Part 7 out of 11
to a higher altitude.
So I have at last received that revelation for which I longed, and the
divine thoughts with which she has inspired me I will make known to the
world. How? Description is inadequate, but it is enough to say that I
have decided upon an Opera as the best mode of making known these ideas.
I have reported to one of those classical themes which, though as old as
civilization, are yet ever new, because they are truth.
My Opera is on the theme of Prometheus. It refers to Prometheus
Delivered. My idea is derived from her. Prometheus represents Divine
Love--since he is the god who suffers unendurable agonies through his
love for man. Zeus represents the old austere god of the sects and
creeds--the gloomy God of Vengeance--the stern--the inexorable--the
Love endures through the ages, but at last triumphs. The chief agent in
his triumph is Athene. She represents Wisdom, which, by its life and
increase, at last dethrones the God of Vengeance and enthrones the God
For so the world goes on; and thus it shall be that Human Understanding,
which I have personified under Athene, will at last exalt Divine Love
over all, and cast aside its olden adoration of Divine Vengeance.
I am trying to give to my Opera the severe simplicity of the classical
form, yet at the same time to pervade it all with the warm atmosphere of
love in its widest sense. It opens with a chorus of seraphim. Prometheus
laments; but the chief part is that of Athene. On that I have exhausted
But where can I get a voice that can adequately render my thoughts--
_our_ thoughts? Where is Bice? She alone has this voice; she alone
has the power of catching and absorbing into her own mind the ideas
which I form; and with it all, she alone could express them. I would
wander over the earth to find her. But perhaps she is in a luxurious
home, where her associates would not listen to such a proposal.
Patience! perhaps Bice may at last bring her marvelous voice to my aid.
December 15.--Every day our communion has grown more exalted. She
breathes upon me the atmosphere of that radiant world, and fills my soul
with rapture. I live in a sublime enthusiasm. We hold intercourse by
means of music. We stand upon a higher plane than that of common men.
She has raised me there, and has made me to be a partaker in her
Now I begin to understand something of the radiant world to which she
was once for a brief time borne. I know her lost joys; I share in her
longings. In me, as in her, there is a deep, unquenchable thirst after
those glories that are present there. All here seems poor and mean. No
material pleasure can for a moment allure.
I live in a frenzy. My soul is on fire. Music is my sole thought and
utterance. Colonel Despard thinks that I am mad. My friends here pity
me. I smile within myself when I think of pity being given by them to
me. Kindly souls! could they but have one faint idea of the unspeakable
joys to which I have attained!
My Cremona is my voice. It expresses all things for me. Ah, sweet
companion of my soul's flight! my Guide, my Guardian Angel, my Inspirer!
had ever before two mortals while on earth a lot like ours? Who else
besides us in this life ever learned the joys of pure spiritual
communion? We rise on high together. Our souls are borne up in company.
When we hold commune we cease to be mortals.
My Opera is finished. The radiancy of that Divine Love which has
inundated all the being of Edith has been imparted to me in some measure
sufficient to enable me to breathe forth to human ears tones which have
been caught from immortal voices. She has given me ideas. I have made
them audible and intelligible to men.
I have had one performance of my work, or rather our work, for it is all
hers. Hers are the thoughts, mine is only the expression.
I sought out a place of solitude in which I might perform undisturbed
and without interruption the theme which I have tried to unfold.
Opposite my house is a wild, rocky shore covered with the primeval
woods. Here in one place there rises a barren rock, perfectly bare of
verdure, which is called Mount Misery. I chose his place as the spot
where I might give my rehearsal.
She was the audience--I was the orchestra--we two were alone.
Mount Misery is one barren rock without a blade of grass on all its dark
iron-like surface. Around it is a vast accumulation of granite boulders
and vast rocky ledges. The trees are stunted, the very ferns can
scarcely find a place to grow.
It was night. There was not a cloud in the sky. The moon shone with
Down in front of us lay the long arm of the sea that ran up between us
and the city. On the opposite side were woods, and beyond them rose the
citadel, on the other side of which the city lay nestling at its base
like those Rhenish towns which lie at the foot of feudal castles.
On the left hand all was a wilderness; on the right, close by, was a
small lake, which seemed like a sheet of silver in the moon's rays.
Farther on lay the ocean, stretching in its boundless extent away to the
horizon. There lay islands and sand-banks with light-houses. There,
under the moon, lay a broad path of golden light--molten gold--
unruffled--undisturbed in that dead calm.
My Opera begins with an Alleluia Chorus. I have borrowed words from the
Angel Song at the opening of "Faust" for my score. But the music has an
expression of its own, and the words are feeble; and the only comfort
is, that these words will be lost in the triumph strain of the tones
that accompany them.
She was with me, exulting where I was exultant, sad where I was
sorrowful; still with her air of Guide and Teacher. She is my Egeria.
She is my Inspiring Muse. I invoke her when I sing.
But my song carried her away. Her own thoughts expressed by my utterance
were returned to her, and she yielded herself up altogether to their
Ah me! there is one language common to all on earth, and to all in
heaven, and that is music.
I exulted then on that bare, blasted rock. I triumphed. She joined me in
it all. We exulted together. We triumphed. We mourned, we rejoiced, we
despaired, we hoped, we sung alleluias in our hearts. The very winds
were still. The very moon seemed to stay her course. All nature was
She stood before me, white, slender, aerial, like a spirit from on high,
as pure, as holy, as stainless. Her soul and mine were blended. We moved
to one common impulse. We obeyed one common motive.
What is this? Is it love? Yes; but not as men call love. Ours is
heavenly love, ardent, but yet spiritual; intense, but without passion;
a burning love like that of the cherubim; all-consuming, all-engrossing,
and enduring for evermore.
Have I ever told her my admiration? Yes; but not in words. I have told
her so in music, in every tone, in every strain. She knows that I am
hers. She is my divinity, my muse, my better genius--the nobler half of
I have laid all my spirit at her feet, as one prostrates himself before
a divinity. She has accepted that adoration and has been pleased.
We are blended. We are one, but not after an earthly fashion, for never
yet have I even touched her hand in love. It is our spirits, our real
selves--not our merely visible selves--that love; yet that love is so
intense that I would die for evermore if my death could make her life
She has heard all this from my Cremona.
Here, as we stood under the moon, I thought her a spirit with a mortal
lover. I recognized the full meaning of the sublime legend of Numa and
Egeria. The mortal aspires in purity of heart, and the immortal comes
down and assists and responds to his aspirations.
Our souls vibrated in unison to the expression of heavenly thoughts. We
threw ourselves into the rapture of the hour. We trembled, we thrilled,
till at last frail mortal nature could scarcely endure the intensity of
that perfect joy.
So we came to the end. The end is a chorus of angels. They sing the
divinest of songs that is written in Holy Revelation. All the glory of
that song reaches its climax in the last strain:
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes!"
We wept together. But we dried our tears and went home, musing on that
"tearless eternity" which lies before us.
Morning is dawning as I write, and all the feeling of my soul can be
expressed in one word, the sublimest of all words, which is intelligible
to many of different languages and different races. I will end with
THIS MUST END.
The note which accompanied Langhetti's journal was as follows:
"HALIFAX, December 18, 1848.
"TERESUOLA VIA DOLCISSIMA,--I send you my journal, _sorella
carissima_. I have been silent for a long time. Forgive me. I have
been sad and in affliction. But affliction has turned to joy, and I have
learned things unknown before.
"_Teresina mia_, I am coming back to England immediately. You may
expect to see me at any time during the next three months. _She_
will be with me; but so sensitive is she--so strange would she be to
you--that I do not know whether it will be well for you to see her or
not. I dare not let her be exposed to the gaze of any one unknown to
her. Yet, sweetest _sorellina_, perhaps I may be able to tell her
that I have a dearest sister, whose heart is love, whose nature is
noble, and who could treat her with tenderest care.
"I intend to offer my Opera to the world at London. I will be my own
impresario. Yet I want one thing, and that is a Voice. Oh for a Voice
like that of Bice! But it is idle to wish for her.
"Never have I heard any voice like hers, my Teresina. God grant that I
may find her!
"Expect soon and suddenly to see your most loving brother,
Mrs. Thornton showed this note to Despard the next time they met. He had
read the journal in the mean time.
"So he is coming back?" said he.
"And with this marvelous girl?"
"She seems to me like a spirit."
"And to me."
