Part 6 out of 7
Traverse caught the glance of the lady and bowed gravely. It was the
most delicate and proper reply.
She smiled almost as gravely, and with a much kinder expression than
any she had bestowed upon the Frenchman.
"And how has madame fared during my absence so long? The servants--
have they been respectful? Have they been observant? Have they been
obedient to the will of madame? Madame has but to speak!" said the
doctor, bowing politely.
"Why should I speak when every word I utter you believe, or affect
to believe, to be the ravings of a maniac? I will speak no more,"
said the lady, turning away her superb dark eyes and looking out of
"Ah, madame will not so punish her friend, her servant, her slave!"
A gesture of fierce impatience and disgust was the only reply
deigned by the lady.
"Come away; she is angry and may become dangerously excited," said
the old doctor, leading the way from the cell.
"Did you tell me this lady is one of the incurables?" inquired
Traverse, when they had left her apartment.
"Bah! yes, poor girl, vera incurable, as my sister would say."
"Yet she appears to me to be perfectly sane, as well as exceedingly
beautiful and interesting."
"Ah, bah; my excellent, my admirable, my inexperienced young friend,
that is all you know of lunatics! With more or less violence of
assertion, they every one insist upon their sanity, just as
criminals protest their innocence. Ah, bah! you shall go into every
cell in this ward and find not one lunatic among them," sneered the
old doctor, as he led the way into the next little room.
It was indeed as he had foretold, and Traverse Rocke found himself
deeply affected by the melancholy, the earnest and sometimes the
violent manner in which the poor unfortunates protested their sanity
and implored or demanded to be restored to home and friends.
"You perceive," said the doctor, with a dry laugh, "that they are
none of them crazy?"
"I see," said Traverse, "but I also detect a very great difference
between that lovely woman in the south cell and these other
"Bah! bah! bah! She is more beautiful, more accomplished, more
refined than the others, and she is in one of her lucid intervals!
That is all; but as to a difference between her insanity and that of
the other patients, it lies in this, that she is the most hopelessly
mad of the whole lot! She has been mad eighteen years!"
"Is it possible?" exclaimed Traverse, incredulously.
"She lost her reason at the age of sixteen, and she is now thirty-
four; you can calculate!"
"It is amazing and very sorrowful! How beautiful she is!"
"Yes; her beauty was a fatal gift. It is a sad story. Ah, it is a
sad story. You shall hear it when we get through."
"I can connect no idea of woman's frailty with that refined and
intellectual face," said Traverse coldly.
"Ah, bah! you are young! you know not the world! you, my innocent,
my pious young friend!" said the old doctor, as they crossed the
hall to go into the next wing of the building, in which were
situated the men's wards.
Traverse found nothing that particularly interested him in this
department, and when they had concluded their round of visits and
were seated together in the old doctor's study, Traverse asked him
for the story of his beautiful patient.
The doctor shrugged his shoulders.
"It is a story miserable, as I told you before. A gentleman,
illustrious, from Virginia, an officer high in the army, and
distinguished in the war, he brought this woman to me nearly three
years ago. He informed me that--oh, bien! I had better tell you the
story in my own manner. This young lady, Mademoiselle Mont de St.
Pierre, is of a family noble and distinguished--a relative of this
officer, illustrious and brave. At fifteen Mademoiselle met a man,
handsome and without honor. Ah, bah! you understand! at sixteen the
child became a fallen angel! She lost her reason through sorrow and
shame. This relative--this gentleman, illustrious and noble, tender
and compassionate--took her to the seclusion of his country house,
where she lived in elegance, luxury and honor. But as the years
passed her malady increased; her presence became dangerous; in a
word, the gentleman, distinguished and noble, saw the advertisement
of my 'Calm Retreat,' my institution incomparable, and he wrote to
me. In a word, he liked my terms and brought to me his young
relative, so lovely and so unfortunate. Ah! he is a good man, this
officer, so gallant, so chivalrous; but she is ungrateful!"
"Ah, bah! yes; it is the way of lunatics! They ever imagine their
best friends to be their worst enemies. The poor, crazed creature
fancies that she is the sister-in-law of this officer illustrious!
She thinks that she is the widow of his elder brother, whom she
imagines he murdered, and that she is the mother of children, whom
she says he has abducted or destroyed, so that he may enjoy the
estate that is her widow's dower and their orphans' patrimony. That
is the reason why she insists on being called madame instead of
mademoiselle, and we indulge her when we think of it! "
"But all this is very singular!"
"Ah, bah! who can account for a lunatic's fancies? She fs the
maddest of the whole lot. Sometimes she used to become so violent
that we would have to restrain her. But lately, Doctor Wood tells
me, she is quite still; that we consider a bad sign; there is always
hope for a lunatic until they begin to sink into this state," said
the doctor, with an air of competency.
THE MANIAC'S STORY,
A scheming villain forged the tale
That chains me in this dreary cell,
My fate unknown, my friends bewail,
Oh, doctor, haste that fate to tell!
Oh, haste my daughter's heart to cheer,
Her heart, at once, 'twill grieve and glad
To know, tho' chained and captive here,
I am not mad! I am not mad!
--M. G. LEWIS.
There is some advantage in having imagination, since that visionary
faculty opens the mental eyes to facts that more practical and
duller intellects could never see.
Traverse was young and romantic, and deeply interested in the
doctor's beautiful patient. He, therefore, did not yield his full
credulity to the tale told by the "relative illustrious" to the old
doctor, as to the history and cause of the lady's madness, or even
take it for granted that she was mad. He thought it quite possible
that the distinguished officer's story might be a wicked
fabrication, to conceal a crime, and that the lady's "crazy fancy"
might be the pure truth.
And Travers had heard to what heinous uses private madhouses were
sometimes put by some unscrupulous men, who wished to get certain
women out of their way, yet who shrank from bloodshed.
And he thought it not impossible that this "gentleman so noble, so
compassionate and tender," might be just such a man, and this
"fallen angel" such a victim. And he determined to watch and
observe. And he further resolved to treat the interesting patient
with all the studious delicacy and respect due to a refined and
accomplished woman in the full possession of her faculties. If she
were really mad, this demeanor would not hurt her, and if she were
not mad it was the only proper conduct to be observed toward her, as
any other must be equally cruel and offensive. Her bodily health
certainly required the attendance of a physician, and Traverse had
therefore a fair excuse for his daily visits to her cell.
His respectful manners, his grave bow, and his reverential tone in
"I hope I find you stronger to-day, Madam," seemed to gratify one
who had few sources of pleasure.
"I thank you," she would answer, with a softened tone and look,
adding, "Yes" or "No," as the truth might be.
One day, after looking at the young physician some time, she
"You never forget. You always address me by my proper title of
Madam, and without the touch of irony which others indulge in when
'humoring' me, as they call it! Now, pray explain to me why, in
sober earnest, you give me this title?"
"Because, Madam, I have heard you lay claim to that title, and I
think that you yourself, of all the world, have the best right to
know how you should be addressed," said Traverse, respectfully.
The lady looked wistfully at him and said:
"But my next-door neighbor asserts that she is a queen; she insists
upon being called 'your majesty.' Has she, then, the best right to
know how she should be addressed?"
"Alas! no, Madam, and I am pained that you should do yourself the
great wrong to draw such comparisons."
"Why? Am not I and the 'queen' inmates of the same ward of
incurables, in the same lunatic asylum?"
"Yes, but not with equal justice of cause. The 'queen' is a
hopelessly deranged, but happy lunatic. You, Madam, are a lady who
has retained the full possession of your faculties amid
circumstances and surroundings that must have overwhelmed the reason
of a weaker mind."
The lady looked at him in wonder and almost in joy.
"Ah! it was not the strength of my mind; it was the strength of the
Almighty upon whom my mind was stayed, for time and for eternity,
that has saved my reason in all these many years! But how did you
know that I was not mad? How do you know that this is anything more
than a lucid interval of longer duration than usual?" she asked.
"Madam, you will forgive me for having looked at you so closely, and
watched you so constantly, but I am your physician, you know--"
"I have nothing to forgive and much to thank you for, young man. You
have an honest, truthful, frank, young face! the only one such that
I have seen in eighteen years of sorrow! But why, then, did you not
believe the doctor? Why did you not take the fact of my insanity
upon trust, as others did?" she asked, fixing her glorious, dark
eyes inquiringly upon his face.
"Madam, from the first moment in which I saw you, I disbelieved the
story of your insanity, and mentioned my doubts to Doctor St. Jean--
"Who ridiculed your doubts, of course. I can readily believe that he
did. Doctor St. Jean is not a very bad man, but he is a charlatan
and a dullard; he received the story of my reported insanity as he
received me, as an advantage to his institution, and he never gave
himself the unprofitable trouble to investigate the circumstances. I
told him the truth about myself as calmly as I now speak to you, but
somebody else had told him that this truth was the fiction of a
deranged imagination, and he found it more convenient and profitable
to believe somebody else. But again I ask you, why were not you,
also, so discreetly obtuse?"
"Madam," said Traverse, blushing ingenuously, "I hope you will
forgive me for saying that it is impossible any one could see you
without becoming deeply interested in your fate. Your face, Madam,
speaks equally of profound sorrows and of saintly resignation. I saw
no sign of madness there. In the calm depths of those sad eyes,
lady, I knew that the fires of insanity never could have burned.
Pardon me that I looked at you so closely; I was your physician, and
was most deeply anxious concerning my patient."
