ride, unattended, in the face of such a storm, too! Why didn't you
go with her, sir?"
"Don't ''deed marse' me you atrocious villain! Saddle a horse
quickly, inquire which road your mistress took and follow and attend
her home safely--after which I intend to break every bone in your
skin, sirrah! So--"
Again he was interrupted by a dazzling flash of lightning,
accompanied by a deafening roll of thunder, and followed by a flood
Wool stood appalled at the prospect of turning out in such a storm
upon such a fruitless errand.
"Oh, you may stare and roll up your eyes, but I mean it, you varlet!
So be off with you! Go! I don't care if you should be drowned in the
rain, or blown off the horse, or struck by lightning. I hope you may
be; you knave, and I shall be rid of one villain! Off, you varlet,
or--" Old Hurricane lifted a bronze statuette to hurl at Wool's
delinquent head, but that functionary dodged and ran out in time to
escape a blow that might have put a period to his mortal career.
But let no one suppose that honest Wool took the road that night! He
simply ran down-stairs and hid himself comfortably in the lowest
regions of the house, there to tarry until the storms, social and
atmospheric, should be over,
Meanwhile the night deepened, the storm raged without and Old
Hurricane raged within!
The lightning flashed, blaze upon blaze, with blinding glare! The
thunder broke, crash upon crash, with deafening roar! The wind
gathering all its force cannonaded the old walls as though it would
batter down the house! The rain fell in floods! In the midst of all
the Demon's Run, swollen to a torrent, was heard like the voice of a
"roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour!"
Old Hurricane strode up and down the floor, groaning, swearing,
threatening, and at every fresh blast of the storm without, breaking
forth into fury!
Mrs. Condiment sat crouched in a corner, praying fervently every
time the lightning blazed into the room, longing to go and join the
men and maids in the next apartment, yet fearful to stir from her
seat lest she should attract Old Hurricane's attention, and draw
down upon herself the more terrible thunder and lightning of his
wrath. But to escape Old Hurricane's violence was not in the power
of mortal man or woman. Soon her very stillness exasperated him and
he broke forth upon her with:
"Mrs. Condiment, mum, I don't know how you can bear to sit there so
quietly and listen to this storm, knowing that the poor child is
exposed to it?"
"Major Warfield, would it do any good for me to jump up and trot up
and down the floor and go on as you do, even supposing I had the
strength?" inquired the meek old lady, thoroughly provoked at his
"I'd like to see you show a little more feeling! You are a perfect
barbarian! Oh, Cap! my darling, where are you now? Heavens! what a
blast was that! Enough to shake the house about our ears! I wish it
would! blamed if I don't!"
"Oh, Major! Major! don't say such awful things, nor make such awful
wishes!" said the appalled old lady--"you don't know what you might
bring down upon us!"
"No, nor care! If the old house should tumble in, it would bury
under its ruins a precious lot of good-for-nothing people, unfit to
live! Heavens! what a flash of lightning! Oh, Cap, Cap, my darling,
where are you in this storm? Mrs. Condiment, mum! if any harm comes
to Capitola this night, I'll have you indicted for manslaughter!"
"Major Warfield, if it is all on Miss Black's account that you are
raving and raging so, I think it is quite vain of you! for any young
woman caught out in a storm would know enough to get into shelter;
especially would Miss Black, who is a young lady of great courage
and presence of mind, as we know. She has surely gone into some
house, to remain until the storm is over," said Mrs. Condiment,
This speech, so well intended, exasperated Old Hurricane more than
all the rest; stopping and striking his cane upon the floor, he
"Hang it, mum! hold your foolish old tongue! You know nothing about
it! Capitola is exposed to more serious dangers than the elements!
Perils of all sorts surround her! She should never, rain or shine,
go out alone! Oh, the little villain! the little wretch! the little
demon! if ever I get her safe in this house again, won't I lock her
up and keep her on bread and water until she learns to behave
Here again a blinding flash of lightning, a deafening peal of
thunder, a terrific blast of wind and flood of rain suddenly
arrested his speech.