"Paolo's own nature is so lofty and so spiritual that one like her is
intelligible to him. Happy is it for her that he found her."
"Paolo is more spiritual than human. He has no materialism. He is
spiritual. I am of the earth, earthy; but my brother is a spirit
imprisoned, who chafes at his bonds and longs to be free. And think what
Paolo has done for her in his sublime devotion!"
"I know others who would do as much," said Despard, in a voice that
seemed full of tears; "I know others who, like him, would go to the
grave to rescue the one they loved, and make all life one long devotion.
I know others," he continued, "who would gladly die, if by dying they
could gain what he has won--the possession of the one they love. Ah me!
Paolo is happy and blessed beyond all men. Between him and her there is
no insuperable barrier, no gulf as deep as death."
Despard spoke impetuously, but suddenly checked himself.
"I received," said he, "by the last mail a letter from my uncle in
Halifax. He is ordered off to the Cape of Good Hope. I wrote him a very
long time ago, as I told you, asking him to tell me without reserve all
that he knew about my father's death. I told him plainly that there was
a mystery about it which I was determined to solve. I reproached him for
keeping it secret from me, and reminded him that I was now a mature man;
and that he had no right nor any reason to maintain any farther secrecy.
I insisted on knowing all, no matter what it might be.
"I received his letter by the last mail. Here it is;" and he handed it
to her. "Read it when you get home. I have written a few words to you,
little playmate, also. He has told me all. Did you know this before?"
"Yes, Lama," said Mrs. Thornton, with a look of sorrowful sympathy.
"You knew all my father's fate?"
"And you kept it secret?"
"Yes, Lama. How could I bear to tell you and give you pain?"
Her voice trembled as she spoke. Despard looked at her with an
"One thought," said he, slowly, "and one feeling engrosses all my
nature, and even this news that I have heard can not drive it away. Even
the thought of my father's fate, so dark and so mysterious, can not
weaken the thoughts that have all my life been supreme. Do you know,
little playmate, what those thoughts are?"
She was silent. Despard's hand wandered over the keys. They always spoke
in low tones, which were almost whispers, tones which were inaudible
except to each other. And Mrs. Thornton had to bow her head close to his
to hear what he said.
"I must go," said Despard, after a pause, "and visit Brandon again. I do
not know what I can do, but my father's death requires further
examination. This man Potts is intermingled with it. My uncle gives dark
hints. I must make an examination."
"And you are going away again?" said Mrs. Thornton, sadly.
"Would it not be better," said he, as be took her hand in his--"would it
not be better for you, little playmate, if I went away from you
She gave him one long look of sad reproach. Then tears filled her eyes.
"This can not go on forever," she murmured. "It must come to that at
October 30, 1848.--My recovery has been slow, and I am still far from
well. I stay in my room almost altogether. Why should I do otherwise?
Day succeeds day, and each day is a blank.
My window looks on the sea, and I can sit there and feed my heart on the
memories which that sea calls up. It is company for me in my solitude.
It is music, though I can not hear its voice. Oh, how I should rejoice
if I could get down by its margin and touch its waters! Oh how I should
rejoice if those waters would flow over me forever!
November 15.--Why I should write any thing now I do not know. This
uneventful life offers nothing to record. Mrs. Compton is as timid, as
gentle, and as affectionate as ever. Philips, poor, timorous, kindly
soul, sends me flowers by her. Poor wretch, how did he ever get here?
How did Mrs. Compton?
December 28.--In spite of my quiet habits and constant seclusion I feel
that I am under some surveillance, not from Mrs. Compton, but from
others. I have been out twice during the last fortnight and perceived
this plainly. Men in the walks who were at work quietly followed me with
their eyes. I see that I am watched. I did not know that I was of
Yesterday a strange incident occurred. Mrs. Compton was with me, and by
some means or other my thoughts turned to one about whom I have often
tried to form conjectures--my mother. How could she ever have married a
man like my father? What could she have been like? Suddenly I turned to
Mrs. Compton, and said:
"Did you ever see my mother?"
What there could have been in my question I can not tell, but she
trembled and looked at me with greater fear in her face than I had ever
seen there before. This time she seemed to be afraid of me. I myself
felt a cold chill run through my frame. That awful thought which I had
once before known flashed across my mind.
"Oh!" cried Mrs. Compton, suddenly, "oh, don't look at me so; don't look
at me so!"
"I don't understand you," said I, slowly.
She hid her face in her hands and began to weep. I tried to soothe her,
and with some success, for after a time she regained her composure.
Nothing more was said. But since then one thought, with a long series of
attendant thoughts, has weighed down my mind. _Who am I? What am I?
What am I doing here? What do these people want with me? Why do they
I can write no more.
January 14, 1849.--The days drag on. Nothing new has happened. I am
tormented by strange thoughts. I see this plainly that there are times
when I inspire fear in this house. Why is this?
Since that day, many, many months ago, when they all looked at me in
horror, I have seen none of them. Now Mrs. Compton has exhibited the
same fear. There is a restraint over her. Yes, she too fears me. Yet she
is kind; and poor Philips never forgets to send me flowers.
I could smile at the idea of any one fearing me, if it were not for the
terrible thoughts that arise within my mind.
February 12.--Of late all my thoughts have changed, and I have been
inspired with an uncontrollable desire to escape. I live here in luxury,
but the meanest house outside would be far preferable. Every hour here
is a sorrow, every day a misery. Oh, me! if I could but escape!
Once in that outer world I care not what might happen. I would be
willing to do menial labor to earn my bread. Yet it need not come to
that. The lessons which Paolo taught me have been useful in more ways
than one. I know that I at least need not be dependent.
He used to say to me that if I chose to go on the stage and sing, I
could do something better than gain a living or make a fortune. He said
I could interpret the ideas of the Great Masters, and make myself a
blessing to the world.
Why need I stay here when I have a voice which he used to deign to
praise? He did not praise it because he loved me; but I think he loved
me because he loved my voice. He loves my voice better than me. And that
other one! Ah me--will he ever hear my voice again? Did he know how
sweet his voice was to me? Oh me! its tones ring in my ears and in my
heart night and day.
March 5.--My resolution is formed. This may be my last entry. I pray to
God that it may be. I will trust in him and fly. At night they can not
be watching me. There is a door at the north end, the key of which is
always in it. I can steal out by that direction and gain my liberty.
Oh Thou who hearest prayer, grant deliverance to the captive!
Farewell now, my journal; I hope never to see you again! Yet I will
secrete you in this chamber, for if I am compelled to return I may be
glad to seek you again.
March 6.--Not yet! Not yet!
Alas! and since yesterday what things have happened! Last night I was to
make my attempt. They dined at eight, and I waited for them to retire. I
waited long. They were longer than usual.
[Illustration: "OH!" CRIED MRS. COMPTON SUDDENLY, "OH, DON'T LOOK AT ME
SO; DON'T LOOK AT ME SO!"]
At about ten o'clock Mrs. Compton came into my room, with as frightened
a face as usual. "They want you," said she.
I knew whom she meant. "Must I go?" said I.
"Alas, dear child, what can you do? Trust in God. He can save you."
"He alone can save me," said I, "if He will. It has come to this that I
have none but Him in whom I can trust."
She began to weep. I said no more, but obeyed the command and went down.
Since I was last there months had passed--months of suffering and
anguish in body and mind. The remembrance of my last visit there came
over me as I entered. Yet I did not tremble or falter. I crossed the
threshold and entered the room, and stood before them in silence.
I saw the three men who had been there before. _He_ and his son,
and the man Clark, They had all been drinking. Their voices were loud
and their laughter boisterous as I approached. When I entered they
became quiet, and all three stared at me. At last _he_ said to his
"She don't look any fatter, does she, Johnnie?"
"She gets enough to eat, any how," answered John.
"She's one of them kind," said the man Clark, "that don't fatten up. But
then, Johnnie, you needn't talk--you haven't much fat yourself, lad."
"Hard work," said John, whereupon the others, thinking it an excellent
joke, burst into hoarse laughter. This put them into great good-humor
with themselves, and they began to turn their attention to me again. Not
a word was said for some time.
"Can you dance?" said he, at last, speaking to me abruptly.
"Yes," I answered.
"Ah! I thought so. I paid enough for your education, any how. It would
be hard if you hadn't learned any thing else except squalling and
banging on the piano."
I said nothing.
"Why do you stare so, d--n you?" he cried, looking savagely at me.
