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

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"Do you not join the dance, signorina?" he said.

The waiting maid in reply only cocked her chin haughtily and moved
away.

"You are proud, Marietta, to-night," said Hunston.

She turned upon hearing her name mentioned.

"I do not know you, sir."

"But you see I know you, Marietta, and what is more, if you were to ask
your master Mr. Harkaway or Mrs. Harkaway about their friend Saville, I
dare say they would not say any thing very bad about him."

Marietta curtseyed in some confusion.

"I don't remember seeing you at the villa, signor," she said, "so pray
excuse me."

"No excuses, pretty Marietta; I am not a very constant visitor, yet I
have seen you, and yours is a face once seen not easily forgotten."

Marietta, like a true daughter of Eve, did not object to this sort of
thing.

And so she fell into the trap which he set for her with so little
pains.

That is, she grew gossipy and communicative.

"And does Master Jack come here sometimes?" asked the sham Mr. Saville.

She shook her head.

"Never."

"Mamma would object, of course," he said lightly; "this is such a
wicked place for her good, mild, innocent boy to come to."

Marietta laughed a good deal at hearing young Jack spoken of thus.

"Neither of the young gentlemen are too innocent," she said; "but yet
they don't come here."

"Possibly they have no taste for this sort of thing," suggested
Hunston.

Marietta shrugged her shoulders.

"They are forbidden to go about alone."

"Why?"

"I don't know--some fancy of the ladies. They think that the brigands
are always lurking about, ready to drop upon their boys."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Hunston; "a very good joke."

"Is it not? Although I must tell you that there is some reason for
fear, for I have twice come across the--"

"Across who?"

"The brigands."

"Impossible."

"It is true."

"The miscreants. Did they steal any thing?"

"Well, only a few--a few kisses."

"Hum!" said Hunston, "that was excusable. It is a sort of pilfering
which I would willingly indulge in myself."

"I dare say," answered Marietta saucily, "but I have discovered how to
use my weapons in self-defence."

"What weapons?"

"These."

She held up her ten pretty little claws. A tiny hand they were mounted
on, too.

Hunston surveyed it with the eye of a connoisseur, and looked the
admiration he wished to convey quite extravagantly enough for a vain
woman to understand his meaning.

"Exquisite," he said. "It would be flattery even to be scratched by
such models."

She laughed.

He resumed.

"And so they never go forth for fear of the brigands?"

"Never."

"Their lives must be wretched, so confined to the house."

"Aye, but they go out to sea."

"To sea?"

"Yes, in their sailing boat; the two boys are always out fishing,
sailing, and what not."

Hunston pricked up his ears at these tidings.

"Yes, on the water they are allowed full liberty, for brigands and
cats, according to Signor Harvey, are the two animals that fear the
water most."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed Hunston, "very good indeed, but I never knew that
brigands so feared the water."

"So Signor Harvey says," replied Marietta. "Indeed he says that a bar
of soap and a bowl of water would frighten a brigand more than a whole
armoury of firearms."

This was true.

Brigands may look picturesque when seen from a distance.

At close quarters they are, to put it mildly, objectionable.

If they do not hold soap and water in absolute fear, as Dick Harvey
said, they at least look upon them as vanities and effeminacies
unworthy of desperadoes.

* * * * *

"So, so," muttered Hunston, as he walked away, "I shall secure them
yet. For through the boys I can get at the father and at Harvey. Hah!"

At this precise moment a heavy hand was placed upon his shoulder.

There was a professional touch in it, which once felt could never be
forgotten.

Hunston had felt such a clutch once in England, and the recollection
was likely to last him as long as he lived.

He forgot where he was, every thing, and instinctively he faltered this
inquiry--

"On what charge?"

"Murder!"

He knew the voice.

He had no need to look round; the voice was not one easily forgotten.

It was our old friend Pike, the English detective.

"Yes, Hunston," replied the officer coolly. "You have been giving me a
lot of trouble, but it was only a question of time and patience, I
knew. Come along; you are my prisoner."

CHAPTER XVI.

A GREAT DANGER--OFF AND AWAY!--POOR PIKE.

Hunston quailed. He was lost.

So suddenly--so unexpectedly had this come, that he was utterly
powerless to help himself.

Had he been wearing the mechanical arm, he might have able to tackle
the wiry officer Pike.

Bitterly did he curse his unlucky fate.

Recovering himself, however, in some slight degree, he endeavoured to
shake off the detective's hold.

"Quiet, now, quiet, Master Hunston," said Pike, "or I shall have to try
means for tranquilising you which you won't find agree with you."

"Show me your warrant for this outrage," said Hunston.

"Outrage! Hoity, toity! that's a good word."

"I shall call the police to my assistance if you attempt to molest me,"
said Hunston, putting on a lofty air.

This tickled Pike mightily.

"Call the police, will you?" he said. "Well, I shan't, for I flatter
myself that I don't want much assistance to walk off with such a man as
you--even if you were not lopsided."

Hunston turned savagely upon the detective at this allusion to his
crippled state and made an attempt at using his one arm upon him.

But Pike was--to put it vulgarly--all there.

He dexterously dodged the blow, and whirling round secured a hold upon
Hunston's collar--that peculiar grip which is the specialty of men who
have been in the force.

Hunston struggled desperately to get free. In vain.

Do what he would, he found himself being trotted along to save himself
from strangulation.

Not only was it physically painful.

Hunston had an overweening sense of his own importance and dignity, and
this being run in just like some paltry pickpocket in a crowd, was
galling to his vanity beyond all description.

What could he do?

He was powerless.

The wondering people stared at this singular exhibition, but they
parted their ranks as Pike and his prisoner came along, and never
offered to interfere.

Now, during this brief but painful business, Hunston's thoughts ran
right ahead of the present dilemma.

He endeavoured to realise some of the possible consequences of it.

The arrest was, he felt assured, illegal.

What then?

What could result from such a proceeding?

Would they detain him?

Could they?--that was the question.

The British ambassador might be influenced by people of the rank and
position of the Harkaways.

This granted, it was easy enough for his excellency to waive legal
forms and ceremonies there, and get Hunston transferred to the safe
keeping of the English authorities.

At this point Hunston could not repress a shudder.

And why? He thought of what must necessarily follow.

His fevered fancy flew ahead, and he saw himself in the dock, faced by
the stony-faced judge, and put through the torture of cross-examination
which laid bare the innermost recesses of his black heart in spite of
himself.

He saw further on yet.

He shut his eyes as he went on and heard the tramp of the twelve jurors
re-entering the court in the midst of a profound and awesome silence.

He heard the solemn formula; he heard the hollow voice of the foreman
give the verdict--

"Guilty!"