"Oh, my Cap! my dear Cap! I needn't threaten you! I shall never have
the chance to be cruel to you again--never! You'll perish in this
terrible storm and then--and then my tough old heart will break! It
will--it will, Cap! But demmy, before it does, I'll break the necks
of every man and woman, in this house, old and young! Hear it,
heaven and earth, for I'll do it!"
All things must have an end. So, as the hours passed on, the storm
having spent all its fury, gradually grumbled itself into silence.
Old Hurricane also raged himself into a state of exhaustion so
complete that when the midnight hour struck he could only drop into
a chair and murmur:
"Twelve o'clock and no news of her yet!"
And then unwillingly he went to bed, attended by Mrs. Condiment and
Pitapat instead of Wool, who was supposed to be out in search of
Capitola, but who was, in fact, fast asleep on the floor of a dry
Meanwhile, where did this midnight hour find Capitola?
THE HIDDEN HOLLOW.
On every side the aspect was the same,
All ruined, desolate, forlorn and savage,
No hand or foot within the precinct came
To rectify or ravage!
Here Echo never mocked the human tongue;
Some weighty crime that Heaven could not pardon.
A secret curse on that old Building hung
And its deserted garden!
--Hood's Haunted House.
Cap was a bit of a Don Quixote! The stirring incidents of the last
few months had spoiled her; the monotony of the last few weeks had
bored her; and now she had just rode out in quest of adventures.
The Old Hidden House, with its mysterious traditions, its gloomy
surroundings and its haunted reputation, had always possessed a
powerful attraction for one of Cap's adventurous spirit. To seek and
gaze upon the somber house, of which, and of whose inmates, such
terrible stories had been told or hinted, had always been a secret
desire and purpose of Capitola.
And now the presence there of a beautiful girl near her own age was
the one last item that tipped the balance, making the temptation to
ride thither outweigh every other consideration of duty, prudence
and safety. And having once started on the adventure, Cap felt the
attraction drawing her toward the frightful hollow of the Hidden
House growing stronger with every step taken thitherward.
She reached the banks of the "Demon's Run" and took the left-hand
road down the stream until she reached the left point of the Horse-
Shoe Mountain, and then going up around the point, she kept close
under the back of the range until she had got immediately in the
rear of the round bend of the "Horse Shoe," behind Hurricane Hall.
"Well," said Cap, as she drew rein here, and looked up at the lofty
ascent of gray rocks that concealed Hurricane Hall, "to have had to
come such a circuit around the outside of the 'Horse Shoe,' to find
myself just at the back of our old house, and no farther from home
than this! There's as many doubles and twists in these mountains as
there are in a lawyer's discourse! There, Gyp, you needn't turn back
again and pull at the bridle, to tell me that there is a storm
coming up and that you want to go home! I have no more respect for
your opinion than I have for Mrs. Condiment's. Besides, you carry a
damsel-errant in quest of adventures, Gyp, and so you must on, Gyp--
you must on!" said Capitola, forcibly pulling her horse's head
around, and then taking a survey of the downward path.
It was a scene fascinating from its very excess of gloom and terror!
It was a valley so deep and dark as to merit the name of the hollow,
or hole, but for its great extent and its thick growth of forest,
through which spectral-looking rocks gleamed, and moaning waters
could be heard but not seen.
"Now, somewhere in that thick forest, in the bottom of that vale,
stands the house--well called the Hidden House, since not a chimney
of it can be seen even from this commanding height! But I suppose
this path that leads down into the valley may conduct me to the
building! Come along, Gyp! You needn't turn up your head and pull at
the bit! You've got to go! I am bound this night to see the outside
of the Hidden House, and the window of the haunted chamber at the
very least!" said Cap, throwing her eyes up defiantly toward the
darkening sky, and putting whip to her unwilling horse.
As the path wound down into the valley the woods were found deeper,
thicker and darker. It occupied all Cap's faculties to push her way
through the overhanging and interlacing branches of the trees.
