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Jack Harkaway and his son's Escape From the Brigand's of Greece by Bracebridge Hemyng

Part 2 out of 9

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hope Dick is safe." Saying which, he whipped up his horse, and tore on
at a mad gallop.

A very few moments after this he came up with the brigands with their
captives.

Just in the nick of time.

Hunston and Toro were there both with their hands full, while the
Greeks had all their work to do to take care of the two captive girls.

Little Emily and Paquita, having now recovered from their surprise,
were lending assistance to the cause by keeping all the Greeks fully
occupied in looking after them.

And while they were thus occupied, Sunday and Dick Harvey were engaged
with Toro and Hunston.

Dick had rushed so violently upon Hunston that the latter was toppled
over, and it looked as though Harvey was about to make short work with
their old enemy.

But alas for Sunday!

The poor negro was overmatched.

His heart was good, but the weight and enormous strength of the Italian
were too much for him to vanquish.

That he had not as yet succumbed to Toro, was due only to his vastly
superior agility and activity.

It was all in vain for the Italian ruffian to try and close with him.

Sunday would not have this.

He knew that his chance lay in keeping Toro at a respectful distance.

And so he danced round him, dropping in an occasional smart rap which
goaded the Italian to fury.

"Help!" cried Hunston. "Cut him down! cut him down!"

One of the brigands rushed at Harvey knife in hand, and thus created a
momentary diversion in his favour.

Had not Harkaway just then appeared upon the scene it might have gone
hard with his comrade Dick.

Prompt, however, to act at this critical juncture, Harkaway spurred his
horse into the group and rode them down.

Then reining up, he flung himself from his horse, and went into the
melee.

"I'm in it, Dick, old boy," cried Jack; "here's one for Harkaway."

"Hurrah!" shouted Dick, in great excitement. "A Harkaway! a Harkaway to
the rescue!"

Toro turned to Harkaway with a cry of rage.

"Curse you!" he exclaimed; "I'll have your life now, or you shall have
mine."

"By all means," said old Jack, cheerfully.

"Cur!"

"Come, now," said Harkaway, with subdued rage, "I can't stand that;
take this!"

And before Toro knew where he was, he got it.

It was not as pleasant as he could have wished when he did get it.

A devil of a thud it came upon his nose, a fair blow with Harkaway's
fist, and being delivered straight from the shoulder, it seemed to the
Italian like the kick of a donkey.

Toro shook all over.

His eyes flashed fireworks, and he was half stunned for the moment.

Harkaway's triumph was but temporary.

One of the Greeks, who was watching the conflict between these giants
of the combat in great interest, had by now crept up behind Jack, and
seizing him suddenly round the middle, hurled him to the ground.

"Ha, ha!" yelled Toro.

And bounding forward, he fell upon Harkaway, knife in hand.

"At last, at last, your life is in my hands," he cried in fiend-like
joy.

The knife gleamed in the air.

A piercing shriek from little Emily was heard.

A cry of fear from Paquita, and suddenly the latter, disengaging
herself from her captors, bounded forward and seized Toro by the hair.

She dragged him back with all her strength, and little as it was, it
saved the life of Jack Harkaway.

Jack put forth all his strength at this most critical juncture, and
succeeded in grappling once more with his herculean opponent.

Toro lost his balance.

A moment more and he was rolling upon the ground in deadly battle with
brave Jack Harkaway.

So fierce a strife could not last long.

In the heat of the combat cries were heard encouraging Harkaway and
Harvey to fresh exertions, and up dashed the bold Monday, closely
followed by Jefferson and several gentlemen from the contessa's fete.

The Greeks now began to lose heart.

The odds were veering round to the wrong side.

Greeks can fight moderately well when they are three or four to one
Englishman, but when the numbers are equal, they do not care to provoke
hostilities.

And so they blew upon their whistles for assistance, and soon the
answering calls came in every direction, causing the gravest fears to
the Harkaway faction.

"Hah!" ejaculated Jefferson; "they are coming to help you. But at least
I'll make sure of you, Master Toro."

The Italian did not shirk the encounter.

Toro, to do him justice, was, with all his faults, no coward.

He had felt the weight of Jefferson's arm, and he had reason to
remember it.

Yet he met his old adversary boldly.

Jefferson fell upon the huge Italian with tiger-like fury, and in spite
of his prodigious size and weight, he lifted him in his arms, swung him
round, and hurled him to the ground.

The Greeks now, seeing their leaders in such dire peril, thought of
avenging themselves by the most dastardly o| expedients.

"Kill the girls!" cried one of them.

The hint was caught up with avidity.

A savage yell responded to the bloodthirsty suggestion, and the lives
of the two innocent girls were in real peril.

"Look to the girls!" shouted Dick Harvey, who was fully occupied with
two of the Greek brigands who were pressing him closely.

There was a cheer in response to this appeal, and over went two of the
Greeks.

Jefferson too lent a hand at this juncture.

Finding himself free from Toro's attentions, for the huge Italian had
received such a desperate shaking with his fall that he was not fit for
much now, he rushed into the _melee_, and dealt out such slogging
blows that there were at least a dozen bleeding noses and black eyes
distributed amongst the bandits in rather less time than it takes to
note the fact.

The Greeks were thoroughly discouraged.

This unpleasant British mode of attack was not at all to their liking.

They could do pretty well with knives or swords, or even with firearms,
but they could only regard men who used their fists in the lights of
savages.

Gradually they retreated before the fierce onslaught of the Britishers
and their gallant Yankee ally.

This was no small triumph.

The brigands mustered at least twenty men.

Their enemies were five.

The five were Harkaway, Harvey, Jefferson, and the two negroes Sunday
and Monday.

The chicken-hearted Greeks, however, did not altogether turn tail, for
ere they could get fairly off this hardly-contested field, they
received considerable reinforcements.

About ten more Greeks put in an appearance.

A ragged, ruffianly crew, and ill armed.

The Harkaway party were not armed at all.

The Greeks fell back and made attempts to re-form in something like
good order.

But Jefferson saw the danger, and he followed them up closely.

Jack and Dick Harvey were at his heels.

Neither of our old friends were inferior to the bold Jefferson in
courage; but they did not possess his great advantages of size and
strength.

Jefferson's right arm went out like a battering ram, and each time he
struck out, down dropped his man.

At all events, the brigands did not give any particular signs of coming
up for a repetition dose.

The huge American dashed into the thick of the enemy.

The assassination of poor little Magog Brand had fired his fury, and
his charge was something terrific.

He dashed into the midst of the half cowed bandits, and swinging his
arms around him like the sails of a windmill, he "grassed" a man at
every stroke.

But this could not last for long.

As the Greeks grew stronger in numbers, they stood upon the defensive.

They were reassured.

They had seven-and-twenty men against the five.

