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

Part 3 out of 9

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No.

It was too real.

There was no mistaking it.

If the oppressive gloom of the cell started strange sounds or strange
fancies in her head, why should it take such a shape as that?

Why, indeed?

"Would to Heaven they were back with the light," she said. "Will they
never come?"

Just then, as though her earnest wish were heard and answered, a faint
thin streak of light was shot into the cell through the grated window
above.

This was reflected from a chamber in the prison whose window was close
by the window of this cell, and where a lamp had just been lighted.

The welcome ray shot straight across the cell where she stood by the
fireplace, and she remarked that the dripping did not cease.

Drip, drip, drip!

She looked down.

"I see, I see," she shudderingly exclaimed, "it is raining, and the
rain is falling down the chimney. How foolish of me to get alarmed
about nothing."

Now the light, we have said, shot across the hearth, and here it was
that the drip, drip, drip, fell.

"Same as I thought."

As she muttered this to herself, she stretched forth her hand under the
chimney, and the next drop fell upon it. It was not water.

No, imperfect as was the light then, it sufficed to show her that upon
her hand was a curiously dark stain.

Raising it nearer to her eyes, she examined it eagerly.

Then she shuddered, and exclaimed in a voice of terror--"Blood!"

Yes, it was blood.

Pen can not describe the terror of that wretched woman upon making this
alarming discovery.

"Blood! Whose? Hah! whose blood? Whose but his--whose but the blood of
my darling--my own Mathias?"

For a moment the thought completely unnerved her, and it was little
short of a miracle that she kept from fainting.

But she fought bravely with the deathly horror stealing over her.

And kneeling on the hearth, she called up, yet in gentle voice, lest
she should give the alarm--

"Mathias! Mathias, my own! Do you not know me? Mathias, I say!"

She listened--listened eagerly for a reply.

And presently it came--a dull, hollow moan, a cry of anguish that
chilled the blood in her heart, that froze the very marrow in her
bones.

"Mathias, darling Mathias! answer me for the love of mercy; I shall die
else."

Another moan was heard.

Fainter and fainter even than the first.

Yet full of pent-up suffering.

A sound that told a whole tale of anguish.

"Mathias, come to me," she called again.

"Oh-h-h!"

A fearfully prolonged groan came down to her, louder than before, as if
the sufferer had put all his remaining strength into the effort.

Then all was silent.

Eagerly she listened, straining forward to catch the faintest breath.

But the voice above was stilled for ever.

And yet the drip, drip, drip continued, and as she stretched forward
beneath the chimney, she caught the drops upon her face.

Then she could no longer thrust back conviction.

With a wild cry of terror she drew back, and groped her way round the
room towards the door.

Her hand rested upon the grated trap, and she pushed it back with all
her force, crying aloud for help as she did so.

"Help, help!" she shouted with the energy of despair; "Mathias is
dying."

But that wretched man would not trouble the authorities more--His last
breath had been drawn as she stood there listening to those awesome
sounds.

What could be the solution of this mystery!

This would be known soon now, for the sounds of footsteps were
distinctly heard now in the long stone corridors of the prison.

The gaolers had given the alarm at once of the prisoner's escape, and
the outlets of the prison were guarded in all directions, while a party
was sent to the cell to investigate the matter thoroughly.

At the head of this party was the governor himself.

The time had appeared ten times as long to the unhappy woman as it was
in reality.

"Help, help! oh, help!" she cried.

At each effort she grew weaker and weaker. Her voice died away, and
when they reached the door of the cell, they found her hanging by the
bars of the grated window or trap more dead than alive.

"Show the light," ejaculated the governor.

And then, as the rays fell upon that face, pallid as the flesh of a
corpse, save where the dark blood stains had settled, there was an
involuntary exclamation of horror from all the beholders.

"Father of mercy," cried one of the men; "she has destroyed herself."

Such was the general idea.

She had committed suicide.

In this, however, they were speedily undeceived.

To burst open the door and rush into the cell was but the work of a
moment.

At this the woman rallied a little and recovered herself.

"What is the matter?" asked the governor.

"The chimney!" gasped the woman faintly.

"The chimney! Speak--explain."

"His blood--Mathias's," she said; "see the chimney. I dare not look."

Two of the men by now had approached the chimney, and lowering the
light they carried, one of them discovered a dark ominous pool upon the
hearth.

"Call the doctor; there is something more than meets the eye in this."

This order was promptly obeyed, and a surgeon was speedily in
attendance. A mere cursory glance convinced the man of skill that the
blood upon the woman's face was not her own, and just as he arrived at
the decision, drip, drip, drip it began again upon the hearth.

The men looked at each other half scared, and the governor himself was
scarcely more self-possessed.

The surgeon alone retained his presence of mind.

Snatching a lamp from one of the men, he thrust it as far as his arm
could reach up the chimney and looked earnestly up.

"As I thought!" he exclaimed.

"What?" demanded the governor, eagerly.

"He is there."

"Who?"

"Who but the prisoner? Mathias is there--hopelessly stuck--wedged in.
He has been trying to escape and has hurt himself."

The woman looked up at these words.

"Is it no worse?" she asked. "Is he badly hurt?"

"I can not say yet," said the surgeon; "we must get him down first."

This proved a very difficult matter indeed.

The flue was so narrow that it was sheer madness to attempt climbing
it.

Eagerly Mathias had pushed on, and finally got himself wedged
inextricably.

He could neither move up nor down.

It was when he made this alarming discovery that his struggles became
desperate, and in his wild efforts to free himself from his self-set
trap, he tore and mutilated his flesh most cruelly.

The wounds and the want of air had done their work.

An hour's hard work succeeded in setting the prisoner free--or rather
his body, for it was found that life had been extinct, according to the
surgeon's report, before they had entered the cell.

And when they came to examine the clothes, they made a discovery which
threw a light upon the whole affair.

A small scrap of paper, dirty and crumpled was found in his pocket,
upon which was some writing that was with great difficulty construed in
this wise--

"The only hope is from the waterside. If you can but reach the roof,
and have the courage to make the plunge, freedom will be your reward."

How this note came there was never discovered.

With this dire catastrophe ended the efforts of the brigands to free
their unhappy leader.

CHAPTER XI.

MR. MOLE VISITS THE WIZARD--THE MAGIC MIRROR AND THE LIFE-LIKE
VISION--THE INCANTATION--THE CHARMED WIG.

"In point of fact, sir," said young Jack to his tutor one morning, "it
is about the only thing worth seeing here."

"What is, Jack?"

"The wizard."

Mr. Mole looked very straight at his pupil upon this.

"What wizard, sir?" he said, severely. "What do you mean?"

"I mean the conjuror that Mr. Jefferson, and dad, and Uncle Dick went
to see."