"I thank you; may the Lord bless you! Perhaps he has sent you here
for my relief, for you are right, young friend--you are altogether
right; I have been wild with grief, frantic with despair, but never
for one hour in the whole course of my life have I been insane."
"I believe you, Madam, on my sacred honor I do!" said Traverse,
"And yet you could get no one about this place to believe you! They
have taken my brother-in-law's false story, indorsed as it is by the
doctor-proprietor, for granted. And just so long as I persist in
telling my true story, they will consider me a monomaniac, and so
often as the thought of my many wrongs and sorrows combines with the
nervous irritability to which every woman is occasionally subject,
and makes me rave with impatience and excitement, they will report
me a dangerous lunatic, subject to periodical attacks of violent
frenzy; but, young man, even at my worst, I am no more mad than any
other woman, wild with grief and hysterical through nervous
irritation, might at any time become without having her sanity
called in question."
"I am sure that you are not, nor ever could have been, Madam. The
nervous excitement of which you speak is entirely within the control
of medicine, which mania proper is not. You will use the means that
I prescribe and your continued calmness will go far to convince even
these dullards that they have been wrong."
"I will do everything you recommend; indeed, for some weeks before
you came, I had put a constraint upon myself and forced myself to be
very still; but the effect of that was, that acting upon their
theory they said that I was sinking into the last or 'melancholy-
mad' state of mania, and they put me in here with the incurables."
"Lady," said Traverse, respectfully taking her hand, "now that I am
acquainted in some slight degree with the story of your heavy
wrongs, do not suppose that I will ever leave you until I see you
restored to your friends."
"Friends! ah, young man, do you really suppose that if I had had
friends I should have been left thus long unsought? I have no
friends, Doctor Rocke, except yourself, newly sent me by the Lord;
nor any relatives except a young daughter whom I have seen but twice
in my life!--once upon the dreadful night when she was born and torn
away from my sight and once about two years ago, when she must have
been sixteen years of age. My little daughter does not know that she
has a poor mother living, and I have no friend upon earth but you,
whom the Lord has sent."
"And not in vain!" said Traverse, fervently, "though you have no
other friends, yet you have the law to protect you. I will make your
case known and restore you to liberty. Then, lady, listen: I have a
good mother, to whom suffering has taught sympathy with the
unfortunate, and I have a lovely betrothed bride, whom you will
forgive her lover for thinking an angel in woman's form; and we have
a beautiful home among the hills of Virginia, and you shall add to
our happiness by living with us."
The lady looked at Traverse Rocke with astonishment and incredulity.
"Boy," she said, "do you know what you are promising--to assume the
whole burden of the support of a useless woman for her whole life?
What would your mother or your promised wife say to such a
"Ah! you do not know my dear mother nor my Clara--no, nor even me. I
tell you the truth when I say that your coming among us would make
us happier. Oh. Madam, I myself owe so much to the Lord and to His
instruments, the benevolent of this world, for all that has been
done for me. I seize with gratitude the chance to serve in my turn
any of His suffering children. Pray believe me!"
"I do! I do, Doctor Rocke! I see that life has not deprived you of a
generous, youthful enthusiasm," said the lady, with the tears
welling up into her glorious black eyes.
After a little, with a smile, she held out her hand to him, saying:
"Young friend, if you should succeed in freeing me from this prison
and establishing my sanity before a court of justice, I and my
daughter will come into the immediate possession of one of the
largest estates in your native Virginia! Sit you down, Doctor Rocke,
while I tell you my true story, and much, very much more of it than
I have ever confided to any human being."
"Lady, I am very impatient to hear your history, but I am your
physician, and must first consider your health. You have been
sufficently excited for one day; it is late; take your tea and
retire early to bed. To-morrow morning, after I have visited the
wards and you have taken your breakfast, I will come, and you shall
tell me the story of your life."
"I will do whatever you think best," said the lady.
Traverse lifted her hand to his lips, bowed and retreated from the
That same night Traverse wrote to his friend Herbert Greyson, in
Mexico, and to his mother and Clara, describing his interesting
patient, though as yet he could tell but little of her, not even in
fact her real name, but promising fuller particulars next time, and
declaring hi intention of bringing her home for the present to their
END OF THE LADY'S STORY.
Of the present naught is bright,
But in the coming years I see
A brilliant and a cheerful light,
Which burns before thee constantly.
--W. D. GALLAGHER
At the appointed hour the next morning Traverse Rocke repaired to
the cell of his mysterious patient.
He was pleased to find her up, dressed with more than usual care and
taste and looking, upon the whole, much better in health and spirits
than upon the preceding day.
"Ah, my young hero, it is you; you see that I am ready for you," she
said, holding out her hand.
"You are looking very well this morning," said Traverse, smiling.
"Yes, hope is a fine tonic, Doctor Rocke."
She was seated by the same window at which Traverse had first seen
her, and she now beckoned the young doctor to come and take a seat
"My story is almost as melodramatic as a modern romance, Doctor
Rocke," she said.
Traverse bowed gravely and waited.
"My father was a French patriot, who suffered death in the cause of
liberty when I, his only child, was but fourteen years of age. My
mother, broken-hearted by his loss, followed him within a few
months. I was left an orphan and penniless, for our estate was
"Ah, your sorrows came early and heavily indeed," said Traverse.
"Yes; well, a former servant of my father held an humble situation
of porter on the ground floor of a house, the several floors of
which were let out to different lodgers. This poor man and his wife
gave me a temporary home with themselves. Among the lodgers of the
house there was a young Virginian gentleman of fortune, traveling
for pleasure and improvement; his name was Mr. Eugene Le Noir."
"Le Noir!" cried Traverse, with a violent start.
"Yes--what is the matter?"
"It is a familiar Virginia name, Madam, that is all; pray go on."
"Mr. Le Noir was as good and kind as he was wise and cultivated. He
used to stop to gossip with old Cliquot every time he stopped at the
porter's room to take or to leave his key. There he heard of the
poor little orphan of the guillotine, who had no friend in the world
but her father's old servant. He pitied me, and after many
consultations with Father and Mother Cliquot, he assumed the
position of guardian to me, and placed me at one of the best schools
in Paris. He lingered in the city and came to see me very often; but
always saw me in the presence of Madame, the directress. I clung to
him with affection as to a father or an elder brother, and I knew he
loved me with the tender, protecting affection that he would have
given a younger sister, had he possessed one. Ah! Doctor Rocke, tell
me, besides yourself, are there many other men in your State like
"I knew but one such; but go on, dear Madam."
"When I had been to school some months he came to me one day
scarcely able to conceal his woe. He told me that his father was ill
and that he should have to sail in the first packet from Havre, and
that, in fact, he had then come to take leave of me. I was wild with
grief, not only upon his account but upon my own, at the prospect of
losing him, my only friend. I was but a child, and a French child to
boot. I knew nothing of the world; I regarded this noble gentleman,
who was so much my superior in years as in everything else, as a
father, guardian or elder brother; so in an agony of grief I threw
myself into his arms, sobbing and weeping bitterly and imploring him
not to break my heart by leaving me. It was in vain Madame the
Directress exclaimed and expostulated at these improprieties. I am
sure I did not hear a word until he spoke. Putting me out of his
arms, he said:"
"I must go, my child; duty calls me."
"Then take me with you; take your poor little one with you, and do
not pull her out of your warm, good heart, or she will wither and
die like a flower torn up by the roots!" I cried, between my sobs
"He drew me back to his bosom and whispered:"
"There is but one way in which I can take you with me, my child.
Will you be my wife, little Capitolie?"
"Capitola!" cried Traverse, with another great start.
"Yes! Why? What is the matter now?"
"Why, it is such an odd name, that is all! Pray proceed, Madam."
"We were married the same day, and sailed the third morning
thereafter from Havre for the United States, where we arrived, alas!
only to find the noble gentleman, my Eugene's father, laid in his
grave. After Mr. Le Noir's natural grief was over we settled down
peaceably to our country life at the Hidden House--"
"The Hidden House!" again exclaimed Traverse Rocke.
"Yes! that is another odd name, isn't it? Well, I was very happy. At
first when I understood my real position, I had been afraid that my
husband had married me only from compassion; but he soon proved to
me that his love was as high, as pure and as noble as himself. I was
very happy. But one day, in the midst of my exultant joy, a
thunderbolt fell and shattered my peace to destruction forever! Oh,
Doctor Rocke, my husband was murdered by some unknown hand in his
own woods, in open day! I cannot talk of this!" cried the widow,
breaking down, overwhelmed with the rush of terrible recollections.
Traverse poured out a glass of water and handed it to her.
She drank it, made an effort at self-control, and resumed:
"Thus, scarcely sixteen years of age, I was a widow, helpless,
penniless and entirely dependent--upon my brother-in-law, Colonel
Gabriel Le Noir, for by the terms of their father's will, if Eugene
died without issue the whole property descended to his younger
brother, Gabriel. To speak the truth, Colonel Le Noir was
exceedingly kind to me after, my awful bereavement, until a
circumstance was discovered that changed all our relations. It was
two months after my husband's death that I discovered, with mingled
emotions of joy and sorrow, that heaven had certainly destined me to
become a mother! I kept my cherished secret to myself as long as it
was possible, but it could not indeed be long concealed from the
household. I believe that my brother-in-law was the first to suspect
it. He called me into his study one day, and I obeyed like a child.
And there he rudely questioned me upon the subject of my sacred
mother-mystery. He learned the truth more from my silence than from
my replies, for I could not answer him."