The five, too, large-hearted though they were, had the two girls to
look after.

Amongst the latest comers upon the bandits' side was one man who was a
petty officer of the brigands, and he gave a few hurried commands,
which had the effect of putting Harkaway and his friends into a very
awkward predicament.

"Load and fire," said the brigand, "Shoot them all down."

If they could but succeed in getting a shot or two at the bold
Jefferson, or at any of the party, it would speedily be all over with
them.

But now, when individual bravery could no longer avail them, they had a
rare slice of luck.

Suddenly a rattling volley of musketry was heard, and three of the
Greeks bit the dust, while a number of cries told that several were
hit.

And then a detachment of gendarmes dashed up into the open at a
swinging trot.

And who headed this very welcome party?

Who but two youths that have been heard of before in these pages?

Who indeed but young Jack Harkaway and his friend Harry Girdwood?

CHAPTER VI.

SUNDAY RUBS OFF AN OLD SCORE--THE BRIGANDS--WHAT HAPPENED AT
THE PORTER'S LODGE--A STRANGE BLIND BEGGAR.

"Hurrah!"

"Give them another."

"Load again."

"Another volley."

A rapid, irregular discharge followed, and the Greeks, with cries of
fear and rage, dropped their arms and fled precipitately, panic-stricken.

The gendarmes followed them up, and several were knocked over and
secured; and behind them the brigands had left no less than seven of
their number who had not been able to get off.

Amongst those seven were two men that it was no small gratification to
the Harkaway party to see once more in their power.

These two men were Hunston and Toro the Italian.

Sunday stood over the latter, leathering into his half insensible
carcase in a way that threatened to cover it with bruises; and at every
blow he had something fresh to say.

"Take dat!" he exclaimed, punching into Toro's ribs, "you dam nigger."

Toro, dazed with what he had suffered in his shaking, could offer no
resistance.

"And dere's another, you ugly tief!" said the virtuous Sunday. "I'll
gib you what for; you shall hab what Paddy gib the drum, you 'fernal
black skunk; I show yar what John up the orchard is, you--you Italian
organ-grinding sweep--You chestnut-munching beast!"

Sunday had never forgotten his first acquaintance with Toro.

The reader will doubtless bear it in mind, since with it is connected
one of the most startling episodes of Jack Harkaway's history, in his
voyage round the world with young Jack.

It was at the hotel in New York that the Harkaways first met with
Sunday, too, for here they were the means of rescuing him from the
brutal violence of the ruffian Toro.

It was, in fact, this which led up to that scene of terror--the firing
of the hotel by Hunston and Toro.

Sunday had suffered at Toro's hands, but had never had his whack back.

But now the darkey showed the half insensible Italian the full
signification of "John up de orchard," and likewise of "what for," and
"what Paddy gave the drum."

* * * * *

Hunston and Toro were thrown into prison, with the few brigands
captured and their discomfited chieftain Mathias.

Such was the end of their exploit.

When once they were in prison, however, it required some exertion on
the part of the authorities to keep them there.

The gang were unceasing in their endeavours to release them.

Artifices of every kind were tried to accomplish it, but the Harkaways
had foreseen that no stone would be left unturned by the murderous
friends of the captured robbers; and they knew the good old-fashioned
saying--"forewarned, forearmed.'"

The prison in which they we re confined was situated at the waterside,
and it was approachable by boat, where the entrance was beneath a low,
vaulted archway.

The day after the capture of the notorious robbers, a poor cripple
hobbled up to the porter's lodge, dragging himself painfully along by
the aid of a stick in one hand and a crutch under his other arm.

"Move off," said the porter gruffly; "we have nothing to give away
here."

"I don't ask your charity," replied the cripple humbly; "accept this,
good sir, as a peace offering."

And then, to the porter's surprise, he dropped a coin into his hand.

The porter looked hard at the coin in his hand, and then at the
cripple.

He was a man of no sentiment, this porter, and so he asked the generous
donor bluntly what he wanted for the money.

"I only want you to show some consideration and kindness, if possible,
to some of the unfortunate inmates of this place," was the reply.

"Prisoners?"

"Yes."

"If you expect that," said the porter "you had better take back your
money, for I have nothing to do with the prisoners."

The cripple looked grave, and he muttered to himself--

"This fool is beastly conscientious. If he had only proved a bit of a
rogue, there was a chance--the ass!"

But he did not mean to yield the point yet.

"You are a very good man," he said to the porter, "a worthy honest
fellow, and you will know that I don't mean to offer you any thing like
a bribe."

The porter started.

"A bribe!" he said, with an expletive. "You had better not."

"Ahem!" coughed the cripple. "My friend, I have confined in this prison
my son, a poor misguided boy--"

"They are mostly that," said the porter shortly.

"But he is innocent."

"They are all innocent," said the porter.

"All?"

"According to their own showing."

"But my boy is."

"No doubt"

"And I only want to beg you to do what you can to soften his lot--a
hard lot it is, too."

"I can do nothing, I tell you," said the porter; "I never see the
prisoners."

"I thought--"

"At least, when I say never, I mean only when they are allowed to walk
in the prison yard."

"That is here?"

"Yes."

"When is that?"

"Once a day; sometimes more than that, if the doctor orders it."

"The doctor must order it, then?" said the cripple to himself.

"What is your son in for?" asked the porter.

"For an unfortunate resemblance he bears to a notorious brigand."

"Bah!" exclaimed the porter. "They don't imprison a man for being like
another."

"Yes, they do; my unlucky son has been taken for Mathias the brigand."

"What," ejaculated the doorkeeper, "do you mean that Mathias is not
Mathias?"

"I mean that my son has been taken for Mathias, to whom, indeed, he is
so like that nothing but the capture of the real culprit can save my
son."

The doorkeeper eyed the cripple sharply.

But the latter stood it coolly enough.

"Well," said the door porter, "if that is the case, it is certainly a
very hard job for your son. What do you want me to do for him? I can't
let him out."

"My friend," exclaimed the cripple, "think you I would suggest such a
thing? No, all I would ask of you is to soothe him with a kind word."

"I'll tell him when next he comes out."

"At what time did you say?" asked the cripple, looking on the ground as
though he only put the question casually.

"At twelve."

The cripple's eyes glistened as he heard this.

"Well, well," he said, pressing some more money into the door porter's
hand, "I'll call again, and perhaps you may have seen my boy, and
comforted him with the assurance that I'll save him, in spite of all
the ill these accursed English people can work by the aid of their
money."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said the porter. "The English are at work in
it, eh?"

"Yes. They owe him some spite, and money, you know, can buy any thing--
any thing." And blessing the gatekeeper, he hobbled off.