All that he heard and saw in his mind's eye, in that brief but
unpleasant hustling he had to go through at the hands of the ungenerous
and indefatigable officer Daniel Pike.

And Hunston now, being half cowed by his captor, was being driven
through the streets like a lamb to the slaughter, when a sudden and
startling incident changed the whole spirit of the scene, even in the
twinkling of an eye.

A musket, grasped in a strong hand by the barrel, was swung over their
heads, and down it came with an awful crack upon poor Pike's head.

Down he dropped like a bullock under the butcher's pole-axe.

And Hunston was free.

For a few seconds he could not realise his release, so sudden and
unexpected it had been.

"Come along," said a voice in his ear; "away with you, or we shall get
into trouble here."

This aroused him.

He recognised the voice of Tomaso the brigand, and it brought him to
his presence of mind.

Off he started at a good brisk run in the direction that his preserver
had taken.

And soon was out of danger.

But Tomaso was not so fortunate.

Following Hunston at a more leisurely pace, he had not gone many yards,
when a firm grip was placed upon his shoulder.

"Halt!" said a voice.

The brigand turned hastily, and found himself in the firm clutch of the
detective.

"I have caught you at last, villain!" exclaimed Pike the detective, as
he twisted his hand into the collar of the garment Tomaso wore instead
of a shirt.

Then, before the astonished brigand had time either to remonstrate or
resist, the Englishman exhibited to him that particular form of
wrestling known as the "cross buttock," and stretched him at full
length on the ground.

Another moment and a pair of real Bow Street handcuffs snapped on
Tomaso's wrists.

"Neatly done; don't you think so?" said Pike.

Tomaso's answer was a tremendous Greek oath.

"You're swearing, I believe. Now that is a bad habit at all times, and
very foolish just now, because you see it don't hurt me, inasmuch as I
don't understand it," said Pike, who, after a brief, stern survey of
his captive, added--

"If you cursed me in English, though, I don't know but what I might be
tempted to punch your ugly head."

Tomaso remained silent, and Pike, after pausing some seconds, helped
him to his feet.

"Now you are all right, and will come back quietly with me. But how do
the bracelets fit? I've got another pair in my pocket."

"You had better release me," observed Tomaso.

"Now that is very ridiculous, my friend. Why should I take the trouble
of capturing you, if I let you run again directly?"

"It will be much to your disadvantage to imprison me, Signor
Englishman. An injured Greek is always avenged in some way."

"Just so; however, I'll risk that"

Pike's coolness added to the rage of the brigand, whose passion fairly
boiled over.

"May all the infernal gods my forefathers worshipped--may the fiend I--"

"Serve," suggested Pike.

"The fiend I would willingly serve, or sell my soul to, for vengeance,
visit you with his direst displeasure, and may all the plagues of Egypt
blight you!"

"Thank ye, that's a very pleasant speech; something like what I used to
hear at the theatre. But, old friend, you made one little blunder."

"You will see if I have blundered."

"One little blunder, when you spoke of selling your soul. Lor' bless
you, Old Scratch isn't such a fool as to buy nowadays, whatever he may
have done years ago."

Another angry exclamation from Tomaso.

"You see, the old gentleman has gained some experience as a trader, and
he knows well enough that if he waits a little time, he'll get you all
free-gratis for nothing at all."

"You are a devil, Englishman."

"And you are not exactly an angel. However, if I am a devil, you may
consider you are regularly sold to me. So now come along; keep your
hands under your cloak, and no one will notice the little decorations
on your wrists."

"You are a devil, Signor Englishman; but you will die for this."

"Pshaw! I've collared scores of desperate villains, and they all said
something of the same kind, yet here I am,"

"You will die," repeated Tomaso.

"Some clay, of course; but we have a proverb in England; would you like
to hear it?"

Tomaso tossed his head with lofty indifference.

"The proverb," continued Pike, "is that 'Threatened men live long.'"

He then took Tomaso by the arm, and led him on.

"But stop," said he, "those pistols in your girdle are very heavy. I'll
carry them for you, and the knife as well."

CHAPTER XVII.

THE DECOY--A THROW OF THE DICE--THE EXECUTION.

Before Pike and his captive had gone far on their return journey,
Harkaway and Harvey, with two or three of the gendarmes, and a minute
after Jefferson, came up.

"You have caught him then. Hurrah!" said Dick Harvey.

"But this is not Hunston," said Harkaway.

"No, sir; he managed to get clean away. But we'll have him yet."

An old goatherd, who had scrambled down near to the place where the
captor and prisoner stood, might have been seen to indulge in a
contemptuous smile.

We say might, because the fact is that all were so much elated at the
capture of Tomaso that the very presence of the old stranger had
hitherto remained unnoticed.

Nor did he seem to court attention, but remained behind a bush, in a
spot, however, where he could hear all that passed.

"Well, we must take this fellow back to the town, and hand him over to
the authorities," said Harvey.

"And then hunt down Master Hunston," remarked old Jack. "I wish we knew
where to look for him."

"He took this direction," remarked Pike.

"True."

"And, therefore, it is in this direction that we must look for him."

"Right again," remarked Dick Harvey.

"But as he is associated with some desperate fellows, it would be as
well to place this gentleman in the hands of the authorities before we
seek him. It is not good to go into action with prisoners on our
hands."

As all agreed on this point, they walked back with the prisoner, and
had the pleasure of seeing him put into a cell from which, apparently,
there was no way of escape, even the fire-place having been bricked up
since the attempt of Mathias to gain freedom that way. By the time that
was done it was too late to think of starting that day, so our friends
retired to hold a council of war.

Pike, however, took no part in the consultation.

That astute detective had formed in his own mind a resolution that, if
it were possible, he would capture Hunston single-handed, thus covering
himself with glory, and at the same time keeping the Harkaways and
Harvey out of danger.

Pike knew that it was a difficult thing to keep them out of danger, and
that if they heard any thing about the brigands, they would be the very
ones to lead an attack.

Pike walked up and down, smoking and reflecting on the difficulties
which surrounded his task.

He had not thoroughly matured his plans when the sun went down and the
moon rose.

Few people were abroad.

The audacity the brigands had recently displayed had convinced most
people that they were safer indoors than out.

As Pike walked up and down the quiet street, he noticed an old man
crouched up in a corner, wrapped in a tattered cloak, and apparently
intending to pass the night there.

"Hilloa, my friend, what are you? Are you one of the brigands?"

Pike uttered the words in a jocular manner, but the old man felt deeply
offended.

"Sir Englishman, you insult me."

"I apologise. I had no intention of doing so."

"A brigand! Signor, I am here--houseless and penniless in my old age
through those accursed villains! May Sathanas fly away with their
souls."