"The brute! the miserable hound!" ejaculated Traverse.
"Oh, Doctor Rocke, I could not tell you the avalanche of abuse,
insult and invective that he hurled upon my defenseless head. He
accused me of more crimes than I had ever heard talk of. He told me
that my condition was an impossible one unless I had been false to
the memory of his brother; that I had dishonored his name, disgraced
his house and brought myself to shame; that I should leave the roof,
leave the neighborhood and die as I deserved to die, in a ditch! I
made no reply. I was crushed into silence under the weight of his
"The caitiff! The poltroon! Ah, poor stranger, why did you not leave
the house at once and throw yourself upon the protection of the
minister of your parish or some other kind neighbor?"
"Alas! I was a child, a widow and a foreigner all in one! I did not
know your land or your laws or your people. I was not hopeful or
confident; I had suffered so cruelly and I was overwhelmed by his
"But did you not know, dear lady, that all his rage was aroused only
by the fact that the birth of your child would disinherit him?"
"Ah, no! I was not aware, at that time, that Gabriel Le Noir was a
villain. I thought his anger honest, though unjust, and I was as
ignorant as a child. I had no mother nor matronly friend to instruct
me. I knew that I had broken no command of God or man; that I had
been a faithful wife, but when Gabriel Le Noir accused me with such
bitter earnestness I feared that some strange departure from the
usual course of nature had occurred for my destruction. And I was
overwhelmed by mortification, terror and despair!"
"Ah, the villain!" exclaimed Traverse, between his teeth.
"He told me at last that to save the memory of his dead brother he
would hide my dishonor, and he ordered me to seclude myself from the
sight of all persons. I obeyed him like a slave, grateful even for
the shelter of his roof."
"A roof that was your own, as he very well knew. And he knew, also,
the caitiff! that if the circumstance became known the whole State
would have protected you in your rights, and ejected him like a
"Nay, even in that case no harm should have reached him on my
account. He was my husband's brother."
"And worst enemy! But proceed, dear lady."
"Well, I secluded myself as he commanded. For four months I never
left the attic to which he had ordered me to retreat. At the end of
that time I became the mother of twins--a boy and a girl. The boy
only opened his eyes on this world to close them again directly. The
girl was living and healthy. The old nurse who attended me had an
honest and compassionate face; I persuaded her to secrete and save
the living child, and to present the dead babe to Colonel Le Noir as
the only one, for the suspicions that had never been awakened for
myself were alarmed for my child. I instinctively felt that he would
have destroyed it."
"The mother's instinct is like inspiration," said Traverse.
"It may be so. Well, the old woman pitied me and did as I desired.
She took the dead child to Colonel Le Noir, who carried it off, and
afterward buried it as the sole heir of his elder brother. The old
woman carried off my living child and my wedding ring, concealed
under her ample shawl. Anxiety for the 'fate of my child caused me
to do what nothing else on earth would have tempted me to do--to
creep about the halls and passages on tiptoe and under cover of the
night and listen at keyholes," said the lady, blushing deeply at the
"You--you were perfectly right, Mrs. Le Noir! In a den of robbers,
where your life and honor were always at stake, you could have done
no otherwise!" exclaimed Traverse, warmly.
"I learned by this means that my poor old nurse had paid with her
liberty for her kindness to me. She had been, abducted and forced
from her native country together with a child found in her
possession, which they evidently suspected, and I knew, to be mine.
Oh, heaven! the agony then of thinking of what might be her unknown
fate, worse than death, perhaps! I felt that I had only succeeded in
saving her life-doubtful good!"
Here Mrs. Le Noir paused in thought for a few moments and then
"It is the memory of a long, dreary and hopeless imprisonment, my
recollection of my residence in that house! In the same manner in
which I gained all my information, I learned that it was reported in
the neighborhood that I had gone mad with grief for the loss of my
husband and that I was an inmate of a madhouse in the North! It was
altogether false! I never left the Hidden House in all those years
until about two years ago. My life there was dreary beyond all
conception. I was forbidden to go out or to appear at a window. I
had the whole attic, containing some eight or ten rooms, to rove
over, but I was forbidden to descend. An ill-looking woman called
Dorcas Knight, between whom and the elder Le Noir there seemed to
have been some sinful bond was engaged ostensibly as my attendant,
but really as my jailer. Nevertheless, when the sense of confinement
grew intolerable I sometimes eluded her vigilance and wandered about
the house at night."
"Thence, no doubt," said Traverse, "giving rise to the report that
the house was haunted."
Mrs. Le Noir smiled, saying:
"I believe the Le Noirs secretly encouraged that report. I'll tell
you why. They gave me a chamber lamp inclosed in an intense blue,
shade, that cast a strange, unearthly light around. Their ostensible
reason was to insure my safety from fire. Their real reason was that
this light might be seen from without in what was reputed to be an
uninhabited portion of the house, and give color to its bad
reputation among the ignorant of being haunted."
"So much for the origin of one authenticated ghost story," said
"Yes, and there was still more circumstantial evidence to support
this ghostly reputation of the house. As the years passed I had,
even in my confined state, gathered knowledge in one way and
another--picking up stray books and hearing stray conversation; and
so, in the end I learned how gross a deception and how great a wrong
had been practised upon me. I was not wise or cunning. I betrayed
constantly to my attendant my knowledge of these things. In
consequence of which my confinement became still more restricted."
"Yes, they were afraid of you, and fear is always the mother of
cruelty," said Traverse.
"Well, from the time that I became enlightened as to my real
position, all my faculties were upon the alert to find means of
escaping and making my condition known to the authorities. One night
they had a guest, Colonel Eglen, of the army, Old Dorcas had her
hands full, and forgot her prisoner. My door was left unlocked. So,
long after Colonel Eglen had retired to rest, and when all the
household were buried in repose, I left my attic and crept down to
the chamber of the guest, with no other purpose than to make known
my wrongs and appeal to his compassion. I entered his chamber,
approached his bed to speak to him, when this hero of a hundred
fields started up in a panic, and at the sight of the pale woman who
drew his curtains in the dead of the night, he shrieked, violently
rang his bell and fainted prone away."
"Ha! ha! ha! he could brave an army or march into a cannon's mouth
easier than meet a supposed denizen of another world! Well, Doctor
Johnson believed in ghosts," laughed Traverse.
"It remained for me to retreat as fast as possible to my room to
avoid the Le Noirs, who were hurrying with head-long speed to the
guest-chamber. They knew of course, that I was the ghost, although
they affected to treat their visitor's story as a dream. After that
my confinement was so strict that for years I had no opportunity of
leaving my attic. At last the strict espionage was relaxed.
Sometimes my door would be left unlocked. Upon one such occasion, in
creeping about in the dark, I learned, by overhearing a conversation
between Le Noir and his housekeeper, that my long lost daughter,
Capitola, had been found and was living at Hurricane Hall! This was
enough to comfort me for years. About three years ago the
surveillance over me was so modified that I was left again to roam
about the upper rooms of the house at will, until I learned that
they had a new inmate, young Clara Day, a ward of Le Noir! Oh, how I
longed to warn that child to fly! But I could not; alas, again I was
restricted to my own room, lest I should be seen by her. But again,
upon one occasion, old Dorcas forgot to lock my door at night. I
stole forth from my room and learned that a young girl, caught out
in the storm, was to stay all night at the Hidden House. Young girls
were not plentiful in that neighborhood, I knew. Besides, some
secret instinct told me that this was my daughter: I knew that she
would sleep in the chamber under mine, because that was the only
habitable guest-room in the whole house. In the dead of night I left
my room and went below and entered the chamber of the young girl. I
went first to the toilet table to see if among her little girlish
ornaments, I could find any clue to her identity. I found it in a
plain, gold ring--the same that I had intrusted to the old nurse.
Some strange impulse caused me to slip the ring upon my finger. Then
I went to the bed and threw aside the curtains to gaze upon the
sleeper. My girl--my own girl! With what strange sensations I first
looked upon her face! Her eyes were open and fixed upon mine in a
panic of terror. I stooped to press my lips to her's and she closed
her eyes in mortal fear, I carried nothing but terror with me! I
withdrew from the room and went back, sobbing, to my chamber. My
poor girl next morning unconsciously betrayed her mother. It had
nearly cost me my life."
"When the Le Noirs came home, the first night of their arrival they
entered my room, seized me in my bed and dragged me shrieking from
"Good heaven! What punishment is sufficient for such wretches!"
exclaimed Traverse, starting up and pacing the narrow limits of the
"Listen! They soon stopped both my shrieks and my breath at once. I
lost consciousness for a time, and when I awoke I found myself in a
close carriage, rattling over a mountain road, through the night.
Late the next morning we reached an uninhabited country house, where
I was again imprisoned, in charge of an old dumb woman, whom Le Noir
called Mrs. Raven. This I afterwards understood to be Willow
Heights, the property of the orphan heiress, Clara Day. And here,
also, for the term of my stay, the presence of the unknown inmate
got the house the reputation of being haunted."