* * * * *

Near the prison he overtook a blind man begging by the roadside, and
while stopping to drop a coin in his hat, the cripple contrived to
whisper a few hurried words to this effect--

"I have made a step--almost made a breach in the fortress."

"You have!"

And the blind man turned his head to the right and to the left, almost
as though looking out to see if they were unwatched.

"Yes; the prison yard is only the other side of the gate. Now that gate
is kept by a porter who is already in our interest."

"Good, good, Tomaso!" quoth the blind man.

"Now, listen."

"Go on," returned the blind man, in an eager tone.

"At noon the prisoners are in the yard. If we could but get that gate
open for an instant, and have our men ready hereabouts for a rush--"

"Yes, yes."

"Who can tell what may happen?"

"Good again--good again! ha, ha, ha! that's brave, that is. Why, the
mob of idle sightseers who crowd about the prison gates at noon to
watch the prisoners might all be poor blind wretches or helpless
cripples like you and I."

"Of course."

"And if the gate is left open but one instant--a single inch, no more--
why, worlds might be done."

"A horse ready saddled near at hand might be worth thinking of."

"True."

"And a small keg of gunpowder blown up under the archway by the
waterside entrance would divert attention."

"Tomaso," ejaculated the blind man, "you're born to be a captain of
brigands some day!"

CHAPTER VII.

HOW TOMASO HELPED HIS FRIENDS IN TROUBLE--THE SKIRMISH IN THE
PRISON--MATHIAS THE BRIGAND.

Tomaso, before the day was over, changed his garments and abandoned
crutch and stick, and when he turned out with flaxen-dyed hair and
spectacles, and presented himself at the other great entrance of the
prison, as a German traveller who desired to go over the place, no one
could possibly have imagined it to be the old cripple whose paternal
lamentation had so touched the doorkeeper's heart.

"You have got here a notorious brigand, as I have heard tell," said the
visitor.

"We have, sir," was the governor's reply; "a very remarkable man he is,
too."

"Ah, so I have heard," said the visitor. "He is called Demetrius, I
believe?"

"Nay; his name is Mathias."

The visitor looked surprised at this information.

"Mathias--Mathias!" he repeated to himself. "I was misinformed, then. I
certainly thought that his name was Demetrius."

The governor smiled.

"You may be right, all the same," said he.

"How so?"

"Why, Mathias is but his avowed name; he may be known by a dozen
different _aliases_."

"Is it possible?" ejaculated the sham German traveller.

"Indeed it is. These robbers are mostly adepts at disguise. Would you
like to see this Mathias?" demanded the governor, courteously.

"Vastly."

"Well, sir, I'll only warn you of one thing."

"Indeed! What is it?"

"A disappointment awaits you in this."

"How so?"

"Instead of seeing a ferocious fellow, such as you might expect,
Mathias is really a very pleasant and innocent-looking man."

The governor of the prison then led the visitors through the long stone
corridors of the place where Mathias was confined.

They stopped before a door of great thickness, heavily barred, and
studded with iron bolts and nails.

The governor tapped at a small grated trap in the door, and it was
pulled aside.

At the grating a broad-shouldered fellow appeared, who touched his cap
at the visitors.

"So that is Mathias," said the German gentleman.

"No, no," said the governor; "that is the gaoler who is shut up with
him."

"What for?"

"So that he might be watched night and day; the authorities have doomed
him to--"

"To what?"

"To death," replied the governor, in a low but impressive voice.

"He is young."

"In years, yes," answered the governor, "but old in crime. This man has
been guilty of nearly every crime under the sun--brigandage is one of
his least offences. His last exploit, however, is the worst."

"What is that?"

"Murder."

"Murder!"

And the German traveller looked inexpressibly shocked.

"Murder is a capital crime in every land."

"And rightly too," said the visitor, "rightly, too. But, sir, excuse my
curiosity--"

"Ask all you will," returned the governor.

"This man had, I was told, a bold, dashing fellow to second him in all
his exploits."

"An Italian?"

"No."

"An Englishman?"

"No, no, sir, you mistake; I mean a Greek--a handsome, dashing fellow--
a great favourite with the ladies--brave and daring."

"And how is this Apollo called?"

"Tomaso."

The governor burst into a loud fit of laughter at this,

"You are altogether mistaken about that brigand--that Tomaso. He is a
scrubby and ill-favoured scamp--a sneaking, crawling rascal, capable of
all the villany of his master, but not possessed of his courage."

Had the governor been looking at the visitor's face just then, he might
have had his suspicions aroused.

The sham German philanthropist glared ferociously as this description
was given.

The prisoner, who was seated at a rough deal table at the further end
of the cell, here arose at the gaoler's order, and came to the window.

A single glance sufficed to show that a very noticeable change had
taken place in the appearance of Mathias.

His face was pale and haggard, and the whole of one side of it, the
eye, cheek bone, and forehead were bruised.

This was the mark that Jefferson had set upon him.

This was the bold American's only vengeance for the deathblow which the
brigand had dealt upon his faithful friend and companion Magog Brand.

Jefferson's right arm came down like a steam hammer, and any man who
had felt its full force as the scoundrel Mathias had did not forget it
very readily.

Such a desperate shaking had it given Mathias that he had not yet
recovered.

The bold, defiant bearing of the man was gone, and he looked ten years
older than when Tomaso and he had last met.

It struck the visitor at once.

"Dear, dear me," exclaimed the latter, "is it possible that this can be
the redoubtable Mathias?"

"It is he," said the governor, "yet scarcely so gay as is his wont, eh,
Mathias?"

The prisoner shrugged his shoulders and sighed.

"Laugh on, your excellency," he said, rather bitterly, "it is your turn
now."

"Now!"

"Aye, now. It may not always be."

"Why, surely you never think of getting out of this?"

"Indeed, I think of nothing else morning, noon, and night."

The governor gave a sharp glance about.

He looked toward the gaoler.

Now the gaoler was a huge fellow, over six feet high and broad in
proportion, one who could have tackled Toro himself, as far as weight
and sheer brute strength went.

"Your excellency," replied Mathias, "when I leave this place, my exit
will be due to no violence. Bad as I am, I am not altogether what they
would make out."

"Poor Mathias!" said the governor ironically, "one would almost think
that murder was not his line of business."

"Your excellency," said the prison, drawing near to the grated window,
"I repent sincerely of that poor little gentleman's death; it was no
assassin's stab in the dark, but a most unfortunate blow in a fight,
remember,"

"Bravo! Mathias! bravo!" ejaculated the visitor.

The prisoner looked up.

A strange expression flitted across his face.

Mathias was an adept in the art of dissimulation, and his face was
schooled to tell neither more nor less than he wished.

"Now, your excellency," said the visitor, "this rascal appears
strangely self-possessed."

"He does."

"What does it mean?"

"Brag."

"Humph!"