"Well, old man, perchance you will be avenged before long."

"It is what I pray for. They burnt my hut, cut down my two fine olive
trees, and drove off my little flock of goats."

The old man covered his face, and appeared to sob violently.

"When was this?" asked Pike.

"Scarce three hours since."

"Was there with them a foreigner--one of my country?"

"I know not what country they were of, but besides the Greeks, there
were two men who seemed leaders; one was called Signor Toro, the other
was named Hunston."

"How many were there in all?"

"Three Greeks besides the two foreigners."

"Do you know any thing of the haunts of these brigands, friend
goatherd?"

"Aye, well. But till now I have never dreamt of betraying them, for
they never before molested me."

"Lead me to their den."

"You, signer? Why, they are at least five in number, and you are but--"

"But an Englishman! that makes all the difference, friend goatherd, so
pray lead on. Here, take a drink from my flask first."

The old man accepted the proffered drink, and then said--

"Well, signor, it is a desperate and dangerous undertaking; but I know
you English can do almost any thing, so I will show you the way. And if
it comes to a fight, I shall be at your elbow, signor."

"True."

Without mentioning his intentions, or saying a word to any of his
friends, the detective passed his arm through that of the goatherd and
walked away.

Little conversation passed.

The detective was full of hopeful anxiety about the capture of Hunston;
and as for the goatherd, it may be presumed that the loss of his goats
afforded him plenty of food for silent reflection.

They passed the place where Tomaso was captured, and then turned aside
out of the road into a dense wood which covered the side of a rocky
hill.

It appeared as though the old goatherd was "out of condition," as the
athletes say; at all events, the scramble up the rough path brought on
a loud and distressing cough.

"Be quiet," said Pike; "you will alarm them."

"No fear of that, signor; we are more than a mile from the den of the
villains."

So they scrambled and climbed away, till at length they reached a place
where Pike found it necessary to use hands as well as feet to make
progress.

He had just put up both hands to grasp a boulder over which it was
necessary to climb, when, to his intense astonishment, each wrist was
grasped by a couple of strong hands, and in another moment he was
forcibly dragged up.

"The tables are turned now, Mr. Pike," said a voices "You will remain
our prisoner till Tomaso is released."

It was so dark that Pike could not see the speaker, but he had no doubt
that it was Hunston.

The impression was confirmed in an instant by the goatherd, who said in
a jeering manner--

"Ha, ha, ha! Why don't you capture him? You were so very brave to talk,
yet you do nothing."

Pike, by a sudden jerk, wrenched himself from his captors, and dealt
the mocking brigand--for he was nothing more--a blow that doubled him
up among the rocks.

But before the detective could escape, he was thrown down himself, and
bound hand and foot.

Half-a-dozen Greek brigands then raised him and bore him away.

How far he could not tell, but it seemed, as far as he could guess,
five or six miles.

At length they reached a little open glade in the forest where at least
a score of brigands were assembled,

"You have him, then?" said a huge fellow, who spoke with an Italian
accent.

"Yes."

"Tie him to that tree."

It was done.

"Now listen," said Toro--for he it was who had given the command. "If
Tomaso is not at liberty and here among us at noon, you shall die."

"I can not set him at liberty."

"You can do a great deal towards it. Unfasten one of his arms--his
right arm."

Pike's right arm was then released, and, in obedience to Toro's
command, a small table was placed close to him.

On this table were pens, ink and paper.

"Now write to your friend Harkaway, and tell him that unless Tomaso is
released by noon, as I have told you, death is your doom."

So Pike wrote--

"I am in the hands of the brigands, and unless Tomaso is released by
noon, I shall be killed. But I am not afraid to die; hold your captive
fast."

Having signed it, he held it out to Toro, who read it, and then called
a messenger, to whom he entrusted it for delivery.

Then the brigands sat down to breakfast, and Pike was left to his
contemplations. These, as may be imagined, were not of the most
pleasant kind.

Hour after hour passed.

The brigands were some sleeping, some playing cards, and all enjoying
themselves in some way, but no one took any notice of the prisoner.

The sun rode high in the heavens, and it was evidently approaching
noon, when the messenger returned from the town with a letter.

It was addressed to Pike, but Toro opened it.

It was not from Harkaway, but from the chief of the police, informing
the unfortunate detective that the Greek government declined to make
any terms or drive any bargain with brigands, but that any ill usage
Mr. Pike might suffer would be most effectually avenged.

"You hear this?" said Toro.

"I do."

"Then say what prayers you remember, and make your peace with Heaven,
for at noon you die."

"Let me be the executioner," said a brigand who stood by.

"Not so," exclaimed another; "the task is mine by right."

"Peace!" said Toro. "The dice shall decide his fate. The highest
thrower shall have the pleasure of shooting him."

The brigands, in obedience to a signal from the chief, gathered round
him, a short distance from the prisoner.

Dice were produced and the game began.

"Double four," cried the first thrower.

"That man stands a good chance of being my executioner," thought Pike.
"To fancy that I, who have been the terror of evil-doers in England,
should be the sport of these dirty brigands. Why, I could well thrash
half-a-dozen of them in a fair stand-up fight."

At this moment a loud peal of laughter greeted the second dicer.

"Ace--two."

"My chance is worthless," said the man.

"Worthless!" muttered Pike to himself. "Aye, you are indeed worthless,
compared with some of the English villains I have hunted down and
fought for life or death. I could die like a man if I only had to die
in a fair hand-to-hand fight with such a man as Birmingham Bill, the
very first murderer I ever coped with; but I'll show them how an
Englishman can die."

"Double six!" shouted one of the brigands, as he threw the dice.

The man was the smallest and ugliest of the lot, but it seemed very
probable that he would be Pike's executioner. At all events, he
carefully loaded his carbine.

"To be shot by such a villain as that!" thought Pike. "It would have
been better if one of the shots fired by that burglar fellow they call
the 'Whitechapel, Devil' had taken effect; six times he fired, and then
we had a good ten minutes' tussle before I could secure him."

At length all the brigands had thrown with the exception of Toro.

"Double six again!"

As it was a tie between the two, each had another throw. The little
ugly brigand threw.

"Two--three."

Toro then took up the dice, shook them well in the box and made his
cast.

"Five--four!"

And Toro was hailed the winner.

"Prisoner, I give you two minutes to prepare."

"Brigand, I am prepared. Such sins as I have committed, I have repented
of, so do your worst; but rest assured that vengeance will some day
overtake you. To Heaven I commend my soul!"

With as much composure as if he had been practising at an inanimate
target, Toro raised his gun, and counted--

"One!"

"Two!"

"Three!"

At the word three, he pulled the trigger. The report echoed from rock
to rock, and the head and body of poor Pike fell forward, as far as the
ropes that secured him to the tree would permit.