"When?"

"The other day. Didn't they tell you about it?"

"No, sir."

When Mr. Mole addressed his pupil as "sir," young Jack knew pretty well
that he thought he was being humbugged.

There is an old saying--"Jack was as good as his master."

Putting on a look of injured innocence, he called his comrade Harry to
corroborate what he had said.

"That's quite true, Mr. Mole."

"That Mr. Jefferson went with Mr. Harkaway and Harvey to see a
necromancer?"

"Yes."

"Preposterous!" quoth Mr. Mole. "Why, whatever is the world coming to
next? We shall have them spirit-rapping and table-turning and such-like
muck, I suppose."

Jack looked serious.

"Then you don't believe in necromancy--that they can tell the past and
the future by the aid of astrology?"

"Pickles!"

It would have astonished Messieurs Crosse and Blackwell themselves,
could they have heard what a deal that one word could convey when
uttered by an Isaac Mole.

"Well, sir," said Harry Girdwood, seriously, "the wizard told us some
very remarkable things indeed."

"What did he tell you?"

"Many things, many very wonderful things; but one of the most wonderful
was about you, sir."

Mr. Mole started.

"Don't you try to come the old soldier over me," said Mole.

Harry Girdwood protested that he held Mr. Mole in far too much respect
to essay any thing like coming the ancient military, or indeed anything
else which might be construed into want of proper feeling.

Mr. Mole looked hard at him.

"And what did he say about me?"

"He said that all the intelligence of our party was centred in one
person."

"Well?"

"And that the initials of the person in question were I. M."

"Now, Jack."

"Sir."

"You two boys are conspiring against me."

"You are rather hard upon us, sir," said Harry Girdwood, with an
injured look.

"Was I? Dear me, I didn't mean that," said poor Mole. "But I'll go and
see this wizard, as you call him."

"It might startle you, sir."

"Stuff and nonsense, Harry; my nerves are iron--iron, I tell you."

"They had need be of steel, if you really mean to go."

"I'll go, and you shall go with me, Harry," said Mr. Mole; "and I'll
unmask this wretched impostor before you."

And down came his clenched fist upon the table, with a fierceness and
energy which made all the things leap up.

* * * * *

The chamber of mystery was arranged with a keen eye to effect.

The present possessors of the place had preserved all the adjuncts
which had looked so effective during the career of the necromancer, who
had fled ignominiously.

A huge stuffed alligator swung from the ceiling, and the lighting of
the room was effected by means of two or three swinging lamps, that
burnt dimly blue, and made the place look sepulchral enough to satisfy
the most morbid cravings for the horrible.

At the further end of the room was a "charmed circle," drawn with
chalk, and set around it was a row of hideous grinning skulls, which
suggested that a hint had been borrowed from Zamiel, in "Der
Freyschutz."

Besides these matters, there were several skeletons stuck up in the
most alarming attitudes.

Beside the chair was a large oval frame.

Upon the other side of the necromancer's chair was a heavy curtain, or
_portiere_ of cloth, covered with fantastic figures, and this was
drawn aside a minute or so after Mr. Mole and Harry Girdwood appeared.

Then, through the dark aperture thus disclosed, the wizard hobbled in.

Not the wizard that we have seen before, but a little old man bent half
double with age, and of whom little was to be seen save a long white
beard and an appropriate robe.

He leant heavily upon a staff, and sank into his chair with evident
pain and difficulty.

"What would ye with me?" said the necromancer, in feeble, querulous
tones. "If ye have come to scoff again, begone ere I summon an evil
spirit to blight ye."

Mr. Mole said nothing.

But when Harry Girdwood placed his hand nervously upon the old
gentleman's arm, as if for protection, he felt that he was trembling
slightly.

"He knows that we are English, you see," whispered Harry.

"Ye-es--ahem!--ye-es."

"Do you hear me?" said the wizard.

"Ye-es, oh, yes, sir," said Mr. Mole, who could not, for the life of
him, get his voice above a whisper.

"Then answer."

"By all means! decidedly--quite so, I assure you."

"What? Beware! Do you mean to doubt and mock?"

"Oh, dear; yes."

"Hah!"

"That is, no. I really don't know what I am saying."

"Silence, or the fiends will have your ber-lud ber-lud--Do you hear
me?" shrieked the old wizard.

"Quite so. Dear, dear me, Harry," said Mr. Mole in an undertone, "what
a very remarkable person, and I don't want to lose my ber-lud."

"What do you say now, sir? Do you feel sure that he is a humbug?"

"Of course not, but--"

At this juncture their conversation was cut short by a low, rumbling
noise, that sounded like distant thunder.

As it continued, it increased in strength, until it became absolutely
deafening.

Then suddenly upon a sign from the necromancer, it ceased, and the man
of mystery arose and pointed menacingly with his wand at Mole.

"Ye have thought well to neglect my warning," he said, in a voice which
thrilled poor Mole strangely; "the secrets of your inmost heart are
known to me as to my familiar, and the penalty must be enacted."

Mole bounced up.

"Goodness me!"

Harry Girdwood laid a trembling hand upon the unhappy old gentleman,
and played the part of Job's comforter once again with considerable
effect.

"We are lost."

"Don't, Harry, don't! Pray consider Mrs. Mole and the two babes."

"Try and melt him with a very humble apology."

"I will, I do!" exclaimed Mr. Mole in great excitement. "I really did
not mean it, Mr. Conjuror; 'pon my soul, I did not; and pray do not let
your vampires take my her-lud."

"Enough," said the wizard, sternly; "for once your ignorance shall
excuse you. Now say what you would have with me and begone."

"I think I should like to go," Mole whispered to Harry,

"What for?"

"We have been a long while here," said Mr. Mole in the same tone; "Mrs.
M, will be looking for me."

"Perhaps you don't feel quite comfortable here."

"Comfortable," said Mr. Mole with a sickly smile; "oh, dear me, yes, I
never was jollier."

"A little nervous perhaps, sir."

"My dear boy," said Mole, positively, "I have nerves of iron, literally
iron. Ha! what noise is that?"

"Only the magician's evil spirit, or his familiar, as he calls it."

"Strange," said Mole; "but sheer humbug of course."

"Humbug?"

"Hush!" exclaimed Mr. Mole, very anxiously.

Bang went that deafening thunder again, and Mr. Mole hopped towards the
door.

Harry Girdwood followed him closely up.

"You are uncomfortable, Mr. Mole."

"Not at all; nerves of adamant, Harry."

The latter laughed.

Never was there such an audacious humbug as Isaac Mole.

"You see that frame, sir, beside the wizard's chair?" said Girdwood.

"Yes," replied Mr. Mole; "what of it?"

"He showed us some marvels there last time."

"What is it?"

"A magic mirror."