"Ah, you do not know him, sir, as well as I do."

"Perhaps not; but it might just be possible that he is in league with
some of his comrades outside."

The governor smiled incredulously.

"Impossible."

"What if that scoundrel, Tomaso, of whom we were speaking, should be at
work?"

The prisoner's eyes glistened at this word.

A slight flash of intelligence passed between the prisoner and the
visitor.

It was but momentary, and so slight as to be utterly unobserved by
either the gaoler or the governor.

"And if such could be the case, sir, what could he possibly do, eh?
What on earth, that's what I ask."

"There's no saying."

"Indeed you're right."

"Only he ought to be well guarded when you change him from one prison
to another, or--"

"Stop, stop, my dear sir, why change him? He will never leave this
place alive," said the governor.

"Never?"

"Never!"

"But surely you don't keep your prisoners all confined in these
stifling places?"

"We do, though."

"And never let them breathe the air? Why, it is torture."

"They do breathe the air. At noon every day they are allowed to walk
for an hour in the prison yard."

"At noon?"

"At noon."

The visitor fixed his eyes strangely upon the prisoner.

"Very good; if I may be allowed to trespass again, I should like to see
how this fellow bears himself in the yard amongst his fellow-criminals."

"By all means."

"I'll come, then, at noon."

* * * * *

At noon next day the German traveller was as good as his word.

The governor, full of his wonted courtesy, accompanied him to the yard,
where all the prisoners were walking round two and two.

Some of the more desperate men were fastened by a single handcuff to
the wrist of another man--a warder.

Of this category was the brigand Mathias.

His companion was a huge fellow, who topped him by a head and
shoulders, and their wrists were linked securely together by a strong--
if slender--pair of handcuffs.

The visitor's countenance fell when he observed this.

It upset all his plans at one fell swoop.

However, he did not utterly despair, but made an effort to get over the
difficulty.

"Your excellency," said he, "this is indeed cruel."

"What," demanded the governor, "fastening them to the gaoler?"

"Yes."

"I only order it in special cases, such as that of Mathias."

"He is then very dangerous?"

"Well, I scarcely believe that, only such precautions are the
established rules."

"I regret that."

"Why?"

"Partly on the score of humanity," was the reply.

"Ah, you would be too tender-hearted," said the governor.

"No. But I also regret it because I hoped to see the brigand more like
he appears when not under restraint. I suppose you would not like to
set him free?"

The governor shook his head.

"That is against custom, and I should really not like to do it."

The visitor reflected a moment as they walked on.

He could not abandon his scheme now that he had gone so far.

The effort should be made all the same.

They walked up to the porter's lodge beside the gates, where an eager
crowd had assembled for a glimpse of the prisoners.

"And do you open those gates to admit the prisoners?" asked the visitor
innocently.

"No, sir," replied the governor; "this little side door is all we open.
Now watch how it is done. This bar, which is like a lever, stops the
door, and renders it immovable, now--hah!"

The fallacy of his words was shown ere they were fairly uttered.

The visitor whistled in a very peculiar way.

And there was a sudden silent rush at the door in question.

The bar, immovable as it was, fell before that desperate onslaught, and
the door was carried off its hinges.

The ragged and miserable-looking mob turned like magic into a crowd of
armed desperadoes. And in they pressed.

On they came, tearing down the gates and dashing every thing before
them.

The poor gatekeeper was trampled under foot, and the warders and
governor got hustled and cruelly handled.

The mob of armed invaders made for Mathias and his companion, and bore
them bodily outside the gates.

The brigands then wrenched off the handcuffs.

Once outside the gates, a horse was found waiting.

Suddenly there was a loud cry heard.

"The soldiers--the soldiers!"

The whole of the guard-room had turned out.

A charge was made, and it looked as though the rescue of Mathias were
likely to cost them dear.

Cries of defiance and rage were heard.

Just when matters were at the worst for the robber band, a deafening
explosion was heard, that shook the solid building to its base.

The soldiers turned back and re-formed at their officer's command.

Then it was that the brigands, headed by the sham visitor, Tomaso,
found their chance.

Up till now, the retreat had been cut off by the unpleasant appearance
of the military.

"There goes the powder keg under the water gate," cried Tomaso. "Lose
not a moment. Follow me."

A desperate rush was made, and the brigands got clear of the prison.

The soldiers were divided into two lots, one party being sent in
pursuit, the other remaining to guard the prison.

The roll-call of the prisoners made this discovery.

"How many prisoners have escaped?" inquired the governor.

"Three absentees, your excellency," said the head man of the prison.
"One is an Italian, calling himself Toro; another an Englishman,
calling himself Hunston; and the third, the brigand chief Mathias."

CHAPTER VIII.

A DEEP-LAID PLOT.

The news of the escape, or rescue--call it what you will--of the three
desperadoes soon became known.

Emily and Mrs. Harvey were much alarmed.

The dogged obstinacy with which attempt after attempt was made by the
villains made them imagine they were unsafe in such a lonely place.

Accordingly, a grand consultation was held, the result of which was
that the Prince of Limbi was sent into the town to take rooms for the
whole party at one of the two hotels the place could boast of.

And the next day they all quitted the villa.

The hotel in which our friends had secured apartments was a large
straggling building, right at the extremity of the ill-built street
which formed the chief part of the town.

Mr. Mole had been very particular when they went there in his inquiries
about the brigands.

Would the party be quite safe from molestation?

The urbane proprietor, with many low bows, assured his excellency the
Englishman that there was not the slightest possibility of their being
molested.

The other male members of the party really troubled themselves very
little about the brigands.

By ten o'clock, the day after the masquerade, hardly a person was
stirring in the town.

A casual observer would have said there was literally no one to be
seen. But hush!

Soft, cautious footsteps may be heard, and anyone whose eyes are
accustomed to the gloom might have seen three figures creeping quietly
down the street on the side opposite the hotel.
Right over against that building they paused.

"That is the place" said one of the three, a giant almost in size.

"Curse them! they always manage to get comfortable quarters, while I am
an outcast," said another, who spoke like an Englishman.

"Death, gentlemen! what better quarters can you desire than my cave, in
which you have spent several pleasant evenings?"

"Bah! Captain Mathias, you have never tasted the sweets of
civilisation."

"And, Signor Hunstani, how much the better are you through having
tasted those sweets?"

"Peace, peace!" growled the giant. "Let us unite in thought and action,
and to-night obtain our long-sought revenge."

"Well, Toro, I am sure I don't want to quarrel with anyone, except
Harkaway."

"Curse him! and especially that American."

"Hush! let your curses be not loud but deep; you'll awake the town if
you swear so."

"Have I not good cause to? Has he not beaten and put me to shame?"

"And have I not suffered equal pain and shame? Yet I am content to bide
my time; you should have patience, Toro."