He was dead, the bullet having penetrated the brain.

* * * * *

That evening, as Harkaway, Harvey, and Jefferson returned from an
unsuccessful attempt to rouse the authorities, they found that two men
had left a heavy package at the house.

On opening it, they were horrified to find it a section of a hollow
tree, nearly every portion of the wood having crumbled away, leaving
the bark intact.

And in the hollow was the body of the poor detective and a brief note.

"The fate of all brigand hunters. Beware!--TORO."

"Vengeance for this, at all events," exclaimed Harkaway.

"Poor Pike! We should be unworthy of the name of Englishmen did we not
punish thy murderers."

He wrote a note to the mayor.

"SIR,--In the huge package that accompanies this note, you will find
the body of an Englishman, who has this day been murdered by brigands;
I call upon you, in the name of Heaven, to rout these murderers out of
their dens, and bring them to justice. Should you show any backwardness
in so doing, I shall deem it necessary to appeal to the English
ambassador.

"Your obedient servant,
"J. HARKAWAY."

Having despatched a couple of messengers with the body and letter, they
sat down with sorrowful hearts and small appetites to their evening
meal.

CHAPTER XVIII.

HUNSTON IN THE CAMP AGAIN--RETROSPECTION--A DEVILISH PLOT--DARK
CLOUDS GATHER OVER THE HARKAWAYS.

"Who goes there?"

"A friend."

"The word?"

"Mathias."

"Stand; advance a step, and I fire. Ha! I see you now. I did not
recognise your voice, Hunston."

"I thought not; but why all this precaution?"

"Fear has induced us to change the countersign. We believe there is
mischief abroad, and so extra precautions are needed."

"Right, Ymeniz," said Hunston, who had been out scouting for a few
hours after the execution of Pike, "although it is to be feared that
the blindness which prevents your recognition of a friend and comrade
may mislead you as to the real character of an enemy, should one dare
to penetrate thus far."

The sentry laughed.

"Fear nothing on that score, Hunston," he said.

"Indeed I do."

"My carefulness may turn even friends into enemies, but fear, or over
carefulness--"

"It is much the same thing," suggested Hunston.

"Right; but it is not likely to make me take foes for friends."

"I doubt it."

"You have a cunning tongue, friend Hunston," said the sentry, who was
just a little bit nettled, "but I don't believe that you could prove
that to my satisfaction."

"I might do it to the one or the other," returned Hunston, caustically;
"but certainly not to both, the two are so opposed."

This was just a dash too subtle for the sentry, and so Hunston passed
on without further remark.

A few steps further on he came to a group formed of the brigands,
gathered around Pedro, a brigand who had been of some little assistance
in the rescue of Hunston, but who unlike Tomaso, had managed to escape.

He was recounting the late adventures--from his own episode in the
tale--of Hunston.

Hunston walked up to the centre of the group.

"Pedro," he said, "you rescued me, and perhaps saved my life; accept my
hand, and with it my eternal gratitude." Pedro stepped back. He winced
instead of taking the proffered hand, and his countenance fell.

"Pardon me Hunston," he said; "I'm very glad to have been of service to
you, to have been able to save a comrade, but--"

He paused.

Hunston frowned.

"But what?"

"Don't be too grateful."

The tone, no less than the nature of the request, sounded just a little
bit comical, and it made the bystanders, Hunston included, smile.

"What do you mean by that, my preserver? Why should I not be grateful?"

"Because I have heard it said that your gratitude brought bad luck to
anyone who had really befriended you."

Hunston started.

He thought of Robert Emmerson.

That arm did its inventor's work well, indeed.

Not a day passed but Hunston realised the truth of the legend inscribed
on the mechanical arm.

Not a day passed, but that he saw how fearfully was the legacy of
vengeance bequeathed by the murdered Protean Bob being carried out.

Dropping his glance in some confusion for a moment, he turned sharply
upon the brigand after a little reflection.

Pedro could know nothing of the death of Emmerson.

Nay, it was more than probable that the very name was utterly unknown
to these men.

"You wish to insult me, Pedro," he said, "and so cancel the obligation
I am under to you. But beware of going too far, for you may leave a
balance upon the wrong side, and I am as quick to avenge an insult as
to--"

Pedro interrupted him with a laugh.

"What did I say? I have only just rendered you a great service--at
least, so you say--"

"And mean."

"And mean, perhaps; and yet you are already threatening me. When I said
that your gratitude is said to bring bad luck to anyone, I was only
repeating an idle saying--as I thought--but it seems like the truth,
after all."

Hunston was moving thoughtfully away, when the brigand's words stopped
him.

"Forgive me, Pedro," he said, turning round; "I am a bad, ungrateful
man, but I'm not utterly wanting in decent feeling. You touch me on a
very sore spot."

So saying he walked on, leaving Pedro staring after him.

"That's a queer lot," muttered the brigand to himself, "a very queer
lot. I think I would sooner have the murder of a priest on my
conscience than be weighted with the deeds that he'll have to answer
for."

Pedro was no fool.

His observations were pretty well to the point.

Hunston felt the pangs of remorse.

Daily, hourly, in fact, he looked back and thought of what he was, and
what he might have been had not his vicious propensities got the upper
hand of him at the critical turn in his career.

And so the demon remorse played havoc with him already.

The mechanical arm was responsible for all. Its mysterious
disorganisation had been the direct cause of his forced inactivity.

What gives ugly thoughts such power over one as bodily inactivity?

Nothing.

Robert Emmerson, your vengeance is as terrible as it is unceasing in
its action.

* * * * *

Hunston sought the widow of Mathias.

"I have made good progress, Diana," he said, "for I have learnt enough
about the enemy to make sure of getting some of them at least into our
power."

The listener's eyes glistened at the words.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"What do you propose to do, then? Tell me."

"Harkaway has a son--a mere youth."

"I know it."

"Well, this boy is a dare-devil, bold and fearless lad; nothing can
daunt him. He is, in fact, what his hated father was when first I knew
him, years and years ago."

A faint and half-suppressed sigh escaped him as he uttered this.

"What of this boy?"

"This boy has a companion called Harry Girdwood."

"Well."

"Well, these two boys are to be trapped, if it be gone about carefully
--very carefully, mark you."

"That can be done, of course."

"It can--by you."

Diana stared again at this.

"By me?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"Listen. They pay a certain respect to us--hold us in some fear, in
fact--and the boys, who are regular rovers, like their parents and
friends, have only permission to cruise about in their little yacht."

"How did you learn this?"

"From Marietta, the servant of the Harkaways."

"Hah!"