"Good gracious," she said, as she used her left arm rather
vigorously to push aside the obstructions to her path, "one would
think this were the enchanted forest containing the castle of the
sleeping beauty, and I was the knight destined to deliver her! I'm
sure it wouldn't have been more difficult."
Still deeper fell the path, thicker grew the forest and darker the
"Gyp, I'm under the impression that we shall have to turn back yet!"
said Cap, dolefully stopping in the midst of a thicket so dense that
it completely blockaded her farther progress in the same direction.
Just as she came to this very disagreeable conclusion she spied an
opening on her left, from which a bridle-path struck out. With an
exclamation of joy she immediately turned her horse's head and
struck into it. This path was very rocky, but in some degree clearer
than the other, and she went on quickly, singing to herself, until
gradually her voice began to be lost in the sound of many rushing
"It must be the Devil's Punch Bowl! I am approaching!" she said to
herself, as she went on.
She was right. The roaring of the waters grew deafening and the path
became so rugged with jagged and irregularly piled rocks, that Cap
could scarcely keep her horse upon his feet in climbing over them.
And suddenly, when she least looked for it, the great natural
curiosity--the Devil's Punch Bowl--burst upon her view!
It was an awful abyss, scooped out as it were from the very bowels
of the earth, with its steep sides rent open in dreadful chasms, and
far down in its fearful depths a boiling whirlpool of black waters.
Urging her reluctant steed through a thicket of stunted thorns and
over a chaos of shattered rocks, Capitola approached as near as she
safely could to the brink of this awful pit. So absorbed was she in
gazing upon this terrible phenomenon of natural scenery that she had
not noticed, in the thicket on her right, a low hut that, with its
brown-green moldering colors, fell so naturally in with the hue of
the surrounding scenery as easily to escape observation. She did not
even observe that the sky was entirely overcast, and the thunder was
muttering in the distance. She was aroused from her profound reverie
by a voice near her asking:
"Who are you, that dares to come without a guide to the Devil's
Capitola looked around and came nearer screaming than she ever had
been in her life, upon seeing the apparition that stood before her.
Was it man, woman, beast or demon? She could not tell! It was a very
tall, spare form, with a black cloth petticoat tied around the
waist, a blue coat buttoned over the breast, and a black felt hat
tied down with a red handkerchief, shading the darkest old face she
had ever seen in her life.
"Who are you, I say, who comes to the Devil's Punch Bowl without
leave or license?" repeated the frightful creature, shifting her
cane from one hand to the other.
"I? I am Capitola Black, from Hurricane Hall; but who, in the name
of all the fates and furies, are you?" inquired Capitola, who, in
getting over the shock, had recovered her courage.
"I am Harriet the Seeress of Hidden Hollow!" replied the apparition,
in a melodramatic manner that would not have discredited the queen
of tragedy herself. "You have heard of me?"
"Yes, but I always heard you called Old Hat, the Witch," said Cap.
"The world is profane--give me your hand!" said the beldame,
reaching out her own to take that of Capitola.
"Stop! Is your hand clean? It looks very black!"
"Cleaner than yours will be when it is stained with blood, young
"Tut! If you insist on telling my fortune, tell me a pleasant one,
and I will pay you double," laughed Capitola.
"The fates are not to be mocked. Your destiny will be that which the
stars decree. To prove to you that I know this, I tell you that you
are not what you have been!"
"You've hit it this time, old lady, for I was a baby once and now I
am a young girl!" said Cap, laughing.
"You will not continue to be that which you are now!" pursued the
hag, still attentively reading the lines of her subject's hand.
"Right again; for if I live long enough I shall be an old woman."
"You bear a name that you will not bear long!"
"I think that quite a safe prophecy, as I haven't the most distant
idea of being an old maid!"
"This little hand of yours--this dainty woman's hand--will be--red
"Now, do you know, I don't doubt that either? I believe it
altogether probable that I shall have to cook my husband's dinner
and kill the chickens for his soup!"
"Girl, beware! You deride the holy stars--and already they are
adverse to you!" said the hag, with a threatening glare.
"Ha, ha, ha! I love the beautiful stars but did not fear them I fear
only Him who made the stars!" "Poor butterfly, listen and beware!