I looked at the floor.
"Come now," said he. "I sent for you to see if you can dance. Dance!"
I stood still. "Dance!" he repeated with an oath. "Do you hear?"
"I can not," said I.
"Perhaps you want a partner," continued he, with a sneer. "Here,
Johnnie, go and help her."
"I'd rather not," said John.
"Clark, you try it--you were always gay," and he gave a hoarse laugh.
"Yes, Clark," cried John. "Now's your chance."
Clark hesitated for a moment, and then came toward me. I stood with my
arms folded, and looked at him fixedly. I was not afraid. For I thought
in that hour of who these men were, and what they were. My life was in
their hands, but I held life cheap. I rose above the fear of the moment,
and felt myself their superior.
Clark came up to me and stopped. I did not move.
"Curse her!" said he. "I'd as soon dance with a ghost. She looks like
one, any how."
_He_ laughed boisterously.
"He's afraid. He's getting superstitious!" he cried. "What do you think
of that, Johnnie?"
"Well," drawled John, "it's the first time I ever heard of Clark being
afraid of any thing."
These words seemed to sting Clark to the quick.
"Will you dance?" said he, in a hoarse voice.
I made no answer.
"Curse her! make her dance!" _he_ shouted, starting up from his
chair. "Don't let her bully you, you fool!"
Clark stepped toward me and laid one heavy hand on mine, while he
attempted to pass the other round my waist. At the horror of his
polluting touch all my nature seemed transformed. I started back. There
came something like a frenzy over me. I neither knew nor cared what I
Yet I spoke slowly, and it was not like passion. All that I had read in
that manuscript was in my heart, the very spirit of the murdered Despard
seemed to inspire me.
"Touch me not," I said. "Trouble me not. I am near enough to Death
already. And you," I cried, stretching out my hand to him, "THUG! never
again will I obey one command of yours. Kill me if you choose, and send
me after Colonel Despard."
These words seemed to blast and wither them. Clark shrank back.
_He_ gave a groan, and clutched the arm of his chair. John looked
in fear from one to the other, and stammered with an oath:
"She knows all! Mrs. Compton told her."
"Mrs. Compton never knew it, about the Thug," said he, and then looked
up fearfully at me. They all looked once more. Again that fear which I
had seen in them before was shown upon their faces.
I looked upon these wretches as though I had surveyed them from some
lofty height. That one of them was my father was forgotten. I seemed to
utter words which were inspired within me.
"Colonel Despard has spoken to me from the dead, and told me all," said
I. "I am appointed to avenge him."
I turned and went out of the room. As I left I heard John's voice:
"If she's the devil himself, as I believe she is," he cried, "_she's
got to be took down!_"
I reached my room. I lay awake all night long. A fever seemed raging in
all my veins. Now with a throbbing head and trembling hands I write
this. Will these be my last words? God grant it, and give me safe
deliverance. Amen! amen!
SMITHERS & CO.
The Brandon Bank, John Potts, President, had one day risen suddenly
before the eyes of the astonished county and filled all men with curious
John Potts had been detestable, but now, as a Bank President, he began
to be respectable, to say the least. Wealth has a charm about it which
fascinates all men, even those of the oldest families, and now that this
parvenu showed that he could easily employ his superfluous cash in a
banking company, people began to look upon his name as still undoubtedly
vulgar, yet as undoubtedly possessing the ring of gold.
His first effort to take the county by storm, by an ordinary invitation
to Brandon Hall, had been sneered at every where. But this bank was a
different thing. Many began to think that perhaps Potts had been an ill-
used and slandered man. He had been Brandon's agent, but who could prove
any thing against him after all?
There were very many who soon felt the need of the peculiar help which a
bank can give if it only chooses. Those who went there found Potts
marvelously accommodating. He did not seem so grasping or so suspicious
as other bankers. They got what they wanted, laughed at his pleasant
jokes, and assured every body that he was a much-belied man.
Surely it was by some special inspiration that Potts hit upon this idea
of a bank; if he wished to make people look kindly upon him, to "be to
his faults a little blind, and to his virtues very kind," he could not
have conceived any better or shorter way toward the accomplishment of so
desirable a result.
So lenient were these people that they looked upon all those who took
part in the bank with equal indulgence. The younger Potts was considered
as a very clever man, with a dry, caustic humor, but thoroughly good-
hearted. Clark, one of the directors, was regarded as bluff, and shrewd,
and cautious, but full of the milk of human kindness; and Philips, the
cashier, was universally liked on account of his gentle, obsequious
So wide-spread and so active were the operations of this bank that
people stood astonished and had nothing to say. The amount of their
accommodations was enormous. Those who at first considered it a mushroom
concern soon discovered their mistake; for the Brandon Bank had
connections in London which seemed to give the command of unlimited
means, and any sum whatever that might be needed was at once advanced
where the security was at all reliable. Nor was the bank particular
about security. John Potts professed to trust much to people's faces and
to their character, and there were times when he would take the security
without looking at it, or even decline it and be satisfied with the
In less than a year the bank had succeeded in gaining the fullest
confidence even of those who had at first been most skeptical, and John
Potts had grown to be considered without doubt one of the most
considerable men in the county.
One day in March John Potts was sitting in the parlor of the bank when a
gentleman walked in who seemed to be about sixty years of age. He had a
slight stoop, and carried a gold-headed cane. He was dressed in black,
had gray hair, and a very heavy gray beard and mustache.
"Have I the honor of addressing Mr. Potts?" said the stranger, in a
peculiarly high, shrill voice.
"I'm Mr. Potts," said the other.
The stranger thereupon drew a letter from his pocket-book and handed it
to Potts. The letter was a short one, and the moment Potts had read it
he sprang up and held out his hand eagerly.
"Mr. Smithers, Sir!--you're welcome, Sir, I'm sure, Sir! Proud and
happy, Sir, to see you, I'm sure!" said Potts, with great volubility.
Mr. Smithers, however, did not seem to see his hand, but seated himself
leisurely on a chair, and looked for a moment at the opposite wall like
one in thought.
He was a singular-looking old man. His skin was fresh; there was a
grand, stern air upon his brow when it was in repose. The lower part of
his face was hidden by his beard, and its expression was therefore lost.
His eyes, however, were singularly large and luminous, although he wore
spectacles and generally looked at the floor.
"I have but recently returned from a tour," said he, in the same voice;
"and my junior partner has managed all the business in my absence, which
has lasted more than a year. I had not the honor of being acquainted
with your banking-house when I left, and as I had business up this way I
thought I would call on you."
"Proud, Sir, and most happy to welcome you to our modest parlor," said
Potts, obsequiously. "This is a pleasure--indeed I may say, Sir, a
privilege--which I have long wished to have. In fact, I have never seen
your junior partner, Sir, any more than yourself. I have only seen your
agents, Sir, and have gone on and done my large business with you by
Mr. Smithers bowed.
"Quite so," said he. "We have so many connections in all parts of the
world that it is impossible to have the pleasure of a personal
acquaintance with them all. There are some with whom we have much larger
transactions than yourself whom I have never seen."
"Indeed, Sir!" exclaimed Potts, with great surprise. "Then you must do a
larger business than I thought."
"We do a large business," said Mr. Smithers, thoughtfully.
"And all over the world, you said. Then you must be worth millions."
"Oh, of course, one can not do a business like ours, that commands
money, without a large capital."
"Are there many who do a larger business than I do?"
"Oh yes. In New York the house of Peyton Brothers do a business of ten
times the amount--yes, twenty times. In San Francisco a new house, just
started since the gold discoveries, has done a business with us almost
as large. In Bombay Messrs. Nickerson, Bolton, & Co. are our
correspondents; in Calcutta Messrs. Hostermann, Jennings, & Black; in
Hong Kong Messrs. Naylor & Tibbetts; in Sydney Messrs. Sandford &
Perley. Besides these, we have correspondents through Europe and in all
parts of England who do a much larger business than yours. But I thought
you were aware of this," said Mr. Smithers, looking with a swift glance
"Of course, of course," said Potts, hastily: "I knew your business was
enormous, but I thought our dealings with you were considerable."
"Oh, you are doing a snug business," said Smithers, in a patronizing
tone. "It is our custom whenever we have correspondents who are sound
men to encourage them to the utmost. This is the reason why you have
always found us liberal and prompt."
"You have done great service, Sir," said Potts. "In fact, you have made
the Brandon Bank what it is to-day."