"You must have been thoroughly well cheated; now, what could he have
shown you there?"

"Wonders," replied Harry impressively; "you, amongst other marvels."

"Me?"

"Yes."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, sir, that you appeared before us as plainly as I see you now."

Mr. Mole certainly looked serious at this.

"He can show you anyone you may want to see," said Harry.

"Never!"

"Try him."

"I will," said Mr. Mole, with a show of determination, but shaking all
over.

"Now, O sceptic, what proof of my lore would ye have? Would ye know
something of yourself?"

"No."

"Yes," said Harry Girdwood for him promptly.

The wizard inclined his head gravely, and opened a large volume before
him upon the table.

After poring over this for a time, he said the following doggrel in a
deep bass voice--

"The doom of Mole is understood,
For ever more to walk on wood;
Though upon macadam or stone
Yet he shall walk on wood alone.

"Let him march out on asphalte--tile,
In orange groves his thoughts beguile;
Where'er he be, the fate of Mole's
To scud through life upon bare poles"

This peculiar incantation had its effect somewhat increased by soft
music.

"Ahem!" said Mr, Mole, "it didn't want a wizard to tell me that."

"What, sir?" demanded Harry, innocently.

"About my wooden legs; my infirmity is visible to every body."

"But how could he know?"

"By looking."

"Still sceptical," said the wizard, who had very sharp ears; "shall I
consult my book again?"

"No, no," said Mr. Mole, uneasily.

But Harry Girdwood said "Yes."

He did not want to end the scene yet.

"What would you?" demanded the magician sternly.

Harry commenced to whisper to Mr. Mole.

"Come, sir, pluck up your courage, and find out something about
yourself. You know the past--why not ask him about the future?"

"He might be rude enough to say something unpleasant, Harry. However,
I'll try him."

Then, with a very polite bow, Mr. Mole asked--

"Can you tell me, Mr. Magician, what my ultimate fate is?"

The necromancer took two steps forward and seized Mr. Mole's hand.

"I find that the line of life is tinged with the hue of blood," said
he, in solemn tones, after a lengthened inspection of the palm.

"Dear me, how unpleasant--I washed my hands not long ago."

"Man! do you think you can wash away the decrees of fate or sponge out
the solemn words written by the stars? You are an Englishman?"

"Certainly."

"Already six Englishman have sought me, and each of the six died a
terrible death. What says the book?--

"A terrible death on this green earth,
With never the slightest chance of heaven;
Let him curse the day--the hour of his birth,
The English victim numbered seven."

"And you are _Number Seven,_ Mr. Mole. May all the powers of
heaven and earth preserve me from such a terrible doom as yours."

Mr. Mole almost fainted when the magician uttered such fearful words
respecting his (Mole's) fate.

Harry Girdwood, however, handed him a rum flask, and a good pull at
that restored his nerves.

"Pooh!" said he, "I don't believe a word he uttered."

"Still sceptical?" said the magician. "But to convince you of my power,
I will show you any thing you like in my magic mirror."

"Very well, then, I should like to see Harkaway and Harvey at this
present moment--just to ascertain what they are doing--that will be a
test."

He chuckled as he said this.

But as he spoke the magic mirror grew light, and two figures were seen,
set, as it were, in a frame.

Jack Harkaway the elder, was seated in an arm-chair reading; beside him
stood his constant companion, Dick Harvey.

The latter's figure was the more remarkable of the two, and the
attitude was not merely characteristic, but it was startlingly like
life.

One hand was in his pocket; the other was at his face, the thumb
pointing at his nose, the fingers outstretched towards the audience.

"What do you think of that?" asked Harry Girdwood, in low tones.

"Marvellous!" cried Mole; "that is Harkaway and Harvey, sure enough.
Harvey has got something the matter with his nose."

"No," whispered Harry, "he's taking a sight at you."

"So he is. Just like Harvey. Harvey!" he called out.

The mirror darkened, and the figures faded away from the sight upon the
instant.

"Do you desire still another proof of my skill?" asked the wizard.

"Well you can, if you like, tell me something more about myself; but
don't put yourself to any trouble."

The wizard leant over his book earnestly for a consider able time.

"I see here," said he, "that you have contrived to keep one important
matter secret from your friends."

"What?"

"The hairs of your head are numbered," continued the wizard.

Mr. Mole changed colour.

"How--what?"

"By the barber; you wear a wig."

"Oh, no--no!" exclaimed Harry Girdwood, positively, "You are wrong
there, sir, I assure you. Is he not, Mr. Mole?"

"Of course he is."

"Will you see for yourself, unbelieving boy?"

"Yes," said Harry.

"Where--say, where shall my familiar take it?"

"Up to the ceiling."

Mr. Mole groaned.

At the self-same instant out went the lights; a heavy hand was placed
upon Mr. Mole's head, and hey, presto! his wig was seen dancing about
at the ceiling, glittering with a phosphorescent light upon it.

Mr. Mole looked up, gave one awful yell, then made for the door, and
flew away as fast as his wooden legs would carry him.

And his yells continued, for all along his route young Jack had
sprinkled a plentiful supply of crackers, which exploded as he ran.

An unearthly chorus, sounding like the discordant laughter of invisible
fiends greeted his retreat, and he never stopped until he had got home,
panting and gasping for breath.

As soon as he was out of the room Harry Girdwood locked the door.

"Come forth, my merry devils!" he shouted. "Old Mole's gone."

The curtain was drawn back, and in came Dick Harvey and Jack Harkaway,
carrying lights.

The wizard threw back his head dress and long horsehair wig, and showed
the grinning face of young Jack himself.

"Bravo, Jack," said his comrade, Harry; "you did it ever so much better
than the other conjuror did."

"Was he frightened?" inquired young Jack.

"Poor old Mole! I never saw him so alarmed before."

Harvey and old Jack enjoyed the fun every bit as much as the boys.

"My opinion is," said the elder Harkaway, laughing, "that the triumph
of the whole job was in the dancing wig."

"It was beautifully done," said Harvey.

"I nearly missed it," said Harry Girdwood laughing, "for you put out
the lights so suddenly that I couldn't find the string, and then I
nearly dug the hook into his head as well as his wig; and as for the
phosphorus, I gave him a dab with it upon the nose."

"Ha, ha, ha!"

Every thing had been carefully arranged beforehand, it need hardly be
said, and a cord, with a fish-hook at the end of it, was run over a
small wheel fixed in the ceiling,

Harry held the other end of the cord, and as soon as the darkness and
confusion came, he drove the hook into poor old Mole's wig, while he
rubbed it dexterously with phosphorus, and then with a jerk he hauled
it up to the ceiling, where he set it dancing about, to the
indescribable horror of Mole.

CHAPTER XII.