"Come, come to business, my friends," said Captain Mathias; "there is
the house where our foe resides. How are we to proceed?"

"Quietly; hush!" said Hunston. "Confound it, how still the air is; the
whole street seems to echo back the lightest whisper."

"Let me get once inside, and I care not if all the street hears,"
muttered Toro.

"Which proves you care not if you are unsuccessful," said the Greek.

"How so?"

"If we are heard, we shall have the whole street in arms against us,
and I fancy these Inglesi, with their boys and the blacks, are quite
sufficient for the three of us."

"Bah!" exclaimed Toro.

"Seriously, though, let us consider how to get into this place," said
Hunston.

"There's the door facing us."

"But have you the key?"

"No, but I could send my foot through that plank as easily as
anything," growled Toro.

"Certainly, and you would undoubtedly alarm the whole household by
doing so, whereas we wish to catch them sleeping."

"Well, then, how about the windows?"

"Too high to reach," said Hunston, "unless we had a ladder."

"And I doubt if such a thing can be found in the town," interposed
Captain Mathias.

"Well, then, let us see what there is at the back of the house.
Captain, you have eyes like a cat or an owl; just glance up and down
the street to see if there is anyone about."

The Greek looked in all directions.

"Not even a mouse is stirring," said he.

So the three villains, drawing their cloaks closely round them, stole
silently away from the shelter of the friendly doorway, where the
foregoing conversation had taken place, and proceeded round to the back
of the hotel.

To reach the point desired, they had, of course, to cross the road,
which was tolerably wide, and then skirt a kind of paddock.

There were few stars to be seen, and the moon--a new one, and perhaps
not yet fully acquainted with her business--was partly hidden behind
some clouds, though not so entirely obscured but that the forms of the
three brigands cast deep shadows on the ground.

But surely that is not a shadow, which as they move, moves also from an
adjoining doorway, and follows them.

Like them, it is wrapped in a cloak; like them, it stalks along slowly
and erect, but unlike them, it makes no noise.

Its footfall is silent as that of the panther lurking in the jungle.

Its very breath, if it has any, seems hushed.

The three villains go slowly, and the shadow, or substance, whatever it
may be, keeps the same pace, till they reach the open field at the back
of the hotel.

Hunston, Toro, and the Greek then stand side by side looking towards
the hotel, but the shadow sinks down out of sight by the side of the
fence.

Another hasty look round, and then the Greek brigand pronounced that
they were safe.

"No fear of being interrupted here."

"Well now let us settle," said Toro; "I am anxious to be at them."

"But see," said Hunston, "there are lights moving; it is not safe yet."

"Not till half-an-hour after midnight."

"And now---"

"It is half-past ten o'clock."

"Two hours," groaned Toro.

"Better wait four than fail," said Hunston.

"Cold-blooded Englishman, what know you of the furious rate at which my
blood boils in my veins? In that house is the man who struck me to the
earth."

"Wait two hours, then you may have a good chance of paying off the
score."

"And I will, too, with greater interest than even usurer charged his
hapless client. I wonder which room the cursed Americano sleeps in."

"The third room on the right-hand side of the first corridor, where you
ascend the great staircase."

Captain Mathias said this as promptly and positively as though he
himself had shown our friends to bed.

After a pause he continued--

"Mr. and Mrs. Harkaway have the first room; Mr. and Mrs. Harvey the
second; the third is a double-bedded apartment, one couch being
occupied by the American, the other by the two boys."

"You seem to have pretty exact information, captain," said Hunston.

"Yes, there is little going on there that does not come to my ears. One
of the porters is a spy in my employ."

"Why did you not get a key from him?"

"I have one; it opens the back door."

Toro had, during the last bit of conversation, been growling to himself
a choice vocabulary of Italian oaths, occasionally shaking his fist at
the building which contained the objects of his hatred.

He now turned to his companions.

"And where do you propose to pass the two hours that must elapse?"

"At the bottom of yonder field is a thicket, where we shall be free
from observation. We can smoke our pipes there. By-the-bye, the patrol
goes round about midnight."

"We must be cautious," said Hunston.

"Come along, then."

The three villains then walked off in the direction of the thicket
where they were to hide.

A minute afterwards a shadow rose from the ditch where he had been
crouching, and stood looking after them long after they had been lost
in the gloom.

"Just in time," muttered the so-called shadow, who was in good truth as
substantial flesh and blood as any in Greece.

"If I had not wandered hither in search of my daughter, probably half-
a-dozen murders would have been committed. However, I'll thwart the
rascals, as sure as my name is Petrus."

For Petrus it was, from Magic Island, who had been playing spy on the
movements of the three conspirators.

He stood there in deep thought for a few minutes.

"I must warn some of the people in the hotel, but I should like to get
this business over without alarming Mrs. Harkaway or the other lady.
The question is, how?"

He reached the front door of the hotel, and pulled at the bell handle.

After an interval of two or three minutes, a light shone through the
keyhole, and a voice asked--

"Who is there?"

"A traveller, in search of food and bed."

"Are you alone?"

"Yes."

Then the door was unbolted, and the traveller entered.

"Is the proprietor of the hotel in bed yet?" he asked.

"I don't know, sir."

"He must be roused at once. I have important news for him from a
distant land."

The porter stared, but did not seem inclined to call the proprietor,
noticing which, Petrus said--

"I shall be sorry to alarm all the house, when I only want one person;
but if you don't quickly bring him, I'll ring half a dozen of these
bells at such a rate that he'll think the house is on fire."

Seeing the stranger was in earnest, the porter went to the proprietor's
room, and soon returned with him to the hall where Petrus was waiting.

"I should like to have a few words with you _in private_, sir,"
said the traveller, with a strong emphasis on the words we have
italicised.

"Certainly. You may go to bed, Theodorus."

The porter somewhat sulkily retired to a kind of pantry, where he
slept, and the proprietor of the hotel, softly following, turned the
key upon him.

"I have my doubts about that fellow," he said as he returned. "But now,
sir, what is your pleasure with me?"

Petrus at once told him what he had heard, and great was the alarm of
the hotel-keeper.

"What shall we do? Send for the police?"

Petrus, after a short silence, said--

"No."

"What then? I cannot allow my guests to be murdered. Why, these
scoundrels have already made one attempt on Mr. Harkaway and his
friends at a masquerade."

Just at that moment a guttural voice was heard singing--

"Ole Ikey Mole
Was a lushy ole soul,
And a lushy ole soul was he."

"Now den, you nigger, be quiet," said another voice.

"Who are these people?" asked Petrus.

"Two black men in attendance on the Harkaway party," said the
proprietor of the hotel.