"Well," said Smithers, "we have agents every where; we heard that this
bank was talked about, and knowing the concern to be in sure hands we
took it up. My Junior has made arrangements with you which he says have
"Very much so to me," replied Potts. "You have always found the money."
"And you, I suppose, have furnished the securities."
"Yes, and a precious good lot of them you are now holding."
"I dare say," said Smithers: "for my part I have nothing to do with the
books. I merely attend to the general affairs, and trust to my Junior
"And you don't know the exact state of our business?" said Potts, in a
tone of disappointment.
"No. How should I? The only ones with which I am familiar are our
American, European, and Eastern agencies. Our English correspondents are
managed by my Junior."
"You must be one of the largest houses in London," said Potts, in a tone
of deep admiration.
"Strange I never heard of you till two years or so."
"There was a friend of mine who was telling me something about some
Sydney merchants who were sending consignments of wool to you. Compton &
Brandon. Do you know them?"
"I have heard my Junior speak of them."
"You were in Sydney, were you not?"
"Yes, on my last tour I touched there."
"Do you know Compton & Brandon?"
"I looked in to see them. I think Brandon is dead, isn't he? Drowned at
sea--or something of that sort?" said Smithers, indifferently.
"Yes," said Potts.
"Are you familiar with the banking business?" asked Smithers, suddenly.
"Well, no, not very. I haven't had much experience; but I'm growing into
"Ah! I suppose your directors are good business men?"
"Somewhat; but the fact is, I trust a good deal to my cashier."
"Who is he?"
"His name is Philips, a very clever man; a first-rate accountant."
"That's right. Very much indeed depends on the cashier."
"He is a most useful and reliable man."
"Your business appears to be growing, from what I have heard."
"Very fast indeed, Sir. Why, Sir, in another year I expect to control
this whole county financially. There is no reason why I shouldn't. Every
one of my moves is successful."
"That is right. The true mode of success in a business like yours is
boldness. That is the secret of my success. Perhaps you are not aware,"
continued Mr. Smithers, in a confidential tone, "that I began with very
little. A few thousands of pounds formed my capital. But my motto was
boldness, and now I am worth I will not say how many millions. If you
want to make money fast you must be bold."
"Did you make your money by banking?" asked Potts, eagerly.
"No. Much of it was made in that way, but I have embarked in all kinds
of enterprises; foreign loans, railway scrip, and ventures in stock of
all sorts. I have lost millions, but I have made ten times more than
ever I lost. If you want to make money, you must go on the same plan."
"Well, I'm sure," said Potts, "I'm bold enough. I'm enlarging my
business every day in all directions."
"I control the county now, and hope in another year to do so in a
"I'm thinking of setting up for Parliament--"
"An excellent idea, if it will not injure the business."
"Oh, it will not hurt it at all. Philips can manage it all under my
directions. Besides, I don't mind telling a friend like you that this is
the dream of my life."
"A very laudable aim, no doubt, to those who have a genius for
statesmanship. But that is a thing which is altogether out of my line. I
keep to business. And now, as my time is limited, I must not stay
longer. I will only add that my impressions are favorable about your
bank, and you may rely upon us to any extent to co-operate with you in
any sound enterprise. Go on and enlarge your business, and draw on us
for what you want as before. If I were you I would embark all my
available means in this bank."
"Well, I'm gradually coming to that, I think," said Potts.
"Then, when you get large deposits, as you must expect, that will give
you additional capital to work on. The best way when you have a bank is
to use your cash in speculating in stocks. Have you tried that yet?"
"Yes, but not much."
"If you wish any thing of that kind done we will do it for you."
"But I don't know what are the best investments."
"Oh, that is very easily found out. But if you can't learn, we will let
you know. The Mexican Loan just now is the most promising. Some of the
California companies are working quietly, and getting enormous
"California?" said Potts; "that ought to pay."
"Oh, there's nothing like it. I cleared nearly half a million in a few
"A few months!" cried Potts, opening his eyes.
"Yes, we have agents who keep us well up; and so, you know, we are able
to speculate to the best advantage."
"California!" said Potts, thoughtfully. "I should like to try that above
all things. It has a good sound. It is like the chink of cash."
"Yes, you get the pure gold out of that. There's nothing like it."
"Do you know any chances for speculation there?"
"Yes, one or two."
"Would you have any objection to let me know?"
"Not in the least--it will extend your business. I will ask my Junior to
send you any particulars you may desire."
"This California business must be the best there is, if all I hear is
"You haven't heard the real truth."
"Haven't I?" exclaimed Potts, in wonder. "I thought it was exaggerated."
"I could tell you stories far more wonderful than any thing you have
"Tell me!" cried Potts, breathlessly.
"Well," said Smithers, confidentially, "I don't mind telling you
something which is known, I'm sorry to say, in certain circles in
London, and is already being acted on. One-half of our fortune has been
made in California operations."
"You don't say so!"
"You see I've always been bold," continued Smithers, with an air of
still greater confidence. "I read some time since in one of Humboldt's
books about gold being there. At the first news of the discovery I
chartered a ship and went out at once. I took every thing that could be
needed. On arriving at San Francisco, where there were already very many
people, I sold the cargo at an enormous profit, and hired the ship as a
warehouse at enormous prices. I then organized a mining company, and put
a first-rate man at the head of it. They found a place on the Sacramento
River where the gold really seems inexhaustible. I worked it for some
months, and forwarded two millions sterling to London. Then I left, and
my company is still working."
"Why did you leave?" asked Potts, breathlessly.
"Because I could make more money by being in London. My man there is
reliable. I have bound him to us by giving him a share in the business.
People soon found out that Smithers & Co. had made enormous sums of
money in California, but they don't know exactly how. The immense
expansion of our business during the last year has filled them with
wonder. For you know every piece of gold that I sent home has been
utilized by my Junior."
Potts was silent, and sat looking in breathless admiration at this
millionaire. All his thoughts were seen in his face. His whole heart was
laid bare, and the one thing visible was an intense desire to share in
that golden enterprise.
"I have organized two companies on the same principle as the last. The
shares are selling at a large premium in the London market. I take a
leading part in each, and my name gives stability to the enterprise. If
I find the thing likely to succeed I continue; if not, why, I can easily
sell out. I am on the point of organizing a third company."
"Are the shares taken up?" cried Potts, eagerly.
"No, not yet."
"Well, could I obtain some?"
"I really can't say," replied Smithers. "You might make an application
to my Junior. I do nothing whatever with the details. I don't know what
plans or agreements he may have been making."
"I should like exceedingly to take stock. How do the shares sell?"
"The price is high, as we wish to confine our shareholders to the richer
classes. We never put it at less than L1000 a share."
"I would take any quantity."
"I dare say some may be in the market yet," said Smithers, calmly. "They
probably sell at a high premium though."
"I'd pay it," said Potts.
"Well, you may write and see; I know nothing about it."
"And if they're all taken up, what then?"
"Oh--then--I really don't know. Why can't you organize a company
"Well, you see, I don't know anything about the place."
"True; that is a disadvantage. But you might find some people who do
"That would be very difficult. I do not see how we could begin. And if I
did find any one, how could I trust him?"
"You'd have to do as I did--give him a share of the business."
"It would be much better if I could get some stock in one of your
companies. Your experience and credit would make it a success."
"Yes, there is no doubt that our companies would all be successful since
we have a man on the spot."
"And that's another reason why I should prefer buying stock from you.
You see I might form a company, but what could I do?"
"Could not your cashier help you?"
"No, not in any thing of that sort."
"Well, I can say nothing about it. My Junior will tell you what chances
"But while I see you personally I should be glad if you would consent to
give me a chance. Have you any objection?"
"Oh no. I will mention your case the next time I write, if you wish it.
Still I can not control the particular operations of the office. My
control is supreme in general matters, and you see it would not be
possible for me to interfere with the smaller details."
"Still you might mention me."
"I will do so," said Smithers, and taking out his pocket-book he
prepared to write.
"Let me see," said he, "your Christian name is--what?"
"John Potts," repeated the other, as he wrote it down.
Smithers rose. "You may continue to draw on us as before, and any
purchases of stock which you wish will be made."
Potts thanked him profusely. "I wish to see your cashier, to learn his
mode of managing the accounts. Much depends on that, and a short
conversation will satisfy me."
"Certainly, Sir, certainly," said Potts, obsequiously. "Philips!" he
Philips came in as timid and as shrinking as usual.