WHEREIN MR. MOLE IS CRUELLY USED--THE GARDEN FETE--SUNDAY AND
MONDAY GIVE AN ENTERTAINMENT--ANOTHER LOOK INTO THE MAGIC MIRROR--
STUDIES OF NATURAL HISTORY--AN INVOLUNTARY PERFORMER.

When Isaac Mole had time to reflect coolly upon what had occurred,
doubts arose in his mind.

In spite of the seemingly inexplicable nature of the phenomena which he
had witnessed, he felt that Harkaway, father or son, must know
something of it.

Dick Harvey, he was morally sure, was in it.

If any thing fell, Harkaway would start up, on which Harvey or young
Jack would immediately inquire anxiously if he were startled, solely
for the purpose of leading up to Mole's words at the wizard's house.

"Startled--nervous! Never; iron nerves, sir--adamant!"

Upon these occasions, Mr. Mole would glide away from Harkaway's room
without a word, leaving his tormentors to have their grin out all to
themselves.

All they could do they could not make him drop a word of allusion to
the events just narrated.

On that topic he was utterly dumb. Day and night the worthy Isaac Mole
brooded over one solitary topic.

Revenge.

"I'll teach 'em," he said; "I'll let them know what it is to play
practical jokes with a man like me."

The last straw breaks the camel's back. The last indignity on his wig
proved too much for Isaac Mole, for he had until that fatal day at the
magician's, been fondly hugging himself in the delusion that the secret
was all his own.

The talk was tortured and twisted about so as to make it bear upon the
sorest subject for the poor old gentleman.

"Dash my wig, Mr. Mole!" Harvey would say; "let's take a short country
excursion. You know the advantages of change of _hair."_

If a suggestion were wanting for the dinner of the day, a voice was
ready to advocate "jugged hare."

"That's very well," said Harkaway, "but where can you get one in these
parts?"

"That's it," chimed in Harvey; "as Mrs. Glasse says, first catch your
_hair,_ eh, Mr. Mole?"

Mole winced.

"It's not always easy to catch it, is it, Mr. Mole?" said Harry
Girdwood, slyly.

"Not if it flies too high," said young Jack.

This chaff goaded poor old Mole to fury, coming as it did from the
boys.

"Really," he said, with a lofty sneer, "I don't see what you have to
laugh at in the idle nonsense of these children."

This made them grin more than ever.

"The wit of the rising generation," sneered Mole.

"Mr. Mole would like the young generation never to rise, I think," said
Harry Girdwood.

"That's it," laughed Harkaway; "Mr. Mole was always so conservative in
his ideas."

"Let me see, dad," said young Jack, looking puzzled; "Conservative,
why, that means a Tory."

"Yes."

"But, Mr. Mole, I thought that you always were a Whig."

Such a storm of laughter greeted this sally, that Mr. Mole could not
stand up against it.

Looking daggers at every body, he trudged out of the room, digging his
walking stick fiercely as he went.

Now at the door, who should he meet but Sunday, grinning from ear to
ear?

"I'm not going to be fooled by you, you infernal black pudding," cried
Mole, exasperated beyond measure.

"Yah, yah," grinned the mirthful Caesar Augustus, holding his sides.

"Take that," cried Mole.

Sunday did take it.

It was not a pleasant dose, for "that," in this instance, meant a
severe crack across the head with old Mole's walking stick.

Sunday rubbed his poll.

Happily the thick wool with which it was garnished saved the skull from
much danger, and a nigger's head is proverbially tough.

But yet Sunday did not relish the indignity.

"You dam wooden-legged ole tief," he shouted out; "I'll gib it to yar
for dis hyar."

And so, full of revengeful thoughts, the darkey sought his friend
Monday.

And they set to work plotting, with what result the next day showed--
much to the old gentleman's disgust.

* * * * *

They mustered a good round dinner-party upon the following day.

In front of the summer house was an object which excited Mr. Mole's
curiosity considerably.

One of the ladies asked what it was there for.

"I don't know exactly what it is," replied Harkaway; "something of
Monday's, I think, Dick."

"I believe so," replied Harvey, carelessly.

"They are going to give us an entertainment of some kind," said young
Jack.

The cloth having been cleared, Monday came forward, and bowing gravely,
addressed the company.

"Ladies and gentlemen--"

"Hear, hear!" from Mole, who, thinking himself free from attack,
determined to try a bit of chaff upon his own account.

"Thank you, sar," said Monday, bowing gracefully to Mole.

"Ladies and gentlemen--"

"Bravo, bravo!" shouted Mole; "exceedingly bravo."

"Folks generally--sane and insane"--here he bowed in a very marked
manner at Mr. Mole.

"Hear, hear!" cried Dick.

"My entertainment is just a-gwine to begin, and as it is of a
scientific natur dat asks for all your attention, I must ax them to go
at once who don't wish to stay and see it all through, so as not to
interrupt me."

"No one wishes to go."

The most eager person to remain was Mr. Mole.

Poor old Mole.

Monday went on--

"The first that I'se gwine to show you, ladies and gentlemen, is some
speciminks of what is known as the occult art, that is, the black art,
or magic."

Mole winced.

"Go on."

"Hear, hear!" said Dick.

"Bravo, Monday," from Jack Harkaway.

Mole was silent.

He had not another "bravo" in him, so to speak.

Monday bowed in acknowledgment of the plaudits.

"In the first place, den, ladies and gentlemen," he went on to say, "I
mean to show you my magic mirror."

Mole glanced nervously at Dick, and from him to Jack Harkaway.

But both looked as stolid as Dutchmen.

Monday drew back the curtain from the easel, disclosing a frame, on
which was fitted a plain black board.

"In this frame," said the professor of the black art, "I can show you
any persons you may ask for, dat is, persons who are known to you."

Mr. Mole had heard enough to convince him that he was in danger of
being once more sacrificed to the insatiable passion of his two old
pupils for chaffing and practical joking.

"Well, sar," said Monday, "just you try um."

"We will," said Dick.

"Well, then, sar, who shall be the first person I must bring before
you?"

No reply.

"Well, Mr. Mole, name somebody," said Monday, in his most insinuating
manner.

Mole's only reply was a dissenting growl.

"No."

"Will you, Mr. Harkaway, sar?" he said.

"Well, I will if you like--suppose that we call upon your friend,
Sunday?"

"Very good, sar."

And then he set to work.

A walking stick served him as a wand, and this he waved three times
slowly and majestically, while he repeated in solemn tones this
singular legend--

"Hokus-pokus, popalorum,
Stickstun, stickstun, cockalorum jig."

Thereupon the curtain went back, and lo! Sunday appeared sitting upon a
throne of state, robed in a long crimson mantle, which made him look
like an emperor.