"Just the men. I know a little of them. I have fought side by side with
them. Now I have a proposal to make, which is that we put these
brigands to flight in a ludicrous manner, which will annoy them more
than being beaten in fight. Myself and the black men will do it with
your assistance and permission."

"Anything, so that there is no bloodshed."

"That I will guarantee. Please call the two worthy dark-skins."

Sunday and Monday, who had been keeping it up in the kitchen, were
called and acquainted with the state of affairs.

"What, Massa Petrus," said Sunday in surprise, "what you do here? Am
you got dat black rascal pirate with you?"

"No; the pirate chief is dead. You will find his bones on the island--
Magic Island, as young Jack Harkaway named it. Yes, my revenge is
complete. The pirate died as my slave; but now to explain to you my
plan to punish the three brigands."

Sunday rolled his eyes fearfully, as he listened to the details of the
plot.

"Gorra, massa, I'd like to tar and feather dat big rascal."

"Tar!" said Petrus. "Ha, ha, ha! that is a good idea. Listen--but first
show me the place where the gentlemen sleep."

The hotel-keeper led the way to the corridor, and pointed out the
sleeping apartments of the Harkaway party.

Petrus then held another short consultation with the two black men and
the hotel-keeper, the result of which was that the latter retired,
leaving Sunday, Monday, and Petrus to work their will with the invaders
when they appeared.

And then, as there was but little time to spare, they set to work with
a will to make all the necessary preparations.

Over each door they screwed into the wall an iron hook, to which was
attached a pulley and a cord.

Then they went into the lower regions and hunted through the store
rooms.

The first place they lighted upon was a kind of paint shop, full of
paints, oils and such-like things.

"Dis is jes de shop for to cook de goose ob dem willins," said Sunday.

"And here's de pots to cook 'em in," said Monday, pointing to some iron
vessels resembling pails, but made so that the bottoms could be
removed.

The pails, as we will call them, were something like sugar loaves, with
the tops cut off and turned base upwards.

When full, the weight of the liquid kept the bottom in its place, but
it was evident that if the bottom was removed, as it easily could be,
the contents would escape.

Petrus, after an inspection, pronounced them "just the thing," adding--

"Now we must fill them with tar."

"No, no," said Monday. "Put tar in one, wery hot; in nodder put dis
here paint, also werry hot; and in de oder put water, bilin' hot."

"Good."

Then the three sat down by the large fireplace in the kitchen, and
deliberately began their cooking.

Monday devoted his attention to the heating of several pounds of mixed
paint.

Sunday boiled a barrel of tar, while Petrus attended to a large
cauldron of water.

Ten minutes before the hands of the clock pointed to half-past twelve,
all the cooks had completed their work.

The paint, tar, and water, all at boiling heat, had been placed in the
iron pails with the movable bottoms, and one of these had been hung
over each bedroom door.

The hot water over Harkaway's door, the paint over Harvey's, and the
tar over that in which the two boys and Jefferson reposed.

A string was attached to each pail, and passed over a pulley, the end
being conveyed to a recess where the three watchers were concealed.
They were armed.

Sunday, Monday, and Petrus each had a six-chambered revolver, loaded.

Then came the clang of the old-fashioned clock as it proclaimed half-
past twelve.

Breathless silence prevailed both inside the house and out.

"Lights out," whispered Petrus, when, after a short pause, a slight
grating noise was heard at the back door.

In an instant all was darkness, except that the moon shone through a
narrow window at the extreme end of the corridor.

A few minutes afterwards Petrus, who was watching, saw three dark
figures come gliding into the long passage.

The first was a tall, bulky figure--Toro.

The second the Greek, and the third was evidently Hunston.

A plan of operations had been agreed upon--that was quite certain; for
Toro, without the least hesitation, proceeded to Jefferson's door, the
Greek placing himself outside Harvey's apartment, while Hunston
stationed himself at the room occupied by Harkaway.

Then they waited for a signal, evidently intending to rush in
simultaneously.

"Now!" said Hunston, in a loud whisper.

"Now!" echoed Petrus.

Before the brigands could rush into the rooms occupied by those they
sought to destroy, Petrus pulled the three strings he held in his hand,
and, good Heaven! what a spluttering and swearing at once commenced.

Hunston was drenched and scalded.

"A million curses!" he roared.

"Help! Look here, Toro."

But Toro could not look.

A deluge of hot tar had streamed over his head, filling eyes, ears,
nose, and mouth, saturating his hair and running down inside his
clothing.

"Furies!" he screamed, "I'll have the life of the villain who has done
this! Mathias, out with your knife, man."

But the poor Greek was utterly cowed; the paint had destroyed all his
senses save that of feeling, which was fully exercised.

Hunston, although severely scalded, managed to keep a certain
proportion of his wits about him.

"Come, lads--quick, as you value your lives!" he exclaimed. "Away! we
must not risk capture."

He endeavoured to drag them away.

At that moment, however, another actor appeared on the scene.

This was Nero.

That wide-awake member of the monkey tribe had been doomed to share
Sunday's apartments, where a neat bed had been made for him in one
corner.

Hearing a noise, and, perhaps missing his companion (brother, Jefferson
said), he came down, carrying in his dexter paw a well-filled pillow.

He seemed to recognise Toro at once.

The valorous ape leaped forward, and gave his Italian foe such a
bolstering as Toro had never before heard of, while the three
spectators laughed and applauded loudly.

Crack!

The ticking of the pillow gave way, and a shower of feathers enveloped
the unhappy son of Italy, whose oaths and execrations were literally
smothered.

"Golly! an't he a downy cove?" said Monday.

At this juncture, Hunston managed to grasp his companions by the hand,
and dragged them downstairs and out at the back door.

Only just in time, however, for Jefferson, hearing the noise, rushed
out, in scanty costume, it is true, but fully armed with pistol and
bowie knife, and eager for the fray.

"What is the matter?" he demanded.

Petrus explained briefly.

Jefferson rushed to the door and fired two shots after the fugitives,
who, however, managed to get away.

Then the door was securely bolted, and after the affair had been
explained to all the alarmed inmates of the house, they retired to bed,
but not before Harkaway and his friends had shaken Petrus warmly by the
hand, with a promise that he should see his beloved daughter in the
morning.

CHAPTER IX.

THE BRIGAND'S CONSPIRACY--THE ARAB ASTROLOGER--HARVEY'S FIRST
APPEARANCE AS A MESMERIST.

"They are making fresh efforts to get Mathias out," said Dick Harvey to
his friend Harkaway.

This was the beginning of a conversation which took place at the
residence of the Harkaway party just three days after the daring and
audacious attack on the hotel.

Mathias had been captured by the patrol while endeavouring to escape,
and thrown in gaol again.

"Hang their impudence!" said Jefferson. "Will nothing daunt them? I
wish one of them had entered my room the other night; I would have held
him faster than it seems the prisons here can."