"This is Mr. Smithers, the great Smithers of Smithers & Co., Bankers; he
wishes to have a talk with you."
Philips looked at the great man with deep respect and made an awkward
"You may come with me to my hotel," said Smithers; and with a slight bow
to Potts he left the bank, followed by Philips.
He went up stairs and into a large parlor on the second story, which
looked into the street. He motioned Philips to a chair near the window,
and seated himself in an arm-chair opposite.
Smithers looked at the other with a searching glance, and said nothing
for some time. His large, full eyes, as they fixed themselves on the
face of the other, seemed to read his inmost thoughts and study every
part of his weak and irresolute character.
At length he said, abruptly, in a slow, measured voice, "Edgar Lawton!"
At the sound of this name Philips started from his chair, and stood on
his feet trembling. His face, always pale, now became ashen, his lips
turned white, his jaw fell, his eyes seemed to start from their sockets.
He stood for a few seconds, then sank back into a chair.
Smithers eyed him steadfastly. "You see I know you," said he, after a
Philips cast on him an imploring look.
"The fact that I know your name," continued Smithers, "shows also that I
must know something of your history. Do not forget that!"
"My--my history?" faltered Philips.
"Yes, your history. I know it all, wretched man! I knew your father whom
you ruined, and whose heart you broke."
Philips said not a word, but again turned an imploring face to this man.
"I have brought you here to let you know that there is one who holds you
in his power, and that one is myself. You think Potts or Clark have you
at their mercy. Not so. I alone hold your fate in my hands. They dare
not do any thing against you for fear of their own necks."
[Illustration: "AT THE SOUND OF THIS NAME PHILIPS STARTED FROM HIS
CHAIR, AND STOOD ON HIS FEET TREMBLING."]
Philips looked up now in wonder, which was greater than his fear.
"Why," he faltered, "you are Potts's friend. You got him to start the
bank, and you have advanced him money."
"You are the cashier," said Smithers, calmly. "Can you tell me how much
the Brandon Bank owes Smithers & Co?"
Philips looked at the other and hesitated.
"Two hundred and eighty-nine thousand pounds."
"And if Smithers & Co. chose to demand payment to-morrow, do you think
the Brandon Bank would be prompt about it?"
Philips shook his head.
"Then you see that the man whom you fear is not so powerful as some
"I thought you were his friend?"
"Do you know who I am?"
"Smithers & Co.," said Philips, wearily.
"Well, let me tell you the plans of Smithers & Co. are beyond your
comprehension. Whether they are friends to Potts or not, it seems that
they are his creditors to an amount which it would be difficult for him
to pay if they chose to demand it."
Philips looked up. He caught sight of the eyes of Smithers, which blazed
like two dark, fiery orbs as they were fastened upon him. He shuddered.
"I merely wished to show you the weakness of the man whom you fear.
Shall I tell you something else?"
Philips looked up fearfully.
"I have been in York, in Calcutta, and in Manilla: and I know what Potts
did in each place. You look frightened. You have every reason to be so.
I know what was done at York. I know that you were sent to Botany Bay. I
know that you ran away from your father to India. I know your life
there. I know how narrowly you escaped going on board the _Vishnu_,
and being implicated in the Manilla murder. Madman that you were, why
did you not take your poor mother and fly from these wretches forever?"
Philips trembled from head to foot. He said not a word, but bowed his
head upon his knees and wept.
"Where is she now?" said Smithers, sternly. Philips mechanically raised
his head, and pointed over toward Brandon Hall.
"Is she confined against her will?"
Philips shook his head.
"She stays, then, through love of you?"
"Is any one else there?" said Smithers, after a pause, and in a strange,
sad voice, in which there was a faltering tone which Philips, in his
fright, did not notice.
"Miss Potts," he said.
"She is treated cruelly," said Smithers. "They say she is a prisoner?"
"Has she been sick?"
"Eight months, last year."
"Is she well now?"
Smithers bowed his head in silence, and put his hand on his heart.
Philips watched him in an agony of fright, as though every instant he
was apprehensive of some terrible calamity.
"How is she?" continued Smithers, after a time. "Has she ever been happy
since she went there?"
Philips shook his head slowly and mournfully.
"Does her father ever show her any affection?"
"Does her brother?"
"Is there any one who does?"
"I will not forget that. No, I will never forget that. Do you think that
she is exposed to any danger?"
"I don't know. I sometimes fear so."
"Of what kind?"
"I don't know. Almost any horrible thing may happen in that horrible
A pang of agony shot across the sombre brow of Smithers. He was silent
for a long time.
"Have you ever slighted her?" he asked at last.
"Never," cried Philips. "I could worship her--"
Smithers smiled upon him with a smile so sweet that it chased all
Philips's fears away. He took courage and began to show more calm.
"Fear nothing," said Smithers, in a gentle voice. "I see that in spite
of your follies and crimes there is something good in you yet. You love
your mother, do you not?"
Tears came into Philips's eyes. He sighed. "Yes," he said, humbly.
"And you are kind to _her_--that other one?"
"I love her as my mother," said Philips, earnestly.
Smithers again relapsed into silence for a long time. At last he looked
up. Philips saw his eyes this time, no longer stern and wrathful, but
benignant and indulgent.
"You have been all your life under the power of merciless men," said he.
"You have been led by them into folly and crime and suffering. Often you
have been forced to act against your will. Poor wretch! I can save you,
and I intend to do so in spite of yourself. You fear these masters of
yours. You must know now that I, not they, am to be feared. They know
your secret but dare not use it against you. I know it, and can use it
if I choose. You have been afraid of them all your life. Fear them no
longer, but fear me. These men whom you fear are in my power as well as
you are. I know all their secrets--there is not a crime of theirs of
which you know that I do not know also, and I know far more.
"You must from this time forth be my agent. Smithers & Co. have agents
in all parts of the world. You shall be their agent in Brandon Hall. You
shall say nothing of this interview to any one, not even to your mother
--you shall not dare to communicate with me unless you are requested,
except about such things as I shall specify. If you dare to shrink in
any one point from your duty, at that instant I will come down upon you
with a heavy hand. You, too, are watched. I have other agents here in
Brandon besides yourself. Many of those who go to the bank as customers
are my agents. You can not be false without my knowing it; and when you
are false, that moment you shall be handed over to the authorities. Do
The face of Smithers was mild, but his tone was stern. It was the
warning of a just yet merciful master. All the timid nature of Philips
bent in deep subjection before the powerful spirit of this man. He bowed
his head in silence.
"Whenever an order comes to you from Smithers & Co. you must obey: if
you do not obey instantly whatever it is, it will be at the risk of your
life. Do you hear?"
"There is only one thing now in which I wish you to do anything. You
must send every month a notice directed to Mr. Smithers, Senior, about
the health of _his daughter_. Should any sudden danger impend you
must at once communicate it. You understand?"
"Once more I must warn you always to remember that I am your master.
Fail in one single thing, and you perish. Obey me, and you shall be
rewarded. Now go!"
Philips rose, and, more dead than alive, tottered from the room.
When he left Smithers locked the door. He then went to the window and
stood looking at Brandon Hall, with his stern face softened into
sadness. He hummed low words as he stood there--words which once had
been sung far away.
Among them were these, with which the strain ended:
"And the sad memory of our life below
Shall but unite us closer evermore;
No net of thine shall loose
Thee from the eternal bond,
Nor shall Revenge have power
To disunite us _there_!"
With a sigh he sat down and buried his face in his hands. His gray hair
loosened and fell off as he sat there. At last he raised his head, and
revealed the face of a young man whose dark hair showed the gray beard
to be false.
Yet when he once more put on his wig none but a most intimate friend
with the closest scrutiny could recognize there the features of Louis
Many weeks passed on, and music still formed the chief occupation in
life for Despard and Mrs. Thornton. His journey to Brandon village had
been without result. He knew not what to do. The inquiries which he made
every where turned out useless. Finally Thornton informed him that it
was utterly hopeless, at a period so long after the event, to attempt to
do any thing whatever. Enough had been done long ago. Now nothing more
could possibly be effected.
Baffled, but not daunted, Despard fell back for the present from his
purpose, yet still cherished it and wrote to different quarters for
information. Meantime he had to return to his life at Holby, and Mrs.
Thornton was still ready to assist him.
So the time went on, and the weeks passed, till one day in March Despard
went up as usual.