It was a most dignified tableau, or it would have been, but for the
long clay pipe the darkey held in his mouth and the pewter pot he
carried in his hand.

"Ladies and gemmen," said Monday, "dat is our ole friend, dressed as de
Empyroar Charleymane."

"Bravo, bravo!"

Even Mr. Mole laughed.

The curtain closed over this dignified and historical representation.

"Now," said Dick Harvey, "let us see some of our live Stock."

"Yes, yes," said young Jack; "show us Nero."

"And Mike."

Monday bowed.

Then back went the curtain, and there sat Nero, the monkey, on the
throne just vacated by the emperor "Charleymane," and at his feet stood
the bold poodle Mike wagging his tail.

Nero appeared to understand what was required of him, and he sat
motionless as a statue for a while, but before long the peculiar
nervous irritation to which monkeys appear to be subject attacked him,
and he began a series of spasmodic researches in natural history all
over his ribs.

"Nero's making up for lost time," said young Jack; "look how he is
getting to work."

Nero was indeed scratching away furiously.

"There's diligence," laughed young Jack; "now he's busy."

And then he broke off into the following appropriate snatch--

"He'll catch the flee--he'll catch the flee--
He'll catch the fleeting hour."

Down went the curtain.

There was a general laugh at this.

"When we asked you to show us the live stock," said Dick Harvey, "you
took us too literally, Monday."

"Yah, yah!"

"You must learn to draw the line somewhere."

Monday here rapped the ground with his wand to secure attention.

Silence having been gained, he addressed them thus--

"Before we leave dis part of de entertainment," he said, "I conclude de
exhibition of one more animal. For reasons dat I need not mention, I
shall leave you to guess at de name of dis animal. It is a small animal
dat lives on wums."

"Wums?"

"Yes."

"What are they?"

"On wums, scriggley wums and insects, and burrows in the earth."

"Why, dear me," said young Jack, innocently, "that must be a mole."

Before a word could be said, back went the curtain, and Nero was
discovered walking upon a pair of wooden stilts.

He staggered about like a man in liquor, and made everyone yell again
at the quaint manner in which he had hit off Mr. Mole's movements.

"Whatever has he got on his head?" said someone.

Mole shivered.

He guessed.

Guessed; alas, he was but too sure.

Nero put all his doubts at rest by making a graceful bow and removing
his wig instead of a hat.

The wig!

Yea; the identical wig which Mr. Mole had left behind him in his
precipitate flight from the conjuror's.

This was too much.

Losing his dignity completely, Mr. Mole jumped up and burst through the
group of spectators, dashing out of the place in a perfect fury, young
Jack's voice ringing in his ears as he shouted--

"A wig a wig! My kingdom for a wig!"

CHAPTER XIII.

THE BRIGANDS' CAMP--A MOUNTAIN BIVOUAC--AN ALARM--THE SOLDIERS
--A CHALLENGE--THE BRIGANDS' WIDOW--FATAL NEWS.

We change the scene.

And now we find ourselves in a mountain pass, where a number of rough-
looking men are grouped about a camp fire.

A short distance from this group stands a tall man, leaning moodily
upon the muzzle of his musket, while he watches the zig-zag paths up
the mountain side.

Upon this man one can see the whole safety of the party depends.

He is on sentry.

A prolonged silence was suddenly broken by the sentinel looking up and
grasping his musket nervously, while he turned a warning gesture to the
camp.

"What is it?" exclaimed one of the party, jumping up.

"Hush!"

The sentry turned with his finger on his lips, and motioned him to
silence.

At a sign from one of the men--evidently a superior--the whole party
sprang to their feet.

A hurried examination of their musket-locks and arms generally showed
that they expected danger, and only waited a word from the sentinel to
be "up and doing."

The leader stepped up to the sentry, drawn sword in hand.

"What is it?"

"The patrol."

"Soldiers?"

The sentry nodded.

"The Carbonari?"

"Yes."

The leader grasped his sword nervously, and made a step forward as
though he would have dashed through the ravine and charge the military
alone and unaided.

But if such were his intentions, he speedily altered his mind. "Perish
them!" he muttered; "and curse their spying!"

"We could pick them all off from here," said one of the men--a huge,
burly fellow, who had climbed up to a projecting rock commanding an
extensive view. "All down to the last man."

And as he spoke, he brought his gun up to his shoulder with an ominous
gesture.

"Hold, Toro!" ejaculated an English voice. "Your hasty imprudence will
spoil us."

"Bah!" said Toro, replying in the same tongue. "You are over prudent,
Hunston. Why should we not destroy them while they are in our power?"

"What if one escapes?"

"One should not," retorted the Italian savagely; "no, nor half a one."

"And where is the good if we succeeded, as you say?"

"Good!" reiterated Toro, passionately. "Are they not our sworn foes?
Are they not here in pursuit of us? Good!--why, will it not lessen the
number of our enemies by their number at least?"

"Yes, perhaps," replied Hunston. "And if successful, it would so
thoroughly alarm the country, that it would cause a whole army to be
sent after us, and make the end a mere question of time. Let one escape
to tell the tale and it would bring them down to this spot, our safest
place in the mountains, and hitherto undiscovered by our enemies."

Toro grumbled.

Yet there was so much truth in what Hunston said that he could urge
nothing further in favour of violent measures.

The sentry, who was still on the watch at the fissure in the rocks,
here turned round and motioned them to silence.

"Not so loud," he exclaimed, in a whisper; "they can hear something;
they are looking our way."

"Hah!"

In fact, the military were so near, that they could be heard plainly
enough giving their words of command.

"Halt! Ground arms!"

The rattle of their rifles was heard distinctly.

The officer then could be seen taking observations through a short
telescope which he carried suspended by a strap to his side.

He glanced all about the place and fixed for some little time upon the
fissures and rocky passes, resting longer below the very one at which
the sentry was posted than elsewhere.

But although it would seem to have aroused his suspicions, it was
evident that he could see nothing, for, after a few minutes, he lowered
his glass and shut it up.

The reason of this was, that where the sentry stood was completely
shadowed by the overhanging rocks, so that he was invisible to them,
although they could be distinctly seen by the sentry.

The scrutiny appeared to satisfy the officer.

"Shoulder arms! Left wheel! March!"

The measured tramp of the soldiers was distinctly heard.

Fainter and fainter it grew until it died away.

The sentry watched them in silence for several minutes before he spoke.

Presently he turned round to his comrades and nodded.

"Safe," he said. "They have turned by the crossroads; the last man is
out of sight."

"That's prime," said our old friend Tomaso. "Then now to dinner."

The sentry was not lost sight of--indeed, he was not the man to allow
himself to be forgotten, for before the meal had been long in progress
he reminded them that he had such a thing as an appetite about him by a
very rough address.