"The old dumb woman was a shade kinder to me than Dorcas Knight had
been, but I did not stay in her charge very long. One night the Le
Noirs came in hot haste. The young heiress had been delivered from
their charge by a degree, of the Orphans' Court, and they had to
give up her house. I was drugged and hurried away. Some narcotic
sedative must have been insinuated into all my food, for I was in a
state of semi-sensibility and mild delirium during the whole course
of a long journey by land and sea, which passed to me like a dream,
and at the end of which I found myself here. No doubt, from the
excessive use of narcotics, there was something wild and stupid in
my manner and appearance that justified the charge of madness. And
when I found that I was a prisoner in a lunatic asylum, far, far
away from the neighborhood where at least I had once been known I
gave way to the wilder grief that further confirmed the story of my
madness. I have been here two years, occasionally giving way to
outbursts of wild despair, that the doctor calls frenzy. I was
sinking into an apathy, when one day I opened the little Bible that
lay upon the table of my cell. I fixed upon the last chapters in the
gospel of John. That narrative of meek patience and divine love. It
did for me what no power under that of God could have done. It saved
me! It saved me from madness! It saved me from despair! There is a
time for the second birth of every soul; that time had collie fur
me. From that hour, this book has been my constant companion and
comfort. I have learned from its pages how little it matters how or
where this fleeting, mortal life is passed, so that it answers its
purpose of preparing the soul for another. I have learned patience
with sinners, forgiveness of enemies, and confidence in God. In a
word, I trust I have learned the way of salvation, and in that have
learned everything. Your coming and your words, young friend, have
stirred within my heart the desire to be free, to mingle again on
equal terms with my fellow beings, and above all, to find and to
embrace my child. But not wildly anxious am I even for these earthly
blessings. These, as well as all things else, I desire to leave to
the Lord, praying that His will may be mine. Young friend, my story
"Madam," said Traverse, after a thoughtful pause, "our fates have
been more nearly connected than you could have imagined. Those Le
Noirs have been my enemies as they are yours. That young orphan
heiress, who appealed from their cruelty to the Orphans' Court, was
my own betrothed. Willow Heights was her patrimony and is now her
quiet home where she lives with my mother, and where in their names
I invited you to come. And take this comfort also; your enemy no
longer lives: months ago I left him ill with a mortal wound. This
morning the papers announce his death. There remains, therefore, but
little for me to do, but to take legal measures to free you from
this place, and restore you to your home. Within an hour I shall set
out for New Orleans, for the purpose of taking the initiatory steps.
Until my return then, dear lady," said Traverse, respectfully taking
her hand--"farewell, and be of good cheer!"
Thus far our fortune keeps an onward course,
And we are graced with wreaths of victory.
Leaving Mrs. Le Noir, Traverse went down to the stable, saddled the
horse that had been allotted to his use, and set off for a long
day's journey to New Orleans, where late at night he arrived, and
put up at the St. Charles.
He slept deeply from fatigue until late the next morning, when he
was awakened by the sounds of trumpets, drums and fifes, and by
He arose and looked from his windows to ascertain the cause, and saw
the square full of people in a state of the highest excitement,
watching for a military procession coming up the street
It was the United States troops under their gallant commanders, who
had landed from the steamboats that morning and were now marching
from the quays up to their quarters at the St. Charles.
As they advanced, Traverse, eagerly upon the lookout, recognized his
Traverse withdrew from the window, hurriedly completed his toilet,
and hastened down-stairs, where he soon found himself face to face
with Herbert, who warmly grasping his hand, exclaimed:
"You here, old friend? Why, I thought you were down in East
Feliciana, with your interesting patient!"
"It is for the interest of that 'interesting patient' that I am
here, Herbert! Did I tell you, she was one of the victims of that
demon Le Noir?"
"No: but I know it from another source. I know as much, or more of
her, perhaps, than you do!"
"Ah!" exclaimed Traverse, in surprise.
"Yes! I know, for instance, that she is Capitola's mother, the long-
lost widow of Eugene Le Noir, the mistress of the Hidden House, and
the ghost who drew folks' curtains there at night."
"Then you do know something about her, but how did you arrive at the
"By the 'last dying speech and confession' of Gabriel Le Aoir,
confided to me to be used in restitution after his decease. But,
come! There is the second bell. Our mess are going in to breakfast;
join us and afterwards you and I will retire and compare notes,"
said Herbert, taking the arm of his friend as they followed the
moving crowd into the breakfast parlor.
After the morning meal was concluded the friends withdrew together
to the chamber occupied by Traverse Rocke, where they sat down for
Herbert first related to Traverse all that had occurred from the
time that the latter left the city of Mexico, including the arrival
of Craven Le Xoir at the dying bed of his father, the subsequent
death and funeral of Colonel Le Noir, and the late emigration of
Craven, who to avoid the shame of the approaching revelation, joined
a party of explorers bound for the recently discovered gold mines in
"The civilized world is then rid of two villains at once," said the
Herbert took from his pocket the confession of Colonel Le Noir,
which he said he was now at liberty to use as he thought proper for
the ends of justice. That certain parts of the disclosure intimately
concerned Traverse Rocke, to whom he should therefore read the
whole. The confession may be briefly summed up as follows:
The first item was that he had sought to win the affections of Marah
Rocke, the supposed wife of Major Ira Warfield; he had sedulously
waylaid and followed her with his suit during the whole summer; she
had constantly repulsed and avoided him; he, listening to his own
evil passions, had bribed her maid to admit him in the dark to
Marah's cabin, upon a certain night when her husband was to be
absent; that the unexpected return of Major Warfield who had tracked
him to the house, had prevented the success of his evil purpose, but
had not saved the reputation of the innocent wife, whose infuriated
husband would not believe her ignorant of the presence of the
villain in her house; that he, Gabriel Le Noir, in hatred as well as
in shame, had forborne until now to make the explanation, which he
hoped might now, late in life as it was, bring the long-severed pair
together, and establish Marah Rocke and her son in their legal and
The second item in the black list of crime was the death of his
elder brother, whom he declared he had not intended to kill. He said
that, having contracted large debts which he was unable to pay he
had returned secretly from his distant quarters to demand the money
from his brother, who had often helped him; that, meeting his
brother in the woods, he made this request. Eugene reproached him
for his extravagance and folly, and refused to aid him; an encounter
ensued, in which Eugene fell. He, Gabriel Le Noir, fled pursued by
the curse of Cain, and reached his own quarters before even his
absence had been suspected. His agency in the death of his brother
was not suspected even by his accomplice in other crimes, the outlaw
called Black Donald, who, thinking to gain an ascendency over one
whom he called his patron, actually pretended to have made way with
Eugene Le Noir for the sake of his younger brother.
The third item of confession was the abduction of the nurse and babe
of the young widow of Eugene, the circumstances of which are already
known to the reader.
The fourth in the dreadful list comprised the deceptions, wrongs and
persecutions practised upon Madame Eugene Le Noir, and the final
false imprisonment of that lady under the charge of insanity, in the
private madhouse kept by Doctor Pierre St. Jean, in East Feliciana.
In conclusion, he spoke of the wrongs done to Clara Day, whose
pardon, with that of others, he begged. And he prayed that in
consideration of his son, as little publicity as was possible might
be given to these crimes.
During the reading of this confession, the eyes of Traverse Rocke
were fixed in wonder and half incredulity upon the face of Herbert,
and at its conclusion he said:
"What a mass of crime! But that we may not dare to question the
mercy of the Lord, I should ask if these were sins that he would
ever pardon! Herbert, it appals me to think of it!"
Then, after deep thought, he added:
"This, then, was the secret of my dear mother's long unhappiness.
She was Major Warfield's forsaken wife. Herbert, I feel as though I
never, never could forgive my father!"
"Traverse, if Major Warfield had wilfully and wantonly forsaken your
mother, I should say that your resentment was natural and right. Who
should be an honorable woman's champion if not her own son? But
Major Warfield, as well as his wife, was more sinned against than
sinning. Your parents were both victims of a cruel conspiracy, and
he suffered as much in his way as she did in hers," said Herbert.
"I always thought, somehow, that my dear mother was a forsaken wife.
She never told me so, but there was some-thing about her
circumstances and manners, her retired life, her condition, so much
below her deserts, her never speaking of her husband's death, which
would have been natural for her to do, had she been a widow--all,
somehow, went to give me the impression that my father had abandoned
us. Lately I had suspected Major Warfield had something to do with
the sad affair, though I never once suspected him to be my father.
So much for natural instincts," said Traverse, with a melancholy
"Traverse," said Herbert, with the design of drawing him off from
sad remembrances of his mother's early trials. "Traverse, this
confession, signed and witnessed as it is, will wonderfully simplify
your course of action in regard to the deliverance of Madame Le
"Yes; so it will," said Traverse, with animation. "There will be no
need now of applying to law, especially if you will come down with
me to East Feliciana and bring the confession with you."
"I will set out with you this very morning, if you wish, as I am on
leave. What! To hasten to the release of Capitola's mother, I would
set out at midnight and ride straight on for a week!"
"Ah! there is no need of such extravagant feats of travel. It is now
ten o'clock; if we start within an hour we can reach the 'Calm
Retreat' by eleven o'clock to-night."
"En avant, then," exclaimed Herbert, rising and ringing the bell.
Traverse ordered horses, and in twenty minutes the friends were on
the road to East Feliciana.
They reached the "Calm Retreat" so late that night that there was
none but the porter awake to admit them.
Traverse took his friend up to his own dormitory, saying,
"It is an unappreciable distance of time since you and I occupied
the same bed, Herbert"
"Yes; but it is not the first, by five hundred times. D' you
remember, Traverse, the low attic where we used to sleep and how on
stormy nights we used to listen to the rain pattering on the roof,
within two or three inches of our faces, and how we used to be half
afraid to turn over for fear that we should bump our heads against
the timbers of the ceiling?"