On entering the parlor he heard voices, and saw a stranger. Mrs.
Thornton greeted him as usual and sat down smiling. The stranger rose,
and he and Despard looked at one another.
He was of medium size and slight in figure. His brow was very broad and
high. His hair was black, and clustered in curls over his head. His eyes
were large, and seemed to possess an unfathomable depth, which gave them
a certain undefinable and mystic meaning--liquid eyes, yet lustrous,
where all the soul seemed to live and show itself--benignant in their
glance, yet lofty like the eyes of a being from some superior sphere.
His face was thin and shaven close, his lips also were thin, with a
perpetual smile of marvelous sweetness and gentleness hovering about
them. It was such a face as artists love to give to the Apostle John--
the sublime, the divine, the loving, the inspired.
"You do not know him," said Mrs. Thornton. "It is Paolo!"
Despard at once advanced and greeted him with the warmest cordiality.
"I was only a little fellow when I saw you last, and you have changed
somewhat since then," said Despard. "But when did you arrive? I knew
that you were expected in England, but was not sure that you would come
"What! _Teresuola mia_," said Langhetti with a fond smile at his
sister. "Were you really not sure, _sorellina_, that I would come
to see you first of all? Infidel!" and he shook his head at her,
A long conversation followed, chiefly about Langhetti's plans. He was
going to engage a place in London for his opera, but wished first to
secure a singer. Oh, if he only could find Bice--his Bicina, the
divinest voice that mortal ever heard.
Despard and Mrs. Thornton exchanged glances, and at last Despard told
him that there was a person of the same name at Brandon Hall. She was
living in a seclusion so strict that it seemed confinement, and there
was a mystery about her situation which he had tried without success to
Langhetti listened with a painful surprise that seemed like positive
"Then I must go myself. Oh, my Bicina--to what misery have you come--
But do you say that you have been there?"
"Did you go to the Hall?"
"Because I know the man to be a villain indescribable--"
Langhetti thought for a moment, and then said,
"True, he is all that, and perhaps more than you imagine."
"I have done the utmost that can be done!" said Despard.
"Perhaps so; still each one wishes to try for himself, and though I can
scarce hope to be more successful than you, yet I must try, if only for
my own peace of mind. Oh, _Bicina cara!_ to think of her sweet and
gentle nature being subject to such torments as those ruffians can
"You do not know how it is," said he at last, very solemnly; "but there
are reasons of transcendent importance why Bice should be rescued. I can
not tell them; but if I dared mention what I hope, if I only dared to
speak my thoughts, you--you," he cried, with piercing emphasis, and in
a tone that thrilled through Despard, to whom he spoke, "you would make
it the aim of all your life to save her."
"I do not understand," said Despard, in astonishment.
"No, no," murmured Langhetti. "You do not; nor dare I explain what I
mean. It has been in my thoughts for years. It was brought to my mind
first in Hong Kong, when she was there. Only one person besides Potts
can explain; only one."
"Who?" cried Despard, eagerly.
"A woman named Compton."
"Yes. Perhaps she is dead. Alas, and alas, and alas, if she is! Yet
could I but see that woman, I would tear the truth from her if I
perished in the attempt!"
And Langhetti stretched out his long, slender hand, as though he were
plucking out the very heart of some imaginary enemy.
"Think, Teresuola," said he, after a while, "if you were in captivity,
what would become of my opera? Could I have the heart to think about
operas, even if I believed that they contributed to the welfare of the
world, if your welfare was at stake? Now you know that next to you
stands Bice. I must try and save her--I must give up all. My opera must
stand aside till it be God's will that I give it forth. No, the one
object of my life now must be to find Bice, to see her or to see Mrs.
Compton, if she is alive."
"Is the secret of so much importance?" asked Despard.
Langhetti looked at him with mournful meaning.
Despard looked at him wonderingly. What could he mean? How could any one
affect him? His peace of mind! That had been lost long ago. And if this
secret was so terrible it would distract his mind from its grief, its
care, and its longing. Peace would be restored rather than destroyed.
"I must find her. I must find her," said Langhetti, speaking half to
himself. "I am weak; but much can be done by a resolute will."
"Perhaps Mr. Thornton can assist you," said Despard.
Langhetti shook his head.
"No; he is a man of law, and does not understand the man who acts from
feeling. I can be as logical as he, but I obey impulses which are
unintelligible to him. He would simply advise me to give up the matter,
adding, perhaps, that I would do myself no good. Whereas he can not
understand that it makes no difference to me whether I do myself good or
not; and again, that the highest good that I can do myself is to seek
Mrs. Thornton looked at Despard, but he avoided her glance.
"No," said Langhetti, "I will ask assistance from another--from you,
Despard. You are one who acts as I act. Come with me."
"Of course you will. You would not be a Despard if you did not. You
would not be the son of your father--your father!" he repeated, in
thrilling tones, as his eyes flashed with enthusiasm. "Despard!" he
cried, after a pause, "your father was a man whom you might pray to now.
I saw him once. Shall I ever forget the day when he calmly went to lay
down his life for my father? Despard, I worship your father's memory.
Come with me. Let us emulate those two noble men who once before rescued
a captive. We can not risk our lives as they did. Let us at least do
what we can."
"I will do exactly what you say. You can think and I will act."
"No, you must think too. Neither of us belong to the class of practical
men whom the world now delights to honor; but no practical man would go
on our errand. No practical man would have rescued my father. Generous
and lofty acts must always be done by those who are not practical men."
"But I must go out. I must think," he continued. "I will go and walk
about the grounds."
Saying this be left the room.
"Where is Edith Brandon?" asked Despard, after he had gone.
"She is here," said Mrs. Thornton.
"Have you seen her?"
"Is she what you anticipated?"
"More. She is incredible. She is almost unearthly. I feel awe of her,
but not fear. She is too sweet to inspire fear."
The last entry in Beatrice's journal was made by her in the hope that it
might be the last.
In her life at Brandon Hall her soul had grown stronger and more
resolute. Besides, it had now come to this, that henceforth she must
either stay and accept the punishment which they might contrive or fly
For she had dared them to their faces; she had told them of their
crimes; she had threatened punishment. She had said that she was the
avenger of Despard. If she had desired instant death she could have said
no more than that. Would they pass it by? She knew their secret--the
secret of secrets; she had proclaimed it to their faces. She had called
Potts a Thug and disowned him as her father; what now remained?
But one thing--flight. And this she was fully resolved to try. She
prepared nothing. To gain the outside world was all she wished. The need
of money was not thought of; nor if it had been would it have made any
difference. She could not have obtained it.
The one idea in her mind was therefore flight. She had concealed her
journal under a looser piece of the flooring in one of the closets of
her room, being unwilling to encumber herself with it, and dreading the
result of a search in case she was captured.
She made no other preparations whatever. A light hat and a thin jacket
were all that she took to resist the chill air of March. There was a
fever in her veins which was heightened by excitement and suspense.
Mrs. Compton was in her room during the evening. Beatrice said but
little. Mrs. Compton talked drearily about the few topics on which she
generally spoke. She never dared talk about the affairs of the house.
Beatrice was not impatient, for she had no idea of trying to escape
before midnight. She sat silently while Mrs. Compton talked or prosed,
absorbed in her own thoughts and plans. The hours seemed to her
interminable. Slowly and heavily they dragged on. Beatrice's suspense
and excitement grew stronger every moment, yet by a violent effort she
preserved so perfect an outward calm that a closer observer than Mrs.
Compton would have failed to detect any emotion.
At last, about ten o'clock, Mrs. Compton retired, with many kind wishes
to Beatrice, and many anxious counsels as to her health. Beatrice
listened patiently, and made some general remarks, after which Mrs.
She was now left to herself, and two hours still remained before she
could dare to venture. She paced the room fretfully and anxiously,
wondering why it was that the time seemed so long, and looking from time
to time at her watch in the hope of finding that half an hour had
passed, but seeing to her disappointment that only two or three minutes
At last eleven o'clock came. She stole out quietly into the hall and
went to the top of the grand stairway. There she stood and listened.
The sound of voices came up from the dining-room, which was near the
hall-door. She knew to whom those voices belonged. Evidently it was not
yet the time for her venture.
She went back, controlling her excitement as best she might. At last,
after a long, long suspense, midnight sounded.
Again she went to the head of the stairway. The voices were still heard.
They kept late hours down there. Could she try now, while they were
still up? Not yet.