"Gluttons," he said to the party generally, "do you think only of
yourselves? Am I to mount guard for ever?"

They only laughed at this.

"Right, Ymeniz," said Toro; "turn and turn about is but fair. Matteo."

"Present," returned one of the men, jumping up and saluting with a
stiff military action, which told that he had once served in the army.

"Relieve guard, and let Ymeniz take your place here."

Matteo picked up his musket and marched up to the rocky pass, while the
late sentry joined the feast.

Now while the guard was changed, without any particular demonstration
of reluctance upon the part of the new sentry himself, Tomaso made a
very wry face.

"Our comrade Toro gives his commands as naturally as though he were our
leader."

Toro flushed up at this.

"And why not?" he said, almost fiercely.

"Why not?" echoed Tomaso, with a sneer. "Oh, I could give several
reasons."

"Give them."

"Nay, one will suffice."

"Well."

"Our only chieftain is the gallant Mathias."

"And he is in prison."

"True; but that doesn't prove you to be our leader while poor Mathias
is in the hands of the Philistines."

"Bah!" replied Toro, impatiently. "Someone must command while Mathias
is away."

"Then there are others who should command here in his absence in
preference to those who are new comers."

"Who are they?"

"You haven't far to look," returned Tomaso, drawing himself up
haughtily; "myself, for instance."

Toro burst into a loud and derisive laugh.

"You?" he said, contemptuously.

"Yes, I."

"Why, I have led a band of gallant fellows years ago--a band of thrice
our strength; aye, and what is more, I have led them to victory again
and again--to victory and fortune."

"Your lucky star has not been in the ascendant since you have deigned
to honour us with your company," said Tomaso.

The covert sneer conveyed in this speech made the peppery Italian fire
up.

"What do you mean by that?" he demanded, fiercely.

"I mean that your gallant followers must have missed so distinguished a
leader; pity you could not return to lead them to fresh triumphs,
greatly as we should deplore your loss."

Toro boiled over at this.

"Do you want to fix a quarrel on me?" he asked, in a voice of
suppressed passion.

"No," replied Tomaso, insolently. "When I want to quarrel, I go
straight to my point; I don't beat about the bush. I only want to
remind you of your proper place here so fall back, Signor Italiano, and
learn to be more respectful in your bearing."

Stung to the quick by this, Toro plucked out his sword, and would have
rushed upon the other, had not several of the men interposed.

"Come, come," they said, "none of that. We have plenty of enemies; we
can cut their throats, not our own, when we want to spill blood."

"Besides," said an old man, "it is profitless quarrelling about the
leadership--we have a leader. Poor Mathias!"

"Right," echoed several voices together, "right. Sit down; no
quarrelling."

"Here," exclaimed an old brigand, "let us drink to Mathias."

"And his speedy return," added another.

"Aye, aye, his speedy release."

Horn goblets were handed round and filled with ruddy wine from a skin,
which the old brigand himself produced from his own mysterious larder.

"To Mathias!"

"To Mathias!"

A ringing cheer was heard, and the goblets were drained to the very
dregs.

* * * * *

"Who goes there?"

"A friend."

"The word."

"Mathias."

"Advance, friend, and give the countersign."

This challenge was replied to, and a woman appeared at the narrow
entrance to the mountain pass.

Slowly she walked through, her head drooping and her eyes fixed upon
the ground.

They recognised her now.

It was the wife of their chieftain, the bold Mathias.

"I scarcely knew you," said the sentry, apologetically.

She looked up and smiled in a strangely vacant manner.

The other said nothing.
Her manner impressed them with ugly feelings.

Instinctively they felt that some fresh calamity had happened to them.

In fear and trembling they anticipated the evil tidings which she
brought, although, of course, they could not guess at its exact nature.

"Did you succeed!" demanded the old man.

She nodded gravely.

"You saw Mathias?"

"Yes."

Her answer was given in the same vacant manner, and staring fixedly
into the very midst of them, she appeared to see nothing.

"Did you tell our brave captain how eagerly we look forward to his
release--how anxiously we long for the moment when he shall be again
here amongst us--at our head?"

It was the old brigand who spoke.

She gave him a strange look, from which they could gather absolutely
nothing, and her eyes dropped again to the ground.

The heavy, unpleasant feeling deepened.

Scarcely one of them had the courage to address her again.

An oppressive silence fell upon them all.

They looked at each other in silent, awkward expectation, all, bold
desperadoes as they were, cowed into silence by her manner.

"You succeeded in seeing him?" said Hunston.

"Yes," she said, quietly.

"And you bade him be of good heart?--you told him that we were making a
plan in his behalf--a plan which could not fail of success? You said--"

The woman looked up.

"Nothing!"

"What!"

"Nothing," she slowly repeated, "nothing. I saw him, but it was too
late to speak those words of comfort."

"Too late?" iterated Hunston, eagerly, "too late?"

"Ah, too late for words of comfort, for menaces, or for any thing."

"Surely you do not mean--"

He could not complete the sentence, but she helped him out--

"I do," she said, in a hollow voice, and nodding her head gravely, "I
do mean that he, Mathias, the brigand chief is dead!"

The brigands, one and all, leaped to their feet, snatching up their
carbines, while from their throats issued a deep cry of revenge.

Dead! The word thrilled them one and all with horror.

The bold Mathias dead!

Prepared as they had been by her manner for some dire Calamity, it came
upon them like a thunderclap. The awful calm manner of the chieftain's
widow impressed them more than if she had thrown up her hands in wild
despair and given way to the noisiest demonstrations of woe.

After some few minutes, one ventured to break the awesome silence.

"How did he die?"

The brigand's wife turned from her questioner with a shudder.

"Ask me nothing yet. I am not able to speak of that at present; give me
time to conquer this weakness."

"If I ask, it is that I may seek vengeance upon his destroyer," said
Tomaso, the speaker.

Her eyes sparkled, and the colour rushed into her pale cheek at the
word. "Vengeance--aye, vengeance. Well spoken, my bold Tomaso;
vengeance is something to live for, after all; vengeance we'll have
too. We'll glut ourselves with it; a feast of vengeance we'll have."
"We will, we will!" shouted the brigands, as though with one single
voice.

"These English and these Americans shall die."

"They shall!"

"We'll exterminate them, root and branch."

"Aye, aye."

"Firstly, these Harkaways shall fall, then--"

"They die."

"Does Mathias owe his death to Harkaway's band?" demanded Hunston.

"Was not this Harkaway the prime mover in all our disasters?"

"Curse him!"

"Aye, curse him!"

Toro here stepped forward in the centre of the circle which the
brigands had formed.

"If Harkaway is to be dealt with," he said, "I will undertake to lead
you to triumph within three days."

Cheers greeted this speech until Tomaso stepped forward.

