Part 10 out of 11
after each reading his vengeful feeling became stronger.
At last he had a purpose. He was no longer the imbecile--the crushed--
the hopeless. In the full knowledge of his father's misery his own
In the morning he saw Langhetti and told him all.
"But who is the stranger?" Despard asked in wonder.
"It can only be one person," said Langhetti, solemnly.
"Louis Brandon. He and no other. Who else could thus have been chosen to
find the dead? He has his wrongs also to avenge."
Despard was silent. Overwhelming thoughts crowded upon him. Was this man
"We must find him," said he. "We must gain his help in our work. We must
also tell him about Edith."
"Yes," replied Langhetti. "But no doubt he has his own work before him;
and this is but part of his plan, to rouse you from inaction to
WHO IS HE?
On the morning after the last escape of Beatrice, Clark went up to
Brandon Hall. It was about nine o'clock. A sullen frown was on his face,
which was pervaded by an expression of savage malignity. A deeply
preoccupied look, as though he were altogether absorbed in his own
thoughts, prevented him from noticing the half-smiles which the servants
cast at one another.
Asgeelo opened the door. That valuable servant was at his post as usual.
Clark brushed past him with a growl and entered the dining-room.
Potts was standing in front of the fire with a flushed face and savage
eyes. John was stroking his dog, and appeared quite indifferent. Clark,
however, was too much taken up with his own thoughts to notice Potts. He
came in and sat down in silence.
"Well," said Potts, "did you do that business?"
"No," growled Clark.
"No!" cried Potts. "Do you mean to say you didn't follow up the fellow?"
"I mean to say it's no go," returned Clark. "I did what I could. But
when you are after a man, and he turns out to be the DEVIL HIMSELF, what
can you do?"
At these words, which were spoken with unusual excitement, John gave a
low laugh, but said nothing.
"You've been getting rather soft lately, it seems to me," said Potts.
"At any rate, what did you do?"
"Well," said Clark, slowly--"I went to that inn--to watch the fellow. He
was sitting by the fire, taking it very easy. I tried to make out
whether I had ever seen him before, but could not. He sat by the fire,
and wouldn't say a word. I tried to trot him out, and at last I did so.
He trotted out in good earnest, and if any man was ever kicked at and
ridden rough-shod over, I'm that individual. He isn't a man--he's
Beelzebub. He knows every thing. He began in a playful way by taking a
piece of charcoal and writing on the wall some marks which belong to me,
and which I'm a little delicate about letting people see; in fact, the
Botany Bay marks."
"Did he know that?" cried Potts, aghast.
"Not only knew it, but, as I was saying, marked it on the wall. That's a
sign of knowledge. And for fear they wouldn't be understood, he kindly
explained to about a dozen people present the particular meaning of
"The devil!" said John.
"That's what I said he was," rejoined Clark, dryly. "But that's nothing.
I remember when I was a little boy," he continued, pensively, "hearing
the parson read about some handwriting on the wall, that frightened
Beelzebub himself; but I tell you this handwriting on the wall used me
up a good deal more than that other. Still what followed was worse."
Clark paused for a little while, and then, taking a long breath, went
"He proceeded to give to the assembled company an account of my life,
particularly that very interesting part of it which I passed on my last
visit to Botany Bay. You know my escape."
He stopped for a while.
"Did he know about that, too?" asked Potts, with some agitation.
"Johnnie," said Clark, "he knew a precious sight more than you do, and
told some things which I had forgotten myself. Why, that devil stood up
there and slowly told the company not only what I did but what I felt.
He brought it all back. He told how I looked at Stubbs, and how Stubbs
looked at me in the boat. He told how we sat looking at each other, each
in our own end of the boat."
Clark stopped again, and no one spoke for a long time.
"I lost my breath and ran out," he resumed, "and was afraid to go back.
I did so at last. It was then almost midnight. I found him still sitting
there. He smiled at me in a way that fairly made my blood run cold.
'Crocker,' said he, 'sit down.'"
At this Potts and John looked at each other in horror.
"He knows that too?" said John.
"Every thing," returned Clark, dejectedly.
"Well, when he said that I looked a little surprised, as you may be
"'I thought you'd be back,' said he, 'for you want to see me, you know.
You're going to follow me,' says he. 'You've got your pistols all ready,
so, as I always like to oblige a friend, I'll give you a chance. Come.'
"At this I fairly staggered.
"'Come,' says he, 'I've got all that money, and Potts wants it back. And
you're going to get it from me. Come.'
"I swear to you I could not move. He smiled at me as before, and quietly
got up and left the house. I stood for some time fixed to the spot. At
last I grew reckless. 'If he's the devil himself,' says I, 'I'll have it
out with him.' I rushed out and followed in his pursuit. After some time
I overtook him. He was on horseback, but his horse was walking. He heard
me coming. 'Ah, Crocker,' said he, quite merrily, 'so you've come, have
"I tore my pistol from my pocket and fired. The only reply was a loud
laugh. He went on without turning his head. I was now sure that it was
the devil, but I fired my other pistol. He gave a tremendous laugh,
turned his horse, and rode full at me. His horse seemed as large as the
village church. Every thing swam around, and I fell headforemost on the
ground. I believe I lay there all night. When I came to it was morning,
and I hurried straight here."
As he ended Clark arose, and, going to the sideboard, poured out a large
glass of brandy, which he drank raw.
"The fact is," said John, after long thought, "you've been tricked. This
fellow has doctored your pistols and frightened you."
"But I loaded them myself," replied Clark.
"Oh, I always keep them loaded in my room. I tried them, and found the
charge was in them."
"Oh, somebody's fixed them."
"I don't think half as much about the pistols as about what he told me.
What devil could have put all that into his head? Answer me that," said
"Somebody's at work around us," said John. "I feel it in my bones."
"We're getting used up," said Potts. "The girl's gone again."
"The girl! Gone!"
"Yes, and Mrs. Compton too."
"I'd rather lose the girl than Mrs. Compton; but when they both vanish
the same night what are you to think?"
"I think the devil is loose."
"I'm afraid he's turned against us," said Potts, in a regretful tone.
"He's got tired of helping us."
"Do none of the servants know any thing about it?"
"No--none of them."
"Have you asked them all?"
"Doesn't that new servant, the Injin?"
"No; they all went to bed at twelve. Vijal was up as late as two. They
all swear that every thing was quiet."
"Did they go out through the doors?"
"The doors were all locked as usual."
"There's treachery somewhere!" cried John, with more excitement than
The others were silent.
"I believe that the girl's at the bottom of it all," said John. "We've
been trying to take her down ever since she came, but it's my belief
that we'll end by getting took down ourselves. I scented bad luck in her
at the other side of the world. We've been acting like fools. We ought
to have silenced her at first."
"No," rejoined Potts, gloomily. "There's somebody at work deeper than
she is. Somebody--but who?--who?"
"Nobody but the devil," said Clark, firmly.
"I've been thinking about that Italian," continued Potts. "He's the only
man living that would bother his head about the girl. They know a good
deal between them. I think he's managed some of this last business. He
humbugged us. It isn't the devil; it's this Italian. We must look out;
he'll be around here again perhaps."
Clark's eyes brightened.
"The next time," said he, "I'll load my pistols fresh, and then see if
he'll escape me!"
At this a noise was heard in the hall. Potts went out. The servants had
been scouring the grounds as before, but with no result.
"No use," said John. "I tried it with my dog. He went straight down
through the gate, and a little distance outside the scent was lost. I
tried him with Mrs. Compton too. They both went together, and of course
had horses or carriages there."