Not yet. The suspense became agonizing. How could she wait? But she went
back again to her room, and smothered her feelings until one o'clock
Again she went to the head of the stairway. She heard nothing. She could
see a light streaming from the door of the dining-hall below. Lights,
also, were burning in the hall itself; but she heard no voices.
Softly and quietly she went down stairs. The lights flashed out through
the door of the dining-room into the hall; and as she arrived at the
foot of the stairs she heard subdued voices in conversation. Her heart
beat faster. They were all there! What if they now discovered her! What
mercy would they show her, even if they were capable of mercy?
Fear lent wings to her feet. She was almost afraid to breathe for fear
that they might hear her. She stole on quietly and noiselessly up the
passage that led to the north end, and at last reached it.
All was dark there. At this end there was a door. On each side was a
kind of recess formed by the pillars of the doorway. The door was
generally used by the servants, and also by the inmates of the house for
The key was in it. There was no light in the immediate vicinity. Around
it all was gloom. Near by was a stairway, which led to the servants'
She took the key in her hands, which trembled violently with excitement,
and turned it in the lock.
Scarcely had she done so when she heard footsteps and voices behind her.
She looked hastily back, and, to her horror, saw two servants
approaching with a lamp. It was impossible for her now to open the door
and go out. Concealment was her only plan.
But how? There was no time for hesitation. Without stopping to think she
slipped into one of the niches formed by the projecting pillars, and
gathered her skirts close about her so as to be as little conspicuous as
possible. There she stood awaiting the result. She half wished that she
had turned back. For if she were now discovered in evident concealment
what excuse could she give? She could not hope to bribe them, for she
had no money. And, what was worst, these servants were the two who had
been the most insolent to her from the first.
She could do nothing, therefore, but wait. They came nearer, and at last
reached the door.
"Hallo!" said one, as he turned the key. "It's been unlocked!"
"It hain't been locked yet," said the other.
"Yes, it has. I locked it myself an hour ago. Who could have been here?"
"Any one," said the other, quietly. "Our blessed young master has, no
doubt, been out this way."
"No, he hasn't. He hasn't stirred from his whisky since eight o'clock."
"Nonsense! You're making a fuss about nothing. Lock the door and come
"Any how, I'm responsible, and I'll get a precious overhauling if this
thing goes on. I'll take the key with me this time."
And saying this, the man locked the door and took out the key. Both of
them then descended to the servants' hall.
The noise of that key as it grated in the lock sent a thrill through the
heart of the trembling listener. It seemed to take all hope from her.
The servants departed. She had not been discovered. But what was to be
done? She had not been prepared for this.
She stood for some time in despair. She thought of other ways of escape.
There was the hall-door, which she did not dare to try, for she would
have to pass directly in front of the dining-room. Then there was the
south door at the other end of the building, which was seldom used. She
knew of no others. She determined to try the south door.
Quietly and swiftly she stole away, and glided, like a ghost, along the
entire length of the building. It was quite dark at the south end as it
had been at the north. She reached the door without accident.
There was no key in it. It was locked. Escape by that way was
She stood despairing. Only one way was now left, and that lay through
the hall-door itself.
Suddenly, as she stood there, she heard footsteps. A figure came down
the long hall straight toward her. There was not the slightest chance of
concealment here. There were no pillars behind which she might crouch.
She must stand, then, and take the consequences. Or, rather, would it
not be better to walk forward and meet this new-comer? Yes; that would
be best. She determined to do so.
So, with a quiet, slow step she walked back through the long corridor.
About half-way she met the other. He stopped and started back.
"Miss Potts!" he exclaimed, in surprise.
It was the voice of Philips.
"Ah, Philips," said she, quietly, "I am walking about for exercise and
amusement. I can not sleep. Don't be startled. It's only me."
Philips stood like one paralyzed.
"Don't be cast down," he said at last, in a trembling voice. "You have
friends, powerful friends. They will save you."
"What do you mean?" asked Beatrice, in wonder.
"Never mind," said Philips, mysteriously. "It will be all right. I dare
not tell. But cheer up."
"What do you mean by friends?"
"You have friends who are more powerful than your enemies, that's all,"
said Philips, hurriedly. "Cheer up."
Beatrice wondered. A vague thought of Brandon came over her mind, but
she dismissed it at once. Yet the thought gave her a delicious joy, and
at once dispelled the extreme agitation which had thus far disturbed
her. Could Philips be connected with _him_? Was he in reality
considerate about her while shaping the course of his gloomy vengeance?
These were the thoughts which flashed across her mind as she stood.
"I don't understand," said she, at last; "but I hope it may be as you
say. God knows, I need friends!"
She walked away, and Philips also went onward. She walked slowly, until
at last his steps died out in the distance. Then a door banged.
Evidently she had nothing to fear from him. At last she reached the main
hall, and stopped for a moment. The lights from the dining-room were
still flashing out through the door. The grand entrance lay before her.
There was the door of the hall, the only way of escape that now
remained. Dare she try it?
She deliberated long. Two alternatives lay before her--to go back to her
own room, or to try to pass that door. To go back was as repulsive as
death, in fact more so. If the choice had been placed full before her
then, to die on the spot or to go back to her room, she would have
deliberately chosen death. The thought of returning, therefore, was the
last upon which she could dwell, and that of going forward was the only
one left. To this she gave her attention.
At last she made up her mind, and advanced cautiously, close by the
wall, toward the hall-door. After a time she reached the door of the
dining-room. Could she venture to pass it, and how? She paused. She
listened. There were low voices in the room. Then they were still awake,
still able to detect her if she passed the door.
She looked all around. The hall was wide. On the opposite side the wall
was but feebly lighted. The hall lights had been put out, and those
which shone from the room extended forward but a short distance. It was
just possible therefore to escape observation by crossing the doorway
along the wall that was most distant from it.
Yet before she tried this she ventured to put forward her head so as to
peep into the room. She stooped low and looked cautiously and slowly.
The three were there at the farthest end of the room. Bottles and
glasses stood before them, and they were conversing in low tones. Those
tones, however, were not so low but that they reached her ears. They
were speaking about _her_.
"How could she have found it out?" said Clark.
"Mrs. Compton only knows _one thing_," said Potts, "and that is
_the secret about her_. She knows nothing more. How could she?"
"Then how could that cursed girl have found out about the Thug
business?" exclaimed John.
There was no reply.
"She's a deep one," said John, "d--d deep--deeper than I ever thought.
I always said she was plucky--cursed plucky--but now I see she's deep
too--and I begin to have my doubts about the way she ought to be took
"I never could make her out," said Potts. "And now I don't even begin to
understand how she could know that which only we have known. Do you
think, Clark, that the devil could have told her of it?"
"Yes," said Clark. "Nobody but the devil could have told her that, and
my belief is that she's the devil himself. She's the only person I ever
felt afraid of. D--n it, I can't look her in the face."
Beatrice retreated and passed across to the opposite wall. She did not
wish to see or hear more. She glided by. She was not noticed. She heard
John's voice--sharp and clear--
"We'll have to begin to-morrow and take her down--that's a fact." This
was followed by silence.
Beatrice reached the door. She turned the knob. Oh, joy! it was not
locked. It opened.
Noiselessly she passed through; noiselessly she shut it behind her. She
was outside. She was free.
The moon shone brightly. It illumined the lawn in front and the tops of
the clumps of trees whose dark foliage rose before her. She saw all
this; yet, in her eagerness to escape, she saw nothing more, but sped
away swiftly down the steps, across the lawn, and under the shade of the
Which way should she go? There was the main avenue which led in a
winding direction toward the gate and the porter's lodge. There was also
another path which the servants generally took. This led to the gate
also. Beatrice thought that by going down this path she might come near
the gate and then turn off to the wall and try and climb over.
A few moments of thought were sufficient for her decision. She took the
path and went hurriedly along, keeping on the side where the shadow was
She walked swiftly, until at length she came to a place where the path
ended. It was close by the porter's lodge. Here she paused to consider.
Late as it was there were lights in the lodge and voices at the door.
Some one was talking with the porter. Suddenly the voices ceased and a
man came walking toward the place where she stood.
To dart into the thick trees where the shadow lay deepest was the work
of a moment. She stood and watched. But the underbrush was dense, and
the crackling which she made attracted the man's attention. He stopped
for a moment, and then rushed straight toward the place where she was.