"Now, with care, the boys might be lured, perhaps, away from the part
of the coast which they know, and let them once touch the shore out of
sight and hearing of their friends--"

"I see, I see," ejaculated the widow of Mathias. "I can entrap them, I
believe. But tell me first, what is the object of securing these two
boys?"

"The object!" ejaculated Hunston. "Why, surely that is clear enough.
Let us once get hold of them, and we can make any terms we like with
the father and friends. We shall have to dictate the conditions, and
Harkaway will have no choice but to accept them."

"I see, I see," cried Diana, excitedly. "Leave the rest to me; I'll
undertake to get them into our power."

"How?"

"No matter how; you have done your share of the business. Be mine the
task to secure the rest."

"When?"

"To-morrow."

"Good!" said Hunston, gleefully, "good! I feel a presentiment of luck.
I'm not superstitious, but I feel as certain now that we shall succeed
--as certain as if the boys were already in our power."

"They shall be," returned the woman, solemnly, "they shall be. I swear
it!"

CHAPTER XIX.

JACK AND HARRY GIRDWOOD AFLOAT--THE SQUALL--THE SHIPWRECKED
BOY--DEEDS OF HEROISM--THEIR REWARD--A DEADLY PERIL.

"Down with sail, Jack; we shall be over if we are not sprightly," said
Harry.

Young Jack laughed.

The thought of danger actually made him merry, and so proved that he
was every inch a Harkaway--a thorough chip of the old block.

"There's no fear, old fellow," he said.

A sudden gust of wind caught the sail, and caused the boat to give such
a lurch at this very moment that both the boys were sent flying.

They got some hard knocks.

But neither was afraid of a little rough usage, and so they only
scrambled to their feet, laughing boisterously, as if there was great
fun in barked shins and bruised arms.

"I told you so, Jack," said Harry Girdwood.

"No harm done," retorted Jack, rubbing a damaged part and grinning.

"No, but don't let us be too foolish; we might get into trouble."

Young Jack roared at this.

"Soho-ho!" he cried. "Shipped another passenger, Harry, have you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why, you've got Captain Funk aboard."

"Not I," returned Harry, "only if we get into any foolish scrape, they
won't let us come out for a sail again, and as this is the only jaunt
left us, we may as well keep ourselves quiet."

"There's something in that," said young Jack,

So saying, he set about reefing the sail with all possible despatch.

Now it was barely accomplished when a violent gust of wind drove the
little craft along at a furious rate.

It was only just in time.

A moment more and the sail would have been shredded, or, what was still
worse, the boat would have been capsized for a certainty.

Harry Girdwood lowered the oars and pulled sharply along before the
fury of the gale, while young Jack baled out a little water that had
been shipped in the first heavy lurch, before the youthful mariners had
been fully prepared for such violent treatment, and steered at the same
time.

In this way they contrived to elude the violence of the gale for the
present, at least.

But the danger was by no means overcome.

They had not got through the worst of their trouble as yet, little as
they anticipated any serious danger.

The gale had come on with strange suddenness, and the truth was that
they could hardly realize the extent of their danger.

It was great.

There was, perhaps, a special providence in their ignorance of their
real peril, for their coolness alone gave them any chance in the
present emergency.

They were brave boys both--never were there braver--yet it is no
disparagement of them to say that there was very great probability of
their losing their _sang froid_ if they had known how very
critical their position actually was.

As it happened, they did the very best thing to do under the
circumstances.

They kept their boat before the wind, and by vigorous rowing, they
contrived to drive along at a rate which was literally tremendous.

And so on they scudded for about ten miles, when the wind dropped a
little, and the pace began to tell upon them both.

"Keep her off shore, Jack," cried Harry Girdwood.

"Right."

The wind and rain had half blinded young Jack, and although he had said
"Right," he steered decidedly wrong.

He could not see where they were going.

"Look out!"

Harry Girdwood only just spoke in time for young Jack to take heed of
the warning, for a minute later and they shot past some sharp, jagged
rocks, into which they would inevitably have dashed but for a lucky tug
at the rudder at the very last moment.

Now the roar of the wind and waters had just begun to lull a little,
when a loud cry for help was heard.

And then, for the first time, they perceived that a boat had just been
launched by a boy at not more than thirty yards along the beach, and
being carried out to sea by a huge receding wave, had become
unmanageable.

They could see with half an eye that the boy had no skill in handling a
boat.

"Help, help!" cried the strange lad, waving his hand in distress
towards their boat.

"All right," shouted young Jack. "We're there."

Harry Girdwood pulled vigorously towards the venturesome youth.

A few strokes brought them within twenty feet of the imperilled youth,
and he would have been got away in safety but for his own folly and
imprudence.

"Sit still," shouted young Jack. "Sit still."

"He'll be overboard," ejaculated Harry, glancing over his shoulder.

The words of the latter proved but too prophetic

A cry from young Jack--a piercing shriek from the other boat.

When Harry Girdwood glanced over his shoulder again, he saw the other
boat, keel upwards, floating away.

The unfortunate youth, its late occupant, was nowhere to be seen.

"He's gone!"

"He has," cried young Jack, starting up, "and by all that's unlucky, he
can't swim. Pull on, pull hard. Pull for mercy's sake."

And young Jack stood up in the boat, tearing off his jacket and
waistcoat.

"What are you after?"

"I'm in after him."

"Jack, Jack, you'll never live in this heavy sea."

"Never fear, old boy, I'll try."

"You shall not, I say. You--"

"Here goes," cried young Jack.

And before Harry Girdwood could interfere, over he went, head first,
into the boiling waves.

Harry Girdwood held his breath in sheer fright.

He shipped his oars and peered over the boat's side.

Where was he?

Would he never come up?

Oh, Heaven! what a fearful time it seemed that the intrepid boy was
under water.

It seemed an age.

In reality it was but a minute, no more, before young Jack struck up to
the surface.

He struck out with one hand--the other grasped something.

"Harry."

"Yes, Jack."

"I've got him."

"Hold tight."

"I mean to," responded young Jack, with great coolness, all things
considered.

And now Harry could see that Jack's left hand was twined in the black
flowing hair of the half senseless boy.

The latter had no sooner reached the air and gulped down a breath or
two greedily, than consciousness came partly back, and he threw his
arms about his preserver and struggled desperately.

"Leave go," cried young Jack. "Let go, or we shall both go down
together."

But it is not easy to reason with a drowning man.

Young Jack found himself now in a desperate strait indeed.

The frantic efforts of the rescued boy impeded his movements, entirely
baffling the heroic Jack's best efforts.

Harry Girdwood saw it all, and his terror increased every moment.

Well it might.

The mad struggles of the stranger imperilled both.

"Dive, Jack, dive," cried Harry Girdwood, frantically; "dive with him,
or it is all up with both of you."