"What does the porter say?" asked Clark.
"He swears that he was up till two, and then went to bed, and that
nobody was near the gate."
"Well, we can't do any thing," said Potts; "but I'll send some of the
servants off to see what they can hear. The scent was lost so soon that
we can't tell what direction they took.
"You'll never get her again," said John; "she's gone for good this
Potts swore a deep oath and relapsed into silence. After a time they all
went down to the bank.
THE RUN ON THE BANK.
Not long after the bank opened a number of people came in who asked for
gold in return for some bank-notes which they offered. This was an
unusual circumstance. The people also were strangers. Potts wondered
what it could mean. There was no help for it, however. The gold was paid
out, and Potts and his friends began to feel somewhat alarmed at the
thought which now presented itself for the first time that their very
large circulation of notes might be returned upon them. He communicated
this fear to Clark.
"How much gold have you?"
"Phew!" said Clark, "and nearly two hundred thousand out in notes!"
Potts was silent.
"What'll you do if there is a run on the bank?"
"Oh, there won't be."
"My credit is too good."
"Your credit won't be worth a rush if people know this."
While they talked persons kept dropping in. Most of the villagers and
people of the neighborhood brought back the notes, demanding gold. By
about twelve o'clock the influx was constant.
Potts began to feel alarmed. He went out, and tried to bully some of the
villagers. They did not seem to pay any attention to him, however. Potts
went back to his parlor discomfited, vowing vengeance against those who
had thus slighted him. The worst of these was the tailor, who brought in
notes to the extent of a thousand pounds, and when Potts ordered him out
and told him to wait, only laughed in his face.
"Haven't you got gold enough?" said the tailor, with a sneer. "Are you
afraid of the bank? Well, old Potts, so am I."
At this there was a general laugh among the people.
The bank clerks did not at all sympathize with the bank. They were too
eager to pay out. Potts had to check them. He called them in his parlor,
and ordered them to pay out more slowly. They all declared that they
The day dragged on till at last three o'clock came. Fifteen thousand
pounds had been paid out. Potts fell into deep despondency. Clark had
remained throughout the whole morning.
"There's going to be a run on the bank!" said he. "It's only begun."
Potts's sole answer was a curse.
"What are you going to do?" he asked.
"You'll have to help me," replied Potts. "You've got something."
"I've got fifty thousand pounds in the Plymouth Bank."
"You'll have to let me have it."
"I don't know," said he.
"D-n it, man, I'll give you any security you wish. I've got more
security than I know what to do with."
"Well," said Clark, "I don't know. There's a risk."
"I only want it for a few days. I'll send down stock to my London broker
and have it sold. It will give me hundreds of thousands--twice as much
as all the bank issue. Then I'll pay up these devils well, and that d
----d tailor worst of all. I swear I'll send it all down to-day, and have
every bit of it sold. If there's going to be a run, I'll be ready for
"How much have you?"
"I'll send it all down--though I'm devilish sorry," continued Potts.
"How much? why, see here;" and he penciled down the following figures on
a piece of paper, which he showed to Clark:
Mexican bonds ..................... 50,000
Guatemala do. ..................... 50,000
Venezuela do. ..................... 50,000
"What do you think of that, my boy?" said Potts.
"Well," returned Clark, cautiously, "I don't like them American names."
"Why," said Potts, "the stock is at a premium. I've been getting from
twenty to twenty-five per cent. dividends. They'll sell for three
hundred thousand nearly. I'll sell them all. I'll sell them all," he
cried. "I'll have gold enough to put a stop to this sort of thing
"I thought you had some French and Russian bonds," said Clark.
"I gave those to that devil who had the--the papers, you know. He
consented to take them, and I was very glad, for they paid less than the
Clark was silent.
"Why, man, what are you thinking about? Don't you know that I'm good for
two millions, what with my estate and my stock?"
"But you owe an infernal lot."
"And haven't I notes and other securities from every body?"
"Yes, from every body; but how can you get hold of them?"
"The first people of the county!"
"And as poor as rats."
"Who are they? How can you get back your money?"
"Smithers & Co. will let me have what I want."
"If Smithers & Co. knew the present state of affairs I rather think that
they'd back down."
"Pooh! What! Back down from a man with my means! Nonsense! They know how
rich I am, or they never would have begun. Come, don't be a fool. It'll
take three days to get gold for my stock, and if you don't help me the
bank may stop before I get it. If you'll help me for three days I'll pay
[Illustration: THE RUN ON THE BANK]
"How much will you give?"
"I'll give ten thousand pounds--there! I don't mind."
"Done. Give me your note for sixty thousand pounds, and I'll let you
have the fifty thousand for three days."
"All right. You've got me where my hair is short; but I don't mind. When
can I have the money?"
"The day after to-morrow. I'll go to Plymouth now, get the money to-
morrow, and you can use it the next day."
"All right; I'll send down John to London with the stock, and he'll
bring up the gold at once."
Clark started off immediately for Plymouth, and not long after John went
away to London. Potts remained to await the storm which he dreaded.
The next day came. The bank opened late on purpose. Potts put up a
notice that it was to be closed that day at twelve, on account of the
absence of some of the directors.
At about eleven the crowd of people began to make their appearance as
before. Their demands were somewhat larger than on the previous day.
Before twelve ten thousand pounds had been paid. At twelve the bank was
shut in the faces of the clamorous people, in accordance with the
Strangers were there from all parts of the county. The village inn was
crowded, and a large number of carriages was outside. Potts began to
look forward to the next day with deep anxiety. Only five thousand
pounds remained in the bank. One man had come with notes to the extent
of five thousand, and had only been got rid of by the shutting of the
bank. He left, vowing vengeance.
To Potts's immense relief Clark made his appearance early on the
following day. He had brought the money. Potts gave him his note for
sixty thousand pounds, and the third day began.
By ten o'clock the doors were besieged by the largest crowd that had
ever assembled in this quiet village. Another host of lookers-on had
collected. When the doors were opened they poured in with a rush.
The demands on this third day were very large. The man with the five
thousand had fought his way to the counter first, and clamored to be
paid. The noise and confusion were overpowering. Every body was cursing
the bank or laughing at it. Each one felt doubtful about getting his
pay. Potts tried to be dignified for a time. He ordered them to be
quiet, and assured them that they would all be paid. His voice was
drowned in the wild uproar. The clerks counted out the gold as rapidly
as possible, in spite of the remonstrances of Potts, who on three
occasions called them all into the parlor, and threatened to dismiss
them unless they counted more slowly. His threats were disregarded. They
went back, and paid out as rapidly as before. The amounts required
ranged from five or ten pounds to thousands of pounds. At last, after
paying out thousands, one man came up who had notes to the amount of ten
thousand pounds. This was the largest demand that had yet been made. It
was doubtful whether there was so large an amount left. Potts came out
to see him. There was no help for it; he had to parley with the enemy.
He told him that it was within a few minutes of three, and that it would
take an hour at least to count out so much--would he not wait till the
next day? There would be ample time then.
The man had no objection. It was all the same to him. He went out with
his bundle of notes through the crowd, telling them that the bank could
not pay him. This intelligence made the excitement still greater. There
was a fierce rush to the counter. The clerks worked hard, and paid out
what they could in spite of the hints and even the threats of Potts,
till at length the bank clock struck the hour of three. It had been put
forward twenty minutes, and there was a great riot among the people on
that account, but they could not do any thing. The bank was closed for
the day, and they had to depart.
Both Potts and Clark now waited eagerly for the return of John. He was
expected before the next day. He ought to be in by midnight. After
waiting impatiently for hours they at length drove out to see if they
could find him.