"Yes, indeed," said Traverse.
And thereupon the two friends launched into a discussion of old
times, when the two widows and their sons lived together--the two
women occupying one bed, and the two boys the other. And this
discussion they kept up until long after they retired, and until
sleep overtook them.
The next morning Traverse conducted his friend down to the breakfast
parlor, to introduce him to Doctor St. Jean, who, as soon as he
perceived his young medical assistant, sprang forward exclaiming:
"Grand ciel! Is this then you? Have you then returned? What for did
you run away with my horse?"
"I went to New Orleans in great haste, upon very important business,
"Grand Dieu! I should think so, when you ride off on my horse
without saying a word. If it had been my ambling pony I should have
been in despair, I! Your business so hasty and so important was
accomplished, I hope."
"Yes; I did my errand with less trouble than I had anticipated,
owing to the happy circumstance of meeting my friend here, who has
come down hither connected with the same business."
"Ah! vera happy to see your friend. In the medical profession, I
"No, sir; in the army. Allow me to present him. Major Herbert
Greyson, of the -th Regiment of Cavalry."
"Ou! ay! Grand ciel! This is the brave, the distinguished, the
illustrious officer, so honorably mentioned in the dispatches of the
invincible Taylor and the mighty Scott!" said the little Frenchman,
bowing his night-capped head down to his slippery toes.
Herbert smiled as he returned the bow. And then the little French
doctor, turning to Traverse said:
"But your business, so important and so hasty, which has brought
this officer so illustrious down here--what is it, my friend?"
"We will have the honor of explaining to Monsieur le Docteur, over
our coffee, if he will oblige us by ordering the servant to retire,"
said Traverse, who sometimes adopted, in speaking to the old
Frenchman, his own formal style of politeness. "Go, then, John!"
"Oui, oui, certainement! Allez donc, John!"
As soon as the man had gone, Traverse said:
"I propose to discuss this business over our coffee, because it will
save time without interfering with our morning meal, and I know that
immediately afterwards you will go your usual round of visits to
"Eh bien! proceed, my son! proceed!"
Traverse immediately commenced and related all that was necessary
concerning the fraud practised upon the institution by introducing
into it an unfortunate woman, represented to be mad, but really only
sorrowful, nervous and excitable. And to prove the truth of his
words, Traverse desired Herbert to read from the confession the
portion relating to this fraud, and to show the doctor the signature
of the principal and the witness.
To have seen the old French doctor then! I rejoice in a Frenchman,
for the frank abandon with which he gives himself up to his
emotions! Our doctor, after staring at the confession, took hold of
the top of his blue tasseled night-cap, pulled it off his head and
threw it violently upon the floor! Then remembering that he was
exposing a cranium as bald as a peeled potato, he suddenly caught it
up again, clapped it upon his crown and exclaimed:
"Sacre! Diable!" and other ejaculations dreadful to translate, and
others again which it would be profane to set down in French or
Gabriel Le Noir was no longer an officer illustrious, a gentleman
noble and distinguished, compassionate and tender; he was a robber
infamous! a villain atrocious, a caitiff ruth, and without remorse!
After breakfast the doctor consented that his young hero, his little
knight-errant, his dear son, should go to the distressed lady and
open the good news to her, while the great Major Greyson, the
warrior invincible, should go around with himself to inspect the
Traverse immediately repaired to the chamber of Mrs. Le Noir, whom
he found sitting at the window, engaged in some little trifle of
needlework, the same pale, patient woman that she had first appeared
"Ah, you have come! I read good news upon your smiling face, my
friend! Tell it! I have borne the worst of sorrows! Shall I not have
strength to bear joy?"
Traverse told her all, and then ended by saying:
"Now, dear madame, it is necessary that we leave this place within
two hours, as Major Greyson's regiment leaves New Orleans for
Washington to-morrow, and it is advisable that you go under our
protection. We can get you a female attendant from the St. Charles."
"Oh, I can be ready in ten minutes! Bless you, I have no fine lady's
wardrobe to pack up!" replied Mrs. Le Noir, with a smile.
Traverse bowed and went out to procure a carriage from the next
village. And in half an hour afterwards the whole party took leave
of Doctor Pierre St. Jean and his "institution in-comparable," and
set forth on their journey to New Orleans, whence in two days
afterwards they sailed for the North. And now, dear reader, let you
and I take the fast boat and get home before them, to see our little
Cap, and find out what adventures she is now engaged in, and how she
is getting on.
CAPITOLA A CAPITALIST.
Is truly painted with a cheerful look,
Equally distant from proud insolence
And sad dejection.
How glad I am to get back to my little Cap, for I know very well,
reader, just as well as if you had told me, that you have been
grumbling for some time for the want of Cap. But I could not help
it, for, to tell the truth, I was pining after her myself, which was
the reason that I could not do half justice to the scenes of the
Well, now let us see what Cap has been doing--what oppressors she
has punished--what victims she has delivered--in a word, what new
heroic adventures she has achieved.
Well, the trial of Donald Bayne, alias Black Donald, was over. Cap,
of course, had been compelled to appear against him. During the
whole course of the trial the court-room was crowded with a curious
multitude, "from far and near," eager to get sight of the notorious
Black Donald, through the whole ordeal, deported himself with a
gallant and joyous dignity, that would have better become a triumph
than a trial.
He was indicted upon several distinct counts, the most serious of
which--the murder of the solitary widow and her daughter in the
forest cabin, and the assassination of Eugene Le Noir in the woods
near the Hidden House--were sustained only by circumstantial
evidence. But the aggregate weight of all these, together with his
very bad reputation, was sufficient to convict him, and Black Donald
was sentenced to death.
This dreadful doom, most solemnly pronounced by the judge was
received by the prisoner with a loud laugh, and the words:
"You're out o' your reckoning now, cap'n! I never was a saint, the
Lord knows, but my hands are free from blood guiltiness! There's an
honest little girl that believes me--don't you?" he said, turning
laughingly to our little heroine.
"Yes, I do!" said Cap, bursting into tears; "and I am sorry for you
as ever I can be, Donald Bayne."
"Bother! It was sure to come to this first or last, and I knew it!
Now, to prove you do not think this rugged hand of mine stained with
blood, give it a friendly shake!" said the condemned man. And before
Old Hurricane could prevent her, Capitola had jumped over two or
three intervening seats and climbed up to the side of the dock, and
reached up her hand to the prisoner, saying:
"God help you, Donald Bayne, in your great trouble, and I will do
all I can to help you in this world. I will go to the Governor
myself, and tell him I know you never did any murder."
"Remove the prisoner," said the judge, peremptorily.
The constables approached and led away Black Donald.
Old Hurricane rushed upon Cap, seized her, and, shaking her
fiercely, exclaimed, under his breath:
"You--you--you--you New York hurrah boy! You foundling! You
vagabond! You vagrant! You brat! You beggar! Will you never be a
lady? To go and shake hands with that ruffian!"
"Sure, uncle, that's nothing new; I have shaken hands with you often
"Demmy, you--you--you New York trash, what do you mean by that?"
"Of course I mean, uncle, that you are as rough a ruffian as ever
Donald Bayne was!"
"Demmy, I'll murder you!"
"Don't, uncle; they have an uncivilized way here of hanging
murderers," said Cap, shaking herself free of Old Hurricane's grasp,
and hastening out of the court-room to mount her horse and ride
One night after tea, Capitola and her uncle occupied their usual
seats by the little bright wood fire, that the chilly evening and
keen mountain air made agreeable, even in May.
Old Hurricane was smoking his pipe and reading his paper.
Cap was sitting with her slender fingers around her throat, which
she, with a shudder, occasionally compressed:
"Well, that demon Black Donald will be hanged the 26th of July,"
said Old Hurricane, exultingly, "and we shall get rid of one
"I pity Black Donald, and I can't bear to think of his being hanged!
It quite breaks my heart to think that I was compelled to bring him
to such a fate!"
"Oh, that reminds me! The reward offered for the apprehension of
Black Donald, to which you were entitled, Cap, was paid over to me
for you. I placed it to your account in the Agricultural Bank."
"I don't want it! I won't touch it! The price of blood! It would
burn my fingers!" said Cap.
"Oh, very well! A thousand dollars won't go a-begging," said Old
"Uncle, it breaks my heart to think of Black Donald's execution! It
just does! It must be dreadful, this hanging! I have put my finger
around my throat and squeezed it, to know how it feels, and it is
awful. Even a little squeeze makes my head feel as if it would
burst, and I have to let go! Oh, it is horrible to think of!"
"Well, Cap, it wasn't intended to be as pleasant as tickling, you
know. I wish it was twenty times worse! It would serve him right,
the villain! I wish it was lawful to break him on the wheel--I do!"
"Uncle, that is very wicked in you! I declare I won't have it! I'll
write a petition to the Governor to commute his sentence, and carry
it all around the county myself!"
"You wouldn't get a soul to sign it to save your life, much less
"I'll go to the Governor myself, and beg him to pardon Donald
"Ha! ha! ha! the Governor would not do it to save all our lives, and
if he were to do such an outrageous thing he might whistle for his
"I declare, Donald Bayne shall not be hanged--and so there!" said
"Whe-ew! You'll deliver him by the strength of your arm, my little
"I'll save him one way or another, now mind I tell you! He sinned
more against me than against anybody else, and so I have the best
right of anybody in the world to forgive him, and I do forgive him!
And he shan't be hanged I I say it!"