You are destined to imbrue that little hand in the life current of
one who loves you the most of all on earth! You are destined to rise
by the destruction of one who would shed his heart's best blood for
you!" said the beldame, in an awful voice.
Capitola's eyes flashed! She advanced her horse a step or two nearer
the witch and raised her riding whip, saying:
"I protest! If you were only a man I should lay this ash over your
wicked shoulders until my arms ached! How dare you? Faith, I don't
wonder that in the honest old times such pests as you were cooled in
the ducking pond! Good gracious, that must have made a hissing and
spluttering in the water, though!"
"Blasphemer, pay me and begone!"
"Pay you? I tell you I would if you were only a man; but it would be
sinful to pay a wretched old witch in the only way you deserve to be
paid!" said Cap, flourishing her riding whip before a creature tall
enough and strong enough to have doubled up her slight form together
and hurled it into the abyss.
"Gold! gold!" said the hag curtly, holding out black and talon-like
fingers, which she worked convulsively.
"Gold! gold, indeed! for such a wicked fortune! Not a penny!" said
"Ho! you're stingy; you do not like to part with the yellow demon
that has bought the souls of all your house!"
"Don't I? You shall see! There! If you want gold, go fish it from
the depth of the whirlpool," said Cap, taking her purse and casting
it over the precipice.
This exasperated the crone to frenzy.
"Away! Begone!" she cried, shaking her long arm at the girl. "Away!
Begone! The fate pursues you! The badge of blood is stamped upon
"Fee--faw--fum" said Cap.
"Scorner! Beware! The curse of the crimson hand is upon you!"
--"'I smell the blood of an Englishman'"--continued Cap.
"Derider of the fates, you are foredoomed to crime!"
--"'Be he alive or be he dead, I'll have his brains to butter my
bread!'" concluded Cap.
"Be silent!" shrieked the beldame.
"I won't!" said Cap. "Because you see, if we are in for the
horrible, I can beat you hollow at that!"
"'Avaunt! and quit my sight!
Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless! Thy blood is cold!
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with?'"
"Begone! You're doomed! doomed! doomed!" shrieked the witch,
retreating into her hut.
Cap laughed and stroked the neck of her horse, saying:
"Gyp, my son, that was old Nick's wife, who was with us just this
instant, and now, indeed, Gyp, if we are to see the Hidden House
this afternoon, we must get on!"
And so saying she followed the path that wound half-way around the
Punch Bowl and then along the side of a little mountain torrent
called the Spout, which, rising in an opposite mountain, leaped from
rock to rock, with many a sinuous turn, as it wound through the
thicket that immediately surrounded the Hidden House until it
finally jetted through a subterranean channel into the Devil's Punch
Capitola was now, unconsciously, upon the very spot, where,
seventeen years before, the old nurse had been forcibly stopped and
compelled to attend the unknown lady.
As Capitola pursued the path that wound lower and lower into the
dark valley the gloom of the thicket deepened. Her thoughts ran on
all the horrible traditions connected with the Hidden House and
Hollow--the murder and robbery of the poor peddler--the mysterious
assassination of Eugene Le Noir; the sudden disappearance of his
youthful widow; the strange sights and sounds reported to be heard
and seen about the mansion; the spectral light at the upper gable
window; the white form seen flitting through the chamber; the pale
lady that in the dead of night drew the curtains of a guest that
once had slept there; and above all Capitola thought of the
beautiful, strange girl, who was now an inmate of that sinful and
accursed house! And while these thoughts absorbed her mind,
suddenly, in a turning of the path, she came full upon the gloomy
THE HIDDEN HOUSE.
The very stains and fractures on the wall
Assuming features solemn and terrific,
Hinted some tragedy of that old hall
Locked up in hieroglyphic!
Prophetic hints that filled the soul with dread;
But to one gloomy window pointing mostly,
The while some secret inspiration said,
That chamber is the ghostly!