About twelve miles from Brandon they met him at midnight with a team of
horses and a number of men, all of whom were armed.
"Have you got it?"
"Yes," said John, "what there is of it."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I'm too tired to explain. Wait till we get home."
It was four o'clock in the morning before they reached the bank. The
gold was taken out and deposited in the vaults, and the three went up to
the Hall. They brought out brandy and refreshed themselves, after which
John remarked, in his usual laconic style,
"You've been and gone and done it."
"What?" asked Potts, somewhat puzzled.
"With your speculations in stocks."
"What about them?"
"Nothing," said John, "only they happen to be at a small discount."
Potts was silent.
"How much?" asked Clark.
"I have a statement here," said John. "When I got to London, I saw the
broker. He said that American stocks, particularly those which I held,
had undergone a great depreciation. He assured me that it was only
temporary, that the dividends which these stocks paid were enough to
raise them in a short time, perhaps in a few weeks, and that it was
madness to sell out now. He declared that it would ruin the credit of
the Brandon Bank if it were known that we sold out at such a fearful
sacrifice, and advised me to raise the money at a less cost.
"Well, I could only think of Smithers & Co. I went to their office. They
were all away. I saw one of the clerks who said they had gone to see
about some Russian loan or other, so there was nothing to do but to go
back to the broker. He assured me again that it was an unheard of
sacrifice; that these very stocks which I held had fallen terribly, he
knew not how, and advised me to do any thing rather than make such a
sacrifice. But I could do nothing. Gold was what I wanted, and since
Smithers & Co. were away this was the only way to get it."
"Well!" cried Potts, eagerly. "Did you get it?"
"You saw that I got it. I sold out at a cost that is next to ruin."
"What is it?"
"Well," said John, "I will give you the statement of the broker," and he
drew from his pocket a paper which he handed to the others. They looked
at it eagerly.
It was as follows:
100 shares California @ L1000 each. 65 per
50 shares Mexican. 75 per cent, discount 12,500
50 shares Guatemala. 80 per cent, dis-
count ................................ 10,000
50 shares Venezuela. 80 per cent discount 10,000
The faces of Potts and Clark grew black as night as they read this. A
deep execration burst from Potts. Clark leaned back in his chair.
"The bank's blown up!" said he.
"No, it ain't," rejoined Potts.
"There's gold enough to pay all that's likely to be offered."
"How much more do you think will be offered?"
"Not much; it stands to reason."
"It stands to reason that every note which you've issued will be sent
back to you. So I'll trouble you to give me my sixty thousand; and I
advise you as a friend to hold on to the rest."
"Clark!" said Potts, "you're getting timider and timider. You ain't got
any more pluck these times than a kitten."
"It's a time when a man's got to be careful of his earnings," said
Clark. "How much have you out in notes? You told me once you had out
about L180,000, perhaps more. Well, you've already had to redeem about
L75,000. That leaves L105,000 yet, and you've only got L67,000 to pay it
with. What have you got to say to that?"
"Well!" said Potts. "The Brandon Bank may go--but what then? You forget
that I have the Brandon estate. That's worth two millions."
"You got it for two hundred thousand."
"Because it was thrown away, and dropped into my hands."
"It'll be thrown away again at this rate. You owe Smithers & Co."
"Pooh! that's all offset by securities which I hold."
"All good," said Potts. "All first-rate. It'll be all right. We'll have
to put it through."
"But what if it isn't all right?" asked Clark, savagely.
"You forget that I have Smithers & Co. to fall back on."
"If your bank breaks, there is an end of Smithers & Co."
"Oh no. I've got this estate to fall back on, and they know it. I can
easily explain to them. If they had only been in town I shouldn't have
had to make this sacrifice. You needn't feel troubled about your money.
I'll give you security on the estate to any amount. I'll give you
security for seventy thousand," said Potts.
Clark thought for a while.
"Well!" said he, "it's a risk, but I'll run it"
"There isn't time to get a lawyer now to make out the papers; but
whenever you fetch one I'll do it"
"I'll get one to-day, and you'll sign the papers this evening. In my
opinion by that time the bank'll be shut up for good, and you're a fool
for your pains. You're simply throwing away what gold you have."
Potts went down not long after. It was the fourth day of the run.
Miscellaneous callers thronged the place, but the amounts were not
large. In two hours not more than five thousand were paid out.
At length a man came in with a carpet-bag. He pulled out a vast quantity
"How much?" asked the clerk, blandly.
"Thirty thousand pounds," said the man.
Potts heard this and came out.
"How much?" he asked.
"Thirty thousand pounds."
"Do you want it in gold?"
"Will you take a draft on Messrs. Smithers & Co.?"
"No, I want gold."
While Potts was talking to this man another was waiting patiently beside
him. Of course this imperative claimant had to be paid or else the bank
would have to stop, and this was a casualty which Potts could not yet
face with calmness. Before it came to that he was determined to pay out
his last sovereign.
On paying the thirty thousand pounds it was found that there were only
two bags left of two thousand pounds each.
The other man who had waited stood calmly, while the one who had been
paid was making arrangements about conveying his money away.
It was now two o'clock. The stranger said quietly to the clerk opposite
that he wanted gold.
"How much?" said the clerk, with the same blandness.
"Forty thousand pounds," answered the stranger.
"Sorry we can't accommodate you, Sir," returned the clerk.
Potts had heard this and came forward.
"Won't you take a draft on London?" said he.
"Can't," replied the man; "I was ordered to get gold."
"A draft on Smithers & Co.?"
"Couldn't take even Bank of England notes," said the stranger; "I'm only
an agent. If you can't accommodate me I'm sorry, I'm sure."
Potts was silent. His face was ghastly. As much agony as such a man
could endure was felt by him at that moment.
Half an hour afterward the shutters were up; and outside the door stood
a wild and riotous crowd, the most noisy of whom was the tailor.
The Brandon Bank had failed.
THE BANK DIRECTORS.
The bank doors were closed, and the bank directors were left to their
own refections. Clark had been in through the day, and at the critical
moment his feelings had overpowered him so much that he felt compelled
to go over to the inn to get something to drink, wherewith he might
refresh himself and keep up his spirits.
Potts and John remained in the bank parlor. The clerks had gone. Potts
was in that state of dejection in which even liquor was not desirable.
John showed his usual nonchalance.
"Well, Johnnie," said Potts, after a long silence, "we're used up!"
"The bank's bursted, that's a fact. You were a fool for fighting it out
"I might as well. I was responsible, at any rate."
"You might have kept your gold."
"Then my estate would have been good. Besides, I hoped to fight through
this difficulty. In fact, I hadn't any thing else to do."
"Smithers & Co,"
"They'll be down on me now. That's what I was afraid of all along."
"How much do you owe them?"
"Seven hundred and two thousand pounds."
"The devil! I thought it was only five hundred thousand."
"It's been growing every day. Its a dreadful dangerous thing to have
"Well, you've got something as an offset. The debts due the bank."
"Johnnie," said Potts, taking a long breath, "since Clark isn't here I
don't mind telling you that my candid opinion is them debts isn't worth
a rush. A great crowd of people came here for money. I didn't hardly ask
a question. I shelled out royally. I wanted to be known, so as to get
into Parliament some day. I did what is called 'going it blind.'"
"How much is owing you?"
"The books say five hundred and thirteen thousand pounds--but it's
doubtful if I can get any of it. And now Smithers & Co. will be down on
me at once."
"What do you intend to do?"
"I don't know."
"Haven't you thought?"
"No, I couldn't."