"You say it! Ha! ha! ha! Who are you, to turn aside the laws?"
"I, Capitola Black, say that Donald Bayne, not having deserved to be
hanged, shall not be hanged! And in one way or another I'll keep my
And Cap did her best to keep it. The next morning she mounted Gyp
and rode up to Tip Top, where she employed the village lawyer to
draw up a petition to the Governor for the commutation of Donald
Bayne's sentence. And then she rode all over the county to try to
get signatures to the document. But all in vain. People of every age
and condition too thoroughly feared and hated the famous outlaw, and
too earnestly wished to be entirely and forever rid of him, to sign
any petition for a commutation of his sentence. If a petition for
his instant execution had been carried around it would have stood a
much better chance of success.
Cap spent many days in her fruitless enterprise, but at last gave it
up--but by no means in despair, for--
"I'll save his life, yet! by one means or another! I can't change
clothes with him as I did with Clara; he's too big, but one way or
other I'll save him," said Cap, to herself. She said it to no one
else, for the more difficult the enterprise the more determined she
was to succeed, and the more secretive she grew as to her measures.
In the mean time the outlaw, double-ironed, was confined in the
condemned cell, the strongest portion of the county jail. All
persons were strictly prohibited from visiting him, except certain
of the clergy.
They did all they could to bring the outlaw to a sense of his
condition, to prepare him to meet his fate and to induce him to make
a confession and give up the retreat of his band.
And Donald listened to them with respect, acknowledged himself a
great sinner, and knelt with them when they knelt to pray for him.
But he denied that he was guilty of the murders for which he had
been doomed to die, and he utterly refused to give up his old
companions, replying to the ministers in something like these words:
"Poor wretches! They are no more fit to die than I am, and a
condemned cell, with the thought of the scaffold before him, are not
exactly the most favorable circumstances under which a man might
experience sincere repentance, my masters!"
And so, while the convict listened with docility to all that the
ministers had to say, he steadily persisted in asserting his own
innocence of the crimes for which he was condemned, and in his
refusal to deliver up his companions.
Meantime, Capitola, at Hurricane Hall, was doing all she could to
discover or invent means to save the life of Black Donald. But still
she said no more about it even to Old Hurricane.
One evening, while Cap was sitting by the fire with her thoughts
busy with this subject, her uncle came in saying:
"Cap, I have got some curiosities to show you!"
"What are they?" said Cap, languidly.
"A set of burglar's tools, supposed to belong to some member of
Black Donald's band! One of my negroes found them in the woods in
the neighborhood of the Devil's Punch Bowl! I wrote to the sheriff
concerning them, and he requested me to take care of them until he
should have occasion to call for them. Look! Did you ever see such
things?" said Old Hurricane, setting down a canvas bag upon the
table and turning out from it all sorts of strange looking
instruments--tiny saws, files, punches, screws, picks, etc., etc.,
Cap looked at them with the most curious interest, while Old
Hurricane explained their supposed uses.
"It must have been an instrument of this sort, Cap, that that blamed
demon, Donald, gave to the imprisoned men to file their fetters off
with!" he said, showing a thin file of tempered steel.
"That!" said Cap. "Hand it here! Let me see it!" And she examined it
with the deepest interest.
"I wonder what they force locks with?" she inquired.
"Why, this, and this, and this!" said Old Hurricane, producing a
burglar's pick, saw and chisel.
Cap took them and scrutinized them so attentively that Old Hurricane
burst out into a loud laugh, exclaiming:
"You'll dream of house-breakers to-night, Cap!" and taking the
tools, he put them all back in the little canvas bag, and put the
bag up on a high shelf of the parlor closet.
The next morning, while Cap was arranging flowers on the parlor
mantelpiece, Old Hurricane burst in upon her with his hands full of
letters and newspapers, and his heart full of exultation--throwing
up his hat and cutting an alarming caper for a man of his age, he
"Hurrah, Cap! Hurrah! Peace is at last proclaimed and our victorious
troops are on their way home! It's all in the newspapers, and here
are letters from Herbert, dated from New Orleans! Here are letters
for you, and here are some for me! I have not opened them yet!
Hurrah, Cap! Hurrah!"
"Hurrah, Uncle! Hurrah!" cried Cap, tossing up her flowers and
rushing into his arms.
"Don't squeeze me into an apoplexy, you little bear," said Old
Hurricane, turning purple in the face, from the savage hug of Cap's
joyful arms. "Come along and sit down with me, at this table, and
let us see what the letters have brought us."
They took their seats opposite each other at a small table, and Old
Hurricane threw the whole mail between them, and began to pick out
"That's for you, Cap. This is for me," he said, pitching out two in
the handwriting of Herbert Greyson.
Cap opened hers and commenced reading. It was in fact Herbert's
first downright, practical proposal of marriage, in which he begged
that their union might take place as soon as he should return, and
that as he had written to his uncle by the same mail, upon another
subject, which he did not wish to mix up with his own marriage, she
would, upon a proper opportunity, let her uncle know of their plans.
"Upon my word, he takes my consent very coolly as a matter of
course, and even forces upon me the disagreeable duty of asking
myself of my own uncle! Who ever heard of such proceedings? If he
were not coming home from the wars, I declare I should get angry;
but I won't get upon my dignity with Herbert--dear, darling, sweet
Herbert. If it were anybody else, shouldn't they know the difference
between their liege lady and Tom Trotter? However, as it's Herbert,
here goes! Now, I suppose the best way to ask myself of uncle, for
Herbert, will be just to hand him over this matter. The dear knows
it isn't so over and above affectionate that I should hesitate.
Uncle," said Cap, pulling Old Hurricane's coat sleeve.
"Don't bother me, Cap," exclaimed Major Warfield, who sat there,
holding a large, closely written document in his hand, with his
great round eyes strained from their sockets, as they passed along
the lines with devouring interest.
"Well, I do declare! I do believe he has received a proposal of
marriage himself," cried Cap, shooting much nearer the truth than
Old Hurricane did not hear her. Starting up with the document in his
hand, he rushed from the room and went and shut himself up in his
"I vow, some widow has offered to marry him," said Cap, to herself.
Old Hurricane did not come to dinner, nor to supper. But after
supper, when Capitola's wonder was at its climax, and while she was
sitting by the little wood fire that that chilly evening required,
Old Hurricane came in, looking very unlike himself, in an humble,
confused, deprecating, yet happy manner, like one who had at once a
mortifying confession to make, and a happy secret to tell.
"Cap," he said, trying to suppress a smile, and growing purple in
--"Oh, yes! You've come to tell me, I suppose, that you're going to
put a step-aunt-in-law over my head, only you don't know how to
announce it," answered Capitola, little knowing how closely she had
come to the truth; when, to her unbounded astonishment, Old
"Yes, my dear, that's just it!"
"What! My eyes! Oh, crickey!" cried Cap, breaking into her newsboy's
slang, from mere consternation.
"Yes, my dear, it is perfectly true!" replied the old man, growing
furiously red, and rubbing his face.
"Oh! oh! oh! Hold me! I'm 'kilt!'" cried Cap, falling back in her
chair in an inextinguishable fit of laughter, that shook her whole
frame. She laughed until the tears ran down her cheeks. She wiped
her eyes and looked at Old Hurricane, and every time she saw his
confused and happy face she burst into a fresh paroxysm that seemed
to threaten her life or her reason.
"Who is the happy--Oh, I can't speak! Oh, I'm 'kilt' entirely!" she
cried, breaking off in the midst of her question and falling into
"It's no new love, Cap; it's my old wife!" said Old Hurricane,
wiping his face.
This brought Capitola up with a jerk! She sat bolt upright gazing at
him with her eyes fixed as if In death.
"Cap," said Old Hurricane, growing more and more confused, "I've
been a married man more years than I like to think of! Cap, I've--
I've a wife and grown-up son! Why do you sit there staring at me,
you little demon? Why don't you say something to encourage me, you
"Go on!" said Cap, without removing her eyes.
"Cap, I was--a jealous--passionate--Demmy, confession isn't in my
line. A diabolical villain made me believe that my poor little wife
"There! I knew you'd lay it on somebody else. Men always do that,"
said Cap, to herself.
"He was mortally wounded in Mexico. He made a confession and
confided it to Herbert, who has just sent me an attested copy. It
was Le Noir. My poor wife lived under her girlhood's name of Marah
Rocke." Old Hurricane made a gulp, and his voice broke down.
Cap understood all now, as well as if she had known it as long as
Old Hurricane had. She comprehended his extreme agitation upon a
certain evening, years ago, when Herbert Greyson had mentioned Marah
Rocke's name, and his later and more lasting disturbance upon
accidentally meeting Marah Rocke at the Orphans' Court.
This revelation filled her with strange and contradictory emotions.
She was glad; she was angry with him; she was sorry for him; she was
divided between divers impulses to hug and kiss him, to cry over
him, and to seize him and give him a good shaking! And between them
she did nothing at all.
Old Hurricane was again the first to speak,
"What was that you wished to say to me, Cap, when I ran ray from you
"Why, uncle, that Herbert wants to follow your example, and--and--
and--" Cap blushed and broke down.
"I thought as much. Getting married at his age! A boy of twenty-
five!" said the veteran in contempt.
"Taking a wife at your age, uncle, an infant of sixty-six!"
"Bother, Cap! Let me see that fellow's letter to you."
Cap handed it to him and the old man read it.
"If I were to object, you'd get married all the same! Demmy! you're
both of age. Do as you please!"