Beatrice gave herself up for lost. She rushed on wildly, not knowing
where she went. Behind her was the sound of her pursuer. He followed
resolutely and relentlessly. There was no refuge for her but continued
Onward she sped, and still onward, through the dense underbrush, which
at every step gave notice of the direction which she had taken. Perhaps
if she had been wiser she would have plunged into some thick growth of
trees into the midst of absolute darkness and there remained still. As
it was she did not think of this. Escape was her only thought, and the
only way to this seemed to be by flight.
So she fled; and after her came her remorseless, her unpitying pursuer,
fear lent wings to her feet. She fled on through the underbrush that
crackled as she passed and gave notice of her track through the dark,
dense groves; yet still amidst darkness and gloom her pursuer followed.
[Illustration: "ONWARD SHE SPED, AND STILL ONWARD, THROUGH THE DENSE
At last, through utter weakness and weariness, she sank down. Despair
came over her. She could do no more.
The pursuer came up. So dense was the gloom in that thick grove that for
some time he could not find her. Beatrice heard the crackling of the
underbrush all around. He was searching for her.
She crouched down low and scarcely dared to breathe. She took refuge in
the deep darkness, and determined to wait till her pursuer might give up
his search. At last all was still.
Beatrice thought that he had gone. Yet in her fear she waited for what
seemed to her an interminable period. At last she ventured to make a
movement. Slowly and cautiously she rose to her feet and advanced. She
did not know what direction to take; but she walked on, not caring where
she went so long as she could escape pursuit.
Scarcely had she taken twenty steps when she heard a noise. Some one was
moving. She stood still, breathless. Then she thought she had been
mistaken. After waiting a long time she went on as before. She walked
faster. The noise came again. It was close by. She stood still for many
Suddenly she bounded up, and ran as one runs for life. Her long rest had
refreshed her. Despair gave her strength. But the pursuer was on her
track. Swiftly, and still more swiftly, his footsteps came up behind
her. He was gaining on her. Still she rushed on.
At last a strong hand seized her by the shoulder, and she sank down upon
the moss that lay under the forest trees.
"Who are you?" cried a familiar voice.
"Vijal!" cried Beatrice.
The other let go his hold.
"Will you betray me?" cried Beatrice, in a mournful and despairing
Vijal was silent.
"What do you want?" said he, at last. "Whatever you want to do I will
help you. I will be your slave."
"I wish to escape."
"Come then--you shall escape," said Vijal.
Without uttering another word he walked on and Beatrice followed. Hope
rose once more within her. Hope gave strength. Despair and its weakness
had left her. After about half an hour's walk they reached the park
"I thought it was a poacher," said Vijal, sadly; "yet I am glad it was
you, for I can help you. I will help you over the wall."
He raised her up. She clambered to the top, where she rested for a
"God bless you, Vijal, and good-by!" said she.
Vijal said nothing.
The next moment she was on the other side. The road lay there. It ran
north away from the village. Along this road Beatrice walked swiftly.
"PICKED UP ADRIFT."
On the morning following two travelers left a small inn which lay on the
road-side, about ten miles north of Brandon. It was about eight o'clock
when they took their departure, driving in their own carriage at a
moderate pace along the road.
"Look, Langhetti," said the one who was driving, pointing with his whip
to an object in the road directly in front of them.
Langhetti raised his head, which had been bowed down in deep
abstraction, to look in the direction indicated. A figure was
approaching them. It looked like a woman. She walked very slowly, and
appeared rather to stagger than to walk.
"She appears to be drunk, Despard," said Langhetti. "Poor wretch, and on
this bleak March morning too! Let us stop and see if we can do any thing
They drove on, and as they met the woman Despard stopped.
She was young and extraordinarily beautiful. Her face was thin and
white. Her clothing was of fine materials but scanty and torn to shreds.
As they stopped she turned her large eyes up despairingly and stood
still, with a face which seemed to express every conceivable emotion of
anguish and of hope. Yet as her eyes rested on Langhetti a change came
over her. The deep and unutterable sadness of her face passed away, and
was succeeded by a radiant flash of joy. She threw out her arms toward
him with a cry of wild entreaty.
The moment that Langhetti saw her he started up and stood for an instant
as if paralyzed. Her cry came to his ears. He leaped from the carriage
toward her, and caught her in his arms.
"Oh, Bice! Alas, my Bicina!" he cried, and a thousand fond words came to
Beatrice looked up with eyes filled with grateful tears; her lips
murmured some inaudible sentences; and then, in this full assurance of
safety, the resolution that had sustained her so long gave way
altogether. Her eyes closed, she gave a low moan, and sank senseless
upon his breast.
Langhetti supported her for a moment, then gently laid her down to try
and restore her. He chafed her hands, and did all that is usually done
in such emergencies. But here the case was different--it was more than
a common faint, and the animation now suspended was not to be restored
by ordinary efforts.
Langhetti bowed over her as he chafed her hands. "Ah, my Bicina," he
cried; "is it thus I find you! Ah, poor thin hand! Alas, white wan face!
What suffering has been yours, pure angel, among those fiends of hell!"
He paused, and turned a face of agony toward Despard. But as he looked
at him he saw a grief in his countenance that was only second to his
own. Something in Beatrice's appearance had struck him with a deeper
feeling than that merely human interest which the generous heart feels
in the sufferings of others.
"Langhetti," said he, "let us not leave this sweet angel exposed to this
bleak wind. We must take her back to the inn. We have gained our object.
Alas! the gain is worse than a failure."
"What can we do?"
"Let us put her in the carriage between us, and drive back instantly."
Despard stooped as he spoke, raised her reverently in his arms, and
lifted her upon the seat. He sprang in and put his arms around her
senseless form, so as to support her against himself. Langhetti looked
on with eyes that were moist with a sad yet mysterious feeling.
Then he resumed his place in the carriage.
"Oh, Langhetti!" said Despard, "what is it that I saw in the face of
this poor child that so wrings my heart? What is this mystery of yours
that you will not tell?"
"I can not solve it," said Langhetti, "and therefore I will not tell
"Tell it, whatever it is."
"No, it is only conjecture as yet, and I will not utter it."
"And it affects me?"
"Therefore tell it."
"Therefore I must not tell it; for if it prove baseless I shall only
excite your feeling in vain."
"At any rate let me know. For I have the wildest fancies, and I wish to
know if it is possible that they are like your own."
"No, Despard," said Langhetti. "Not now. The time may come, but it has
Beatrice's head leaned against Despard's shoulder as she reclined
against him, sustained by his arm. Her face was upturned; a face as
white as marble, her pure Grecian features showing now their faultless
lines like the sculptured face of some goddess. Her beauty was perfect
in its classic outline. But her eyes were closed, and her wan, white
lips parted; and there was a sorrow on her face which did not seem
appropriate to one so young.
[Illustration: "HE LEAPED FROM THE CARRIAGE TOWARD HER, AND CAUGHT HER
IN HIS ARMS."]
"Look," said Langhetti, in a mournful voice. "Saw you ever in all your
life any one so perfectly and so faultlessly beautiful? Oh, if you could
but have seen her, as I have done, in her moods of inspiration, when she
sang! Could I ever have imagined such a fate as this for her?"
"Oh, Despard!" he continued, after, a pause in which the other had
turned his stern face to him without a word--"Oh, Despard! you ask me to
tell you this secret. I dare not. It is so wide-spread. If my fancy be
true, then all your life must at once be unsettled, and all your soul
turned to one dark purpose. Never will I turn you to that purpose till I
know the truth beyond the possibility of a doubt."
"I saw that in her face," said Despard, "which I hardly dare acknowledge
"Do not acknowledge it, then, I implore you. Forget it. Do not open up
once more that old and now almost forgotten sorrow. Think not of it even
Langhetti spoke with a wild and vehement urgency which was wonderful.
"Do you not see," said Despard, "that you rouse my curiosity to an
"Be it so; at any rate it is better to suffer from curiosity than to
feel what you must feel if I told you what I suspect."
Had it been any other man than Langhetti Despard would have been
offended. As it was he said nothing, but began to conjecture as to the
best course for them to follow.
"It is evident," said he to Langhetti, "that she has escaped from
Brandon Hall during the past night. She will, no doubt, be pursued. What
shall we do? If we go back to this inn they will wonder at our bringing
her. There is another inn a mile further on."
"I have been thinking of that," replied Langhetti. "It will be better to
go to the other inn. But what shall we say about her? Let us say she is