"Well, I have."
"You'll have to try to compromise."
"What if they won't?"
John shrugged his shoulders, and said nothing.
"After all," resumed Potts, hopefully, "it can't be so bad. The estate
is worth two millions."
"Of course not. You know what you bought it for."
"That's because it was thrown away."
"Well, it'll have to be thrown away again."
"Oh, Smithers & Co.'ll be easy. They don't care for money."
"Perhaps so. The fact is, I don't understand Smithers & Co. at all. I've
tried to see through their little game, but can't begin to do it."
"Oh, that's easy enough! They knew I was rich, and let me have what
money I wanted."
John looked doubtful.
At this moment a rap was heard at the back door.
"There comes Clark!" said he.
Potts opened the door. Clark entered. His face was flushed, and his eyes
"See here," said he, mysteriously, as he entered the room.
"What?" asked the others, anxiously.
"There's two chaps at the inn. One is the Italian--"
"Ay," said Clark, gloomily; "and the other is his mate--that fellow that
helped him to carry off the gal. They've done it again this time, and my
opinion is that these fellows are at the bottom of all our troubles. You
know _whose son he is_."
Potts and John exchanged glances.
"I went after that devil once, and I'm going to try it again. This time
I'll take some one who isn't afraid of the devil. Johnnie, is the dog at
"All right!" said Clark. "I'll be even with this fellow yet, if he is in
league with the devil."
With these words Clark went out, and left the two together. A glance of
savage exultation passed over the face of Potts.
"If he comes back successful," said he, "all right, and if be doesn't,
why then"--He paused.
"If he doesn't come back," said John, finishing the sentence for him,
"why then--all righter."
All the irresolution which for a time had characterized Despard had
vanished before the shock of that great discovery which his father's
manuscript had revealed to him. One purpose now lay clearly and vividly
before him, one which to so loyal and devoted a nature as his was the
holiest duty, and that was vengeance on his father's murderers.
In this purpose he took refuge from his own grief; he cast aside his own
longings, his anguish, his despair. Langhetti wished to search after his
"Bice;" Despard wished to find those whom his dead father had denounced
to him. In the intensity of his purpose he was careless as to the means
by which that vengeance should be accomplished. He thought not whether
it would be better to trust to the slow action of the law, or to take
the task into his own hands. His only wish was to be confronted with
either of these men, or both of them.
It was with this feeling in his heart that he set out with Langhetti,
and the two went once more in company to the village of Brandon, where
they arrived on the first day of the "run on the bank."
He did not know exactly what it would be best to do first. His one idea
was to go to the Hall, and confront the murderers in their own place.
Langhetti, however, urged the need of help from the civil magistrate. It
was while they were deliberating about this that a letter was brought in
addressed to the _Rev. Courtenay Despard_.
Despard did not recognize the handwriting. In some surprise how any one
should know that was here he opened the letter, and his surprise was
still greater as he read the following:
"SIR,--There are two men here whom you seek--one Potts, the other Clark.
You can see them both at any time.
"The young lady whom you and Signor Langhetti formerly rescued has
escaped, and is now in safety at Denton, a village not more than twenty
miles away. She lives in the last cottage on the left-hand side of the
road, close by the sea. There is an American elm in front."
There was no signature.
Despard handed it in silence to Langhetti, who read it eagerly. Joy
spread over his face. He started to his feet.
"I must go at once," said he, excitedly. "Will you?"
"No," replied Despard. "You had better go. I must stay; my purpose is a
"But do not you also wish to secure the safety of Bice?"
"Of course; but I shall not be needed. You will be enough."
Langhetti tried to persuade him, but Despard was immovable. For himself
he was too impatient to wait. He determined to set out at once. He could
not get a carriage, but he managed to obtain a horse, and with this he
set out. It was about the time when the bank had closed.
Just before his departure Despard saw a man come from the bank and enter
the inn. He knew the face, for he had seen it when here before. It was
Clark. At the sight of this face all his fiercest instinct awoke within
him--a deep thirst for vengeance arose. He could not lose sight of this
man. He determined to track him, and thus by active pursuit to do
something toward the accomplishment of his purpose.
He watched him, therefore, as he entered the inn, and caught a hasty
glance which Clark directed at himself and Langhetti. He did not
understand the meaning of the scowl that passed over the ruffian's face,
nor did Clark understand the full meaning of that gloomy frown which
lowered over Despard's brow as his eyes blazed wrathfully and menacingly
[Illustration: "THE NEXT INSTANT DESPARD HAD SEIZED HIS THROAT AND HELD
HIM SO THAT HE COULD NOT MOVE."]
Clark came out and went to the bank. On quitting the bank Despard saw
him looking back at Langhetti, who was just leaving. He then watched him
till he went up to the Hall.
In about half an hour Clark came back on horseback followed by a dog. He
talked for a while with the landlord, and then went off at a slow trot.
On questioning the landlord Despard found that Clark had asked him about
the direction which Langhetti had taken. The idea at once flashed upon
him that possibly Clark wished to pursue Langhetti, in order to find out
about Beatrice. He determine on pursuit, both for Langhetti's sake and
He followed, therefore, not far behind Clark, riding at first rapidly
till he caught sight of him at the summit of a hill in front, and then
keeping at about the same distance behind him. He had not determined in
his mind what it was best to do, but held himself prepared for any
course of action.
After riding about an hour he put spurs to his horse, and went on at a
more rapid pace. Yet he did not overtake Clark, and therefore
conjectured that Clark himself must have gone on more rapidly. He now
put his own horse at its fullest speed, with the intention of coming up
with his enemy as soon as possible.
He rode on at a tremendous pace for another half hour. At last the road
took a sudden turn; and, whirling around here at the utmost speed, he
burst upon a scene which was as startling as it was unexpected, and
which roused to madness all the fervid passion of his nature.
The road here descended, and in its descent wound round a hill and led
into a gentle hollow, on each side of which hills arose which were
covered with trees.
Within this glen was disclosed a frightful spectacle. A man lay on the
ground, torn from his horse by a huge blood-hound, which even then was
rending him with its huge fangs! The dismounted rider's foot was
entangled in the stirrups, and the horse was plunging and dragging him
along, while the dog was pulling him back. The man himself uttered not a
cry, but tried to fight off the dog with his hands as best he could.
In the horror of the moment Despard saw that it was Langhetti. For an
instant his brain reeled. The next moment he had reached the spot.
Another horseman was standing close by, without pretending even to
interfere. Despard did not see him; he saw nothing but Langhetti. He
flung himself from his horse, and drew a revolver from his pocket. A
loud report rang through the air, and in an instant the huge blood-hound
gave a leap upward, with a piercing yell, and fell dead in the road.
Despard flung himself on his knees beside Langhetti. He saw his hands
torn and bleeding, and blood covering his face and breast. A low groan
was all that escaped from the sufferer.
"Leave me," he gasped. "Save Bice."
In his grief for Langhetti, thus lying before him in such agony, Despard
forgot all else. He seized his handkerchief and tried to stanch the
"Leave me!" gasped Langhetti again. "Bice will be lost." His head, which
Despard had supported for a moment, sank back, and life seemed to leave
Despard started up. Now for the first time he recollected the stranger;
and in an instant understood who he was, and why this had been done.
Suddenly, as he started up, he felt his pistol snatched from his hand by
a strong grasp. He turned.
It was the horseman--it was Clark--who had stealthily dismounted, and,
in his desperate purpose, had tried to make sure of Despard.
But Despard, quick as thought, leaped upon him, and caught his hand. In
the struggle the pistol fell to the ground. Despard caught Clark in his
arms, and then the contest began.