Jack heard him.

Twisting like an eel in the embrace of the boy he would save, he dived
down, dragging the stranger with him.

In the space of a few seconds he reappeared again upon the surface,
observing his former tactics.

Striking out with his right arm, while with his left hand he grasped
the stranger's long black hair.

"Catch hold of him," gasped young Jack; "never mind me."

Harry Girdwood leant over the boat's side and caught at the stranger by
the collar.

"There; hold on like that," said young Jack.

The weight coming all upon one side of the boat, however, threatened to
capsize it, and so they had to act with the greatest precaution.

Young Jack, however, struck out and swam round the boat, so that his
weight, clinging upon the further side of the boat, served to steady it
while Harry Girdwood completed the rescue of the stranger.

"Bravo!" cried young Jack.

"It was a tough job," said Harry.

"And a narrow squeak for all of us."

"Right; but let's look after this poor fellow. He's alive."

"Yes."

"I'm glad of that; it would have been precious hard after all the work,
not to mention the risk run, to have let him slip his cable in spite of
us."

"Well, it is not his fault that he's alive now."

"Alive." quoth young Jack, "by George! He looks more dead than alive as
it is."

"Don't fear for him, Jack; he's as good as twenty dead men so far, but
how are you getting on?"

"Hearty. Rather damp outside, nothing more."

"And inside?"

"Damp too. Why, I shipped a bellyful of salt water last drop down;
enough to salt a barrel of junk."

Harry turned his attention to the stranger.

"He keeps insensible a very long time," he said to young Jack; "it
begins to look serious."

"Move the scat," said young Jack, "and let us lay him flat down upon
his back at the bottom of the boat. I have always heard that that is
the proper thing to do."

No sooner said than done.

Presently they were rewarded for their pains by detecting a faint
breathing.

"How white his neck is," said Harry Girdwood.

"And how small and delicate his hands," said young Jack.

"One would almost take him for a woman."

"He'd pass very well for one if he wore petticoats."

"I'm almost inclined as it is to think that--"

"Ha! He's coming round."

The youth opened his eyes and stared about him.

He looked half scared at first one and then the other.

"You are better now," said young Jack, taking his hand.

He stared.

Jack had spoken in English in his anxiety.

He put the same sentiment into the best Greek he could muster.

"Yes, yes," replied the stranger, "better, better," and then he
appeared to grow more and more confused; "but what is this? Have I been
ill?"

"Yes."

"Ah!"

"Not very; it is all well now. Don't you remember--"

The rocking of the boat furnished the missing link in the chain of
memory, and the rescued boy showed, by a ray of intelligence in his
bright face, that it had all come back to him.

A smile of grateful acknowledgment of their services shot over his
countenance.

Then suddenly his expression changed.

"Where are we going?" he demanded, with the most extraordinary
eagerness.

"Ashore."

"Oh, no, no, no!" he exclaimed; "not ashore here."

"Why not?"

"You must not go ashore here," said the youth, eagerly, "not for
worlds."

"Why?"

Jack was questioning the stranger while Harry Girdwood shot the boat
into a favourable creek.

Harry jumped out.

"Come along," he said cheerfully.

"Safe on shore."

"And precious glad of it," added young Jack.

The stranger looked upon him in anxious expectation, and finding they
were alone, he turned eagerly to his young preservers.

"Put off again," he said; "put out to sea, I tell you."

"Why?"

"You have disarmed me; you have saved my life and shown me tenderness
and care--aye, brotherly love. Oh," he added earnestly, "pray go now;
at once, while you are free."

"Well," quoth young Jack, with a long whistle, "this is a rum go."

Before another word could be spoken, there was heard a whistle, which
sounded like the echo of young Jack's note; an answer came from another
direction, and half-a-dozen men sprang forward from no one could see
where, and pounced upon our two bold boys, Jack and Harry Girdwood.

"Bravo, Theodora!" cried a familiar voice in English, "you play the
part of decoy to perfection. We have got them at last."

Young Jack started.

He turned pale and haggard, looking in a moment to Harry.

"Do you know that voice?"

"I do," replied Harry Girdwood.

"We are sold, undone. It is the villain Hunston."

* * * * *

It was but a little while after young Jack and Harry Girdwood had been
entrapped, when a strange scene took place.

Evening was coming on.

Brigand sentinels had been posted at each path by which their haunt
could be approached, and one was perched high above on a flat rock,
which overlooked everything, without having seen himself except by the
very sharpest of eyes.

Hunston, after visiting the outposts and seeing that everything was
safe for the night, climbed up to this spot, and seated himself on a
large stone.

He felt feverish, and at that elevation he might feel something of the
breeze, a thing unknown down below at the bivouac, which was closely
surrounded by thick bushes.

Strange dreads and doubts filled Hunston's mind, dread of the future,
dread of a lingering illness through his arm, which daily grew worse,
dread of death, which he felt convinced must be the end, and doubts
whether eventually his enemy Harkaway would not triumph.

For Hunston's hatred of Harkaway knew no abatement; living or dying,
the same fierce, unquenchable thirst after vengeance would fill his
soul.

But what troubled him most now was his health.

The shoulder to which the mechanical arm was attached was so painful,
it could scarcely bear the pressure of the clothing he wore; the blood
in his veins, after flowing through that part of the system, seemed to
return to his heart heated almost to boiling point, but that heat did
not stimulate him to exertion.

On the contrary, he felt languid and scarcely able to do the duties
that devolved upon him as Toro's lieutenant.

Nor was his brain so clear as in former days.

Ideas he had in plenty, but they seemed to jostle and confuse each
other in their endeavours to settle down into a connected train of
thought.

Emmerson's vengeance was working.

As he sat there, the sentinel remained motionless, leaning on his
carbine and peering over the edge of the precipice.

Presently Diana, the widow of Mathias, came up the rock, and Hunston
rose to greet her.

"Your husband is to a certain extent avenged," said he.

"How?"

"Harkaway's boy is in our power,"

"That is something, at all events. That girl Theodora, the niece of
Tomaso, has done her work well. Vengeance has commenced."

"Yes, but--"

"But what?"

"There is a hitch in the proceedings. The girl is softhearted, and
begged hard for their lives."

"She is a fool! By Heaven, I am half inclined to do the deed myself
with this dagger."

"In which case Toro would probably do for you."

"What, is he turned craven?"

"No; but he is sweet on Theodora, and for her sake is inclined to spare
them."

Hunston knew well enough that all this was false, as, unless certain
conditions were promptly complied with, Toro would certainly kill both
of them without the slightest hesitation or compunction.

But he did not tell Diana.

"But," he continued, "what is your idea of vengeance?"