"If we want a leader," said he, "we can elect one; we are not in need
of any man to elect himself."

"Stand back," said Toro angrily.

"Fall back yourself," retorted Tomaso, "and obey your superior."

"My superior? Ha, ha! He does not live here," ejaculated Toro fiercely.

The old brigand here once more stepped between the disputants and
interfered.

"Why quarrel over a dead man's shoes while his widow is still in
sight?"

Tomaso fell back at the rebuke, but Toro, less thin-skinned, stuck
boldly to his text.

"If I offer to lead you against the enemy," he said, "it is solely for
our interest generally, not for mine alone."

"Oho!"

"Aye, and I can prove it."

"Do so."

"I will."

"Hear him," said Tomaso derisively: "hear our general benefactor speak
up for us all."

Toro turned upon the speaker savagely. "I can speak to you presently,"
he said significantly, tapping his sword hilt.

"You'll find me ready to answer you in any way," retorted Tomaso
boldly, also tapping his sword.

"I doubt not; meanwhile, I offer myself as the leader, for several
reasons: firstly, I know these Harkaways well, and am more fit to cope
with them than those who have never met them."

Tomaso laughed.

"I doubt that," he said; "why, by your own showing, you have never
gained any signal successes with them."

"No, but I start where you would have to begin; I am armed by
experience, which you lack."

"True, true," exclaimed several of the brigands.

"That sounds fairly enough," replied Tomaso, "but you have ever met
with such signal discomfiture that I, for one, should have small
confidence in your leadership. I don't speak to uphold myself; let any
other leader be chosen--let one of ourselves to wit, not an Italian, or
any other foreigner. Why should not a Greek lead Greeks?"

"Hurrah!"

A general cheer greeted this speech. "Tomaso! Tomaso!" they cried;
"Tomaso for leader!"

Toro's face flushed blood red.

"Hearken to me," he exclaimed, in a voice now hoarse with passion;
"Mathias was a great leader, and I felt it no shame to serve under him,
but I have been in command of as bold and brave a band as this, one far
stronger in point of numbers, and if I am not elected for the command I
shall withdraw altogether. Have me or not, you have the choice; only
this is my determination; I will accept orders from no man here."

"Go, then," said Tomaso; "leave us. You came unbidden, and you may
depart when you please."

A general silence succeeded this speech.

Toro's aid was not to be despised.

His huge body and his muscular arm had gained him the consideration of
most of those lawless men, who literally revered brute strength.

"Wait, wait," said a brigand, stepping forward. "Let us not be too
hasty. Some are for Toro, and some are for Tomaso."

"Well?"

"Say on."

"Let us put it to the vote, and let each of the disputants pledge
himself to abide by the decision."

"Good."

"What says Toro?"

"Agreed."

"And so am I," returned Tomaso, promptly.

"Hands up, then, for Toro."

Half the hands were uplifted and counted over.

"Now for Tomaso."

Up went the hands of the other side, and when they came to tell them
off, it was discovered that the brigands were equally divided in their
choice.

"We cannot have two leaders," said the brigand Ymeniz.

"No, no."

"Then we must have neither, as the matter stands."

"Unless one gives way."

"No," ejaculated the Italian, fiercely, "unless Tomaso likes to decide
by the sword which of us shall have the lead."

"I'm agreed to that," retorted Tomaso, promptly. "Let us fight for it,
and may the best man win."

"Agreed."

"Hurrah, hurrah!"

A ring was formed, and preparations made for the deadly encounter.

As they were not agreed about the choice of weapons, a coin was thrown
up, and Toro won.

Tomaso would have chosen pistols, for he was an excellent shot, and it
gave him the superiority; whereas, although not altogether unskilled in
fence, Toro's superior weight and size gave him a great advantage with
the sword.

However, there was nothing for it now but to fight.

The combatants stripped to the waist, and each received his weapon from
his second.

They were long, heavy swords, cut and thrust, like the heavy cavalry
carry, and with these there could be but one result.

Death!

There were no half measures with these weapons.

"Now, then," exclaimed the Italian, impatiently, "why this dallying? On
guard."

"I am ready," cried Tomaso, gripping his sword firmly.

The swords met with a clash which sent forth a shower of sparks, and
both men recoiled with the force of the shock.

Recovering themselves quickly, however, they went to work in real
savage style, and chopped away at each other with vicious earnestness.

Now Tomaso, it was clear, could not hold his own in a battle wherein
mere brute force was to have the best of it, and feeling himself at a
disadvantage in this respect, he dodged about his adversary as nimbly
as Harlequin himself.

Being very quick-sighted, he saw what sort of a blow was coming ere it
was fairly dealt, and so he shaped his defence.

If it was a desperate stroke, he jumped out of its reach.

If a light one, he turned it off upon the edge of his own weapon.

In this way he worked upon Toro to such an extent that the Italian's
temper got the mastery of him.

Tomaso was attacking him so closely that the Italian looked like losing
the battle.

Toro was bleeding from a dozen small flesh wounds.

Tomaso was, up to this moment, almost unscathed.

Presently he grew over bold, and incautiously trusting himself within
reach, Toro lunged so sharply out that it was only by the merest shave
he escaped being spitted on the Italian's long sword like a lark on a
skewer.

As it was the sword pierced the waistband of his nether garments.

Tomaso stumbled, and so nearly lost his balance that it took him all
his time to parry the next stroke, which was put in with equal
smartness and vigour. One blow, that might have brought down an
elephant, sent Tomaso on to his knees.

The same stroke made a notch in the Greek's weapon half an inch deep.

Had he caught the blow upon the flat of his sword, it would have been
shivered to atoms beyond all doubt.

Toro saw his chance.

Nor was he at all slow to avail himself of it.

Quick as thought, another blow fell, and out of his grasp flew the
Greek's blade.

He lay prostrate at the mercy of his adversary.

"Beg your life," cried Toro, planting his heavy foot firmly upon his
adversary's chest.

"Never,"

"Then die!"

He raised his sword.

But he paused.

Was it the action of a brave man to take the life of a defenceless foe?

Well, it was not the thought of such romantic notions which troubled
Toro; it was simply because there were spectators.

These spectators, he knew, would judge it harshly.

He thirsted for Tomaso's blood.

Yet he dared not indulge in his brutal passion.

Therefore, making a virtue of the necessity, he lowered his sword, and
spurning his beaten adversary with his foot, bade him rise.

"Then take your life unasked," he said coarsely, "and in future learn
to know and to respect your superiors."

Toro's speech was received with cheers by the brigands.

CHAPTER XIV.

THE NEW CAPTAIN-HUNSTON'S TROUBLE-THE ARM AND ITS LEGEND-HOW
EMMERSON'S VENGEANCE WORKS STEALTHILY ON.