Clark was of medium size, thick-set, muscular, robust, and desperate.
Despard was tall, but his frame was well knit, his muscles and sinews
were like iron, and he was inspired by a higher Spirit and a deeper
In the first shock of that fierce embrace not a word was spoken. For
some time the struggle was maintained without result. Clark had caught
Despard at a disadvantage, and this for a time prevented the latter from
putting forth his strength effectually.
At last he wound one arm around Clark's neck in a strangling grasp, and
forced his other arm under that of Clark. Then with one tremendous, one
resistless impulse, he put forth all his strength. His antagonist gave
way before it. He reeled.
Despard disengaged one arm and dealt him a tremendous blow on the
temple. At the same instant he twined his legs about those of the other.
At the stroke Clark, who had already staggered, gave way utterly and
fell heavily backward, with Despard upon him.
The next instant Despard had seized his throat and held him down so that
he could not move.
The wretch gasped and groaned. He struggled to escape from that iron
hold in vain. The hand which had seized him was not to be shaken off.
Despard had fixed his grasp there, and there in the throat of the
fainting, suffocating wretch he held it.
The struggles grew fainter, the arms relaxed, the face blackened, the
limbs stiffened. At last all efforts ceased.
Despard then arose, and, turning Clark over on his face, took the bridle
from one of the horses, bound his hands behind him, and fastened his
feet securely. In the fierce struggle Clark's coat and waistcoat had
been torn away, and slipped down to some extent. His shirt-collar had
burst and slipped with them. As Despard turned him over and proceeded to
tie him, something struck his eye. It was a bright, red scar.
He pulled down the shirt. A mark appeared, the full meaning of which he
knew not, but could well conjecture. There were three brands--fiery red
--and these were the marks:
[Illustration: ^ /|\ [three lines, forming short arrow]
R [sans-serif R]
+ [plus sign] ]
FACE TO FACE.
On the same evening Potts left the bank at about five o'clock, and went
up to the Hall with John. He was morose, gloomy, and abstracted. The
great question now before him was how to deal with Smithers & Co. Should
he write to them, or go and see them, or what? How could he satisfy
their claims, which he knew would now be presented? Involved in thoughts
like these, he entered the Hall, and, followed by John, went to the
dining-room, where father and son sat down to refresh themselves over a
bottle of brandy.
They had not been seated half an hour before the noise of carriage-
wheels was heard; and on looking out they saw a dog-cart drawn by two
magnificent horses, which drove swiftly up to the portico. A gentleman
dismounted, and, throwing the reins to his servant, came up the steps.
The stranger was of medium size, with an aristocratic air, remarkably
regular features, of pure Grecian outline, and deep, black, lustrous
eyes. His brow was dark and stern, and clouded over by a gloomy frown.
"Who the devil is he?" cried Potts. "D--n that porter! I told him to let
no one in to-day."
"I believe the porter's playing fast and loose with us. But, by Jove! do
you see that fellow's eyes? Do you know who else has such eyes?"
"Then this is young Smithers?"
"Yes; or else the devil," said John, harshly. "I begin to have an idea,"
he continued. "I've been thinking about this for some time."
"What is it?"
"Old Smithers had these eyes. That last chap that drew the forty
thousand out of you kept his eyes covered. Here comes this fellow with
the same eyes. I begin to trace a connection between them."
"Pooh! Old Smithers is old enough to be this man's grandfather."
"Did you ever happen to notice that old Smithers hadn't a wrinkle in his
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, nothing--only his hair mightn't have been natural; that's all."
Potts and John exchanged glances, and nothing was said for some time.
"Perhaps this Smithers & Son have been at the bottom of all this,"
continued John. "They are the only ones who could have been strong
"But why should they?"
John shook his head.
"Despard or Langhetti may have got them to do it. Perhaps that d----d
girl did it. Smithers & Co. will make money enough out of the
speculation to pay them. As for me and you, I begin to have a general
but very accurate idea of ruin. You are getting squeezed pretty close up
to the wall, dad, and they won't give you time to breathe."
Before this conversation had ended the stranger had entered, and had
gone up to the drawing-room. The servant came down to announce him.
"What name?" asked Potts.
"He didn't give any."
Potts looked perplexed.
"Come now," said John. "This fellow has overreached himself at last.
He's come here; perhaps it won't be so easy for him to get out. I'll
have all the servants ready. Do you keep up your spirits. Don't get
frightened, but be plucky. Bluff him, and when the time comes ring the
bell, and I'll march in with all the servants." Potts looked for a
moment at his son with a glance of deep admiration.
"Johnnie,--you've got more sense in your little finger than I have in my
whole body. Yes: we've got this fellow, whoever he is; and if he turns
out to be what I suspect, then we'll spring the trap on him, and he'll
learn what it is to play with edge tools."
With these words Potts departed, and, ascending the stairs, entered the
The stranger was standing looking out of one of the windows. His
attitude brought back to Potts's recollection the scene which had once
occurred there, when old Smithers was holding Beatrice in his arms. The
recollection of this threw a flood of light on Potts's mind. He recalled
it with a savage exaltation. Perhaps they were the same, as John said--
perhaps; no, most assuredly they must be the same.
"I've got him now, any way," murmured Potts to himself, "whoever he is."
The stranger turned and looked at Potts for a few moments. He neither
bowed nor uttered any salutation whatever. In his look there was a
certain terrific menace, an indefinable glance of conscious power,
combined with implacable hate. The frown which usually rested on his
brow darkened and deepened till the gloomy shadows that covered them
seemed like thunder-clouds.
Before that awful look Potts felt himself cowering involuntarily; and he
began to feel less confidence in his own power, and less sure that the
stranger had flung himself into a trap. However, the silence was
embarrassing; so at last, with an effort, he said:
"Well; is there any thing you want of me? I'm in a hurry."
"Yes," said the stranger, "I reached the village to-day to call at the
bank, but found it closed."
"Oh! I suppose you've got a draft on me, too."
"Yes," said the stranger, mysteriously. "I suppose I may call it a
"There's no use in troubling your head about it, then," returned Potts;
"I won't pay."
"Not a penny."
A sharp, sudden smile of contempt flashed over the stranger's face.
"Perhaps if you knew what the draft is, you would feel differently."
"I don't care what it is."
"That depends upon the drawer."
"I don't care who the drawer is. I won't pay it. I don't care even if
it's Smithers & Co. I'll settle all when I'm ready. I'm not going to be
bullied any longer. I've borne enough. You needn't look so very grand,"
he continued, pettishly; "I see through you, and you can't keep up this
sort of thing much longer."
"You appear to hint that you know who I am?"
"Something of that sort," said Potts, rudely; "and let me tell you I
don't care who you are."
"That depends," rejoined the other, calmly, "very much upon
"So you see," continued Potts, "you won't get any thing out of me--not
this time," he added.
"My draft," said the stranger, "is different from those which were
presented at the bank counter."
He spoke in a tone of deep solemnity, with a tone which seemed like the
tread of some inevitable Fate advancing upon its victim. Potts felt an
indefinable fear stealing over him in spite of himself. He said not a
"My draft," continued the stranger, in a tone which was still more
aggressive in its dominant and self-assertive power--"my draft was drawn
twenty years ago."
Potts looked wonderingly and half fearfully at him.
"My draft," said the other, "was drawn by Colonel Lionel Despard."
A chill went to the heart of Potts. With a violent effort he shook off
"Pooh!" said he, "you're at that old story, are you? That nonsense won't
"It was dated at sea," continued the stranger, in tones which still
deepened in awful emphasis--"at sea, when the writer was all alone."