"These two restless vagabonds are up to their games again," exclaimed
Dick.

"You mean Toro?"

"Aye, and Hunston."

"What have they done now?" demanded Jefferson.

"They have been trying to tamper with the gaolers."

"How was it discovered?"

"The traitor, whoever he may be, let fall a letter that he was carrying
to Mathias."

"That's lucky. Well, did they discover any thing?"

"No; it was written in cypher."

"The cunning rascals!"

"Now, I've got more news for you," Dick went on to say.

"Out with it, then."

"You have heard of the Arab who tells fortunes in the town?"

"Mehemed Sadan, the great necromancer?"

"Yes. Would you be surprised to learn that he is one of Mathias' band?"

"Why, those scoundrels have a finger in every pie."

"True," said Harvey. "Now, I have a notion to offer you. I propose that
we go there and test the truth of what I say."

"How?"

"I'll tell you that as we go. Are you agreed?"

"I'm willing," said Harkaway; "any thing for a little excitement."

Off they went.

Mehemed Sadan, the Arabian magician, carried on his occult practices in
a house in the best part of the town, and all his surroundings tended
to show that the "black art" had proved a most profitable commerce to
him.

When Harkaway, Jefferson, and Harvey arrived there, they were ushered
into the presence of the magician by a negro fancifully attired,
wearing silver bands round his wrists and ankles, from which dangled
chains with small bells attached.

Mehemed Sadan was seated on a high-backed chair, close by a long table,
on which was a long cloth of black velvet, covered with mystic signs
and letters, which were all so much Greek to the visitors.

The room was filled with all kinds of things calculated to impress the
vulgar with superstitious awe.

The effect was altogether lost upon Dick Harvey, for he made a point of
nodding at the Arab astrologer in the most familiar manner.

"Morning to you, old fellow," he said, cheerfully.

"Salaam, sahib," responded the necromancer, gravely.

"Hullo!" said Jefferson, opening his eyes, "why, this Arab talks
Hindustani."

"Leave it to me," said Dick Harvey, in an undertone.

The Arab then said some few words to the company generally, which the
company generally could make rather less of than if they had been
addressed in Chinese.

"He's talking no known language under the sun," said Harkaway. "It's my
opinion he has got the cheek to talk regular right-down gibberish to
us."

It was true.

The words, or sounds, let us say, which the necromancer was uttering,
only sounded but too much like "hokey-pokey kickeraboo abracadabra,"
and the rest of the mysterious sounds with which the conjurer at
juvenile parties seeks to invest his performance with additional
wonder, for the benefit of his youthful audience.

Dick was in a rage.

"Confound his impudence," he exclaimed; "I'll give him one."

So he let out in this wise--

"Chi ki hi-u-thundrinold umbuggo--canardly keep my thievinirons off
your wool--I should like to land you just one on the smeller and tap
your claret."

At which, to the surprise of the magician, the visitors burst out
laughing.

The Arab necromancer now asked them, in very good Greek, the object of
their visit.

"We shall not understand much if we are addressed in Greek," said
Harkaway; "try him in Italian."

And then they found that the conjurer spoke Italian as well, or better,
than any of the party.

"Can you tell me," said Jack Harkaway, by way of beginning business,
"if I shall succeed in the present object of my desires or not?"

The magician bowed his head gravely.

Then he opened a large volume covered with mystic characters.

For a minute or two he appeared to be lost in deep study, and then he
gave his reply.

"Your desires tend to the downfall of some lawless men, I find," he
said, watching them keenly, as if he expected to see them jump up in
surprise at his words.

"They do."

"And you will not succeed."

"Does your art tell you where I shall fail?" asked Jack.

"No; I only see disappointment and trouble for you and yours."

"Dear, dear, how very shocking," exclaimed Harkaway, winking at Harvey.

"Dreadful!" added Dick, with a terrified look, and putting his tongue
out at the magician.

"What else does your art tell you?" demanded Jefferson, who was anxious
to know how far the necromancer would venture to try and humbug them.

"I see here," said the conjurer, drawing his finger along a line of
something on an open "book of fate," that looked like Arabic, "I see
here that your lives are menaced, one and all, through the keeping of a
wretched man under restraint."

The visitors looked at each other and exchanged a smile.

"Your art is at fault," said Jefferson; "we have no one under
restraint."

"You are in some way connected with it."

"Wrong again."

The wizard looked uncomfortable at this.

"Strange," he said, "and yet I read it here as clearly as you might
yourself if it were written in a book."

"You are mistaken," said Jefferson; "we are in no way concerned in any
thing of the kind."

The wizard pored over the mystic tome again.

"I can say no more then," he said, "for here you are clearly indicated.
You especially are mentioned as being the immediate cause of his
downfall."

"How am I indicated?" demanded Jefferson.

"By the letter J."

"Which you take for?"

"Your initial."

"Humph! not far out. What an audacious humbug the fellow is," said
Jefferson to Jack.

Now, during the foregoing scene, young Jack and Harry Girdwood had
joined the party, and Dick Harvey was observed to be in close
conversation with them.

At this point Harvey turned from the two lads towards Jefferson.

"The astrologer is right," he said, gravely.

"What the devil do you mean?" exclaimed Jefferson.

"You are right, sir," added Dick to the magician himself.

The latter bowed.

"I doubt it not," he said; "the stars do not speak falsely."

"No, no."

"And so you may convince your friend that I say no more nor less than
the truth."

"I can," said Dick, in a voice as solemn as that of the necromancer
himself, "for I am a mesmerist, and I have here with me a clairvoyant
of great power."

The conjurer started.

"Where?"

"Here."

He held out his hand to young Jack and led him forward.

Harkaway and Jefferson stared again.

"Hullo!" ejaculated old Jack; "what the deuce is madcap Dick up to
now?"

"Can't hazard a guess," said Jefferson.

"Mesmerism can not read the future as my art does," said the
necromancer.

"It can," said Dick; "it corroborates all you have said. I'll give you
a proof of it before our friends here."

And then, before he could object, Dick made a mesmeric pass or two
across young Jack's face, and immediately it appeared to take effect.

Young Jack's eyes were closed, and for a moment there played about his
mouth a merry smile of mischief, and then he appeared to be in a state
of coma.

Never was mesmerism effected with such little trouble.

"Now tell me," said Dick, with all the tricks of manner of the
professional mesmerist, "tell me to what this person alludes?"

"He speaks of Mathias, the brigand chief."

"True," said Dick; "and will Mathias escape?"

"No."

"You hear," said Dick, turning towards the necromancer.

"I do."

"And therefore it is useless to try and effect the liberation of this
Mathias?"

"Quite," returned young Jack. "The wizard here is trying all he can
himself, but he will be discovered by the police and thrown into
prison."