The Hidden House was a large, irregular edifice of dark red
sandstone with its walls covered closely with the clinging ivy, that
had been clipped away only from a few of the doors and windows, and
its roof over-shadowed by the top branches of gigantic oaks and elms
that clustered around and nearly concealed the building.
It might have been a long-forsaken house, for any sign of human
habitation that was to be seen about it. All was silent, solitary
As Capitola drew up her horse to gaze upon its somber walls she
wondered which was the window at which the spectral light and
ghostly face had been seen. She soon believed that she had found it.
At the highest point of the building, immediately under the sharp
angle of the roof, in the gable and nearest to view, was a solitary
window. The ivy that clung tightly to the stone, covering every
portion of the wall at this end, was clipped away from that high
placed, dark and lonely window by which Capitola's eyes were
While thus she gazed in wonder, interest and curiosity, though
without the least degree of superstitious dread, a vision flashed
upon her sight that sent the blood from her ruddy cheek to her brave
heart, and shook the foundations of her unbelief!
For while she gazed, suddenly that dark window was illumed by a
strange, unearthly light that streamed forth into the gloomy evening
air, and touched with blue flame the quivering leaves of every tree
in its brilliant line! In the midst of this lighted window appeared
a white female face wild with woe! And then the face suddenly
vanished and the light was swallowed up in darkness!
Capitola remained transfixed!
"Great heavens!" she thought, "can these things really be! Have the
ghostly traditions of this world truth in them at last? When I heard
this story of the haunted window I thought some one had surely
imagined or invented it! Now I have seen for myself; but if I were
to tell what I have seen not one in a hundred would believe me!"
While these startling thoughts disturbed her usual well-balanced
mind, a vivid flash of lightning, accompanied by a tremendous peal
of thunder and a heavy fall of rain, roused her into renewed
"Gyp, my boy, the storm is upon us sure enough! We shall catch it
all around, get well drowned, beaten and buffeted here and well
abused when we get home! Meantime, Gyp, which is the worst, the full
fury of the tempest or the mysterious terrors of the Haunted House!"
Another blinding flash of lightning, a stunning crash of thunder, a
flood of rain and tornado of wind decided her.
"We'll take the Haunted House, Gyp, my friend! That spectral lady of
the lighted window looked rather in sorrow than in anger, and who
knows but the ghosts may be hospitable? So gee up, Dobbin!" said
Capitola, and, urging her horse with one hand and holding on her cap
with the other, she went on against wind and rain until she reached
the front of the old house.
Not a creature was to be seen; every door and window was closely
shut. Dismounting, Capitola led her horse under the shelter of a
thickly leaved oak tree, secured him, and then holding up her
saturated skirt with one hand and holding on her cap with the other,
she went up some moldering stone steps to an old stone portico and,
seizing the heavy iron knocker of a great black oak double door, she
knocked loudly enough to awaken all the mountain echoes.
She waited a few minutes for an answer, but receiving none, she
knocked again, more loudly than before. Still there was no reply.
And growing impatient, she seized the knocker with both hands and
exerting all her strength, made the welkin ring again!
This brought a response. The door was unlocked and angrily jerked
open by a short, squarely formed, beetle-browed, stern-looking
woman, clothed in a black stuff gown and having a stiff muslin cap
upon her head.
"Who are you? What do you want here?" harshly demanded this woman,
whom Capitola instinctively recognized as Dorky Knight, the morose
housekeeper of the Hidden House.
"Who am I? What do I want? Old Nick fly away with you! It's plain
enough to be seen who I am and what I want. I am a young woman
caught out in the storm and I want shelter!" said Cap, indignantly.
And her words were endorsed by a terrific burst of the tempest in
lightning, thunder, wind and rain!
"Come in then and when you ask favors learn to keep a civil tongue
in your head!" said the woman sternly, taking the guest by the hand
and pulling her in and shutting and locking the door.
"Favors! Plague on you for a bearess! I asked no favor! Every storm-
beaten traveler has a right to shelter under the first roof that
offers, and none but a curmudgeon would think of calling it a favor!
And as for keeping a civil tongue in my head, I'll do it when you
set me the example!" said Cap.