"Thank you, sir," said Cap, demurely.
"And now, Cap, one thing is to be noticed. Herbert says, both in
your letter and in mine, that they were to start to return the day
after these letters were posted. These letters have been delayed in
the mail. Consequently we may expect our hero here every day. But
Cap, my dear, you must receive them. For to-morrow morning, please
the Lord, I shall set out for Staunton and Willow Heights, and go
and kneel down at the feet of my wife, and ask her pardon on my
Cap was no longer divided between the wish to pull Old Hurricane's
gray beard and to cry over Him. She threw herself at once into his
arms and exclaimed:
"Oh, uncle! God bless you! God bless you! God bless you! It has come
very late in life, but may you be happy with her through all the
ages of eternity!"
Old Hurricane was deeply moved by the sympathy of his little madcap,
and pressed her to his bosom, saying:
"Cap, my dear, if you had not set your heart upon Herbert, I would
marry you to my son Traverse, and you two should inherit all that I
have in the world! But never mind, Cap, you have an inheritance of
your own. Cap, Cap, my dear, did it ever occur to you that you might
have had a father and mother?"
"Yes! often! But I used to think you were my father, and that my
mother was dead."
"I wish to the Lord that I had been your father, Cap, and that Marah
Rocke had been your mother! But Cap, your father was a better man
than I, and your mother as good a woman as Marah. And Cap, my dear,
you vagabond, you vagrant, you brat, you beggar, you are the sole
heiress of the Hidden House estate and all its enormous wealth! What
do you think of that, now? What do you think of that, you beggar?
cried Old Hurricane."
A shriek pierced the air, and Capitola starting up, stood before Old
Hurricane, crying in an impassioned voice:
"Uncle! Uncle! Don't mock me! Don't overwhelm me! I do not care for
wealth or power; but tell me of the parents who possessing both,
cast off their unfortunate child--a girl, too! to meet the
sufferings and perils of such a life as mine had been, if I had not
"Cap, my dear, hush! Your parents were no more to blame for their
seeming abandonment of you, than I was to blame for the desertion of
my poor wife. We are all the victims of one villain, who has now
gone to his account, Capitola. I mean Gabriel Le Noir. Sit down, my
dear, and I will read the copy of his whole confession, and
afterwards, in addition, tell you all I know upon the subject!"
Capitola resumed her seat, Major Warfield read the confession of
Gabriel Le Noir, and afterwards continued the subject by relating
the events of that memorable Hallowe'en when he was called out in a
snow storm to take the dying deposition of the nurse who had been
abducted with the infant Capitola.
And at the end of his narrative Cap knew as much of her own history
as the reader has known all along.
"And I have a mother, and I shall even see her soon! You told me she
was coming home with the party--did you not, Uncle?" said Capitola.
"Yes, my child. Only think of it! I saved the daughter from the
streets of New York, and my son saved the mother from her prison at
the madhouse! And now, my dear Cap, I must bid you good night and go
to bed, for I intend to rise to-morrow morning long before daylight,
to ride to Tip Top to meet the Staunton stage," said the old man,
Just as he was about to leave the room he was arrested by a loud
ringing and knocking at the door.
Wool was heard running along the front hall to answer the summons.
"Cap, I shouldn't wonder much if that was our party. I wish it may
be, for I should like to welcome them before I leave home to fetch
my wife," said Old Hurricane, in a voice of agitation.
And while they were still eagerly listening, the door was thrown
open by Wool, who announced:
"Marse Herbert, which I mean to say, Major Herbert Greyson;" and
Herbert entered and was grasped by the two hands of Old Hurricane,
"Ah, Herbert, my lad! I have got your letters. It is all right,
Herbert, or going to be so. You shall marry Cap when you like. And I
am going to-morrow morning to throw myself at the feet of my wife."
"No need of your going so far, dear sir, no need. Let me speak to my
own dear girl a moment, and then I shall have something to say to
you," said Herbert, leaving the old man in suspense, and going to
salute Capitola, who returned his fervent embrace by an honest,
downright frank kiss, that made no secret of itself.
"Capitola! My uncle has told you all?"
"Every single bit! So don't lose time by telling it all over again!
Is my mother with you?"
"Yes! and I will bring her in, in one moment; but first I must bring
in some one else," said Herbert, kissing the hand of Capitola and
turning to Old Hurricane, to whom he said:
"You need not travel far to find Marah. We took Staunton in our way
and brought her and Clara along--Traverse!" he said going to the
door--"bring in your mother."
And the next instant Traverse entered with the wife of Major
Warfield upon his arm.
Old Hurricane started forward to meet her, exclaiming in a broken
"Marah, my dear Marah, God may forgive me, but can you--can you ever
do so?" And he would have sunk at her feet, but that she prevented,
by meeting him and silently placing both her hands in his. And so
quietly Marah's forgiveness was expressed, and the reconciliation
Meanwhile Herbert went out and brought in Mrs. Le Noir and Clara.
Mrs. Le Noir, with a Frenchwoman's impetuosity, hurried to her
daughter and clasped her to her heart.
Cap gave one hurried glance at the beautiful pale woman that claimed
from her a daughter's love and then, returning the caress, she said:
"Oh, mamma! Oh, mamma! If I were only a boy instead of a girl, I
would thrash that Le Noir within an inch of his life! But I forgot!
He has gone to his account."
Old Hurricane was at this moment shaking hands with his son,
Traverse, who presently took occasion to lead up and introduce his
betrothed wife, Clara Day, to her destined father-in-law.
Major Warfield received her with all a soldier's gallantry, a
gentleman's courtesy and a father's tenderness.
He next shook hands with his old acquaintance, Mrs. Le Noir.
And then supper was ordered and the evening was passed in general
and comparative reminiscences and cheerful conversation.
"THERE SHALL BE LIGHT AT THE EVENTIDE."--Holy Bible.
They shall be blessed exceedingly, their store
Grow daily, weekly more and more,
And peace so multiply around,
Their very hearth seems holy ground.
The marriage of Capitola and of Herbert and that of Clara and of
Traverse was fixed to take place upon the first of August, which was
the twenty-first birthday of the doctors daughter, and also the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the wedding of Ira Warfield and Marah
German husbands and wives have a beautiful custom of keeping the
twenty-fifth anniversary of their marriage by a festival, which they
call the "Silver Wedding." And thus Major Warfield and Marah
resolved to keep this first of August, and further to honor the
occasion by uniting the hands of their young people.
There was but one cloud upon the happiness of Capitola; this was the
approaching execution of Black Donald.
No one else seemed to care about the matter, until a circumstance
occurred which painfully aroused their interest.
This was the fact that the Governor, through the solicitation of
certain ministers of the gospel who represented the condemned as
utterly unprepared to meet his fate, had respited him until the
first of August, at which time he wished the prisoner to be made to
understand that his sentence would certainly, without further delay,
be carried into effect.
This carried a sort of consternation into the heart of every member
of the Hurricane Hall household!
The idea of Black Donald being hanged in their immediate
neighborhood upon their wedding day was appalling!
Yet there was no help for it, unless their wedding was postponed to
another occasion than that upon which Old Hurricane had set his
heart. No one knew what to do.
Cap fretted herself almost sick. She had cudgeled her brains to no
purpose. She had not been able to think of any plan by which she
could deliver Black Donald. Meantime the last days of July were
rapidly passing away.
Black Donald in the condemned cell maintained his firmness,
resolutely asserting his innocence of any capital crime and
persistently refusing to give up his band. As a last motive of
confession, the paper written by Gabriel Le Noir upon his death-bed
was shown him. He laughed a loud, crackling laugh, and said that was
all true, but that he, for his part, never had intended to harm a
hair of Capitola's head; that he had taken a fancy to the girl when
he had first seen her, and had only wanted to carry her off and
force her into a marriage with himself; that he had pretended to
consent to her death only for the purpose of saving her life.
When Cap heard this she burst into tears and said she believed it
The night before the wedding of Capitola and Herbert, and Clara and
Traverse, and of the execution of Black Donald, came.
At Hurricane Hall the two prospective bridegrooms were busy with Old
Hurricane over some papers that had to be prepared in the library.
The two intended brides were engaged, under the direction of Mrs.
Warfield, in her dressing-room, consulting over certain proprieties
of the approaching festival. But Capitola could give only a half
attention to the discussion. Her thoughts were with the poor
condemned man who was to die the next day.
And suddenly she flew out of the room, summoned her groom, mounted
her horse, and rode away.
In his condemned cell Black Donald was bitterly realizing how
unprepared he was to die, and how utterly impossible it was for him
to prepare in the short hours left him. He tried to pray, but could
form no other petition than that he might be allowed, if possible, a
little longer to fit himself to meet his Creator. From his cell he
could hear the striking of the great clock in the prison hall. And
as every hour struck it seemed "a nail driven in his coffin."
At eight o'clock that night the warden sat in his little office,
consulting the sheriff about some details of the approaching
execution. While they were still in discussion, a turnkey opened the
"A lady to see the warden."
And Capitola stood before them!
"Miss Black!" exclaimed both sheriff and warden, rising in surprise,
gazing upon our heroine, and addressing her by the name under which
they had first known her.
"Yes, gentlemen, it is I. The truth is, I cannot rest tonight
without saying a few words of comfort to the poor man who is to die
to-morrow. So I came hither, attended by my groom, to know if I may
see him for a few minutes."
"Miss Black, here is the sheriff. It is just as he pleases. My
orders were so strict that had you come to me alone I should have
been obliged to refuse you."