"What do you say, men, now?" demanded the huge Italian, as he wiped his
sword.

"Huzza for Toro!"

"Have I fairly earned my right to take the lead here?"

"Yes, yes."

"I want you to be unanimous," he persisted.

"We are."

Toro fixed his eyes upon one or two of the disappointed supporters of
Tomaso, who had not uttered a word since the discomfiture of their
champion, and said to them especially--

"If any of you object to me as a leader, let them come forward now and
speak up."

There were one or two murmuring voices.

"Look," cried the giant Toro, "men all, if any here still denies my
power, let them step forward, and this sword shall prove my right."

This was final.

After the manner in which Toro had just dealt with their friend Tomaso,
they were not encouraged to provoke a quarrel. And so, by his daring
audacity and brute strength, Toro the Italian raised himself to the
leadership of the Greek brigands.

None dared to dispute his sway from that moment.

Some had a difficulty to swallow the bitter pill, but the alternative
was so very unpleasant that they got over it.

* * * * *

And Harkaway's enemy Hunston?

Why has he fallen so into the background of late?

His sole thoughts have been engrossed by the fearful sufferings to
which he is subject.

That dreadful arm--the legacy of vengeance of the murdered Emmerson.
Where the evil was it baffled all his skill to discover.

Slowly yet surely this horrible piece of mechanism was eating away its
wearer's life.

"It seems almost as though some subtle poison were slowly injected into
my body through this arm," thought Hunston, "and yet I can not work
without it."

Never was vengeance more terrible than that of the dead Robert
Emmerson.

The wonder was that Hunston lived through it.

His constitution must have been of iron.

The arm was removed, but only with infinite trouble and suffering; and
then, after some considerable time, Hunston began to experience a faint
sense of relief.

The sufferings slowly diminished.

This convinced Hunston that he had been correct in supposing that the
poison was concealed in the mechanical arm.

He laid bare as much of it as he could without permanently damaging it,
and pored over it for hours at a stretch.

To what good?

None.

Now this limb was the work of no common artificer.

It was the work of a hand of rare cunning.

A master spirit had invented it, and its mystery was far too deep to be
penetrated by a common bungler.

Hunston was at last so tortured that, disguising himself, he one day
left the mountains, and sought the advice of a surgeon.

"The man who planned this arm," said the surgeon to whom Hunston
submitted it for examination, "must have devoted a lifetime to the
manufacture and perfecting of this mechanical limb."

Hunston smiled.

He knew too well how little time the wretched man Emmerson gave to any
thing like industrial pursuits.

"What is this?" asked this same surgeon, pointing to the flat of the
arm, where the engraved legend was almost obscured with a dark stain.

Hunston changed colour and fidgeted about.

"I don't know."

"There is something written."

"Yes, yes, so I believe, but it is obscured by that stain--a stain--"

He peered closer into the arm yet, and looked serious, as turning to
Hunston, he said--

"Why, it is a blood-stain."

"No, no!" replied Hunston, hurriedly; "impossible. It can not be."

"Impossible or not," said the surgeon, "blood it is, and nothing but
blood. Yet I see that, in spite of this stain, the reading is clear
enough."

"Scarcely," said Hunston.

"It is, though, and it is in English, I should say, too."

"Yes."

"Can't you read it?"

"No."

"Strange. Yet you are English."

"Yes."

"Well, I have some English friends here to whom I will show it, and--"

Hunston broke in impatiently at this.

"English here!" he exclaimed. "Where do they live?"

"At the villa--"

"What, the Harkaway family, do you mean?"

"Yes."

"And you would take it there?"

"Why not? Mr. Harkaway is a clever man. He is surrounded also by clever
people; there is a curious old gentleman there, too, an old gentleman
of great learning, and he might be enabled to throw some light upon the
secret, which even the closest scrutiny can not penetrate."

Hunston listened to the end, but not without having to exercise a
certain amount of self-control.

"How is this old gentleman called--this clever, learned old gentleman?"

"You seem to say that with a sneer, sir," said the surgeon; "but you
may rely upon it he is a very great _savant_--a man of great
accomplishments--and a warrior who has--"

"Who has lost two legs!"

"Yes. You know him?"

"Slightly; his name is Mole."

"It is."

"And you would take my arm to these people for them to stare and gape
at. No, sir; I am foolish enough to seek to conceal my affliction from
the world, and by the aid of this wonderful arm I have been hitherto
successful."

The doctor bowed.

"So I beg you will keep my secret."

"Rely upon it."

Hunston showed all his old cunning in this speech. Yet all his
inquiries, all his researches, availed him nothing.

The work of the dead Robert Emmerson remained as before, an inscrutable
mystery. It remained the silent executor of its creator's vengeance.

Slowly, yet surely fulfilling the blood-stained legend on the steel
arm.

CHAPTER XV.

HUNSTON AGAIN AT WORK-THE DANCING GARDEN--MARIETTA AND HER
GOSSIP-GREAT NEWS--THE ARREST--WHAT CHARGE?--MURDER.

Hunston's infirmity had told in many ways.

He had sunk to be a mere nonentity in the band.

Now he was but too pleased to be left at peace when in his great
suffering; yet no sooner did he recover health and spirits a little
than his old interest revived, and with his interest all the old
jealousies.

He bitterly resented Toro's assumption of the command.

"Let the blustering bully fool impose upon them if he will," he said to
himself again and again; "he never could take me in. It shall be my
task to show them who can render the most real service to the band."

Their programme suited Hunston well.

What could better have accorded with his humour than the devotion of
all their time, thought, and energies to the persecution--perhaps to
the entire destruction, of the Harkaway family?

It was all gone on with avowedly to avenge the death of Mathias.

Little cared Hunston about the dead brigand chief.

Indeed, but for the presence of his widow in their midst, and the
occasional mention of his name, Hunston would, in all probability, have
forgotten that he had ever existed.

As it was, he made it his especial task to hang about the parts of the
town where the Harkaways were most likely to be met. And never did he
appear twice in the same dress.

One evening, strolling into a dancing garden, he chanced to come upon a
smart young lady, whose appearance attracted his attention at once.

"I know her well," he said to himself, "though where I have seen her is
a puzzle to me for a moment."

The merry antics of one of the dancers caused her to laugh, and then he
recognised the sound of her voice immediately.

"Marietta!"

Surely he should not so soon have forgotten her.

Was it not upon the occasion of her memorable exploits at the gardens
of the Contessa Maraviglia that he had last seen her--that night when
poor Magog Brand met his fate?

As soon as he recognised her, he made up his mind to escort her.

So first (to assure himself of the excellence of his disguise) catching
a cursory glance of his shadow in a mirror, he crossed the garden, and
stepping up to her side, he addressed her.

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