"Hah!" exclaimed Dick, "do you hear that?"

"I do," returned the necromancer, "but it is false."

"It is true," said Dick. "So beware."

[Illustration: 'SPEAK,' SAID DICK, MAKING MESMERIC PASSES ACROSS
JACK'S FACE"--ADV. IN GREECE, VOL. II PAGE 64.]

"Ask him more," said the wizard, eagerly. "Ask him more."

"What shall I ask?" demanded Dick.

"Ask him--yet, mark me, I don't believe a word of it--ask him, for
curiosity, what follows."

"Follows what?"

"What he said last."

"You mean what follows being thrown into prison?" he said,
deliberately.

"Yes."

"Do you hear?" said Dick.

"Yes, master," responded young Jack.

"Speak, then."

By this time Harkaway the elder and Jefferson began of course to see
what they were driving at, and they became just as much interested as
the wizard himself in what young Jack was going to say.

"What follows," said young Jack, "is too dreadful to look at."

"Speak," said Dick, with a furious pass across the lad's face. "Speak,
I command you. What follows?"

"I see the wizard hanging by the neck--there," and young Jack pointed
straight before him.

The necromancer looked as unhappy as possible when he heard young
Jack's words.

"Do you know enough," asked Dick Harvey, "or would you learn more yet?"

The wizard essayed to smile, but it was a sickly attempt, and it died
away in a ghastly manner.

"I can not believe a word of what you say, but still let him speak on."

Dick frowned.

"If you are a scoffer," he said, sternly, "my clairvoyant will not
speak."

"I am no scoffer," returned the necromancer; "speak on."

"What would you know?"

"When is my danger to begin? Let him say that."

"Speak," said Dick, making mesmeric passes across Jack's face.

"He need fear nothing at present," said young Jack.

The wizard drew a long breath of relief.

"The police are below," continued young Jack, "but for ten minutes
there is no danger."

"Ten minutes!"

"Yes."

"And after?" gasped the wizard, breathlessly.

"Then he is doomed," said young Jack, in sepulchral tones. "The wizard
will be numbered with the dead."

Thereupon, the necromancer was taken suddenly queer, and he retreated
with a few confused words of excuse.

"He's gone," said Dick, laughing.

They pushed aside the curtains where the magician had disappeared, and
found that there was a back staircase.

"There he goes, there he goes!" cried Harry Girdwood, excitedly.

"Yes, and he has left his skin," said young Jack.

Upon the stairs was the long black velvet robe covered with tin-foil
ornaments, with which the necromancer was wont to frighten the ignorant
and superstitious peasants who came to consult him out of their wits.

"I'll frighten old Mole with this," said young Jack.

"I don't suppose that they'll try to frighten us again into helping
Mathias, the brigand chief, out of prison," said Harkaway, laughing.

"He shall hang as high as Haman," said Jefferson, sternly. "Of that I
am so determined, that if there were no one else, I would willingly fix
the noose myself. But hang he shall for murdering my poor and noble
friend Brand."

CHAPTER X.

THE CONDEMNED CELL--MATHIAS ESCAPED--WHERE HAS HE GONE?--THE
BLOOD ON THE HEARTH--A TALE OF TERROR.

The schemes set on foot by the friends of Mathias for his release were
so many and so unceasing that the greatest precautions had to be taken
to keep him in safety.

Rules were made, and for awhile most rigidly enforced, that not a soul
was to be permitted to visit the prisoner; but the exception proves the
rule, and there was an exception made in favour of a lady who came and
pleaded so earnestly to the governor of the prison that he could not
find the courage to refuse her.

The lady was shown into the cell which Mathias had lately occupied.

Lately? Yes.

The bird had flown.

But how had he got free?

Where had he gone?

Not a soul in the prison had the vaguest notion.

The gaoler stared and gaped like one in a dream.

"Where is Mathias?" demanded the woman.

"That's more than I can guess," responded the gaoler, rubbing his eyes
as though he could not believe their evidence.

"Have you mistaken the cell?"

"Not I."

"Has he been removed?"

"No."

She stared him straight in the face for a moment or two, and then she
burst out into a fit of laughter.

"Ha, ha, ha! Why, he has escaped. He has escaped. He has beaten your
vigilance--baffled you all in spite of locks, bolts and bars, and all
your watching."

The gaoler scratched his head.

"Let us look."

"Look! why, you can see everything here at a glance--everything. There
are four walls. There is the bedstead; you can see under it. There is
not room for a man to creep under there. There is the fireplace, and
there is the window."

"Ha!" ejaculated the gaoler, "the window."

"What then?"

"There is no other way; he must have escaped that way, undoubtedly."

"Nonsense," said the woman; "don't you see that is too high up from the
ground."

"He has found a way to climb up there, then."

"But the iron bars are all in their places still."

"True," said the gaoler, thoroughly puzzled, "true. Where can he have
got to?"

"It is simple enough."

"How so?"

"He never attempted the window. He has walked out through the door
being left open."

"Never!"

"Money can do more than that, and I rejoice at his freedom."

She moved to the door.

But the gaoler held her back rather roughly.

"Stop you here," he said, rudely; "I shall have to report this to the
governor, and you had better remain until the job has been
investigated."

And before the startled woman could divine his intention, he swung to
the door and shot the bolt.

Then pushing back the trap in the door, he added a few words through
the grating.

"You'll be safer there," said he, "unless you can manage to get out as
Mathias did. But the devil himself must have a compact with Mathias!"

"At least leave me the light," she said, imploringly.

"Against orders," was all the answer vouchsafed.

The trap was shut.

The woman was left a prisoner, in total darkness.

* * * * *

There is always something unpleasant in darkness, and this woman was by
no means iron-nerved.

No sooner was she alone, than a painful sensation of uneasiness stole
over her.

"They can not keep me long here," she kept murmuring to herself; "I
have done nothing; I am accused of no offence. The governor will set me
at liberty as soon as he knows. Could any thing be more unfortunate?
Mathias was a prisoner, and I was at liberty. Now Mathias is free, and
I am a prisoner. Cruel fate to separate us. We are destined to be
parted."

The gloom grew oppressive now.

She stood still, listening in painful silence for five minutes
together--five minutes that appeared to be as many hours.

A silence so solemn, so death-like, that she could hear the very
beating of her heart. This grew unbearable.

She groped her way around the cell to find the bed, and approaching the
fireplace, she was suddenly startled by a sound.

A very faint noise, as of something dripping on the flagstones by her
feet.

In the tomb-like silence then reigning, the faintest sound caused her
to feel uncomfortable.

She listened awhile intently, asking herself what it could mean.

Drip, drip, drip.

It was strange.

When the light was there, she had not noticed it at all.

What could it be then, that was only to be heard in the dark?

Was it fancy?

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