"I would wring other hearts as mine has been wrung. I would cause
blinding tears to dim the brightness of other eyes besides mine. I
would cause the stern judge Death to pass a decree of divorce upon
others besides myself and Mathias. When Harkaway is a widower, or his
wife a widow, then I shall consider my vengeance partly accomplished."

"Humph! for a woman you are tolerably moderate. I shall not be
satisfied till the Harkaways and the Harveys are destroyed root and
branch-till the other accursed detective, Nabley, his American friend
Jefferson, the negroes, the wooden-legged ass Mole, till every one of
the party is swept away out of my path. Harkaway taught me to hate, and
I swear by all the eternal powers of earth, heaven, and hell, he shall
see how I have profited by the lesson."

Diana was silent for a few moments; then, with something like a sneer,
said--

"You are a brave man--in words, Signor Hunston."

"My acts speak for themselves."

"And little have they said for some time past. But listen; I have sworn
a deep and deadly revenge."

"Well."

"This evening I depart."

"Good."

"When I return again, you may expect to hear that Harkaway is dead or
his wife."

The excited woman glided away, and Hunston, after smoking a cigarette,
followed her.

"Good?" chuckled Hunston to himself, "I could not have a better ally
than that woman; for she can go where I dare not show myself, and will
find opportunities for carrying out her plans unsuspected. Beware,
Harkaway! for though I have waited years for revenge, it is now within
my grasp."

CHAPTER XX.

THE HARKAWAYS LEARN ALL--MR. MOLE EXPLAINS AND GETS INTO
TROUBLE IN CONSEQUENCE.

Words cannot describe the trouble of the Harkaway family at the loss of
young Jack and his stout-hearted comrade, Harry Girdwood.

At first their indignation had been so great, that their first impulse
was to use violent means to effect the recovery of the boys.

But the first person to oppose this was Jack Harkaway himself.

"If we were to attack them in force," he said, "it would be imprudent
upon every hand. In the first place they would have the advantage of
us, of course, in a mountain skirmish."

"I don't know that they would get the best of it," said Harvey.

"Nor I," said Jefferson.

"We can do nothing at present as far as I can see," said Harkaway.
"Only wait."

"To what end?"

"Their object must be plunder--money--ransom."

"Supposing that they demand a sum?"

"I shall pay it as soon as ever I can rake it up. If it is more than I
possess in the world," said Jack Harkaway, seriously, "then I shall
borrow of my friends to make it up."

The poor fellow turned away to hide his emotion.

"What guarantee have you that they would give up the boys for the
ransom?"

"None. But I should not send the money first. They would have to send
the boys here first."

"They might doubt you."

"Why, yes. But Hunston and Toro are with them, and they know that Jack
Harkaway's word is his bond, no matter with whom he is dealing, let
them be the veriest scum on the face of the earth."

"Which they are."

"Which they are, as you say."

"Very good," said Jefferson. "Now I don't want to play the part of the
wet blanket, and to dash your hopes to the ground before they are half
formed, but I wish to guard against running away upon a false track."

"In what way?"

"All your hopes of ransoming the boys rest now upon the fact of Hunston
and Toro being with the brigands."

"Yes."

"Well," added Jefferson, "how do you know that Hunston and Toro are
really in the band? You only suppose that."

"I can answer positively for that," said a voice at the door.

They turned.

There stood Nabley, the detective.

"Nabley!"

"Nabley here!"

"Himself," said the indefatigable officer, coming forward. "Hunston is
with the brigands, very much with them, in fact."

"That we know," said Harkaway, who then related the death of Pike, and
the supposed abduction of young Jack.

"I have been very ill," said Nabley. "I fainted in the street, and, in
falling, severely injured my head. But do you know how that Hunston
finds out all about you and your doings?"

"No."

"Well, it is through one of your own household."

"Explain," said Harkaway.

"What do you mean?" asked Harvey.

"I can't talk much; Mr. Mole will tell you perhaps better. Here, Mr.
Mole."

Mr. Mole stepped forward, looking just a little sheepish.

"Mr. Mole!"

"Mr. Mole!" exclaimed a dozen voices in chorus.

"Yes, my friends," said the old gentleman, stepping forward with his
well-known modesty, "it is even so; your much-wronged Mole."

"Tell us how it occurred," said Harkaway.

"I was down in the dancing garden, seated in a species of small summer
house, taking a glass of--I mean a cup of tea--ahem!--when I fell
asleep--I dozed, in fact."

"You would," said Harvey. "I've often noticed that you doze after a
glass of--I mean a cup of tea."

Mole glared at the speaker.

"The heat of the day quite overcame me."

"It would," said Dick, in the same compassionate manner.

"When I woke up, I heard two persons conversing close by the green
arbour where I sat."

"Yes."

"Two familiar voices."

"Ha!" exclaimed Harkaway, eagerly.

"Now guess," said Mole, "who the two familiar voices belonged to?"

"Can't."

"Out with it."

"One of the voices," said Mr. Mole, "was Hunston's, the other was--"

"Toro's?"

"No."

"No! Whose then?"

"Marietta's."

"Marietta--what, the maid here?"

"Yes."

"Impossible."

"Was it, egad? I thought so, but I am not easily mistaken."

"Unless you dreamt."

"Bah!" exclaimed Mr. Mole, with ineffable contempt; "fiddlesticks!"

"But did you suppose she was in league with Hunston?" demanded Emily
with great eagerness.

"No."

"What then?"

"He was bamboozling her, twisting her round his finger^ as one might
say. He had got up a casual chat, persuading her that he was a private
friend of yours, so he pumped and pumped her about the boys, where they
went, and so forth."

"And did she say any thing that could serve him in his vile purpose?"
asked Mrs. Harkaway.

"Plenty to help them, the miscreants, I suppose."

"The girl must be a downright idiot to get into conversation with a
strange man after all that has taken place, and after all the danger
which she knows they ran."

"Not far short of it," said Jefferson.

"He spoke particularly about the boys not venturing out to the
mountains, that they were permitted only to sail about in their boat,
and--"

Harkaway broke in here with an exclamation that startled them all.

"That explains all," he said. "All, all, I see it now."

"Do you? Explain."

"They have put out to sea and taken the boys, perhaps by stealth,
perhaps by violence."

"Likely enough."

"Poor boys, poor boys!"

"And where did all this take place?" demanded Jefferson; "in one of the
public promenades, did you say?"

"Mr. Jefferson," replied old Mole saucily, "you want your nose filed. I
said in the dancing garden."

"Oh, de dancing garden, was it, Massa Ikey?" said a voice in his ear,
which caused him to palpitate nervously.

It was Mrs. Mole.

When he had spoken of the dancing garden, he had not noticed his better
half's presence.