"Mr. Keepe, you will not refuse me," said Capitola, turning to the
"Miss Black, my rule is to admit no one but the officers of the
prison and the ministers of the gospel, to see the condemned! This
we have been obliged to observe as a measure of safety. This
convict, as you are aware, is a man of consummate cunning, so that
it is really wonderful he has not found means to make his escape,
closely as he has been watched and strongly as he has been guarded."
"Ah, but Mr. Keepe, his cunning was no match for mine, you know!"
said Capitola, smiling.
"Ha-ha-ha! so it was not! You took him very cleverly! Very cleverly,
indeed! In fact, if it had not been for you, I doubt if ever we
should have captured Black Donald at all. The authorities are
entirely indebted to you for the capture of this notorious outlaw.
And really that being the case, I do think it would be straining a
point to refuse you admittance to see him. So, Miss Black, you have
my authority for visiting the condemned man in his cell and giving
him all the comfort you can. I would attend you thither myself, but
I have got to go to see the captain of a militia company to be on
the scene of action to-morrow," said the sheriff, who soon after
took leave of the warden and departed.
The warden then called a turnkey and ordered him to attend Miss
Black to the condemned cell.
The young turnkey took up a lamp and a great key and walked before,
leading the way down-stairs to a cell in the interior of the
basement, occupied by Black Donald.
He unlocked the door, admitted Capitola, and then walked off to the
extremity of the lobby, as he was accustomed to do when he let in
Capitola thanked heaven for this chance, for had he not done so she
would have to invent some excuse for getting rid of him.
She entered the cell. It was very dimly lighted from the great lamp
that hung in the lobby, nearly opposite the cell door.
By its light she saw Black Donald, not only doubly ironed but
confined by a chain and staple to the wall. He was very pale and
haggard from long imprisonment and great anxiety.
Cap's heart bled for the poor banned and blighted outlaw, who had
not a friend in the world to speak a kind word to him in his
He also recognized her, and rising and coming to meet her as far as
the length of the chain would permit, he held out his hand and said:
"I am very glad you have come, little one; it is very kind of you to
come and see a poor fellow in his extremity! You are the first
female that has been in this cell since my imprisonment. Think of
that, child! I wanted to see you, too, I wanted to say to you
yourself again, that I was never guilty of murder, and that I only
seemed to consent to your death to save your life! Do you believe
this? On the word of a dying man it is truth!"
"I do believe you, Donald Bayne," said Capitola, in a broken voice.
"I hear that you have come into your estate. I am glad of it. And
they tell me that you are going to be married to-morrow! Well! God
bless you, little one!"
"Oh, Donald Bayne! Can you say God bless me, when it was I who put
"Tut, child, we outlaws bear no malice. Spite is a civilized vice.
It was a fair contest, child, and you conquered. It's well you did.
Give me your hand in good will, since I must die to-morrow!"
Capitola gave her hand, and whilst he held it, she stooped and said:
"Donald, I have done everything in the world I could to save your
"I know you have, child. May yours be long and happy."
"Donald, may your life be longer and better than you think. I have
tried all other means of saving you in vain; there is but one means
The outlaw started violently, exclaiming:
"Is there one?"
"Donald, yes! There is! I bring you the means of deliverance and
escape. Heaven knows whether I am doing right--for I do not! I know
many people would blame me very much, but I hope that He who forgave
the thief upon the cross and the sinful woman at his feet, will not
condemn me for following His own compassionate example! For Donald,
as I was the person whom you injured most of all others, so I
consider that I of all others have the best right to pardon you and
set you free. Oh, Donald! Use well the life I am about to give you,
else I shall be chargeable with every future sin you commit!"
"In the name of mercy, girl, do not hold out a false hope! I had
nerved myself to die!'"
"But you were not prepared to meet your Maker! Oh, Donald! I hold
out no false hope! Listen, for I must speak low and quick. I could
never be happy again if on my wedding-day you should die a felon's
death! Here! here are tools with the use of which you must be
acquainted, for they were found in the woods near the Hidden House!"
said Capitola, producing from her pockets a burglar's lock-pick,
saw, chisel, file, etc.
Black Donald seized them as a famished wolf might seize his prey.
"Will they do?" inquired Capitola, in breathes anxiety.
"Yes--yes--yes! I can file off my irons, pick every lock, drive back
every bolt, and dislodge every bar between myself and freedom with
these instruments! But, child, there is one thing you have
forgotten: suppose a turnkey or a guard should stop me? You have
brought me no revolver!"
Capitola turned pale.
"Donald, I could easily have brought you a revolver; but I would
not, even to save you from to-morrow's death! No, Donald, no! I give
you the means of freeing yourself, if you can do it, as you may,
without bloodshed! But, Donald, though your life is not justly
forfeited, your liberty is, and so I cannot give you the means of
taking any one's life for the sake of saving your own! "
"You are right," said the outlaw.
"Listen further, Donald. Here are a thousand dollars! I thought
never to have taken it from the bank, for I would never have used
the price of blood! But I drew it to-day for you. Take it--it will
help you to live a better life! When you have picked your way out of
this place, go to the great elm-tree at the back of the old mill,
and you will find my horse, Gyp, which I shall have tied there. He
is very swift. Mount him and ride for your life to the nearest
seaport, and so escape by a vessel to some foreign country. And oh,
try to lead a good life, and may God redeem you, Donald Bayne!
There--conceal your tools and your money quickly, for I hear the
guard coming. Good-by--and again, God redeem you, Donald Bayne!"
"God bless you, brave and tender girl! And God forsake me if I do
not heed your advice!" and the outlaw pressed the hand she gave him
while the tears rushed to his eyes.
The guard approached; Capitola turned to meet him. They left the
cell together and Black Donald was locked in for the last time!
"Oh, I hope, I pray, that he may get off! Oh, what shall I do if he
doesn't! How can I enjoy my wedding to-morrow! How can I bear the
music and the dancing and the rejoicing, when I know that a fellow
creature is in such a strait! Oh, Lord grant that Black Donald may
get clear off to-night, for he isn't fit to die!" said Cap to
herself, as she hurried out of the prison.
Her young groom was waiting for her and she mounted her horse and
rode until they got to the old haunted church at the end of the
village, when drawing rein, she said;
"Jem, I am very tired. I will wait here and you must just ride back
to the village, to Mr. Cassell's livery stable, and get a gig, and
put your horse into it, and come back here to drive me home, for I
Jem, who never questioned his imperious little mistress's orders,
rode off at once to do her bidding.
Cap immediately dismounted from her pony and led him under the deep
shadows of the elm tree, where she fastened him. Then taking his
face between her hands, and looking him in the eyes, she said:
"Gyp, my son, you and I have had many a frolic together, but we've
got to part now! It almost breaks my heart, Gyp, but it is to save a
fellow creature's life, and it can't be helped! He'll treat you
well, for my sake, dear Gyp. Gyp, he'll part with his life sooner
than sell you! Good-by, dear, dear Gyp."
Gyp took all these caresses in a very nonchalant manner, only
snorting and pawing in reply.
Presently the boy came back, bringing the gig. Cap once more hugged
Gyp about the neck, pressed her cheek against his mane, and with a
whispered "Good-by, dear Gyp," sprang into the gig and ordered the
boy to drive home.
"An' leab the pony, miss?"
"Oh, yes, for the present; everybody knows Gyp--no one will steal
him. I have left him length of line enough to move around a little
and eat grass, drink from the brook, or lie down. You can come after
him early to-morrow morning."
The little groom thought this a queer arrangement, but he was not in
the habit of criticising his young mistress's actions.
Capitola got home to a late supper and to the anxious inquiries of
her friends she replied that she had been to the prison to take
leave of Black Donald, and begged that they would not pursue so
painful a subject.
And, in respect to Cap's sympathies, they changed the conversation.
That night the remnant of Black Donald's band were assembled in
their first old haunt, the Old Road Inn. They had met for a twofold
purpose--to bury their old matron, Mother Raven, who, since the
death of her patron and the apprehension of her captain, had
returned to the inn to die--and to bewail the fate of their leader,
whose execution was expected to come off the next day.
The men laid the poor old woman in her woodland grave, and assembled
in the kitchen to keep a death watch in sympathy with their
"unfortunate" captain. They gathered around the table, and, foaming
mugs of ale were freely quaffed for "sorrow's dry," they said. But
neither laugh, song nor jest attended their draughts. They were to
keep that night's vigil in honor of their captain, and then were to
disband and separate forever.
Suddenly, in the midst of their heavy grief and utter silence a
familiar sound was heard--a ringing footstep under the back windows.
And every man leaped to his feet, with looks of wild delight and
And the next instant the door was flung wide open, and the outlaw
chief stood among them!
Steve stopped rolling and curled himself around Black Donald's neck,
"It's you--it's you--it's you!--my dear, my darling--my adored--my
sweetheart--my prince!--my lord!--my king!--my dear, dear captain!"
Steve, the lazy mulatto, rolled down upon the floor at his master's
feet, and embraced him in silence.
While Demon Dick growled forth:
"How the foul fiend did you get out?"
And the anxious faces of all the other men silently repeated the
"Not by any help of yours, boys! But don't think I reproach you,
lads! Well I know that you could do nothing on earth to save me! No
one on earth could have helped me except the one who really freed
"That girl again!" exclaimed Hal, in the extremity of wonder.
Steve stopped rolling, and curled himself around the feet of his