"It's a lie!" cried Potts, while his face grew white.
"At sea," continued the other, ringing the changes on this one word, "at
sea--on board that ship to which you had brought him--the
Potts was like a man fascinated by some horrid spectacle. He looked
fixedly at his interlocutor. His jaw fell.
"There he died," said the stranger. "Who caused his death? Will you
With a tremendous effort Potts again recovered command of himself.
"You--you've been reading up old papers," replied he, in a stammering
voice. "You've got a lot of stuff in your head which you think will
frighten me. You've come to the wrong shop."
But in spite of these words the pale face and nervous manner of Potts
showed how deep was his agitation.
"I myself was on board the _Vishnu_," said the other.
"You! Then you must have been precious small. The _Vishnu_ went
down twenty years ago."
"I was on board of the _Vishnu_, and I saw Colonel Despard."
The memory of some awful scene seemed to inspire the tones of the
speaker--they thrilled through the coarse, brutal nature of the
"I saw Colonel Despard," continued the stranger.
"You lie!" cried Potts, roused by terror and horror to a fierce pitch of
"I saw Colonel Despard," repeated the stranger, for the third time, "on
board the _Vishnu_ in the Indian Sea. I learned from him his story
"Then," cried Potts quickly, to whom there suddenly came an idea which
brought courage with it; "then, if you saw him, what concern is it of
mine? He was alive, then, and the Despard murder never took place."
"It did take place," said the other.
"You're talking nonsense. How could it if you saw him? He must have been
_"He was dead!"_ replied the stranger, whose eyes had never
withdrawn themselves from those of Potts, and now seemed like two fiery
orbs blazing wrathfully upon him. The tones penetrated to the very soul
of the listener. He shuddered in spite of himself. Like most vulgar
natures, his was accessible to superstitious horror. He heard and
"He was dead," repeated the stranger, "and yet all that I told you is
true. I learned from him his story."
"Dead men tell no tales," muttered Potts, in a scarce articulate voice.
"So you thought when you locked him in, and set fire to the ship, and
scuttled her; but you see you were mistaken, for here at least was a
dead man who did tell tales, and I was the listener."
And the mystic solemnity of the man's face seemed to mark him as one who
might indeed have held commune with the dead.
"He told me," continued the stranger, "where he found you, and how."
Awful expectation was manifest on the face of Potts.
"He told me of the mark on your arm. Draw up your sleeve, Briggs, Potts,
or whatever other name you choose, and show the indelible characters
which represent the name of _Bowhani_."
Potts started back. His lips grew ashen. His teeth chattered.
"He gave me this," cried the stranger, in a louder voice; "and this is
the draft which you will not reject."
He strode forward three or four paces, and flung something toward Potts.
It was a cord, at the end of which was a metallic ball. The ball struck
the table as it fell, and rolled to the floor, but the stranger held the
other end in his hand.
"THUG!" cried he; "do you know what that is?"
Had the stranger been Olympian Jove, and had he flung forth from his
right hand a thunder-bolt, it could not have produced a more appalling
effect than that which was wrought upon Potts by the sight of this cord.
He started back in horror, uttering a cry half-way between a scream and
a groan. Big drops of perspiration started from his brow. He trembled
and shuddered from head to foot. His jaw fell. He stood speechless.
"That is my draft," said the stranger.
"What do you want?" gasped Potts.
"The title deeds of the Brandon estates!"
"The Brandon estates!" said Potts, in a faltering voice.
"Yes, the Brandon estates; nothing less."
"And will you then keep silent?"
"I will give you the cord."
"Will you keep silent?"
"I am your master," said the other, haughtily, as his burning eyes fixed
themselves with a consuming gaze upon the abject wretch before him; "I
am your master. I make no promises. I spare you or destroy you as I
These words reduced Potts to despair. In the depths of that despair he
found hope. He started up, defiant. With an oath he sprang to the bell-
rope and pulled again and again, till the peals reverberated through the
The stranger stood with a scornful smile on his face. Potts turned to
"I'll teach you," he cried, "that you've come to the wrong shop. I'm not
a child. Who you are I don't know and I don't care. You are the cause of
my ruin, and you'll repent of it."
[Illustration: "THUG! DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS?"]
The stranger said nothing, but stood with the same fixed and scornful
smile. A noise was heard outside, the tramp of a crowd of men. They
ascended the stairs. At last John appeared at the door of the room,
followed by thirty servants. Prominent among these was Asgeelo. Near him
was Vijal. Potts gave a triumphant smile. The servants ranged themselves
around the room.
"Now," cried Potts, "you're in for it. You're in a trap, I think. You'll
find that I'm not a born idiot. Give up that cord!"
The stranger said nothing, but wound up the cord coolly, placed it in
his pocket, and still regarded Potts with his scornful smile.
"Here!" cried Potts, addressing the servants. "Catch that man, and tie
his hands and feet."
The servants had taken their station around the room at John's order. As
Potts spoke they stood there looking at the stranger, but not one of
them moved. Vijal only started forward. The stranger turned toward him
and looked in his face.
Vijal glanced around in surprise, waiting for the other servants.
"You devils!" cried Potts, "do you hear what I say? Seize that man!"
None of the servants moved.
"It's my belief," said John, "that they're all ratting."
"Vijal!" cried Potts, savagely, "tackle him."
Vijal rushed forward. At that instant Asgeelo bounded forward also with
one tremendous leap, and seizing Vijal by the throat hurled him to the
The stranger waved his hand.
"Let him go!" said he.
"What the devil's the meaning of this?" cried John, looking around in
dismay. Potts also looked around. There stood the servants--motionless,
"For the last time," roared Potts, with a perfect volley of oaths,
"seize that man, or you'll be sorry for it."
The servants stood motionless. The stranger remained in the same
attitude with the same sneering smile.
"You see," said he, at last, "that you don't know me, after all. You are
in my power, Briggs--you can't get away, nor can your son."
Potts rushed, with an oath, to the door. Half a dozen servants were
standing there. As he came furiously toward them they held out their
clenched fists. He rushed upon them. They beat him back. He fell,
foaming at the lips.
John stood, cool and unmoved, looking around the room, and learning from
the face of each servant that they were all beyond his authority. He
folded his arms, and said nothing.
"You appear to have been mistaken in your man," said the stranger,
coolly. "These are not your servants; they're mine. Shall I tell them to
Potts glared at him with bloodshot eyes, but said nothing.
"Shall I tell them to pull up your sleeve and display the mark of
Bowhani, Sir? Shall I tell who and what you are? Shall I begin from your
birth and give them a full and complete history of your life?"
Potts looked around like a wild beast in the arena, seeking for some
opening for escape, but finding nothing except hostile faces.
"Do what you like!" he cried, desperately, with an oath, and sank down
into stolid despair.
"No; you don't mean that," said the other. "For I have some London
policemen at the inn, and I might like best to hand you over to them on
charges which you can easily imagine. You don't wish me to do so, I
think. You'd prefer being at large to being chained up in a cell, or
sent to Botany Bay, I suppose? Still, if you prefer it, I will at once
arrange an interview between yourself and these gentlemen."
"What do you want?" anxiously asked Potts, who now thought that he might
come to terms, and perhaps gain his escape from the clutches of his
"The title deeds of the Brandon estate," said the stranger.
"Then off you go. They must be mine, at any rate. Nothing can prevent
that. Either give them now and begone, or delay, and you go at once to
"I won't give them," said Potts, desperately.
"Cato!" said the stranger, "go and fetch the policemen."