"Yes, my dear," he said timidly, trying to look dignified the while
before the company.

"And what was you--doing in such a place as a dancing garding, Mister
Mole, sar?" demanded his dusky rib, in a voice which sounded dangerous.

"I went, my dear, to study character," said Mr, Mole timidly....

"What?" thundered Mrs. Mole.

He trembled, and faltered something almost inaudibly.

"Studyin' character," said the lady with great contempt; "losing your
character, you silly old pump--"

"My dear," remonstrated the old gentleman.

"Don't 'my dear' me," said Mrs. Mole; "you're gwine off your silly old
cokernut, you bald-headed old coon."

"Mrs. Mole!"

"You go to dat dancin' garding for to see dem gals jump about and dance
and make fools ob demselves, ignorant critters."

"No such thing, I tell you," said Mole, indignantly.

"Oh, yes, it is," said his better half, "and you's a bushel more
indelicate dan dey is, you silly old possum."

This started the company off generally in a noisy fit of laughter,
before which poor Mole was forced to beat a retreat, followed by his
irate partner.

"Poor Mole," said Jefferson, laughing heartily, "it is an unlucky
admission for him. Chloe will give it to him sorely for this, I'm
afraid."

* * * * *

They went deeply into the question of ransoming the boys, for they were
convinced that they had really fallen into the hands of the brigands.

But do what they would, say what they would, they could only come back
to one result.

They must wait.

Patience was difficult under the circumstances, but there was no help
for it.

"Wait till to-morrow," said Jefferson; "it is a hard job, I know, but I
feel certain that if the boys are with the brigands, to-morrow morning
will bring a message from them."

"But can nothing be done meanwhile?" said Emily.

"No."

"Nothing."

"Stay; you may get some papers printed and circulated everywhere,
offering a heavy reward for the recovery of the boys."

"To what end?"

"It can do no harm, and may do good. At any rate, it will show the
brigands that we are ready to pay the piper for our boys' sake."

"That's true," said Jefferson.

"Let's do it," said Harkaway, who was pacing up and down impatiently;
"at any rate, any thing is better than remaining inactive."

CHAPTER XXI.

A HOUSE OF MOURNING--THE LETTER FROM THE ENEMY--A STRANGE
CORRESPONDENCE--THE INCIDENT AT THE OPEN WINDOW--HUNSTON'S REVENGE--
DESPAIR.

It was as Jefferson had predicted.

The notices were printed and circulated everywhere by well-chosen and
energetic agents.

Early next morning, a letter was found fastened to the garden gate.

It was brought to Harkaway, who was already up and busy.

He tore it eagerly open, and found the following written in a disguised
handwriting and in English--

"TO Mr. JOHN HARKAWAY:

"If you would save the lives of your son and your _protege_, his
companion, the only way to do it is to bring the sum of five hundred
pounds sterling to the stone cross by the old well at two o'clock this
afternoon. Those who have the two boys in their keeping will be on the
watch. Come along, as you value your happiness and their safety."

"Not very likely," said Jack Harkaway.

Instead of complying with this very shallow request, he wrote an answer
in these terms:

"TO HUNSTON AND HIS FELLOW-VILLAINS:

"Send the lads back here. Within half-an-hour of their return, the
money shall be sent to where you will and when you will. This I
promise, and swear upon my honour. None knows better than yourself that
this may be implicitly relied upon.

"HARKAWAY."

This letter he sent by a trusty messenger to the spot appointed for the
meeting place, and they waited impatiently for the further result.

It was not long coming.

Before two o'clock, Marietta discovered another letter tied to the
garden gate, but how it came there they were unable to decide.

Be that as it may, it was soon discovered to be of the highest
importance to them in the present state of affairs.

It was brief and startling, and ran as follows--

"We do not bandy words with you. We offer our conditions. You refuse.
Well and good. The consequences be upon your own head. If the money be
not paid by four to-day, at six the boys will lose an ear each,"

"The villains!" cried poor Harkaway. "Oh, villains!"

But he was powerless to help them.

He knew well enough that, do what he would, he could not hope to get
the boys back without paying, and paying through the nose too.

Nor indeed did he desire to try to achieve this.

The only question was, would they deliver up their prisoners, once they
had received the five hundred pounds?

Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

If not, they would be in as much peril as they were already.

Nay, more.

He guessed shrewdly enough that once they had received such a handsome
sum as five hundred pounds, they would think that they had drained him
dry, or as nearly so as it was possible to arrive at, and so might make
short work of young Jack and Harry Girdwood.

What was to be done?

He could not say.

He would gladly have risked all that he possessed in the world for the
chance of having his boys back.

Aye, his boys, for Harry Girdwood was second only in Harkaway's
affection to young Jack.

But he did not wish to reward the miscreants for ill-treating the
unfortunate lads.

At length he came to the conclusion that he would persist in his
resolve to have the boys back before he parted with any money at all.

Accordingly he wrote another note to the brigands.

This he dispatched by the same means as the former note.

"Release the two lads. Restore them to us, and the ransom of a king
shall be yours. Fix upon any sum, however great, provided that it be
within my means to pay it, and you shall not ask twice. Moreover, I
shall do nothing more to molest you or interfere with you in any way.
Play false, or harm a hair of my boys' heads, and beware. You may know
that Jack Harkaway is not the man to make an enemy of."

The answer to this was not long in coming.

An ugly scrawl upon a dirty piece of paper, and with it was a small
parcel.

"We despise your threats, and laugh you to scorn. That you may know how
little we are to be trifled with, we send you their ears in proof that
we have kept our word. By this hour to-morrow the two boys die, unless
you pay down the sum as fixed upon by us, both in manner and in
amount."

Jack Harkaway turned faint and sick.

He dared nor open the parcel which accompanied the letter.

He sent for Jefferson and Harvey, and unable to trust himself to speak,
he placed the letter in the latter's hands.

"Read, read," he said, with a horror-stricken look.

Harvey glanced down the letter, and his countenance fell as he passed
it on to Jefferson.

"What is to be done?"

"I don't know," replied Jefferson; "I am at a loss. This is too
horrible."

"What do you say, Dick?"

Harvey hung his head.

"Speak, Dick. Tell me, old, friend, what I ought to do," said Harkaway,
imploringly. "I am bewildered--dazed--at my wits' end. What ought I to
do?"

"Pay the money."

Accordingly the money, all in gold, was placed in a bag in the spot
which they had indicated in the first note addressed by the brigands to
Jack Harkaway.

This done, they awaited the result.

It soon came.

Too soon for the latter's peace of mind.

As the family and their friends were seated in moody silence and in
sorrow around the dinner-table, so strong was the sense of oppression
upon everyone that they only conversed in whispers.

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