"Who are you?" again demanded the woman.
"Oh, I see you are no Arabian in your notions of hospitality! Those
pagans entertain a guest without asking him a single question; and
though he were their bitterest foe, they consider him while he rests
beneath their tent sacred from intrusion."
"That's because they were pagans!" said Dorky. "But as I am a
Christian, I'd thank you to let me know who it is that I have
received under this roof."
"My name," said our heroine, impatiently, "is Capitola Black! I live
with my uncle, Major Warfield, at Hurricane Hall! And now, I should
thank your ladyship to send some one to put away my horse, while you
yourself accommodate me with dry clothes."
While our saucy little heroine spoke the whole aspect of the dark-
browed woman changed.
"Capitola-Capitola," she muttered, gazing earnestly upon the face of
the unwelcome guest.
"Yes, Capitola! That is my name! You never heard anything against
it, did you?"
For all answer the woman seized her hand, and while the lightning
flashed and the thunder rolled, and the wind and rain beat down, she
drew her the whole length of the hall before a back window that
overlooked the neglected garden, and, regardless of the electric
fluid that incessantly blazed upon them, she held her there and
scrutinized her features.
"Well, I like this! Upon my word, I do!" said Cap, composedly.
Without replying, the strange woman seized her right hand, forcibly
opened it, gazed upon the palm and then, flinging it back with a
"Capitola, what brought you under this roof? Away! Begone! Mount
your horse and fly while there is yet time!"
"What! expose myself again to the storm? I won't, and that's flat!"
"Girl! girl! there are worse dangers in the world than any to be
feared from thunder, lightning, rain or wind!"
"Very well, then, when I meet them it will be time enough to deal
with them! Meanwhile the stormy night and my soaked clothing are
very palpable evils, and as I see no good end to be gained by my
longer enduring them, I will just beg you to stop soothsaying--(as I
have had enough of that from another old witch)--and be as good as
to permit me to change my clothes!"
"It is madness! You shall not stay here!" cried the woman, in a
"And I tell you I will! You are not the head of the family, and I do
not intend to be turned out by you!"
While she spoke a servant crossed the hall and the woman, whisking
Capitola around until her back was turned and her face concealed,
went to speak to the newcomer.
"When will your master be here?" Capitola heard her inquire.
"Not to-night; he saw the storm rising and did not wish to expose
himself. He sent me on to say that he would not be here until
morning. I was caught, as you see! I am dripping wet," replied the
"Go, change your clothes at once then, Davy,"
"Who is that stranger?" asked the man, pointing to Capitola.
"Some young woman of the neighborhood, who has been caught out in
the tempest. But you had better go and change your clothes than to
stand here gossiping," said the woman, harshly.
"I say," said the man, "the young woman is a God-send to Miss Clara;
nobody has been to see her yet; nobody ever visits this house unless
they are driven to it. I don't wonder the colonel and our young
master pass as much as ten months in the year away from home,
spending all the summer at the watering places, and all the winter
in New York or Washington!"
"Hold your tongue! What right have you to complain? You always
attend them in their travels!"
"True, but you see for this last season they have both been staying
here, old master to watch the heiress, young master to court her,
and as I have no interest in that game, I find the time hangs heavy
on my hands," complained the man.
"It will hang heavier if you take a long fit of illness by standing
in wet clothes," muttered the woman.
"Why, so 'twill, missus! So here goes," assented the man, hurrying
across the hall and passing out through the door opposite that by
which he entered.
Dorcas returned to her guest.
Eying her closely for a while, she at length inquired:
"Capitola, how long have you lived at Hurricane Hall?"
"So long," replied Cap, "that you must have heard of me! I, at
least, have often heard of Mother Dorkey Knight."
"And heard no good of her!"
"Well, no--to be candid with you, I never did," said Cap.
"And much harm of her?" continued the woman, keeping her stern black
eyes fixed upon those of her guest.
"Well, yes--since you ask me, I have heard pretty considerable
harm!" answered Cap, nothing daunted.
"Where did you live before you came to Hurricane Hall?" asked