"Stop!" cried John.
At a sign Asgeelo, who had already taken two steps toward the door,
"Here, dad," said John, "you've got to do it. You might as well hand
over the papers. You don't want to get into quod, I think."
Potts turned his pale face to his son.
"Do it!" exclaimed John.
"Well," he said, with a sigh, "since I've got to, I've got to, I
suppose. You know best, Johnnie. I always said you had a long head."
"I must go and get them," he continued.
"I'll go with you; or no--Cato shall go with you, and I'll wait here."
The Hindu went with Potts, holding his collar in his powerful grasp, and
taking care to let Potts see the hilt of a knife which he carried up his
sleeve, in the other hand.
After about a quarter of an hour they returned, and Potts handed over to
the stranger some papers. He looked at them carefully, and put them in
his pocket. He then gave Potts the cord. Potts took it in an abstracted
way, and said nothing.
"You must leave this Hall to-night," said the stranger, sternly--"you
and your son. I remain here."
"Leave the Hall?" gasped Potts.
For a moment he stood overwhelmed. He looked at John. John nodded his
"You've got to do it, dad," said he.
Potts turned savagely at the stranger. He shook his clenched fist at
"D--n you!" he cried. "Are you satisfied yet? I know you. I'll pay you
up. What complaint have you against me, I'd like to know? I never harmed
"You don't know me, or you wouldn't say that."
"I do. You're Smithers & Co."
"True; and I'm several other people. I've had the pleasure of an
extended intercourse with you. For I'm not only Smithers & Co., but I'm
also Beamish & Hendricks, American merchants. I'm also Bigelow,
Higginson, & Co., solicitors to Smithers & Co. Besides, I'm your London
broker, who attended to your speculations in stocks. Perhaps you think
that you don't know me after all."
As he said this Potts and John exchanged glances of wonder.
"Tricked!" cried Potts--"deceived! humbugged! and ruined! Who are you?
What have you against me? Who are you? Who?"
And he gazed with intense curiosity upon the calm face of the stranger,
who, in his turn, looked upon him with the air of one who was surveying
from a superior height some feeble creature far beneath him.
"Who am I?" he repeated. "Who? I am the one to whom all this belongs. I
am one whom you have injured so deeply, that what I have done to you is
nothing in comparison."
"Who are you?" cried Potts, with feverish impatience. "It's a lie. I
never injured you. I never saw you before till you came yourself to
trouble me. Those whom I have injured are all dead, except that parson,
the son of--of the officer."
"There are others."
Potts said nothing, but looked with some fearful discovery dawning upon
"You know me now!" cried the stranger. "I see it in your face."
"You're not _him_!" exclaimed Potts, in a piercing voice.
"I am LOUIS BRANDON!"
"I knew it! I knew it!" cried John, in a voice which was almost a
"Cigole played false. I'll make him pay for this," gasped Potts.
"Cigole did not play false. He killed me as well as he could--But away,
both of you. I can not breathe while you are here. I will allow you an
hour to be gone."
At the end of the hour Brandon of Brandon Hall was at last master in the
home of his ancestors.
When Despard had bound Clark he returned to look after Langhetti. He lay
feebly and motionless upon the ground. Despard carefully examined his
wounds. His injuries were very severe. His arms were lacerated, and his
shoulder torn; blood also was issuing from a wound on the side of his
neck. Despard bound these as best he could, and then sat wondering what
could be done next.
He judged that he might be four or five miles from Denton, and saw that
this was the place to which he must go. Besides, Beatrice was there, and
she could nurse Langhetti. But how could he get there?--that was the
question. It was impossible for Langhetti to go on horseback. He tried
to form some plan by which this might be done. He began to make a sort
of litter to be hung between two horses, and had already cut down with
his knife two small trees or rather bushes for this purpose, when the
noise of wheels on the road before him attracted his attention.
It was a farmer's wagon, and it was coming from the direction of Denton.
Despard stopped it, explained his situation, and offered to pay any
thing if the farmer would turn back and convey his friend and his
prisoner to Denton. It did not take long to strike a bargain; the farmer
turned his horses, some soft shrubs and ferns were strewn on the bottom
of the wagon, and on these Langhetti was deposited carefully. Clark, who
by this time had come to himself, was put at one end, where he sat
grimly and sulkily; the three horses were led behind, and Despard,
riding on the wagon, supported the head of Langhetti on his knees.
Slowly and carefully they went to the village. Despard had no difficulty
in finding the cottage. It was where the letter had described it. The
village inn stood near on the opposite side of the road.
It was about nine o'clock in the evening when they reached the cottage.
Lights were burning in the windows. Despard jumped out hastily and
knocked. A servant came. Despard asked for the mistress, and Beatrice
appeared. As she recognized him her face lighted up with joy. But
Despard's face was sad and gloomy. He pressed her hand in silence and
"My dear adopted sister, I bring you our beloved Langhetti."
"Langhetti!" she exclaimed, fearfully.
"He has met with an accident. Is there a doctor in the place? Send your
servant at once."
Beatrice hurried in and returned with a servant.
"We will first lift him out," said Despard. "Is there a bed ready?"
"Oh yes! Bring him in!" cried Beatrice, who was now in an agony of
She hurried after them to the wagon. They lifted Langhetti out and took
him into a room which Beatrice showed them. They tenderly laid him on
the bed. Meanwhile the servant had hurried off for a doctor, who soon
Beatrice sat by his bedside; she kissed the brow of the almost
unconscious sufferer, and tried in every possible way to alleviate his
pain. The doctor soon arrived, dressed his wounds, and left directions
for his care, which consisted chiefly in constant watchfulness.
Leaving Langhetti under the charge of Beatrice, Despard went in search
of a magistrate. He found one without any difficulty, and before an hour
Clark was safe in jail. The information which Despard lodged against him
was corroborated by the brands on his back, which showed him to be a man
of desperate character, who had formerly been transported for crime.
Despard next wrote a letter to Mrs. Thornton. He told her about
Langhetti, and urged her to come on immediately and bring Edith with
her. Then he returned to the cottage and wished to sit up with
Langhetti. Beatrice, however, would not let him. She said that no one
should deprive her of the place by his bedside. Despard remained,
however, and the two devoted equal attention to the sufferer. Langhetti
spoke only once. He was so faint that his voice was scarce audible.
Beatrice put her ear close to his mouth.
"What is it?" asked Despard.
"He wants Edith," said Beatrice.
"I have written for her," said Despard.
Beatrice whispered this to Langhetti. An ecstatic smile passed over his
"It is well," he murmured.
THE WORM TURNS.
Potts departed from the Hall in deep dejection. The tremendous power of
his enemy had been shown all along; and now that this enemy turned out
to be Louis Brandon, he felt as though some supernatural being had taken
up arms against him. Against that being a struggle seemed as hopeless as
it would be against Fate. It was with some such feeling as this that he
left Brandon Hall forever.
All of his grand projects had broken down, suddenly and utterly. He had
not a ray of hope left of ever regaining the position which he had but
recently occupied. He was thrust back to the obscurity from which he had
One thing troubled him. Would the power of his remorseless enemy be now
stayed--would his vengeance end here? He could scarce hope for this. He
judged that enemy by himself, and he knew that he would not stop in the
search after vengeance, that nothing short of the fullest and direst
ruin--nothing, in fact, short of death itself would satisfy him.
John was with him, and Vijal, who alone out of all the servants had
followed his fortunes. These three walked down and passed through the
gates together, and emerged into the outer world in silence. But when
they had left the gates the silence ended.
"Well, dad!" said John, "what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know."
"Have you any money?"
"Four thousand pounds in the bank."
"Not much, dad," said John, slowly, "for a man who last month was worth
millions. You're coming out at the little end of the horn."
Potts made no reply.
"At any rate there's one comfort," said John, "even about that."
"Why, you went in at the little end."
They walked on in silence.
"You must do something," said John at last.
"What can I do?"
"You won't let that fellow ride the high horse in this style, will you?"
"How can I help it?"
"You can't help it; but you can strike a blow yourself."
"How? You've struck blows before to some purpose, I think."
"But I never yet knew any one with such tremendous power as this man
has. And where did he get all his money? You said before that he was the
devil, and I believe it. Where's Clark? Do you think he has succeeded?"
"No," said John.
"No more do I. This man has every body in his pay. Look at the servants!
See how easily he did what he wished!"
"You've got one servant left."
"Ah, yes--that's a fact."
"That servant will do something for you."
"What do you mean?"
"Brandon is a man, after all--and can _die_," said John, with deep
emphasis. "Vijal," he continued, in a whisper, "hates me, but he would
lay down his life for you."
"I understand," said Potts, after a pause.
A long silence followed.
"You go on to the inn," said Potts, at last. "I'll talk with Vijal."
"Shall I risk the policemen?"
"Yes, you run no risk. I'll sleep in the bank."
"All right," said John, and he walked away.
"Vijal," said Potts, dropping back so as to wait for the Malay. "You are
faithful to me."
"Yes," answered Vijal.
"All the others betrayed me, but you did not?"
"Do you know when you first saw me?"
"I saved your life."
"Your father was seized at Manilla and killed for murder, but I
protected you, and promised to take care of you. Haven't I done so?"
"Yes," said Vijal humbly, and in a reverent tone.
"Haven't I been another father?"
"Didn't I promise to tell you some day who the man was that killed your
"Yes," exclaimed Vijal, fiercely.
"Well, I'm going to tell you."
"Who?" cried Vijal, in excitement so strong that he could scarce speak.
"Did you see that man who drove me out of the Hall?"
"Well, that was the man. He killed your father. He has ruined me--your
other father. What do you say to that?"
"He shall die," returned Vijal, solemnly. "He shall die."
"I am an old man," resumed Potts. "If I were as strong as I used to be I
would not talk about this to you. I would do it all myself."
"I'll do it!" cried Vijal. "I'll do it!"
His eyes flashed, his nostrils dilated--all the savage within him was
aroused. Potts saw this, and rejoiced.
"Do you know how to use this?" he asked, showing Vijal the cord which
Brandon had given him.
Vijal's eyes dilated, and a wilder fire shone in them. He seized the
cord, turned it round his hand for a moment, and then hurled it at
Potts. It passed round and round his waist.
"Ah!" said Potts, with deep gratification. "You have not forgotten,
then. You can throw it skillfully."
Vijal nodded, and said nothing.
"Keep the cord. Follow up that man. Avenge your father's death and my
"I will," said Vijal, sternly.
"It may take long. Follow him up. Do not come back to me till you come
to tell me that he is dead."
"Now I am going. I must fly and hide myself from this man. As long as he
lives I am in danger. But you will always find John at the inn when you
wish to see me."
"I will lay down my life for you," said Vijal.
"I don't want your life," returned Potts. "I want _his_."
"You shall have it," exclaimed Vijal.
Potts said no more. He handed Vijal his purse in silence. The latter
took it without a word. Potts then went toward the bank, and Vijal stood
alone in the road.
ON THE ROAD.
On the following morning Brandon started from the Hall at an early hour.
He was on horseback. He rode down through the gates. Passing through the
village he went by the inn and took the road to Denton.
He had not gone far before another horseman followed him. The latter
rode at a rapid pace. Brandon did not pay any especial attention to him,
and at length the latter overtook him. It was when they were nearly
abreast that Brandon recognized the other. It was Vijal.
"Good-morning," said Vijal.
"Good-morning," replied Brandon.
"Are you going to Denton?" "Yes."
"So am I," said Vijal.
Brandon was purposely courteous, although it was not exactly the thing
for a gentleman to be thus addressed by a servant. He saw that this
servant had overreached himself, and knew that he must have some motive
for joining him and addressing him in so familiar a manner.
He suspected what might be Vijal's aim, and therefore kept a close watch
on him. He saw that Vijal, while holding the reins in his left hand,
kept his right hand concealed in his breast. A suspicion darted across
his mind. He stroked his mustache with his own right hand, which he kept
constantly upraised, and talked cheerfully and patronizingly with his
companion. After a while he fell back a little and drew forth a knife,
which he concealed in his hand, and then he rode forward as before
abreast of the other, assuming the appearance of perfect calm and
"Have you left Potts?" said Brandon, after a short time.
"No," replied Vijal.
"Ah! Then you are on some business of his now?"
Brandon was silent.
"Would you like to know what it is?" asked Vijal.
"Not particularly," said Brandon, coldly.
"Shall I tell you?"
"If you choose."
Vijal raised his hand suddenly and gave a quick, short jerk. A cord flew
forth--there was a weight at the end. The cord was flung straight at
But Brandon had been on his guard. At the movement of Vijal's arm he had
raised his own; the cord passed around him, but his arm was within its
embrace. In his hand he held a knife concealed. In an instant he slashed
his knife through the windings of the cord, severing them all; then
dropping the knife he plunged his hand into the pocket of his coat, and
before Vijal could recover from his surprise he drew forth a revolver
and pointed it at him.
[Illustration: VIJAL LOOKED EARNESTLY AT IT. HE SAW THESE WORDS: "JOHN
Vijal saw at once that he was lost. He nevertheless plunged his spurs
into his horse and made a desperate effort to escape. As his horse
bounded off Brandon fired. The animal gave a wild neigh, which sounded
almost like a shriek, and fell upon the road, throwing Vijal over his
In an instant Brandon was up with him. He leaped from his horse before
Vijal had disencumbered himself from his, and seizing the Malay by the
collar held the pistol at his head.
"If you move," he cried, sternly, "I'll blow your brains out!"
Vijal lay motionless.
"Scoundrel!" exclaimed Brandon, as he held him with the revolver pressed
against his head, "who sent you to do this?"
Vijal in sullen silence answered nothing.
"Tell me or I'll kill you. Was it Potts?"
Vijal made no reply.
"Speak out," cried Brandon. "Fool that you are, I don't want _your_
"You are the murderer of my father," said Vijal, fiercely, "and therefore
I sought to kill you."
Brandon gave a low laugh.
"The murderer of your father?" he repeated.
"Yes," cried Vijal, wildly; "and I sought your death."
Brandon laughed again.
"Do you know how old I am?"
Vijal looked up in amazement. He saw by that one look what he had not
thought of before in his excitement, that Brandon was a younger man than
himself by several years. He was silent.
"How many years is it since your father died?"
Vijal said nothing.
"Fool!" exclaimed Brandon. "It is twenty years. You are false to your
father. You pretend to avenge his death, and you seek out a young man
who had no connection with it. I was in England when he was killed. I
was a child only seven years of age. Do you believe now that I am his
Brandon, while speaking in this way, had relaxed his hold, though he
still held his pistol pointed at the head of his prostrate enemy. Vijal
gave a long, low sigh.
"You were too young," said he, at last. "You are younger than I am. I
was only twelve."
"I could not have been his murderer, then?"
"Yet I know who his murderer was, for I have found out."
"The same man who killed my own father."
Vijal looked at Brandon with awful eyes.
"Your father had a brother?" said Brandon.
"Do you know his name?"